Is it time to buy or sell cattle?

Conventional wisdom tells us that the proper strategy to investing in a business or commodity is to “buy low and sell high!” I have heard that phrase for years and would agree that it is sound advice. However, the current outlook for the beef industry might put a different spin on the traditional investment advice.

There is little doubt that there is plenty to be excited about in the beef cattle industry. Nearly every class of beef animals is receiving historically high prices. The portion of the country experiencing drought has been reduced significantly over the past two or three years. Feed costs are trending downward on the expectations of a second consecutive large corn crop and improved forage production across much of the country.

Nearly all the market signals are in place for cattle producers to expand their herds. Yet, the U.S. beef cow producer fully realizes that expanding the herd is a long-term investment and commitment.… Continue reading

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July held record pace for exports

U.S. red meat exports slowed in July, the first time this year that year-over-year export volumes were lower for both beef and pork. But 2014 exports remain on a strong pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

July beef exports fell 15% in volume to 101,799 metric tons (mt), although this was in comparison to large totals in July 2013. July export value was steady at $621.7 million. For January through July, beef exports were still 4% higher in volume (687,752 mt) and remained on a record pace in value ($3.89 billion, +13%).

Pork export volume was down 3% in July to 173,270 mt, while value was up 14% to $573.5 million. For January-July, exports established a record pace in both volume (1.32 million mt, +7%) and value ($4.0 billion) — marking the first time pork export value has exceeded $4 billion before August.… Continue reading

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Top pork countries want tariffs eliminated in TPP

In an open letter to negotiators on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, organizations representing hog farmers in Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United States called for a “comprehensive, high-quality” agreement that eliminates tariffs on nearly all products, including pork.

The TPP is a regional negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40% of global GDP.

Australian Pork Limited, the Canadian Pork Council, the Asociación Gremial de Productores de Cerdos de Chile, the Confederacion de Porcicultores Mexicanos and the National Pork Producers Council pointed out that the agreed-upon objectives of the TPP are: that it include trade in goods — including agricultural ones — services, investment, e-commerce, competition policy and intellectual property; that there be no product or sector exclusions, especially in agriculture; that all tariffs and other market access barriers such as Japan’s Gate Price be eliminated by the end of the negotiated transition period; and that all transition periods have “commercially meaningful” timeframes, which should be short and not back-loaded.… Continue reading

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OSU involved with new dairy decision tool launched by USDA

A new online tool designed to assist dairy producers in understanding coverage options under the new farm bill was developed in part by a dairy economist with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency recently announced the launch of the Margin Protection Program for dairy producers, which is a voluntary dairy safety net program that replaces the farm bill’s previous milk price and revenue support programs.

Cameron Thraen, an associate professor in the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics and a member of the National Program on Dairy Markets and Policy, recently worked with a team of researchers from the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, Cornell University and The Pennsylvania State University to develop the web-based decision support tool for MPP.

The MPP online tool can be accessed on the following websites: reading

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Breeding soundness exams render better lambing, kidding seasons

Breeding soundness exams for rams and bucks can take the guessing out of choosing fertile sires as fall breeding season is here, a Purdue Extension specialist said.

Extension Small Ruminants Specialist Michael Neary said 10% of all rams and bucks are infertile going into the breeding season, which for some producers has already begun. Infertility can be temporary or permanent and is caused by a variety of circumstances.

“Infertility or inability to breed can happen because of health problems, structural unsoundness, rams too fat or too thin, or it can be impaired semen quality,” Neary said. “Also, rams can become temporarily infertile due to a high body temperature.”

High body temperatures in rams and bucks may result from high environmental temperatures or a fever. This can impair their fertility for six to eight weeks.

If a ram or buck is unable to breed, ewes or does will not become pregnant; therefore, at lambing or kidding season, producers might not have enough animals to support their businesses for the year.… Continue reading

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Livestock producers urged to enroll in Disaster Assistance program by Oct. 1

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is encouraging producers who have suffered eligible disaster-related losses to act to secure assistance by Sept. 30, 2014, as congressionally mandated payment reductions will take place for producers who have not acted before that date. Livestock producers that have experienced grazing losses since October 2011 and may be eligible for benefits but have not yet contacted their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office should do so as soon as possible.

The Budget Control Act passed by Congress in 2011 requires USDA to implement reductions of 7.3 percent to the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) in the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2014. However, producers seeking LFP support who have scheduled appointments with their local FSA office before Oct. 1, even if the appointment occurs after Oct.1, will not see reductions in the amount of disaster relief they receive.

USDA is encouraging producers to register, request an appointment or begin a Livestock Forage Disaster Program application with their county FSA office before Oct.… Continue reading

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Dairy policy update on the Margin Protection Program

On August 28, 2014, USDA Secretary Vilsack officially announced the start of the new Margin Protection Program (MPP). Here are some of the highlights. If you elect to participate, you will be required to establish a production history (PH) based on the highest annual production from the calendar years 2011, 2012, or 2013.  Once established, your production history will be allowed to increase by the U.S. average production growth.

