Biden taking a look at meat pricing

Early this month, President Joe Biden met virtually with farmers and ranchers to discuss his Administration’s work to boost competition and reduce prices in the meat-processing industry, where corporate consolidation has, in part, led to rising prices for consumers and lower farm earnings. 

The President explained that under his July Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, the Administration has been focused on tackling the lack of competition in agricultural markets. A small handful of meatpackers control the majority of the markets for beef, pork, and poultry, enabling them to squeeze farmers and ranchers while also raising prices on consumers.

“Four big corporations control more than half the markets in beef, pork, and poultry. These middlemen buy from farmers and ranchers and sell the processed product to grocery stores. That’s the way it works,” Biden said. “Without meaningful competition, farmers and ranchers don’t get to choose who they sell to. Or put another way, our farmers and ranchers have to pay whatever these four big companies say they have to pay, by and large. But… Continue reading

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Questions a plenty going forward with cattle prices

By Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, Ohio State University Extension

What is driving recent cash fed cattle higher prices at auction? What is the cattle market going to look like in 2022?  Those have been common questions as of late, especially after record setting fed cattle auction prices during the first week of December at several Ohio auction markets.

Auction price dynamics

As we know in agriculture, the law of supply and demand still has a great impact on commodity prices. Let’s talk about demand first.

We often do not know, especially with regards to fed cattle is the balance between supply and demand of a given packer on a given harvest day. For a plant to operate efficiently, it needs to operate at capacity to cover fixed costs associated with daily operations.

From the supply side of things, most packers fill a day’s harvest with a combination of cattle that are forward contracted, negotiated or formula priced, and cattle purchased on the cash market.… Continue reading

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Pork industry grooms future leaders

The National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board have kicked off the 2022 class of Pork Leadership Institute (PLI), a jointly funded and organized training curriculum designed to develop future leaders for the U.S. pork industry.

The comprehensive, year-long program consists of five learning sessions, running from February to November. Selected participants are educated on the legislative and regulatory processes, the importance of international trade, the roles of the national pork organizations and their state pork associations, and the issues facing producers. They also are trained to be spokespeople for the pork industry and grassroots activists able to disseminate pro-active, targeted messages about the industry. 

“PLI is vital to the success of pork producers because it develops knowledgeable advocates for the pork industry and, most importantly, future industry leaders,” said Bryan Humphreys, NPPC CEO. “PLI graduates are able to tell the pork industry’s story from Main Street to the nation’s capital.… Continue reading

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New grant program seeks to boost Ohio meat processing capacity

By Matt Reese

Local processing capacity has long been a challenge for Ohio’s livestock producers. The issue has been really brought to the forefront since March of 2020 and the onset of the pandemic. A new Ohio Meat Processing Grant Program will help address the issue. The first come, first serve application process opened up in December for grants of up to $250,000 for Ohio livestock and poultry processors to expand and improve operations. 

“This program provides grants of up to $250,000 to Ohio livestock and poultry processors so they can implement processing efficiencies, expand or construct facilities at existing sites, assist in training and certification, and improve harvest services,” said Brandon Kern, senior director of state and national policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “We were really successful at the state level in Ohio this year getting some financial resources into the budget bill to help small and medium meat processors to be able to expand their facilities and their capacity in a new grant program that just went live.… Continue reading

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Does stockpiling pay?

By Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Morgan County

For much of my career, I have worked with colleagues to try to figure out the best ways to reduce costs of feeding our cattle during the winter. I am still convinced that along with grazing corn fields after harvest, stockpiling grass, especially fescue is a great option. The how, when and what to do stockpiling grass is where it becomes “fuzzy.” From a scientific standpoint, after 32 years of various stockpiling research, all I can really say with statistical confidence today is that adding nitrogen will increase yields. Can adding a nitrogen stabilizer help? Maybe. Will urea volatize if it does not receive a half of rain within 48 hours? Maybe but likely not as much as we thought. Will adding nitrogen increase protein? Maybe but it likely depends on how soon the grass is fed and do the cattle really need the increased protein?… Continue reading

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Chinese pork tariff to increase Jan. 1

China’s most favored nation (MFN) duty on frozen pork will revert to 12% Jan. 1. The tariff had been temporarily reduced to 8% Jan. 1 of last year because the country’s domestic pork production was suffering from the effects of African swine fever. In addition to the MFN duty, U.S. pork is subject to a 25% retaliatory tariff, a response to U.S. duties on Chinese steel and aluminum imports. The National Pork Producers Council is working with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Commerce Department to remove the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork.… Continue reading

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OCA elects new board members, officers and executive committee

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) recently held elections for directors in districts 2,5,8, 11 and one at-large position. The new board then held a meeting on Dec. 7 to elect the association’s officers for 2022. 

