Log In

LMA News Headlines

 

April 22, 2014

LMA Annual Convention + World Livestock Auctioneer Championship Online Registration Open
LMA Annual Convention and World Livestock Auctioneer Championship online registration is now open. Please see www.LMAweb.com to register. 

2014 Livestock Marketing Association Nominations Report
Pursuant to Article VI, Section 4, of the Association’s Bylaws, the Executive Committee has nominated the following candidates for the officer and regional director positions whose terms of office expire in June:

Officers

                        Chairman of the Board (2 year term)              Tim Starks, Cherokee, OK 

                        President (2 year term)                                    Dan Harris, Holton, KS         

                        Vice President (2 year term)                           Jerry Etheredge, Linden, AL 

Directors

                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Brian Glick, Belleville, PA

                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Dean Hanson, Lewisburg, WV

                        Midwestern Region Director (2 year term)     Larry Schnell, Dickinson, ND

                        Western Region Director (2 year term)           Lex Madden, Torrington, WY

Independent nominations may be made by active members of the Association.  Such nominations may be made by petition of not fewer than 15 active members if delivered to the President or Secretary of the Association within 20 days after publication of this Nominations Report.  Such a petition must be accompanied by the written permission of the candidate.  Proponents of such petition will have access to the list of Association members for purposes of circularizing membership.

After the nominations period has ended, the Association will send each active member a ballot containing the names of all of the nominees proposed by the Executive Committee and any independent nominations.

To vote in the election for officers and regional directors, a member must return his or her ballot by the due date stated on the ballot, which shall be at least 20 days after the ballots are sent out.

The individual receiving the largest number of votes for each elected officer position and the individual or individuals receiving the largest number of votes for the available regional director positions in each service region shall be deemed elected.

Feeder margins drop below $200
Feedlot margins dropped more than $34 per head last week and fell below $200 to finish at $176.51 per head, according to the latest data from the Sterling Profit Tracker. One month ago, feedlot margins were more than $247 per head, but last year at this time, feedlots were losing more than $55 per head.

Fed cattle prices finished the week ending April 19, 2014, at $147.13 per hundredweight, compared to $149.92 the previous week, $151.74 a month ago and $125.92 at this time last year. Feeder steers were up more than $1 to $176.13, compared to $174.92 the previous week. Feed costs also dropped and finished the week at $377.05, compared to $379.29, but total costs were up $7.50 per head to $1,870.04.

Packer margins improved last week, finishing the week at negative $59.37, compared to negative $63.53. At this time last year, packers were losing $62.79 per head. The beef cutout value was $221.84, compared to $223.08 the previous week.

Farrow-to-finish margins dropped below $100 per head to $84.60 per head, compared to $100.96 the previous week and $103.60 one month ago. At this time last year, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker, the farrow-to-finish margin stood at negative $25.52 per head. Lean hogs finished the week at $118.10, compared to $124.84 the previous week.

Pork packer margins improved last week to $1.19 per head, compared to negative $1.75 per head the previous week and negative $2.15 at this time last year. The pork cutout value dropped to $121.74, compared to $127.17 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending April 19:

  • Average feeder margins: $175.51 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$59.37      per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending April 18:                                          

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $84.60 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $1.19 per head.

Texas to vote on state beef checkoff
Texas could soon have its own $1 beef checkoff, depending on a vote scheduled for this summer. Under the current national beef checkoff, created by the Beef Promotion and Research Act, of 1985 and approved by farmers and ranchers in 1988, farmers and ranchers and importers pay the equivalent of $1 per head each and every time a beef animal is sold throughout its lifetime. Fifty cents of each dollar collected by state beef councils is invested through the beef council in each state.

Money collected through the Texas Beef Checkoff would be administered by Texas cattle producers serving on the Beef Promotion and Research Council of Texas, which would have the same members as the Texas Beef Council. 

According to the Texas Beef Checkoff website, a 2009 study from the University of Florida showed that for every dollar invested by farmers and ranchers into the beef checkoff, the industry received a return of $5.55. However, the value of one dollar today compared to 1985 is 44 cents. To have the same purchasing power today, the checkoff contribution would have to be $2.26.

Ag markets moved mostly higher Monday night
Cattle traders are apparently awaiting events. CME live cattle futures moved generally higher overnight, but the gains were quite modest. The Chicago strength almost surely reflected the big bounce in beef cutout values posted Monday. However, concerns about a seasonal supply surge and a history of spring weakness is apparently limiting the futures reaction. June cattle futures edged up 0.22 cents to 134.77 cents/pound soon after sunrise Tuesday, while December rose 0.15 cents to 139.82. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle crept up 0.15 cents to 178.25 cents/pound, and August gained 0.27 to 182.17.

Wholesale weakness is weighing upon the hog and pork complex. Although hog and pork supplies are declining on a seasonal basis, the stunning price spike experienced in late winter has very likely damaged demand, especially at current prices. Sizeable Monday afternoon pork losses were somewhat offset by mixed cash quotes. Bulls are likely desperate to avoid a follow-through to Monday’s breakdown. June hog futures slumped 0.47 cents to 121.87 cents/pound as trading accelerated Tuesday morning, but December bounced 0.15 to 88.15.

Eli Lilly announces agreement to acquire Novartis Animal Health
Eli Lilly and Company has announced an agreement to acquire Novartis Animal Health for approximately $5.4 billion in an all-cash transaction that will strengthen and diversify Lilly’s own animal health business, Elanco. Upon completion of the acquisition, Elanco will be the second-largest animal health company in terms of global revenue, will solidify its number two ranking in the U.S., and improve its position in Europe and the rest of the world.

 


April 18, 2014

LMA offices to close at noon today
We wish you a blessed Easter holiday! The Livestock Marketing Association offices will be closing at noon today. Business will resume as usual on Monday, April 21.

LMA Annual Convention + World Livestock Auctioneer Championship Online Registration Open
LMA Annual Convention and World Livestock Auctioneer Championship online registration is now open. Please see www.LMAweb.com to register. 

2014 Livestock Marketing Association Nominations Report
Pursuant to Article VI, Section 4, of the Association’s Bylaws, the Executive Committee has nominated the following candidates for the officer and regional director positions whose terms of office expire in June:

Officers

                        Chairman of the Board (2 year term)              Tim Starks, Cherokee, OK 

                        President (2 year term)                                    Dan Harris, Holton, KS         

                        Vice President (2 year term)                           Jerry Etheredge, Linden, AL 

Directors

                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Brian Glick, Belleville, PA

                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Dean Hanson, Lewisburg, WV

                        Midwestern Region Director (2 year term)     Larry Schnell, Dickinson, ND

                        Western Region Director (2 year term)           Lex Madden, Torrington, WY

Independent nominations may be made by active members of the Association.  Such nominations may be made by petition of not fewer than 15 active members if delivered to the President or Secretary of the Association within 20 days after publication of this Nominations Report.  Such a petition must be accompanied by the written permission of the candidate.  Proponents of such petition will have access to the list of Association members for purposes of circularizing membership.

After the nominations period has ended, the Association will send each active member a ballot containing the names of all of the nominees proposed by the Executive Committee and any independent nominations.

To vote in the election for officers and regional directors, a member must return his or her ballot by the due date stated on the ballot, which shall be at least 20 days after the ballots are sent out.

The individual receiving the largest number of votes for each elected officer position and the individual or individuals receiving the largest number of votes for the available regional director positions in each service region shall be deemed elected.

Stockmen’s Livestock Market (Yankton, SD) to be auctioned April 29
Gail and Janet Sohler have owned the Stockmen’s Livestock Market in Yankton, South Dakota since 1952, with their last cattle sale in November 2013. On April 29, the facilities will be auctioned off in Yankton, South Dakota.  More information about the auction is available at www.stockra.com

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.

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.

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.

Most ag markets turned lower Thursday
Cash weakness likely undercut cattle futures. Wednesday’s surprising beef gains appeared to support CME cattle futures in early Thursday trading. However, producers reportedly took about $1-$2 less for the cattle (with packers paying $146-$148/cwt) today. That sent futures tumbling. June cattle futures plunged 1.25 cents to 134.37 cents/pound Thursday afternoon, while December dropped 0.30 to 139.67. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle plummeted 1.85 cents to 178.05 cents/pound, and August dove 1.57 to 181.40.

Technicians may have bought hog futures. The latest cash and wholesale news has not been particularly supportive of the short-term hog outlook. Nevertheless, some traders may now be looking for a significant late-spring price rebound, since the market traditionally proves quite strong in May and June. Technicians seemed to buy in anticipation of a larger short-term advance. June hog futures climbed 1.05 cents to 124.82 cents/pound as the CME session ended Thursday, while December moved up 0.25 to 88.75.


April 17, 2014

2014 Livestock Marketing Association Nominations Report
Pursuant to Article VI, Section 4, of the Association’s Bylaws, the Executive Committee has nominated the following candidates for the officer and regional director positions whose terms of office expire in June:

Officers
                        Chairman of the Board (2 year term)            Tim Starks, Cherokee, OK 
                        President (2 year term)                                  Dan Harris, Holton, KS         
                        Vice President (2 year term)                           Jerry Etheredge, Linden, AL 
Directors
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Brian Glick, Belleville, PA
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Dean Hanson, Lewisburg, WV
                        Midwestern Region Director (2 year term)     Larry Schnell, Dickinson, ND
                        Western Region Director (2 year term)           Lex Madden, Torrington, WY

Independent nominations may be made by active members of the Association.  Such nominations may be made by petition of not fewer than 15 active members if delivered to the President or Secretary of the Association within 20 days after publication of this Nominations Report.  Such a petition must be accompanied by the written permission of the candidate.  Proponents of such petition will have access to the list of Association members for purposes of circularizing membership.

After the nominations period has ended, the Association will send each active member a ballot containing the names of all of the nominees proposed by the Executive Committee and any independent nominations.

To vote in the election for officers and regional directors, a member must return his or her ballot by the due date stated on the ballot, which shall be at least 20 days after the ballots are sent out.

The individual receiving the largest number of votes for each elected officer position and the individual or individuals receiving the largest number of votes for the available regional director positions in each service region shall be deemed elected.

Livestock markets lagged crop futures in early Thursday action
Cash and wholesale action is confusing cattle traders. Tuesday’s light Nebraska cattle trading at slightly lower values seemed rather bearish for CME prices, but beef prices actually proved surprisingly strong yesterday. That divergence at least partially explains the mixed Chicago action seen last night. June cattle futures were flat at 135.62 cents/pound as Thursday dawned over Chicago, while December rose 0.17 to 140.15. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle slumped 0.17 cents to 179.72 cents/pound, and August dropped 0.27 to 182.70.

Country markets were not kind to hog bulls Wednesday afternoon. Midday Wednesday reports indicated a big surge in pork values, which powered a strong bounce in CME hog values. However, the definitive late-afternoon reports stated both pork and cash hog prices substantially lower, thereby implying continued weakness. Actually, the modest size of overnight losses may encourage bulls. June hog futures slid 0.10 cents to 123.67 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while December sank 0.12 to 88.37.

Wednesday midday cash livestock markets
The cash cattle market is off to a slow start on Wednesday with feedlot operators passing on bids of 240.00 in Nebraska, however a few head reportedly were sold there at 242.00 per hundredweight to a regional packer on Tuesday. Packer inquiry should slowly improve today and we should at least start to see some definition in terms of preliminary bids. Current asking prices are around 149.00 to 150.00 South and 242.00 plus in the North.
Boxed beef cutout values are higher in the morning report, with choice beef .30 higher at 233.16, and select 213.96 up .82.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Ozarks Regional Stockyards at West Plains, Missouri totaled 2643 head on Tuesday. Compared to last week, feeder steers weighing less than 550 pounds were steady to 2.00 lower, heavier weights trended 2.00 to 3.00 higher. The bulk of the feeder heifers were steady to 3.00 higher with most of the gain on the weights over 500 pounds. Yearlings were not well tested but the undertone was slightly higher. The demand was good on a moderate supply. Feeder steers, medium and large 1 averaging 472 pounds brought 225.99 per hundredweight. 518 pound heifers averaged 198.62.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota and Eastern direct trade are not reported due to confidentiality. Nationally the market is 2.12 lower with a weighted average of 114.67 on a carcass basis. The Western trade is down 3.22 at 114.12. Missouri direct base carcass meat price is steady to 3.00 lower from 111.00 to 112.00. Market hogs in the Midwest are steady with an instance of 2.00 lower on a live basis from 81.00 to 96.00.

Seasonally, market hog numbers typically tighten from spring through midsummer. While the exact level of PED death loss through the winter will impact the pace of tightening, market hog supplies will tighten regardless of PED.

Calf prices meet resistance
“Perhaps feeder markets have reached the point of topping, or even tipping, as the word ‘lower’ reared its ugly heady in market reports across the country for the first time in months,” said analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Friday. “However, it would be difficult to call demand any lighter and crowds were reportedly sizeable in the few major auction markets that had a good run this week.”

Overall, feeder cattle and calves sold unevenly steady, mostly from $3/cwt. lower to $3 higher. At least part of it has to do with the current mix of cattle being offered.

“Most pressure was seen on heavyweight feeders over 800 lbs. and soft new-crop calves that are progressively making up a larger percentage of receipts,” AMS analysts say. “As a whole, offerings are currently less attractive than usual with receipts mostly made up of
growing-lot yearlings and fall-born calves, both carrying considerable flesh.”

Grass-ready cattle continue to receive the stoutest demand. Futures prices continue to suggest room to grow, too. They closed an average of $1.85 higher week-to-week.

Ag dairy market update
Hedging decisions aren’t easy when greater milk per cow and tight heifer supplies play out against wavering cheese prices and strong dairy demand. USDA was optimistic on the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand report, and rightly so.

High milk prices will increase the desire to improve milk production as much as possible. USDA’s current estimate of 206.1 billion pounds is 3.9 billion pounds over last year and 9.9 billion pounds over 2011. There has been an increase in cow numbers of around 15,000 head since 2011 nationwide, but current inventory is running below last year.

We can clearly see that milk production per cow has made a significant improvement. In fact, production per cow per day is about 1.3 pounds more this year in comparison with 2011. Per-cow milk production has increased 15.1% over the past 10 years. Now, with record high milk prices and the outlook for a good year ahead, according to USDA, one can expect that milk production may improve at a more rapid pace. Of course, there are many things that will be a factor in milk production growth, but, under average circumstances, production could exceed the current USDA estimate.

There is increasing demand for replacement heifers, which are currently in tight supply. Prices have raised the desire to fill barns, causing buyers to scour the countryside for anything available. There was a period of time when cull prices were higher than live prices, so some heifers were showing up for slaughter due to better returns. This has left a bit of a void in the market at the present time.

April 16, 2014

2014 Livestock Marketing Association Nominations Report
Pursuant to Article VI, Section 4, of the Association’s Bylaws, the Executive Committee has nominated the following candidates for the officer and regional director positions whose terms of office expire in June:

Officers
                        Chairman of the Board (2 year term)            Tim Starks, Cherokee, OK 
                        President (2 year term)                                  Dan Harris, Holton, KS         
                        Vice President (2 year term)                           Jerry Etheredge, Linden, AL 
Directors
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Brian Glick, Belleville, PA
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Dean Hanson, Lewisburg, WV
                        Midwestern Region Director (2 year term)     Larry Schnell, Dickinson, ND
                        Western Region Director (2 year term)           Lex Madden, Torrington, WY

Independent nominations may be made by active members of the Association.  Such nominations may be made by petition of not fewer than 15 active members if delivered to the President or Secretary of the Association within 20 days after publication of this Nominations Report.  Such a petition must be accompanied by the written permission of the candidate.  Proponents of such petition will have access to the list of Association members for purposes of circularizing membership.

After the nominations period has ended, the Association will send each active member a ballot containing the names of all of the nominees proposed by the Executive Committee and any independent nominations.

To vote in the election for officers and regional directors, a member must return his or her ballot by the due date stated on the ballot, which shall be at least 20 days after the ballots are sent out.

The individual receiving the largest number of votes for each elected officer position and the individual or individuals receiving the largest number of votes for the available regional director positions in each service region shall be deemed elected.

Feeder, packer margins fall
Despite falling more than $12 per head last week, cattle feeders are still earning more than $210 per head according to the latest data from the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. One month ago, feeders were earning $246.79, but last year at this time, they were losing $81.35 per head.

Fed cattle prices were slightly lower the week ending April 12, finishing the week at $149.92 per hundredweight, compared to $150.27 the previous week. A month ago at this time, fed cattle were averaging $151.11. Compared to last year at this time, fed cattle are brining nearly $23 more per hundredweight. Feeder steers were down $2.29 to $174.92 last week. Feed costs dropped nearly $2 to $379.29 and total costs were down more than $20 to $1,862.54 per head.

Packer margins retreated deeper into the red last week, finishing the week at negative $63.53, compared to negative $36.16 the previous week. At this time last year, packers were losing $70.47 per head. The beef cutout value fell $6.23 to $223.08 last week.

Farrow-to-finish margins remained above $100 per head the week ending April 11, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. After topping $116 three weeks ago, margins have fallen the previous two weeks. However, at this time last year, margins were negative $25.74. Lean hogs finished the week at $124.84, compared to $129.38 the previous week.

Pork packer margins fell last week to negative $1.91, compared to negative $1.15 the previous week and $5.96 last month. The pork cutout value dropped to $127.17, compared to $131.97 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending April 12:

  • Average feeder margins: $210.79 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$63.53 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending April 11:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $100.96 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: -$1.91 per head.

Weather will dictate cattle trends this year
Commercial cow slaughter has run at historically low levels so far this year, partly due to short supplies but also indicating ranchers intend to stabilize or expand their herds. The situation remains volatile though, and with drought appearing to be expanding in the West and Southwest, weather conditions will help determine the direction of herd numbers, according to the April Livestock, Poultry and Dairy Outlook report from USDA.

The report also notes that first-quarter commercial steer and heifer slaughter is on track to be the lowest since 1965. Slaughter weights have helped offset some of that loss of numbers, and irst-quarter beef production will likely be the lowest only since 2005.
Other key points in the report include:

  • Cow-calf producers should continue to see attractive cow prices for the near term because of low cow inventories and continued demand for ground beef products from culled cows. Those cow prices could be tempting to producers concerned with drought.
  • Feeder-cattle prices could decline in the short term as grass-fever ebbs and fed-cattle values likely move lower seasonally, but short supplies suggest continued high prices calf and feeder prices later in 2014 and 2015.
  • With feeding costs in the range of $129 to $130 per hundredweight and fed-cattle prices around $150 per hundredweight, cattle feeders are seeing positive margins around $200 per head. Prices could decline through the summer as large placements of heavy cattle from December through February reach market weights.
  • Pork production is forecast to decline about 2 percent in 2014, largely as a result of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea. Prices of both hogs and pork will increase as a consequence. Reduced pork production will likely reduce U.S. pork exports and increase pork imports this year.
  • The milk production forecast is raised in April. Given favorable milk-to-feed price ratios, cow numbers are expected to increase later in 2014; however the 2014 forecast number is unchanged from March. Continued robust domestic and export demand for dairy products tightens ending stocks and suggests higher dairy-product prices, except for nonfat dry milk, which is unchanged from last month in the report.

April 15, 2014

2014 Livestock Marketing Association Nominations Report
Pursuant to Article VI, Section 4, of the Association’s Bylaws, the Executive Committee has nominated the following candidates for the officer and regional director positions whose terms of office expire in June:

Officers
                        Chairman of the Board (2 year term)            Tim Starks, Cherokee, OK 
                        President (2 year term)                                  Dan Harris, Holton, KS         
                        Vice President (2 year term)                           Jerry Etheredge, Linden, AL 
Directors
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Brian Glick, Belleville, PA
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Dean Hanson, Lewisburg, WV
                        Midwestern Region Director (2 year term)     Larry Schnell, Dickinson, ND
                        Western Region Director (2 year term)           Lex Madden, Torrington, WY

Independent nominations may be made by active members of the Association.  Such nominations may be made by petition of not fewer than 15 active members if delivered to the President or Secretary of the Association within 20 days after publication of this Nominations Report.  Such a petition must be accompanied by the written permission of the candidate.  Proponents of such petition will have access to the list of Association members for purposes of circularizing membership.

After the nominations period has ended, the Association will send each active member a ballot containing the names of all of the nominees proposed by the Executive Committee and any independent nominations.

To vote in the election for officers and regional directors, a member must return his or her ballot by the due date stated on the ballot, which shall be at least 20 days after the ballots are sent out.

The individual receiving the largest number of votes for each elected officer position and the individual or individuals receiving the largest number of votes for the available regional director positions in each service region shall be deemed elected.

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year. Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Free BQA training registration until April 15
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Schwieterman: Live cattle futures closed higher
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term:
 Down
Long Term:
 Up
Opening Calls:
 10-30 Lower
Live cattle futures closed mostly higher on Monday, with most of the gains in the lead April contract. Show lists appear to be smaller than a week ago in most areas. Local producers have reported sending cattle to Iowa and Greeley, Colorado the past two weeks, which may explain the basis difference between the north and south regions. We are trading softer in overnight trade, with some modest bull spreading a feature. Early asking prices appear to be near $150 in the south and $242 in the northern beef market.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term:
 Up
Long Term:
 Up
Opening Call:
 20-40 Lower
Feeder cattle futures closed moderately higher on Monday, getting a modest boost from the live pit, while higher corn prices kept a lid on gains. A further boost came from a 2.09 rise in the cash index, setting a new record high of 180.39. Overnight corn prices are off 2-3 cents but feeders seem inclined to follow the deferred live market lower.

Ag markets proved surprisingly mixed Tuesday morning
Pragmatists and technicians seem to be battling in the cattle pit. The fact that cash cattle prices remained firm last week is probably encouraging pragmatic traders to buy deeply discounted CME futures. However, the fact that the most-active June contract has recently failed to push decisively above resistance associated with its 40-day moving average has likely spurred technical selling. June cattle futures skidded 0.22 cents to 135.67 cents/pound as Tuesday dawned over Chicago, while December slumped 0.35 to 139.92. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle tumbled 0.45 cents to 179.97 cents/pound, and August lost 0.27 to 182.50.

Weak wholesale prices may be depressing hog futures. Hog kills posted during the next 2-3 weeks are likely to fall far short of year-ago levels, thereby encouraging CME buying. Cash prices firmed Monday, but the pork markets proved rather weak. The latter development may have played a big role in undercutting Chicago prices last night. June hog futures fell 0.80 cents to 121.85 cents/pound in Monday night action, while December sagged 0.10 to 89.75.

Trichomoniasis Forum results in significant inroads
Interstate movement. Best management practices. Testing. Collection and shipment of samples. Neighbor notification.

These were just a few of the topics discussed April 3 in Omaha, NE, at a nationwide Trichomoniasis Standards Forum conducted by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) and the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA). More than 140 state veterinarians, animal health officials, diagnostic laboratory personnel, beef industry leaders and others gathered at the one-day forum, learned from each other, and identified areas where harmonization among states can lead to more effective management and control of this highly susceptible venereal cattle disease.

"Trichomoniasis is a nationwide problem and has the attention of state personnel and practicing beef veterinarians from across the country," states Carl Heckendorf, Colorado Dept. of Agriculture, and co-chair of the Forum on Trichomoniasis Standards. "Most states either have a trich control program in place, are formulating a program as I speak or are interested in developing a program that can help stop the spread of trich.

"While we realize a one-size-fits-all program won't work, the consensus is that standardization-or at least harmonization-of state regulations, collection of samples prior to shipping, shipping and handling of samples and laboratory procedures can help eliminate confusion and benefit all involved."

More PEDv cases across more states reported
The National Animal Health Laboratory Network reported late last week that 257 tests for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) proved positive out of 882 tested at eight veterinary diagnostic labs in the week ended April 5, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

This latest report added Mississippi to the states officially reporting at least one confirmed case of PEDv, bringing that total to 28 states, but also noted, “We are aware, however, that cases have also been diagnosed in Vermont and Virginia, which would bring the actual state count to 30.”
The latest data bring the number of confirmed cases to 5,509 since the virus was discovered in the United States in May 2013.

There is no firm data on how many hogs have been infected, as each case reported can represent anywhere from a single animal to an entire herd at a single site. Industry estimates have ranged as high as 5 million hogs or more have been affected.

Rabobank has predicted North American hog production and slaughter could decline by as much as 7 percent this year and could be 12.5 percent below 2013 levels through 2015.

Indiana state board targets traceability, intrastate shipment program
Many topics, including a proposed identification program, were discussed at the Indiana Board of Animal Health’s quarterly meeting April 10.
The board is proposing rule changes to livestock identification to align with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Disease Traceability program.

A first reading of the proposed rule change was approved at the board’s quarterly meeting. The proposed change is to ensure Indiana is in compliance with federal standards.

If passed, the board will recognize three forms of identification for cattle and bison, including 840 tags, National Uniform Eartagging System tags and official USDA program tags.Three forms of identification also will be required for sheep and goats, including scrapie program flock tags, electronic implant, or microchip, for breed-registered animals, or a tattoo and registration.

Official identification for equine includes physical description and permanent forms of identification, including brands, tattoos, digital photographs or an electronic implant.

Identification requirement for livestock entering Indiana will vary by species. Specific information can be found by visitingwww.in.gov/boah/2328.htm .

A second reading of the rule will take place at the board’s July 10 meeting. Between now and then, those wanting to express feedback can find a virtual public hearing at www.in.gov/boah/2615.htm.

If adopted, the identification program would go in to effect in early 2015.

April 14, 2014

2014 Livestock Marketing Association Nominations Report
Pursuant to Article VI, Section 4, of the Association’s Bylaws, the Executive Committee has nominated the following candidates for the officer and regional director positions whose terms of office expire in June:

Officers
                        Chairman of the Board (2 year term)              Tim Starks, Cherokee, OK 
                        President (2 year term)                                    Dan Harris, Holton, KS         
                        Vice President (2 year term)                           Jerry Etheredge, Linden, AL 
Directors
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Brian Glick, Belleville, PA
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Dean Hanson, Lewisburg, WV
                        Midwestern Region Director (2 year term)     Larry Schnell, Dickinson, ND
                        Western Region Director (2 year term)           Lex Madden, Torrington, WY

Independent nominations may be made by active members of the Association.  Such nominations may be made by petition of not fewer than 15 active members if delivered to the President or Secretary of the Association within 20 days after publication of this Nominations Report.  Such a petition must be accompanied by the written permission of the candidate.  Proponents of such petition will have access to the list of Association members for purposes of circularizing membership.

After the nominations period has ended, the Association will send each active member a ballot containing the names of all of the nominees proposed by the Executive Committee and any independent nominations.

To vote in the election for officers and regional directors, a member must return his or her ballot by the due date stated on the ballot, which shall be at least 20 days after the ballots are sent out.

The individual receiving the largest number of votes for each elected officer position and the individual or individuals receiving the largest number of votes for the available regional director positions in each service region shall be deemed elected.

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year. Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Free BQA training registration until April 15
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Feeder Cattle Review: Pressure seen on heavyweight feeders
Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves sold unevenly steady with the majority of sales ranging from 3.00 higher to 3.00 lower.  Most pressure was seen on heavyweight feeders over 800 lbs and soft new-crop calves that are progressively making up a larger percentage of receipts.  As a whole, offerings are currently less attractive than usual with receipts mostly made up of growing-lot yearlings and fall-born calves, both carrying considerable flesh. 

True grass-ready stocker cattle (where available) still brought top billing, but these cattle are getting harder to find with every passing day and are rarely plentiful enough to test the market.  Perhaps feeder markets have reached the point of topping or even tipping as the word “lower” reared its ugly heady on market reports across the country for the first time in months. 

Nationwide auction receipts were 17 percent lighter than a year ago as available supplies are exhausting right in accordance with most buyer needs being met.  However, it would be difficult to call demand any lighter and crowds were reportedly sizeable in the few major auction markets that had a good run this week.  One of these was Torrington, WY, where a package of little 288 lb steer calves brought 3.00/lb and a short load of 699 lb replacement quality heifers sold for 193.00 or about 1350.00 per head.

Cattle Outlook: Fed cattle sales extremely light again
The April WASDE raised both USDA's forecast of 2014 beef production and their price forecast for the year. They now predict 2014 beef production will be down 4.5% from last year to the lowest level since 2004. Their forecast for fed cattle prices is for the average to be somewhere between $144/cwt and $151/cwt. That is far above last year's record of $125.89/cwt.

Fed cattle sales were extremely light again this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $149.32/cwt, down $2.11 from last week's record price, but up $22.09 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price for steers was $240.39/cwt.

Feeder cattle prices at this week's Oklahoma City auction were mostly steady to $3 higher than the week before. This week's prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $210-$255.50, 450-500# $220-$244, 500-550# $207-$224, 550-600# $198-$223, 600-650# $186-$215, 650-700# $180-$207.50, 700-750# $173.50-$187, 750-800# $167-$179, 800-900# $161-$174, and 900-1000# $154-$163/cwt.

Cattle futures were higher this week. The April live cattle futures contract closed at $144.85/cwt today, up $1.80 from last week's close. June fed cattle settled at $135.77, up 97 cents for the week. August settled at $133.77/cwt, up $1.50 from the previous Friday. October cattle closed at $138.22/cwt.
Feeder cattle futures were also higher for the week. The April feeder cattle contract ended the week at $179.50/cwt, up $1.80 for the week. May feeders closed at $180.07/cwt, up $1.57 from the previous Friday.

Canada will slash livestock antibiotic use
Amid growing international concern over the spread of superbugs on farms, slaughterhouses and supermarket meat counters, Health Canada is moving to phase out use of antibiotic growth promoters in Canadian livestock.

The drugs have been used for decades to spike the feed and water of chickens, pigs and cattle to boost their growth - "mass medication" that Canada's top doctor, and many others, has said should stop.

In a statement Friday, Canadian drug producers say they have agreed with Health Canada "to phase out uses of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion." The phase-out is expected to take three years.

Canadian pork producers eyeing start date for traceability law
Canadian pork producers will receive education kits over the next several weeks to instruct them on the new requirements to report the transportation of pigs in Canada.

Under amended regulations under Canada's Health of Animals Act, due to take effect July 1, anyone transporting pigs will be required to report the movements to the PigTrace Canada database, Jeff Clark, manager of PigTrace Canada, said during Manitoba Pork's 2014 annual general meeting.

Producers have seven days to report information such as destination location, date/time of departure and arrival as well as the vehicle license plate to the PigTrace database. The information must be kept for five years. This involves all pig identification and movement information reported to PigTrace.

April 11, 2014

2014 Livestock Marketing Association Nominations Report
Pursuant to Article VI, Section 4, of the Association’s Bylaws, the Executive Committee has nominated the following candidates for the officer and regional director positions whose terms of office expire in June:

Officers
                        Chairman of the Board (2 year term)              Tim Starks, Cherokee, OK 
                        President (2 year term)                                    Dan Harris, Holton, KS         
                        Vice President (2 year term)                           Jerry Etheredge, Linden, AL 
Directors
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Brian Glick, Belleville, PA
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Dean Hanson, Lewisburg, WV
                        Midwestern Region Director (2 year term)     Larry Schnell, Dickinson, ND
                        Western Region Director (2 year term)           Lex Madden, Torrington, WY

Independent nominations may be made by active members of the Association.  Such nominations may be made by petition of not fewer than 15 active members if delivered to the President or Secretary of the Association within 20 days after publication of this Nominations Report.  Such a petition must be accompanied by the written permission of the candidate.  Proponents of such petition will have access to the list of Association members for purposes of circularizing membership.

After the nominations period has ended, the Association will send each active member a ballot containing the names of all of the nominees proposed by the Executive Committee and any independent nominations.

To vote in the election for officers and regional directors, a member must return his or her ballot by the due date stated on the ballot, which shall be at least 20 days after the ballots are sent out.

The individual receiving the largest number of votes for each elected officer position and the individual or individuals receiving the largest number of votes for the available regional director positions in each service region shall be deemed elected.

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year. Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Free BQA training registration until April 15
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Ag markets generally firmed Friday morning
Talk of steady cash quotes boosted cattle futures Friday. Ongoing wholesale losses have seemingly presaged a drop in cash cattle prices this week, thereby depressing CME futures. However, Chicago prices have turned higher in response to growing talk that cash prices will remain steady this week. June cattle futures climbed 0.82 cents to 136.02 cents/pound in late Friday morning action, while December lifted 0.02 to 140.42. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle skidded 0.20 cents to 179.47 cents/pound, and August lost 0.20 to 181.72.

Wholesale strength is seemingly supporting hog futures. Cash hog and pork quotes fell sharply Thursday afternoon, which weighed heavily upon CME futures in early CME trading. And yet, the midday pork quote indicated a modest morning rise, which, along with reports of modest cash slippage, probably encouraged buying in Chicago. June hog futures had declined just 0.30 cents to 120.85 cents/pound at lunchtime Friday, dawned over Chicago, while December sank 0.30 to 88.35.

Friday midday cash livestock prices
Cattle country is slow to start on Friday with only a few bids on the table in Kansas at 146.00. Asking prices are around 150.00 in the South and 243.00 in the North. A very light trade was reported in Nebraska Thursday with a regional buyer paying 241.00, while a major paid 150.00 for a handful of cattle, the rest of cattle country was quiet.

Feeder cattle receipts at Missouri Auctions this week totaled 27,986 head. Compared to last week, steer calves sold steady to 2.00 lower and heifer calves steady to 2.00 higher. A light test of true yearlings sold mostly steady, Calf markets around the state are very uneven with local auctions having instances ranging from 15.00 lower to 10.00 higher. The offering was considered moderate, but numbers were much less than the previous week. Feeder steers, medium and large 1 averaging 524 pounds brought 223.15 per hundredweight. 520 pound heifers traded at 199.72.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade are not reported due to confidentiality. In the West the market is .49 lower at 119.67 weighted average on a carcass basis, the East is 1.35 lower at 119.01. Hogs in the Midwest are steady to 1.00 lower live in a light test from 83.00 to 98.00.
While early spring hog numbers seem fully adequate, severe shortages linked to PEDv death losses could still be waiting in the wings, especially given ideas that the disease took its worse toll during the winter quarter. Starting in late May or early June, slaughter totals could fall sharply as the December-March pig crop reaches full maturity.

April 10, 2014

2014 Livestock Marketing Association Nominations Report
Pursuant to Article VI, Section 4, of the Association’s Bylaws, the Executive Committee has nominated the following candidates for the officer and regional director positions whose terms of office expire in June:

Officers
                        Chairman of the Board (2 year term)              Tim Starks, Cherokee, OK 
                        President (2 year term)                                    Dan Harris, Holton, KS         
                        Vice President (2 year term)                           Jerry Etheredge, Linden, AL 
Directors
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Brian Glick, Belleville, PA
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Dean Hanson, Lewisburg, WV
                        Midwestern Region Director (2 year term)     Larry Schnell, Dickinson, ND
                        Western Region Director (2 year term)           Lex Madden, Torrington, WY

Independent nominations may be made by active members of the Association.  Such nominations may be made by petition of not fewer than 15 active members if delivered to the President or Secretary of the Association within 20 days after publication of this Nominations Report.  Such a petition must be accompanied by the written permission of the candidate.  Proponents of such petition will have access to the list of Association members for purposes of circularizing membership.

After the nominations period has ended, the Association will send each active member a ballot containing the names of all of the nominees proposed by the Executive Committee and any independent nominations.

To vote in the election for officers and regional directors, a member must return his or her ballot by the due date stated on the ballot, which shall be at least 20 days after the ballots are sent out.

The individual receiving the largest number of votes for each elected officer position and the individual or individuals receiving the largest number of votes for the available regional director positions in each service region shall be deemed elected.

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year. Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Free BQA training registration until April 15
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Wednesday midday cash livestock markets
Cattle country is fairly quiet on Wednesday with just a few bids renewed in Texas today at 146.00. These bids are still far from current asking prices that are around 150.00 in the South, and 244.00 plus in the North. Significant trade volume could be delayed until sometime Thursday or Friday.
Feeder cattle receipts at the Ozarks Regional Stockyards at West Plains, MO totaled 1774 head on Tuesday. Compared to last week the bulk of the feeder steers and heifers traded steady to 3.00 higher. Yearling steers and heifers’ were not well tested. Demand was good on a light supply. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 527 pounds brought 223.52 per hundredweight. 529 pound heifers averaged 195.16.

Barrows and gilts in the Western direct trade area are 5.34 higher at 128.42 weighted average on a carcass basis. Iowa/Minnesota and Eastern trade are not reported due to confidentiality. Nationally the hog market on a carcass basis is .75 higher at 123.73, Missouri direct base carcass meat price is steady to 2.00 lower from 116.00 to 117.00. Barrows and gilts at country markets are steady to 1.00 to 2.00 lower from 84.00 to 97.00.

Markets were widely mixed Wednesday
Nearby cattle futures firmed Wednesday. Beef prices followed Tuesday’s mixed performance with sizeable declines today, but that weakness apparently did little to discourage CME cattle bulls. Today’s Chicago gains may have reflected talk of relatively firm cash prices, especially with the various contracts already trading at sizeable discounts to country values. June cattle futures settled 0.35 cents higher at 135.62 cents/pound around Wednesday, while December was flat at 140.55. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle advanced 1.35 cents to 180.22 cents/pound, and August rallied 1.27 to 181.85.

Hog futures bounced from deeply discounted levels. The hog and pork markets seemingly peaked at extreme highs last week and the industry now expects a sustained decline from that top. However, recent losses pushed futures far below current cash levels, which seemingly sparked widespread short covering/bottom picking today. June hog futures bounced 3.00 cents to 121.75 cents/pound at their Wednesday settlement, and December rose 0.70 to 89.55.

Seattle officials favor limits on antibiotic use with livestock
Seattle has become the fifth U.S. city — and the largest — to approve a resolution supporting a statewide and national ban on the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock, joining officials in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Providence, R.I. and Redhook, N.J.

The measure that was approved yesterday by the Seattle City Council urges the passage of two bills in Congress that could potentially endanger the U.S. food supply, according to Seattle officials who moved forward on the plan last week. The concern is that the use of low doses of antibiotics in livestock to promote growth or prevent disease is likely to lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains that can then spread to retail meat, farmers and rural environments.

April 9, 2014

2014 Livestock Marketing Association Nominations Report
Pursuant to Article VI, Section 4, of the Association’s Bylaws, the Executive Committee has nominated the following candidates for the officer and regional director positions whose terms of office expire in June:

Officers
                        Chairman of the Board (2 year term)              Tim Starks, Cherokee, OK 
                        President (2 year term)                                    Dan Harris, Holton, KS         
                        Vice President (2 year term)                           Jerry Etheredge, Linden, AL 
Directors
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Brian Glick, Belleville, PA
                        Eastern Region Director (2 year term)            Dean Hanson, Lewisburg, WV
                        Midwestern Region Director (2 year term)     Larry Schnell, Dickinson, ND
                        Western Region Director (2 year term)           Lex Madden, Torrington, WY

Independent nominations may be made by active members of the Association.  Such nominations may be made by petition of not fewer than 15 active members if delivered to the President or Secretary of the Association within 20 days after publication of this Nominations Report.  Such a petition must be accompanied by the written permission of the candidate.  Proponents of such petition will have access to the list of Association members for purposes of circularizing membership.

After the nominations period has ended, the Association will send each active member a ballot containing the names of all of the nominees proposed by the Executive Committee and any independent nominations.

To vote in the election for officers and regional directors, a member must return his or her ballot by the due date stated on the ballot, which shall be at least 20 days after the ballots are sent out.

The individual receiving the largest number of votes for each elected officer position and the individual or individuals receiving the largest number of votes for the available regional director positions in each service region shall be deemed elected.

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year. Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Free BQA training registration until April 15
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Schwieterman: Live cattle futures closed moderately higher
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher

Live cattle futures closed moderately higher on Tuesday, with more impressive strength in the October forward contracts. Cash trade appears to be destined for an end of the week activity, with bids and asking prices a good $4.00 apart. Cutout values were mixed, with choice lower and select higher. Overnight trade is firmer, with .15-.40 gains in the front four months. Continued weakness in the lean hog complex seems to be keeping a lid on the live cattle as well. Current packer bids, while softer than a week ago, remain well above the lead April contract.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures closed higher on Tuesday, with the lead April contract up .80 for the day. Today is supply/demand report day for the grains, which could have a significant impact on the feeders as well. The report will be released at 11:00 am central time and is expected to be friendly to corn and beans. Overnight trade in the feeders is mixed, with a slightly firmer bias.

Hogs diverged from general advance in other ag markets Tuesday
Wholesale strength apparently supported cattle futures. CME cattle futures rose moderately Tuesday, which may have partially reflected the sizeable discount to cash values already built into the various contracts. In addition, grocers seemingly stepped up their buying for early-May beef features, with the resulting wholesale price increase supporting CME prices. June cattle futures rallied 0.35 cents to 135.27 cents/pound at their Tuesday close, while December surged 0.90 to 140.55. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle edged up 0.02 cents to 178.87 cents/pound, and August rose 0.07 to 180.57.

Bearish expectations seemed to dominate the hog market Tuesday. Although wholesale quotes rose modestly this morning, CME hog traders were not encouraged. They apparently believe the February-March price spike reflected supply reductions unlikely to continue this summer. Moreover, the soaring prices could substantially reduce demand before grilling season even arrives. June hog futures plunged 2.62 cents to 118.75 cents/pound as Tuesday’s pit session ended, while December dove 1.80 to 88.85.

