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Creep Feeding Can Yield Positive Returns

As forages experience a late-summer, early-fall downturn in yield and quality, cow-calf producers might want to consider creep feeding to increase weaning weights. However, the efficiency of utilization of supplemental feed for gain by calves is highly variable and depends on the quality and quantity of feed offered, say Alfredo DiCostanzo and Beka Gill of the University of Minnesota Beef Team.

The efficiency of conversion of supplemental feed to gain is from 5-15 lbs. creep feed/lb. gain over un-supplemented calves. At relatively low creep feed price (4¢/lb.) and relatively high feeder calf prices ($1/lb.+), poor efficiencies (10-15 lbs. creep feed/lb. additional gain) of conversion are yet sufficient to yield positive returns to investment in creep feed. However, when either feed price is high, or price received for feeder calves is low, there will be negative returns to investment in creep feed.
-- Clint Peck

Minnesota Plans Statewide Targeted TB Testing Campaign

Minnesota plans to embark on a one-time targeted bovine TB-testing campaign this fall to determine if the state's cattle population harbors any remaining level of bovine TB. Last year, five beef herds in northwest Minnesota were identified as bovine-TB positive, downgrading the state's status from TB-Free to Modified Accredited Advanced. A final rule on Minnesota's reduced TB status was adopted Wednesday by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), cementing the interim rule that became effective Jan. 24.

To regain its accredited free status, additional TB testing throughout the state is required. Herds will be selected for testing based on criteria developed by USDA, says the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. Officials stipulate the selection "in no way implies herds have TB or have a direct link to TB-positive cattle."

"This targeted TB testing campaign is just one more step in the process of regaining Minnesota's TB-Free status," says State Veterinarian Bill Hartmann. He says if the survey finds no additional cases, Minnesota could regain its TB-free designation in early 2008. Minnesota is currently one of only four states that do not have TB-free status.

For more info, visit the BAH Web site at www.bah.state.mn.us.
-- Joe Roybal

Diesel Average Falls But Still Tops $3; Gas Falling

The national average price for diesel dropped for the week ending Aug. 28, the second straight week prices fell, reports www.landlinemag.com. The U.S. Energy Info Agency reported the national average price at $3.027, down from $3.033 a week ago. It's also 43¢ higher than a year ago.

The biggest drop was in California where average price fell 2¢/gal. to $3.200. Rocky Mountain region truckers pay the nation's highest average at $3.346, while the West Coast is at $3.229/gal., the East Coast at $2.955, the Lower Atlantic at $2.897, and the Gulf Coast region at $2.923/gal.

Meanwhile, gasoline prices are falling fast and could keep dropping for months, reports USA Today. An Aug. 31 report quotes Fred Rozell, Oil Price Information Service gasoline analyst, as saying gasoline prices will "be closer to $2 than $3 come Thanksgiving." The American Automobile Association reported a nationwide average of $2.84/gal. of gasoline on Tuesday, the lowest since April 20.

The factors behind the current drop are listed as: the end of summer, sluggish demand, and a sell-off of holdings by petroleum traders worried that high prices won't last, the report says.
-- Joe Roybal

Connecticut-Based Firm Recalls Livestock Feed

H.J. Baker Bro. Inc. says it's recalling three livestock feed ingredients, including two used to supplement feed given to dairy cows, after a sample tested by FDA was found positive for cattle meat and bone meal, says Mark Hohnbaum, president of the Connecticut-based company's feed products group. The recall comes on the heels of two other FDA recalls, one for 27 million lbs. of feed produced in Michigan and the other for an unknown amount of feed produced in Kentucky ("Mammalian Protein Prompts Two FDA Feed Recalls, Aug. 11 BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly).

Cattle tissue may have contaminated two feed ingredients given to dairy cows -- Pro-Lak and Pro-Amino II -- made by H.J. Baker between August 2005 and June 2006. The third of the recalled ingredients, Pro-Pak with Porcine Meat and Bone, was mislabeled. It is used in poultry feed. The company announced the recall in the wake of ongoing FDA inspections of its Albertville, AL plant.

Ruminant material is allowed in poultry feed, and the FDA says there might be cross-contamination into cattle feed because the same equipment might have been used for both species, according to Dow Jones Newswires. The company shipped the ingredients to feed manufacturers and dairy farms in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Tennessee.

In June, FDA announced a recall of H.J. Baker & Bro. Inc. feed supplements. Now FDA has released recall notices for individual feed producers that used H.J. Baker supplements. The company is notifying its customers of the voluntary recall. It does not know how much of the feed ingredients it sold.
-- Clint Peck

Grass Conference Set For Oct. 20-21

The 5th Annual Statewide Project Grass Conference is set for Penn College in Williamsport, PA, Oct. 20-21.

Speakers include BEEF columnist and grazing guru Jim Gerrish and Allen Williams, along with various producer, industry and agency speakers. Gerrish will cover extending the grazing season, pasture management, and evaluating your hay-making system. Williams, of Livestock Management Consultants, LLC, will cover protocols for natural and grass-finished beef, as well as value-added marketing.

Additional topics include pasture management, producer discussion groups, solar and wind power, alternative energy and bio-fuels, a farm-bill update, pasture nutrient management and more.

For more info, contact Kris Ribble at 570-784-4401 (Ext. 111) or kris.ribble@pa.usda.gov. Registration deadline is Sept. 29.
-- Joe Roybal

USDA Announces Drought Aid; Some Decry It

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns, while visiting the hard-hit drought area of South Dakota, announced a $780-million national drought aid package this week. It includes a $50-million Livestock Assistance Grant Program.

