Texan to be inducted in to Saddle & Sirloin Gallery

The Saddle and Sirloin Portrait Gallery inductee for 2014 has been named.

Minnie Lou Bradley of Childress County Texas will enter the livestock industry’s hall of fame in November during the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) in Louisville, Kentucky.

Minnie Lou’s career began in 1949 when she became the first woman to major in Animal Husbandry at Oklahoma A&M. She became the first woman to win the High Individual Overall award at the National Collegiate Livestock Judging Contest and in 2005 Minnie Lou served as the first female President of the American Angus Association.

Started by Minnie Lou and her husband Bill in 1955, the Bradley 3 Ranch was named Seedstock Producer of the Year Award by the Beef Improvement Federation in 2013.

Housed at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, the Saddle & Sirloin Portrait Gallery collection includes more than 350 oil paintings, dating back to the turn of the last century.


Feedlot cattle trade was very light

There was light buying activity in the cash cattle trade in parts of the North on Thursday. Most of the dressed business in Nebraska was around 238.00, roughly 1.00 to 2.00 lower than last week’s weighted average. There were also reports of cattle sold with delayed delivery of late April to early May. DTN says some of the out front business has been marked between 234.00 and 236.00. It appeared that packers were interested in covering only short term needs. Trade volume for this week could be quite light. The slaughter was estimated at 110,000 head, even with a week ago, but 9,000 smaller than last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were higher on moderate demand and light to moderate offerings. Choice boxed beef was up 2.13 at 225.88, and select was .96 higher at 215.43.

Live cattle contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange settled 30 to 155 points lower. The initial early pressure that developed in the live cattle market, expanded into triple digit losses in the nearby contracts. The feeder futures led the market lower, and with the market closed on Friday, many traders were willing to take protection ahead of the long holiday weekend break. April settled 1.55 lower at 144.20, and June was down 1.25 at 134.37.

Feeder cattle ended 70 to 185 points in the red. The lack of support in cash markets seemed to limit the overall strength in the summer feeder cattle contracts. Even though beef demand is expected to strengthen through the near term, there are growing concerns about the ability to hold cash values long term. April settled .70 lower at 178.55, and May was down 1.85 at 178.05.

Continue reading “Feedlot cattle trade was very light” »

The big footprint of the ag equipment industry

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has released a study on the importance of machinery to the productivity of agriculture. The Economic Footprint of the Agricultural Equipment Industry assesses the progress of equipment and how it has enhanced productivity to this point; how big of an impact the industry has on our economy and what will be needed to meet the growing global demand in the future.

Charlie O’Brien is senior vice president with AEM, he cites his own family as an example of how mechanization has changed the productivity of the American farmer. His father talked about “putting the husking glove on and husking corn all day long.” At that time in the 1930’s, one farmer could husk about 100 bushels of corn by hand in a 9-hour day. “Today’s combines can do that in 7 minutes.” He notes that is a significant improvement in a very short period of time. Along that same line, the average farmer has gone from feeding 25 people in the 1960’s to 144 today. Because of that increased productivity, we need less than 2 percent of the population on the farm today to feed us.

The study also looks at the economic impact the agricultural equipment industry has on the United States. O’Brien says as the generations go by, there is less understanding of just how big the industry is. “In 2011, the agricultural equipment manufacturers had overall sales of about $31 billion.” But add to that the layers of business supplying the manufacturers as well as the sales, distribution, service and others downstream; “then we’re up to about $51 billion in economic impact.” He also notes while the industry did take a hit with the economic downturn in 2008, it was also one of the fastest to recover.

A big part of the economic footprint is jobs; 78,000 were directly employed in ag equipment manufacturing but there are another 118,000 working in upstream suppliers and 117,000 in the downstream businesses. “You are looking at almost 400,000 people employed by the sector. And these are high-paying jobs with the average salary at $67,000. “This is a highly-skilled industry and one that we want to attract very highly-skilled laborers to.” One of the challenges the industry faces is getting that labor force.

Looking ahead, the industry will play a key role in feeding a global population expected to hit 9 billion people by the middle of this century. O’Brien says plainly, “We have to be much more productive than we are today even as productive as we are today.” He says the equipment manufacturers are investing millions each year in research and development to make sure the tools farmers use “are in lockstep with what’s going on with developments on the inputs side.”