Missouri Dairy Act moves forward
The Missouri House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2014. The effort seeks to reverse the rapid decline in Missouri’s dairy industry and preserve the state’s 15 milk processing plants.  In 2003, Missouri had 129,000 milk cows producing nearly 1.9 billion pounds of milk. By the end of 2013 the state was down to 90,000 cows and 1.35 billion pounds of milk. Earlier this year the USDA replaced Missouri with South Dakota on the list of 23 Major Dairy States.

The bill now awaits State Senate action which Drennan says could be as soon as next week.

Monthly Market Outlook: Signals favorable for higher cattle prices
March’s market action is best summarized by the expression, “and then some…” Stronger prices late in the month marked yet another new all-time record. That makes for the third consecutive month of establishing new historical highs.

January’s mark came late in the month when the fed market surpassed $148/cwt. The market then drifted back to $140 during the next several weeks; but stronger trade came at the last half of February pushing the market over the $150 hump for the first time. March’s action wasn’t quite as dramatic but, once again, strong action at the end of the month tacked on even more and scored the market another new high of $152-$153.

New records thus far in 2014 are important benchmarks. Perhaps more important, though, are some of the dynamics behind the market. For example, during the final week of February, the market looked poised to trade in the high-$140 range. Packers were offering bids of $149 early in the week. Cattle feeders resoundingly passed and successfully demanded higher prices which, in turn, they quickly received. More surprising, though, is the fact that packers anted up while wholesale values were stagnating in late-March.

April 8, 2014

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year. Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Free BQA training registration until April 15
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Cattle feeding margins drop, fall into the red
Feedlot margins fell more than $18 per head last week to $223.51 compared to $242.03, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. One month ago, cattle feeding margins were $233.83 per head and last year at this time, feeders were losing $74.62 per head.

For the week ending April 5, fed cattle prices were $150.27 per hundredweight, compared to $152.98 per hundredweight the previous week and just shy of $150 one month ago. A recent report from Rabobank suggests that fed cattle prices may have hit their seasonal high for 2014. Feeder steers increased more than $2 to $177.21 per hundredweight. This is up more than $37 compared to the same time last year. Feed costs reached $381.24, compared to $375.40 the previous week, and total costs jumped $22.36 per head to $1,882.99.

After multiple weeks in positive territory, packer margins fell back into the red last week to negative $36.16 per head, compared to $32.28 the previous week and $8.22 last month. At this time last year, packers were losing nearly $50 per head. The beef cutout value fell back to $229.31, compared to $238.01 the previous week. At this time last year, the cutout value was $190.57.

Projections for cow-calf producers have been high the first three months of 2014 and climbed a little higher last week. The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker is projecting cow-calf margins to reach $367.65 per cow in 2014, compared to $243.05 in 2013, $213.65 in 2012 and $153.60 in 2011.

After climbing to more than $116 per head the previous week, farrow to finish margins finished the week ending April 4 at $111.06 per head. At this time last month, margins were $66.31 and at this time last year, they were negative $28.87. Lean hogs were down less than $0.40 to $129.38, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker.

Pork packer margins improved slightly last week to negative $1.15 per head, compared to negative $3.05 the previous week. The pork cutout value remained steady at $131.40.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending April 5:

  • Average feeder margins: $223.51 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$36.16 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending April 4:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $111.06 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: -$1.15 per head.

Beef herd expansion threatened in coming weeks
It’s April and pastures are, or should be, greening up in the southern half of the country. However, cold weather this spring has delayed pasture development in many areas.  Winter conditions still exist in several regions in the northern half of the country where spring green-up is still a month away.  From a cattle perspective, conditions fall into three categories at the current time.  Moisture conditions are adequate to abundant in most of the eastern half of the country.  Marginal drought conditions are the norm in the middle of the country with persistent severe drought conditions in much of the West. 

It is producers in the marginal drought areas that must be prepared to move quickly to either act aggressively if conditions improve or to act defensively if drought conditions redevelop.  According to the latest Drought Monitor, five states among the top ten beef cattle states have the largest areas (percent of state area) of marginal drought conditions (D1 and D2 on the D0 to D4 scale), including Iowa (57 percent); Kansas (85 percent); Nebraska (61 percent); Oklahoma (54 percent); and Texas (39 percent).  With the exception of Iowa, all of these states showed strong indications of herd expansion with significant increases in beef replacement heifers on January 1, 2014.  In fact, the increase in replacement heifers in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas was 132,000 head, which is more than the net increase of 90,200 head of beef replacement heifers in the entire country.  In addition, both Kansas and Oklahoma had 2013 increases in the beef cow herd.  These four states accounted for 31 percent of the U.S. beef cow herd on January 1 and the ability of these states to maintain herd expansion plans will likely determine the overall impact on the U.S. beef cow inventory in 2014. 

Current weather predictions suggest improving moisture conditions in eastern Texas and Oklahoma, and much of Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.  Drought conditions are predicted to persist into summer from southwest Kansas to areas south and west, including western Oklahoma and Texas, as well as New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California and Oregon. These last six states accounted for nearly 8 percent of beef cows on January 1, 2014.  An El Niño is forecast to develop this summer or fall which will likely bring some relief to much of this region but perhaps not soon enough to avoid additional liquidation in the first half of 2014. If current forecasts are realized, improved conditions in the central Great Plains and eastern Southern Plains may be enough to support limited beef cow herd expansion in 2014.  However, conditions in this region will likely either improve or deteriorate with typical warm and windy spring weather in the next few weeks.  Forage and water supplies will tighten rapidly and soon without moisture. Failure to sustain herd expansion plans in the central and southern plains will result in no growth or more herd liquidation for the entire country in 2014. The next few weeks will be critical in these states and has implications for the entire beef cattle industry.

Seeking harmony on trich standards
At the Trichomoniasis Forum last week in Omaha, much of the discussion centered on standardizing testing protocols and state regulations for testing cattle shipped between or within states. Currently, 22 states have some regulations regarding testing cattle for trichomoniasis or “trich,” but the specifics of those regulations vary. That variation can complicate cattle marketing, particularly for seedstock producers who sell bulls to customers in multiple states. In some cases, transport of purchased bulls can be delayed by several days while the seller arranges for appropriate testing based on the bulls’ destinations.

Discussion points included several specifications that differ between states with trich regulations.

Rabobank projects continued strength in global market
In a report on the global beef market during the first quarter of 2014, Rabobank is projecting strong market fundamentals experienced in the first three months of the year to remain in place going forward, driven most by demand in China and tight supply in the United States, Australia and Brazil.

“Prospects for the global beef industry remains positive in Q2, with further possible upside due to continuing pressured beef supply and scarce supply of competing proteins which will continue to impact competitive positions,” explained Rabobank analyst Albert Vernooij. “Brazilian cattle prices and exports have surged to record levels, and Australian droughts have encouraged historically high slaughter levels to meet global demand.”

Beef demand in China will be in the driver seat going forward. While Rabobank analysts do not project beef exports to China to reach the 380 percent growth levels experienced in 2013, imports will grow due to lack of domestic production growth despite strong profits and support from the government. Australia was the biggest supplier of beef to China in 2013, accounting for 53 percent of the total volume, followed by Uruguay at 29 percent. According to the report, the opening of the Chinese market to Brazilian beef “may happen imminently.”

Mississippi sausage plant to close
Pontotoc, Miss.-based Southern Quality Meats notified its 110 plant workers on Friday that the plant is closing, according to a company statement.
Operations will be consolidated with its sister plant, Albertville Quality Foods in Albertville, Ala., which is about 190 miles from Pontotoc.   
Southern Quality Meats, which makes sausage products, has been in operation since 1962. The plant is expected to close in June. 

Albertville Quality Foods, in business since 1988, is a diversified protein further processing business with more than 1,000 employees. The company operates several facilities.

April 7, 2014

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year. Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Free BQA training registration until April 15
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Schwieterman: Live cattle futures imploded on Friday
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures imploded on Friday, losing more than 2.00 in all contracts through the end of the year. Weakness in the cash market followed, with southern trade at $148 and the north $242 or lower in the beef. Cutouts were sharply lower for the week, with the only positive being the widening of the choice/select spread. Option expiration went out with a bang, and fireworks could still be on tap, with first notice day for deliveries following todays’ close. Open interest in the spot month remains very high for this late in the contract.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures closed with triple digit losses on Friday, mostly due to spillover weakness from the live cattle and lean hog pits. The cash index was up on Friday, but off .46 for the week. Today’s index will be interesting, with a very low figure from last weekend coming off today and this past Fri-Sat sales being added. Overnight corn prices are modestly lower but remain in an uptrend, with potentially friendly numbers ahead in Wednesday’s supply/demand report.

Feeder cattle review: Feeder cattle sold higher
Compared to last week, feeder cattle sold 1.00-4.00 higher with thinner- fleshed stockers suitable for grass selling up to 8.00 higher near the major grazing regions. 

New crop calves were not quite as active this week and prices were unevenly steady, especially across the lower tier of the Southeast markets which could mean grass buyers don’t think they have enough time to get these calves straightened-out by their turn-out date. 
Direct markets were very active this past week and posted the full advance on feeder cattle, despite CME cattle futures being under pressure early in the week.  Corporate feeders are pushing the market in the country as competition in the auctions heats up and salebarn receipts are starting to dry-up. 

Record-high price levels continue to be posted daily and each time rationale draws a line in the sand, cash prices in an auction setting cut a trench right through it.  First it was 5 weight calves bringing 2.00/lb, then it was 6 weight calves yielding 2.00/lb, now this week there were several Midwestern sales that pushed and surpassed 2.00/lb for 700 lb steers.  At the Bassett, NE, Livestock Auction two loads of fancy 750 lb backgrounded steers brought 200.00 (lighter 7 weights were up to 208.00), 4 loads of similar steers averaging 814 lbs brought 194.25, and 2 big loads of fancy 920 lb yearling steers dropped the gavel at 177.50.  The sky is officially now the limit and what’s next, 800 lb steers at 2.00/lb?  Many market watchers feel there is still some fuel left in these rockets with available supplies of feeders seasonally tightening and ample on-farm feed storage.

DC Circuit Court of Appeals will rehear COOL case
The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit today vacated a March 28 ruling that denied the American Meat Institute's attempt to block USDA's final rule on country-of-origin labeling (COOL). The full court will rehear the case on May 19.

April 4, 2014

More PEDv cases reported; Brazil pork industry asks for safeguards
The National Animal Health Laboratory Network reported on Wednesday that 247 tests for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) proved positive out of 802 tested at 8 veterinary diagnostic labs in the week that began March 23, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. 
In addition, last week’s number was adjusted down to 270. The report noted this latest data maintains “the general downward trend in positive case submissions.”

There is no firm data on how many hogs have been infected, as each case reported can represent anywhere from a single animal to an entire herd at a single site. Industry estimates have ranged from 3 million to 5 million hogs affected.  

Monthly Market Outlook: Signals Favorable For Higher Cattle Prices
March’s market action is best summarized by the expression, “and then some…” Stronger prices late in the month marked yet another new all-time record. That makes for the third consecutive month of establishing new historical highs.

January’s mark came late in the month when the fed market surpassed $148/cwt. The market then drifted back to $140 during the next several weeks; but stronger trade came at the last half of February pushing the market over the $150 hump for the first time. March’s action wasn’t quite as dramatic but, once again, strong action at the end of the month tacked on even more and scored the market another new high of $152-$153.

Industry At A Glance: A Year’s Look At Mexican Feeder Imports
A tight supply of cattle is a perpetual story. And as noted several weeks ago, tight supply is exacerbated in 2014 because of an especially tight supply of cattle in the “other heifers” category. Meanwhile, some of the shortfall in domestic supply has been buffered by increased flow of feeders from Mexico.

The need to maintain occupancy at the feedyard level was favorably matched by willing sellers because of drought in Mexico. The trade peaked in July 2012 with an annual import rate of 1.63 million head. However, since that time, there’s been a sharp decline – the current rate is off by more than 40% and has slowed to 935,000 head/year.

When one considers both the fewer number of available heifers to graze and feed, and the fewer number of cattle being sourced from Mexico, it makes for an especially tight supply outlook in the coming months. That squeeze could be significant as the U.S. beef industry markets through the current wave of placements and the hunt for replacements begins in earnest.

Biosecurity practices prevent emerging disease
The Colorado Department of Agriculture's Animal Health Division has been working closely with swine producers, and organizations to encourage appropriate biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of an emerging, deadly livestock disease: porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV).

PEDV only infects pigs and poses no threat to humans. The main form of transmission is typical oral contact with contaminated feces which can include exposure to other pigs or indirect contact through trucks, boots, or clothing. So far, according to the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 27 states have confirmed cases of PEDV; Colorado has had 254 positive tests since November 2013.

Personnel with the State Veterinarian's office met with approximately 60 Extension agents, pork producers, and swine show organizers to discuss biosecurity measures for county fairs and shows as it relates to PEDV. Biosecurity measures are those precautionary steps taken to reduce the potential for exposure of susceptible livestock to contagious microbial agents.

Vilsack announces progress on 2014 Farm Bill implementation
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced significant progress on implementing the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), which President Obama signed into law on February 7. The 2014 Farm Bill reforms agricultural policy, reduces the deficit, and helps grow the economy. 

"We are making tremendous progress implementing the new Farm Bill," said Secretary Vilsack. "This law is critically important to America's farmers and ranchers and to our nation's economy. Every USDA agency is working diligently to implement the Farm Bill's new provisions quickly and effectively." 

With 12 titles and over 450 provisions, the Farm Bill drives food, farm, conservation, trade, research, energy policies and more. Implementing such a large piece of legislation within the mandated timeline requires a coordinated effort across all areas of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Friday midday cash livestock markets
Direct cattle markets are quiet at midday on Friday. Packer inquiry is improving, albeit slowly. Bids are $147 Live in Kansas and $239 to $240 Dressed in Nebraska. Asking prices are holding around $152 to $153 Live and $246+ Dressed. Boxed beef at midday is expected to be lower on light to moderate box movement.

At the Valentine Livestock Auction in Nebraska, there was no recent test, so no comparison was given, with estimated receipts of 2,780 head. USDA says demand was very good, with several buyers in the seats and high internet activity. 44% of the supply was steers, 56% was heifers, and 71% of the total offering weighed over 600 pounds. 609 to 640 pound feeder steers sold at $212 to $226 and 657 to 688 pound heifers ranged from $182.75 to $193.

April 3, 2014

LMA aware of financial situation involving livestock dealer in Mississippi
The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) is aware of a financial situation involving a livestock dealer in Mississippi. At this time, we do not know of any checks that have been returned to livestock auction markets. The Packers and Stockyards Program (USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) staff and independent auditors are currently investigating. The LMA will release additional, pertinent information as it becomes available.

If you have questions, please contact Joyce English, LMA Livestock Board of Trade Vice President, at (800) 821-2048 or jenglish@lmaweb.com.

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year.

Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Free BQA training registration until April 15
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Ag markets prove quite mixed again Thursday
Cattle futures are rising from discounted levels. CME futures are trading at sizeable discounts to recent cash quotes. Thus, recent wholesale firmness is suggesting the widely anticipated seasonal drop in country values may be delayed and/or prove small than generally believed. That may explain current firmness in the Chicago pit. June cattle futures rallied 0.37 cents to 137.15 cents/pound just before lunchtime Thursday, while December lifted 0.35 to 140.62. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle jumped 2.32 cents to 180.30 cents/pound, and August leapt 2.12 to 181.70.

Cash and wholesale weakness is weighing upon the hog market. Although the hog and pork situation now seems extremely tight, many in the industry are not convinced prices can be sustained at current extraordinary highs. Wednesday’s country hog losses and morning pork weakness are adding to those concerns. June hog futures dove 0.90 cents to 123.90 cents/pound late Thursday morning, and December lost 0.02 to 91.37.

Thursday midday cash livestock markets
Direct cattle markets are quiet at midday on Thursday, but packer inquiry is starting to improve. Asking prices are holding around $153 Live in the South and $246+ Dressed in the North. Bids are at $147 Live in Kansas, and $149 Live and $239 Dressed in Nebraska. Significant trade volume will either start this afternoon or wait until Friday.

At the Hub City Livestock Auction in South Dakota, estimated receipts were 2,850 head, down sharply on both the week and the year. Prices were uneven, from a dollar lower to seven higher. Demand was good to very good, with a good quality offering and an active market. 852 to 859 pound feeder steers sold at $162 to $174.25 and 653 to 698 pound heifers ranged from $173 to $185.50.

Cash hog markets are mostly steady, but do have a lower undertone. National Direct barrows and gilts were down $2.24 at $123.86 to $129, with a weighted average of $124.57. The Eastern Cornbelt, Western Cornbelt, and Iowa/Southern Minnesota were not reported due to confidentiality.

erminals are mostly steady, instance of $3 lower at Dorchester, with tops at $85 to $99. Missouri Direct butcher trade is steady at $120 to $121, with sows unchanged to a dollar higher at $73 to $92.

April 2, 2014

LMA aware of financial situation involving livestock dealer in Mississippi
The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) is aware of a financial situation involving a livestock dealer in Mississippi. At this time, we do not know of any checks that have been returned to livestock auction markets. The Packers and Stockyards Program (USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) staff and independent auditors are currently investigating. The LMA will release additional, pertinent information as it becomes available.

If you have questions, please contact Joyce English, LMA Livestock Board of Trade Vice President, at (800) 821-2048 or jenglish@lmaweb.com.

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year.

Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Free BQA training registration until April 15
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Most ag markets turned decidedly lower Wednesday morning
Cattle futures turned mixed Wednesday morning. CME cattle prices rose significantly Tuesday night despite a surprising afternoon drop in beef values. Traders may be anticipating late-week strength as the industry gears up for planned early-May beef features. However, futures turned mixed by late morning, which may have reflected diminished optimism about the short-term wholesale outlook. June cattle futures gained 0.27 cents to 136.75 cents/pound just before midday Wednesday, while December lost 0.02 to 139.97. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle rose 0.80 cents to 177.57 cents/pound, and August ran up 0.80 to 179.17.

Suspicions of a looming top may be sinking hog futures. The hog and pork complex has exhibited astonishing strength lately, with sharp production cuts being met by apparent panic buying from processors and grocers. However, the bull run may be close to ending, which in turn may have prompted the sharp late-morning reversal. June hog futures plummeted 2.67 cents to 124.92 cents/pound late Wednesday morning, while December dove 0.95 to 90.20.

Cash hogs were higher but cattle country was quiet
Cattle country remained at a standstill on Tuesday afternoon with bids and asking prices poorly defined. A few of the showlists have been priced around 153.00 in the South and 246.00 plus in the North. Significant trade volume may be delayed until Thursday or Friday. The kill was estimated at 119,000 head, the same as last week, but 2,000 less than last year.

Live cattle contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange settled 25 to 110 points in the red. Early light pressure gained selling momentum allowing for triple digit losses to hold through the close in the nearby contracts. Concerns remain about the lack of aggressive support in beef values and the inability to maintain buyer support in the lean hogs, however hog contracts ended mostly higher, and cattle ended off the day’s lows. April settled 1.10 lower at 144.75, and June was down 1.02 at 136.47.

Feeder cattle settled 35 to 1.07 lower following the aggressive moves in the grain complex. Traders focused on developing bullishness in both corn and soybean markets which could limit additional market support for both feeder cattle and live cattle markets over the near term. April settled .57 lower at 176.45, and May was down 1.07 at 176.77.

Feeder cattle receipts on Monday at the Oklahoma National Stockyards totaled 8316 head. Compared to last week feeder steers and heifers were 1.00 to 3.00 higher. Stocker cattle and calves were steady to firm. Warmer temperatures and springtime weather moved into the area. Demand was good to very good. The quality was average through attractive. Feeder steers, medium and large 1 averaging 681 pounds brought 189.12 per hundredweight. 621 pound heifers traded at 181.42 at Oklahoma City.

Lean hog contracts settled 42 to 180 points higher. Lean hog futures started aggressively higher following strong support redeveloping in the market. But once these initial orders were secured, it seemed like buyer interest dwindled through the last half of the morning trade. The focus in the market appeared to be moving to traders stepping into the grain market. This could create moderate liquidation through the coming days. April settled 1.80 higher at 127.80, and June was .42 higher at 127.60. Only August closed lower by .12.

Direct trade hogs closed higher with the Iowa/Minnesota up 1.77 with a weighted average of 129.70 on a carcass basis, the West was 1.48 higher at 129.22, and the East at 124.24 up .46. Missouri direct base carcass meat price closed steady from 120.00 to 121.00. Terminal hogs were steady to 2.00 higher from 85.00 to 96.00 on a live basis, with a few in Iowa at 101.00 according to private sources.

A larger breeding herd as of March 1, more aggressive efforts to fight PED and the expected seasonal decline in cases could help pork producers recover some of the lost supplies by late 2014 and early 2015.

The hog kill on Tuesday was estimated at 415,000 head, 3,000 less than last week, and down 11,000 from last year.

Economic calculations determine acceptable cow price
Since recent droughts have caused a lack of available forage in many areas, the incentive to retain heifers and purchase cows has been very low. This situation is coupled with the high value of heifer calves after weaning, preconditioning or the stocker phase. It makes the decision to retain or purchase females extremely difficult. As a result, the cattle inventory has declined to levels not seen since the 1930s and 1940s, and the value of heifer calves has risen to all-time record highs.

With low cow numbers, historic high prices for weaned calves and the cost of cows at record highs for the foreseeable future, this means good, young, producing cows are going to be hard to find. Prices will consistently exceed $2,000 per cow.

How much could cows be worth? Based on $550 annual cow cost, 88 percent calf crop and $180 per hundredweight average price for a 525-pound calf over seven production years, a $2,150 cow/calf pair purchased in the spring of 2014 would have a 10 percent return on investment.

April 1, 2014

LMA aware of financial situation involving livestock dealer in Mississippi
The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) is aware of a financial situation involving a livestock dealer in Mississippi. At this time, we do not know of any checks that have been returned to livestock auction markets. The Packers and Stockyards Program (USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) staff and independent auditors are currently investigating. The LMA will release additional, pertinent information as it becomes available.

If you have questions, please contact Joyce English, LMA Livestock Board of Trade Vice President, at (800) 821-2048 or jenglish@lmaweb.com.

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year.

Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Free BQA training registration until April 15
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Ag markets posted a mixed showing Monday night
Wholesale weakness is still bothering cattle market bulls. Concerns about the wholesale outlook seemed to weigh upon CME cattle prices late last week and again Monday. Yesterday’s losses were much less substantial than those seen late last week, but they could hardly be seen as encouraging either. June cattle futures slid 0.47 cents to 137.02 cents/pound as Tuesday dawned over Chicago, while December sagged 0.30 cents to 139.95. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle tumbled 0.50 cents to 177.35 cents/pound, and August fell 0.30 to 179.10.

Mixed cash and pork news stifled hog moves Monday night. After holding up rather well in the face of the bearish data on last Friday’s quarterly USDA Hogs & Pigs report, hog futures are narrowly mixed this morning. That apparently reflects late Monday reports indicating cash weakness and wholesale strength. We expect those factors to continue driving the market. June hog futures skidded 0.02 cents to 127.17 early Tuesday morning, while December gained 0.55 to 90.75.

Ag markets proved quite volatile Monday
Wholesale weakness depressed cattle futures Monday. Concerns about the wholesale outlook seemed to weigh upon CME cattle prices late last week. Those worries were apparently justified when beef cutout values plummeted Friday afternoon, which in turn depressed futures farther this morning. Cutouts did firm somewhat at midday, but futures remained weak. April cattle futures closed 0.65 cents lower to 145.85 cents/pound Monday, while August tumbled 0.52 cents to 134.55. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle dove 1.32 cents to 177.02 cents/pound, but August plunged 1.62 to 179.40.

Hog traders are apparently counting on short term strength. Last Friday’s quarterly USDA Hogs & Pigs report proved bearish for the summer price outlook, which sent most contracts sharply lower upon today’s opening. However, the data were neutral for short-term prospects, so suspicions of early-week cash firmness sparked a quick bounce in the nearby April future. April hog futures climbed 0.42 cents to 126.00 in late Monday action, while June plummeted 2.40 to 127.17.

Ohio cattlemen approve checkoff increase
By a margin of 72 percent in favor, to 28 percent opposed, Ohio cattlemen have overwhelmingly approved the Ohio Beef Marketing Program Referendum that will increase the state checkoff on cattle from $1 to $2.

OCA Executive Director Elizabeth Harsh says the 72 percent voting in support was the result of several factors, from volunteers, to other groups supporting the increase, to the education effort.

“To make sure producers know where the existing checkoff dollars are utilized and then obviously what we could do with additional dollars and why they were needed,” Harsh said.

The final vote – 1,527 votes in favor of the referendum, 591 votes opposed.

Tyson plant expansion in Dakota City, Neb., to open this summer
A $90-million expansion of a Tyson Foods Inc. beef plant in Dakota City, Neb., is on track to be completed by this summer, according to a news report quoting company officials.

The two-year project will replace the slaughter floor to better match the facility’s processing needs, according to the Sioux City Journal.

The Dakota City plant is expected to add about 200 jobs once the expansion is completed at a facility that provides vacuum-packed, boxed beef to wholesalers, hotels, retailers, restaurants and foodservice customers. The plant is the largest employer in the Sioux City, Iowa, area, with nearly 4,000 workers and an annual payroll of more than $140 million.

Just weeks ago, Tyson confirmed that it will keep its beef plant in Denison, Iowa, plant open after warning workers there two years ago that the facility was in danger of closing in light of the Dakota City plant expansion. Changing market conditions were cited for the shift in plans, according to a Tyson spokesman.

Beef producers move to streamline animal welfare auditing
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is looking to extend its Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program to cover third-party auditing of producers’ pre-harvest animal health and welfare efforts.

With more packers using third-party audits to assess humane treatment of animals through the meat production process, beef producers are keeping multiple sets of records on the same activities. Using the BQA system for third-party audits would simplify the record-keeping process for producers.
“It is an industry-driven, producer-led program,” Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for the association, told Meatingplace.

The BQA program encourages industry participants to participate in training and become certified in best practices to promote cattle health and well-being. Its guidelines cover feeding and nutrition, disease prevention, shelter and housing, cattle handling, transportation, non-ambulatory cattle, euthanasia and heat stress. To read more about the program, click here. 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association expects to finalize the policy on third-party auditing at its conference this summer in Denver. 

Northern cattle producers in brunt of winter storm Xenia
In some parts of the country March left like a thick-furred, snow covered lion.

Up to 18 inches of snow was predicted by The Weather Channel to fall in parts of North Dakota and Minnesota from Winter Storm Xenia as it hit the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest area Cow-calf pairs on Keller Broken Heart Ranch stand outside their shelter on Monday, March 31, as Winter Storm Xenia hit the area. Luke Keller says his family worked together to get feed out to the cattle and to bring calves into the shelters to get warm. on Monday, March 31. This spring snowstorm has blanketed the area in less than flower growing conditions. 

According to the National Weather Service, the area will remained in a Blizzard Warning until 7 p.m. on Monday, with whiteout conditions from high winds.

March 31, 2014

LMA aware of financial situation involving livestock dealer in Mississippi
The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) is aware of a financial situation involving a livestock dealer in Mississippi. At this time, we do not know of any checks that have been returned to livestock auction markets. The Packers and Stockyards Program (USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) staff and independent auditors are currently investigating. The LMA will release additional, pertinent information as it becomes available.

If you have questions, please contact Joyce English, LMA Livestock Board of Trade Vice President, at (800) 821-2048 or jenglish@lmaweb.com.

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year.
Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Cattle Outlook: Fed cattle prices set new record highs
Fed cattle prices set new record highs this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $152.26/cwt, up $2.16 from a week ago, up $24.50 from a year ago, and up $1.60 from the last week of February which was the old record holder. Steer sales on a dressed basis averaged $243.48/cwt this week, up $3.37 from a week ago and up $40.40 from year ago.

The latest Cattle on Feed report said that February placements were up 14.7% while marketings were down 3.4% giving a March 1 cattle on feed inventory that is down 0.5% compared to last year.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 585,000 head, up 1.7% from the previous week, but down 2.2% from the corresponding week last year. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on March 15 was 856 pounds, down 2 pounds from the week before and the same as a year earlier.

Feeder cattle prices at this week's Oklahoma City auction were mostly steady to $3 higher than the week before. This week's prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $255-$257, 450-500# $220-$251, 500-550# $212-$235, 550-600# $194-$225, 600-650# $186-$204.50, 650-700# $183-$196, 700-750# $175.50-$185, 750-800# $167.25-$179.50, 800-900# $158-$168.75, and 900-1000# $153.25-$161/cwt.

Cattle futures were higher this week. The April live cattle futures contract closed at $146.50/cwt today, up $2.50 from last week's close. June fed cattle settled at $138.35, up $2.23 for the week. August settled at $135.07/cwt, up $1.57 from the previous Friday.

Feeder cattle futures followed fed cattle futures higher. The April feeder cattle contract ended the week at $178.35/cwt, up $3.08 for the week. May feeders closed at $179.50/cwt, up $3.00 from the previous Friday. The August feeder cattle contract gained $3.12 this week to end at $181.02.

Corn futures were higher this week. May corn futures ended the week at $4.92/bushel, up 13 cents from the week before. July corn settled at $4.96/bushel, also 13 cents higher than the previous Friday. The September corn futures contract ended the week at $4.91/bushel.

Feeder cattle review: Cash prices cause “sticker shock”
Compared to last week, feeder and stocker cattle sold unevenly steady to 3.00 higher.  For the most part, feeder markets defied last Friday’s bearish cattle-on-feed report with even CME Feeder Cattle contracts opening the week with sizeable gains and continuing strong through the week. 

However, cash prices on some of the highest demanded cattle and most popular weights did level-off after last week’s “sticker shock”.  The average price for 6 weight steers in the South Central Region and for 5 weight steer calves throughout the Southeast was slightly lower.  Softer fall-born new crop calves are making their way onto the scene and widening the price spread against the rugged old croppers. 

Nevertheless, most top quality 600 lb steers with a longtime weaned and lightly fleshed condition that is suitable for grass yielded prices north of 2.00/lb near the major grazing regions.  There are not enough of these types of stocker cattle to go around and when they arrive on offer in an auction setting bidding becomes rampant.  Grazers know that if these cattle are ready to hit the ground gaining on pasture, that there may still be room for profit if they can get possession for less than 1300.00 per head and spend less than 100.00 for their summer rent.  They need these cattle to gain their heads off and press-down hard on the scales late this summer or early fall when they take the cattle off grass.  As high as yearlings are, there is reason to believe that prices could escalate even farther this summer. 

Some analysts are projecting that early fall slaughter hog supplies could be 15-25 percent lower than last year.  The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) has been devastating to newborn unweaned pigs, especially during the coldest winter weather.  Friday’s USDA Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report showed the December through February pig crop to be down 3 percent from 2013 and total swine inventory to be 3 percent less than last year.  The results of the pork industry’s struggles could allow all-time record-high priced beef to actually have an advantage in fall meat cases.  Fed cattle sold mostly 2.00 higher from 150.00-154.00 live and 2.00-3.00 higher from 244.00-245.00 with feedlots remaining very current as they have been pulling cattle ahead all winter.  In fact, handsome markets have prompted cattle producers at every level to sell cattle ahead of schedule.  Most auction markets are reporting lower quality clean-up type offerings which is indicative of exhausted supplies.  This week’s reported auction volume included 52 percent over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.   

Fire closes (GA) beef plant for a week
At approximately 1 a.m. Thursday, FPL Food LLC experienced a minor fire in a section of the roof above the harvest floor of the plant located in Augusta, Ga., the company announced. 

No people or cattle were injured. The plant will be closed for approximately one week to repair the damages.

FPL’s plants in Columbia, S.C., and Thomasville, Ga., will remain in operation.

FPL Food is the self-described largest privately held vertically integrated beef processor in the Southeastern United States and is one of the largest privately held processors of fresh beef products and value added meat selections in the United States.

The company employs 800 workers across three facilities. 

Marin Sun Farms tries to step out of Rancho’s shadow
Marin Sun Farms officials said today they’re looking forward to opening a Petaluma, Calif., plant on April 7 and distancing their company from the former owner shut down for processing diseased animals without federal inspection.

In a press conference held at the plant and streamed live online, Marin Sun Farms founder David Evans navigated repeated questions from reporters looking for assurances on how his operation will be different from Rancho Feeding Corp., which closed after having to recall some 9 million pounds of beef products, and that it won’t repeat the mistakes.

Marin Sun Farms received USDA approval to open the facility on April 7. Evans said the plant is looking to process 100 cattle and 100 hogs per week, and between now and the opening the company is working on sourcing those animals. In the meantime, the company is working on getting Organic certification. The facility will produce and distribute Marin Sun Farms product as well as that of other labels from various producers in the region, many of whom have struggled to market their products since the plant’s closure.

Hogs and pigs report shows herd rebuilding
USDA’s quarterly Hogs and Pigs reports on Friday showed evidence of herd rebuilding even as the damage from porcine diarrhea epidemic virus (PEDv) was reflected in fewer pigs saved per litter.

Nearly all the key indicators, including all hogs and pigs on March 1, breeding inventory and market inventory, came in above analysts’ expectations.

J.P. Morgan analyst Ken Goldman called the report “mixed, but we think generally negative for hog/pork prices,” and thus positive for Hillshire Brands, Kraft and to a lesser extent for Tyson Foods.

“The sow herd is being rebuilt,” said Goldman in a note to investors, noting the number of sows slaughtered remained at 10-year lows over the last two months.

Report
USDA reported the U.S. inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2014, was 62.9 million head. This was down 3 percent from March 1, 2013. Analysts, on average, expected that number to be down 5.4 percent. The inventory was down 5 percent from Dec. 1, 2013.

Breeding inventory, at 5.85 million head, was up slightly from last year, and up 2 percent from the previous quarter. Analysts had expected a slight decline in breeding inventory.

Market hog inventory, at 57 million head, was down 4 percent from last year, and down 5 percent from last quarter. Analysts were expecting market hog inventory to be down nearly 6 percent from last year.

The December 2013-February 2014 pig crop, at 27.3 million head, was down 3 percent from 2013. Sows farrowing during the period totaled 2.87 million head, up 3 percent from 2013. The sows farrowed during the quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd.

The average pigs saved per litter was 9.53 for the December-February period, compared to 10.08 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.70 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 9.60 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

Kentucky lawmakers take aim at animal rights videos on farms
The Kentucky Senate voted Friday to punish animal-rights activists with jail and fines for secretly filming farm operations, attaching the proposal to legislation meant to prevent animal shelters from using gas chambers as a form of euthanasia.

But that’s as far as the bill may go. The Senate’s action drew a defiant response from the sponsor of the original House-passed bill.

Democratic Rep. Joni Jenkins said she would not ask the House to take up the broader bill in the final days of the General Assembly session, which would kill the measure. She said the punishment proposed in the Senate version was misdirected.

“If a big factory farm is doing something that impacts the environment and public health, we shouldn’t be penalizing whistleblowers in those instances,” Jenkins said.

The provision to criminalize undercover filming or photographing of private farm animal operations was added by the Senate Agriculture Committee this week. The full Senate accepted the changes before passing the amended version on a 32-6 vote, sending it back to the House.

Older Daily News Headlines

March 28, 2014

LMA aware of financial situation involving livestock dealer in Mississippi
The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) is aware of a financial situation involving a livestock dealer in Mississippi. At this time, we do not know of any checks that have been returned to livestock auction markets. The Packers and Stockyards Program (USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) staff and independent auditors are currently investigating. The LMA will release additional, pertinent information as it becomes available.

If you have questions, please contact Joyce English, LMA Livestock Board of Trade Vice President, at (800) 821-2048 or jenglish@lmaweb.com.

Reminder: Annual reports due to GIPSA by April 15th
If your market’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your annual report to GIPSA is due no later than April 15th. If your market keeps records on a fiscal year basis other than a calendar year, the annual report is due no later than 90 days following the end of your fiscal year.

Failure to file an annual report by the required date will result in GIPSA issuing a default notice. If GIPSA has not received the annual report by thirty days after the default notice, a registrant’s registration will automatically expire.  Once registration has expired, one has to go through the whole reapplication process.  Please call the office if you have questions or need assistance in filing.

Friday midday cash livestock markets
It is possible that we could see some cattle clean-up deals here and there before breaking for the weekend, but most buyers and sellers seem to be done for the month. Several pens did sell late in Kansas late Thursday near the top of the week’s trade at 152.00. Any unsold slaughter cattle are probably priced around 152.00 to 153.00 in the South and 245.00 plus in the North.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Mitchell Livestock Auction, Mitchell, South Dakota totaled 4701 head on Thursday. Compared to last week feeder steers were steady to 2.00 higher with instances of 5.00 higher on 800 to 850 pound steers. Feeder heifers were steady to 3.00 higher. There was good to very good demand for all weights of cattle. Feeder steers averaging 839 pounds traded at 172.60 per hundredweight. Heifers weighing 821 pounds brought 163.01 on average.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota, Western direct trade areas are not reported due to confidentiality. The eastern market is .90 higher at 124.64. Nationally the market is 2.14 lower with a weighted average of 125.16 on a carcass basis. Terminal hogs are steady to 1.00 higher on the live basis from 83.00 to 90.00.

The pork carcass cutout value was .18 higher at 130.93 FOB plant.

Given that the bullish psychology in the hog market is already so thick you can cut it with a knife, the trade may be more vulnerable to a bearish surprise in this afternoon hog and pig report than a bullish one.

FPL Food Plant (Augusta, GA) damaged by fire
Thursday morning's fire in the roof section of the plant was minor and caused by electrical problems above the ceiling, FPL plant officials said.

Fire crews said the fire at the FPL Food plant burned for hours.

Crews had been working to fight the blaze on New Savannah Road since 1:40 a.m. Officials say it reignited several times.

Plant officials say no person or cattle were injured in the blaze.

Officials say the plant will be closed temporarily to repair the damages.

Fed cattle inventories remain low, but growing
The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA, NASS) released their monthly Cattle on Feed report Friday afternoon (Mar 21). The report revealed that 10.790 million head of cattle were in U.S. feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or larger on March 1, 2014. Placements into feedlots during the month of February totaled 1.650 million head while marketings totaled 1.549 million head.

Placements were expected to be larger once again in February. The average of analysts’ expectations called for an increase of 9.1 percent from last year’s number and the range of expectations ran from an increase of 2.2 percent to 18.2 percent. So, while the range was wide, everyone who was polled looked for a year-over-year increase. The reported placement number, 1.650 million head, was an increase of 14.7 percent from February 2013 and a 1.0 percent increase from the five-year average from 2009 to 2013. Based on this, it is apparent that last year’s number was a bit out of line. Indeed, the February 2013 placement number was the lowest since the current on feed data started in 1996.

US court rejects challenge to meat label rule
A U.S. appeals court on Friday rejected a food industry challenge to a federal regulation that specifies labeling requirements for certain meat products.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the 2013 regulation, which concerns country of origin details for muscle cuts of meat, can be enforced.

The American Meat Institute and related trade associations had asked for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the rule from taking effect.

The rule requires retailers to list not just the country of origin but also information on when and where animals were born, raised and slaughtered. It strengthened the previous 2009 regulation.

The case is American Meat Institute v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 13-5281.

BPI’s defamation suit against ABC News will proceed
A South Dakota state court judge ruled on Thursday to allow most of Beef Products Inc.'s $1.2 billion defamation case against ABC News and others to proceed, rejecting the network's arguments for dismissal.

Judge Cheryle Gering of the Union County Circuit Court did not rule on whether defamation occurred, only that in 22 of the 27 claims, including alleged product disparagement and interference with business relationships, BPI could continue to pursue its case against the network, and on-air personalities Jim Avila and Diane Sawyer, according court documents.

"The entirety of the broadcasts can be reasonably interpreted as insinuating that plaintiffs are improperly selling a product that is not nutritious and/or not safe for the public's consumption," the judge wrote in her ruling.

March 27, 2014

LMA aware of financial situation involving livestock dealer in Mississippi
The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) is aware of a financial situation involving a livestock dealer in Mississippi. At this time, we do not know of any checks that have been returned to livestock auction markets. The Packers and Stockyards Program (USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) staff and independent auditors are currently investigating. The LMA will release additional, pertinent information as it becomes available.

If you have questions, please contact Joyce English, LMA Livestock Board of Trade Vice President, at (800) 821-2048 or jenglish@lmaweb.com.

Ag markets posted divergent moves Wednesday
Cash strength supported cattle futures. News of firm cash trading provided a modest boost for the CME cattle market yesterday. Those southern Plains reports were followed by news of a $2.00/cwt advance in Nebraska prices later in the day, which almost surely powered the CME gains seen Wednesday. April cattle futures soared 1.42 cents to 145.80 cents/pound at the daily close, while August ran up 0.95 cents to 134.85. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle jumped 1.27 cents to 178.62 cents/pound, and August leapt 1.07 to 180.52.

