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NLPA News Brief
March 22, 2017
Livestock and Ag Credit News

U.S. Faces Competition in Global Beef Export Market

Iowa Farmer Today, 03/18/17—The U.S. beef industry has seen some good trends recently, with exports increasing as the American beef supply continues to grow.

"Beef exports rebounded nicely in 2016," says Joe Schuele, vice president of communications for the U.S. Meat Export Federation. "We were down a bit in 2015 after we had a value record in 2014." U.S. beef exports were over $7 billion in 2014.

Schuele says Brazil is a large beef producer and "kind of the one supplier left standing to Russia." Brazil also exports to China. The U.S. mostly competes with Brazil in the Middle East market. Canada is another big beef producer, but 75 percent of Canadian beef ends up in the U.S., so not much of it competes with U.S. beef in global destinations. India exports the largest volume of beef of any country in the world, but Schuele says it's more low–quality beef.

"We don't see them as a direct competitor for U.S. beef, but it is a factor in the protein market," he says. Schuele says international customers enjoy the largely grain–finished product the U.S. offers. "We really feel like our grain–fed product has unique attributes," he says. "A lot of our customers enjoy the tenderness and quality."

Schuele says those customers also view the U.S. as a reliable supplier. About 14 percent of U.S. beef is exported, but the strong domestic demand indicates to international customers that the U.S. will always have strong beef production.

It also helps that U.S. beef's biggest customers are fairly stable economies. Brown says exports remain crucial for U.S. beef producers.

"It's critical today," he says. "When you think about the kinds of growth in beef supplies coming in 2017 and that we have seen, we need to move product abroad."

GIPSA NEWS: 03/16/17

Livestock and Ag Credit News

NIAA Annual Conference Nears, April 3–6: Globalization of Food Production.

NIAA News Release, 03/21/17—This year's upcoming NIAA Annual Conference will focus on understanding the challenges of the globalization of food production. The theme, "US Animal Agriculture's Future Role in World Food Production: Obstacles & Opportunities," goes beyond the implications of import and export, trade negotiations and political concerns, to include how animals are treated and resources are used world–wide.

The NIAA Annual Conference will be held at the Renaissance Columbus Hotel Downtown, Columbus, OH. An Ag Tour of area industries will be available as a pre–conference tour on April 3rd.

NIAA Species Committees, Issues Councils and Leadership meetings will provide speakers and presentations to their own set of stakeholders to explore issues relative to their own industries as well as their impact on the global marketplace.

The NIAA Animal Care Standards Workshop, following the 2017 NIAA Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio on April 6, 2017, explores the current state of farm animal legislation, and legal perceptions.

Animal welfare and well–being are important and critical issues today. The relationship with and stewardship of agricultural animals are constantly being explored by the media. The public's perception of agricultural practices affect consumer decisions, especially those by Millennials. Standards for animal care are reviewed and regulated by governing agencies.

Animal ag has a duty to assure that the animals under their care are treated responsibly. Animal husbandry is a primary responsibility and tradition for producers, and is an issue throughout the food chain. For registration, agenda information and speakers, go to the NIAA website,

Animal Welfare: Management and Avoidance of Pain

By Bernie Rollin, Drovers, 03/08/17—Ironically, the acceleration of modern technology that created confinement agriculture can also be utilized to replace painful management practices. When challenged by ranchers to provide them with an alternative to branding, a group of us at Colorado State University created digitized retinal images of cow retinas, images with more data points than human fingerprints.

Similarly, cattlemen could employ other biometric identifiers or electronic forms of identification such as microchips, given that all such methods provide permanent, unalterable forms of identification. These biometric and electronic forms of identification provide the additional advantage of facilitating trace–back in the event of disease outbreak. In addition, branding does not prevent cattle theft.

Animal Welfare: Ranching Traditions

By Bernie Rollin, Drovers, 03/07/17—One salient example of ranching traditions that are in need of an update are surgical mutilations, sanctified by convenience and tradition. Anesthesia is rarely used for these procedures and analgesia, virtually never. (There are no analgesics approved for use in food animals.) This is very ironic, because it is generally acknowledged that the branch of animal agriculture that has most strongly resisted transformation to an industrial approach is the cow–calf component of beef production, most famously instantiated in Western North American extensive ranching.

As devoted to pursuing a way of life as to making a living, Western ranchers strongly adhere to an ethic of animal husbandry. For example, of the approximately 20,000 ranchers all over the US and Canadian West that I have addressed on ethics and animal welfare, well over 90%, in fact, closer to 100%, have spent more money and time on saving a marginal, sick calf than the calf is worth in strictly economic terms. When asked to explain this putatively economically irrational decision, ranchers will invoke their moral obligations to the animals under their aegis.

$115,449.50 Raised to Benefit Fire Relief Fund at OKC West

High Plains Journal, 03/18/17—Wednesdays are sale days at OKC West Livestock Market but March 15 was different. Typically, animals aren't auctioned off more than once at a livestock market. However, this day an individual heifer, donated by OKC West Livestock Market, was auctioned 105 times. The heifer was initially sold for $5,000.00, then donated back and auctioned again and again and again for a grand total of $115,449.50.

"The proceeds from the sale will go to the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation Fire Relief Fund to help ranchers who have been affected by the recent, devastating wildfires," said Bill Barnhart, president of OKC West. "After experiencing our own disaster with the May 31, 2013, tornado, people rallied around us with tremendous support. Many were friends of our market but most were just good neighbors helping those in need. Several were from Northwest Oklahoma. It is in this spirit we wish to help those cattlemen in their time of need."