Part of that challenge is for the industry to not only meet the needs of the technologically-advanced farmers of North America and Europe but also the needs of those regions of the world which are still mainly dependent on hand-labor today. O’Brien says many companies are multi-national and are positioned to fill those needs and help bring those developing countries up-to-speed, “bringing the technology there as it is adopted.” He points to a number of North American companies which have already expanded into other parts of the world.

O’Brien says one of the biggest challenges the industry faces is the lack of understanding by those who make the rules, “legislation without full knowledge” is how he phrases it. That is one of the main reasons for this report which has been sent to every member of Congress, “and we are sitting down with each of them and going over the details.”

The Top Ten Takeaways of the report are available from the AEM website and the full report is available for purchase.

AUDIO: O’Brien talks about the study 18:30 mp3


Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: April 17, 2014

May corn closed at $4.94 and 3/4, down 2 and 3/4 cents
May soybeans closed at $15.14, down 4 and 3/4 cents
May soybean meal closed at $488.30, down $2.70
May soybean oil closed at 43.41, down 30 points
May wheat closed at $6.91 and 1/4, up 3 and 1/4 cents
Apr. live cattle closed at $144.25, down $1.55
Jun. lean hogs closed at $124.82, up $1.05
May crude oil closed at $104.30, up 54 cents
Jul. cotton closed at 92.34, down 23 points
May Class III milk closed at $22.14, up 14 cents
May gold closed at $1,293.90, down $9.60
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 16,408.54, down 16.31 points

Senators question methane reduction plan

A group of U.S. Senators is questioning the Obama Administration’s plan to reduce methane emissions from cattle.

They say the methane reduction strategy released in March could cost medium-sized dairy farms upwards of 22-thousand dollars a year.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is among those expressing concern.

“Iowans I talk to remain very skeptical about the concept of regulating greenhouse gases, until it is done through global treaty,” Grassley says, “and it’s especially difficult to do this on farms.”

The administration maintains that agriculture’s role in methane reduction will be voluntary, but Grassley isn’t convinced.

“It’s hard to forget, only a couple years ago, this administration was trying to push cap-and-trade through Congress.  It seems only right to be suspicious about the administration’s intentions.”

The administration’s goal is to reduce methane emissions from agriculture by 25 percent by 2020.

AUDIO: Chuck Grassley (1:37 MP3)

Officials promote disaster assistance

Top USDA officials have been crisscrossing the country this week promoting the start of sign-up for USDA’s livestock disaster assistance programs.

During a stop at a cow-calf operation near Waverly, Nebraska, deputy secretary of agriculture Krysta Harden said the programs will help livestock producers who have suffered losses due to natural disasters.

“It’s not going to make anybody whole, obviously,” Harden said, “but this will help producers stay on their ranch—stay on their farm—by helping them cover some of the costs that they incurred due to these terrific losses.”

AUDIO: Krysta Harden-questions from media (6:02 MP3)

Nebraska FSA state director Dan Steinkruger says the programs will reimburse eligible producers for a percentage of their losses.

“The livestock forage program is designed to provide 60 percent of the cost of feeding during the grazing period,” Steinkruger says. “The livestock indemnity program is designed to provide 75 percent of the value for that animal that was lost due to a natural disaster.”

AUDIO: Dan Steinkruger (2:52 MP3)

Cattle producer Tom Peterson of Waverly tells Brownfield he intends to sign up for the livestock forage program for losses related to the drought of 2012.

“We’ll make an application and see what comes,” Peterson says. “If I understand it correctly, there will be some determination on acres of grass you had.  Quantifying things is a little tough as far as to quantify what your loss was of grass.  But you know we ran short—everybody did.”

AUDIO: Tom Peterson (2:02 MP3)

To be eligible for assistance, losses must have occurred on or after October 1, 2011.