Hog futures apparently bounced from early lows Wednesday. Talk of cash and wholesale weakness seemingly triggered Tuesday’s big technical hog futures plunge. However, the afternoon reports proved much more supportive than was seemingly anticipated. Futures continued sliding in early morning action, but reversed to the upside in late morning action. April hog futures advanced 0.82 cents to 122.47 as Wednesday’s pit session ended, while June climbed 1.10 to 126.30.

Wednesday midday cash livestock markets
It wasn’t a typical Tuesday in Cattle country as short bought packers went after cattle early in the week. USDA Mandatory reported the trade was light in the Texas Panhandle on light to moderate demand, live sales were mostly steady at 150.00. Kansas trade was moderate to active on good demand with live sales steady to 2.00 higher from 150.00 to 152.00. Trading was light to moderate in Nebraska with live sales 2.00 higher than last week at 152.00 to 154.00, and dressed sales 2.00 to 3.00 higher from 244.00 to 245.00.  Asking prices on the few cattle left on the showlists are around 152.00 to 153.00 in the South, and 245.00 plus in the North.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Philip Livestock Auction, Philip, South Dakota totaled 3618 head on Tuesday. Compared to two weeks ago steers were mostly 4.00 to 6.00 higher, except those over 750 pounds traded steady. Heifers were mostly 5.00 to 8.00 higher, and steady on those over 700 pounds. 730 pound feeder steers averaged 190.26 per hundredweight. 736 pound heifers averaged 172.82.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade are 2.28 lower at 124.29 weighted average on a carcass basis, the West is down 1.92 at 124.25, and the East is not reported due to confidentiality. Missouri direct base carcass meat price is steady to 2.00 lower from 117.00 to 119.00. Terminal hogs are steady to 1.00 lower from 80.00 to 88.00.

The pork carcass value is .53 higher at 131.92 FOB plant.

The fact that lean hog futures locked limit-down in pit trading on Tuesday indicates that many specs and commercial are nervous that the March 1 hog and pigs report report due out Friday will not significantly “feed the fire” of PED destruction.

Hog buyers purchased live inventory lower on Tuesday for the second consecutive session. Is it possible that country leverage has finally peaked out? 

USDA allows new owner to reopen former Rancho Feeding plant
USDA has authorized a new owner to reopen a Petaluma, Calif., slaughterhouse shuttered amidst its nationwide recall of beef products believed to have been harvested from diseased cattle and without federal inspection.

The San Francisco Bay area's Marin Sun Farms is slated to begin operations on April 7. The company bought the facility last month from Rancho Feeding Corp. after Rancho recalled nearly 9 million pounds of beef products distributed to at least 35 states.

Marin Sun Farms has USDA approval to harvest beef and pork at this facility, and plans to add lamb and goat in the near future. The company expects to receive Organic certification by the end of the year. 

Almost all animal health companies commit to Guidance 213
Since the FDA released its Guidance for Industry #213 in December 2013, all but one affected company have committed in writing to comply with the voluntary guidance. And the committed companies market over 99 percent of the drugs affected by the guidance FDA announced this week.

Guidance 213 directs companies to seek withdrawal of approvals for production use of antimicrobial drugs determined to be important in human medicine.

FDA also is working with animal-health companies to change the remaining therapeutic uses of their products from over-the-counter (OTC) to use by Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) or prescription.

USDA proposes smaller beef checkoff board
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is proposing to downsize the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board from 103 to 99 members. According to USDA, the law authorizing the board requires the board’s size to change with shifts in cattle inventory levels.

The last board reapportionment occurred in 2011, when the January 1 inventory report from USDA reported a total inventory of all cattle and calves of 92.6 million.

The proposal would reduce domestic cattle producer representation on the board from 96 to 93, and importer representation would drop from seven to six. According to USDA, the Beef Promotion and Research Order provides for a review of geographic distribution of U.S. cattle inventories and the number of imported cattle, beef and beef products at least every three months and not more than every two years.

In order to be represented on the board, a state or unit must have at least 500,000 head of cattle and is entitled to an additional member for each additional 1 million head of cattle. The proposed downsize is based on all inventories as well as cattle, beef and beef product import data from 2010-2012.

More information about the proposal is available on the USDA AMS website.

March 25, 2014

Happy National Ag Day!

Feeder margins mostly steady
Cattle feeding margins inched higher last week, finishing the week at $247.11 per head compared to $246.79 the previous week, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. One number to factor in is $116.79 – that’s how much per head cattle feeders were losing at this time last year. Fed steer prices increased $0.63 per hundredweight, to $151.74, compared to $146.60 one month ago and $124.69 last year at this time. Feeder steers approached $173 per hundredweight, an increase of around $2.15. Feed costs dropped more than $31.14 per head while total costs fell $14.22 per head last week as well.

After topping $77 per head last week, packer margins fell $9.35 to $67.07 per head the week ending March 22. At this time last month, packers were losing $81.72 per head and $19.90 at this time last year. The beef cutout value increased to $240.95 per hundredweight, compared to $239.86 the previous week and $212.59 one month ago.

Farrow-to-finish margins topped $100 per head last week and finished the week ending March 21 at $103.60, the highest level in Sterling Pork Profit Tracker history. The previous week, margins were $84.70 per head and just $4 per head at this time last year. Lean hogs climbed higher last week to $125.25, compared to $114.22 the previous week.

Pork packer margins decreased $2.30 per head to $3.66. At this time last month, pork packers were earning $1.95 per head and $6.36 per head at this time last year. The pork cutout value climbed more than $10 to $130.13, compared to $119.86 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending March22:

  • Average feeder margins: $247.11 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: $67.07 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending March 21:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $103.60 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $3.66 per head.

Feedlot placings change timing of fed cattle
Stronger than expected fed cattle prices so far this year have encouraged feedlots to market cattle aggressively and to place more cattle on feed.  In the most recent USDA Cattle on Feed report February placements were up 15 percent from last year’s low February placement total.  This placement total was up one percent from the previous five year average February placements.  Feedlots have placed more cattle four of the past five months, resulting in nearly 600,000 more head of cattle placed compared to the same period one year ago.  Relatively large placements in January and February have pushed the March 1 feedlot inventory to an unusual March seasonal peak. The normal March increase in feedlot marketings and likely smaller year over year March placements are almost sure to result in a lower April 1 feedlot inventory.  In 14 of the last 17 years, the seasonal peak in feedlot inventories has occurred in December, once in January and twice in February but never in the history of the current cattle on feed data has the seasonal peak occurred in March. 

This late peak in feedlot inventories could suggest either a late peak in marketings or some bunching of cattle into the seasonal peak of marketings and slaughter.  It depends on the placement weight distribution along with weather and market factors that may change the timing. In the past, peak marketings have occurred in June nine of the past 18 years; four times in May and five times in July.  Based on the placement weights, it does not appear that the late March peak in feedlot inventories will result in a late peak in marketings.  In fact, my current projections suggest that May marketings will be seasonally strong and may be as large or larger than June marketings.  It should be noted over half of the large increase in February placements were cattle under 700 pounds that will not be marketed until late summer.

The bigger question may be how the fed market will transition from the current tight supplies and high prices to a slightly bigger than expected seasonal peak in supplies in the May/June period.  Year to date slaughter decreases combined with steer and heifer carcass weights at or below year ago levels is keeping beef supplies tight. The incentive to pull feedlot cattle forward will likely continue into April and may extend far enough to pull some May cattle into April. Cold and variable weather in March continues to negatively impact animal performance and the impacts may stretch into April.  All in all, the recent increase in placements suggests only a modest increase in seasonal marketings into May and June.  This may add some seasonal price pressure to fed markets going into summer.  However, from the current $150/cwt. spring top, such pressure would not likely push summer fed cattle prices below the mid $130s/cwt.

March 24, 2014

Feeder cattle review: Grazing cattle purchases at peak
Compared to last week, feeder cattle under 800 lbs sold steady to 3.00 higher while those weighing over 800 lbs traded weak to 2.00 lower with most declines continuing in the Southern Plains. Stocker cattle and calves (where tested) were steady to 5.00 higher with 6 weight stockers near the major grazing regions selling fully 6.00-8.00 higher. In the South Central Region, all reported sales of 600-700 lb steers averaged 195.74 which was 7.17 higher than last week and over 50.00 higher than a year ago.

However, Friday’s cattle-on-feed report brought the first bearish signal to the feeder cattle market seen since the last report was released a month ago. On-feed inventories as of March 1st came in slightly higher than estimated, but were still lighter than the previous year (99.5 percent) for the nineteenth straight report.  Marketings of finished cattle during February were less than forecasted at 96.6 percent.  Placements were once again the biggest surprise, quoted at 114.7 percent of a year ago which was well above pre-report guesses.  But, we must remember the February snowstorm that hit the Southern Plains last year and crippled the movement of cattle going into feedyards. The bearish report will likely be felt next week on the CME feeder cattle futures and perhaps in the cash market, but will most likely not be enough to extinguish the red-hot demand. 

Fed cattle sold steady to 2.00 higher than last week from 150.00-152.00 with gains posted in the Southern feedlots.  This week’s reported auction volume had 59 percent over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.

Cattle outlook: Fed cattle prices strengthen
Fed cattle prices strengthened again this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $150.10/cwt, up $2.18 from last week and up $25.33/cwt from the same week last year. Steer prices on a dressed basis averaged $240.11/cwt this week, up 31 cents from a week ago and up $42.40 from a year ago.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 575,000 head, up 11,000 head from last week, but down 29,000 head from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on March 8 was 858 pounds, down 5 pounds from last week and down 2 pounds from last year.

Oklahoma City feeder cattle prices were $1-3 higher this week for lighter animals, with cattle over 800 pounds steady to $1 higher. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers were as follows: 400-450# $226-$233, 450-500# $214-$230, 500-550# $215-$230, 550-600# $205-$229, 600-650# $180-$213, 650-700# $176-$196, 700-750# $174-$181, 750-800# $166-$178.50, 800-900# $157-$168.25, and 900-1000# $152-$160.25/cwt.

The April live cattle futures contract closed at $144.12/cwt today, down $1.13 from last week's close. The June fed cattle contract declined $1.65 from last Friday to settle at $136.20/cwt. August ended the week at $133.47/cwt.

April feeder cattle futures settled at $175.52/cwt, down $1.70 for the week. The May contract lost $1.45 from last Friday to close at $176.85/cwt. August settled at $178.22/cwt.

USDA updates new PEDv cases in U.S.
USDA reported this week another 296 new cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), bringing the cumulative cases reported since the disease entered the U.S. hog population last May to 4,757. The number of infected states remains at 27.

There is no firm data on how many hogs have been infected, as each case reported can represent anywhere from a single animal or an entire herd at a single site.

USDA’s monthly Livestock Slaughter report issued yesterday showed pork production in February totaled 1.84 billion pounds, up 4 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 8.67 million head, up 1 percent from February 2013. The average live weight was up 6 pounds from the previous year, at 283 pounds.

Because the virus is deadly for baby pigs (adult hogs survive the virus), death losses should be expected to show up in slaughter numbers about six months after a herd is infected. This has industry eyes on next week’s USDA Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report.

“The big impact will likely be on the Dec-Feb pig crop and the under-50 and 50-119 pound market hog categories since roughly 60 percent of the total PEDv accessions for all hogs and for suckling pigs have occurred since December 1,” predicted Livestock analysts Steve Meyer and Len Steiner Inc. in the Daily Livestock Report.

Analyst cautious on Hillshire, cites PEDv
Stephens analyst Farha Aslam initiated coverage of Hillshire Brands Co. with an equal-weight rating, saying tight supplies of hogs, sows and cattle will pose a challenge over the next six months despite the company’s attractive long-term prospects. 

Hillshire is investing in its strong brand portfolio, notably Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farms, in the convenient meal and snack categories and is focused on finding operating cost savings of $145 million from fiscal years 2013 to 2015, Aslam said.

Other strong brands include Ball Park, Aidells and Gallo Salame, she said.

However, beef and pork prices have spiked, with hogs and sows up due to increased mortality in the herd because of the PEDv virus.

“We believe that high commodity meat input costs will be a significant challenge for Hillshire in fourth-quarter 2014 and early fiscal 2015,” Aslam wrote in a note to clients.

Aggressive placements boost feedyard inventories
Inventories in U.S. feedlots with 1,000 head or more reached 99 percent of one year ago on March 1 according to the March Cattle on Feed report from USDA. March marks the 18th consecutive month in which inventories were below year-ago levels, but large numbers of cattle placed into feedlots early this year have brought the total closer to a year ago.

Placements into feedlots during February, at 1.65 million head, beat those of a year earlier by 15 percent and exceeded most industry predictions. The large February placements followed a 9 percent year-to-year increase during January.

Feedlots placed more cattle during February than they marketed, as was the case during January. February marketings totaled 1.55 million head, down three percent from a year ago and the lowest marketing total since the current data series began in 1996.

High fed-cattle prices, currently averaging around $150 per hundredweight, coupled with lower cost of gain have pushed feeder profits to high levels, averaging $246.70 per head for the week ending March 15 according to our Sterling Profit Tracker. Those profits have helped encourage placement of cattle that otherwise might have gone into spring grazing programs.

Not surprisingly for this time of year, 56 percent of the February placements arrived at feedlots weighing more than 700 pounds. About 24 percent arrived weighing less than 600 pounds and 20 percent weighed between 600 and 699 pounds.

Placements into feedlots likely will slow somewhat for the next few months due to short supplies and more competition from green grass, but we could see on-feed inventories reach year-earlier levels soon.

View the full Cattle on Feed report from USDA.

Beef prices soften – Grass calf prices keep roaring
Forward contracting of fall yearlings is already at a sizeable premium to current delivery sales and starting to hint that price levels could go much further,” analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) said Friday. “Purchasing of grazing cattle is at its peak and most cattle growers want to turn out a stocker big enough to be an 800-lb. yearling feeder by late summer or early fall.”

That helps explain how 6-weight cattle near the major grazing regions were able to charge ahead another $6-$8/cwt. while other parts of the market began showing some possible signs of wear.

Elsewhere, according to AMS, calf and stocker cattle prices were steady to $5/cwt. higher, while feeders weighing more than 800 lbs. sold weak to $2 lower with most of the decline in the Southern Plains.

After 42¢ higher in spot March, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.44 lower week-to-week.

Dairy Farmers of America reports 6% jump in sales
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) reported net income of $61.3 million for 2013 with net sales totaling $12.1 billion, up 6 percent from 2012, citing “strong operating results” from its wholly owned commercial investments and increased earnings from affiliates.

March 21, 2014

Cool News Due Any Day Now
 Lawyers for the organizations that filed a lawsuit against current country-of-origin labeling rules say a decision is due any day on their quest to prevent the USDA from enforcing those rules, according to John Dillard, an attorney with Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz, which represents the North American Meat Association. 

Dillard updated NAMA members at their management conference and annual meeting, convening here this week. 
NAMA and the other industry organizations that joined in the lawsuit, including the American Meat Institute, presented their arguments to the appellate court judges in January. Based on past experience, Dillard said, the judges for this court hand down their decisions a little more than two months after arguments are presented — which means he believes they could make their decision at any time. 

Beef slaughter down in February; packer margins rebound in March
U.S. beef production in February, at 1.79 billion pounds, was 5 percent below the previous year, according to USDA’s monthly Livestock Slaughter report. 

Cattle slaughter totaled 2.24 million head, down 5 percent from February 2013. The average live weight was up 10 pounds from the previous year, at 1,330 pounds. 

Accumulated beef production during the first two months of 2014 was down 5 percent from the same period last year. 

Higher placements expected ahead Cattle on Feed report
Ahead of Friday’s Cattle on Feed Report, analysts are projecting higher placements into feedyards but smaller overall cattle on feed inventories compared to last year. If inventories are lower, it will be the 18th consecutive month for declines. 

Predictions from Allendale, Inc, expect placements in February to be 7.9 percent higher than last year. Allendale reports that cattle feeders ended the month earning $191 per head on outgoing cattle, which was the largest profit since April 2010. The February placements will help supply the cattle slaughter period from July through early October. 

Analysts from Allendale are projecting marketings to be 4 percent lower than February 2013, and total cattle on feed projections are for a 1.2 percent smaller inventory than last year.

March 19, 2014

Feeder, packer margins climb higher
Cattle feeding margins had a strong week last week, finishing the week up $12.96 per head to $246.70, according to the Sterling Profit Tracker. One month ago, feeders were earning $209.54 per head but at this time last year, they were losing nearly $72 per head. Fed steers topped $151 last week, up nearly $2 per hundredweight while feeder steers hit $170.72 per hundredweight compared to $169 the previous week. Feed costs increased $3 per head to $317.81 and total costs climbed $16.90 per head to $1,821.09.
For the second week in a row, beef packer margins were in positive territory, finishing the week ending March 15 at $77.30 per head compared to $9.21 the previous week, negative $83.66 one month ago and negative $18.79 at this time last year. Another positive note for the cattle industry are cow-calf margins, which stand at $333.50 per cow for 2014, compared to $243.33 in 2013 and just $153.60 in 2011. The beef cutout value was also pushed higher last week, hitting $239.86, compared to $232.88 the previous week.
Farrow-to-finish margins hit the highest level, $84.70 per head, last week since John Nalivka began tracking the data. The previous week, margins were $66.31 per head and a year ago they stood at $7.06 per head. Lean hogs also improved, finishing the week ending March 14 at $114.22, compared to $106.03 the previous week.  
Pork packer margins increased $5.72 per head to $5.96. At this time last month, pork packers were earning $8.23 per head and $4.21per head at this time last year. The pork cutout value climbed more than $10 to $119.83, compared to $109 the previous week.
The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending March 15:

  • Average feeder margins: $246.79 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: $77.30 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending March 14:                                          

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $84.70 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $5.96 per head.

Ag markets were generally firm to higher Tuesday night
Nearby cattle futures appear to be struggling at old highs. Beef prices posted moderate gains Tuesday, which apparently spurred fresh bullish ideas about the short-term outlook and interest in nearby contracts. However, Chicago prices slipped overnight, which seemingly reflected selling around old highs on the April chart. April cattle futures inched down 0.02 cents at 145.67 cents/pound in Tuesday night action, while August slumped 0.15 cents to 135.25. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle stalled at 176.90 cents/pound, and August rose 0.05 to 179.42.
Hog futures responded weakly to strong Tuesday afternoon data. Lean hog futures seemed to lose some upward momentum Tuesday, possibly in reaction to uncertainty about cash and wholesale conditions. However, afternoon reports proved very strong once again, thereby seeming to set the stage for continued CME gains. The market’s muted overnight response may raise some eyebrows among the bulls who have dominated trading lately. April hogs advanced 0.55 cents to 123.77 cents/pound early Wednesday morning, while June declined 0.05 to 132.95.

Activists sue over constitutionality of Idaho ag protection law
Just weeks after the Idaho governor signed it into law, a host of activist organizations and individuals have sued the state's governor and attorney general, saying that Idaho's ag protection legislation "violates the First Amendment, the Supremacy Clause, and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," according to documents filed in Idaho's federal court.
Seventeen parties, from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to a regional vegetarian group, to several journalists, authors and publications, brought the suit. They contend that the law "creates the crime of 'interference with agricultural production,' which has both the purpose and effect of impairing the public debate about animal welfare, food safety, environmental, and labor issues that arise on public and private land."
Such laws seek to stem the practice of undercover videotaping at livestock production centers, with the edited video released at a later date supposedly exposing various types of animal abuse. (Some videos have captured inhumane and illegal activity, but others show approved animal handling practices that are poorly understood outside the industry.) Typically the laws have either sought to make the practice of shooting unapproved video illegal, or they require those who have witnessed abuse to report it within a short timeframe, thus undercutting activist groups' efforts to edit the videos and use them as a fundraising tool.

 

March 18, 2014

Ag markets moved generally higher Monday
Divergent beef quotes seemingly caused similar cattle futures activity. CME live cattle traders are very likely focusing upon the outcome of this week’s cash trading, so they’re keeping an eye upon wholesale developments for clues as to the cattle/beef situation. Choice cutout values jumped Monday, but the select cuts posted a modest decline. That may explain the mixed trading seen overnight. April cattle futures inched up 0.10 cents to 145.12 cents/pound just before dawn Tuesday, while August skidded 0.15 cents to 135.27. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle fell 0.30 cents to 177.67 cents/pound, and August sagged 0.05 to 179.85.

Hog futures continued their big surge again Monday night. Cash hog and wholesale pork values resumed their late-winter spike Monday. Yesterday’s big futures gains reflected that strength, as did the follow-through seen in overnight action. The market is extremely overbought technically, but there is nothing that says it can’t continue rising. April hogs jumped 0.90 cents to 122.60 cents/pound in early Tuesday trading, while June leapt 1.15 to 131.92.

Pork stockpiling, short kills driving prices higher
Escalating hog prices first driven by processors stockpiling out of fears of future reduced supplies are now going higher as smaller litters due to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) death losses in August and early September are hitting the market, reducing supplies further, according to a Wall Street analyst.

USDA’s National Animal Health Laboratory Network reported 274 new cases of PEDv last week and noted Arizona reported its first confirmed case, bringing to 27 the number of states having reported at least one confirmed case of PEDv.

Reuters reported that industry analysts estimate PEDv has killed between 4 million and 5 million hogs since May 2013.

Pork demand
USDA on Monday reported that demand was also a factor pushing hog prices higher in February.

USDA predicted hog prices are expected to average $68-$72 per hundredweight in the second quarter of this year and between $65 and $69 for 2014.
Higher domestic pork prices are expected to limit pork exports in the second half of 2014. U.S. pork exports are expected to be 5.1 billion pounds, an increase of about  1.5 percent over 2013.

South Dakota’s dairy industry growing
South Dakota’s dairy cow numbers grew by 2-thousand between 2012 and 2013 for a total of 94-thousand. Milk production grew by nearly three percent in that time.

South Dakota State University Extension says while it’s the state’s ample supplies of both water and feed that are the top reasons for that growth, South Dakota must continue to grow its local dairy processing industry.

South Dakota is 21st among states for overall milk production and 22nd in total number of dairy cows.

March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day from the Livestock Marketing Association!
May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more - and nothing but happiness be at your door.

Cow prices up, fed cattle volatile in USDA report
Cull-cow prices have moved higher as slaughter declines, according to USDA’s Livestock Dairy and Poultry Outlook report released March 14. Producers in many areas culled deeply over the past few years producing a younger herd and a shortage of cull cows, At the same time, many ranchers are shifting toward expanding their herds. The report notes the January 1, 2014, inventory of heifers on feed in 1,000-plus head feedlots was the third-smallest proportion of total January 1 cattle on feed since the series began in December 1995, suggesting more heifers are staying on ranches for breeding.

Other key points in the report include:

  • Drought continues in California and the Southwest, but some weather models are predicting an El Niño event, which could bring drought relief to the region by the fall of 2014.
  • Feeder cattle prices have increased at a relatively modest rate, but recent fed cattle prices have been extremely volatile.
  • Choice retail beef has fallen from its November 2013 high of $5.41 per pound, but all-fresh beef prices continue to set higher records each month ($5.04/lb in January), in part sustained by the current popularity of ground beef products.

Pilgrims upgraded as PEDv shakes up protein markets
Demand for chicken is now expected to be very strong in 2014 as pork supplies tighten and prices climb in response to the toll on the hog herd from the PEDv virus, said a Wall Street analyst who upgraded Pilgrim’s stock rating.

“The PEDv virus is significantly impacting the U.S. hog herd and is severely constraining supply,” Stephens analyst Farha Aslam wrote to clients Friday.

Chicken prices are moving up with demand increasing due to the tight supplies of competing meats. “We are hearing that retail and food service accounts are being shorted on pork orders so have no option but to feature chicken,” the analyst said.

U.S. pork production could decline as much as 3-4 percent this year, in contrast to USDA’s current growth estimate of up 1 percent, Aslam said.
“The key periods of short supply will be April-May and August-September. The emerging production shortfall can be seen in the hog futures curve. June hog futures have rallied about 20 percent in the last month and are now trading near record levels,” she wrote.

At the same time, the chicken breeder supply may not grow as quickly as anticipated because primary breeders are having trouble finding housing to expand production, she said.

And beef production is expected to be down 5 percent this year after drought conditions and high grain prices forced cattle herd liquidation.

Smithfield cuts slaughter as PEDv squeezes pig supplies: report
Smithfield Foods has reduced slaughter hours at its Tar Heel, N.C., pork plant as porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) has tightened pig supplies, according to a report by Reuters quoting anonymous sources.

The company, now owned by China's WH Group, cut the slaughter schedule at the world's largest pork plant to four days from five, and other pork processors in the industry are expected to make similar adjustments, according to the report.

USDA estimated Friday's hog kill at 360,000 head, down from 51,000 head year on year.

American Feed Industry applauds FDA’s Veterinary Feed Directive
The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) submitted comments Wednesday to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD).

AFIA applauds FDA's decision to issue the proposed rule, which addresses the organization's concerns with the administrative process of issuing VFDs, but AFIA also expressed concerns in the details of the rule that could potentially have a negative affect the feed industry.

"AFIA is pleased with FDA's decision to recognize and tackle many industry concerns about the administrative process of issuing VFDs in the proposed rule.

After working with numerous producer groups, the American Veterinary Medical Association and others, our organization provided the agency with a letter on Feb. 25, which expressed our issues with the rule," said Richard Sellers, senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs. "We hope the agency takes our suggestions to heart when finalizing the rule, as AFIA feels this is a necessary step in making judicious use decisions regarding approved animal drugs."

AFIA commented that a major area of concern is the overall shortage of veterinarians, who will be needed to cover the large, expected increase in approved VFD animal drugs and the training needed as a result of the rule.

March 14, 2014

Ag markets proved narrowly mixed Thursday night
The cattle market is awaiting cash news. After leaping upward and powering similar cattle gains in early March, wholesale beef prices have turned mixed the past few days. That loss of momentum has also translated to the CME cattle market, where nearby futures have moved generally sideways this week. Ultimately, short-term prospects depend heavily upon the outcome of this week’s cash trading, which is likely to take place later today. April cattle futures advanced 0.30 cents to 143.92 cents/pound in pre-dawn Friday action, while August edged down 0.05 cents to 134.72. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle inched up 0.27 cents to 176.20 cents/pound, and August gained 0.22 to 178.57.

Hog futures were mixed to lower in early Friday trading. Strong cash and wholesale gains sent hog futures soaring again Thursday, but the late afternoon reports gave signs of underlying weakness. Given the hugely overbought nature of the complex at this point, such signs can be quickly magnified. April hogs moved up 0.15 cents to 119.07 cents/pound Thursday night, while June climbed 0.35 to 127.95.

Deadly pig virus spreads to Arizona; 27 U.S. states now affected
Arizona is the latest state to confirm cases of the deadly Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, a highly contagious pig disease, increasing the tally of U.S. states with confirmed cases to 27, a group of animal health researchers said.

Virginia has reported positive samples of the virus in the environment, but not yet in a hog herd, according to data released on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

Confirmed cases of PEDv increased by 274 in the week ending March 8, bringing the total number to 4,458 in 27 states.

Texas Tech scientist raises concerns of using beta-agonists
Use of beta-agonists in cattle production has received considerable national attention, and now, Texas Tech University veterinary epidemiologist Guy Loneragan has found that although there are significant societal benefits to the practice, an increase in death loss of cattle raises questions about welfare implications of its use.

In a peer-reviewed article published March 12 in PLOS ONE, Loneragan, professor of food safety and public health in Texas Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, adds to this ongoing national dialogue. 

"Beta-agonists improve the efficiency of beef production, and this improvement provides important societal benefits," Loneragan said.

"The beta-agonists approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for use in cattle increase muscle growth and may reduce the amount of fat the cattle accumulate," he said. "This means cattle convert more of the feed it eats into beef, and it does this more efficiently."

The article is co-authored by Daniel Thomson and Morgan Scott of Kansas State University and is titled "Increased Mortality in Groups of Cattle Administered the B-adrenergic Agonists Ractopamine Hydrochloride & Zilpaterol Hydrochloride." The manuscript is freely available at: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0091177.

US cattle deaths linked to Zilmax far exceed company reports
The number of U.S. cattle deaths that may be linked to the Merck & Co Inc feed additive Zilmax are much higher than the figures reported by the drug company to the federal government, according to a research study published on Wednesday.

The findings by researchers from Texas Tech University and Kansas State University show that more than 3,800 cattle in 10 feedlots that were fed Zilmax died in 2011 and 2012, with between 40 percent and 50 percent of the deaths likely attributable to Zilmax.

The numbers reported in the study, which was published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, would indicate a larger death toll than Reuters found late last year in a review of all deaths reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by Merck since Zilmax was introduced in 2007. Drug makers are required to report deaths and other adverse events associated with their drugs - in this case based largely on what cattle and feedlot owners have told the company.

March 13, 2014

CME announces provisions for heifer delivery
Cattle traders have for some time wanted the option of delivering heifers against the live-cattle futures contract. Groups such as NCBA and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association have worked with the CME Group for two years on the issue, and CME now has amended the live-cattle contract to allow heifer deliveries.

The new delivery specifications will take effect with the launch of the August 2015 live-cattle contract. That contract becomes active on Monday, March 17, 2014.

CME lists several provisions for loads of heifers to qualify for delivery against the futures contract.

  • Heifers will be subject to the same yield, quality and age specifications as steers.
  • Heifers will be deliverable at par value with steers.
  • Delivery loads must be all-steers or all-heifers and noted as such on the delivery tender.
  • No individual heifer may weigh less than 1,050 or more than 1,350 pounds.
  • Discounts for hardbone and dark-cutter carcasses are based on USDA 5-Area Weekly Weighted
  • Average Direct Slaughter Cattle – Premiums and Discounts report.
  • Heiferettes, cows and bred heifers are not deliverable for live deliveries. A penalty of $2.50 per hundredweight will be applied to a load of live heifers that is declared undeliverable.
  • USDA graders shall determine which animals are deliverable.
  • Parties tendering an all-heifer load will be required to sign two affidavits: the Progestin Supplement Affidavit and the Open Heifer Protocol Affidavit

As with steers, the unit of trading for delivery will be 40,000 pounds of 55 percent Choice, 45 percent Select grade live heifers.

Quality Grade adjustments for all delivery units will make use of the live weight equivalent of the Choice-

Ag markets traded widely Wednesday
Cattle futures posted sizeable mid-week gains. CME cattle prices have fluctuated around unchanged levels since plunging last Wednesday, which probably reflected industry uncertainty about short-term cash and wholesale prospects. However, beef prices remained generally strong today, thereby encouraging optimism about this week’s cash outlook. April cattle futures settled up 0.65 cents at 143.87 cents/pound Wednesday, while August bounced 0.60 cents to 134.62. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle moved up 0.30 cents to 175.87 cents/pound, and August rallied 0.37 to 178.17.

Profit taking apparently entered the hog market. Hog futures continued their massive price spike Tuesday as cash and wholesale prices again led the way higher. Nevertheless, large CME premiums and extremely overbought conditions seemingly triggered active selling today. Bulls have to worry about the sustainability of the advance. April hogs fell 1.17 cents to 115.92 cents/pound in late Wednesday action, but June bounced 0.37 to 125.32.

March 12, 2014

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle futures close lower
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed mixed on Tuesday, with April modestly higher and deferred contracts moderately lower. The reversal from early morning strength was disappointing after seeing another strong day of cutout values. Packer margins are improving by the day but the futures and cash trade seem to be on pause. Consecutive days of weakness in the equity markets could be putting a bit of an anchor on fat cattle prices. Overnight weakness in the hog market could limit the buying in cattle as well.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures closed lower on Tuesday, with weakness in deferred live cattle and stronger corn futures offsetting the record highs in the cash index. Overnight corn prices have softened 4-5 cents, lending modest support to the feeders. We look for choppy feeder trade until the fats can establish a trend other than sideways. Commodity prices in general look a little soft this morning.

Ag markets ended Tuesday in mixed fashion again
Cattle futures are still trading in mixed fashion. Continued wholesale strength and a sizeable discount to cash prices supported the nearby April cattle contract Tuesday. However, the deferred contracts ended the day weakly, possibly on worries about a negative consumer reaction to record cattle and beef prices. April cattle futures lifted 0.30 cents to 143.45 cents/pound late Tuesday afternoon, while August sagged 0.40 cents to 134.05. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle edged down 0.15 cents to 175.57 cents/pound, and August lost 0.20 to 177.80.

Hog futures posted a late Tuesday comeback. After soaring on cash and wholesale strength lately, hog futures had fallen back to mixed levels around midsession today. However, they resumed their advance late in the day in seemingly belated response to bullish midsession reports. April hogs settled 1.10 cents higher at 117.10 cents/pound Tuesday, while June jumped 1.45 to 124.95.

Zoetis introduces ONE SHOT BVD
Zoetis announced the addition of ONE SHOT BVD to its comprehensive vaccine portfolio. The new vaccine helps provide combined respiratory protection against Mannheimia haemolytica and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) Types 1 and 2 viruses in a single dose.

ONE SHOT BVD helps cattle producers expand respiratory vaccination programs that currently include INFORCE 3 respiratory vaccine, which is used to help protect beef and dairy calves. Young calves need additional respiratory protection due to underdeveloped immune systems and exposure to environmental stressors, which can cause them to fall victim to respiratory infection.

“The superior respiratory protection of INFORCE 3 against bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) and the complementary M. haemolytica and BVD protection of ONE SHOT BVD offers producers a convenient and effective way to help combat bovine respiratory disease (BRD),” said Jon Seeger, DVM, managing veterinarian, Zoetis Cattle and Equine Technical Services. “These vaccines help provide the respiratory protection calves need until they are sold or move to the next production phase.”

As the second-most significant disease impacting dairy operations and the leading cause of death in beef calves between three weeks of age and weaning, BRD can negatively impact the health, productivity and profitability of young calves.

Pork industry renews push for research to fight PEDV
The National Pork Board announced Tuesday more than $1 million in additional funding to fight the further spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, which has spread to 26 states since it was first reported in May 2013. 

The funds for new research are made up of $650,000 through supplemental funding approved by the Pork Checkoff at last week’s board meeting and $500,000 through a new agreement with Genome Alberta, the board said in a news release

The new project also will align swine, feed and veterinary groups to bring an even higher level of collaboration in the fight against the disease.

“This has become one of the most serious and devastating diseases our pig farmers have faced in decades,” said Karen Richter, a Minnesota producer and president of the National Pork Board. “While it has absolutely no impact on food safety, it has clear implications for the pork industry in terms of supplying pork to consumers. Our No. 1 priority is to address PEDV.”

Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics and a Pork Checkoff consultant, estimates the loss of more than 5 million piglets in the past several months, with 1.3 million lost in January alone.  

March 11, 2014

Ag markets turn decidedly mixed Tuesday morning
Cattle futures are still trading in mixed fashion. Despite continued wholesale strength and a sizeable discount to cash prices, the nearby April cattle contract reflects industry uncertainty about the short-term outlook. The deferred contracts are also fluctuating around unchanged levels as traders worry about consumer reaction to record cattle and beef prices. April cattle futures lifted 0.32 cents to 143.47 cents/pound just before lunchtime Tuesday, while August sagged 0.22 cents to 134.22. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle edged down 0.12 cents to 175.60 cents/pound, and August lost 0.12 to 177.87.

Hog futures seemed to lose their upward momentum this morning. Talk of sharply reduced hog supplies this spring and summer, along with surging cash and wholesale values have powered the stunningly large hog rally posted lately. However, after surging to fresh records in early trading, CME futures turned mixed around midmorning. Much depends upon forthcoming cash and wholesale reports. April hogs were trading just 0.12 cents higher at 116.12 cents/pound late Tuesday morning, while June rose 0.20 to 123.70.

National Beef reportedly delays closure of Calif. plant
National Beef Packing Co.’s Brawley, Calif., beef packing plant will remain open until May 23, according to a report in the Imperial Valley Press.

As of press time, National Beef had not responded to queries from Meatingplace.

In January the company announced plans to shutter the facility its due to a declining supply of fed cattle in the region.

Approximately 1,300 employees originally were told they’d be out of work come April 4, the last day of production at the Brawley plant, but according to the report, the plant will remain open to complete nearly two months of additional work.

USDA sees more beef; less pork/poultry
USDA lowered its total red meat and poultry production, as higher beef production is more than offset by lower pork, broiler and turkey production, according to the agency’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report.

Beef
For beef, continued relatively large cattle placements in the first quarter are expected to result in higher slaughter in 2014. Coupled with heavier carcass weights and higher expected first-quarter cow slaughter, the beef production forecast is raised.

The beef import forecast for 2014 is unchanged from last month, but the export forecast is raised on strong sales to Asian markets.

Cattle prices for 2014 are raised from last month, reflecting tight supplies and continued price strength for fed cattle.

Pork
Pork production is reduced from last month, as higher carcass weights are insufficient to offset tighter supplies of hogs.

Pork imports are raised as prices are forecast higher, but the export forecast is reduced as high prices are expected to constrain sales.

The hog price forecast is raised on expected tight supplies of market hogs and strong demand.

Vilsack outlines more resources to boost small, mid-sized farmers, ranchers
In an effort to help more small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers build their businesses, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a series of initiatives that include more local and regional market information, new learning guides, improved access to capital, more cost-effective risk management and other tools.

While some of the initiatives are new, others represent a continuation of several existing programs or expansions authorized by the 2014 farm bill.

Many of the initiatives aim to provide better education and access to market data for producers looking to serve growing local and regional food markets. For example, USDA will be introducing a “quick learning series, starting with small and medium-size livestock and poultry producers,” Vilsack said. The focus will be on teaching producers about access to credit, marketing and product promotion. In addition, Vilsack said training would help producers dealing with certification for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

March 10, 2014

Markets quite mixed after WASDE report
Mixed cash expectations seemed to confuse CME cattle action Monday morning. Although wholesale beef prices ended last week strongly are probably expected to keep rising this week, cash cattle prices declined last week. Many traders probably anticipate more of the same this week, but that’s not a given. Mixed Monday morning futures trading illustrated the confusion about short-term prospects. April cattle futures were flat at 143.25 cents/pound around midsession Monday, while August rallied 0.40 cents to 134.25. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle climbed 1.37 cents to 175.02 cents/pound, and August gained 1.32 to 177.40.

Hog futures surged again to start the week. Last Friday’s preliminary slaughter total for the week confirmed earlier talk of sharply reduced hog slaughter and added weight to expectations for continued reductions. That news, along with surging cash and wholesale prices boosted futures again Monday morning. April hogs spiked 2.72 cents to 115.72 cents/pound by late morning, while June soared 3.00 to 123.50.

Idaho restricts pig entry requirements
Idaho State Department of Agriculture has issued an administrative order for pigs entering the state in order to exclude the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PEDv) in a move similar to Washington state at the end of last month.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture issued an administrative order Wednesday requiring evidence that all swine entering the state, for purposes other than shipment direct to slaughter, have not been exposed to Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv.

PEDv is a disease which can make adult pigs ill and can be fatal with regards to suckling piglets. PEDv does not pose a food safety concern and is not transmissible to people, or other species of animals, however, the disease can be fatal to piglets three weeks old and younger. 

The administrative order for swine entering into Idaho now requires the health certificate, or Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, accompany the shipment. 

Included in the order was the following statement: "To the best of my knowledge, swine represented on this certificate have not, within the last 30 days, originated from premises known to be affected by PEDv and have not been exposed to PEDv."

U.S./Canadian cattle, hog inventories down
All cattle and calves in the United States and Canada combined totaled 99.9 million head on January 1, 2014, down 2 percent from the 101.6 million on January 1, 2013, according to a joint report by USDA and Statistics Canada.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 43.1 million head, were down 1 percent from a year ago.

United States and Canadian inventory of all hogs and pigs for December 2013 was 78.7 million head, down slightly from both last year and two years ago.

The breeding inventory, at 6.97 million head, was down 1 percent from a year ago and down 1 percent from 2011. Market hog inventory, at 71.7 million head, was down slightly from last year and down slightly from 2011.

The semi-annual pig crop, at 73.1 million head, was down slightly from 2012 but up slightly from 2011. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 7.08 million head, down 1 percent from last year and down 2 percent from 2011.

The DLR noted that while Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus losses have been small in Canada, the fact remains that North American hog breeding stock is today much smaller than it was in 2008. The reasons for the decline are varied and include recession, feed costs and exchange rate shifts.

Animal health industry commits to FDA Guidance 213
Members of the Animal Health Institute (AHI) and the Generic Animal Drug Alliance (GADA) today announced their written commitments to align all affected products with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) policy on judicious use of antibiotics.  

Under the policy, the growth promotion uses of medically important compounds will be phased out and veterinary oversight of the use of therapeutic products will be phased in.

FDA stated it anticipates the new policy will be fully phased in over the next three years and originally asked companies to communicate their intentions to the agency within 90 days from December 12, 2013, when Final Guidance 213 was announced.

President’s budget proposes horse slaughter ban
Animal protection advocates applauded President Barack Obama on Tuesday for proposing to continue a federal funding ban that's blocking the resumption of commercial horse slaughter in the U.S.

The president and Congress agreed earlier this year to withhold money through September for Agriculture Department inspections necessary for slaughterhouses to process horse meat for human consumption.

The president's budget calls for the funding prohibition to remain in place through the end of the next budget year in September 2015.