There is no penalty for increasing production over this level other than the stipulation that extra production will not be eligible for the coverage under the MPP.  Selecting coverage above the lowest level of $4 will require you to pay a premium.  Premiums follow a two tier schedule.  For a production base at 4 million pounds or less, there is one schedule, and for those farms with a production base over 4 million pounds, another more expensive schedule exists.

For those producers whose annual production is at or below 4 million pounds, the cost of coverage all the way up to $6.50 remains very reasonable, only becoming more expensive at the $7 to $8 levels. … Continue reading

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Sidedressing manure into corn has promising results

Ohio State University Extension has conducted manure research on growing crops for several years in an effort to make better use of the available nutrients. Applying manure to growing crops can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses, and give livestock producers another window of time to apply manure to farm fields.

Each of the manure plots in Table 1 was conducted over three years at the Northwest Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s Hoytville location. The swine manure application rate was 5,000 gallons per acre to get 200 units of nitrogen. The dairy manure application rate was 13,577 gallons per acre to get 130 units of nitrogen. The dairy treatments received additional nitrogen as incorporated 28% UAN just prior to the manure application to reach the 200 unit goal. The 28% UAN treatments also received 200 units of nitrogen.

Pre-emergent applications of 28% UAN, swine manure or dairy manure were made within five days of corn planting.… Continue reading

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Manure Science Review highlighted new ways to boost crops and water quality

Manure has two shades of green, so to speak — the green of greater farm crop yields and the green of a cleaner environment.

Organizers of this year’s Manure Science Review, held Aug. 14 in Wayne County, said farmers can see both at the same time and that the event showed good ways to do it.

“Manure is an excellent product for improving soil quality and increasing crop yields when handled correctly,” said Glen Arnold, field specialist in manure nutrient management systems with Ohio State University Extension. “As new manure application equipment becomes available, manure application methods change and farmers can better utilize the nutrients in manure.”

Presented annually in summer, Manure Science Review “is a great place to learn this cutting-edge information,” Arnold said.

OSU Extension is the statewide outreach arm of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. The college is one of the event’s collaborators.… Continue reading

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APHIS proposes opening up beef imports from Argentina

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) made two announcements in late August regarding trade with Argentina. First, the Patagonia South and Patagonia North B areas of Argentina are being added to the lists of regions that are considered free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). This will allow the importation of ruminant and ruminant commodities from the region into the United States.

APHIS completed a qualitative risk assessment to evaluate the risk of importing FMD in susceptible species and products from the Patagonia Region of Argentina, and conducted three site visits to the Patagonia Region of Argentina, most recently in November 2013. The region will be subject to certain restrictions designed to mitigate the risk of introducing FMD into the United States by ensuring that there is no commingling of products from nearby regions with a lesser animal health status. Any meat imported for human consumption would also have to comply with USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service regulations.… Continue reading

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Enrollment for New Dairy farm risk management program to begin Sept. 2

Starting Sept. 2, 2014, farmers can enroll in the new dairy Margin Protection Program. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also launched a new Web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the Margin Protection Program that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, available at, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections.

The Margin Protection Program, which replaces the Milk Income Loss Contract program, gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Enrollment begins Sept.… Continue reading

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Dairy Margin Protection Program signup starting soon

USDA Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Steve Maurer, announced that starting Sept. 2, 2014, farmers can enroll in the new dairy Margin Protection Program. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin — the difference between the price of milk and feed costs — falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also launched a new Web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the Margin Protection Program that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, available at, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, Smartphone, tablet or any other platform, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.… Continue reading

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COOL reform needed to avoid WTO retaliation

The COOL Reform Coalition, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a member, asks farmers to join them in respectfully urging Congress to authorize and directing the Secretary of Agriculture to immediately suspend the Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling regulations for meat upon a final WTO adjudication of non-compliance with international trade obligations.

Such a congressional action would neither pre-judge the pending WTO litigation on this matter nor allow an on-going period of knowing violation of international trade obligations.

Composed of a diverse group of associations and companies, the COOL Reform Coalition represents U.S. food, agriculture and manufacturing industries, advocating for U.S. compliance with WTO obligations. Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling rules require most retailers to provide country of origin labeling for fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, shellfish, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, ginseng, meat and poultry. The rules are required by the 2002 farm bill, as amended by the 2009 farm bill.… Continue reading

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How do you handle questions about water quality?

How would you respond to the following question, “Why don’t you farmers keep the crap out of the water?”

It was a question one of my friends encountered during a conversation while vacationing in the Lake Erie area this summer — before the Toledo water crisis.

The crisis will continue to generate conversations locally, regionally, statewide, nationally and even internationally. The conversations you have and the trust you build could make the difference in determining if this issue becomes a social control tipping point.

Every organization and industry operates with some level of social license, which is defined as the privilege of operating with minimal formalized restrictions based on maintaining public trust. Six professional attributes contribute to protecting this privilege: ethical principles, code of conduct, accountability to stakeholders, best practices, certification and continuing education.

Social license is granted when an organization or industry operates in a way that is consistent with the ethics, values and expectations of customers, employees, the local community, regulations, legislators and the media.  … Continue reading

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WTO rules against COOL

It appears that the U.S. has lost its case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over its country of origin labeling law (COOL).

