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Articles from 2020 In August

Taiwan lifts restrictions on U.S. beef & pork

U.S. Meat Export Federation Go Beef.png

The U.S. beef industry continues to shine around the world, as the growing middle class gets a taste of our product. In Taiwan, it looks like our access will greatly open up due to changes made current restrictions on U.S. beef.

In an article published by Taiwan News, “Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced on Aug. 28 that the country would be dropping import restrictions on U.S. beef from cattle over 30 months old and on U.S. pork containing ractopamine in conformity with international health standards. The order will not require approval from the Legislative Yuan, Tsai said.

“Taiwan has imported deboned U.S. beef from cattle aged under 30 months since early 2006. The U.S. requested expanded access to Taiwan's beef and beef products markets following the OIE's ruling on the U.S.' status as a ‘controlled risk’ for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in 2007.

“The two countries have since then engaged in lengthy negotiations on opening up the island's beef market. In 2010, Taiwan's legislature amended food safety regulations to expand access for American beef but retained a ban on beef and beef products from cattle over 30 months old as well as on specified risk materials. In 2013, the OIE amended the U.S.' BSE risk status to ‘negligible.’”

Read the entire article by clicking here.

In 2019, the United States exported 10,051 metric tons of beef to Taiwan (up 20% from 2018), valued at $86.2 million (an increase of 17% from the previous year), according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

To further endear Taiwanese consumers to U.S. beef, USMEF and the Beef Checkoff have a considerable presence there with a “Go Beef” campaign that has been very successful. As part of a five-month promotional campaign, USMEF reached out to support retailers and foodservice operators in Taiwan who serve U.S. beef.

Part of the campaign included a restaurant-concept truck, which featured video panels showing chefs preparing U.S. beef dishes. With a slogan, “Simply U.S. Beef, Simply Delicious,” the trucks were hard to miss on the streets of Taipei.

Davis Wu, USMEF director in Taiwan, reports, “The truck put a spotlight on U.S. beef and was a gesture to let Taiwan’s retail and foodservice sectors know that USMEF is behind them during the COVID-19 pandemic. It visited busy commercial areas where people congregate, especially on weekends.

"The effort attracted a lot of attention, as people often stopped to watch the videos playing on the side of the truck. This type of marketing activity is very effective in the Taiwan market, as it creates awareness and encourages consumers to try U.S. beef when they shop at supermarkets or dine in restaurants.”

This is an exciting opportunity for the U.S. beef industry to expand its outreach overseas in Taiwan! I’m looking forward to seeing how these loosened restrictions will positively impact sales for the remainder of 2020.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

Genetic links to fear response shed light on cattle temperament

Credit: (c) University of Queensland U Queensland cattle temperment.jpg
The cattle industry's standard for measuring temperament is 'flight time' - the speed in which cattle move after release from an enclosure. Cattle that move calmly and slowly from the enclosure, rather than charging out in an aggressive or stressed state are preferred.

A strong association between the genes influencing cattle temperament and autism in people has been discovered by researchers with the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia. UQ genomic expert professor Ben Hayes said the research by his interdisciplinary team, headed by Dr. Roy Costilla, could lead to improved animal welfare and meat quality.

"The research doesn't mean that cattle have autism, [but] rather, that cattle share an overlap of genes with humans that are critical in brain function and response to fear stimuli," Hayes said.

Temperament is an important trait for day-to-day management of cattle.

"We knew that genetic factors were likely influence temperament in cattle, and we thought that genes involved in behavioral traits in humans could also influence temperament in cattle," he said. "We found that genes known to contribute to autism spectrum disorders also influence temperament in cattle."

Hayes said the outcome was important because it opened the way for research conducted on behavioral traits in humans to shed further light on temperament in cattle.

"As I've found talking to farmers over the years, it can be distressing having an animal that has a poor temperament in the mob and stirs up all the other cattle, putting them into a state of stress," Hayes said. "If we can identify those animals early or breed to eliminate them, we can potentially reduce the stress of the whole mob.

"That has great implications for welfare — not only of the cattle but also the people handling the cattle who are less likely to be charged or kicked," he added.

Hayes said there was an association between a calmer temperament in cattle and better meat quality.