March 7, 2014

Schwieterman: Rising corn prices slam cattle futures
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed moderately lower across the board on Thursday, with moderate cash trade slightly below week ago levels. Beef cutouts were up another buck or so, as packer margins have improved significantly so far this week. The jobs report came in better than expected this morning; giving equity markets a boost to new alltime highs. The equity push should be supportive to livestock markets. April remains a large discount to recent cash trade. If the lows of Wednesday are able to hold into late trade today, we could see a rebound effort.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Lower

Feeder cattle futures were the downside leaders in the livestock complex on Thursday, with pressure stemming from sharply higher corn prices. Corn is trending higher in overnight trade, but are well off of the session highs as we write. The feeders are trying to rebound along with the correction in corn. We look for decent support to develop near overnight lows in the feeders.

Cattle the exception to the bullish ag market rule Thursday
Cash weakness undercut cattle futures Thursday. Although wholesale prices have leapt again this week and fed cattle supplies remain extremely tight, beef packers persuaded Kansas producers to sell a few cattle $2.00/cwt lower (at $148) Wednesday evening. That news suggests more of the same today and/or tomorrow, which rather obviously weighed upon CME futures. April cattle futures fell 0.52 cents to 143.15 cents/pound at their Thursday settlement, while August slumped 0.25 cents to 133.15. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle dove 1.20 cents to 172.80 cents/pound, and August dropped 1.00 to 175.42.

Hog futures bounced from Wednesday’s late lows. Talk of sharply reduced hog slaughter this week encouraged bullish hog traders again this morning. Bulls also appeared to be reacting to fresh talk of strong cash markets. Midday wholesale slippage probably limited the gains. April hogs jumped 1.67 cents to 112.40 cents/pound in late Thursday trading, while June advanced 1.60 to 119.35.

USDA ready to enforce animal disease traceability regulations
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service sent a bulletin this week outlining the next phase of implementing Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) regulations including enforcement actions when needed.
“We know that sometimes taking enforcement action is necessary to make sure a system as important as ADT is successful,” APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea said in a note to stakeholders. “When and where necessary, we will take that action. As a standard practice, we will continue to notify first-time offenders when they do not meet the regulatory requirements to ensure they understand the regulation and what they need to do to comply. Additionally, we will now pursue appropriate penalties in situations where an individual repeatedly fails to comply with the regulatory requirements.”
The ADT program was finalized in March 2013 to hasten response to a disease outbreak and lessen its economic impact, as well to provide the information and assurances trading partners expect.

Six states join lawsuit against California egg law
Five states joined Missouri in a lawsuit against California over its law requiring more space for all egg-laying hens. The standards apply to all eggs produced within the state as well as eggs produced in any other states but sold in California.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced in December last year that his office would prepare to sue the state of California. He said that, in essence, “California is attempting to nationalize its animal protection standards.”
Nebraska, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Iowa joined Missouri in its challenge, alleging that the state of California is unconstitutionally attempting to regulate farming practices beyond its borders. Together, the six states produce more than 20 billion eggs per year, 10 percent of which are sold to California consumers, according to the announcement from Koster.

Obama signs into law drought information system reauthorization
President Obama signed into law today legislation (H.R. 2431) that reauthorizes the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) through fiscal year 2018. The law supports an interactive “early warning system” of timely and accurate drought information, as well an integrated weather monitoring and forecasting system. Since the NIDIS Act was signed into law in 2006, government agencies have worked to develop a long-term plan for drought prevention, research, and education.
“This bipartisan legislation ensures that the federal government can continue to provide timely, effective drought warning forecasts and vital support to communities that are vulnerable to drought,” Obama said. “States, cities, towns, farmers, and businesses rely on tools and data from the NIDIS to make informed decisions about water use, crop planting, wildfire response, and other critical areas. As climate change increases the intensity of weather-related disasters such as droughts, wildfires, storms and floods, providing access to updated drought-related science and tools is growing even more important.” Obama noted that a number of western states, California in particular, are suffering through a severe drought. He said federal agencies have formed a National Drought Resilience Partnership to help communities better prepare for droughts in the long term, and prevent the worst impacts on families and businesses.

 

March 6, 2014

Schwieterman: Live cattle futures close lower, change direction
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Lower

Live cattle futures reversed from contract highs to trade sharply lower on Wednesday. The April contract touched limit down at 142.62, before recovering 1.00 of those losses. We would not be surprised to at least have a retest of Wednesday’s low before any extended rally effort resumes. We saw a few thousand head of Kansas show lists moved at $148 on Wednesday, with some light northern movement at $240 in the beef. Beef exports for the week were listed at 11,100 mt. Higher equities and a weaker Dollar this morning should be commodity supportive.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Lower

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately lower on Wednesday, getting mixed signals from lower live cattle and lower corn. Corn is mixed in early morning trade, with feeders dipping lower along with the fats. The cash index put in a new all-time record high on Wednesday, of 172.21. Sales in the southern areas this week have been limited in numbers due to poor weather conditions in the region. We expect the feeders to remain fairly stable in both the cash and futures trade.

Ag markets were quite mixed Wednesday night
Cattle futures continued their Wednesday slide in early Thursday trading. Despite continued wholesale strength, a tight fed cattle situation and discounted nearby futures, CME cattle prices turned sharply lower yesterday. The decline continued overnight despite late-Wednesday news of continued beef gains. Traders apparently believe country prices are set for a sizeable drop this week and in those following. April cattle futures slumped 0.32 cents to 143.35 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while August tumbled 0.42 cents to 132.97. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle sank 0.37 cents to 173.62 cents/pound, and August dropped 0.35 to 176.07.
Hog futures bounced from Wednesday’s late lows. Hog traders apparently believe the current supply/demand situation remains extremely tight and that cash and wholesale prices will continue rocketing upward during the days and weeks just ahead. However, the cash markets showed signs of weakness Wednesday, so bulls’ ability to sustain large CME premiums is coming into question. Still, prices did rebound overnight. April hogs jumped 1.05 cents to 111.77 cents/pound as Thursday dawned over Chicago, while June advanced 0.85 to 111.60.

Count on $1,000 calves and $1,000 cull cows for the next five years
“It’s one thing to be cautious, but it’s another thing to be so cynical that you miss taking advantage of an opportunity,” says Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist. “This is a different business now. I think we’ve turned the corner.”
In fact, as Peel visits with producers and speaks at meetings these days, he’s telling producers to count on $1,000 calves and $1,000 cull cows for the next five years.
“If you’re going to be in this business, now is the time for producers to take the reins,” Peel says. “The only producers who will be hurt by this upward shift in the market are those who wait three years and then decide to start expanding.”
Peel divides the needed herd expansion into two parts.
• First is recovery of the nearly 2 million head of cows that left the business from 2011 until now. That will take until at least 2017, Peel says.
According to USDA’s annual Cattle Inventory report released in late January, there are 29 million beef cows. That’s 1% less than last year and 300,000 head less than 2012. Heifers retained for replacements were up 2%, at 5.5 million head, though.
• Second, Peel says the industry needs to recoup the 1.4 million head of cows that left the business between 2004 and 2011, the last time the industry tried to expand. That will take until at least 2020.

AABP euthanasia guidelines available in English, Spanish
The American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) offers its members, other beef and dairy veterinarians and livestock producers Practical Euthanasia of Cattle guidelines. These guidelines are intended to aid caretakers, animal owners, livestock market operators, animal transporters, and veterinarians in choosing effective euthanasia methods.
The guidelines, which were posted on AABP's website in September 2013, have recently been translated into Spanish. Both versions can be found at http://aabp.org/about/AABP_Guidelines.asp
Both the English and Spanish versions are in accordance with euthanasia recommendations from the American Veterinary Medical Association. The AABP guidelines include information on human safety, animal welfare, restraint, practicality, skill, cost, aesthetics, diagnostics and carcass disposal.

Nebraska joins lawsuit against California
The state of Nebraska is joining Missouri’s lawsuit challenging California’s egg production standards. 
Those standards, which require larger cages for egg laying hens, were established by the passage of Proposition 2 in 2008.  In 2010 California’s legislature passed a law requiring that all eggs coming into California from other states meet the same cage size standards. 
Missouri’s attorney general filed the complaint last month in U.S. District Court in Fresno, California.  The complaint seeks to stop implementation of regulations associated with the size of cages for egg laying hens.  
Although Nebraska ranks only 12th nationally in egg production, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman says California’s actions create a precedent that could negatively impact all segments of Nebraska’s agricultural industry.  
“This is about protecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers from the potential for regulatory burdens that hamper interstate trade,” Heineman says. “It’s not only about protecting our egg producers. This is also about the precedent this sets for our beef, swine and dairy producers.” 
Heineman, a frequent critic of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says it’s another attempt by the animal rights organization to harm agriculture. 

 

March 5, 2014

Schwieterman: Cattle futures sharply higher, corn improves
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed sharply higher on Tuesday, with triple digit gains and new contract highs posted in the first 6 months. Cutout values continued to rise but no sign of cash bids developing at this time. Asking prices are in the $154 range. Overnight trade is narrowly mixed, with trade .25 either side of unchanged. Some of the charts are getting a bit overbought, but as we have seen in the past can become embedded and remain overbought or oversold for an extended period of time. The potential shortage of pork production due to the PED virus is adding fuel to the already bullish fundamentals in the cattle.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed sharply higher on Tuesday in spite of the strong gains in the corn market. Support for the feeders is coming from higher fats and a stronger cash feeder index. Like the fats, feeders posted new contract highs in every contract on Tuesday. Overnight trade is trending yet higher, with the corn market trying to give back a few cents of the recent gains. Open interest in the complex was off 516 contracts, suggesting that the current rally is being fueled by more active short covering.

Hog futures diverged from flat-to-weak action in other markets
Trading in cattle futures also seemed confused in early trading. The bulls market in cattle and beef prices continued Tuesday, with traders apparently expecting another cash market advance later this week. However, while the wholesale market climbed sharply yesterday, the size of the rise seemed modest when compared to recent upward leaps, which seemingly caused second thoughts among traders last night. April cattle futures rose 0.07 cents to 145.70 cents/pound in early Wednesday action, while August stabilized at 134.70. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle were unchanged at 174.35 cents/pound, and August sank 0.30 to 176.55.

Hog futures remained quite strong last night. Anticipation of tightening hog and pork supplies during spring and summer have apparently sparked panic buying in the cash hog and pork markets lately, which in turn sparked a stunning rally in CME futures. Prices rose more moderately overnight, with traders seemingly becoming aware that nearby futures are already forecasting all-time highs by mid-April. April hogs jumped 1.37 cents to 113.05 cents/pound early Wednesday morning, while June spiked 2.65 to 118.40.

Dairy’s income-over-feed cost is the best ever
Dairy farm profitability is the best it has ever been, according USDA numbers released on Feb. 28. A milk/feed ratio of 2.55 is certainly not the highest it has ever been, but it the best since January 2008. However, an income-over-feed cost (IOFC) is the best in history at $15.01 per cwt.

One would have anticipated the years of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the ratio was higher, would have produced the best IOFC, but such was not the case. The previous best IOFC was in September 2007 when the IOFC was $14.94 with a milk/feed ratio of 3.17.

We must remember that these numbers do not necessarily mean dairy producers are in the best financial position in history. These numbers are strictly a calculation of the All-Milk price divided by the milk/feed ratio to derive the IOFC. Costs of goods and services, land costs, etc., have certainly changed over the years, making this quite different for each individual farm. Each farming operation will have its own milk/feed ratio and IOFC, based on whether feed is grown on the farm, whether it is purchased, or whether it is a combination of the two. However, this does put the industry in perspective as we enjoy record milk prices.

March 4, 2014

Russia/Ukraine situation greatly affected the ag markets Monday
Cattle futures turned mixed Monday. CME traders seem uncertain about likely short-term cattle and beef prospects in the wake of last week’s big surge. Despite another midsession jump in beef cutout, the nearby April future closed lower on the day. Conversely, large discounts in deferred futures seemed to support those contracts. The prospect of higher feed costs may also have boosted the deferreds. April cattle futures slid 0.85 to 144.12 cents/pound as CME pit trading ended Monday, while August climbed 0.62 to 133.25. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle were flat at 173.07 cents/pound, while August stalled at 175.57.

Bulls pushed hog futures higher again today. Big cash and wholesale gains posted last Friday apparently encouraged bullish traders to buy hog futures aggressively again today. Bullish expectations built upon robust demand and seasonally tightening supplies continued spurring active buying despite less-than supportive midsession news. April hogs leapt 1.82 cents to 108.67 cents/pound at Monday’s close, while June climbed 0.52 to 112.75.

Washington Week Ahead: Congress awaits Obama’s budget request
Lawmakers are expected to focus on Tuesday's release of President Obama's fiscal year 2015 budget request, which could include additional disaster assistance funding for floods, drought, and wildfires.

Obama's proposal is expected to request that the Interior Department and USDA's Forest Service be allowed to use Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster funding to assist with wildfires, according to media reports. Also, Obama may request a $1 billion fund to help communities deal with extreme weather events.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will hold a briefing on Obama's budget request Tuesday to provide details on how the proposal may affect USDA.
Lawmakers stand ready to dig into the proposal as the Senate Finance Committee and the House Budget Committee will hold hearings Wednesday on the proposal. Also on Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on the request. This will be followed by a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Thursday.

Separately, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is expected to release a welfare reform report today which may offer a preview of the upcoming GOP budget proposal. Ryan's report is expected to focus on cash aid, education and job training, energy, food aid, health care, housing, social services, and veterans affairs, according to media reports 

In the Senate this week, lawmakers may take up the issue of sexual harassment in the military, as well as a potential minimum wage increase.

March 3, 2014

Feeder cattle review: Stocker sales expected to increase
Compared to last week, all weights and classes of feeder cattle and calves sold $1-5 higher with active trading noted in most major marketing areas.

The full advance of the market was most evident on the middle-weight cattle, those weighing from 500-800 lbs. Competition has increased on these cattle and grass interests are becoming more prevalent as winter’s tight grip is starting to ease near the major grazing areas.

The easy weight that these cattle realize is called “compensatory gain” and these pounds can be achieved at a fraction of the cost of normal backgrounding. In late winter and early spring, buyers often show their fangs when trying to purchase cattle in this condition. At the OKC-West El Reno, OK Livestock Market a package of thin 350 lb steer calves brought $278; at the St. Joseph, MO Stockyards a half load of fancy and gaunt (empty) 550 lb steers hit 232.25; while Bassett, NE saw a heavy load of fancy 620 lb steers drop the gavel at $210. 

Orders for stocker cattle are only going to get more aggressive as the calendar turns to March and April. Producers have been selling their calf crop ahead this year with record prices and a miserably cold winter to blame.  Friday’s cattle-on-feed report showed January placements up 8.6 percent and much larger than the industry had estimated. 

On feed inventories as of February 1st were in-turn slightly higher than expected at 97.2, but marketings were lighter than thought at just 94.5 percent of the same time a year ago. 

Where Food Comes From announces acquisition of Merck Animal Health Verification Business
Where Food Comes From, Inc. (WFCF) (d.b.a. IMI Global, Inc.) (otcqb:WFCF), the trusted resource for third party verification of food production practices, today announced it has agreed to acquire certain assets of Global Animal Management Inc., which is owned by Merck Animal Health. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Under the agreement, IMI Global will assume responsibility for auditing cattle producers previously audited by Merck Animal Health, including a large number of dairies where newborn calves destined for interstate travel are immediately subject to the USDA's Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) program. There are more than four million dairy calves born annually in the United States. The transaction also gives IMI Global the opportunity to introduce its other value-add verification and certification services to these new customers.

"We are pleased to announce this transaction, which will extend our verification/certification services to additional beef and dairy customers," said John Saunders, chairman and CEO. "Our focus is on ensuring a smooth and seamless transition so that these producers will continue to receive high quality, cost-effective verification services."

Idaho’s governor signs tough “Ag Gag” law
Idaho Governor Chuck Otter signed into law today what may be the toughest ‘ag gag’ law in the nation to prevent animal activist groups from surreptitiously gaining access and filming farm operations.

Known as the Dairy Security Act, the bill covers wrongful entry and criminal trespass onto farms, theft of records, obtaining employment by wrongful means, taking recordings of workplace activities without the owner’s consent and intentionally interfering with the farming operations.

If convicted, individuals face up to $5,000 in fines, a year in jail and financial judgments of up to twice the economic damage they caused, says Bob Naerebout, executive director of the Idaho Dairymen's Association. And, under Idaho "aiding and abetting" laws, organizations that employ such offenders can also be held liable.

The bill cleared the state House of Representatives earlier this week on a 56-14 vote. It was passed by the state Senate 25-10 earlier this month.

BIVI launches two PED initiatives for swine industry
In an effort to help swine veterinarians and producers find effective measures for managing porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI), is launching two PED-focused initiatives. At the recent American Association of Swine Veterinarians Annual Meeting in Dallas, BIVI announced a commitment to PED applied research and sponsorship of a PED information-sharing service called “PED News,” both starting immediately.

According to Greg Cline, DVM, technical manager for swine enteric disease at BIVI, these two initiatives are designed to help discover, coordinate and share information related to PED that may be useful in helping vets and producers better prevent, manage and control this disease. 
For 2014, the applied research commitment includes up to $50,000 in research funds supporting the development of knowledge and tools targeting the practical management of PED.

“We will be focused on helping the industry to find answers to some of the most critical questions regarding PED,” explains Cline. “From our long research history with PRRS, Lawsonia intracellularis, PCV2 and other diseases, we continue our commitment to finding solutions through applicable research targeted toward the tough problems that plague the swine industry.”

February 28, 2014

Ag markets look set to end week on mixed note
Cattle futures proved quite mixed in overnight trading. Surging beef prices sparked similar gains in cash and nearby futures prices for fed cattle this week, but deferred cattle futures suffered a surprising setback Thursday afternoon. That divergence continued overnight, with traders apparently fearing that excessive short-term strength will damage the demand outlook for cattle and beef. April cattle futures slipped 0.10 to 144.35 as Friday dawned over Chicago, while August slumped 0.25 to 132.35. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle skidded 0.05 cents to 171.77 cents/pound, but May inched up 0.10 to 174.07.

Bulls remain in control of the hog pit. Ongoing cash and wholesale pork gains spurred hog futures sharply higher Thursday morning. A report that Russia will end its ban on U.S. pork on March 10 apparently added fuel to the fire, despite the fact that this news actually came out before the Sochi Olympics started. Futures are following through to the upside this morning. April hogs jumped 0.80 cents to 104.65 cents/pound early Friday morning, while June climbed 0.55 to 110.47.

USDA estimates 16% more beef cows in 10 years
“The livestock sector is slowly recovering from high feed prices and drought in the Southern Plains of the U.S. over the last few years. Improving returns have provided incentives for increased production in the livestock sector,” say analysts with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) in the USDA Agricultural Projections to 2023 released last week. “As a result, total U.S. red meat and poultry production is projected to rise over the projection period, as is per-capita consumption of red meat and poultry.”

In fact, the latest report projects the nation’s beef cowherd to grow by 4.7 million head in the next decade - from 29.0 million head January 1 this year to 33.7 million head.

Although many would welcome such a bolstering to the industry’s infrastructure, for what it’s worth, that kind of growth seems overly optimistic. Though feed prices are lower, replacement cattle prices are historically high, making it difficult to carve out more margin, especially with increased equity risk and price volatility.

Hog futures rise to record on supply woes as pig virus spreads
Hog futures rose to a record, joining this month’s cattle rally to an all-time high, as supply concerns mounted amid a spreading virus that kills piglets and signs emerged that Russia may lift a ban on U.S. pork imports.

Porcine epidemic virus, or PED, has killed more than 4 million pigs in the U.S., according to the National Pork Producers Council. Itar-Tass reported yesterday that Russia will resume imports of U.S. pork without the livestock-feed additive ractopamine on March 10.

Through yesterday, hogs jumped 22 percent this year, the second-biggest gain among 24 raw materials in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index. Demand for pork has increased as beef costs climbed. U.S. consumers will pay as much as 3.5 percent more for meat this year, compared with a 1.2 percent advance in 2013, the government has forecast.

The market "is looking at two issues: the seasonal decline in slaughter, which starts in April, and the trade has a very clear expectation that PED will be a March or April issue, not just a summer issue," Rich Nelson, the director of research at Allendale Inc. in McHenry, Illinois, said today in a telephone interview.

February 27, 2014

Livestock auction markets/animal agriculture in the news
With drought and animal welfare issues prevalent in the news, it is not uncommon for local, regional and/or national news outlets to approach livestock auction markets for interviews. If you are contacted by a media source, please contact your Region Executive Officer or Lindsay Graber, Director of Marketing and Communications. Lindsay can be reached at lgraber@lmaweb.com or (816) 301-2426.

USDA to extend comment period for Brazil beef import proposal
The comment period for a proposed rule to allow fresh beef imports, under specific conditions, from 14 Brazilian states, will be extended for 60 days, according to NCBA, which requested an extension in early January. The new deadline to submit comments is April 22, 2014.

According to USDA, the proposal would allow the importation of chilled or frozen beef while continuing to protect the United States from an introduction of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). In its announcement in December, USDA said based on a risk assessment and a series of site visits, the agency concluded that Brazil had the veterinary infrastructure in place to detect and effectively eradicate an FMD outbreak of necessary. Additionally, imported beef would be subject to regulations that would mitigate the risk of FMD introduction, including movement restrictions, inspections, removal of potentially affected parts and a maturation process. According to APHIS, prior to importation, USDA’s FSIS must also determine Brazil as eligible to export fresh/frozen beef products after a final regulation by APHIS has been published.

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle futures post new contract highs
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 30-80 Higher

Live cattle futures traded sharply higher on Wednesday, with a much stronger cash market leading the way. In the beef trade up north most of the business took place at the $240 level. Southern trade saw cattle move as high as $150 in the cash market, with western Nebraska and Colorado movement reaching $152. Cutouts were more than 2.00 higher across the board and hide and offal set a new all-time high. The February contract expires on Friday and is leading futures in effort to catch the cash trade. The next spot month is currently 5.00 discount to the Feb.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 30-50 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed sharply higher on Wednesday, with every contract posting new contract highs. The new highs followed the fats strength and came in spite of a 7th consecutive lower cash index posting. Overnight corn prices are 3-4 cents weaker, after a modestly lower close on Wednesday. The combination of higher fats and lower corn is lifting feeders to overnight highs of .40-.60 higher.

Canada to implement national pig traceability
After extensive industry consultation, Canada announced Feb. 26 that it is enhancing its capacity to track animals from farm to slaughter through a mandatory national pig traceability system. The related amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations have been published in Canada Gazette, Part II.

The regulations come into force on July 1 for all domestic pigs that are farmed for food production, including those that die on farm and cannot enter the food chain. Effective July 1, 2015, the regulations will be extended to also include farmed wild boars, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The federal government has amended the Health of Animals Regulations to require pig farmers and other pig industry custodians to keep records and report all movements of pigs, from birth or import to slaughter or export. The regulations also detail how farmed pigs and farmed wild boars are to be identified, CFIA said.

The amendments are based on a series of consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, including swine industry associations, provinces and territories and other federal departments.

CFIA noted that in Canada, mandatory identification systems are already in place for the cattle, bison and sheep sectors.

February 26, 2014

Livestock auction markets/animal agriculture in the news
With drought and animal welfare issues prevalent in the news, it is not uncommon for local, regional and/or national news outlets to approach livestock auction markets for interviews. If you are contacted by a media source, please contact your Region Executive Officer or Lindsay Graber, Director of Marketing and Communications. Lindsay can be reached at lgraber@lmaweb.com or (816) 301-2426.

Feeders push higher while packers improve slightly
Feeder margins climbed more than $44 per head to $253.80 the week ending February 22, 2014, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. One month ago, feeder margins were $182.52 per head, and were negative $102.19 per head at this time last year. Choice fed steers climbed more than $4 per hundredweight to $146.60 compared to $142.33 the previous week, and feeder steers were up more than $1 per hundredweight to $167.34. Feed costs increased $4.64 per head while total costs were up $15 per head.

Packer margins improved more than $1 to negative $81.19 compared to negative $82.79 the previous week. At this time last month, packers were earning $122.47 per head, but margins were negative $78.39 at this time last year. The beef cutout value increased to $212.47 per hundredweight, compared to $208.63 the previous week.

Farrow-to-finish margins rallied $12.61 per head to $35.02 the week ending February 21, 2014, compared to $22.41 the previous week. At this time last month, farrow-to-finish margins stood at $3.54 and negative $29.34 at this time last year, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs were up $5.70 last week to $92.37. Feed costs increased to $94.87 last week, compared to $93.32 the previous week.

Pork packer margins fell $6.41 to $1.95 per head, compared to $8.36 the previous week. The pork cutout value increased to $96.39 last week, compared to $93.80 the previous week, $87,67 one month ago and $81.80 at this time last year.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending February 22:

  • Average feeder margins: $253.80 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$81.19 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending February 21:                                          

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $35.02 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $1.95 per head.

National Beef to close Brawley plant in spite of efforts by cattle feeders
Last Friday, in an effort to remain competitive in a tighter and more volatile fed cattle market, a consortium of cattle feeders in California significantly sweetened the pot to entice National Beef Packing Co. to keep the doors open and the lights on in its Brawley, CA, packing plant.
Monday, National responded, saying thanks but no thanks.

“We have considered all of the alternatives but, unfortunately, the barriers to profitably operate the plant facility continue to exist, National Beef CEO Tim Klein said in a statement. “Even with the proposed incentive package, the declining supply of fed cattle available for the Brawley facility remains the key driver of our decision to close the plant.”

The feeders group, called Imperial Valley Cattle Feeders (IVCF), offered in excess of $9 million in additional cattle price discounts for years 2014 and 2015. The discount is in addition to $15 million in discounts previously given National Beef on Jan. 1, 2013. Annual discounts beyond $24 million would put local feeders at a disadvantage when trying to compete with other markets, according to Bill Brandenberg of the IVCF group. 

Market outlook 2014
Chad Spearman, CattleFax, outlined his forecast for the cattle and beef market in 2014 for attendees of the 2013 Range Beef Cow Symposium. Cheaper feed costs, a reduction in cattle supplies, and an increase in beef exports were the three key drivers Spearman identified that will support slaughter and feeder cattle prices near record highs for the next year.

Corn futures prices dropped from over $7.00 a bushel during summer of 2013 to harvest lows around $4.00 a bushel in November 2013. Spearman expects corn prices to range from $3.50-$5.50/ bushel over the next two years. For cattle feeders, that lowers feeding cost of gain from $110-120/cwt to $75-85/cwt. One of the reasons behind the lower corn price is the expectation of a record global corn crop this season. The global harvest of corn during the 2013-14 marketing year is expected to be near 966.6 million metric tons, up 12% from the previous year.

One of the reasons behind the decrease in cattle numbers is the natural disasters that have occurred in recent years. Of particular concern was the widespread drought that has affected one or more key production areas of the country. Over the last decade, the number of beef cows in the U.S. has declined by 3.6 million head, or 11%, as producers have struggled with high feed costs brought on by drought and increased competition for feedstuffs like corn. Just this last year, even though the industry appears to be on the cusp of expansion, the national beef cow inventory declined another 255,000 head, or 0.9%. South Dakota experienced a larger (3.1%) decrease in beef cows in 2013. Of the estimated 53,000 head decline in the state last year, an estimated 20,000 head alone were lost in the October blizzard. Like many market analysts, Spearman expects the beef cow inventory to stabilize and eventually grow by 2015 as long as weather is near normal. Realizing growth in cattle numbers and eventually beef supplies will take two to three years due to the biological lag between breeding decisions and slaughter of fed cattle. In addition, competition for heifers for replacements further restricts cattle supplies in the short run.

NCC launches new online animal welfare resource
The National Chicken Council has launched a new website with information about animal welfare, food safety, environmental stewardship, antibiotic use and other topics of interest to consumers, the group announced Thursday.

The site follows last year's Chicken Media Summit, in which NCC and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association took members of the mainstream, social and trade media through the chicken production process.

February 25, 2014

Howard Langvardt passed
Howard LaVern Langvardt, 69, of Chapman, passed away Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, at The Good Shepherd Hospice House in Manhattan. Howard was born Nov. 11, 1944, in Junction City.

Howard graduated from Junction City High School, and immediately after high school, he attended the Repperts School of Auctioneering in Decatur, Ind. Along with his family, Howard purchased and managed JC Livestock Sales Co., the livestock auction market in Junction City, for 48 years. In 1996, Howard and his family purchased Clay Center Livestock Sales, the sale barn in Clay Center. Howard was the main auctioneer at the barns and was known for selling cattle, hogs and horses for people in the area. He and his family also raised cattle on the farm west of Junction City.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, at First Presbyterian Church, 113 W. Fifth St., Junction City. Pastor Matthew Glasgow will officiate. Burial will be at the Good Hope Cemetery, northeast of Chapman. The family will welcome friends for visitation from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, at First Presbyterian Church, Junction City.

Memorial contributions may be made to First Presbyterian Church, Junction City, The Good Shepherd Hospice House, Manhattan, or the Chapman Recreation Department. Memorials may be sent in care of Londeen Funeral Chapel, P.O. Box 429, Chapman 67431.

Livestock auction markets/animal agriculture in the news
With drought and animal welfare issues prevalent in the news, it is not uncommon for local, regional and/or national news outlets to approach livestock auction markets for interviews. If you are contacted by a media source, please contact your Region Executive Officer or Lindsay Graber, Director of Marketing and Communications. Lindsay can be reached at lgraber@lmaweb.com or (816) 301-2426.

Schwieterman: Corn prices flat, feeder futures higher
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 20-40 Higher

Live cattle futures closed lower in all but the February contract on Monday. The April contract failed to hold gains above the 142.00 level once again, with settlement more than 1.00 off of session highs. Cutout values were sharply higher on Monday, with movement improved over week ago levels. Tight supplies and the grilling season right around the corner, have packers scrambling for slaughter cows and any other potential hamburger production. Open interest was up 1,934 on the day.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed higher in all but the lead March contract on Monday. March came under pressure from the recent drop in the cash index, which fell for the 5th consecutive day on Monday. Corn prices are basically flat for the week, after trying to sell off in the first half of trade on Monday. Overnight trade is trending higher in the feeders, with March leading the recovery effort.

Indiana ag bills advance
Two major ag bills in the Indiana legislature cleared another hurdle yesterday.  Indiana House members voted 73-25 in favor of Senate Bill 101, the Ag Trespass Bill.  That measure provides farmers the same protections against trespass enjoyed by Hoosier homeowners.

Members of the House voted 67-30 in favor of Senate Bill 186, Indiana’s Right to Farm legislation.  The vote reaffirms the importance of a strong farm sector to the overall health of Indiana’s rural communities and the state’s economy. 

SB 101 now heads to the Governor’s desk for consideration for signing and SB 186 heads back to the full Senate for final approval before going in front of the General Assembly.

February 24, 2014

Livestock auction markets/animal agriculture in the news
With drought and animal welfare issues prevalent in the news, it is not uncommon for local, regional and/or national news outlets to approach livestock auction markets for interviews. If you are contacted by a media source, please contact your Region Executive Officer or Lindsay Graber, Director of Marketing and Communications. Lindsay can be reached at lgraber@lmaweb.com or (816) 301-2426.

Schwieterman: Feeders may benefit as corn moves lower overnight
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 20-40 Lower

Live cattle futures closed moderately lower on Friday, in spite of the large jump in cash prices. Placement numbers in Friday’s on feed report were above expectations at 109% of year ago levels. The higher than expected placements could offset the $145 cash in the south on this morning trade resumption. Charts remain a little suspect, with April looking like a double top. Additional strength will need to be cash driven.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Lower

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately lower on Friday and only modestly higher for the week. The placements at 109% were large enough to expect lower calls this morning. Overnight weakness in the corn market could give the feeders a much needed lift. The market itself is starting to have a bit of a tired feel to it. Fresh hedge strategies should be viewed at current price levels.

Cattle on feed down 3 percent
Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.8 million head on Feb. 1, according to USDA’s latest Cattle on Feed report.

The inventory was 3 percent below Feb. 1, 2013. "Should it prove accurate, the February 1 COF figure of 96 percent of last year’s level will mark the 17th straight month of smaller inventories, year-on-year, in these 1000 head-plus lots," economists Steve Meyer and Len Steiner wrote in their Feb. 19 Daily Livestock Report.

Placements in feedlots during January totaled 2.03 million, 9 percent above the same period in 2013. Net placements were 1.96 million head. During January, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 470,000, 600-699 pounds were 440,000, 700-799 pounds were 560,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 559,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during January totaled 1.79 million, 5 percent below the same period in 2013. Other disappearance totaled 71,000 during January, 10 percent below 2013.

Washington Week Ahead: Drought issue hovering over lawmakers
Congress returns from its recess today and many agricultural stakeholders are watching for what lawmakers do to assist with the devastating drought in Southern California.

Both chambers have bills aimed at the issue. The House recently passed drought-relief legislation (H.R. 3964) that would repeal some of California's authority over its Central Valley. The bill, offered by Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., would turn on the Delta pumps this year and next year to capture future rain events, as well as ending restoration flows in the San Joaquin River for this year and next year.

In the Senate, Democrats have introduced legislation to authorize $300 million in emergency funds for drought-relief projects to maximize water supplies for farmers.

For its part, the administration has announced USDA is moving to accelerate $100 million in livestock disaster assistance to producers in California.

Cattle feeders work with California packer to keep plant open
The Imperial Valley Cattle Feeders Group said today that it had been working with National Beef Packing Co. to prevent the closing of its Brawley processing facility on April 4.

The local feeders offered in excess of $9 million in additional cattle price discounts for years 2014 and 2015. The discount was in addition to the $15 million of discounts previously given National Beef on Jan. 1, 2013. Annual discounts beyond $24 million would put local feeders at a disadvantage when trying to compete with other markets, according to Bill Brandenberg, of the Imperial Valley Cattle Feeders (IVCF) Group.

"National lost a stable supply of cattle from Arizona and some IVCF members had plans to increase their supplies but those plans are now on hold. Imperial Valley cattle numbers are at 25-30 year highs. Valley feeders understand National's need for more cattle and are ready to accommodate those needs to the best of their abilities," Brandenberg said.

February 21, 2014

Livestock auction markets/animal agriculture in the news
With drought and animal welfare issues prevalent in the news, it is not uncommon for local, regional and/or national news outlets to approach livestock auction markets for interviews. If you are contacted by a media source, please contact your Region Executive Officer or Lindsay Graber, Director of Marketing and Communications. Lindsay can be reached at lgraber@lmaweb.com or (816) 301-2426.

Arizona, Idaho latest states to mull animal abuse reporting bills
The Idaho House Agriculture Affairs Committee is slated to consider that state’s “Agriculture Production Interference” today, just days after clearing the state Senate, according to the Idaho State Journal.

The bill passed the state's Senate Friday by a 23-10 vote.

Under Senate Bill 1337, anyone who “obtains employment with an agricultural production facility by force, threat, or misrepresentation with the intent to cause economic or other injury to the facility's operations, livestock, crops, owners, personnel, equipment, buildings, premises, business interests or customers” and is found guilty of violating the law would face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Meanwhile, a similar bill in Arizona was approved by the state Senate Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee on a 7-2 vote, according to an Associated Press report.

Senate bill 1267 would require animal rights activists to submit any videos documenting abuse immediately to law enforcement. It would reduce animal cruelty penalties to a misdemeanor from a felony and would strip livestock facility owners of their licenses.

This type of legislation has been dubbed “ag-gag” by animal activist groups, a moniker that has successfully rooted itself in media reports.

Schwieterman: Cattle futures run opposite ways, cash market unset
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures rode the strength in the spot February contract to close higher on Thursday. Cutout values continued to move higher for the week, with a hide and offal values surging to all-time highs of 15.17 on the day. Bids of $142 in the cash market were rejected in all sectors on Thursday, with asking prices of $144-$145 solid throughout the region. This afternoon’s on feed report is expected to have a little something for the bulls and the bears in this market. Open interest climbed another 2,049 contracts on the days rally.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately lower in most months on Thursday, with gains in corn futures weighing on the complex. Overnight trade is trending a little higher, with corn dropping a couple cents ahead of the weekly exports sales release. The bigger than year ago expectations for January placements could keep a lid on rally efforts, unless the fats are able to break out on positive cash  news.

Animal care panel pokes holes in HSUS’ video charges
The criticisms included in the latest video released by the Humane Society of the United States are mostly “wrong” and “unsubstantiated,” and “contradict current research,” according to a panel of animal care specialists convened by the Center for Food Integrity to review videos released by animal rights activists.

The video is about the technique of “feedback” to address the threat of PEDv, which involves feeding the ground-up intestines of piglets who died of the disease to pregnant sows in an effort to build up their immunity and that of their unborn piglets.

“There’s no question that people may be put off by this treatment, but PEDv is wreaking havoc out there on the farms and 'feedback' is the only control method we have found to be effective,” said Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, and a member of the review panel. He also noted that the virus has been known in the U.S. for less than 12 months, and with little in the way of funding for research into animal vaccines, there has not been time to develop a more sophisticated response to the threat.

Creekstone expansion on track
A city commission has approved annexation of the last parcels of land necessary to complete an expansion of the Creekstone Farms facility in Arkansas City, Kan.

Creekstone Farms has operated the plant for more than a decade, and the expansion will boost the current ranks of 720 employees. The project involves replacing part of an existing building that was damaged in a Sept. 25 fire that began on a conveyor belt in a shipping and storage area and injured one firefighter.

The company also plans to build a 71,000-square-foot facility to cover cold storage needs, including a refrigerated fabrication floor area, packaging and combo cooler storage, docks for refrigerated truck and inspection offices.

February 20, 2014

Livestock auction markets in the news
With drought and animal welfare issues prevalent in the news, it is not uncommon for local, regional and/or national news outlets to approach livestock auction markets for interviews. If you are contacted by a media source, please contact your Region Executive Officer or Lindsay Graber, Director of Marketing and Communications. Lindsay can be reached at lgraber@lmaweb.com or (800) 821-2048.

Placement expectations mixed ahead of Cattle on Feed report
Analysts are predicting Friday’s Cattle on Feed report to reveal another drop in year-to-year inventories, however there’s more variance in predicting the number of cattle placed in January.

Predictions from CME Group ahead of the USDA report expect inventories to be four percent lower than the same month a year earlier. If inventories are lower in Friday’s report, it will show a decrease for the 17th consecutive month.

Pre-report CME Group estimates from 12 respondents show a range of 94.8 percent to 99 percent compared to February 2013 levels. A separate forecast from Allendale, Inc. shows total inventories on the low end at 94.9 percent compared to a year earlier.

Schwieterman: Cattle futures moderately lower
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Lower

Live cattle futures closed moderately lower in all but the spot month on Wednesday. Many of the settlements were nearly 1.00 off of morning highs, and saw key reversals in the October forward contracts. Open interest was up 2,520 loads on the reversal action. Friday’s on feed report is expecting on feed of 96%, placements up 2.6% and marketing to fall 4.6% for the month of January. Some modest follow through selling is being registered in overnight trade.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Lower

Feeder cattle futures posted moderate losses on Wednesday and are seeing some light selling in overnight trade. The cash index has had back to back lower postings, although both days were very modestly lower after the recent record highs. Corn is backing off a couple of cents in overnight trade but remains in an uptrend. The placement numbers on Friday’s report could be higher than the average estimate in our opinion. If so, yearlings may be in an even tighter supply over the coming few months.

Calif. water agency offers National Beef a break on upgrades
The Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board is offering to hold off on its enforcement of upgrades needed to National Beef Co.’s Brawley, Calif., facility, in hopes of helping to convince the company not to close the facility, according to documents on the water agency’s website.

National Beef said it would shutter the facility, which employs 1,300 people, late last month.  Its proposed last day of operation would be April 4. Brawley officials subsequently offered the company a package of incentives to keep the plant open, even as severe drought in California has cut into the number of cattle available for processing.

This week the water board weighed in with its offer to give National Beef an additional six months to come up with a plan to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility at that location. The facility’s three effluent ponds, which drain into the area’s groundwater, require upgrades and one requires a liner; all three must be included in a groundwater monitoring program.

The water agency had been asked to consider a delay in enforcing the required changes at the request of State Sen. Ben Hueso. The delay is intended to give area officials the chance to see if they can make keeping the Brawley facility open a financial attractive alternative.

Cattle Board: Corn reaches new 2014 high
Corn prices continued higher Wednesday, up four cents to $4.54. The increase sets a new high for the year as corn prices have gained nine cents so far this week and are 30 cents higher than a month earlier when corn reached a 27-day low of $4.24.

Live cattle prices moved 13 cents higher Wednesday to finish the day at $143.88. Live cattle prices have trended higher since early February after losing $4.38 in the second half of January. Feeder cattle moved lower today after reaching a 27-day high on Tuesday. Feeders fell 52 cents to 171.18.

February 19, 2014

Feeder margins top $200
After falling early in February, feeder margins rallied last week according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feeder margins climbed to $209.54 per head last week, compared to $145.47 the previous week, $135.66 one month ago and negative $131.14 at this time last year. Both feed and total costs increased, with feed prices climbing less than $1 and total costs jumping $25.13 per head. Fed steers averaged $142.33 per hundredweight last week, compared to $140.74 the previous week. Feeder steers also increased, topping $166 compared to $163.02 the previous week.

