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November 20, 2019
Livestock and Ag Credit News

Farm Bankruptcies Increase Nationwide, Report Says

By Jenny Schlecht, Agweek 11/18/19—Farm bankruptcies continue to increase nationwide, with the largest number of such filings coming in the Midwest region, according to a report from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Farm income is at record–high levels, but that doesn't tell the whole story. According to the report, not only are bankruptcies up, but farm debt is projected to reach record–high levels and producers are taking longer to repay their loans.

Megan Roberts, a Mankato, Minn.–based educator on the University of Minnesota Extension's Agricultural Business Management team says it's the prolonged downturn in the farm economy that makes things difficult. While there is no one reason for the increase in bankruptcy filings, poor prices over a number of years definitely play a part.

"It's not just a one year downturn," she says. "Bankruptcies happen and loan deficiencies happen when there are more prolonged issues."

The Farm Bureau report makes the same points.

"Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies continue to increase as farmers and ranchers struggle with a prolonged downturn in the farm economy that's been made worse by unfair retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agriculture as well as two consecutive years of adverse planting, growing and harvesting conditions," the report says. "Over the prior 12 months, Chapter 12 bankruptcies totaled 580 filings and were up 24% from the previous 12 months."

The report says bankruptcies still have not reached the level of the farm crisis of the 1980s, and some farmers are finding relief from trade assistance, farm bill programs, crop insurance and disaster aid. Those measures could bring the numbers down in the future, the report predicts.v

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Livestock and Ag Credit News

Equity Sparta, Marion Markets Receive Organic Certification

Wisconsin Ag Connection, 10/24/19—The Baraboo–based (NLPA Member) Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association announced that two of its market locations have been organic certified.

President Curt Larson says the move means Equity's Sparta and Marion markets will provide an opportunity to sell organic livestock.

"The organic certification is another step we've taken toward meeting our producer's livestock marketing needs," Larson said. "Our Sparta and Marion market sales will offer organic producers a premium price with quality services."

The certification was approved by Nature's International Certification Services, an organization accredited by the USDA's National Organic Program.

Larson says once employee training has been completed and the necessary paperwork is finalized, the markets will announce the dates of its first organic sales.

Cattle Industry Focus on Animal Health Begins at the Ranch

By Derrell Peel, Farm Journal AgWeb, 11/18/19—The U.S. beef and cattle industry has increased production and productivity in many respects in the past several decades. Total beef production in 2020 is projected at a record 27.3 billion pounds. Cattle carcass weights have increased an average of 5 pounds per year for the past 25 years. Beef production per cow has increased over 100 pounds per cow over the same period.

However, animal health is one area that has actually gotten worse in the past 25 years, with respiratory disease the biggest health problem in the beef industry. Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) causes 70–80 percent of feedlot morbidity and 40–50 percent of feedlot mortality. Feedlot survey data from Kansas shows that average feedlot death loss has nearly doubled from 0.82 percent in 1995–1996 to 1.60 percent in the most recent 24 months. Respiratory disease is a significant source of animal morbidity and mortality at the stocker and cow–calf levels as well.

BRD causes the most economic losses at the stocker/backgrounding and feedlot levels but it is increasingly apparent that improvements in animal health must begin at the cow–calf level. There are several reasons for this. It is known that the incidence and virulence of BRD is increased by the stressors involved in cattle production especially weaning, commingling and shipping cattle. While shipping and commingling cattle are unavoidable, there are several things cow–calf producers can do to increase the odds that animals are healthy and stay healthy to perform well in later production stages.

Data Show Cattle Produce More Protein Than They Consume

By Rachel Gabel, The Fence Post, 11/15/19—Within ag circles, the upcycling ability of the beef cow is recognized as one of the most fundamental values of beef. From a consumer standpoint, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental footprint concerns can eclipse the numbers.