"The cattle industry's standard for measuring temperament is 'flight time' — the speed in which cattle move after release from an enclosure. What a producer wants is cattle that move calmly and slowly from the enclosure, rather than an animal that charges out in an aggressive or stressed state," Hayes explained.

"Our study found flight time is about 35% heritable, which is very significant," he said. "It means you can make a lot of progress by breeding for better temperament; it's about the same as milk production in dairy cattle, and we've made big breeding gains there."

Hayes said the same genes were identified in other genomic research conducted on domestication of foxes.

"The same genes just come up again and again," he said. "Some DNA variants in those genes are more common in people with autism, and in cattle, some DNA variants in those same genes are found to make the cattle more fearful in new situations and have a reactive temperament."

UQ noted that the study is the first time whole-genome sequencing has been used to analyze temperament in beef cattle. The researchers looked at 28 million data points per animal for the 9,000 cattle with temperament records in the initial study and then validated the results in more than 80,000 cattle from Ireland.

Hayes said his team would incorporate the temperament data into a panel of markers available for producers that would also provide breeding values for fertility.

"It means a producer will be able to use a sample of tail hair that contains DNA to quickly get information on the genetic value of their animals for temperament and fertility. The temperament analysis was conducted primarily in northern cattle Bos indicus breeds and was validated in Bos taurus cattle," he said.

The study was a result of cooperation among Australian researchers, the beef industry and international collaborators from Ireland and Brazil.

The research was published in Genetics Selection Evolution.

Weaning beef calves early can save forage

NDSU photo NDSU early weaning image.jpg
Early weaning can help reduce pressure on native pastures and extend forage supplies for adult beef cows.

Rainfall ranks as one of the most important factors that influence ranchers’ management decisions, according to North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension specialists. This year is no different. Parts of North Dakota — and the country — are experiencing severe dry weather, while others have adequate to plentiful moisture. This situation drives management of native pasture, crop residue and cover crop acres, the specialists said.

Typically, even with good moisture at this time of the year, the nutritional value of native pasture is in decline, which is further accelerated under dry conditions.

“Early weaning is one of the management decisions that can help reduce pressure on native pastures and extend forage supplies for adult beef cows,” said Janna Block, extension livestock systems specialist at NDSU’s Hettinger Research Extension Center.

“Early weaning simply means weaning calves at an earlier age to reduce forage usage while not compromising calf health and performance,” she explained.

Dairy calves often are weaned as early as eight weeks of age, which is achieved through proper nutrition with feeds that promote rumen development. These feeds enhance the development of the rumen so calves can survive well without the nursing milk diet.

“From the standpoint of feed efficiency, it is more efficient to feed calves directly than to feed cows to sustain milk production,” Block said.

Beef calves can be weaned early successfully from 60 to 150 days of age, she added.

Most producers will notice that nursing calves also will consume forage, whether through grazing or being fed harvested forages. Research shows that early-weaned cows will consume as much as 35-45% less forage than normally weaned cow/calf pairs.

Early weaning typically results in improved body condition of dams due to decreased nutrient requirements. A cow weighing 1,400 lb. would require about 16 lb. of total digestible nutrients (TDN) and 2.5 lb. of crude protein (CP) on a daily basis in late lactation, Block said. This same cow’s requirements would decrease to 12 lb. of TDN and 1.7 lb. of protein after weaning. In addition, water requirements would decrease by about 55-60%.

Distinguishing between early weaning and creep feeding is important, based on goals of each strategy. Creep feeding is providing supplemental feed to nursing calves, Block said. The primary goal of creep feeding is to increase weaning weight of calves.

While creep feeding may result in some substitution of forage for creep feed, it does not reduce nursing pressure on cows. Therefore, this practice will not provide the same forage savings and increases in cow condition that can be gained from early weaning, Block said.

Early weaning should not compromise calf health, and performance should be enhanced.

“The key to successful early weaning is to treat groups of calves as unique,” said Gerald Stokka, NDSU extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist. “Weaning by pasture group is preferred, with no commingling of other groups after weaning for at least 45 days. Even though all calves have been born and raised on the same ranch, the pasture group is the stable unit as it relates to shared organisms and social pecking order.”