Packer margins decreased again last week, falling to negative $83.20, compared to negative $56.86 the previous week, $52.08 one month ago and negative $96.55 one year ago at this time. The beef cutout value decreased by $7.45 last week to $208.63, compared to $216.10 the previous week.

Farrow-to-finish margins increased last week and finished the week ending Feb. 14, 2014, at $22.41, compared to $18.30 the previous week, negative $4.74 one month ago and negative $17.70 at this time last year, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs improved $2.43 last week and finished the week at $86.67. Feed costs decreased slightly to $93.32, compared to $93.56 the previous week.

Pork packer margins also increased last week compared to the previous week, finishing the week at $8.23, up $0.18 from the previous week. The pork cutout value increased to $93.80 last week, compared to $92.31 the previous week, $85.54 one month ago and $80.88 at this time last year.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending February 15:

  • Average feeder margins: $209.54 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$83.20 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending February 14:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $22.41 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $8.23 per head.

USDA closes troubled Central Valley slaughterhouse for cleanliness
A troubled Central California slaughterhouse that supplies beef to the National School Lunch Program was closed by federal inspectors Monday for failing to meet cleanliness standards.

Operations at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif., about 30 miles south of Fresno, will be suspended indefinitely until the company produces a corrective plan, inspectors said.

The same facility was closed for a week in 2012 after animal rights group Compassion Over Killing submitted videos to the U.S. Department of Agriculture showing workers torturing cows with electric prods and spraying them with hot water.

In a separate incident last September, the company recalled 58,000 pounds of beef destined for school lunches after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it may have contained small pieces of plastic.

February 18, 2014

Schwieterman: Cattle futures strong last week, corn also improves
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher

Live cattle futures settled stronger for the week and saw cash trade no worse than steady, with many selling cattle at least $1 better for the week. Cutout values reclaimed nearly all of last weeks’ losses on Monday, with choice cuts a 3.00 higher for the day. Show lists today will be interesting, with several lots appearing to hold out for better money on Friday. The spec long position continues to grow as of last Tuesday. Open interest on Friday was off a significant 5,636 contracts, with lifting of hedges on sold cattle a good portion of the drop.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures had a strong week, gaining 2.92 in the April contract, in spite of slightly higher corn values. Corn is up another 1-2 cents in overnight trade, which could limit feeder strength on todays’ 9:05 opening. Fridays’ on feed report is expected to show higher than year ago placements for the January time frame. Continued strength in the fats will be needed to push drag feeders much higher.

USDA: Beef production drops, herd growth will be slow
Although the U.S. beef-cow inventory appears to have reached a bottom, growth in cow numbers will start out slowly, and it likely will take several years for the turnaround to become evident in larger beef production. According to the USDA’s latest Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook report, released on Feb. 14, the 1 percent decline in U.S. beef-cow inventories during 2013 represented the 16th year of decline since 1996, with the exceptions being 2004 and 2005, when the inventory increased by less than 1 percent.

Ranchers are likely to keep more heifers for breeding over the next few years, but it will take until at least 2016 before total beef supplies rise above current levels, according to the report.

The report notes that production technologies have increased output per cow, resulting in a decline in beef production that has been much smaller than the decline in cow numbers. In 2013, beef production was about 5 percent below 1976 production, but the cow inventory on January 1, 2013 was 32 percent lower than the 1975 peak.

Genetic improvements and advances in feeds and feeding technologies have increased cattle dressed weights from an average of 673 pounds in 1975 to a record 864 pounds in 2013, a 28-percent increase.

South Dakota animal cruelty bill passes full Senate
A proposal to make animal cruelty a felony in South Dakota passed the full Senate last week and is on its way to the state’s House of Representatives.

Currently, South Dakota is the only state in which severe animal abuse is not considered a felony. Past legislative attempts to make it a felony have failed. Shantel Krebs, who chairs the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, told Brownfield Ag News the law that passed the Senate unanimously is more specific about what a judge should consider to be serious animal abuse.

 “We had everybody at the table,” she said. “We had all industry groups, pork producers, cattlemen, stock growers; they were all at the table and came to agreement that we wanted to be in control and how our wording and the updates and statutes were to be made. And that way we can say we did it, versus an outside interest group coming into South Dakota and taking control.”

Animal rights groups have pushed for years to make severe animal cruelty a felony. In addition to making animal cruelty a felony, SB46, considered a compromise between animal agriculture groups and animal rights interests, provides for punishment of up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine. Animal neglect, abandonment and mistreatment remain a misdemeanor under the Senate-passed bill.

USDA expedites livestock program implementation
The USDA says it is expediting implementation of the livestock disaster assistance program. The agency says producers will be able to sign up for the program beginning April 15th.

Producers will be able to sign up for the livestock disaster programs for losses not only for 2014 but for losses they experienced in 2012 and 2013.
The 100-million dollar program was reauthorized in the recently passed farm bill.

South Dakota Senator John Thune praised the USDA announcement. “This is good news for the livestock producers who suffered back to back grazing and livestock death losses in 2012 and 2013,” said Thune. “Once signup begins for these livestock disaster programs, USDA needs to also expedite the application approval and payments processes as well so these livestock producers can receive the financial assistance they desperately need as quickly as possible.”

February 14, 2014

LMA offices closed for President’s Day on Monday, February 17
The LMA offices will be closed Monday, February 17, in observance of Presidents’ Day. Business will resume as usual on Tuesday, February 18.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. offering free BQA registration
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training.The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Falling commodity prices may be largest risk to farms
The greatest risks to the farm sector this year may come from lower-than-expected commodity prices, followed by higher-than-expected costs for fertilizer, fuel, and other inputs, according to a majority of 49 agricultural banks surveyed in the latest Agricultural Finance Monitor, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. 

About 63 percent of the bankers viewed falling commodity prices as the top threat, with 15 percent pointing to input costs, and a smaller number citing unusual weather. Very few thought higher interest rates or an unexpected decline in quality farmland values pose a significant risk to farmers this year, according to the survey. The findings were in response to questions posed to bankers in eight Midwest and Southern states as part of a quarterly survey on farm income and agricultural land values.

The survey further found that farm income increased in the fourth quarter of 2013 from the same period a year earlier, and quality farmland prices in the fourth quarter also were up from a year earlier. However, the report said farm income levels in the first quarter of 2014 are expected to be lower than a year earlier.

A week after fire, Cargill plant looking to resume
Cargill’s beef processing plant in Schuyler, Neb., was finally set to resume full production on Friday, eight days after a fire caused by an ammonia leak shut down its harvesting and fabrication operations.

“We will be back to normal operations (Friday) and plan to work Saturday,” spokesman Mike Martin told Meatingplace.

Electrical repairs and water damage had slowed repairs over the past week, halting slaughter and fabrication, but allowing grinding operations to continue.

The plant has slaughter capacity of 5,000 head per day and employs over 2,000 workers.

USDA makes long term ag predictions
As a result of recovering from high feed prices in recent years and drought, USDA is projecting livestock production and per capital red meat consumption to increase through 2023.

While beef production is projected to decline through 2016 as producers retain heifers to grow the overall herd, production is expected to begin increasing in 2016. USDA is projecting that beef cow numbers will increase from 29 million today to more than 33 million in 2022-2023. The total cattle inventory is projected to expand to approximately 96 million in 2023, and increasing slaughter weights add to increased beef production projections. USDA is projecting beef cattle prices to increase through 2017, then fall but increase again through 2023.

With regard to global beef trade, USDA is projecting world meat consumption to increase by about 1.9 percent annually from 2014-2023 and world meat trade to increase by 22 percent during that same period. Stagnate beef export projections from Australia resulted in the top four beef exporting nations, according to USDA, to be Brazil, India, the United States and Australia. On the import side, China and Hong Kong are projected to increase beef imports by 55 percent in the next decade as China’s middle class grows from 300 million today to an expected 640 million by 2020.

Calif. farmers in “dire straights” as drought rages on
Central California was inundated with its first significant storm since Oct. 1, and though welcomed, the rain was a reprieve – not a cure – from the drought.

In Thursday’s “Drought Monitor” report, nearly 10 percent of the state is in exceptional drought, the highest level reported.

The return of the rain helped pushed around 6 percent of the state from extreme to severe drought, but even with this improvement, 95 percent of California remains in moderate or worse drought.  Click here to see the full map.

Reservoirs throughout the state are holding well below capacity typical for this time of year. Gov. Jerry Brown issued a drought emergency in mid-January.

Concerns surrounding California’s drought have spread into Washington. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, traveled to California in late January to propose emergency legislation aimed at drought relief. On Friday, President Barack Obama will make his first trip to the central San Joaquin Valley to discuss the drought.

February 13, 2014

1983 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, Bud Knight, passed
Ernest H. “Bud” Knight Bud left this world on January 31, 2014 at home with his loving wife, Nancy by his side after a prolonged battle with his health.

Bud was born April 2, 1937 in Custer , South Dakota to Harold and Della Knight, the oldest of three children, sister Yvonne and brother Calvin.

Bud and his dad operated the Custer Machine Works until April of 1974. At this time Bud had already learned the auction business, and went into auctioneering full time. He auctioned farm sales, antiques and household sales all around the Black Hills. Bud is one of the few auctioneers left to have been the auctioneer at Edgemont, Rapid City, Sturgis, St. Onge and Bell Fourche. He was manager of Sturgis Livestock Exchange under owners Dale & Margerette Maddox until they sold the business to Jack Smeenk & Dick Orwick, Newell area ranchers. Bud worked as auctioneer for Smeenk-Orwick until January 1983, at which time he took over as manager of Billings Livestock Commission Co. in Billings, MT.

Bud competed four consecutive years for the title of World Champion Livestock Auctioneer. Along the way he was Central North American Champion and two-time Reserve World Champion. In 1983 he attained the title of World Champion Livestock Auctioneer. This was an honor he coveted. In 1988 Bud and his partner opened the Worland Livestock Auction in Worland, Wyoming. In 1992 Bud sold his interest in the Worland Livestock Auction and he and his wife Nancy purchased the Ten Sleep Saloon in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Bud and Nancy moved back to Powell in 2004 to be closer to family even though they continued to travel to Worland to work the weekly auctions.

Donations may be made in his name to: The Lions Club 2946 HWY 16, Ten Sleep, Wy 82442

Services were Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 10:00 am at McColley's Chapel of the Hills in Custer, SD. Arrangements are being handled by McColley's Chapel of the Hills in Custer, SD.

Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.thompsonfuneral.net or to P.O. Box 807 Powell, WY, 82435.

Former LMA employee, Virgil Cooper, passed
Virgil Bradley Cooper passed away peacefully on February 7, 2014. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, February 12, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Graveside service will be Friday, February 14, 3:00 p.m. at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville,  Mo.

Brad was born on August 18, 1945 in Warrensburg, Mo. He attended rural school, Pleasant Green in Johnson County and the remainder of high school at Windsor, Mo., graduating spring 1963. He enrolled at the University of Missouri in the fall of '63, left on lack of academic performance and was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Europe. After leaving Germany, he returned to the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo. and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science.

During the mid-1970s, Brad became employed by the Livestock Marketing Association as a Region Executive Officer, covering the territory of Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. In the 1908s, Brad was a sales manager for the LMA, hiring and training many staff members, including some existing staff. Brad left the LMA in 1987 to pursue a career with Nationwide Insurance.

He is survived by his wife Patricia G. Cooper.

Long-time LMA employees remember Brad:
“Brad always appreciated the entrepreneurial spirit of LMA members He will always be remembered and missed,” said Mark Mackey, Chief Executive Officer at LMA.

“Brad left a lasting footprint with the LMA staff and members,” noted Kurt Hamilton, President of the Livestock Marketing Insurance Agency.

“I will always remember his advice on life, his humor and his faithful spirit. He was a unique individual,” said Jan Caggianello, current executive assistant and former assistant to Brad.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. offering free BQA registration
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training.The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

USDA publishes final rule on imports and BSE
USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has published a final rule amending import regulations for animals and animal products with regard to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease.

The rule, which goes into effect March 4, describes a new system for classifying regions in other countries as having negligible, controlled or undetermined risk for the disease, APHIS said in a news release. The classification uses a science-based system consistent with that employed by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

The rule also revises the conditions for the importation of bovine products and removes restrictions on the importation of cervids, or deer, and camelids, and products derived from such animals. In addition, the new BSE regulations prescribe the conditions under which certain commodities may be imported into the U.S. from regions that have been designated as having negligible, controlled of undetermined risk for the disease.

Congress members push for ban on downer calves
A bipartisan group of 72 Congress members are asking the USDA to ban the slaughter of downer calves for food.

The group, led by Reps. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), wrote a letter asking the agency “close a loophole” in federal regulations that allows the processing of downer calves.

The letter follows USDA’s shutdown of Shrewsbury, N.J.-based veal and lamb processor Catelli Brothers Inc. for inhumane practices caught on a video captured by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

HSUS petitioned USDA in 2009 on the matter, “but USDA has not moved forward on this,” the group said in a news release.

USDA said in a statement emailed to Meatingplace that the agency "is actively engaged in ensuring the humane slaughter of veal calves, as well as other livestock.  We are completing the preliminary steps that are necessary to send our proposed rule on downer calves to [the Office of Management and Budget]."

Schwieterman: Cattle futures close marginally lower Wednesday
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher

Live cattle futures reversed early strength to close moderately lower on Wednesday. Overnight trade is firmer, with about half of the previous days’ losses being recovered. Beef exports for the week were large, with more than 16,000 mt of sales reported. Cash business remains untapped and no deliveries against the Feb contract so far this week. Weaker Dollar and equity markets offset each other this morning. Open interest continued to climb on Wednesday and has been up every day since option expiration on Friday.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures settle modestly lower on Wednesday and are recovering a like amount this morning. Corn is up only a penny, in spite of another strong week of export sales numbers. The cash index continues to recover and should stay the course into weeks end. March futures are still 1.00 discount to the current cash index of 169.60.

Utah beef facility to create 100 jobs
A beef plant proposed in Jerome, Idaho, would create 100 jobs in its first year of operation, according to a report by the Twin Falls Times-News.
Dale T. Smith & Sons Meat Packing Co. is working to get permits to relocate its business from Draper to Jerome and build a $7.5 million, 25,000-square-foot beef plant, the story quotes Arlen Crouch, Jerome 20/20 economic development group board member, as saying.

The facility is slated to open in the spring of 2015, according to the report.

Calif. town offers National Beef incentives to stay
Brawley, Calif., officials on Tuesday released details of an incentive package to try to persuade National Beef Packing Co. to keep its plant open, according to a report by the Imperial Valley Press.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based company announced on Jan. 31 plans to shutter the facility in April, a move that would put 1,300 employees out of work and strain the local economy, due to a lack of cattle supplies amid extreme drought conditions.

The package proposes, among other things, that local cattlemen increase the cattle supply by 10 percent by 2016 under the condition that National Beef continues full operation of the Brawley plant.

For more details, click here

February 12, 2014

Former LMA employee, Virgil Cooper, passed
Virgil Bradley Cooper passed away peacefully on February 7, 2014. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, February 12, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Graveside service will be Friday, February 14, 3:00 p.m. at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville,  Mo.

Brad was born on August 18, 1945 in Warrensburg, Mo. He attended rural school, Pleasant Green in Johnson County and the remainder of high school at Windsor, Mo., graduating spring 1963. He enrolled at the University of Missouri in the fall of '63, left on lack of academic performance and was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Europe. After leaving Germany, he returned to the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo. and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science.

During the mid-1970s, Brad became employed by the Livestock Marketing Association as a Region Executive Officer, covering the territory of Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. In the 1908s, Brad was a sales manager for the LMA, hiring and training many staff members, including some existing staff. Brad left the LMA in 1987 to pursue a career with Nationwide Insurance.

He is survived by his wife Patricia G. Cooper.

Long-time LMA employees remember Brad:

“Brad always appreciated the entrepreneurial spirit of LMA members He will always be remembered and missed,” said Mark Mackey, Chief Executive Officer at LMA.

“Brad left a lasting footprint with LMA staff and members,” noted Kurt Hamilton, President of the Livestock Marketing Insurance Agency.

“I will always remember his advice on life, his humor and his faithful spirit. He was a unique individual,” said Jan Caggianello, current executive assistant and former assistant to Brad.

Changes to Livestock Marketing Insurance Agency billing system
Beginning March 2014, the LMIA will begin generating monthly customer Statements.  The Statement will reflect current outstanding charges and/or credits to your account plus installments due for that month, if applicable.  Payment will be due upon receipt of the Statement and please note that billing may not be received in advance.

LMIA Invoices and Statements will be printed on blue paper and will have the LMIA logo watermark.  You will need to return the top portion with your payment and retain the bottom portion for your records.

Annual and 1st quarter premiums will continue to be billed via Invoice, with subsequent installments shown on the monthly Statement for payment. Separate Invoices for Policy Endorsements and/or Audits will no longer be generated as any return premium or additional premium due will be reflected on the monthly Statement.

Please note that Livestock Insurance Monthly Reporting (white form) and Membership Monthly Service Charges (green form) will not change.

A letter regarding the changes, with an example of the new Statement format, has been mailed to you. If you have questions regarding the billing changes, please contact your Region Administrator/Region Manager at (800) 821-2048 or your Region Executive Officer.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. offering free BQA registration
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training.The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Feeder, packer margins fall from January highs
After spending multiple weeks earning positive margins, beef packer margins retreated to negative territory the week ending February 8, 2014, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Packer margins topped $121 in late January but fell to negative $56.86 last week. The beef cutout value decreased by $15.70 last week to $216.10. While the cutout value dropped over the week, it is still higher on a historical basis. One year ago at this time, the cutout value was at $182.50 , and at this time last month, the cutout value was at $209.20.

Feeder margins also experienced declines last week, falling from $171.06 the previous week to $145.47 the week ending February 8. Last year at this time, fed steers were negative $77.92. Feed costs increased by $6.13 while total costs dropped nearly $6. Fed steers dropped $4.78 to $140.74 per hundredweight but are nearly $15 per hundredweight higher than they were at this time a year ago. Feeder steers also decreased last week and finished the week at $163.02 compared to $164.52 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending February 8:

  • Average feeder margins: $145.47 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$56.86 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending February 7:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: 18.30 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $8.17 per head.

NCC releases 2014 animal welfare guidelines; audit checklist
The 2014 update of the National Chicken Council (NCC) Animal Welfare Guidelines incorporates new parameters to improve bird welfare. The new guidelines include a whistleblower protection, more assistance for training programs for proper handling, more documentation and monitoring of various practices and a more streamlined auditing tool for ease of auditing.

In 1999 the NCC developed its Animal Welfare Guidelines and Audit Checklist, which have been adopted by chicken farmers and processors nationwide to ensure that chickens are being properly cared for and treated humanely, according to NCC.

The new guidelines also:

  • Increase emphasis on corporate commitment;
  • Require internal and external auditing for animal welfare;
  • Require increased oversight by veterinarians, service technicians and live production managers;
  • Provide more details on acceptable euthanasia practices from the hatchery to the processing plant;
  • Provide new requirements to make sure the chickens are properly monitored for healthy legs;
  • Require stunning procedures to be more effective;
  • Change the audit scoring system to emphasize each step on the process from the hatchery to the processing plant; and
  • Highlight the implications of non-conformances to the guidelines.

Rancho Feeding closed; OIG investigating after massive recall
The California company that recalled nearly 9 million pounds of beef products last week has voluntarily closed and USDA's Office of the Inspector General has opened an investigation into the food safety activities at Rancho Feeding Corp., Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Alfred Almanza told Meatingplace. 

Almanza said he has also directed FSIS to conduct its own thorough investigation of Rancho Feeding practices, procedures and management, as well as directed the company to reassess its HACCP plan. 

Rancho Feeding Corp. of Petaluma, Calif., had declined to comment when contacted by Meatingplace this morning, referring all inquiries to USDA. 

Just three days ago FSIS reported the recall of 8.7 million pounds of processed meat from “diseased and unsound animals” that had not been fully inspected by federal food safety regulators. The products were produced between Jan. 1, 2013 and Jan. 7, 2014, and were shipped to distribution centers and retailers in California, Texas, Illinois and Florida. The agency is updating its list of retailer locations that received the affected products, adding that there have been no reports of illness related to using the products so far.

Country-of-origin labeling critics worry about trade retaliation
Canadian agricultural attaché Mike Hawkins told a small group of young farmers Sunday that the unique integration between Canadian and U.S. livestock supply chains is threatened by U.S. country-of-origin labeling laws, which are currently under World Trade Organization (WTO) review.

In 2012, the U.S. and Canada had $42 billion in two-way trade.  However, he said COOL could cause discrimination and hurt the Canadian livestock sector by $2 billion a year, “because of the segregation that has to occur in U.S. feedlots.”

“While not the preferred option, we put out list of proposed retaliatory actions,” he said during the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Young Farmer and Rancher Conference (YF&R) in Virginia Beach. “COOL is reminder of how we have to be mindful of how our supply chains are integrated.”

Chick-Fil-A pledges to serve antibiotic-free chicken
Chick-fil-A said its nearly 1,800 restaurants will be serving chicken raised without antibiotics within the next five years.

The move is a response to public concerns that overuse of antibiotics by the meat industry on healthy animals is making the medications less effective for treating disease in humans.

“Since our family business began nearly 67 years ago, we have focused on our customers - it's why we insist on using the highest quality ingredients,” Dan Cathy, the company president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “We want to continue the heritage, and offering antibiotic-free chicken is the next step.”

The company said it's working with suppliers to make sure it will have enough product to meet its needs. It is also asking poultry companies to coordinate with USDA to make sure no antibiotics are administered to chickens at any point before processing. And it promised to issue quarterly reports on its website starting in 2015 to keep customers informed on its progress.

February 11, 2014

Changes to Livestock Marketing Insurance Agency billing system
Beginning March 2014, the LMIA will begin generating monthly customer Statements.  The Statement will reflect current outstanding charges and/or credits to your account plus installments due for that month, if applicable.  Payment will be due upon receipt of the Statement and please note that billing may not be received in advance.

LMIA Invoices and Statements will be printed on blue paper and will have the LMIA logo watermark.  You will need to return the top portion with your payment and retain the bottom portion for your records.

Annual and 1st quarter premiums will continue to be billed via Invoice, with subsequent installments shown on the monthly Statement for payment.

Separate Invoices for Policy Endorsements and/or Audits will no longer be generated as any return premium or additional premium due will be reflected on the monthly Statement.

Please note that Livestock Insurance Monthly Reporting (white form) and Membership Monthly Service Charges (green form) will not change.

A letter regarding the changes, with an example of the new Statement format, has been mailed to you. If you have questions regarding the billing changes, please contact your Region Administrator/Region Manager at (800) 821-2048 or your Region Executive Officer.

Doris Smith (Fairview Sale Barn, Oklahoma) passed away
Funeral services for Doris Dean Smith, 84, were Saturday, February 8, 2014 at the Central Christian Church in Fairview, Oklahoma. Arrangements were by Fairview Funeral Home, Inc.

Doris and her husband, Bob, reopened the Fairview Sale Barn in 1954. Doris helped Bob at the sale barn while working alongside her husband at sale barns in Watonga, Cherokee and Elk City. She clerked for all of Bob’s farm sales and in later years, worked for her son Bobby in the sale barn office.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. offering free BQA registration
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training.The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Tyson moving forward with FarmCheck
In 2012, Tyson Foods announced plans for their FarmCheck on-farm audit program for their livestock suppliers. Last week at the Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tyson vice president for animal well-being Dean Danilson, PhD, updated producers on the program.

Danilson says that over the past decade, Tyson’s retail customers initially began asking for assurances regarding animal handling and treatment at the company’s slaughter facilities. The company initiated an audit system that continues today. More recently, retailers began requesting similar assurances about the treatment of animals on farms and ranches. Retailers, he says, want the information because their customers ask for it.

Tyson developed its pork audits in 2012 and began implementing them during 2013. At the same time, they began developing the poultry and beef audits. Poultry audits will begin this month, while the beef audit system remains in development with plans for implementation in mid to late 2014. Danilson says the vertically integrated structure of Tyson’s pork and poultry suppliers allowed easier implementation compared with beef, which will involve auditing independent ranches and feedyards that produce cattle for the company’s supply chain.

Standard elements in the programs include animal welfare training, self checks and “site checks” from a third-party auditor. In the current pork site check, auditors work through a checklist of practices, which are graded as “acceptable,” “needs improvement” or “unacceptable.”

Schwieterman: Cash cattle down for 8th consecutive day
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Lower

Live cattle futures closed mixed on Monday, with February up .30 and the next three months off moderately. There were no deliveries against the February contract on first notice day, suggesting that the board is fairly priced or undervalued. Overnight activity is moderately lower across the board, in spite of a weaker Dollar and firm equity markets. We should see improved kill today, following a very slow start to the week, with only 92,000 killed on Monday. Cutouts were steady to slightly better to begin the week.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures started the week with a modestly higher close across the board. The inability of the corn market to rally on bullish report news provided support in the feeder pit. The cash index was off .32 for the day, dropping for the 8th straight day. Overnight trade is narrowly mixed in the front three months, with corn prices trading a couple of cents lower.

February 10, 2014

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. offering free BQA registration
Until April 15, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will be offering free registration for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training.The BQA training is recommended for market owners and employees, as well as producers. To register, visit www.bqa.org/team or www.BIVI-BQA.com.

Heifer retention will contribute to smaller beef production
U.S. beef producers are beginning to shift toward herd expansion after years of liquidation, and reductions in cow slaughter and retention of more heifers for breeding will further tighten beef supplies for the next couple years. That was one message presented in the Cattle Fax Outlook Seminar during the Cattle Industry National Convention last week in Nashville.

Cattle Fax analyst Kevin Good said commercial cow slaughter during 2013 declined by about 200,000 head compared with the previous year. The group expects another year-to-year decline of 560,000 this year and 500,000 in 2014.

Citing the USDA’s January cattle inventory report, Good said beef replacement heifers on January 1 were up about 90,000 head from a year ago. By the same time next year, Good projects a much larger increase in replacement heifers of about 280,000 head.

Also as of January 1, the nation’s beef cow inventory, at just over 29 million head, was down by about 250,000 head from a year ago. By next January, Cattle Fax projects a year-over-year increase of about 200,000 beef cows.

Dairy cow inventories as of January 1 were about 10,000 head lower than a year ago. Over the next year,Cattle Fax expects dairy producers to add about 50,000 cows.

Good also noted that cattle feeders today are much more current in their marketings than they were a year ago. Strong fed-cattle prices, discounts in the futures market, a strong basis and a positive swap on feeder cattle have encouraged cattle feeders to market finished cattle on a timely basis.

Cattle Fax expects fed-cattle prices this year to range from the mid $120s per hundredweight to around $150, with an average around $135 per hundredweight. Calves are likely to average in the $190s per hundredweight and feeder cattle in the $170s this year.

Washington Week Ahead: Lawmakers look at debt ceiling, Keystone, immigration
Lawmakers are expected to address, or at least discuss, the next looming financial crisis after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling by the end of the month to avoid a government default.

How lawmakers will solve this latest fiscal problem remains unclear. Lew said the deadline for when the Treasury Department will be unable to pay the nation's bills is now Feb. 27 - the date was moved back due to the use of “extraordinary measures.”

“The bottom line is: Time is short,” Lew said. “Congress needs to act to extend the borrowing authority for our nation, and it needs to act now.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has been hesitant to allow the debt limit to be increased without an offset of spending cuts.

Other issues that are likely to continue to crop up include the Keystone Pipeline project and immigration reform.

Cargill Nebraska beef plant open on Monday after fire
A Cargill Inc beef processing plant in Schuyler, Nebraska, was open and running on Monday after a fire and ammonia leak forced it to shut last week, a company spokesman said.

"Our beef plant at Schuyler is operating at normal production capacity today," Cargill's spokesman Michael Martin said in an email on Monday.

The plant, which slaughters 5,000 head of cattle daily, was closed on Thursday and Friday for damage assessment and repairs.

The plant is about 90 miles (145 km) west of Omaha and employs 2,100 people.

Fed cattle basis with odd pricing pattern
Early in the year, a common marketing practice is to take a look at livestock basis levels. You never know when subtle changes can derail price expectations. The focus here is on fed cattle basis, which has a strong seasonal pattern. The most common way to look at fed cattle basis is to compare a monthly cash price for a given market to the nearby futures price. Basis equals the cash price minus the futures price. Using the cash price for fed steers from Sioux Falls Regional Livestock and the futures prices from the CME, basis was calculated for 2013 and for the recent 5-year average (see table). The average covers enough years to smooth out aberrations, but is short enough to adjust to changing seasonal patterns.

Because the fed cattle cash price has a strong seasonal pattern based on both production levels and demand for beef, there is also a seasonal pattern in the basis. The seasonal peak often occurs in April, but it can be anywhere from February through May. The typical seasonal pattern was evident in South Dakota in 2013 (see table). Thus, basis for the early half of the year is worth watching every year.

In most months the basis is negative, implying a cash price below the futures price. This is because of some transactions costs when delivering cattle – regardless of the market. For par delivery locations the transactions costs should be minimized, but may still be $1-2 per cwt. Using a basis estimate can translate directly into a planning price. Adding a basis for a given month to its nearby futures price gives an expected cash price. The same can be done with a forward basis.

Beef Recall: Rancho Feeding Corp. recalls a year’s worth of beef products
A Northern California company is recalling more than 8.7 million pounds of beef products because it processed diseased and unhealthy animals without a full federal inspection, federal officials said Saturday.

That's just over a year's worth of meat products processed by Rancho Feeding Corp., which has been under scrutiny by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. The agency said that without full inspection, the recalled products are unfit for human consumption.

The products were processed from Jan. 1, 2013, through Jan. 7, 2014, and shipped to distribution centers and retail stores in California, Florida, Illinois and Texas. They include beef carcasses, oxtail, liver, cheeks, tripe, tongue and veal bones.

February 7, 2014

Ag markets prove decidedly mixed at Thursday’s close
News of a packing plant fire seemed to weigh on cattle futures. After essentially stalling Wednesday night, cattle futures turned mixed today. News of a fire at a Nebraska packing plant owned by Cargill and falling beef quotes depressed prices around midsession, but the mid-year contracts closed higher. April cattle futures settled down 0.02 cents at 139.07 cents/pound Thursday, while August edged up 0.07 cents to 129.72. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle rebounded 0.07 cents to 167.00 cents/pound, and May added 0.25 to 168.57.

Hog futures set back from Wednesday’s big gains. Talk of Russia’s potential return to the U.S. pork market sent hog futures soaring yesterday, but CME prices set back today. That probably came in response to talk of dropping pork prices, especially after the midday cutout result came in sharply lower. April hogs fell 0.80 cents to 94.20 cents/pound as Thursday’s CME session ended, while June slumped 0.35 to 105.05.

Cargill Nebraska Cargill beef plant temporarily closed due to fire
Cargill Inc said its beef processing plant in Schuyler, Nebraska was closed early on Thursday due to a fire and an ammonia leak.

The causes of the fire and ammonia leak are unknown at this time. Damage to the plant was still being assessed, but no injuries were reported, said Cargill spokesman Michael Martin.

Both production shifts were canceled on Thursday and it is unknown whether the plant will operate on Saturday to make up for lost production, Martin said.

Cargill will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine when the plant can resume production, which could be as early as Friday, Martin said.

The plant processes about 5,000 head of cattle per day, has 2,100 employees, and it located about 90 miles west of Omaha, Nebraska, Martin said.

House approves contentious California drought relief bill
The House today approved legislation (H.R. 3964), on a mostly party-line vote of 229-191, which aims to provide emergency drought relief throughout California.

The bill, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, would repeal some of California's authority over its Central Valley, rolling back the Central Valley Project Improvement Act and the Endangered Species Act in vital water areas.

February 6, 2014

Ag markets proved quite firm Wednesday night
Limited marketings supplies appear to be support cattle prices. CME cattle traders seemingly became more optimistic about short-term price prospects Wednesday, due largely to ideas that wintry weather is exacerbating the current cyclical and seasonal shortage of market-ready fed cattle. Futures edged higher overnight despite another big drop in beef cutout values. The industry is awaiting the results of this week’s cash trading. April cattle futures crept up 0.05 cents to 139.15 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while August skidded 0.02 cents to 129.62. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle lifted 0.02 cents to 166.95 cents/pound, and May edged up 0.12 to 168.45.

Hog futures sustained Wednesday’s hog strength. Russia will reportedly return to the U.S. market as a pork buyer next month, thereby potentially tightening what was already viewed as a likely hog and pork shortage. CME prices surged in response yesterday. And while late afternoon cash and wholesale reports weren’t especially supportive, they didn’t discourage traders from buying again last night. April hogs inched up 0.02 at 95.12 cents/pound as Thursday dawned over Chicago, and June rallied 0.27 to 105.67.

Cow-calf producers in drivers’ seat for 2014, Cattle-Fax says
Improved moisture conditions in much of the U.S. in the coming year will ensure continued supplies of cheap cattle feed, CattleFax analysts told an audience at the industry's biggest convention Wednesday in Nashville.

With more normal precipitation for the 2014 growing season, including in drought-affected areas of the West Coast, CattleFax predicts an adequate corn crop to build the carry-over supply. The improved supplies should assure lower feed costs over the next 12-24 months, according to CattleFax Grain Market Analyst Mike Murphy.

“The lower input cost will have a direct correlation to improved feeder cattle and calf values in 2014 and, with continued  help from Mother Nature, we will be in better shape with regard to hay supply and prices moving forward,” Murphy said yesterday in a presentation at the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen's Beef Association Trade Show.

The conditions should lead to expansion of the beef cow herd sometime this year, CattleFax Senior Analyst Kevin Good said. The herd stood at 29 million head on Jan. 1, down 1 percent from a year earlier, according to USDA, while the total inventory of cattle and calves fell to 87.7 million, the lowest since 1951.

Beef cattle industry just being transition into expansion
Recent record high cattle prices and much lower feed prices have just begun to provide the profit incentives that will be necessary to move the beef cattle industry toward expansion after a continual decline in numbers since 2007.

While those incentives have turned positive, they have not been in place long enough for the industry to begin registering signs of expansion according to USDA inventory numbers. The rebuilding of the beef herd is expected to take multiple years.

SD representatives pressing Vilsack to renew livestock program
The new Farm Bill costing an estimated $956 billion over the next 10 years is expected to be signed by President Obama as early as this Friday, but representatives in South Dakota are already encouraging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to renew programs assisting livestock producers who lost animals in an early October blizzard.

Two South Dakota senators joined other lawmakers asking Vilsack to restart the livestock indemnity program, providing assistance to producers affected by the Atlas Blizzard which killed over 20,000 livestock in October while cattle were still on grazing pastures.

A new farm bill is more than a year overdue and its absence meant producers in South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska affected by the blizzard were unable to receive compensation for the animals they lost. Once the program is renewed it will cover losses dating back to 2012 following the expiration of the previous program.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., who worked on the committee that combined the House and Senate versions of the farm bill, told the Associated Press she had separately already been in touch with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get the program functioning as soon as possible.

February 5, 2014

LMA Kansas City office closed due to winter weather
Due to the winter weather affecting Kansas City, the LMA office will be closed today. Business is expected to resume as usual on Thursday, February 6.

Senate approves five-year farm bill, sending it to Obama
The Senate approved today, on a 68-32 vote, a five-year farm bill (H.R. 2642), sending the sweeping legislation to President Obama for his expected signature.

The nearly $1 trillion Agriculture Act of 2014 will scrap direct payments in favor of enhanced crop insurance, revise commodity supports, create a new dairy program, and make several other changes to agricultural policy, including an approximate $8 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through a reduction of fraud and misuse.

Forty-four Democrats were joined by 22 Republicans and two Independents to support the legislation, while 23 Republicans and, notably, nine Democrats voted against the bill. The roll call vote can be viewed here.

Schwieterman: Cattle futures finish Tuesday lower, corn improves
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed moderately lower in the front two months on Tuesday, with deferred contract once again posting modest losses to small gains. The liquidation of Feb futures ahead of option expiration and first notice day has been a feature over the past several sessions. Cutout values stabilized for a day at least, providing modest support in overnight trade. Equity weakness this morning could develop additional selling in the meat complex. Firm energy prices and additional heating expense due to the extreme cold could take a bit more out of the food budget for consumers. The extreme cold will also limit feed conversion over coming weeks.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures closed sharply lower on Tuesday, with March posting a second consecutive triple digit loss. Board weakness has turned our short term indicators lower and is causing some additional liquidation of spec long positions. Corn put in new highs for the move on Tuesday but is giving back a couple of cents overnight. Cash index levels fell .05 for the day, losing ground for the 4th straight session.

Farm bill clears Senate, what’s next in DC?
With the bipartisan passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 in the U.S. Senate today and signing of the bill expected by President Obama soon, it may leave many in agriculture wondering “what’s next?” Roger Bernard, policy analyst for Informa Economics, Inc., was on hand at Cattlemen’s College to talk with cattle producers about what they can expect from Congress and the Obama Administration in 2014.

While implementing the Farm Bill will be the top focus of USDA, elsewhere in Washington, lawmakers will have topics ranging from the federal budget to trade and immigration top of mind before focus turns to the congressional elections in November. With regard to trade, Bernard said Trade Promotion Authority legislation, also known as “fast-track,” could influence trade opportunities in the coming year if it is passed by Congress. TPA, which was last authorized in 2002 and expired in 2007, gives the President the authority to negotiate free trade agreements, Congress the opportunity to consider and vote on the agreements. Importantly, TPA creates mandatory deadline requirements, with limited debate and no amendments, for congressional consideration to prevent delaying of agreements or amendments that would change the negotiated agreements.

NCBA and other agricultural organizations support TPA, and with the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in the works, many are hopeful to see quick passage of TPA. Bernard said opposition to TPA from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could cause a challenge to its quick passage.

Bernard also discussed potential immigration reform during the Cattlemen’s College session. He said immigration reform comes down to four major issues:  addressing border security; including E-verify in a reform package; addressing challenges with seasonal workers, especially in agriculture; and reaching consensus on a path to earned citizenship. The final issue, regarding a pathway to legal citizenship, Bernard said will be a contentious one in Congress. Additionally, another challenge will be the final approach to any type of reform. The Senate has already passed a comprehensive immigration reform package but the House leaders have begun to take a more piecemeal approach.

February 4, 2014

LMA Kansas City office closed due to winter weather
Due to the winter weather affecting Kansas City, the LMA office will be closed today. Business is expected to resume as usual on Wednesday, February 5.

Farm bill clears hurdle in Senate, final vote seen Tuesday
Long-delayed farm legislation easily cleared a procedural hurdle on Monday in the U.S. Senate, with final passage of the nearly $1 trillion bill expected as early as Tuesday.

The House of Representatives last week overwhelmingly passed the sweeping measure that trims food stamps for the poor, expands federal crop insurance, consolidates agricultural conservation programs and ends direct payments to farmers.

The 72-22 Senate vote in favor of advancing the bill suggests it should have no trouble passing the Democratic-led chamber when it comes up for a final vote, which could come on Tuesday.
The White House has said President Barack Obama would sign it into law.

Ag markets were again quite mixed Monday night
Hopes for a cash bounce may have supported cattle futures last night. Beef values tumbled again Monday, which seemingly bodes ill for the short-term cattle outlook. However, grocers traditionally buy product most aggressively during the first half of most months, so bulls apparently hope that demand will boost the cattle/beef complex during the days ahead. April cattle futures rose 0.07 cents to 139.47 cents/pound in overnight activity while August was flat at 129.60. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle added 0.20 cents to 168.20 cents/pound, but May sank 0.05 to 169.00.

Rebounding cash and wholesale markets boosted hog futures. A big Friday drop in pork values apparently sparked Monday’s sell-off in hog futures. However, both the cash and wholesale markets posted modest comebacks yesterday, which probably explains the overnight bounce. April hogs rallied 0.37 cents to 93.22/pound as Tuesday dawned over Chicago, while June ran up 0.25 to 103.80.

Beef cattle industry just beginning transition to expansion
Recent record high cattle prices and much lower feed prices have just begun to provide the profit incentives that will be necessary to move the beef cattle industry toward expansion after a continual decline in numbers since 2007. While those incentives have turned positive, they have not been in place long enough for the industry to begin registering signs of expansion according to USDA inventory numbers. The rebuilding of the beef herd is expected to take multiple years.

The cattle herd in the U.S. has been in a long-term decline with total numbers at the start of this year reaching their lowest level since 1951. The number of beef cows stood at the lowest level since 1962, according to USDA.  The most recent phase of the decline began in 2007 as a result of two basic drivers. First, sharply higher feed costs forced cattle feeding into large losses which depressed calf prices and secondly, drought conditions in major beef cow production areas also caused herd reductions.

Beef cow numbers fell by 253,000, or one percent, in 2013 with most regions of the country reporting fewer cows. The biggest decline in numbers was in the Southeastern U.S. with a reduction of 118,000 cows followed by the Pacific Northwest 88,000; the Northern Plains 62,000; and the Southern Plains 57,000 head. The continual decline in beef cow numbers since 2007 now means the 2014 calf crop will be very small, about 33.7 million head, a ten percent reduction since 2007.