 The newly elected board members are Andy Lohr, district 2, and Jason Dagger, district 5.      

 Andy Lohr is from Bucyrus. Lohr and his wife, Tonya, run a 100-head cow/calf operation and feed out all their own calves, as well as purchase extra feeders throughout the year. They also raise 1,400 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay.      

The family recently opened the Center Street Meat Company in Bucyrus. The lack of harvest facilities during COVID created the push to establish the business, but it was the tremendous community support for it that helped create a strong demand for retail and custom orders. The business is owned by Lohr and his wife and their two children, Jake and Jessica, and son-in-law, Mitch.    … Continue reading

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Mahoning County livestock escapes appear to be malicious

By Matt Reese

In what appears to be more than coincidental livestock escapes, multiple animals have been killed, people have been injured and there has been significant property damage in northeast Ohio. It seems as if trespassers are releasing livestock.

On the evening of Nov. 30, 2021, 12 horses escaped from a Mahoning County farm and there were three separate traffic accidents killing three of the horses. Injuries were reported for a driver and passenger in one of the vehicles that struck one of the horses, according to the Jackson Township fire department. The other nine escaped horses were corralled by police and returned to the farm.

“I live in North Jackson. I was at the school and heading home. They had shut down Mahoning Avenue and we had to go around. We could see one of the cars that hit the horse. It definitely looked like a lot of damage, but it sounded like everyone was OK,” said Jennifer Pemberton, Mahoning County Farm Bureau president.… Continue reading

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USDA provides additional assistance to hog producers 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a new program to assist hog producers who sold hogs through a negotiated sale during the period in which these producers faced the greatest reduction in market prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program (SMHPP) is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative and addresses gaps in previous assistance for hog producers. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications Dec. 15, 2021 through Feb. 25, 2022.   

SMHPP provides assistance to hog producers who sold hogs through a negotiated sale from April 16, 2020 through Sept. 1, 2020. Negotiated sale, or negotiated formula sale, means a sale of hogs by a producer to a packer under which the base price for the hogs is determined by seller-buyer interaction and agreement on a delivery day. USDA is offering SMHPP as packer production was reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic due to employee illness and supply chain issues, resulting in fewer negotiated hogs being procured and subsequent lower market prices.  

“Previous pandemic assistance used flat rates across the hog industry, and this didn’t take into account the various levels of harm felt by different producers,” said Zach Ducheneaux, FSA Administrator.… Continue reading

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OCA’s Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet to be held Jan. 8

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will host their Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet on Saturday, Jan, 8, 2022 at the Hilton Columbus/Polaris. OCA members are encouraged to attend and participate in important discussion that will establish the association’s top priorities for the year and celebrate fellow cattlemen on their achievements.

The day will begin with lunch and a legislative briefing from Ethan Lane, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), to present an overview of policy priorities for NCBA and OCA. 

Following lunch will be OCA’s Annual Meeting sponsored by Heartland Feed Services – a joint venture of Mercer Landmark and Sunrise Co-Op. Members will set policy for 2022 and hear program and policy updates presented by representatives from state government and The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

After policy priorities have been set for the year the Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation will host a meeting to present over 20 scholarships to future leaders of Ohio’s beef industry.… Continue reading

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A tradition of sheep, a legacy of stewardship

By Matt Reese, Kim Lemmon and Kolt Buchenroth

It has certainly not been easy, but Roger and Jan Cox have quietly worked together over many years to build a successful sheep operation and a family legacy. They are the 2021 Charles Boyles Master Shepherd Award winners. 

