Red meat supplies down 10% on year

According to USDA, red meat supplies in cold storage at the end of July were down 10% on the year at 933.788 million pounds. That follows year to year declines in slaughter rates noted by the Ag Department’s commercial red meat production numbers. Beef came out at 366.549 million pounds, a 21% drop from last year, and pork stocks were 529.250 million pounds, 3% lower than a year ago.

Poultry was pegged at 1.106 billion pounds, down 14% on the year, with chicken at 612.605 million pounds, 13% less than last year, and turkey at 491.116 million pounds, a 16% decline.

July placements, marketings lowest since 1996

USDA’s monthly cattle on feed report was close to pre-report estimates, some categories at historical lows.

Placements during July were 1.560 million head, down 7% on the year, the lowest for the month since the series of reports started in 1996, and mostly cattle weighing more than 700 pounds. Before the report, analysts were anticipating placements of 1.53 million head. By weight, placements on cattle weighing less than 600 pounds were 425,000 head and 600 to 699 pound placements were 260,000 head, while 700 to 799 pound placements were 355,000 head and placements of cattle weighing 800 pounds and heavier were 520,000 head.

Marketings were pegged at 1.787 million head, 9% less than last year, and also the lowest for the month since the series of reports started. Analysts had been expecting marketings to be down around 8%.

The total number of U.S. cattle on feed as of August 1 was 9.837 million head, 2% below a year ago, and slightly more than what was projected ahead of the report.

Other disappearances were 63,000 head, down 2% on the year.

Nestle tightens pledge on animal welfare

The Nestle food and beverage company has announced an animal welfare agreement with World Animal Protection, a non-governmental organization.

The Swiss company says it will require its more than 7-thousand suppliers of animal products, from milk to meat to eggs, to adhere to stricter animal welfare practices.  The company says an independent auditor will conduct on-farm checks and those farms that don’t work to come into compliance “will no longer supply Nestle.”

The agreement is part of Nestle’s Responsible Sourcing program. Nestle is working with World Animal Protection to “tighten and improve the company’s “responsible sourcing guidelines.”  For example, spacing requirements for pigs and cows will be changed “to ensure they are not cramped and can engage in normal animal behavior.”

Some of Nestle’s many brands include Lean Cuisine, Cheerios and Haagen-Dazs.

U.S. red meat production down 6%

Commercial red meat production during July 2014 was 3.907 billion pounds, down 6% from July 2013, according to USDA.

Beef production was reported at 2.086 billion pounds, 9% lower than a year ago, with the slaughter declining 10% to 2.6 million head and the average live weight gaining 18 pounds to 1,320 pounds.

Veal was pegged at 7.8 million pounds, a 19% drop, with the kill down 31% at 48,500 head and average live weight up 41 pounds to 275 pounds.

Pork came out at 1.799 billion pounds, 2% less than last year, with the slaughter 7% lower at 8.457 million head and average live weight 12 pounds higher at 283 pounds.

Lamb and mutton was reported at 13.9 million pounds, down 2%, with the slaughter also down 2% at 210,200 head and average live weight losing a pound to 132 pounds.

For 2014 to date, U.S. red meat production is 27.377 billion pounds, 3% lower than this time last year.

Missouri landmark dairy bill may survive

Landmark dairy legislation – the first of its kind on a state level – may get a second chance.  Missouri House Ag Committee Chair Casey Guernsey says he believes the state legislature will get the dairy market bill through next month.

In July, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the omnibus bill that covers a variety of ag issues, including the bill to help dairy farmers.  Guernsey tells Brownfield Ag News, “I’ll have the opportunity to debate my bill again and try to get all of the 109 votes to override the governor’s veto and I’m optimistic we’ll be able to do that,” Guernsey says.

Guernsey says Missouri has lost more than 2,500 dairies in the past decade and dairy processors are in danger of shutting down as a result.  He says the bill is set up to strengthen the dairy industry to encourage farmers to stay in the dairy business.

Guernsey stresses that the omnibus bill affects more than just dairy farming. “This bill is an omnibus bill, so there’s ten components and that’s why I says its one of the strongest ag bills that I’ve passed. Its got language that affects almost every facet of agriculture in Missouri that’s very important. From the transfer of titles for the sale of property to pesticide application to liability for cattle, it’s a very good agriculture bill,” Guernsey says.

Governor Nixon vetoed the bill because it had a provision that would have moved captive deer from under Missouri Conservation Department regulation to Missouri Ag Department oversight which Guernsey says is the right thing to do.  The Missouri legislative veto session starts September 10th.

AUDIO: Rep. Casey Guernsey interviewed by Cyndi Young (9:15 mp3)

CME leader says youth critical to ag’s future

Terry Duffy, CME Group chairman and president, 2014 Illinois State Fair

Terry Duffy, CME Group chairman and president, 2014 Illinois State Fair

The chairman and president of the CME Group in Chicago came to the Illinois State Fair last week to show his support of county and state fairs and ag youth.  Terry Duffy said, “I’m very passionate about agriculture and the future of it because I don’t see too many businesses out there that have the growth potential that agriculture does.”