Large Animal Vet? There's an App For That, Local App Entrepreneurs Developing Mobile Solution For Cattle, Livestock Producers

By John Dahlia, The Preston County News & Journal, West Virginia, 03/21/17—out of all the apps available, nothing seems to be available for the rural cattle or livestock farmer desperate to help his sick animal.Enter West Virginia University Extension agents Bill Shockey and David Hartley. Both work out of the Kingwood office in Preston County and have spent nearly six years working to provide what they call state–of–the–art technology to the West Virginia cattle producer.

"We designed the app concept to allow veterinarians to prioritize on–site visits, diagnose and direct treatment remotely," Shockey said.

In the simplest terms, a cattle farmer or producer would use the app on his or her smartphone or mobile device to transmit a description of the animal's ailment and vital statistics. Then, using the same device, the farmer would record and stream video of the sick or injured animal to the veterinarian. Aside from giving potentially life–saving treatment for the farmer's animal, the technology also would document the veterinarian–client relationship, as well as increase number of clients or patients he or she can serve.

Global Livestock News

Brazilian Beef and Poultry Industry Plunged into Major Scandal

By Jim Breen, AgriLand, 03/18/17—Authorities in Brazil have suspended over 30 government officials in response to allegations that some of the country's biggest meat processors have been "selling rotten beef and poultry for years", according to the reports from the BBC this morning.

The BBC has said that "three meat processing plants have been closed and another 21 are under scrutiny". While some of the meat produced by the factories is consumed domestically, much of it is exported here to Europe. Brazil is currently the world's largest exporter of red meat.

Meanwhile, it is believed that Brazil's Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi is hurriedly arranging to meet foreign ambassadors over the coming days in a bid to prevent sanctions being imposed on Brazil's beef and poultry exports.

The Brazilian Beef Industry: Just How Big Is It?

By Richard Halleron, AgriLand, 03/20/17—With one of the world's largest commercial cattle herds, Brazil is the second–largest commercial beef producer, internationally, behind the United States.

The scale of its livestock sector as a whole is massive. For example, back in 2010, it generated over US$13 billion in exports of fresh, chilled, frozen and prepared meat, doubling its 2004 level.

However, future increases in meat exports and greater access to the global market will depend on the success of current efforts to improve its disease status and Brazil's ability to implement and maintain sanitary controls.

One Last Chance to Comment On Sustainable Beef 'Indicators'

Alberta Farmer, 03/20/17—The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is seeking feedback on its revised "sustainability indicators" for beef production in Canada.

The indicators are ways to measure sustainability objectives — such as ecosystem health and animal health and welfare.

For example, one of the objectives is to maintain or enhance grasslands, pastures, and native ecosystems. Some of the indirect measures for that objective are having a grazing plan, have appropriate forage species, and availability of blooming plants for pollinators. The direct measure of that objective is a rangeland health assessment score.

Global Livestock News

Ag Policy Centers See Concern and Hope

By Julie Harker, Brownfield Ag News, 03/0/17—Leaders of the agriculture policy centers at Texas A–&–M and the University of Missouri have made the case for both concern and hope for the U.S. ag outlook. Joe Outlaw, co–director of the Agricultural & Food Policy Center at Texas A–&–M says times are really tough and most producers are below break even, "What we're trying to do is make sure everyone understands that conditions are not terrible yet but we can sure see them continuing to get worse unless prices rebound some." Outlaw says one positive is that producers went into this downturn in better financial shape than the 1980s.

However, Pat Westhoff with FAPRI–MU says while there are lots of reasons to be uncertain about ag's future, the four straight years of above trend yields offers some light, "Remember, we've now had four straight years of above–trend yields for major crops around the world. Well, just going back to more normal yields some year would actually help the situation somewhat." Westhoff says there's reason to think the ag economy won't stay where it is forever.

Joe Outlaw and Pat Westhoff were among the presenters at the Abner Womack Missouri Agricultural Outlook Forum Friday at the University of Missouri Bradford Research Farm near Columbia, Missouri. Presented their March 2017 U.S. Baseline Briefing Book – projections for Agricultural and Biofuel Markets – to congressional staff the first full week of March.

Navy's Decision to Abandon the Iconic Pea Coat Threatens New England Businesses

American Sheep Industry Association, 03/17/17—The American Sheep Industry Association has been following the developing news about the U.S. Navy's replacement of its iconic wool pea coat with a nylon parka. This would eliminate the 40,000 to 42,000 wool pea coats the Navy contracts annually, which by ASI's estimate uses approximately 200,000 pounds of clean wool, combed at Chargeurs Wool. While ASI remains engaged with policy–makers on behalf of our nation's wool producers, David Trumbull, principal of Agathon Associates, highlighted the issue in a Boston newspaper this week. Agathon Associates consults on textiles, international trade and information technology systems.

Since 1967, Sterlingwear of Boston, an East Boston manufacturer of outwear, has been the official supplier to the U.S. Navy of the pea coats that are so emblematic of that branch of the service. Now the Navy has announced that it plans to abandon a centuries' old custom, eliminate the navy–blue wool pea coat from sea bags and replace it with a black nylon parka made in Puerto Rico.

"The negative impact that this decision has on our business is unparalleled in our long history of working with the U.S. Navy," said David Fredella, vice president and chief operating officer of Sterlingwear of Boston. He continued, "The numerous small businesses that rely on this product and the many employees that will be affected by this decision cannot be overstated. It is imperative that this decision be revisited and reversed."

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