The hard fought internal battles over COOL in the U.S. left a law on the books that many critics said was open to retaliation by the WTO. Canada and Mexico challenged the rule, which was rewritten, though concerns about WTO compliance remained.

National Pork Producers Council president Howard Hill said that his organization expected the WTO ruling along with eventual retaliation by Canada and Mexico against the United States.

“There is an opportunity for the U.S. to appeal, and so the retaliation is not going to occur this year,” Hill said. “Eventually we’re going to have to get this fixed or we will have a really serious situation with retaliation. We are going to have to rally the troops to get Congress to fix this because that is the only way it is going to get fixed now.… Continue reading

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ASAS shows support for Sheep Experiment Station

In a letter sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the American Society of Animals Science (ASAS) voiced its support for keeping open the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES), explaining how closing USSES “will result in immeasurable losses to the sheep industry, animal agriculture and animal science.”

“The research, extension and educational prolificacy of the USSES is directly related to the unique nature of the station,” ASAS President Debra Aaron explained in the letter. “USSES is one of the few units left in the U.S. with a critical mass of scientists, adequate land, diversity of land, animal numbers and a production environment to produce meaningful results related to issues within animal agriculture and particularly in terms of sheep production.”

The letter from ASAS — a membership society that supports the careers of scientists and animal producers in the United States and internationally — outlined a number of significant scientific contributions USSES has made to sheep production over the years, including the development of key sheep breeds, nationwide meat-sire and wool-sire evaluation programs, specific genetic markers and disease pathogen identification, along with eradicating scrapie in the United States.… Continue reading

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Ohio State Fair Commercial Sheep Pen results

This year’s commercial pen of 5 contest had the largest group of lambs entered since its inception with 100 head of lambs from three different states. All lambs brought $2.01 per pound and were marketed through Ohio Kroger stores.

” This group of lambs would work for any market on any given day,” said Rick Reynolds, live evaluation judge.

The top five live placing lamb exhibitors were:

1. Dennis Clark — Troy, Ohio

2. David Burkhart — Alger, Ohio

3. Harvey Warrick — Adrian, Michigan

4. Dennis Clark — Troy, Ohio

5. The Ohio State University Beef and Sheep Centers — Columbus

The top five Carcass places were:

1. Dennis Clark — Troy, Ohio

2. The Ohio State University Beef & Sheep Centers — Columbus, Ohio

3. Dennis Clark — Troy, Ohio

4. David Burkhart — Alger, Ohio

5. The Ohio State University Beef & Sheep Centers -—Columbus, Ohio

A special thanks to the Kroger Company for the purchase of the lambs, Rick Reynolds for the live placing and evaluation and to Steve Moeller, Professor Ron Cramer and the staff of the OSU Meat laboratory for their data entry and collection.… Continue reading

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National Pork Board examining international marketing opportunities

The National Pork Board recently announced a study that will explore alternatives for promoting pork’s quality and sustainability benefits with international consumers.  The study, to be conducted by SIAM Professionals, LLC, will evaluate existing marketing strategies and partners to identify methods for improving pork’s position as the global meat of choice.

Funded through America’s Pork Checkoff, this project will evaluate the effectiveness of current global marketing efforts and identify potential partnerships and marketing tools for promoting U.S. pork. SIAM specializes in evaluating and developing international market opportunities for the food and agribusiness industry.

“Throughout the world, pork is the single most consumed meat. The popularity of U.S. pork is driven by its taste, versatility as a recipe and menu item, and affordable cost,” said Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board. “For many years, pork has been marketed globally with all other meats, and it’s our intention to determine the ideal way to market U.S.… Continue reading

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2014 Indiana State Fair Draft Horse Show

Click here for general scenes from the fair

The Indiana State Fair hosted three national draft horse shows. The the National Clydesdale Show (Aug. 10-12), the National Belgian Show (Aug. 14-17), and the National Draft Haflinger Show (Aug. 14-17). They also hosted the Mid-American Percheron Show and a draft pony show.

The Indiana State Fair Draft Horse Show Committee will be sharing official results with us as soon as they become available. Unfortunately, the committee is experiencing computer program difficulties at this time.

Please enjoy this photo gallery from a couple of the draft horse shows and the draft horse pull in the mean time.… Continue reading

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Regional Feed Industry Seminar

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association, in conjunction with the Agribusiness

Council of Indiana and the American Feed Industry Association, is hosting a regional seminar Sept. 10 to help the feed industry prepare for new rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The event is designed to help companies understand how one proposed rule — “Current food manufacturing practices and hazard analysis risk-based preventive controls for food for animals” — will impact their business.

Companies manufacturing animal feed, pet food and feed ingredients will benefit most from the training, which will focus on requirements for them to comply with the FSMA.

“We’re proud to partner with the American Feed Industry Association and the Agribusiness Council of Indiana,” said Chris Henney, OABA President and CEO. “This seminar will help our members gain a better understanding of the new rules and provide them resources to help comply with the FSMA law.”

A week before the seminar, attendees will receive discussion materials in electronic format to bring to the working meeting.… Continue reading

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