“This award has been given since 1987. It is named after Charles Boyles who was the farm manager of the sheep and beef facilities at Caldwell Research Station for many years. This is the highest recognition the Ohio sheep industry awards,” said Roger High, Executive Director of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Sheep and Wool Program. “It is an honor to be able to recognize shepherds who are certainly deserving of this.”

With a clear dedication to excellence, the couple has been able to accomplish much on their Morrow County crop and livestock operation.

“They are successful because of their teamwork,” said Dale Davis, a Southdown breeder from Morrow County.… Continue reading

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USDA opens 2022 signup for Dairy Margin Coverage

As part of ongoing efforts to support dairy farmers and rural communities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened signup for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program and expanded the program to allow dairy producers to better protect their operations by enrolling supplemental production. This signup period — which runs from Dec. 13, 2021 to Feb. 18, 2022 — enables producers to get coverage through this important safety-net program for another year as well as get additional assistance through the new Supplemental DMC.

Supplemental DMC will provide $580 million to better help small- and mid-sized dairy operations that have increased production over the years but were not able to enroll the additional production. Now, they will be able to retroactively receive payments for that supplemental production. Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) updated how feed costs are calculated, which will make the program more reflective of actual dairy producer expenses.  

“Dairy Margin Coverage is a critical safety-net for producers, and catastrophic coverage is free.… Continue reading

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Beef export value shatters annual record

October was another strong month for U.S. red meat exports as beef export value continued to soar, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). October pork exports were below last year’s large total but year-to-date shipments remained slightly above the record pace of 2020.

“USMEF has always prioritized market diversification, and this is more critical than ever now that the red meat industry faces unprecedented transportation challenges and rising input costs,” said Dan Halstrom, president and CEO. “Exports will likely reach about $18 billion in 2021, which is a remarkable achievement. While global demand is tremendous and we are cautiously optimistic about further growth in 2022, supply chain pressures are not easy to overcome and are a growing concern for exporters and their international customers.”

Broad-based growth puts beef exports on $10 billion pace

Beef exports reached 115,709 metric tons (mt) in October, up 7.5% from a year ago, while export value climbed 48% to $956.9 million — the second-highest total on record, behind August 2021.… Continue reading

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Dairy defined: Tough times arrive in fake-food land

By The National Milk Producers Federation

The hype couldn’t last forever. 

No matter how many celebrity funders are brought on board or “next best thing” pitches are made to launch a product, eventually, over-the-top marketing comes back to bite, and that’s what’s been happening in the world of fake food. Here are a couple recent examples.

Oatly, the darling of the plant-based beverage set, lost one-fifth of its trading value in one day last month after warning it wouldn’t meet revenue expectations. As is the fashion of the day, Oatly blamed the pandemic and supply chains, but the simple truth is, consumer demand isn’t what it was earlier hyped up to be. Third-quarter sales in the Americas, expected at 40 million liters a month, fell short by 3 million. 

The company is facing quality control issues as well, with a recall in its native Sweden for potential loose metal in its products.… Continue reading

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Stories from the Steak Barn

By Matt Reese

Ribeye sandwich with extra onions? Cheeseburger? Chopped steak sandwich? Malt vinegar on those fries? Regardless of personal preferences, most everyone acquainted with Ohio’s beef industry and the Ohio State Fair has some experience with the offerings of the Steak Barn.  

The tradition of serving up delicious ribeye sandwiches at the Ohio State Fair has brought nourishment, camaraderie and a connection with Ohio’s cattle industry to many diners since 1984. The Steak Barn — a State Fair staple located between the Voinovich Livestock Arena and the Butter Cow Display — got its start as a unique fundraiser.

In 1981, the Margaretta Junior High cheerleaders wanted to improve their skills by going to a cheer camp, but they needed to find a way to pay for it. They settled on the idea of setting up a concession stand to raise the needed funds. Bob Wright from Clyde, the father of one of those cheerleaders, went to work in his WR Farms shop crafting a vision into what would become the Steak Barn.… Continue reading

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Managing fertilizer costs on dairy operations

By Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County; and Greg LaBarge, Field Specialist, Nutrient Management, Ohio State University Extension

Fertilizer prices have been increasing rapidly. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has tracked bi-weekly fertilizer prices in Illinois since 2008. Prices of anhydrous ammonia, urea, and 28% are all up. The average price of anhydrous ammonia was $1,135 per ton, up by $278 per ton from the price reported Oct. 7, 2021. 