Dr. Sara Place, a sustainability expert, said she has spent a number of years using math to prove to people that agriculture producers aren't massively irrational. Place, formerly at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said sustainability is a melding of environmental, economic and social issues. She told producers gathered at the Colorado Livestock Association's Northeast Livestock Symposium Nov. 13 in Fort Morgan, sustainability conversations are complicated because it involves those issues, in addition to value judgments and uncertainty.

The myths surrounding the beef industry and sustainability, she said, overlook the upcycling ability of the beef cow. Although cattle are able to convert human inedible forages into high–quality protein, Place said the argument is often made that the feed consumption required to finish cattle is too high. Over the life cycle of a grain–finished beef animal, 82 percent of their diet is forage, a statistic Place said that is often surprising to consumers who assume it is lower. Another 7 percent is byproducts from human food, food production and biofuels, enhancing the sustainability of other industries. The remaining 11 percent is grain that could, technically, be consumed by humans.

This whole idea that cattle are stealing food from the mouths of babes isn't what the data shows," she said.

White Paper Shows Minimal Footprint of U.S. Beef

Feedstuffs, 11/14/19—U.S. beef production, particularly when it comes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is often misrepresented with global statistics that fuel inaccurate reports and misconceptions. The newly published paper addresses this issue by sharing the most recent data, which indicate that only 3.7% of U.S. GHG emissions come directly from beef cattle. By comparison, beef cattle account for 6% of GHG emissions globally.

To further put U.S. beef production into perspective, all of agriculture, including beef cattle and other animal and crop agriculture, accounts for 8.4% of U.S. GHG emissions. Comparatively, transportation accounts for 28% of GHG emissions in the U.S. On a global scale, all livestock agriculture accounts for 14.5% of GHG emissions, which is often used inaccurately to represent U.S. beef emissions.

These variations can largely be attributed to different regional production practices. As the white paper notes, cattle production in the U.S. –– due to scientific advancements in beef cattle genetics, nutrition, husbandry practices and biotechnologies –– has one of the lowest beef GHG emission intensities in the world. In fact, GHG emission intensity in the U.S. is 10–50 times lower than in other parts of the world.

How Can We Really Teach Consumers About Ag?

By Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine, 11/11/19—An audience member asked me: "Amanda, if you were queen for the day, how would you show people where their food comes from once and for all?"

First, I would invite urban consumers and elected U.S. Congressmen and women to the flyover states and to the quiet rural gravel roads that weave across America.

I would want them to see the tiny, one–horse towns they have only seen from the window of an airplane as they jet from one side of the country to the other. I would want them to meet the local cafe owner, the small school teacher, the gas station clerk, the community–run movie theater owner, the hunting guide, the librarian and of course, the ranching and farming families.

You see, small town rural America ceases to exist if industries like agriculture, energy and timber disappear. As we outsource these needs and small farming families call it quits, so does the very fabric of rural America.

Second, I would then invite folks to volunteer their time, talent and treasures at a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, kids' after school program or as a case advocate for endangered foster youth.

Because while so many of us enjoy simple luxuries in life using a small percentage of our disposable income, there are many in this country who are food insecure, living on the streets and dealing with extreme poverty, threat of violence, human trafficking and so much more.

One in four kids goes to bed hungry at night. That's not just a sweeping statistic; let it sink in for a moment — 25% of children have rumbling stomachs as they lay their heads down to sleep!

At its core, American agriculture provides food security, which equals national security, which equals peace and the freedom to pursue other interests outside of hunting, gathering, foraging or harvesting our own food for our very survival.

Global Livestock News

Sustainable Beef Group Reaches New Zealand

Global Meat News, 11/13/19—A New Zealand chapter of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) has been created.

B+LNZ is among the founding participants of the New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (NZRSB), which aims to produce the world's most sustainable beef.

Under its mission statement, the NZRSB is committed to ensuring the beef sector is economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally sound. The New Zealand chapter will work with other countries on a range of programmes and initiatives to encourage and promote the production of sustainable beef.