Sandy Creek Farms plant destroyed by fire
Ravenswood, W. Va.-based Sandy Creek Farms Country Store and Meat Processing Plant was destroyed by a fire on Monday, according to local WOWK TV.

The owner said the fire was discovered in the company’s smoke house, then spread quickly, eventually collapsing the roof of the building.
No injuries were reported. The owner told WOWK he hopes to rebuild.

According to the company website, Sandy Creek Farms sold fresh and further processed beef, pork, poultry and seafood products from its retail store and for home delivery.

February 3, 2014

Cattle industry report shows contraction in 2013
As expected, U.S. cattle inventories shrank again during 2013, although heifer numbers suggest a shift toward expansion. All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2014 totaled 87.7 million head, 2 percent below the 89.3 million on January 1, 2013, according to USDA’s Cattle report released on January 31. This is the lowest January 1 inventory of all cattle and calves since the 82.1 million on hand in 1951.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 38.3 million, were down 1 percent from the 38.5 million on January 1, 2013. This is the lowest January 1 inventory of all cows and heifers that have calved since the 36.8 million head in 1941.

Beef cows, at 29.0 million, were down 1 percent from January 1, 2013, but beef replacement heifers, at 5.5 million, were up 2 percent, suggesting that on a national level, producers began moving toward herd expansion during 2013.

Looking at numbers of beef cows that calved during 2013, among the largest beef-producing states, numbers in Arkansas were up 4 percent, Kansas up 6 percent and Missouri up 4 percent. Among states with reductions in cows that calved, Florida declined by 3 percent, Idaho by 13 percent, Iowa by 4 percent, South Dakota by 3 percent, Tennessee by 5 percent and Texas down 3 percent.

As for beef replacement heifers, several key states showed increases above the national average. Colorado and Kansas replacement heifers increased by 4 percent, while Missouri is up 5 percent, Nebraska up 10 percent, Oklahoma up 16 percent and Texas up 7 percent.

Schwieterman: Higher corn values limit feeder gains
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures settle mostly lower on Friday, ahead of the cattle inventory release. For the week April live closed up .47 and narrowed the gap with the lead February contract. Cash trade finally developed well after the release of the inventory numbers. Southern cattle traded no better than $145, with northern beef prices slipping to $232. Cutout values fell significantly for the week, with Friday’s choice cuts off 7.26. The report suggests that numbers will continue to decline into the 3rd quarter of this year. After pulling a majority of the February contracts this week, packers may have to return to a more aggressive buying program.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures settled moderately higher on Friday, leaving March .55 higher for the week. The cash index backed off .43 on Friday but finished the week up .78 from the Friday before. Overnight corn values put in new highs for the recent move, which may limit some of the bullish enthusiasm that may have been derived from the inventory report. The report appears to be friendly for the feeders and deferred live cattle contracts. We will be monitoring sales this week for signs of a slowdown in numbers from the recent aggressive pace.

Washington Week Ahead: Senate on verge of farm bill passage
This should finally be the week Congress sends a five-year farm bill (H.R. 2642) to the White House.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday night on a procedural motion to move the legislation to a final vote on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed a cloture motion Thursday that requires 60 votes for passage, and the votes are widely expected to be there.

The nearly $1 trillion Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act would eliminate direct payments in favor of enhanced crop insurance, revise commodity supports, create a new dairy program, and make several other changes to agricultural policy, including an approximate $8 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Some opposition exists in the Senate, specifically from Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Roberts has said the bill falls short of making needed reforms to farm programs and of getting rid of burdensome regulations.

Still, the bill is expected to clear the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., recently said, “This really is a farm bill for the future, not the past…You shouldn't get a check just because you plant something.”

National Beef to close Calif. plant, affecting 1,300 workers
National Beef Packing Co. announced today plans to shutter its Brawley, Calif., beef packing plant due to a declining supply of fed cattle in the region.

Some 1,300 employees will be out of work come April 4, the last day of production at the Brawley plant. The workers will be offered assistance in finding work at other National Beef facilities, the company said in a news release.

Historically low U.S. cattle numbers, helped by severe drought in recent years, is forcing a rationalization of the beef packing industry’s slaughter capacity. The Brawley closure follows on last year’s closure of Cargill’s Plainview, Texas, plant, which employed 2,000 people; San Angelo Packing’s San Angelo, Texas, beef plant; and Martin’s Abattoir and Wholesale Meats’ Godwin, N.C., beef plant.

National Beef officials said they haven’t determined the future status of the Brawley plant, which it acquired in 2006.

TAHC proposes new trace, trich and tick rules
The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) recently held a regularly scheduled Commission meeting on January 14, 2014, at its Austin office.

The following cattle rules were adopted during the Commission meeting and will go into effect on Tuesday, February 4, 2014:

Chapter 50, Animal Disease Traceability, Cattle Identification: This amendment establishes identification requirements for adult cattle being sold within the state of Texas. The rule states that all adult breeding cattle, except cattle going directly to slaughter, shall be permanently identified within seven days of change of ownership. Untagged adult cattle have seven days after purchase to be delivered to a slaughter facility, resold through a livestock market, or have acceptable permanent official identification applied at an "Approved" tagging facility. Slaughter type cattle that will be put on feed prior to slaughter shall also be permanently identified within seven days of purchase.

Chapter 38, Trichomoniasis, Test Exceptions: This rule allows untested adult bulls to be purchased without a current Trich test, if moved under TAHC permit with official permanent identification. TAHC inspectors will permit untested bulls from a market to either a feeding facility, another sale barn (if the intent is to resell it), or to another physical location given by the buyer. The permit will expire seven days from the date of issuance. The bull cannot be commingled with female cattle during the seven days. At the end of the seven days the buyer must agree to have the bull tested, resold through a livestock market, or deliver it to a slaughter facility.

Chapter 41, Fever Ticks, New Authorized Treatments: These amendments add new treatment options for the cattle fever tick and expands the TAHC's authority to inspect and treat deer on premises adjacent to infected pastures.

Chapter 51, Entry Requirements, Trichomoniasis: The rule changes the Trich entry requirements to allow Texas bulls participating in out of state "bull station feeding trials" to return to their Texas farm of origin without a Trich test, if they were maintained in a controlled environment without any contact with female cattle while out of state.        

Other rules that were adopted were:

Chapter 47, Authorized Personnel: This new chapter sets the standards for personnel who perform work in any TAHC regulatory program. It will require a person (both veterinarians and non-veterinarians) to be authorized by the commission in order to engage in an activity that is part of a state or federal disease control or eradication program for animals.    

Chapter 57, Poultry, Indemnity: This rule authorizes the TAHC to depopulate diseased poultry if necessary, and to compensate the poultry owners when applicable.

To view details of all the rules that were adopted, visit the TAHC website.

January 31, 2014

Schwieterman: Uncertainty in the cash market, corn market up
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Lower

Live cattle futures settled steady to higher on Thursday, as traders continue to support the discounted market and cash trade remained relatively untested. The uncertainty in the cash trade ahead of a long awaited inventory report could keep the market skittish throughout early morning trade. The market should be able to survive moderately lower cash trade if necessary, due to the $5-$7 discount to last weeks’ cash. The report is expected to show a smaller herd with some heifer retention under way. The fruit of building a herd is probably a year and a half or two away.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately lower on Thursday, as corn prices made new highs for their current move, gaining 6 cents on the day. Overnight trade, ahead of the inventory report is narrowly mixed, with corn backing off modestly from Thursday’s gains. Producers around our area suggest that numbers of yearlings for sale is going to diminish significantly over the coming weeks. The lean hog market is putting in new highs for the summer months as we write.

Senators gearing up for farm bill debate, votes
While President Obama is widely expected to receive a five-year farm bill (H.R. 2642) next week from Congress, some senators took time today to discuss the bill on the floor ahead of Monday's procedural vote.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed a cloture motion today that will require 60 votes for passage, and would clear the way for a vote on final passage on Tuesday. The House approved the bill Wednesday with a 251-166 vote.

The nearly $1 trillion Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act would eliminate direct payments in favor of enhanced crop insurance, revise commodity supports, create a new dairy program, and make several other changes to agricultural policy, including an approximate $8 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Electronic brand inspections in near future
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) has contracted with two companies to develop software that will allow inspectors to conduct brand inspections and animal health inspections in the field and electronically upload the data to the UDAF offices in real time.

When completed, Utah will be one of the first states using an electronic animal health and brand inspection system.

"It will improve efficiency, reduce errors when calculating fees, and help us better track livestock that are sold, shipped out of state, or sent to slaughter" said Cody James, Livestock Inspection Bureau Chief, UDAF.

Currently inspectors compile bi-weekly reports of all their inspections and send them to the main office in Salt Lake City, where the information is filed. It can take 2-4 weeks for that information to be available for tracking livestock.

Inspections often take place just before animals are transported out of state, or when they are sold. If the paper inspection certificate is lost it can be difficult for the port of entry or livestock auctions to verify whether inspections have been completed.

James said the new system will speed up that process and improve efficiency in tracking the movement of animals. Current photographs of the animals can also be uploaded electronically and placed on file with the inspection certificate.

January 30, 2014

House approves five-year farm bill, sends it to Senate
The House approved the five-year farm bill (H.R. 2642) today, with a 251-166 vote, sending the nearly $1 trillion agricultural policy package to the Senate.

The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act would eliminate direct payments in favor of enhanced crop insurance, revise commodity supports, create a new dairy program, and make several other changes to agricultural policy, including an approximate $8 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

In support of the bill, 162 Republican lawmakers joined 89 Democrats, while in opposition, 103 Democrats joined 63 Republicans. The roll call vote tally can be viewed here.

House Agriculture Committee Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said getting the legislation through was “amazingly close” to a miracle, but acknowledged that many policy differences remain among lawmakers. “It may not have everything my friends on the right may and it may not have everything my friends on the left may want,” Lucas said. “But, it's a compromise.” 

Schwieterman: Cash index levels remain on the rise
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 20-30 Lower

Live cattle futures reversed early weakness to close mostly higher on Wednesday. The lead February contract was the only lower close in the live pit. Open interest was up a whopping 5,124 contracts on the day, suggesting new buyers entering the game on the morning break. Cash bids are sparse, with any interest buy packers many dollars below week ago levels. Asking prices remain firm, with most lots looking for steady to better money again. Overnight trade is moderately lower across the board. Cutout values were sharply lower on Wednesday and are expected to see more near term weakness.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 30-50 Lower

Feeder cattle futures finished at the top end of a nearly 3.00 trading range on Wednesday, with March trading from 2.00 lower to .85 higher into the close. Cash index levels remain on the rise, with daily number for Tuesday reaching above 175.00 and the index itself rising to 171.61. Corn was weaker on Wednesday but is recovering most of those losses after strong export sales released this morning.

Upcoming Sales: Friday, Jan. 31:

  • Anderson County Sale Company, LLC. – Garnett, Kan. Special Stock Cow Sale. Begins at 6:30 p.m.

January 29, 2014

Feeder, packer margins continue gaining
The cattle and beef market rallies continued the week ending January 25, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feeder margins climbed nearly $47 last week to $182.52. Last year at this time, feeders were experiencing negative $141.99 per head margins. Feed costs increased $3.29 over the week while total costs were down more than $16. Fed steers climbed more than $5 last week to $148.42. Fed steer prices are up more than $15 compared to last month. After reaching $166.80 per hundredweight the previous week, feeder steers dropped to $164.40.

Packer margins increased nearly $70 last week to $121.53, compared to $51.97 the previous week, negative $59.33 one month ago and negative $44.22 one year ago at this time. The beef cutout value increased by $13.90 last week to $237.97.

Farrow-to-finish margins turned positive last week, finishing the week ending January 24 at $3.54, compared to negative $4.74 the previous week, negative $16.18 one month ago and negative $13.01 at this time last year, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs improved $1.29 last week and finished the week at $81.19. Feed costs were more than $2 to $89.35.

Pork packer margins declined last week to $2.27 compared to $4.90 the previous week and $4.06 one month ago. The pork cutout value stayed steady at $85.54 last week, compared to $82.85 one month ago and $84.63 at this time last year.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending January 25:

  • Average feeder margins: $182.52 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: $121.53 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending January 24:                                          

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: 3.54 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $2.27 per head.

House poised for vote on farm deal
The House cleared the way for a Wednesday showdown vote on the new farm bill agreement, even as Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to dedicate a portion of the savings to help pay for extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

The 222-194 vote Tuesday made for a sharp contrast with the broad support now enjoyed by the farm bill itself. And after two years of struggle, the Agriculture Committee leadership is increasingly confident that the giant measure will now prevail—almost exactly six months after it was upended by the same chamber last June.

“I think we’re going to get there but if it was easy, it wouldn’t be the farm bill would it?” House Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) joked with reporters. And at a morning Democratic Caucus, proponents were cheered by the fact that Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, rose to defend the deal despite liberal complaints about continued cuts from food stamps.

Schwieterman: Cattle futures finish Tuesday lower
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 20-40 Lower

Live cattle futures closed moderately lower on Tuesday, with the spot February contract leading the declines. Unpriced February contracts will have to be priced by Friday and we expect most of the Feb contracted cattle to be pulled next week. These two factors alone could limit this weeks’ cash trade and buyers in the futures market. Open interest gaining 1,591 contracts on Tuesday indicate new sellers rather than covering of long positions. We don’t think the bull market is over, but it could be delayed until after first notice day in the February contract.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 30-50 Lower

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately lower in all but the expiring January contract on Tuesday. Steady corn prices and falling fat cattle futures weighed on feeders. Cash index levels were up .13 to 171.35 on Tuesday but seem to be peaking in the same general area as we did the last time. Overnight corn prices are off a couple cents but the weakness in the fat futures has been enough to keep pressure on the feeders ahead of the pit opening.

Drought concerns persist for agriculture this year
Drought conditions in the western and southern plains regions of the country could merge together later this year, persisting harsh conditions for agriculture, said Drew Lerner, president and senior agricultural meteorologist of World Weather, Inc.

Lerner summarized weather conditions and predictions important to the industry during the Ag Leaders Conference hosted by Allendale Inc. brokerage services.

“Water supply in western U.S. and in particular California will be dangerously low this year if better precipitation does not occur in the second half of winter,” he said today.

Currently, the California mountain ranges have only 7 percent their regular snowpack. He noted that winter precipitation should improve in the second half of the season, but not enough to bring conditions back to normal this year

Meanwhile, river and stream flow in the eastern United States is near normal, although ice has reduced some of the river levels, he noted.

January 28, 2014

Farm bill agreement has finally arrived in Congress
Top House and Senate agriculture committee leaders announced today a bipartisan agreement on a five-year farm bill that among other things would eliminate direct payments, revise commodity supports, enhance crop insurance, and streamline conservation programs.

The legislation was reported out of the House Rules Committee tonight, setting up potential action on the House floor Tuesday or Wednesday. The language could see a Senate vote as early as Tuesday.

“We are putting in place sound policy that is good for farmers, ranchers, consumers, and those who have hit difficult times,” said Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. “I am proud of our efforts to finish a farm bill conference report with significant savings and reforms.”

Ag markets were narrowly mixed Monday night

Cattle futures also traded firmly Monday night. The cattle market is stabilizing in the wake of its huge mid-January rally and subsequent setback. Bulls probably hope Monday’s wholesale surge will be sustained, whereas bears likely suspect it will end rather quickly. The fact that futures are priced well below recent cash also favors bullish arguments. February cattle futures gained 0.10 cents to 143.25 cents/pound Monday afternoon, while the April contract rose 0.07 cents to 140.62. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle slipped 0.02 cents to 168.77 cents/pound, and May slid 0.15 to 169.67.

Divergent cash and wholesale markets robbed hog futures of direction. Swine traders are expecting a significant seasonal rally across the hog and pork complex during the days and weeks just ahead. However, those markets have been quite mixed lately, as was the case again last night. Thus, the minimal gains posted early Tuesday morning were hardly surprising. February hogs edged 0.05 cents higher to 85.62 cents/pound as Tuesday dawned over Chicago, while June added 0.20 to 102.52.

Farm bill drops plan to block states from imposing tougher animal confinement rules

California can keep its strict animal welfare standards after all under a long-awaited farm bill, all but finished by congressional negotiators.

As they wrapped up work on the overdue legislation, lawmakers dropped a controversial House provision that would have blocked California and other states from imposing stricter animal confinement rules. The decision clears the way for more California lawmakers to support the multi-billion dollar bill that funds both crop subsidies and food stamps.

“This is a victory for state’s rights,” Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., declared Monday, adding that that the omitted animal welfare provision “would have led to a race to the bottom for agriculture production laws nationwide…and imperiled the fate of California egg producers.”

Livestock groups vow to oppose final farm bill on COOL, GIPSA issues

Some of the nation's biggest livestock groups are vowing to oppose final passage of the farm bill if it reflects certain reported decisions regarding the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) and Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL).

In a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees, the groups said they were disappointed that the latest reported version of the bill excludes language included in House-passed legislation regarding (GIPSA). The organizations include the American Meat Institute, the National Cattleman's Beef Association, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Turkey Federation and the North American Meat Association.

That language was in an amendment sponsored by Reps. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Jim Costa, D-Calif., and was aimed at restricting the reach of GIPSA, as directed by Congress in the 2008 farm bill. GIPSA is a USDA agency that, among other things, regulates the dealings between meatpackers and producers.

Also, the groups say the latest version of the farm bill fails to include language that would make COOL laws compliant with the World Trade Organization (WTO). And they pointed to threats of retaliatory actions by Mexico and Canada if the current labeling regulations aren't changed. The rules require meat labels to state where the animal that provided the meat was born, raised and slaughtered.

January 27, 2014

Washington Week Ahead: Farm bill conferees press hard to wrap up
Speedy negotiations on the farm bill are expected to continue this week as conferees and staff try to get a conference report approved by lawmakers - possibly as early as today.

House and Senate GOP conferee staff were briefed by their leadership Sunday, and talks were described as “positive.” Still, several issues seemingly remain unresolved, such as country-of-origin labeling, and various regulatory riders.

Meanwhile, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, which may touch upon immigration reform and farm workers.
With the farm bill, Chuck Conner, president and chief executive officer of the National Council of Farmers Cooperatives, said details on dairy policy still need to be worked out, and conferees are waiting for more scores from the Congressional Budget Office.

While some feeder prices level, fed prices continue gaining
Though still in high territory, USDA Market News reports that prices for feeding-type cattle may have started to level off after the recent run in the market, with feeder cattle and calves weighing more than 600 pounds selling steady to $2 lower. However, lightweight calves sold firm to $4 higher. Despite that leveling, fed cattle markets continued gaining last week, with feedlots selling short showlists $5 to $7 higher from $147 to $150.
While feedyard placements picked up during December, inventories remain below levels of a year ago, according to USDA’s latest Cattle on Feed report, published on Friday, January 24. U.S. feedlot inventories in feedlots with 1,000 head or more capacity on January 1 stood at 10.6 million head, down five percent compared to one year ago and down from the 10.7 million head inventory in December 2013. Feedlot placements were up 1 percent from the same time one year ago. Among the cattle on feed, steers accounted for 65 percent, and total steer numbers were down 4 percent from a year ago. Heifers accounted for 35 percent, and total numbers were down 8 percent.

The reported auction volume last week included 52 percent over 600 pounds and 39 percent heifers.

While not as heavy as the previous week, auctions continued the previous week’s heavy trends. Auctions reported headcounts that were 35,600 lower than last week but were 124,600 larger than the same week last year. Auctions receipts totaled 363,700 with an additional 57,300 from direct sales and 7,600 in video/Internet sales for a total of 393,000. Compared to last week, total receipts were 204,900 lower but 137,900 higher than the total at this time a year ago. 

Fed cattle prices continued climbing last week, finishing the weekend ending Friday, Jan. 24, at $148.25 per hundredweight compared to $142.45 per hundredweight the previous week. On a dressed basis, steers sold for $238.86 per hundredweight.

House aims to finalize farm conference

House farm bill conferees are being alerted to a likely meeting Monday morning at which the Agriculture Committee leadership is hoping to finalize agreement on a conference report that can come to the floor next week.

“Conversations are ongoing and we remain optimistic that we can reach agreement in time to be on the floor next week,” reads a Republican staff memo sent out Friday and picked up by committee Democrats to alert their own staff and member offices.

“If we are to be on the floor next week then we will need to file the conference report on Monday,” the memo says. “As we see it, your bosses would need to be in town on Monday morning for one of two things: 1) a conference meeting to decide final issues or 2) a GOP conferee meeting to discuss the agreement and collect signatures.”

“We would ask your boss to be prepared to be in town to attend a Monday morning meeting either way.”

Feedlot inventories remain low, heifer placements lag

As expected, feedyard inventories remain below those of a year ago, as they have for the past year. Placements did pick up during December relative to a year ago, and likely continued to gain steam during January as fed-cattle and beef prices increased dramatically.

According to the January Cattle on Feed report from USDA, U.S. inventories in feedlots with 1.000 head or more capacity on January 1 stood at 10.6 million head, which is 5 percent below the total from a year ago. The January 1 figure also is down from 10.7 million head a month earlier on December 1.

During December, feedlots placed 1.68 million head, up 1 percent from the same month in 2012. Feedlots marketed more cattle than they placed, with a total of 1.74 million marketed cattle falling 1 percent short of the total during December 2012. The next report in February likely will show aggressive marketings during January, with managers pulling cattle forward to capitalize on record-high prices in the range of $140 per hundredweight.

Among the cattle on feed on January 1, steers accounted for 65 percent and heifers 35 percent. Steer numbers were down 4 percent from a year ago while heifer numbers were down 8 percent, suggesting ranchers have begun retaining more heifers for breeding.

Of the cattle placed during December, 54 percent arrived weighing less than 700 pounds, while 46 percent weighed 700 pounds or more.

January 24, 2014

Farm negotiators haggle over final points
Yards from the finish line, farm bill negotiators are struggling with two final issues — dairy and payment limits — each of which takes Congress back full circle to the question asked when the whole debate began two years ago.

How far should government go to protect farmers from bad times — and, sometimes, themselves?

In dairy’s case, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is adamant that he won’t accept the hands-on approach espoused in the Senate bill to manage future milk supplies to protect farmers’ margins. Corporate giants like Kraft Foods and Nestle back the speaker. And this puts House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) in the hellish position of having to go against the man who’s been his best friend and ally in the whole tortured farm bill debate: Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).

In the case of payment limits, it’s a very different set of players. But the question is again one of balancing government’s role and the risks of modern agriculture.

Hogs were the exception to general ag weakness last night
Cattle futures were narrowly mixed Thursday night. After spiking upward during mid-January, cattle futures stalled Thursday. A big reason for the lost momentums came from the wholesale market, where beef cutout values turned downward. Bulls probably aren’t ready to throw in the towel yet, especially given the time of year, but a short-term wouldn’t be terribly surprising. February cattle futures skidded 0.05 cents to 143.87 cents/pound in early Friday trading, while the April contract added 0.02 cents to 140.62. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures sank 0.37 cents to 169.50 cents/pound, and May slipped 0.37 to 170.45.

Cash and wholesale strength boosted hogs. The hog and pork markets have slumped lately as the cash and wholesale markets failed to live up to bullish expectations. However, Thursday afternoon USDA reports finally indicated significant improvement at both levels, which likely powered the overnight surge. February hogs rallied 0.50 cents to 86.07 cents/pound as Friday dawned over Chicago, while June advanced 0.32 to 102.42.

Missouri denies horse slaughter application
Citing federal budget restrictions, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has turned down a permit request from a northwest Missouri business that sought to process horses for meat.

The DNR said in a letter Thursday to David Rains, owner of Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, that the agency has denied Rains' permit request for his proposed horse slaughter operation because the new federal budget withheld funding for required federal inspections of the slaughtering process.

The resumption of commercial horse slaughter in the U.S. was effectively blocked last week when President Barack Obama signed a budget measure that stops the U.S. Department of Agriculture from spending money for inspections necessary for slaughterhouses to ship horse meat interstate and export it.

Cattle slaughter, beef production down 1 percent in January
Cattle slaughter totaled 2.56 million head in December 2013, a 1 percent increase from December 2012, according to USDA’s Livestock Slaughter Report on Thursday, Jan. 23. While December totals were higher compared to a year earlier, they were 1 percent lower than the November 2013 cattle slaughter total of 2.57 million head. From January through December 2013, total cattle slaughter was down 1 percent compared to 2012.

Average live weight followed a similar trend. December 2013 average live weights improved 9 pounds compared to December 2012, bringing the average to 1,333 pounds. While average live weights were higher in December 2013 compared to December 2012, they were 5 pounds lighter than November 2013 average live weight figures.

Higher slaughter totals and heavier cattle led to a 1 percent increase in beef production in December 2013 compared to December 2012. However, the monthly total, 2.05 billion pounds, was down 10.8 million pounds compared to November 2013.

Analysts predicting Cattle on Feed report to remain below 2013
Predictions by analysts ahead of Friday afternoon’s Cattle on Feed report forecast higher placements and marketings than the previous year, but lower inventories.

Early predictions by Allendale, Inc. expect the total Cattle on Feed inventory as of January 1, 2014 to be 5.3% lower than the previous year. The January 1, 2013 total was 11.2 million, a six percent decline from the previous year. Last month’s total was 10.7 million head.

Although the year-to-year total inventory is expected to decline, Allendale, Inc. forecasts an increase in placements and marketings. The company expects placements to increase by 2.1% compared to a year earlier. The low price of corn has encouraged feedlot operators to buy cattle and feed at a low cost compared to previous drought-stricken years.

The recent surge in cash cattle prices further encourages feedlots to add livestock. Reported cash prices in Texas and Kansas reached $147 per hundredweight earlier this week.

January 23, 2014

Letter of thanks from the Frey family (Creston Livestock Auction, Iowa)
This letter is to everyone who in anyway showed their sympathy and gave us help in our time of need after the tragic loss of our two young sons on Saturday evening, November 30th.

When this happened so many people stepped up and offered their help to us, and we are so grateful for all the phone calls, the text messages, the hugs and the huge out pouring of love. You will never know how much we appreciate everything.

Curt & Heather Sporleder (Unionville Livestock arket) Unionville, Missouri and Justin & Becky Abell (Keoco Auction Co.) Sigourney, Iowa, put their own lives and businesses on hold to come help us, run our sales, put crews together to come help sort and a tremendous group of auctioneers to sell the cattle. One of our biggest concerns was not to let our customers down, and they all stepped up and did a WONDERFUL job! Curt & Heather also donated a steer that was auctioned off on Wednesday, with the proceeds going to St. Malachy School, that our boys attended. As to date, the selling of that steer has raised over $60,000.00 with donations still coming in.

You can never know how much all of this means to Leisa, I and all of our family. This tribute to St. Malachy will help us give back to such a great school, that gave our little boys the love of Jesus, the knowledge of Heaven and the grace and love they needed. It's because of their time at St. Malachy and Sunday School at Crest Baptist Church, that we know now without a doubt, T.J. and Nate are in the loving arms of Jesus, looking down upon us and we will see them again!

Thank you to everyone in the Creston community and surrounding area, customers and friends, who have been so gracious to our family. Your wonderful acts of kindness, love and support will never be forgotten! 

Corey Schultz (Regional Executive Officer, Livestock Marketing Association of Kansas City) -  what a friend! He was one of the first here and stayed all week, helping with the auctions, the media, along with several other jobs he stepped up to help with. Corey also served as a Pall Bearer at the funeral. But his biggest job and most important was the love and support he provided, especially to Little Corey!

Randy Gibson (Lamoni Livestock Auction,) Joe and Bryce Wright (Knoxville Regional Livestock,) Bill Goering (Keosaqua Sales Co.,) Bub Hoskins (Knoxville Regional Livestock,) Lanny Ireland (St. Joe, Missouri,) Charlie Cummings (Yates Center, Kansas,) Jay Romine (Blue Grass Stockyards, Lexington, Kentucky,) Brian Little (Wann, Oklahoma,) Russ and Trevor Moravec (David City, Nebraska,) – To all of you guys, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS! You all did an amazing job and didn't let our customers down. 

To all of our employees, thank you for all your extra hard work! It hasn't gone unnoticed! Jeri Smith, thank you for coming back and helping Leisa run the office. We really appreciate it! To Darwin West and Steve Bergren for stepping up and doing the radio ads and many other things, thank you! 

Our customers, buyers and all of our friends, words can't start to say it! We never dreamt we had so many wonderful friends in our lives, we want you to know this will never be forgotten! It is in times like these that we are reminded that this is the very best place in the world to live and raise a family. God bless you all! THANK YOU ALL!

From the Freys,
Tom, Leisa, Cody, Casey, Anna, Brandon, Brianna, Little Corey
Coltyr and Reegan
Creston Livestock Auction Inc.
Creston, Iowa

Highway changes could benefit cattle producers, environment
Increasing load weights for trucks shipping cattle across America’s highways would not only save producers money, but also reduce their carbon footprint.

Jim Handley, Executive Vice President of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, talked about the potential impact of increasing truck weights on the beef industry in a weekly Beltway Beef interview with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

The NCBA and state affiliates submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s comprehensive truck size and weight limit study. Handley says most cattle are transported on highways and increasing the weight limits would be vital to Florida cattle producers who ship most of their animals north or west.

The increased load limit would mean fewer shipments, saving producers fuel costs and other shipping expenses and reducing the use of resources impacting the environment.

The study considers the effect of added weights on highway safety. Handley says the change would not impact safety.

Past occurrences where heavier shipments were allowed show the additional load weight didn’t translate to a heightened risk. Handley says emergency executive orders in Florida during a period of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 allowed trucks to carry up to 95,000 pounds. He notes there wasn’t an increase in safety issues during that 24-month timeframe.

According to Handley, the cattle industry is willing to make long-term changes to shipping procedures, should load limits increase. He mentions adding a sixth axel to trailers to maintain the current weight-to-axle ratio and keep the same braking power trailers currently have.

Handley pointed to the savings the heavier trucks would have for cattle producers. Calculating a shipment of cattle, he says a 1,750-mile trip could save $11 per head on a 500-pound calf.

Groups encourage Congress to preserve COOL rules
As the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives work toward finalizing a new farm bill, several groups in favor of the current mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) rules for meat are working to prevent legislative changes to the contentious requirements.

On Wednesday, National Faramers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson sent a letter to the members of the farm bill conference committee emphasizing the importance of finishing a five-year, comprehensive farm bill, while preserving the current COOL rule.

“If any harmful changes to COOL are included in the farm bill, it could very likely affect NFU’s ability to support the entire farm bill,” Johnson says. “Farmers, ranchers, producers and consumers strongly support COOL and I urge Congress to defend the current law.”  

Several groups including NCBA and the American Meat Institute oppose the COOL rule, believing it creates unnecessary costs across the supply chain and potentially violates trade agreements.

Schwieterman: Cash cattle on fire, live cattle futures follow
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 20-50 Higher

Live cattle futures got another big boost from the cash market on Wednesday, pushing the lead February contract to limit gains at one point. Cash trade was up 5.00 from last weeks’ southern trade, with $147 actively paid by midday. Northern beef trade saw activity as high as $240. The historic rise could be approaching a slowdown, with cutout values only modestly higher on Wednesday. The Feb live did take out Wednesday’s high by one tic overnight. We really like put strategies from current historic levels.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

It took another historic day in the cash cattle trade and a limit move higher in the Feb live, but we finally put new highs in the March feeders. Wednesday’s highs held in overnight trade, with mixed trade seen in the feeders. Corn prices are showing some modest strength, after a positive close on Wednesday. Cash feeder activity in Pratt and other sales should be monitored closely for near term futures direction.

January 22, 2014

Letter of thanks from the Frey family (Creston Livestock Auction, Iowa)
This letter is to everyone who in anyway showed their sympathy and gave us help in our time of need after the tragic loss of our two young sons on Saturday evening, November 30th.

When this happened so many people stepped up and offered their help to us, and we are so grateful for all the phone calls, the text messages, the hugs and the huge out pouring of love. You will never know how much we appreciate everything.

Curt & Heather Sporleder (Unionville Livestock arket) Unionville, Missouri and Justin & Becky Abell (Keoco Auction Co.) Sigourney, Iowa, put their own lives and businesses on hold to come help us, run our sales, put crews together to come help sort and a tremendous group of auctioneers to sell the cattle. One of our biggest concerns was not to let our customers down, and they all stepped up and did a WONDERFUL job! Curt & Heather also donated a steer that was auctioned off on Wednesday, with the proceeds going to St. Malachy School, that our boys attended. As to date, the selling of that steer has raised over $60,000.00 with donations still coming in.

You can never know how much all of this means to Leisa, I and all of our family. This tribute to St. Malachy will help us give back to such a great school, that gave our little boys the love of Jesus, the knowledge of Heaven and the grace and love they needed. It's because of their time at St. Malachy and Sunday School at Crest Baptist Church, that we know now without a doubt, T.J. and Nate are in the loving arms of Jesus, looking down upon us and we will see them again!

Thank you to everyone in the Creston community and surrounding area, customers and friends, who have been so gracious to our family. Your wonderful acts of kindness, love and support will never be forgotten!

Corey Schultz (Regional Executive Officer, Livestock Marketing Association of Kansas City) -  what a friend! He was one of the first here and stayed all week, helping with the auctions, the media, along with several other jobs he stepped up to help with. Corey also served as a Pall Bearer at the funeral. But his biggest job and most important was the love and support he provided, especially to Little Corey!

Randy Gibson (Lamoni Livestock Auction,) Joe and Bryce Wright (Knoxville Regional Livestock,) Bill Goering (Keosaqua Sales Co.,) Bub Hoskins (Knoxville Regional Livestock,) Lanny Ireland (St. Joe, Missouri,) Charlie Cummings (Yates Center, Kansas,) Jay Romine (Blue Grass Stockyards, Lexington, Kentucky,) Brian Little (Wann, Oklahoma,) Russ and Trevor Moravec (David City, Nebraska,) – To all of you guys, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS! You all did an amazing job and didn't let our customers down.

To all of our employees, thank you for all your extra hard work! It hasn't gone unnoticed! Jeri Smith, thank you for coming back and helping Leisa run the office. We really appreciate it! To Darwin West and Steve Bergren for stepping up and doing the radio ads and many other things, thank you!

Our customers, buyers and all of our friends, words can't start to say it! We never dreamt we had so many wonderful friends in our lives, we want you to know this will never be forgotten! It is in times like these that we are reminded that this is the very best place in the world to live and raise a family. God bless you all! THANK YOU ALL! 

From the Freys,
Tom, Leisa, Cody, Casey, Anna, Brandon, Brianna, little Corey
Coltyr and Reegan
Creston Livestock Auction Inc.
Creston, Iowa  

As cattle markets climb, packer margins hit positive territory
How high can it go? With beef and cattle prices setting new price level records over the past few weeks, that is a question many are asking around the industry. Both feeder and packer margins are following suit, increasing over the week, and for the first time in a long time packer margins finished in positive territory. According to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker, feeder margins finished the week ending January 18 at $135.66, compared to $121.94 the previous week and negative $15.70 one month ago. Feed costs were down $5.24 over the week and total costs were down more than $30 per head. Fed cattle have increased more than $12 over the month and finished the week at $142.77 per hundredweight, and feeder steers weighing between 750 and 800 pounds hit $166.80.

Packer margins improved more than $96 per head to finish the week at $52.49, compared to negative $43.86 the previous week, negative $48.43 one month ago and negative $48.69 at this time last year. The beef cutout value topped $220 and finished the week at $224.07, up $14.87 over the week.
Farrow-to-finish margins continued climbing out of the red last week and finished the week ending January 17 at negative $4.74 compared to negative $7.22 the previous week, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs stayed nearly steady last week and finished the week at $79.90, compared to $79.86 the previous week. Feed costs were up almost $3 to $91.45.

Pork packer margins also improved last week, finishing the week at $5.02, compared to $1.96 the previous week and $14.42 one month ago. The pork cutout value continued recent positive trends and finished the week at $85.54, compared to $84.04 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending January 18:

  • Average feeder margins: $135.66 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: $52.49 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending January 10:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$4.74 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $5.02 per head.

Life Technologies Introduces First USDA-Licensed Real-Time PCR Test for the Detection of Tritrichomonas foetus DNA in Bulls
Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) today announced the availability of the only USDA-licensed, real-time PCR test to detect Tritrichomonas foetus (T. foetus) -- a sexually transmitted disease in cattle that leads to early embryonic losses and infertility, resulting in significant economic impact to the cattle industry due to open (non-pregnant) and late-calving cows.

The VetMAX-Gold Trich Detection Kit provides veterinary diagnostic laboratories with a test that provides highly sensitive and specific results through real-time PCR amplification of T. foetus DNA. Accurate testing to identify positive bulls is the only way to prevent the spread of Trichomoniasis disease prior to cows being exposed to bulls. Infected bulls do not show any outward signs of infection.

"USDA licensing ensures increased confidence in accurate testing results that are critical for the cattle industry to effectively manage bovine Trichomoniasis," said Kirk Adams, Animal Health Global Product Management Leader, Life Technologies. "Validating the sensitivity and specificity of this diagnostic test through the USDA approval process shows Life's commitment to offer quality products and invest in the research needed to secure this license."

Cow slaughter likely to affect cow inventories in 2014
The extreme cold weather across much of the cattle areas of the continental United States disrupted meat processing and livestock movements to slaughter and has had a negative impact on cattle body maintenance and gains, according to USDA’s latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook report.

Along with prices for other categories of cattle, cow prices have recovered dramatically during the last few weeks However, with livestock slaughter more erratic than usual for the end-of-year holiday season because of winter storm disruptions and the fact that both Christmas and the New Year holidays came during the middle of the week, disrupting slaughter schedules and markets, it is difficult to determine whether an upward trend is really developing.

At the same time, cow prices are projected higher in 2014 because of anticipated declines in cow slaughter as a result of expected efforts to rebuild cow herd inventories.

Despite the likelihood of almost a 3 percent year-over-year decline in total 2013 commercial cow slaughter, the rate of total cow slaughter (ratio of slaughter to Jan. 1 total cow inventory) appears to have continued throughout 2013, matching the high rates of 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The high cow slaughter rates led to declines in cow inventories and the expectation of continuing declines in Jan. 1, 2014, cow inventory.

The dynamics are different for beef and dairy cows. Consistent with total cow slaughter, commercial beef cow slaughter is on track for 2013 to be the 6th consecutive year for commercial beef cow slaughter to exceed 10 percent of Jan. 1 beef cow inventories.

Dairy cow slaughter is on track for the second highest rate of slaughter relative to dairy cow inventories since 1980.

GeneSeek now offers rapid PEDV test
Neogen Corp. announced Jan. 20 the immediate availability of a new test to rapidly and accurately detect porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV). Early detection of the virus is critical to stop its spread from farm to farm, and between facilities within a pig farm or pig production site, Neogen said.

Neogen's new PEDV test is offered through the veterinary diagnostics laboratory of its GeneSeek subsidiary, which is based in Lincoln, Neb. Each test is $25, and depending on testing volumes, GeneSeek anticipates most test results should be available on the next business day after sample receipt. Sample types accepted for testing include environmental sample pads or swabs, fecal swabs and oral fluids.

"Livestock biosecurity experts we have worked with believe the most efficient testing protocol for PEDV is to perform environmental testing in farm facilities and on vehicles that move between farms, and within the different operations of a single farm," Dr. Stewart Bauck with GeneSeek said. "One very easy environmental sample collection method is the use of moist, unscented disposable mop pads, such as those sold under the Swiffer brand. All we need is that sample mop pad in a sealed plastic bag, and we can quickly determine if the sample contains PEDV."

PEDv still the wild card in determining hog supply
The impact of the porcine endemic diarrhea virus outbreak has taken longer than expected to subside and remains the key risk to pork packer margins if supplies fall below expectations, writes BMO Capital Markets analyst Kenneth Zaslow.

PEDv continues to spread and is likely to reach the Northeast over time, with cold spring weather contributing to the spread, he said.

PEDv fears limited sow movement in December, keeping sow prices at levels 30 to 35 percent above last year’s. However, weaker demand during the holidays and lower slaughter levels contributed to a 3 percent decline in sow prices in December, Zaslow said.

Sow prices will moderate further as PEDv fears eventually wane and sow movement improves and could be 15 percent below last year by summer, Zaslow said.

Pork packer margins remained near three-year highs in December as margins increased to $12-$13 per head from a loss of $1 per head last year. Strength reflected more ample hog supplies and improving export values, he said.

Margins pulled back recently, reflecting a bullish Hogs and Pigs report, seasonally weaker demand after Christmas and record hog weights, but the slide is temporary, Zaslow predicted. Pork margins should remain above year-ago levels, he said, because the Hogs and Pigs report may have understated hog supplies.

Pork prices also should remain more resilient than hogs due to demand for Easter features and support from high beef prices, the analyst said.

Two bills curbing antibiotic use on deck in Calif.
The California Legislature is expected to consider two separate bills that seek to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock as part of an initiative to protect the health of consumers of who eat beef and poultry.

State Assembly Member Kevin Mullin (D — South San Francisco) introduced a bill earlier this month that would ban antibiotics designed to increase weight gain in livestock while also restricting access to antibiotics for sick animals unless there is proof it might infect other animals. Similarly, a bill from Sen. Jerry Hill (D — San Mateo) makes the guidelines the Food and Drug Administration launched in December calling on farmers to stop using antibiotics to promote animal growth mandatory instead of voluntary. The FDA also asked makers of the drugs to change their labels.