Duffy says people take agriculture for granted and that’s troubling to him, “When you look at the average age of a farmer, at 55.9 years of age, and where this industry could be going – it scares me. So, I have 11-year-old twin boys and I want to see them be able to prosper in this great country. And, I think people have kind of lost their way and it’s not their fault or anyone else’s fault about what really is America.”

Duffy says he wants to see more young people get involved in not only production agriculture but in ag financial services.  The CME group donates to 4-H and sponsors the Commodity Carnival at fairs across the country as an ag education tool for young people.

AUDIO: Interview with Terry Duffy thanks to Steve Bridge – WFMB Radio (7:30 mp3)

EPA stands firm on WOTUS

Despite the EPA’s outreach efforts on its Waters of the U.S. rule, and numerous efforts by ag organizations to convey their concerns, the impasse over the proposed rule appears to be as wide as ever.

Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Water at EPA, says they do not see the rule having any significant impact on the agricultural community.

“We believe that the proposed rule would cover fewer waters than what the current rule covers,” Kopocis says. “So we do not believe we’re expanding jurisdiction.”

Kopocis says the EPA hears the ag industry’s concerns.  “We’ve probably spent more time with representatives of the agricultural community than any other single sector,” he says  “(They) have been very clear that they do see some potential impacts and that’s why we want to have the dialogue–that’s why we want to hear from them in the comment period–to make sure what we say we are intending to do matches up with how it’s perceived, not only by the regulated community, but by regulators going forward as well.”

Kopocis was asked if the EPA has a trust issue within the ag community.

“I don’t know whether there’s a trust issue.  I won’t speak on behalf of that,” Kopocis says.  “I do know that we have not had the best relations with the agricultural community and both this office and the administrator in particular are very interested in trying to address that.”

Ag groups see the proposal as a power grab by the EPA, which would expand the agency’s regulatory power to nearly all waters on farms and ranches.

The Nebraska Rural Network contributed to this story.

More criticism of WOTUS

mcclaskey jackie-ks dept of agMore criticism of the way the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has handled its proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule.

Jackie McClaskey, secretary of agriculture for the state of Kansas, questions whether the EPA is listening to the ag community’s concerns.

“I think what’s been most frustrating is, as the agricultural voices have gotten louder and tried to provide more input in a very reasonable way, the approach we’ve gotten back from the feds is that, ‘well, you just don’t understand it’,” McClaskey says. “So there is really not an honest attempt to have a two-way communication—and that’s frustrating for us as we’re trying to represent agriculture in this discussion.”

McClaskey says the proposed rule is another example of federal overreach where, in her words “logic and common sense have gone out the window.”

AUDIO: Jackie McClaskey (6:34 MP3)

PEDv/Feed study viewed with some caution

A study led by the director of research at Pipestone Veterinary Services in Minnesota shows a link between contaminated animal feed and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in pigs.  The study was carried out on three farms in Iowa and Minnesota where PED was diagnosed early this year.

Richard Sellers with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) tells Brownfield Ag News they are concerned that this study might imply that feed is a cause of PEDv’s spread. He says, “This clarifies that feed is actually a carrier now. The source of how the virus got into the feed is not presented in the report. The authors DO make a point that there was no animal protein product in the feed.”

Sellers tells Brownfield Ag News there has been some blame by some sources placed on an animal protein product used in feed.  He tells Brownfield, “A number of the companies have done a number of studies to demonstrate that their products are indeed safe. There is always the potential for cross-contamination at any point in the feed distribution chain.”

Sellers says on-farm contamination of feed cannot be ruled out.  He says there are still many unknowns about the cause of PEDv and the AFIA along with the Institute for Feed Education and Research have pledged $100-thousand to the National Pork Board to further research.

Interview with Richard Sellers (4:00 mp3)

Wisconsin horse has WNV

Wisconsin has its first recorded case of equine West Nile Virus for the season.  An unvaccinated quarterhorse mare in St Croix County is recovering after being treated by a veterinarian.

State Vet Dr. Paul McGraw reminds horse owners that WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are spread by mosquitoes and the warmer weather of the last couple of weeks has spurred the population.  EEE kills about 90 percent of horses that it strikes, and WNV kills in more than a third of all equine cases.

Symptoms are similar for both diseases: depression, appetite loss, drooping eyelids and lower lip, fever, weakness, twitching, paralysis or lack of coordination, aimless wandering, circling and blindness.

Neither of the viruses is contagious between horses. While humans can become infected by both WNV and EEE, it does not pass between people and horses. Mosquitos biting warm-blooded animals is the only method of transmission.

Besides vaccination, McGraw recommends taking other steps to limit horse exposure to mosquitoes:

  • Remove items from surrounding property that could collect stagnant water such as old tires, tin cans, plastic containers.
  • Keep rain gutters clean and draining properly.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs, and drain water from pool covers.
  • Turn wading pools and wheelbarrows upside down when not in use.
  • Empty and replace water in birdbaths at least once a week.
  • Consider keeping horses in the barn from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.