"The NZRSB's mission and vision aligns with our focus on sustainable beef production,"​ said chief executive of B+LNZ Sam McIvor. "Our farmers produce low emissions food in partnership with the environment. This is illustrated by our red meat sector reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% since 1990 and halving its nitrogen emissions during the same period. We're committed to adding no additional warming and becoming climate neutral by 2050."​

The GRSB is a global, multi–stakeholder initiative developed to advance continuous improvement in sustainability of the global beef value chain through leadership, science and multi–stakeholder engagement and collaboration.

USGC: Seminars Educate Sonora Livestock Producers About Us DDGS

By U.S. Grains Council, Ethanol Producers Magazine, 11/15/19—The U.S. Grains Council is answering technical questions and sharing firsthand experience using U.S. dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) with poultry, swine and beef producers in Sonora, Mexico. This work to encourage increased DDGS use is augmented by newly installed stingers that will make it easier for these producers to obtain DDGS from the United States.

Located south of the Arizona border, Sonora is a significant livestock production zone. It is the second–largest pork producing state in Mexico, including large–scale programs like breeding, fattening and processing. Overall, the state produces 229,600 metric tons of pork per year with 2 percent growth year–over–year. To do so, the pork producers union makes consolidated grain purchases for its members, using about 50,000 metric tons of feed grains monthly—40 percent from the United States.

Sonora is also the third–largest egg–producing state in the country, with Sonora's poultry association members using 20,000 metric tons of feed grains monthly to feed their 12 million layers. The region is also home to significant cattle production with 32,000 livestock producers grazing cattle and installed feedlot capacity for fattening 145,000 head per year.

"Sonora has strong demand potential for bulk DDGS," Chavez said. "The economic and nutritional advantages of U.S. DDGS have sparked increased interest from all three of the major livestock production industries in the state."

Global Livestock News

Michigan Senator's Bill to Secure Borders, Protect Agriculture

By Ashley Davenport, Hoosier Ag Today, 11/12/19—Last month, the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Michigan Senators Gary Peters (D) and Debbie Stabenow (D), along with Sen. Pat Roberts (R–Kan.). The Protecting America's Food and Agriculture Act of 2019 would authorize hiring more personnel to staff ports of entry into the U.S.

Sen. Peters is the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and every day he's thinking about securing the borders, and that includes agriculture.

"From an agricultural perspective and from a food perspective, that is a big part of security," he said. "Right now our agricultural inspectors have a great deal on their plate. We're probably short 800 inspectors across the country."

The bill would authorize hiring more than 200 ag technicians, and 20 canine teams a year. Peters says on a daily basis, more than 4,000 prohibited plant materials and animal products and 300 animal pests and diseases are stopped at the border.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Data Confirms: Meat and Poultry Industry Achieves Lowest–Ever Rates for Worker Injuries & Illnesses

NAMI, 11/12/19—U.S. meat and poultry packers and processors continued to make significant progress in workplace safety reaching an all–time low rate of worker injuries and illnesses in 2018 according to a newly released Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual report.

"The data continues to prove the meat and poultry industry is committed to the highest standards of well–being of its employees," said North American Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. "The success of our industry depends on a safe and healthy work environment for the 800,000 people who produce meat and poultry."

Meat industry incident rates improved from both 2017 and 2016 levels, reaching a new, all time industry low of 4.3 cases per 100 full–time workers (per year). The most serious injuries, those included in the "Days Away, Restricted, or Job Transfer (DART)" rate, also dropped from 2017's 4.6 to 2018's 3.6, also the lowest rates ever recorded.

In 2008, just 10 years ago, the industry incident rate was 10.3, while in 1998 the incidence rate was 20.1. A twenty–year injury rate reduction from 20.1 to 10.3 to 4.3 illustrates the sustained industry trend of workplace safety improvement.

NLPA News Brief

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