States will receive block grants for distribution to livestock producers in counties designated as D3 or D4 on the Drought Monitor (www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html) anytime between March 7 and Aug. 31. A list of eligibility criteria and eligible counties can be found at www.usda.gov.

Nearly $700 million of the package will be the result of moving up counter-cyclical payments, with another $30 million in unused conservation funds. Johanns said, "Today's actions emphasize USDA's commitment to use every resource available to help farmers and ranchers who are impacted by drought."

But USDA's announcement fell short to many Congressional members and others from drought-affected areas. Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-SD) said, "I'm very disappointed. This package doesn't adequately reflect the severity of the drought." Herseth went on to say the package "ignores South Dakota corn, soybean and wheat producers and will do very little to assist hard-hit cattle producers."

Meanwhile, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said, "Any amount of relief is a step in the right direction, but more is needed. I'm hopeful the House and Administration will work together and meet the $3.9-billion drought-relief package already passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee."

The National Farmers Union says it will "continue to work with members of Congress who are working to pass meaningful disaster assistance when they return in September. We don't support USDA's approach of taking money away from other farm programs to provide assistance."

Expect another effort to pass disaster assistance when Congress returns next week. Earlier this year during consideration of the FY year 2007 ag appropriations bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $3.9 billion in disaster aid.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

Record U.S. Ag Exports Projected For 2006 & 2007

USDA is projecting record U.S. ag exports for fiscal years 2006 and 2007, with corn, soybeans and horticultural products accounting for most of the expansion. Exports are expected to reach $68 billion in FY 2006, and $72 billion in FY 2007. The previous record was $62.5 billion in FY 2005.

USDA says the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will account for a third of all U.S. ag exports. Canada and Mexico are expected to import $19.6 billion this fiscal year and $23.7 billion in FY 2007.

Meanwhile, ag imports are forecast to reach $64.5 billion in 2006 and $68.5 billion in FY 2007. The increases are due to fresh fruits, vegetables and wines.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

President Bush Intends To Push For Colombian FTA

President George W. Bush notified Congress of his intent to sign a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Columbia. In his letter, Bush said the FTA "will generate export opportunities for U.S. farmers, ranchers and companies, help create jobs in the U.S. and help American consumers save money while offering them more choices."

Under the agreement, U.S. farm exports will receive immediate duty-free treatment for high-quality beef, cotton, wheat, soybeans, soybean meal, and key fruits and vegetables. Pork, beef, corn, poultry, rice, fruits, vegetables and processed products will benefit from improved market access. Also, Colombia will allow for trade in beef and beef products from animals of all ages. Congress is expected to consider the Columbian FTA next year.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

$400 Million In U.S. Beef Expected To Japan This Year

USDA expects almost $400 million in U.S. beef products to sell in Japan this fiscal year, which would be about a third of its export level to Japan before that island nation banned U.S. beef in December 2003. That according to a report by Australia's ABC Journal that quotes USDA Economist Monte Vandeveer.

Helping that effort along is a report this week that the Japanese restaurant chain Zenshoku planned to resume, perhaps as early as this week, serving U.S. beef in its 57 Korean barbecue restaurants across Japan, the Japan Times reports. If so, it would be the first chain to do so since the government eased its import ban last month.

The report says the company's president and officials visited two plants in California and Colorado earlier this month and confirmed they meet Japanese safety standards. The chain plans to show a videotape of the inspection trip at its outlets to put customers at ease over whether U.S. beef is safe to consume.

"We think that we should be able to have a choice," Zenshoku spokeswoman Tae Okuda says. "Compared with imported beef from other countries, American beef is more suitable for Korean barbecue as the meat is juicy."
-- Joe Roybal

Vote On Horse-Slaughter Ban Could Happen Sept. 7

Despite having veterinarians and nearly every major horse, cattle, swine and ag organization in the U.S. opposed to it, H.R. 503, "The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act," has a very good chance of passing. It's an issue with serious, long-term consequences for the horse industry and all livestock production. It's vital producers let their elected officials know their position, regardless of how they side on the issue.

As Steve Dittmer of the Agribusiness Freedom Foundation writes this week: "This issue highlights something the livestock industries must come to grips with. The public increasingly views production animal agriculture with the same attitude it views the critter sitting next to them on the couch - a dog or cat they consider 'family.' This blurring of the line between humans and animals - silly and incomprehensible to cattlemen who handle production livestock every day - poses a potentially fatal threat to livestock production."

These folks chip away. The veal, hog and poultry industries have been on the front lines, but our turn will come. The goal is to gradually change and alter people's perception of livestock production for food.

My kids watch basically one channel on TV, and that's Disney. Recently I sat down with them and spent an hour watching two programs. In both, the anti-meat message was a central theme.

Much like the war on terrorism, people are debating if there really is a war, or if it's a battle we should fight. Meanwhile, the opposition long ago decided it is a war, and they have one goal in mind - the end of western civilization and the end of livestock production.

This battle is something we must, as an industry, come to grips with. In both cases, the other sides' success is dependent on the fact it constitutes a holy crusade for them while we dismiss them as a lunatic fringe that can't possibly have the agenda they claim to espouse. Despite the hundreds of e-mails to the contrary, I love my horses, too.
-- Troy Marshall