If weaning includes commingling all pasture groups at the same time into a common weaning pen or pasture, be prepared to begin treating calves for respiratory disease 10-14 days postweaning, he said. Alternatively, make provisions to bring all cows and calves together so the social order and shared organisms of calves can be re-established prior to the stress of weaning. The more space that is provided (pasture weaning), the less the pressure on re-establishing social structure and the less transmission of organisms during this stressful time.

Other potential risk factors may influence health at this time as well.

“Lack of passive immunity, temperature fluctuations, heat stress, nutritional stress prior to weaning, dusty pens and handling stress may negatively impact the healthy transition to weaning,” Stokka said. “The lack of adequate passive transfer of immunity from the birth mother to the calf increases the risk of postweaning morbidity.”

Temperature fluctuations may compromise the normal respiratory defense mechanisms, as do heat stress and dusty pen conditions. Dry conditions may result in nutritional stress prior to weaning, so make sure to provide appropriate protein, energy and mineral supplements prior to and after weaning, he added.

“If calves need processing, such as vaccination, deworming, etc., do so in the early morning hours or delay processing until the temperatures moderate,” Stokka says. “Processing can be done at the time of weaning; however, only products that benefit the animal at weaning and do not compromise the immune response should be used. Processing done at least three weeks prior to early weaning is preferred and provides the opportunity to administer booster doses postweaning if necessary.”

Facilities may need some remodeling if weaning calves are significantly smaller than normal. Calves become adept at finding ways to return to their dams or at least escaping from the weaning facility. Because smaller and younger calves may have difficulty competing for feed and water, sorting calves into several pen groups based on size and age may be a good idea.

“Early weaning is a management tool that can significantly reduce forage and water demand,” Block said. “In addition, with proper preparation, calf health and performance are not compromised.”

Farm Progress America, August 31, 2020

Max Armstrong takes a closer look at the H-2A program which allows a foreign national worker into the U.S. for temporary annual work. There was a concern earlier this year when the government announced it would suspend visa processing for Mexican workers. And the move brought concern for the food supply too. Max notes than more than 90% of H-2A workers come from Mexico.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Joe Readle/Getty Images News

This Week in Agribusiness, Aug. 29, 2020

Part 1

Max checks in with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue about the recent weather impact on crops and resiliency of farmers.

Naomi Blohm, Total Farm Marketing, joins Mike Pearson to talk about the weather impact on markets this summer.

Part 2

Naomi Blohm is back with more marketing insight.

Chad Colby talks about the ram mount for tablets, as well as a wireless charger.

Part 3

Max visits with Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress show manager, about the Farm Progress Virtual Experience, and prep for the show.

Max reminisces about the Half Century of Progress show, and the friendships that play a role.

Part 4

Matt Nelson, Channel Seed agronomist, joins Max to talk about crops damaged in the derecho storm, and the impact that has on harvest and yield.

Greg Soulje is in with a weather forecast for the week.

Part 5

Greg Soulje is back with an extended weather outlook.

Part 6

There's a 1952 John Deere A in Max's Tractor Shed.

Mark Stock shares what's coming up on the auction block for Big Iron Auctions.

The FFA Chapter Tribute goes to Brooklyn FFA, Brooklyn, Mississippi.

Orion Samuelson talks about his two favorite presidents and leadership.

Part 7

Al Gustin reports on a safflower oil operation in North Dakota, talking to Larry White, safflower processor.

Max offers an update on the Farm Progress Virtual Experience.

Mother Nature continues to hit ag hard in 2020


This year has been hard on so many people. COVID-19 has brought on loss of life, loss of jobs, loss of security, loss of peace and other unimaginable hardships.

Increased poverty, homelessness, civil unrest, race wars, destruction of property, riots, food supply disruptions, empty grocery store shelves, school shut downs, businesses closed forever, and the list seems to go on and on.

I would like to think there is hope just around the corner, but as we near closer to the election, I fear the ugliness will only continue to escalate.

Agriculture has been impacted by this novel coronavirus in countless ways, as well. As we grapple with the same troubling news and disruptions as the rest of society, many farmers and ranchers are also dealing with the ramifications of Mother Nature’s blows.