Thursday midday cash livestock markets

USDA Mandatory is reporting a limited cattle trade in Kansas on light to moderate demand. Compared to last week, early live sales are 1.00 lower at 146.00. Trading remains inactive in all other areas. DTN reports buying interest in the North seems to be slowly improving though they have not seen a major bid over 237.00 so far. Asking prices are around 148.00 plus in the South and 242.00 plus in the North. Given the fact the futures market will be closed Friday for the holiday both sides may be interested in completing trading today.

Boxed beef cutout values are higher in the morning report, choice 225.40 is up 1.65, select 215.53 up 1.06.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Springfield, Missouri Livestock Marketing Center totaled 1403 head on Wednesday. Compared to last week, steers trended steady, and heifers were steady to 3.00 higher. Holstein steers were not well tested this week, but a lower undertone was noted. Demand was good on a moderate supply. Feeder steers, medium and large 1 averaging 628 pounds brought 199.01 per hundredweight. 572 pound heifers averaged 198.99 at Springfield.

Barrows and gilts in all three major direct trade areas are not reported due to confidentiality. Nationally the hog market is 2.04 lower with a weighted average of 112.90 on a carcass basis. The Missouri direct base carcass meat price is steady to 3.00 lower from 108.00 to 112.00. Live hogs in the Midwest are very lightly tested with several interest out of the market for the Easter observance. Prices are steady to 1.00 lower from 80.00 to 83.00.

The pork carcass value FOB plant is .62 lower at 120.54.

Market participants viewed the decline in March hog supplies as a signal that spring and summer shortages would be much more severe than expected and responded accordingly. End users of pork that rushed to market in order to get enough supplies around them now may choose to sit on the sidelines as prices declined.


Program beneficial to Indiana producers

Eligible producers can now sign up for USDA’s new disaster assistance programs, restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.  The programs include the Livestock Forage Disaster Program; the Livestock Indemnity Program; the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Indiana Farm Service Agency Director Julia Wickard says the Livestock Forage Disaster Program will provide the most benefit to Indiana producers.  “We’re expecting 86 of the 92 counties will qualify for the program, as it relates to the drought monitor as it was issued on August 12, 2012,” she says.  “We had 86 counties at that time, we had Secretarial disasters issued to Indiana because of the drought we experienced in 2012.”

Wickard tells Brownfield the programs are retroactive to assist those producers for operating costs, feed losses, and things that they’ve lost as part of their farming operations.

When producers contact the local FSA County office, they will want an inventory of what animals they had on pasture at that time and what forage loss they may have had during the summer of 2012.

Lower feed and fertilizer costs

We continue our conversation with Jerry Doan who runs a large cow-calf, grazing and cash-crop operation in North Dakota. Several years ago he took steps to improve the health of his soil including planting a cover crop of a dozen different plants which he then grazes in the winter. He says last year he saved $150 per cow on winter feed cost plus he saves on fertilizer when planting the corn or sunflower cash crop.

AUDIO:Doan talks about the savings 3:08 mp3

Hog futures show gains on higher midday pork values

The cash cattle trade was at a standstill on Wednesday afternoon with just a few bids reported in parts of the North at 240.00. A few cattle sold in Iowa at 150.00 on a live basis. Asking prices remain firm at 149.00 to 150.00 in the South, and 242.00 to 243.00 in the North. Significant trade volume could develop on Thursday if packers and feedlot managers decide to complete business before the long holiday weekend. The kill totaled 115,000 head, 2,000 below last week, and 6,000 smaller than last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were higher on moderate to fairly good demand and moderate offerings. Choice beef gained .89 at 223.75, select 214.47 up 1.33.

Live cattle contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange settled 41 points higher to 10 lower with only 2015 contracts in the red. A narrow price range defined the live cattle complex as traders seemed uninterested in stepping into the market at this point in the week. Traders looked for increased support from outside markets as well as potential beef value support. There was some late short covering in the live pit.  April settled .47 higher at 145.75, and June was up .20 at 135.60.

Feeder cattle ended the session 2 to 40 points higher but were unable to show much life through much of the session. DTN’s Rick Kment says, overall traders seemed to be overlooking the cattle market in favor of hanging out on the sidelines as mere observers. April settled .02 higher at 179.25 and May was up .12 at 179.90.

Continue reading “Hog futures show gains on higher midday pork values” »