The legislators may be responding to the recent outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella from poultry produced by Foster Farms that sickened about 400 state residents and sent at least 134 to various hospitals.

January 20, 2014

NMPF Acknowledges Dairy Supply Management Dead
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) acknowledged this week that its market stabilization program, aka a stand-by supply management program, will not be part of the new farm bill.

In a statement released late Thursday, NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern acknowledged that House Speaker John Boehner’s refusal to allow a floor vote effectively killed the proposal.

"Despite the long-standing opposition to this plan from House Speaker John Boehner, we were confident we had the votes in the conference committee to defeat any amendment to strike the market stabilization program," Mulhern said.

NMPF Preparing for dairy title compromise
The head of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) appears resigned to the fact a compromise is the only way to get dairy policy reform in a new federal Farm Bill. In a statement released late Thursday, Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO, said his organization would withhold support until it is assured details effectively meet the needs of the organization’s dairy producer members.

One thing seems almost certain: The dairy title will not contain the Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP).

“During the past four years that NMPF has worked to revise federal dairy policy, we have evaluated a variety of proposals against two key criteria: 1) does it provide an effective safety net for all of the nation’s dairy farmers?; and 2) does it protect taxpayers from the possibility of excessive program costs through the use of suitable incentives for those enrolled in the program?,” Mulhern said. “The resulting Dairy Security Act measure, contained in the farm bills approved by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees in 2012 and again in 2013, is a loss-prevention margin insurance program that meets those objectives. 

Standstill on Farm Bill May Revive 1949 Rules
Pressure is mounting on lawmakers working on a farm bill to come up with a deal before the end of the month, when the Agriculture Department is to begin enforcing a series of decades-old laws that could cause the price of milk and other agricultural products to double.

In the nearly two-year effort to pass the $1 trillion bill, lawmakers have been able to reach a compromise on most of the farm and nutrition programs it covers, including what was expected to be the most contentious issue: cuts to the food stamp program.

Inhofe Introduces Amendment for Horse Slaughter Plants
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has introduced an amendment to the omnibus spending bill that would strike a provision of the bill blocking the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from inspecting horse slaughter plants and thereby effectively banning these facilities in the United States. "I am very concerned that the omnibus appropriations bill includes a provision that blocks government inspection of horse processing facilities, effectively shutting down this industry," said Inhofe. "Without these facilities, aging horses are often neglected or forced to endure cruel conditions as they are transported to processing facilities across the border. This provision is counterproductive to what animal rights activists are hoping to achieve through this provision. That is why I am offering an amendment to strike the provision, which would reinstate these inspections."

January 17, 2014

Congress Cuts Funding for Horse Slaughter
Congress' latest budget bill tries to block the resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S. by cutting funding for inspections of the process.

The prohibition on spending by the Department of Agriculture is included in the $1.1 trillion budget bill that Congress sent to President Obama on Thursday.

The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007, a year after Congress first cut funding for the inspections in an attempt to shutter the industry.

Beef Supplies to Remain Tight Through 2014
Several long- and short-term trends point to continued short supplies of feeder and fed cattle and lower beef production over the next year, according to USDA’s February Livestock Dairy & Poultry Outlook report released January 16.

The report projects 2013 total commercial cow slaughter at almost 3 percent lower than that during 2012, however, as a percentage of total cow numbers, the slaughter rate remained remined about as high as the previous three years. Total annual commercial cow slaughter has exceeded 15 percent of January 1 total cow inventories in 11 of the years since 1980, and for six consecutive years from 2008 through 2013.

Dairy cow slaughter meanwhile, is on track for the second highest rate of slaughter relative to January 1 dairy cow inventories since 1980.

Drones Have Future as a Farm Tool
Weighing in at five pounds, unmanned aircraft have a bright future in farming, according to Dr. Kevin Price, an agronomist at Kansas State University.

“The technology will easily pay for itself very quickly,” said Price, at the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in San Antonio. “Even a one percent savings will be a great savings to the farmer, but we think you can do closer to two to three percent by improving their ability to put down fertilizer in the right places at the right time and save on their fertilizer costs and catch diseases earlier before it costs them a lot more to treat.”

Price sees the primary farm application for drones as mapping tools to determine where fields need attention.

January 16, 2014

Farm bill: Frank Lucas works on dairy language fix
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas rode to the rescue of small Western towns Wednesday and next hopes to save his farm bill — and himself — with a deal on new dairy language.

Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, Lucas’s ranking Democrat, said late Wednesday that he had yet to see the draft dairy language and expressed some doubt — from what he did know on the topic — if it would work effectively.

But staff talks continued into Wednesday evening and there appears to be a concerted push to try to put to rest the remaining farm bill disputes before Congress leaves Friday for a weeklong recess.

Dairy and payment limits on farm subsidies are the two biggest. If Lucas and his Senate counterpart, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), can reach compromises, they would be in far better shape when lawmakers return at the end of January.

Ag markets were generally firm Wednesday night
Spiking cash and wholesale prices sent cattle futures to fresh high again last night. Cash cattle prices in the Southern Plains jumped to the $141-$142 area Wednesday. That news was followed by the afternoon beef report indicating fresh records there as well. CME prices seem unlikely to peak until those markets show signs of topping. February cattle futures climbed 0.62 cents to 140.05 cents/pound in early Thursday trading, while April futures ran up 0.45 to 139.40. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures rallied 0.25 cents to 168.27 cents/pound, and May advanced 0.32 to 170.22.

The hog and pork complex are trying to follow cattle and beef higher. The cash hog markets were quoted mixed to higher Wednesday afternoon and while pork cutout fell significantly, the drop was much smaller than indicated at midsession. Those developments encouraged hog futures to again follow the cattle market higher last night. However, February hogs slipped 0.05 cents to 86.55 cents/pound just before dawn Thursday, while June was unchanged at 101.20.

Snowpack indicates limited water supply as Western drought rolls on
There's little relief ahead for the drought-weary U.S. West, according to a government agency's first water supply forecast of 2014.
The USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service's (NRCS) National Water and Climate Center is predicting a limited water supply west of the Continental Divide, based on the snowpack in 13 western states.

"Right now the West Coast is all red," NRCS hydrologist Tom Perkins said in a news release. "Early indications are it will be very dry in the western part of the West, but wetter as you travel east.” A normal water supply is seen east of the Divide.

"But that could all change by the end of the season,” Perkins continued. “This early in the season - who knows? It always changes.”

As cattle, beef markets soar, feeder, packer margins improve
The first weeks of 2014 have sent cattle markets soaring, including feeder margins, which ended the week ending January 11 at $121.94, compared to $79.76 one week ago, negative $17.22 one month ago and negative $48.68 at this time last year. According to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker, feed prices were up nearly $5 compared to last week but down more than $130 compared to this time in 2013. Fed cattle prices climbed closer to $140 per hundredweight and finished the week at $139.93, compared to 138.08 the previous week. While still in the red, packer margins improved last week nearly $32 to negative $39.20 compared to negative $71.17 the previous week and negative $64.70 at this time last year. The beef cutout value blew right past the $200 mark and hit $209.20 the week ending January 11, up from $199.71 the previous week and $190.92 at this time last year.

Farrow-to-finish margins also improved last week, closing out the week ending January 10 at negative $7.22, compared to negative $19.74 the previous week, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs finished the week $0.18 higher at $79.86, compared to $79.68 the previous week and $79.49 one month ago. Feed costs dropped nearly $0.50 to $85.14.

Pork packer margins improved $0.32 to $1.77, compared to $1.45 the previous week and $14.74 one month ago. The pork cutout value improved for the second consecutive week to $84.04 last week, compared to $83.70 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending January 11:

  • Average feeder margins: $121.94 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$39.20 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending January 10:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $7.22 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $1.77 per head.

January 15, 2014

Bill in Congress would ban horse slaughterhouses
State and federal lawsuits that have repeatedly delayed the opening of horse slaughterhouses in New Mexico and Missouri could be moot if the budget bill up for a vote in Congress this week passes without changes.

The spending bill released Monday night would effectively reinstate a federal ban on horse slaughter by cutting funding for inspections at equine facilities.

Opponents of attempts to resume domestic horse slaughter applauded the measure.

Corn and hay stocks increase significantly
The feed outlook has brightened considerably from a year ago, helping contribute to the recent rise in calf and feeder-cattle value. The January Feed Outlook report from USDA estimates 2013 corn and hay production somewhat lower than previous forecasts, but well above last-year’s totals.
As reported in last week’s Crop Production Annual Summary, USDA increased its estimate of corn harvested acreage but reduced its average yield estimate by 1.6 bushels per acre, resulting in a final production estimate of 13.9 billion bushels.

The estimate for corn food, seed, and industrial use is unchanged for the 2013-2014 marketing year remains the same as last month, with a 50-million-bushel increase in forecast corn for fuel ethanol use offset by a 10-million-bushel decline in corn use for high-fructose corn syrup, a 10-million-bushel reduction in corn use for glucose and dextrose, and a 30-million-bushel reduction in corn use for starch.

The report raises the estimate for corn feed and residual use for the 2013-2014 crop by 100 million and leaves the estimate for corn exports the same as last month, leaving total use 100 million bushels higher than last month’s projection. Corn ending stocks for the 2013-2014 crop are projected at 1,631 million bushels, 161 million below last month’s projection but nearly double last year’s carryout of 821 million bushels.

Cattle futures recover, move higher Tuesday
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher

Live cattle futures closed sharply higher in the front two months on Tuesday, with February and April advancing to all-time record high prices. Deferred contracts posted more modest gains, with April/June spread moving out to 7.50 on the close. Open interest in the live pit was on the rise, gaining 4,316 contracts on the day. Cutout values continue to explode higher, with both cuts moving over the 220.00 level. Overnight activity is trending higher, with most contracts gaining from .10-.25 as we write.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures rallied along with the fats on Tuesday, but managed to hold onto about half of the midday gains. After selling off about 8 cents at midsession, corn futures recovered to 3 cent losses by the close. The corn recovery prompted the selling into the close of the feeders. Overnight trade has corn off another 2-3 cents and feeders gaining back about .40 in the front few months. Feeders need to see better buying in the deferred live cattle in order to feel more comfortable on the buy side.

Farmland prices still up – but for how long?
Farmland sales continue to climb, according to data released by national real estate and management firm Farmers National Company. The company says it made $750 million worth of sales in 2013, compared to $640 million in 2012.

But with a softening commodities market - cash corn prices in the current marketing year will be down 36 percent from the previous, USDA forecast in a report last week - can climbing land prices continue to break records?

Farms continue to be profitable “despite lower commodity prices…due to reductions in fertilizer expenses of nearly 30 percent,” said Randy Dickhut, vice president of real estate operations at Farmers National. “This is prompting farm owners to continue buying premium land to expand their operations.” In Iowa, the firm found, the average price of high quality farmland in 2013 was $12,000 per acre - the same as the previous year.

January 14, 2014

Monday Market Sentiment: Cattle prices move higher and higher
The cattle business is booming early in 2014 as beef prices continue to soar and cash trade resets the record high mark with a move two dollar higher than the previous week.

Cash prices have rocketed higher for three consecutive weeks, gaining $9.06 per hundredweight in that time. Gains last week were lower than previous weeks with an increase of $2.12 per hundredweight. Our panel of experts suspects the market has caught up and therefore predicts a move lower this week. This week’s Monday Market Sentiment forecasts a 35-cent move lower to $139.35 per hundredweight.

The Monday Market Sentiment is a forecast of the upcoming weekly cash trade (5-Area weighted average price) prices reported by the USDA. Last week’s average prices continued higher, but growth slowed from the previous two weeks. Last week the USDA announced that cash trade for the week ending January 10th was 139.70 per cwt.

Schwieterman: Live cattle futures mixed, feeders sharply lower
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed narrowly mixed on Monday after opening moderately higher. The markets inability to take out last weeks’ highs in spite of the sharp gains in the cash market is starting to weigh on the bulls. Cutout values remain on fire, with choice up 1.96 and select gaining 3.18 on moderate demand. The rounding top that is trying to form in the February contract needs to be taken out in the next few days if the markets expects to continue higher. Open interest was off 1,287 contracts on the day.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures settled sharply lower on Monday, with March off 1.17 for the day and at the lower end of a 2.32 daily trading range. The cash index was down .40 for the day, posting a lower number for the first time in 2 weeks. Overnight trade is near unchanged, with corn backing off 3-4 cents after the recent two day rally. The futures remain a full 3.00+ lower than the index, with just over 2 weeks remaining in the January contract. Feeders are in need of a boost from the live cattle deferred contracts, or a selloff in the corn market.

USDA reduces corn production estimate
The USDA adjusted projections for 2013-2014 feed-grain supplies downward somewhat based on a slightly lower estimate of yields and higher projected use. The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), released on January 10, also featured an increase in estimated beef production for 2013 and 2014.

USDA raised its estimate for harvested corn acres by 436,000 acres, but lowered its estimate for yield by 1.6 bushels per acre, leaving a projected corn harvest of 13.9 billion bushels. The report also raised the projection for corn use by 100 million bushels for the 2013-2014 marketing year.

Utah defends law aimed at livestock filming
The state of Utah is pushing back against animal-welfare activists who contend a state law to prevent filming of agricultural operations is designed to silence them.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind challenging measures popularly known as "ag-gag" laws. Utah is one of six states that have them.

January 13, 2014

Washington Week Ahead: Farm bill, appropriations at center stage
Negotiations over a long-term farm bill are expected to continue this week while lawmakers also try to nail down an omnibus spending bill for federal departments, including the USDA.

After an uneventful time last week, farm bill conferees will resume work on settling several differences, including a hard fought battle between the North and South on payment limitations.

"The main reason we didn't have a meeting last Thursday was because we didn't have the payment limit thing done," explained Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, in an interview with Randy Koenen, a broadcaster for the Red River Farm Network on Friday. He said that Senator Chuck Grassley's language to tighten the definition of "actively engaged" for the purposes of farm program payments was used as "one of the selling points in the Senate" and now "they are having a tough time backing off of it.

Beef, cattle markets hit new record highs
In the first week of 2014, all classes of beef cattle and beef values climbed to record price levels. According to USDA Market News Reporter Corbitt Wall, compared to the last good test of feeder cattle the week of December 20, feeder cattle and calves sold 3.00-10.00 higher, with instances as much as 20.00 higher. On the beef side of the equation, both Select and Choice cuts blew past previous records set in May 2013 as Choice cuts topped $214 and Select cuts topped $211.

While receipts were fairly light last week due to continued frigid temperatures, feeder cattle markets were hot. At the livestock auction in Bassett, Neb., 350 head of top quality steers averaging 638 pounds brought $211.34. Additionally, more than 150 head of fancy 581 pound steers averaged $229.41. Wall says the nearly 400 head of Sandhill reputation heifers weighting between 600 and 700 pounds sold higher than the steers, but Wall says “some rationale could be realized as most of these were purchased for replacements.”

Cattle and beef prices are experiencing record prices, but corn feel the its lowest level in more than three years last week. The monthly USDA World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report reduced the 2013 corn yield to an average of 158.8 bushels per acre, down 1.6 bushels. Corn end stocks for 2013-2014 were projected at 161 million bushels lower at 1.6 billion, and the 2013-2014 average range for corn prices narrowed to $4.10 to $4.70 per bushel, according to WASDE.

Groups oppose  congressional intervention in COOL
The United States Cattlemen’s Association joined the National Farmers Union, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America in a joint letter sent to House and Senate farm bill conferees voicing strong support for U.S. Country of Origin Labeling and opposing any attempt to make modifications through the farm bill to the underlying COOL law or to U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations that became final just a few months ago.

COOL opponents recently sent a letter to House and Senate farm bill conferees urging them to use COOL placeholder language in the House version of the farm bill as a mechanism to drastically change the law. The letter specifically references the need to insert language in the farm bill that will halt all current action regarding the program and negate the actions currently underway at the World Trade Organization.

Tyson Foods Inc.: Companies call for humane hog treatment
The yearslong call by animal rights groups to improve conditions on American hog farms advanced considerably this week when two of the country's biggest meat companies urged producers to change how pregnant sows are housed, and one announced it wanted to stop the practice of killing sick or injured animals by "manual blunt force."

Tyson Foods sent new animal welfare guidelines to its 3,000 independent hog suppliers on Wednesday - roughly six weeks after gruesome video from an Oklahoma farm showed some animals being struck with bowling balls and others being slammed onto a concrete floor. And Smithfield Foods announced Tuesday it would ask growers to move pregnant sows from gestation crates to group housing by 2022.

Judge to decide if horse slaughter plant opens
A judge in Santa Fe is expected to decide Monday whether a Roswell company can start slaughtering horses.

State District Judge Matthew Wilson is hearing a request from Attorney General Gary King to issue a preliminary injunction against Valley Meat Co.

King has filed suit against the company, alleging its operations would violate state environmental and food safety laws.

January 10, 2014

Senate passes bill allowing veterinarians to treat animals with drugs outside vet clinics
The Senate has unanimously passed legislation allowing veterinarians to treat animals with controlled substances beyond their clinics.

The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (S. 1171), sponsored by Senators Jerry Moran, R.-Kan., and Angus King, I.-Maine, will expand a veterinarian's ability to provide pain management, anesthesia or euthanasia to animals in the wild, on the farm or in a client's home.

“We are pleased that the Senate has taken action to fix a loophole in federal legislation, which has concerned veterinarians over the past few years, and urge the House to swiftly follow suit,” the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) said in a statement.

Cattle industry has bright forecast, but corn could play spoiler
Dr. David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist shared his optimistic outlook for the cattle industry at the Central Texas Cow-Calf Clinic in Milano, Texas last week. Anderson says tight supplies will drive bids for calves over the next two years and producers should look for continued high prices.

“Tight supplies are underpinning the market. I think we are going to have higher calf prices than we did in 2013 and higher prices in 2015 than we did in 2014.”

Anderson predicts prices for 500-pound to 600-pound steers to range between $178 per hundredweight and $184 per hundredweight for the first quarter of the year and increase to $189 per hundredweight for No. 1 steers in the first quarter of 2015.

Although he shared a rosy outlook, he did raise caution about the role this year’s corn crop plays in the forecast. Producers are eager to expand herds while feed costs are low, but if crop farmers shift from corn to soybeans to take advantage of potential price runs, feed costs could increase.

Farm bill conference keeps slipping while dairy dispute fires up
Widespread expectations of a farm bill conference this week evaporated Thursday with more dust getting kicked up over the dairy policy dispute. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, essentially guaranteed he will get his way on dairy.

Both Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., seemed a bit dour on a day that many stakeholders and lawmakers thought might be “the day” for a deal announcement.

“There's no white smoke yet,” Stabenow said. “It's a big, complicated bill.” Lucas said it was “highly unlikely” that conferees would announce a framework for a bill this week. “There are still lots of conversations.”

Schwieterman: Feeder futures follow cash trade higher
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed narrowly mixed on Thursday, backing off as much as .80 from session highs at midday. Cash trade was limited to a few northern cattle moved to private packers at better money, ($140 and $222 in Iowa and Nebraska). Cutout values were sharply higher, with new all-time highs posted in choice and select cuts. Slaughter remains slow, as packers are successfully pushing the meat higher through slower kills. Overnight action is trending modestly higher in the front four months, with October forward modestly lower. Cash feels no worse than steady, with a firm undertone.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures posted moderate gains on Thursday, with cash continuing to lead the way, with an assist from the new contract lows posted in the corn market. Corn is trending lower in overnight trade, with the January supply demand numbers looming over the market. The report will be released at 11:00 am central time and negative corn numbers could be the catalyst for an upside breakout in the feeders. Overnight trade is narrowly mixed, with some modest bull spreading a feature.

Traders anticipating today’s late morning USDA reports
Record beef prices only slightly boosted cattle futures Thursday night. The cattle market seemed set to resume its late-2013 rally Thursday, especially with Chicago prices trading below last week’s late highs. That suggests significant trader doubts about the short-term outlook. That seemed evident again last night, since nearby futures edged only slightly higher despite having beef cutout values jump to record highs. February cattle futures inched up 0.10 cents to 136.65 cents/pound as Friday dawned over Chicago, and April futures gained 0.07 to 136.95. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures skidded 0.05 cents to 168.77 cents/pound, while May edged up 0.05 to 169.97.

Hog futures are trading firmly Friday morning. Ideas that the hog market is set for a technical and seasonal rally may be supporting CME prices this morning. Thursday’s late wholesale strength and mixed-to-firm cash quotes probably didn’t hurt either. February hogs climbed 0.45 cents to 85.70 cents/pound Thursday night, and June rose 0.12 to 100.72.

January 9, 2014

Court to weigh injunction in Country of Origin labeling case
The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear oral arguments Thursday in a lawsuit challenging a USDA rule requiring Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule for meat products.

Meat and livestock organizations-including the American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association and North American Meat Association-in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico filed the lawsuit in July 2013 seeking to strike down revisions to the COOL regulations issued by USDA earlier in the year. The groups also asked for a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the regulations until the lawsuit could be adjudicated, arguing that they would suffer irreparable monetary harm if the rule were to go into effect.

The motion was denied and the plaintiffs appealed. A three judge panel of the appeals court now is being asked to decide if that ruling should be upheld. Comprising the panel are Chief Judge Merrick Garland, Circuit Judge Srikanth Srinivasan and Senior Circuit Judge Stephen Williams.

Dairy policy fight delaying farm bill, Chairman says
A longstanding dispute over dairy policy is holding up an agreement between U.S. House and Senate lawmakers on a new farm bill, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas said.

The most obvious sticking point “is the dairy policy,” Lucas said in an interview today in Washington. “We’re just not quite there yet,” said Lucas, who said that once a “handful of things” are resolved, a conference meeting will be held to resolve remaining issues.

McDonalds plans to begin purchasing “sustainable beef” by 2016
McDonald’s this week announced it plans to begin purchasing “sustainable beef” by 2016. Eventually the company hopes to purchase beef exclusively from certified sustainable sources, but they acknowledge it could take time, first to define just what sustainability means in different environments and production systems, then to develop verifiable supply chains.

A McDonald’s web page outlines the company’s plan for sustainable beef, which includes:

  • Create principles and criteria for sustainable beef production
  • Identify and test sustainable beef production practices
  • Lead with transparency and engagement
  • Work closely with our suppliers and other partners for change in the industry

Fortunately, McDonald’s has been receiving input from a variety of stakeholder groups as they work to define and promote sustainable beef production. The company is one of the founding members of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), which includes membership from conservation groups, producer associations including the NCBA, retailers and companies providing products and services to the global beef industry. In addition to McDonald’s, founding members include Cargill, Elanco, JBS, Merck Animal Health, Walmart and the World Wildlife Fund.

Lucas stays hopeful about farm bill framework
While a farm bill conference has still not been scheduled, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said Wednesday it remains possible that a framework for a five-year bill could emerge this week.

Lucas and the other top three conferees - Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn. - met for about a half-hour Wednesday. Details of the meeting were not offered.

January 8, 2014

Debbie Stabenow “feeling very good” about farm bill
Old farm bill tensions over dairy policy broke back into the open Tuesday even as Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow pushed for a quick wrap-up of the five-year plan, which has been largely been resolved already in House-Senate negotiations.

“We’re just tying up loose ends. Feeling very good about things” said the Michigan Democrat, who predicted a meeting of the full farm bill conference would be called before the end of the week.

“We just have to get through that conference committee, get the report signed,” Stabenow told reporters. “There’s a desire to get this done by everybody.”

Comparing livestock provisions in both farm bills
Previous farm bills have provided language and funding for livestock producers facing abnormal mortality or grazing losses. Existing programs, with amendments, have been included in both the House (H.R. 2642) and Senate (S. 945) versions of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.

The full description of the three programs discussed in this article can be found in Subtitle E, Section 1501, Supplemental Agriculture Disaster Assistance Programs. You can access pdf files for both the House Version and the Senate Version for more detailed information.

The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides a payment in response to excess livestock deaths resulting from attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the Federal Government or protected by Federal law, or adverse weather including hurricanes, floods, blizzards, disease, wildfires, extreme heat, and extreme cold. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) offers protection from grazing losses due to qualifying drought conditions or fire on federally managed rangeland.  Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Catfish (ELAP) provides aid to producers facing death loss caused by feed or water shortages, disease or other factors, as long as the loss was not covered by either LIP or LFP.

Schwieterman: Cattle futures reverse strength, fall lower
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures reversed early strength to close moderately lower on Tuesday. The reversal in the live market is stirring up talk that a near term high could be forming in the cash market. With the February contract discounted to last week’s cash trade, some hedgers may be willing to trade cattle at lower levels due to the strong basis. Outside market influences are starting the day somewhat negative, with the Dollar higher and equities lower. Put options continue to look attractive from current price levels.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-20 Lower

Feeder cattle futures followed the fats lower on Tuesday, with March now trading more than 3.00 discount to the current cash index of 170.87. Corn settled modestly lower on Tuesday and is expected to remain jittery into Friday key supply/demand report. Overnight feeder prices are drifting modestly lower, with corn trading near steady. The market feels a little heavy right now, in spite of the solid cash fundamentals.

January 7, 2014

Herd rebuilding becoming a reality for cattle producers
More difficult times are in the rearview mirror and cattle producers across the country are seeing a shift in market conditions, creating an opportunity for profitability in the cattle industry.

Two primary factors providing optimism are lower corn prices and reduced drought conditions. According to the Globe Gazette, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach livestock specialist and assistant professor of economics Lee Schulz says producers are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“A lot of things still need to go right in 2014, but at least from the standpoint of market conditions there’s the potential for profitability,” Schulz said. “In years past, producers were mostly in survival mode, and now producers are talking expansion in the industry. There’s interest in building new facilities and growing the herd.”

Farmer care for livestock with temps well below zero
Temperatures reaching the double digits below zero have livestock producers across the country taking extra steps to prevent the weather from having a detrimental effect on their animals.

Cold stress, frostbite and mastitis can occur in dry, windy weather, leading dairy and beef producers to provide extra care.

South Dakota State University Extension Dairy Specialist Alvaro Garcia says prevention is the key. He advises producers to provide adequate feed, keep housing areas free of manure and keep animals dry and out of the wind. Fresh water plays a key role in limiting the effects of the hazardous weather and calf blankets provide an extra layer for animals who may not have a heavy winter coat.

First animal ag protection bills of 2014 introduced
New Hampshire lawmakers aren’t wasting any time in the new year as they introduce HB110, a bill aimed at making it illegal to witness animal abuse and not report it.

According to Meatingplace, the bill is the first animal abuse reporting bill to be introduced in 2014.

Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill similar to HB110 last year. Singer Carrie Underwood led a Twitter-fueled charge against it, and Gov. Bill Haslam later vetoed the bill. Haslam confirmed he contacted Underwood directly to discuss the issue after the tweets went viral.

FDA puts use of antibiotics in livestock under a microscope
 WASHINGTON – Sometimes Dar Geiss needs antibiotics to treat the cattle on his ranch in central Minnesota. Soon, he will have to go through a more encumbered procedure to get those drugs.

A new Food and Drug Administration program aimed at lowering the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria dramatically changes the application and delivery of dozens of infection-fighting drugs to cattle, hog, turkey and chicken producers across the country.

The new policy no longer allows certain antibiotics to be used as growth supplements in animal feed and drinking water — or to be sold over the counter. Instead, many antibiotics that are medically important to humans as well as animals will be relabeled for therapeutic use only, and their distribution will be overseen by veterinarians.

January 6, 2014

Blaine Lotz (Edna, KS) named Champion at Butler WLAC qualifying event
Blaine Lotz was named the Champion at the final 2014 WLAC qualifying event hosted by Mo-Kan Livestock Market in Butler, Mo. The Reserve Champion is Preston Smith (Dodge City, KS) and the Runner-up Champion is Russele Sleep (Bedford, IA).

Other finalists qualifying for the 2014 WLAC are Mitch Barthel, Jacob Massey, Blake McDaniel, Jay Romine, Duane Rus, Jason Santomaso, and David Whitaker. Congratulations to all!

Horse slaughterhouse blocked 10 more days
A state judge has extended for another 10 days his order blocking the planned opening of a horse slaughterhouse in Roswell.

State District Judge Matthew Wilson on Friday ordered that the ban remain in place and scheduled a Jan. 13 hearing in the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Gary King, who claims that Valley Meat Co. is poised to violate state laws on water quality and food and consumer safety.

Schwieterman: Cattle futures discounted to soaring cash prices
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-20 Higher

Live cattle futures posted moderate gains on Friday and February finished 1.25 higher for the week. The weekly gains were modest compared to the sharply higher cash trade. Futures are now discounted to the cash market by as much as 3.00 in the north. Early week boxed beef prices will be closely monitored, with Friday’s advance to 202.41 in choice cuts, the highest in nearly a month. Outside market influences are mixed, with the Dollar and equities both trading higher.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures are failing to keep up with soaring cash prices, with the March contract up only .25 for the week, while the index gained 5.33 from Friday to Friday. Cattle feeders tend to spend it when they make it, suggesting that recent cash sales will augment feeder prices at the sale barns. Corn prices closed the week on a firm note and are seeing some follow through buying in overnight trade.

Washington Week Ahead: All eyes focused on possible farm bill conference
This could be the week agricultural stakeholders have been waiting a long time for as the farm bill principals are expected to release a firm framework for long-term legislation. While a conference meeting has not been officially scheduled, sources and reports have indicated conferees are likely to meet this week, perhaps as early as Thursday.

The agriculture sector remains anxious to hear solutions from lawmakers about the several differences between the Senate and the House farm bills, including over the commodity title, dairy policy, nutrition, crop insurance, and conservation compliance, among other things. The answers may be coming soon.

January 3, 2014

Blaine Lotz (Edna, KS) named Champion at Butler WLAC qualifying event
Blaine Lotz was named the Champion at the final 2014 WLAC qualifying event hosted by Mo-Kan Livestock Market in Butler, Mo. The Reserve Champion is Preston Smith (Dodge City, KS) and the Runner-up Champion is Russele Sleep (Bedford, IA).

Other finalists qualifying for the 2014 WLAC are Mitch Barthel, Jacob Massey, Blake McDaniel, Jay Romine, Duane Rus, Jason Santomaso, and David Whitaker. Congratulations to all!

Replay of 2014 WLAC qualifying event at Mo-Kan Livestock scheduled for tomorrow
The final 2014 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship qualifying event will be re-broadcast on LMAauctions.com tomorrow beginning at 12:00 p.m. (CST).

Feeder margins rally to end 2013
After falling into the red mid-month, feeder margins rallied late in December and closed out the week ending Dec. 28, 2013, at $57.42, compared to negative $15.70 the previous week. Feeder margins topped $65 one month ago, but were negative $42.18 a year ago at this time, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feed costs were down $7.64 over week and total costs were down $7.72 during the same time. Fed cattle moved $3.61 higher and finished the week at $133.61 while feeders stayed steady at $163.97 to close out 2013.

Farrow-to-finish margins closed out the week ending December 27 at negative $16.18, compared to negative $8.54 the previous week and negative $17.44 one month ago, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs were down less than $1 to $77.57 compared to $78.23 the previous week. Feed Costs increased $0.95 last week to $86.44.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending December 28:

  • Average feeder margins: $57.42 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$53.98 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending December 27:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$16.18 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $4.06 per head.

Court action could lead to horse slaughter next week, lawyer says
The lawyer for a New Mexico meat company says the business could begin slaughtering horses as early as next week should it prevail today in a judicial hearing in Santa Fe.

Attorney Blair Dunn is asking state District Judge Matthew Wilson to immediately lift his temporary restraining order preventing Valley Meat Co. from opening its plant near the city of Roswell. Wilson issued the injunction on Dec. 30 until he could hold a hearing in the lawsuit filed by New Mexico Attorney General Gary King alleging that the company's operations would violate state food-safety and water-quality laws.

USDA proposes to allow fresh beef imports from Brazil
USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) proposed in late December to amend current regulations and allow fresh beef imports, under specific conditions, from some Brazilian states. The announcement came days after USDA and Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA) issued a joint statement announcing the countries would work together on a path forward to address rules that limit bilateral beef trade.

The proposed regulatory change would allow the importation of chilled or frozen beef while continuing to protect the United States from an introduction of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). APHIS is proposing to allow fresh beef from the Brazilian states of Bahia, Distrito Federal, Espirito Santo, Goias, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Rondonia, Sao Paulo, Sergipe, and Tocantins can be safely imported, provided certain conditions are met.

The proposed rule appeared in the December 23, 2013 Federal Register, and APHIS will accept comments through February 21, 2014. The proposed rule may be reviewed online at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2009-0017-0010

January 2, 2014

Final 2014 WLAC qualifying event to be broadcast on LMAauctions.com
The final 2014 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship qualifying event will be broadcast on LMAauctions.com today beginning at 11:00 a.m. (CST). The qualifier will be at Mo-Kan Livestock Market in Butler, MO.

A replay of the broadcast is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 4, at 12:00 p.m. (CST) on LMAauctions.com.

Cattle futures ended 2013 on a mixed note
Cattle futures ended 2013 on a weak note. Look for CME livestock trading to resume at 9:05 am (CST) this morning. After rallying strongly late last week and proving firm again on Monday, live cattle futures suffered a setback Tuesday. Year-end position squaring and technical considerations seemingly played substantial roles in the drop. Talk of packer cutbacks also depressed prices. February cattle futures fell 0.47 cents to 134.62 cents/pound in late Tuesday trading, while April futures sank 0.45 to 135.30. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures dropped 0.55 cents to 167.40 cents/pound, and May sagged 0.50 to 168.67.

Cash and wholesale strength seemed to support hogs at Tuesday’s close. After suffering a stunning reversal from post-Hogs-&-Pigs-report highs Monday, hog futures staged a modest comeback Tuesday. Cash and wholesale firmness probably boosted the market, especially since the industry is looking for an early winter rally into mid-February. February ran up 0.45 cents to 85.42 cents/pound in Tuesday trading, and June added 0.17 to 100.15.

Dairy markets better than a year ago
Cash cheese barrels declined again on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday, in the last two sessions of the year, barrels lost 12 cents to $1.85. Blocks held steady at $2.00. Butter increased a penny to $1.5325. Class III futures for January end the year at $19.34, February at $18.67 and March at $18.35.

A year ago, cash cheese barrels were 14 cents lower, blocks were 24 cents lower, cash butter was 3.5 cents lower, Grade A nonfat dry milk was 50.75 cents lower, Extra Grade was 53 cents lower. Class III futures for January were $17.91, February $18.32 and March $18.19. Probably of more significance is the price of feed, a year ago March corn was $6.9825, January soybeans $14.1875 and all-hay was $192 per ton. That put the milk-to-feed ratio at 1.65 compared to 2.3 now.

December 31, 2013

LMA New Year closing
The LMA offices will be closed on Wednesday, Jan. 1 and resume business as usual on Thursday, Jan. 2.

We wish you and yours a safe holiday and prosperous New Year!

Final 2014 WLAC qualifying event to be broadcast on LMAauctions.com
The final 2014 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship qualifying event will be broadcast on LMAauctions.com on Thursday, Jan. 2, beginning at 11:00 a.m. (CST). The qualifier will be at Mo-Kan Livestock Market in Butler, MO.

A replay of the broadcast is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 4, at 12:00 p.m. (CST) on LMAauctions.com.

Billy Day (Loup City Commission Co.; Loup City, Neb.) passed away
Billy Day passed away on Dec. 30. Funeral arrangements: Viewing and funeral will be at Higgins Funeral Home (Loup City, Neb.). The viewing will be on Thursday, Jan. 2 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and the funeral will be on Friday, Jan. 3 at 2:00 p.m.

Friday hearing set on horse slaughter
A Friday court hearing is set on the latest effort to stop a Roswell plant from resuming domestic horse slaughter.

State District Judge Matthew Wilson in Santa Fe has issued a temporary restraining order to block Valley Meat Co. from opening before he can hold an initial hearing on New Mexico Attorney General Gary King's request for the order.

The plant has been preparing to open in the coming weeks.

King's suit says Valley Meat stands to violate state laws related to food safety, water quality and unfair business practices.

Ag markets were lower on Monday
Cattle futures closed higher on Monday. Cattle garnered early support from strength in hog futures in response to USDA’s friendly Hogs and Pigs report, but the early gains in hogs faded. Last week’s sharply higher fed cattle trade continued to provide support for futures. Beef prices were also sharply higher at midday which seemed to give cattle futures a late session boost. From a technical perspective, cattle futures have cleared a 2 ½ month downtrend resistance line drawn from the mid-October high. The February contract is moving to challenge that high at $135.45. February cattle futures closed .15 cents higher 135.10 with April .125 cents higher at 135.75. January feeder cattle were .275 cents higher at 167.275 cents/pound and March feeders were .15 cents higher at 167.95.

December 30, 2013

LMA New Year closing
The LMA offices will be closed on Wednesday, Jan. 1 and resume business as usual on Thursday, Jan. 2.

We wish you and yours a safe holiday and prosperous new year!

Final 2014 WLAC qualifying event to be broadcast on LMAauctions.com
The final 2014 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship qualifying event will be broadcast on LMAauctions.com on Thursday, Jan. 2, beginning at 11:00 a.m. (CST). The qualifier will be at Mo-Kan Livestock Market in Butler, MO.

A replay of the broadcast is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 4, at 12:00 p.m. (CST) on LMAauctions.com.

Deadly pig disease trims supplies, drives pork prices higher
Consumers can expect sharp increases in pork prices by summer as a viral disease that first appeared in U.S. swine herds earlier this year continues to ravage pig litters, according to analysts on a teleconference sponsored by U.S. pork producers.

The disease, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) probably killed about 1.4 million piglets in the three months ended Dec. 1 and appears to be "accelerating" in U.S. herds, the analysts estimated, after reviewing the USDA's quarterly report on the nation's hog inventory, released on Dec. 27. The reported pig crop for the period was 29.3 million, down slightly from 2012. PED was first confirmed in April, in Iowa, the country's top hog producer, and has since spread to at least 20 states, according to the USDA.

Obama signs two-year budget bill into law; avoiding shutdown
President Obama signed into law a two-year budget bill (H.J. Res. 59) that will avoid another government shutdown next month and ease sequestration rates for some federal agencies.

The law will provide about $63 billion in temporary sequester relief divided evenly between military spending and domestic spending. The law will provide $85 billion in mandatory savings, and reduce the deficit by $23 billion over the next 10 years.

The law includes various agriculture sector-related provisions:

  • It authorizes $404 million in funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense facility (NBAF) in Kansas, which will eventually replace the functions of the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center located off Long Island. NBAF will study dangerous foreign animal diseases as well as emerging and new infectious diseases that can be transmitted between animals and people.
  • It authorizes the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to collect fees of up to $150 per conservation plan to cover some of the costs of providing technical assistance for a producer or landowner. The agriculture secretary can waive fees for assistance provided to members of historically underserved groups, such as beginning farmers or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers.
  • The law ends the reimbursement USAID and USDA receive for excess costs associated with the requirement that 50 percent of all food aid be shipped on U.S. flagged vessels. Oxfam has said that could cost USAID's food aid program about $56 million annually.

Leahy tells farm bill conferees no more delay
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Senate president pro tempore, recently said he expects a “comprehensive and balanced farm bill” to be concluded among conferees early in 2014.

“I look forward to returning in January and sitting down with the conference committee to work through the final details of this bill,” Leahy said Friday. “We cannot delay any longer.” Leahy said completion of the farm bill is crucial for more than 20 programs, including the Organic Certification Cost Share Program, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant Program, livestock disaster, renewable energy programs, and assistance for rural small business owners who “have been stranded without updated charters.”

Schwieterman: Hot cash trade lifts live cattle feeders
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 20-40 Higher

Live cattle futures surged higher on Friday, led by the sharply higher cash trade that developed across the feeding regions. Cash traded anywhere from $3-$5 higher in the cash market and jumped as much a $6 in the Nebraska beef market. This weeks’ cash trade will be for a full kill week, with asking prices likely $136 in the south and at least $216 in the northern beef market. Open interested rocketed 4,646 contracts higher on Friday’s rally, supporting ideas that the first quarter is looking for even higher prices.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 30-50 Higher

Feeder cattle futures posted moderate gains on Friday and ended up giving up about .50 for the week. The surge in cash cattle prices on Friday, along with overnight weakness in the corn futures, should provoke a stronger opening the feeder trade this morning. We will be monitoring cash trade in the sale barns early this week for near term direction. Trends remain up in the futures market, with open interest steadily growing over the past couple of weeks.

Missouri company prepares to process horse meat
A small northwest Missouri company has been preparing to slaughter horses for meat after a federal appeals court lifted an emergency stay on U.S. horse slaughter operations.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a temporary motion that blocked horse slaughter plants from opening.

David Rains, of Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, said he has seven horses at its property for slaughter, but is still waiting for an inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service before beginning work.

Roswell horse slaughter plant set to open
Since a U.S. 10th District Federal Appeals Court cleared the way for legal domestic horse slaughtering by throwing out a temporary injunction last week that had blocked the action, an attorney for Roswell-based Valley Meat Company announced the converted cattle processing facility is prepared to reopen its doors to begin start up operations as early as next Tuesday.