The University of Illinois Farmdoc Daily, in their October 26 Weekly Farm Economicsnewsletter ( identified the following reasons for increasing nitrogen fertilizer prices:

  • Hurricane Ida’s landfall in September closed anhydrous ammonia plants in Louisiana, leading to supply disruptions.
  • Natural gas prices, a significant cost of producing nitrogen fertilizers, have been increasing in recent months. Natural gas and anhydrous ammonia prices are correlated.
  • Corn prices have been rising. Fertilizer prices are positively correlated with corn prices, particularly since the rise in corn use for ethanol.
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Pork producers lobby lawmakers

Preventing foreign animal diseases, addressing a shortage of agricultural workers and reauthorizing a livestock price reporting law are the primary issues pork producers will lobby their congressional lawmakers over the next two days, during the fall Capitol Hill fly-in of the National Pork Producers Council. More than 100 producers from across the country are expected to participate virtually in NPPC’s Legislative Action Conference.

“These are critical but by no means the only issues of concern to U.S. pork producers,” said Jen Sorenson,NPPC President and communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Failure to address even one of these matters could make it very difficult for hog farmers to continue producing safe, nutritious pork for consumers around the globe. Our fly-in is an opportunity for producers to urge Congress to take action on important issues.”

Producers will ask their members of Congress to support funding for efforts to prepare for and prevent foreign animal diseases, particularly African swine fever (ASF), which recently was detected in the Western Hemisphere for the first time in more than 40 years.… Continue reading

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2021 OCA Replacement Female Sale results

By Garth Ruff, OCA Replacement Female Sale Manager

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) held their ninth annual Replacement Female Sale on Nov. 26 at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Company in Zanesville. A large crowd was on hand to bid on 80 high quality females in the sale. The sale represented an excellent opportunity for cow-calf producers to add quality females with documented breeding and health records to their herds.

Buyers evaluated 80 lots of bred heifers and bred cows at the auction. The sale included 56 lots of bred heifers that averaged $1,701, and 24 lots of bred cows that averaged $2,155. The 80 total lots grossed $152,875 for an overall average of $1,910. The females sold to buyers from Ohio and West Virginia. Col. Ron Kreis served as the auctioneer.

Sales prices for quality females were slightly higher year over year, as the 2021 sale represented a $66 per head price increase over the2020 sale.… Continue reading

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Antibiotic stewardship in calves: Knowing the signs

By Haley Zynda, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Wayne County, Ohio State University Extension

Fun fact, a “disease symptom” is something you are personally feeling, while a “disease sign” is something you observe in someone else or in animals. In order to better score potential disease, it is necessary to understand what a healthy calf looks like, so a sick calf stands out and is appropriately treated. So, what factors need to be observed? 

Calves are naturally playful; sometimes I see them referred to as “grass puppies” on social media because of their bouncy and curious personalities. Healthy calves also have bright eyes and alert ears, paying attention to the world around them. They will typically stretch upon rising. On the flip side, sick calves may seem lethargic or disinterested in their surroundings. Dull eyes or mucus coming from the eyes and nose is a clear sign of illness.… Continue reading

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Valuing bedded-pack manure

By Glen Arnold, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

Due to the increase in fertilizer prices, there is renewed interest in the nutrient value of manure, including bedded-pack manures that involve straw, sawdust, or wood chips to absorb moisture. The nutrients and organic matter in pen-pack manure are an excellent addition to farm fields.

The most common types of bedded manure are beef, dairy, and sheep or goats. Small ruminant bedded pack manure contains the most nutrients per ton followed by beef manure and dairy manure. 

Pen-pack manure contains the macro nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash along with a host of micronutrients. The nutrient content can vary depending on species, feed products fed, and the amounts of straw or sawdust used for bedding. The farm’s manure handling and storage practices also impact the nutrient content of manure. Manure stored under roof will usually maintain a higher nutrient value than manure exposed to rainfall.… Continue reading

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