From wildfires to hurricanes to wind storms, the devastation due to extreme weather events has been severe. My thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by these horrific scenarios.

In Iowa, a severe “derecho” storm blew across the state, destroying crops, grain bins, homes, buildings and more.

According to World Grain, “The storm unleashed winds of over 100 miles per hour, equivalent to an F1 tornado. Some have described it as an inland hurricane. The Iowa Department of Agriculture estimates more than 57 million bushels of permanently licensed grain storage was seriously damaged or destroyed.”

Hurricane Laura is also impacting the southern United States, putting both crops and livestock at risk.

The Poultry Site reports, “Laura made landfall early on August 27 as a Category 4 storm packing winds of 150 mph in the small town of Cameron, Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said. It rapidly weakened to a Category 1 storm and then a tropical storm by afternoon.”

Reuters adds, “U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to head to the Gulf Coast to survey the damage. The storm was forecast to drop heavy rain over Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky as it headed out to the East Coast, the National Weather Service said.”

In California, where the forest management policy is firmly in the “do not touch camp,” we see annual wildfires that could be mitigated with responsible logging and grazing. However, that’s a blog post for another day.

Policy discussions aside, in California, what is being called a “megafire era” is consuming acres of redwood forests and surrounding farmland as it burns.

According to Reuters, “The fires are far from under control with over 230 strikes in past day sparking new fires after more than 650 in the last 10 days, Cal Fire said. At least seven people have been killed and over 1,400 homes and other structures destroyed.  Smoke from fires created unhealthy air quality for a large swath of northern California and drifted as far away as Kansas.”

If you have experienced one of these damaging weather events or others, such as ongoing drought conditions, in 2020, know that you’re not alone. Resources are available to help, and the agricultural community wants to rally around you and offer you help, comfort and fellowship as you navigate through this difficult year.

If you know of resources that could help the victims of the hurricanes, wildfires or the derecho storm, please email information to me at [email protected]

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

Bringing life to a virtual event

What does it really mean when farmers can't make the trip to big fall farm shows for 2020? They'll get the opportunity to experience equipment and exhibitor information in new ways.

The news that the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days were canceled for 2020 brought disappointment not only to farmers, but to the Farm Progress team including the events staff and editors. But that didn't mean less work, it meant creation of an entirely new event. And the premier of the Farm Progress Virtual Experience – or FPVX – is set for September 15. But what does that mean?

In this episode of Around Farm Progress, we talk with Mindy Ward, editor, Missouri Ruralist who has been working on a unique project geared toward helping all exhibitors bring their information to life in the new virtual show.

And Matt Jungmann, events manager, Farm Progress, shares just how his team is working to recreate – as close as possible – the field demonstration experience farmers have come to know and love. And he offers a sneak peek at a unique piece of equipment that will be on hand for a special ride and drive experience.

Check out this latest episode to earn more about the Farm Progress Virtual experience and visit to register.

More podcasts and coverage

Beyond Around Farm Progress we've got more podcasts to share. Check out all our podcast links at to keep up on not only Around Farm Progress but daily updates from Max Armstrong, and more.

And if you want quick access to top news from Farm Progress, sign up for our mobile text service by texting FARM to 20505. Note that there may be a text or data cost for using the service.

The podcast Around Farm Progress goes live online by 3 p.m. Central time each Friday and will engage editors from around the country. You can listen to this week's episode above and subscribe on Podbean at Around Farm Progress the podcast. And you can now subscribe through Spotify, Google Play and the Apple podcast app. Just search "Around Farm Progress" and subscribe so you don't miss an episode.

Farmers are getting their information in new ways. Farm Progress is a leader in reaching them as needed. From top magazines around the country to one of the first agriculture-focused mobile apps from Farm Futures, to the leading television presence with This Week in Agribusiness, the company covers all media for agriculture.

Comments or questions? Just send a note to [email protected]

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The Farm Progress Virtual experience will provide farmers access to experiences that are almost like being on site.

Farm Progress America, August 28, 2020

Max Armstrong recalls a move by Congress to fund the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative to help consumers to understand genetically modified organisms. Max shares that GMO foods have been available since the early 1990s, and that three major agencies – EPA, USDA and the Food and Drug Administration – have worked to maintain safety. Max shares which crops are sold in the U.S. that are modified.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Image: StudioM1/iStock/Getty Images Plus

9 ways to keep kids safe on the farm

Holly Spangler Nathan Spangler
FARM WORK: Teenagers find themselves home from school and able to help out more often. The website offers up interactive guidelines for matching kids of all ages with the right job.

If there’s one thing we know in the midst of this COVID-19 uncertainty, it’s that kids are home more often than usual right now. Hybrid learning, virtual learning, compressed school days and various combinations thereof have created a situation where more kids are home more frequently than in the past.

For a lot of farm kids, that’s been cause for celebration. Home time has meant more time with livestock, more time with grandparents, and more time to run tractors and help on the farm. All good things, as kids, parents, grandparents and even farm safety experts would agree — but those same safety experts say now is prime time to do a gut check on farm safety.

“We’re not trying to get kids off the farm,” says Marsha Salzwedel, ag youth safety specialist at the National Farm Medicine Center. “There are a lot of benefits to kids working on the farm. It can help them develop a sense of responsibility; it creates a love for the land; they learn about the life and death cycle.

“We just want them to be safe while they’re there,” she adds.

Salzwedel acknowledges what many farmers know: Agriculture is one of the most dangerous professions in the country. That’s true for adults. Add a child into that scenario, and it distracts adults from dangerous work and makes it harder for them to adequately supervise that child. It’s hard to deny the risks involved.

“Tractors are the leading cause of fatalities of farm children,” Salzwedel says.

So how to keep kids safe on the farm — at all ages? She offers up a few ideas:

1. Evaluate their skills. Some teenagers thrive on running equipment; others may not be as ready. Check out, a project of the National Farm Medicine Center. They have an interactive work guidelines section that can help you determine whether a young person is ready and capable to do the job.

2. Think cognitive ability. Salzwedel says those guidelines are more than just, “Can they reach the pedals?” The guidelines ask whether they’re mature enough to make decisions, whether they exhibit impulsive behavior, and whether they can remember a five-step process without prompting. “It’s not just physical but cognitive as well,” she says.

3. Match skills. In some parts of the country, migrant labor is less available than it once was, which means farms may be hiring more young people to fill the gap. offers up similar work guidelines for hiring young people. “More youth die working in ag than in all other industries combined,” Salzwedel says. “There’s a mismatch between what they’re doing and what they’re capable of doing safely.”

4. Be aware of small children at home. We’re used to having kids home on the farm in the summer, but less so in the fall and spring, which are inherently busier and more dangerous seasons. “With children around more during busier seasons, the potential for injury goes up,” Salzwedel says.   

5. Watch wagons. Kids like to stand on the side of grain wagons and watch it be filled, and it’s easy for them to fall in — or climb in. Salzwedel says given the size of equipment today, operators may not even be aware a child is there. And if they fall in, they can be engulfed in seconds.

6. Beware of run-over accidents. Salzwedel says skid steers with big round bales are tough to see around, especially to spot small, short children. It’s also difficult to see objects from tractors and other equipment.

7. Practice ATV safety. Statistics are often hard to come by on farm injuries, but Salzwedel says this one’s crystal clear: Since the pandemic started, ATV sales have gone up and emergency room doctors have seen more ATV injuries.

8. Band together for child care. Salzwedel understands parents have scrambled to find child care, whether they work on or off the farm. She’s even heard of parents putting kids in stalls to avoid cows or other livestock. But she’s also heard of creative, strategic farm neighborhoods that have banded together to manage child care. “They have one or two adults watch the kids, while the rest of the adults get work done. Then they switch off so the others can get work done,” she explains. Other options: reach out to neighbor kids and churches. “There are strategies and alternatives to taking children to your work site,” she says.

9. Use play areas. Again, check out for help creating a safe play area on your farm. 

Salzwedel says there is good news in all of this: Farm families have made tremendous progress in keeping their children safe. Since the early 2000s, they’ve cut the number of nonfatal farm injuries in half.