But New Mexico Attorney General Gary King filed a lawsuit in a state district court last Thursday to block plans to reopen carrying out promises by his office and those of New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez that the state was prepared to do everything possible to prevent the plant from ever slaughtering horses.

King argued last week that Valley Meat has the potential to violate food safety laws, and cited that as the reasons for this latest lawsuit.

The move marks at least the fourth legal action taken in New Mexico over the last six months in opposition to horse slaughtering operations in the state and at least the second legal move directed at keeping plant owner Rick De Los Santos’ meat processing plant shuttered.

December 20, 2013

LMA Christmas and New Year closings
The LMA offices will be closed the week of Christmas (Monday, Dec. 23- Friday, Dec. 27.) Business will resume on Monday, Dec. 30. The offices will close again on Wednesday, Jan. 1 and resume business as usual on Thursday, Jan. 2.
We wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Have a safe and blessed holiday season.

Final 2014 WLAC qualifying event to be broadcast on LMAauctions.com
The final 2014 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship qualifying event will be broadcast on LMAauctions.com on Thursday, Jan. 2, beginning at 11:00 a.m. (CST). The qualifier will be at Mo-Kan Livestock Market in Butler, MO.
A replay of the broadcast is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 4, at 12:00 p.m. (CST) on LMAauctions.com.

US farm bill writers eye $8 billion in food stamp cuts
The new U.S. farm bill is likely to cut the food stamp program by $8 billion over a decade, a key Democratic senator said on Thursday, an amount that is a fraction of the cuts demanded by many Republican lawmakers.
While conservatives want stricter eligibility rules that would disqualify up to 4 million recipients and save $40 billion over 10 years, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, said the expected $8 billion in savings would be generated by closing a loophole on utility costs.
The four lead negotiators on the farm bill have said they intend to unveil a framework for a compromise bill in early January. Under that timetable, the Senate and House of Representatives might enact the bill within a couple of weeks.
Food stamps are the paramount issue for the farm bill. The House proposed the largest cuts in a generation, while the Senate voted for $4.5 billion in cuts. The bill also would expand the federally subsidized crop insurance system by up to 10 percent and could boost crop support rates.

Ag markets were narrowly mixed Thursday night
Cash firmness seemed to provide sustained cattle support last night. After dipping in response to Nebraska cash weakness Wednesday, cattle futures rallied in reaction to firmer Southern Plains quotes yesterday. CME prices continued rising overnight despite mixed wholesale quotes posted Thursday afternoon. February cattle futures advanced 0.15 cents to 133.12 cents/pound as Friday dawned over Chicago, while April futures crept 0.05 cents higher to 134.12. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle futures fell 0.25 cents to 166.55 cents/pound and March sank 0.22 to 166.32.
Thursday afternoon news depressed hog prices. The hog/pork industry has been anticipating the onset of a seasonal rebound from annual lows lately. However, big cash and wholesale losses posted late yesterday strongly suggested those lows have yet to be reached. February hog futures sagged 0.20 cents to 86.17 cents/pound early Friday morning, and June dropped 0.35 to 99.80.

Schwieterman: Corn demand remains strong
Corn                                      Estimated Fund Position
Trends – March Contract
Short Term:Down                 Net Long Futures and Options: -173263
Long Term: Down                Change: +4000
Overnight Trade: H -1 @7:30 AM
The March corn is creeping towards the 40 and 50-day moving averages. A move to $4.35 in the March contract wouldn’t be a surprise today. Demand numbers are still strong and there is potential for yet another cut in the ending stocks estimate once we get to the January supply and demand report, which means there is still potential for year-end short covering by the funds.

 

 

December 18, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

LMA Christmas and New Year closings
The LMA offices will be closed the week of Christmas (Monday, Dec. 23- Friday, Dec. 27.) Business will resume on Monday, Dec. 30. The offices will close again on Wednesday, Jan. 1 and resume business as usual on Thursday, Jan. 2.
We wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Have a safe and blessed holiday season.  

Contestants announced for Butler, MO WLAC Qualifier
The following contestants will compete in Butler, MO (Mo-Kan Livestock Market) on January 2, 2014. The top ten will qualify for the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship during the annual LMA convention in Knoxville, IA June 18-22, 2014.

Jared Anstine — Holden, MO
Adam Ashby — Nevada, MO
Zach Ballard — Creston, IA
Mitch Barthel — Perham, MN
Alex Belcher — Lick Creek, IL
Leon Caselman — Long Lane, MO
Bill Cook — Billings, MT
Mark Lane — Russellville, AL
Kyle Layman — Curtis, NE
Blaine Lotz — Edna, KS
Mike 'Hoss' Manske — Shattuck, OK
Brian Marlin — Inola, OK
Jacob Massey — Petersburg, TN
Blake McDaniel — Tallassee, AL
Andrew McDowell — Vandalia, IL
Bill Nance — Sheldon, MO
Bill Patton — Vienna, MO
Freddie Phillips — Baton Rouge, LA
Tim Phipps — Liberal, MO
Roger Robinson — Orleans, IN
Jay Romine — Mt. Washington, KY
Duane Rus — Rock Valley, IA
Jason Santomaso — Sterling, CO
Kevin Schow — Paxton, NE
Justin 'J.D.' Shannon — Mountain Grove, MO
Russele Sleep — Bedford, IA
Preston Smith — Dodge City, KS
Gabe Spikes — Bowie, TX
Seth Steinhoff — Smithland, IA
Robb Taylor — Ponca City, OK
Garrett Underwood — Louisville, KY
Scott Werlein — Mondovi, WI
David Whitaker — Ames, IA

Can a market refuse to do business with a potential buyer?
A number of sections of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act make it unlawful for stockyard owners and market agencies to provide “stockyard services” on a basis that is unjustly discriminatory.  The P&S Act defines the term “stockyard services” as “any services or facilities furnished at a stockyard in connection with the receiving, buying or selling on a commission basis or otherwise, marketing, feeding, watering, holding, delivery, shipment, weighing, or handling, in commerce, of livestock.”

But what does “unjustly discriminatory” really mean? 

Sometimes GIPSA has interpreted these sections of the P&S Act to mean that market agencies cannot refuse to let a buyer bid on, and purchase, livestock at the market – period. Other times GIPSA has interpreted these sections to mean that market agencies cannot refuse to let a buyer bid on, and purchase, livestock at the market unless the buyer has failed to pay, and still owes, the market.  Other times GIPSA has interpreted these sections somewhat broader.

The answer as to whether a refusal is “unjustly discriminatory” probably depends on the facts of that specific situation.  Whether refusing to allow someone to buy at the market is “unjustly discriminatory” will boil down to whether the market has sufficient facts to show that there’s a reasonable, justifiable basis for the refusal. In addition,  the ability to show that a market’s treatment is consistent from one buyer to the next is key.

It may be wise to have a policy on circumstances when a potential buyer will be turned away and regularly review the policy to help ensure it is being applied consistently to all potential buyers. If you have questions, contact LMA Legal Counsel Ernie VanHooser at 816-322-8000 or VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good at cgood@lmaweb.com or 816-305-9540.

Senate approves 2-year budget, sending bill to Obama
The Senate approved today, with a 64-36 vote, a two-year budget bill (H.J. Res. 59) that seeks to ease sequestration rates for some federal agencies and to avoid another government shutdown in January.

The vote sends the bill to President Obama for his expected signature. The House previously approved the bill on a 332-94 vote.

Nine Republican senators joined 53 Democratic and two Independent senators in support the bill. The roll call vote tally can be viewed here.

Federal appeals court removes ban on horse slaughter
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Friday, Dec. 13, lifted a temporary ban on domestic horse slaughter, opening the door for three companies in New Mexico, Iowa and Missouri while an appeal of a lawsuit filed by HSUS, Front Range Equine Rescue and other animal rights organizations proceeds.

Schwieterman: Corn futures, feeder cattle futures lower Wednesday 
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls:Mixed

Live cattle futures closed lower to sharply lower on Wednesday, with moderate selling seen throughout the deferred contract. Cash trade remained on the sidelines, with most expecting cash to wait until Friday and possibly until after the on feed report. Estimates for the report have on feed at 95.4%, placements of 100.9% and 94.6% marketed. Overnight trade has been two sided, with a slightly higher bias. Equity markets exploded to all-time highs following the minutes from the FOMC meeting. Strength in equities historically supports the meat complex.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Lower

Feeder cattle futures saw a triple digit selloff in the January contract and moderate losses on deferred months. The extension of Tuesdays’ losses came in spite of another weak day in the corn futures. Cash index levels were off another .26 on Wednesday but remain over 1.00 premium to the January futures. Overnight corn values are modestly higher, with feeders seeing modest to moderate gains across the board.

Cattle on Feed data expected to remain under 2012 levels
Reduced cattle supplies are expected to remain the trend in the December Cattle on Feed report released by USDA on Friday.

Early predictions from Allendale, Inc. forecast the December 1 inventory to be above the previous month’s total, but 4.3% smaller than December 1, 2012. The November report showed a 6% decrease from the previous year with the number of cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the U.S. totaling 10.607 million head on Nov. 1.

December 18, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

LMA Christmas and New Year closings
The LMA offices will be closed the week of Christmas (Monday, Dec. 23- Friday, Dec. 27.) Business will resume on Monday, Dec. 30. The offices will close again on Wednesday, Jan. 1 and resume business as usual on Thursday, Jan. 2.

We wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Have a safe and blessed holiday season.  

Ag markets mixed again Tuesday night
Wholesale weakness probably depressed cattle futures overnight. Sizeable beef price gains apparently boosted the CME cattle market early this week, but choice cutout turned sharply lower yesterday afternoon. That news, along with nearby futures’ recent inability to top major technical resistance seemingly set a bearish tone for short-term prospects. February cattle futures edged down 0.07 cents to 132.90 cents/pound just before dawn Wednesday, while April futures stumbled 0.20 cents to 133.85. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle futures lost 0.35 cents to 166.80 cents/pound and March tumbled 0.52 to 165.85.

Resurgent cash prices sparked Tuesday night hog gains. Anticipation of short-run weakness in cash and wholesale prices sent hog futures lower Tuesday. However, the late-afternoon cash and wholesale quotes came in higher than expected, thereby giving CME prices a substantial boost. February hog futures rallied 0.67 cents to 86.32 cents/pound in early Wednesday trading, and June gained 0.47 to 99.37.

Horse slaughter plants prepare to open
After months of legal wrangling and false starts in a more than two-year battle to resume domestic horse slaughter, plants in New Mexico and Missouri were working Monday to begin processing equine for human consumption.

The efforts come on the heels of an order late Friday by a federal appeals court that lifted an emergency stay on the companies’ plans.

“They are pushing full steam ahead to be ready to go as soon as possible,” said Blair Dunn, an Albuquerque attorney who represents Valley Meat Co. of Roswell and Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo.

Blach: Bright outlook for 2014 and beyond
This year brought record prices for beef, calves and finished cattle, and 2014 promises continued success, particularly for cow-calf producers. That was one of the key messages when Cattle Fax president and CEO Randy Blach addressed a group of veterinarians at a “Prevention Works” conference hosted by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc.

Continued short supplies of cattle, growing international beef demand and a more favorable outlook for input costs all contribute to industry optimism as we head into 2014.

Blach says corn production finally has caught up with the extra demand from ethanol, and Cattle Fax projects corn prices to range from $3.50 to $5.50 per bushel over the next two years. Lower corn prices will bring feedyard cost of gain to much more manageable levels. Corn at $9 per bushel translates to cost of gain around $1.40 per pound, he says, while $5 corn brings cost of gain to around $0.80 and $3 corn reduces the cost to about $0.50 per pound. Lower cost of gain creates more competition for feeder cattle, with a positive effect on calf prices.

Senate poised to approve 2-year budget bill to avoid shutdown
The Senate is expected to approve a two-year budget bill (H.J. Res. 59) on Wednesday that seeks to avoid another government shutdown in January while providing some sequestration relief to federal agencies.

The move comes after the Senate approved, on a surprisingly strong 67-33 vote, a key procedural motion to advance the bill Tuesday. Twelve Republicans joined all the 53 Democrats and two Independents in support of the legislation, while 33 Republicans voted against it.

The legislation, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., seeks to provide $63 billion in temporary sequester relief split evenly between military spending and domestic spending. The bill also aims to provide $85 billion in mandatory savings, and reduce the deficit by $23 billion over the next 10 years.

December 17, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Cattle outlook improving rapidly
Short cattle supplies, cheaper feed and a strong outlook for beef exports create a favorable environment for U.S. producers now and into 2014, according to the December Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook report from USDA.

As of early December, monthly average corn prices had dropped by almost a third from August’s monthly average price, due to good corn yields, abundant supplies, and developments toward relaxing the Renewable Fuels Standard, according to the report. Also, grazing opportunities in winter-wheat areas look good, and favorable moisture in several areas bodes well for pastures next spring.

Feeder, packer margins retreat mid-month
Feeder margins finished the week ending December 14 in the red at negative $17.22, compared to $45.42 the previous week, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. A month ago, feeder margins topped $84 but have gradually fallen the past 30 days. However, last week’s negative $17.22 is $63.46 per hundredweight better than the negative $80.68 last year at this time. Feed costs were down $2.10 over the week, while total costs were $1.11 higher. Fed cattle have remained above $130 for the past eight weeks and finished the week at $131. Feeders finished the week at $164, compared to $163.60 the previous week.

Packer margins fell deeper in the red last week to negative $37.68, compared to negative $30.90 the previous week and negative $30.71 one month ago. The beef cutout value continues to hover around $200, and finished the week ending December 14 at $197.82, compared to $199.18 a week ago and $198.75 at this time last month. The beef cutout value was $8.55 higher than it was at this time last year. 

Should I hedge the calves I am backgrounding?
Last month, several Cattle & Corn Comments articles on iGrow focused on backgrounding and finishing calves. Certainly, there has been a lot more interest in backgrounding programs amongst farmer/feeders and cow-calf producers due to cheaper corn prices and more plentiful hay supplies this year. Even in spite of near-record high feeder calf prices, there is some profit opportunity in backgrounding and finishing programs this winter.

One of the good questions posed in response to those articles is whether or not to hedge the calves in a winter backgrounding program. At the end of last week, March 2014 feeder cattle futures were near $167/cwt, which is less than $1/cwt below its life-of-contract high posted on October 14, 2013. In many respects, locking in near-record high prices for yearlings coming out of a backgrounding program seems like an easy decision. However, most of the fundamentals in the feeder cattle market remain fairly bullish, and more potential upside could exist. And, even if higher prices didn’t materialize, the risk of lower prices may not be sufficient to offset the risk management expenses for some producers.

A first step in evaluating the decision to hedge the yearlings, or any commodity, is to recognize that the objective is to reduce risk, in this case price variability. Research examining routine hedging programs confirms that, over time, price variability is reduced through futures hedging. That research also generally demonstrates that the returns are lower, on average over a long time period, in a routine hedging program compared to strictly cash sales. The typical risk-reward tradeoff exists in hedging: in order to reduce risk (i.e., price variability), the hedger has to “pay” for it through lower net prices.

December 16, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes today
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) today. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Despite cold temperatures, calf prices remain hot
The temperatures outside last week were frigid but calf prices were hot, with calves bring higher prices across the nation according to USDA Market News Reporter Corbitt Wall. He says demand was best for calves weighing less than 550 pounds, where prices were 2.00-5.00 higher, while heavier calves weighing between 550 and 650 pounds traded mostly 3.00 higher.

Winter may still be officially a week away, but a major ice storm across the lower Midwest slowed feeder cattle sales along Interstate-44. From El Reno, Okla., through Oklahoma City, Tulsa and into Joplin and Springfield, Mo., icy weather conditions resulted in these five major feeder cattle auctions posting just 3,700 head of receipts compared to more than 24,400 head at the same time last year.

According to USDA Market News, lower grain prices and improved hay stocks have buyers looking at four-weight calves, as the “cost of gain on these lightweights is only a fraction of their cost per pound.” From Kansas through North Dakota, top-quality steer calves are routinely bringing as much as 225.00-230.000 per hundredweight with a 600 pound hand-weaned steer pushing 2.00 per pound.

This week’s reported auction volume included 47 percent over 600 pounds and 39 percent heifers.

Washington Week Ahead: Senate to focus on budget plan; farm bill talks set to continue
The Senate is expected this week to begin debate on a two-year budget bill (H.J. Res. 59) that aims to avert another government shutdown in January, as while as provide some sequestration relief to federal agencies.

Also, farm bill discussions are expected to continue among top conferees, said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Stabenow and other conferees have reported progress from recent meetings, but have offered few details.

The House, last week, approved a one-month farm bill extension (H.R. 3695), by voice vote, to extend the current farm bill through Jan. 31. However, the bill is considered dead in the water in the Senate. The House has left for the year, and the Senate is scheduled to leave on Friday.

Appeals court vacates ban on US horse slaughter
A federal appeals court on Friday removed a temporary ban on domestic horse slaughter, clearing the way for companies in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa to open while an appeal of a lawsuit by animal protection groups proceeds.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver lifted the emergency injunction it issued in November after The Humane Society of the United States and others appealed the ruling of a federal judge in Albuquerque. The judge said the U.S. Department of Agriculture followed proper procedure in issuing permits to Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo., and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa.

The appeals court's order Friday said the groups had "failed to meet their burden for an injunction pending appeal."

Schwieterman: Falling corn values help feeder futures
Corn                                     Estimated Fund Position
Trends – March Contract
Short Term:Down                 Net Long Futures and Options: -174263
Long Term: Down                 Change: -6000
Overnight Trade: H -4 @7:30 AM

The persistent talk of the Chinese rejecting US corn due to GMO issues is keeping pressure on the market. The March contract has relieved the overbought condition and is testing the recent lows. This is where we find out how bearish the export situation really is and if the trading funds want to add short positions in the face of the Index funds adding long positions in a few weeks. Don’t panic until we see a close below $4.18.

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: 10-30 Lower

Live cattle futures closed moderately lower on Friday, with lower cash and cutouts the culprits. The struggling cutout values have put a damper on the recent bullish ideas. The arctic cold temps projected for the week of Christmas seem to be tempering, which may allow for better conversion over the coming weeks. Look for show lists to be steady to slightly larger after moderate cash sales on Friday. The next two weeks will be short kills, with Christmas and New Years Day falling on Wednesdays.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures closed mixed on Friday but January finished 2.50 higher for the week. Weakness in the corn market has added another leg to the cash trade and is giving a boost to the futures carts. Corn is off another 3-4 cents in overnight trade, which should help support the feeder opening against struggling fundamentals in the fat market. Moderating temps may actually add to feeder demand as cattlemen are more likely to place cattle under improved weather conditions.

Economist says increased beef production still 2 years away
Short beef supplies in the coming years will likely cut beef consumption and a solution is more than two years away according to a university beef economist.

Darrell R. Mark, Adjunct Professor of Economics at South Dakota State University, says beef consumption is forecasted to fall about five percent next year to average 53 pounds per person, with another drop the following year to 52 pounds each.

The decline in consumption is a result of tighter quantities and continued demand resulting in higher beef prices. Cheap feed costs and record beef and cattle prices have producers retaining heifers in the years ahead, further shrinking beef production next year.

December 13, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Stopgap farm bill passes US House, extends current law to January
With the new U.S. farm bill a month away from completion, the House of Representatives passed a stopgap extension of current law to avoid the "dairy cliff" although some lawmakers called the threat of high milk prices a fiction.

The House passed the extension until Jan. 31 on a voice vote after less than 10 minutes of debate. Agriculture Committee chairman said House and Senate negotiators were making "significant progress" toward a new farm law and the extension would end "panic" over a possible doubling of milk prices.

FDA plans to phase out some antibiotic use
In an effort to help address potential antimicrobial resistance concerns in humans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued guidelines to extend veterinary oversight and phase out the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics that are important to human medicine in food producing animals for growth promotion purposes. The new guidelines will be implemented over a three-year transition phase.

Historically, certain antibiotics have been used in the feed or drinking water of food producing animals for production purposes. Some of these antimicrobials are also used to treat human infection, thus prompting concerns about the potential contribution of this practice affecting antimicrobial resistance. Guidance 213 calls for animal pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily revise the FDA-approved labels for these products to remove growth promotion labels. FDA also proposes to change Veterinary Feed Directive regulations to move the over-the-counter status of the remaining appropriate therapeutic uses to require veterinary oversight when used to treat, control, or prevent health issues in animals.

Schwieterman: Cattle futures higher Thursday
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures posted moderate gains on Thursday and are trading steady to slightly better in overnight trade. Cutouts fell significantly but export sales and a drop below year ago slaughter weights should provide support. We are still awaiting this weeks’ cash trade, with bids not well established, while asking prices remain firm near the $134 level in most regions. We look for cash to trade steady to $1.00 better at some point today.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed sharply higher on Thursday, turning chart patterns higher and closing firmly above the 40-50 day moving averages. Lower corn trade and new record highs in the cash index are leading the advance. With the index above 167.50 and rising, we look for futures to be well supported. Corn is off another 3 cents in overnight trade, while feeders are gaining another .30-.50 without help from the fats.

PED positive submissions: 20 states have reported positive results in pigs
The total number of swine accessions and diagnostic case submissions testing positive for the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) virus now stands at 1,512, writes Jackie Linden. The rate of increase has again accelerated and Nebraska has reported its first positive result.

By farm class, this figure for the total number of positive laboratory swine accessions/diagnostic case submissions breaks down as follows between the weeks of 15 April and 1 December: suckling, 334 (+30); nursery, 276 (+27); grower/finisher, 478 (+36); sows/boars, 197 (+9) and 240 (+41) unknown. The total is up 140 from the previous week.

Since the data were limited to diagnostic case submissions in mid-June, Nebraska has reported its first positive result in the last week and so the total number of states affected now stands at 20. Those states with 10 or more positive tests are: Iowa, 495; Oklahoma, 255; North Carolina, 246; Minnesota, 135; Kansas, 126; Ohio, 44; Indiana, 43; Colorado, 34; Illinois, 27; Pennsylvania, 26 and Texas, 22.

For the most recent week, Iowa again leads the 'league table' in the number of new positive results, accounting for 67 of the total of 140 new cases, followed by Minnesota with 23.

Merck shares progress on Zilmax and the plan for responsible beef
During the last 90 days, Merck Animal Health, with the input and oversight of its Advisory Board, has worked to implement its Five-Step Plan to Ensuring Responsible Beef and has made considerable progress. The findings that come as a result of the plan will add to the significant amount of data that already exists for Zilmax® (zilpaterol hydrochloride), including numerous animal safety and well-being trials. Zilmax is a feed supplement approved by the FDA and other regulatory authorities. While we have made considerable progress, it is too early to determine when Merck Animal Health will return Zilmax back to the market in the United States and Canada.  

Merck Animal Health Advisory Board
Formed in August, the Merck Animal Health Advisory Board is comprised of representatives from packers, large, medium and small cattle feeder operations, cow-calf producers, veterinarians, academia and industry consultants. In addition to helping the company maintain an open dialogue on animal well-being, beta agonist use and related matters, the objectives of the Board include:

  • Review all available animal safety and well-being research data on Zilmax
  • Review the existing Zilmax Quality Assurance program (ZQA) and make recommendations, as needed
  • Provide input on the certification and scientific audit processes; and
  • Review and provide guidance on best management practices for using Zilmax

The Advisory Board has provided input on, reviewed and approved all initiatives in support of the plan.

December 12, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.
Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Ag markets moved mostly lower Wednesday night
Cattle futures were mostly lower last night. Short-term cash market expectations seemingly turned somewhat more positive Wednesday, which probably explains modest gains in expiring December futures yesterday and again overnight. However, concerns about increased feedyard supplies and flat demand continue weighing upon deferred futures. February cattle futures slipped 0.07 cents to 132.72 cents/pound in early Thursday trading, while with April futures gained 0.02 to 133.85. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle edged 0.12 cents lower to 165.55 cents/pound, and March feeders skidded 0.15 to 165.35.

Wednesday’s late cash gains boosted hog futures this morning. Cash market losses late last week and earlier this week apparently weighed heavily upon CME futures, particularly with pork prices also under pressure. However, cash quotes west of the Mississippi River posted surprising gains yesterday afternoon, which probably powered modest overnight gains. February hog futures bounced 0.25 cents to 88.02 cents/pound in pre-dawn Thursday action, while June rose 0.25 to 99.85.

Ag industry says it supports new FDA antibiotic guidelines
FDA today released a long-awaited guidance limiting the use of on-farm antibiotics to slow the spread of antimicrobial resistance in humans. And it appears that agriculture, for the most part, is happy with the result.

The Animal Health Institute, which represents a number of animal drug companies, said in a statement it supported the policy and pledged to “continue to work with FDA on its implementation.”

On a media call, representatives from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) said they had worked with the regulatory agency to determine the scope of the guidelines and indicated they were pleased with the results.

Guidance #209 establishes two voluntary guidelines: that medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animal should only be used when necessary to promote public health; and that the drugs in animals should only be used under the supervision of veterinarians.

Guidance #213 phases out the use antimicrobials for growth promotion - a practice that has received criticism from a number of food safety advocacy and watchdog groups. The guidance instructs drug companies to change “feed products containing medically important microbial drugs” from Over-the-Counter regulation status to prescription, or Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), status.

Finally, a proposed Veterinary Feed Directive released today would require veterinarians to make on-site visits and write more detailed reports on animal operations.

USDA updates its 2014 forecast with more beef
Expectations for U.S. beef production in 2014 are higher than the previous month according to the USDA’s last forecast of the year.

The United States Department of Agriculture World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) forecast increased beef exports, cattle prices and beef production estimates over its November predictions.

The December forecast increases total red meat and beef production in 2014 by less than one percent each compared to the previous month’s forecasts. According to the report, the increase is a result of higher expected cattle and hog carcass weights and higher cattle slaughter. The beef production forecast expects imports to remain consistent with earlier predictions.

Demand will likely keep cattle prices strong going into 2014. Shrinking supplies will make each head more valuable with expected prices next year higher in the December report than a month earlier. The USDA specifically focuses on fed cattle prices, which have remained above $130 per hundredweight while beef prices hover above $200.

High beef prices will weigh on consumer demand next year as per capita consumption increased from November estimates, but remains six percent lower than 2013 projections.

Read the full report.

Investors working on plans for Northern Beef plant
White Oak Global Advisors is working on an action plan after submitting a bid to purchase the bankrupt facility last week. 

The Aberdeen News reports the company will know what to do with the plant in the new couple of weeks. A decision to open the state-of-the-art processing facility for business would cut expenses and travel time for cattle producers travel hundreds of miles to deliver their livestock to the next closest facility.

White Oak is still required to finalize the bankruptcy sale. Once the transition is approved, the new owners have the option to operate the plant, sell the operation, or divide the land and equipment to sell items separately.

December 11, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

“Thank you” from the Frey family, Creston Livestock Auction (Creston, Iowa)
With a heavy heart, we mourn the passing of our sons, TJ and Nathan. The boys were playing near a family pond on Saturday, November 30, and drowned after falling through the ice. While our family grieves their tragic passing, we thank you for the outpouring of support and ask that you continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Note: To date, over $60,000 has been raised for the T.J. and Nathan Frey Fund that will benefit the boys’ school, St. Malachy. Contributions were collected through private donations, during the rollover calf auction last Wednesday and sale of a donated calf during last Friday’s auction. If you would like to contribute to the T.J and Nathan Frey Fund, please send checks to St. Malachy School, 403 W. Clark St.; Creston, IA 50801.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Tyson imposes animal welfare requirements on beef producers
As consumers grow more concerned with animal welfare issues, Tyson says beef producers will have to follow on-farm requirements for animal treatment next year if they want to work with the major meat processor.

Tyson made the decision as it’s received customer feedback from major food companies including Whole Foods and McDonald’s. Tyson already requires its hog producers to follow specific guidelines and will now enforce its higher animal welfare standards on beef and poultry producers.

The animal-handling practices will be implemented by a third-party auditor who will visit farms to ensure compliance. The Des Moines Registerreports the auditor will review animal handling practices and confirm animals have access to adequate feed and water.

Cattle producers heard the news from Lora Wright, Tyson’s beef supply chain manager, at the Iowa Cattlemen Association’s annual convention. Many of the practices are already practiced, so the change will be in the requirement for producers to document practices.

Schwieterman: Cash trade unsettled, feeder futures higher
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher

Live cattle futures recovered to close mixed on Tuesday, after trading under pressure for much of the day session. Overnight activity is firmer, with the front two months leading the advance. Open interest has fallen about 8,000 contracts in the past two sessions, which may be end of the year position squaring by large specs. Cutouts were mixed on Tuesday, with choice modestly lower and select higher. Cash is expected to be a day or two away, with asking prices of $134 and bids near $130 in the south.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures closed higher on the session Tuesday, with a late recovery in the fats and softer corn values inspiring the advance. Overnight trade is narrowly mixed and corn is trading slightly higher. The cash index was up .49 for the day and significantly higher on a single day average. Customers report that the past few days have been on fire in the area sales.

$4.75 corn in 2014? USDA thinks so
In its latest “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” report released on Tuesday, the USDA lowered corn’s season-average farm price for yet another month.  This price for 2013-2014 was lowered by 10 cents at the midpoint with the range narrowed to $4.05 to $4.75.

“Average prices received by farmers, however, are expected to continue to be reported above prevailing cash bids well into early 2014 as some sales will reflect the higher forward prices available before harvesting,” the report said.

The USDA also projected corn exports to jump 50 million bushels higher based on the pace of sales to date and an increase in global consumption. U.S. feed grain supplies for 2013-2014 was also slightly higher.

The report also raised the projected the season-average soybean price range for 2013-2013 at $11.50 to $13.50 per bushel, up 35 cents on both ends of the range. Soybean exports are forecast to increase by 25 million bushels to 1.475 billion, reflecting record commitments through November.

Read the full “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” report here.

USDA cuts estimates for U.S. corn, soybean supplies
Unsold supplies of U.S. corn before the 2014 harvest will total 1.792 billion bushels, down 5 percent from the month-ago estimate, the USDA said today in a monthly report, citing increased ethanol use and a jump in exports. Ending stocks will still be more than double a year earlier, the USDA said, after this year's record crop, estimated at 13.989 billion bushels. Prices at the farm gate will average $4.40 a bushel for the marketing year, the department said, down from $4.50 forecast in November and $6.89 in the previous year.

In time of recession, agriculture plays hero
The agricultural industry was a major driver in states across the country, contributing to America’s economic recovery, but certain sectors remain anxious for 2014.

Several states recorded higher farm income levels in the last two years that were more than double levels from four years earlier. Prairie Businessreports South Dakota’s farm income topped $2 billion for the first time in 2008 and reached $4 billion and $3.5 billion in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Jim Terwilliger, economist for the state Bureau of Finance and Management, said South Dakota’s agricultural industry kept the state moving through the recession.

 “Since 2008 things have pretty much just exploded in farm income,” Terwilliger said. “Quite frankly, it’s helped our state weather the recession we had better than almost any state in the nation.”

Rancher relief fund tops $2 million
Heifer donations, auction sales, auto dealer fundraisers and other donations have added to a growing relief fund that has already passed $2 million to assist cattle producers recovering from the early October blizzard.

Hope From Highway 34 Other donations and fundraising projects have contributed to the relief fund. The Rapid City Journal reports a “Hope From Highway 34” calendar is available for $25 with proceeds going to the relief fund. Images in the calendar were produced by local photographers sharing rural scenes along South Dakota Highway 34 from Hayes to Bear Butte.

Orders can be placed by contacting Jodene Shaw online at http://jodeneshaw.blogspot.com/, call 605-985-5489 or email jjtsshaw@gwtc.net. Mail orders are also accepted.

Make checks payable to BHACF/SD Rancher Relief Fund and send to Jodene at PO Box 82, White Owl, SD 57792.

Kansas meat packer to add 300 jobs at Black Angus plant
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef announced plans to expand its processing operation and add 300 jobs over the next five years.

Creekstone Farms has operated its plant in Arkansas City, Kan., for more than 10 years, and the expansion will boost the current ranks of 720 employees. The current plan involves replacing parts of an existing building that was damaged in a Sept. 25 fire that began on a conveyor belt in a shipping and storage area and injured one firefighter. The company — one of the few branded Black Angus Beef programs certified by USDA — was able to resume production less than one month later.

December 10, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Boehner says expiring US farm bill should get 1-month extension
Lawmakers should pass a one-month extension of the U.S. farm bill, which otherwise is set to expire at the end of the year, House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday.

"I have not seen any real progress on the farm bill. So if we have got to pass a one-month extension of the farm bill, I think we will be prepared to do that," Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said at his weekly news conference.

The four major agricultural negotiators in Congress met on Wednesday and reported "great progress" toward finalizing a $500 million, five-year bill. But Republicans and Democrats are still wide apart on the issue of how much to cut out of food stamp benefits for low-income Americans.

Merck updates veterinarians on Zilmax
At the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC) conference this week in Denver, representatives from Merck Animal Health updated veterinarians and answered questions about their beta agonist product ZIlmax. The company suspended sales of the product in the United States and Canada in August, after concerns emerged over mobility problems in cattle arriving at packing plants.

Merck technical services specialist John Hutcheson, PhD, told AVC attendees the company is moving forward with its “five-steps to responsible beef” plan, which it announced when it suspended sales of Zilmax. Early on, the company formed an advisory board consisting of 19 members including scientists, veterinarians, nutritionists, large and small cattle feeders, packers and other industry representatives. The company agreed to follow the guidance of the advisory board in executing its five-point plan. They held a two-day face-to-face meeting in September and have had regular conference calls since for ongoing input.

Based on that input, the company has developed a Zilmax Certification Plan, outlining a new process for qualifying feedyards to feed the product. Training for certification will require participation of a feedyard’s consulting veterinarian and nutritionist along with the operation’s management. Once the product returns to the market, Merck will control who can purchase the product and limit its use to certified feedyards. The independent advisory board developed the certification plan, which has been finalized.

Cattle Theft at All-Time High
With beef prices reaching record highs there has also been a rapid increase in stolen cattle for Oklahoma ranchers. During the first 10 months of the year there were 835 reported cattle thefts in the Sooner State, up 16 percent from 2012. One case saw 19 cows and calves stolen from an Okmulgee ranch in September. Approximately half of the cattle have been recovered after being sold at local sale barns and an arrest has been made related to the case. In all there have been 274 felony charges pressed related to cattle rustling in Oklahoma for 2013.

December 9, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

“Thank you” from the Frey family, Creston Livestock Auction (Creston, Iowa)
With a heavy heart, we mourn the passing of our sons, TJ and Nathan. The boys were playing near a family pond on Saturday, November 30, and drowned after falling through the ice. While our family grieves their tragic passing, we thank you for the outpouring of support and ask that you continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Note: To date, over $60,000 has been raised for the T.J. and Nathan Frey Fund that will benefit the boys’ school, St. Malachy. Contributions were collected through private donations, during the rollover calf auction last Wednesday and sale of a donated calf during last Friday’s auction. If you would like to contribute to the T.J and Nathan Frey Fund, please send checks to St. Malachy School, 403 W. Clark St.; Creston, IA 50801.

After slow holiday week, feeder market springs back to action
After a slow Thanksgiving holiday week, feeder cattle and calf markets were active last week with price trends in the Southeast and Southern Plains mostly steady to lower while calves Midwestern and Northern Plains were fully steady to 2.0 higher on more attractive offerings, according to USDA Market News Reporter Corbitt Wall. He says Southern demand was hampered by the ice storm that hit the region late in the week.

Despite the arctic temperatures throughout much of the country, the local salebarn in Ogallala, Neb., was hopping last week with a half load of fancy hard-weaned 455 pound steer calves bringing $255.50, similar five weights bringing from 201-219, and a load of light six weight steers at 198. Wall says feeder cattle price levels “continue to defy gravity” with the most reasonable feed costs and availability in several years. He says having a good handle on feed inputs gives cattle investors more confidence in their purchases.

According to USDA Market News, there have been reports of $2,500 bred cows and $3,000 pairs at slaughter cow auctions, which have “stirred about anybody with a gooseneck and a bale of hay.” Tight supplies in the industry have resulted in beef cattle of any class being highly sought after. Wall says they appear to be secure property for at least the next three years.

This week’s reported auction volume included 44 percent over 600 pounds and 38 percent heifers.

Washington Week Ahead: Farm bill negotiations will heat up
Negotiations between farm bill conferees will intensify this week as the congressional clock ticks down and while stakeholders maintain hope lawmakers can agree on long-term agricultural policy before the end of the year.

There have been signals that the four principals - Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn. - may be closing in on a deal. While the top conferees have been relatively tight-lipped, there may be, at least, partial agreement on some of the farm bill titles.

The Senate will be back in session today after a two-week break, and floor action will be focused largely on the defense spending bill. Senators also will deal with a judicial nomination.

Livestock futures were outdoing the crop markets on Monday morning
Wire services again credited short covering for boosting cattle this morning. Cattle futures stabilized last Friday, with the underlying strength reportedly being proved by short covering. Friday’s late wholesale report seemed bearish, but futures moved modestly higher after the CME pit opened. Industry sourced again ascribed the strength to short covering. Wintry weather over the Great Plains is probably providing some support. February cattle futures rallied 0.32 cents to 133.17 cents/pound just before lunchtime Monday, while the April contract ran up 0.40 to 134.10. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle advanced 0.50 cents to 164.97 cents/pound, while March feeders gained 0.32 to 165.65.

Friday’s afternoon reports probably sparked early hog gains. After trading weakly much of last week, hog futures traded firmly Friday afternoon. That apparently marked a response to talk of firming cash and wholesale prices. Indeed, Friday’s late reports were surprisingly strong, which probably powered today’s early surge. February hog futures jumped 0.97 cents to 89.97 cents/pound in late Monday morning trading, while June climbed 0.80 to 100.50.

Canadian ag minister threatens trade retaliations against COOL
Canadian agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said his country is serious about seeking retaliatory tariffs if the United States fails to change its country-of-origin meat labeling law (COOL).

“It's always the last arrow in the quiver we want to fire,'' Ritz said Thursday in a teleconference with reporters from the Indonesian island of Bali, where he was attending a World Trade Organization ministerial conference. But at the end of the day, he said the world must know Canada is serious.

Ritz said there's a “small window of opportunity before the end of the year'' for the U.S. Congress to “get it right'' and amend COOL. And he offered to come to Washington next week, when both the House and Senate will be in session, to press his case for a COOL amendment in a new farm bill that is being fought over in a conference committee.

December 6, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Frey family service, memorial information; Creston Livestock Auction sale schedule
The LMA is deeply saddened to learn that two members of the Tom and Leisa Frey family passed away on Saturday, November 30. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family as they grieve the deaths of Nathan, 9 and TJ, 11.

Service – Saturday, December 7 at 10:00 a.m.; Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Creston, Iowa
Visitation – Friday, December 6 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.; Powers Funeral Home in Creston, Iowa
Offerings – Please send all memorial checks for the TJ and Nathan Frey Fund to St. Malachy School (403 W. Clark St.; Creston, IA 50801.)

All sales at Creston Livestock Auction will proceed as scheduled this week.
Friday – Special Bred Heifer and Cow Sale with regular sale beginning at 10:00 a.m.

LMA Membership Directories are in the mail; extra copies available
LMA members have been sent one copy of the new directory. If you would like one additional copy of the directory (at no charge,) please contact Cathy Collett at 816-891-0502. Non-members can request a copy for $150.00 dollars.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Farm bill negotiations spilling into next week; extension looms
Negotiations over a long-term farm bill are rolling into next week as top congressional conferees continued to work today to piece together a deal - while talk of another extension increased among lawmakers.

There were signals that the four principals - Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., - are on the edge of a break-through on several differences.

While many parts of the legislation remain up in the air, it seems the principals have agreed to consider different commodity title options such as allowing corn and soybean growers to choose a farm program calculated on base acres rather than planted acres. On nutrition, the bottom line number for a reduction in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs appears to be between $10 billion and $12 billion over 10 years. The Senate bill had it pegged at $4 billion, while the House bill came in at $40 billion. But sources close to the negotiations say they are waiting for Congressional Budget Office scores on various provisions before any final decisions are made. More movement is expected by Monday if the CBO scores are available. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said a conference report could hit the floor next week.

Cow lease/share arrangements match cows to feed resources
South Dakota cattlemen challenged by dwindling grazing resources to support their production systems may find cow lease/share arrangements as an alternative to herd liquidation. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, South Dakota’s cow herd totals (ranked 5th nationally) grew by five percent from 2012 to 2013. Maintaining that growth may be difficult with the continued conversion of pasture and hay ground to crop acres.

Cow lease/share arrangements offer a logistical solution in some instances for cattlemen with surplus grazing acres or winter feed and those who do not have those vital resources available to them. Those contractual agreements typically are unique in almost every circumstance due to the individuality of their management programs, herd genetics, cow frame size or long term goals.

December 5, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Frey family service, memorial information; Creston Livestock Auction sale schedule
The LMA is deeply saddened to learn that two members of the Tom and Leisa Frey family passed away on Saturday, November 30. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family as they grieve the deaths of Nathan, 9 and TJ, 11.

Service – Saturday, December 7 at 10:00 a.m.; Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Creston, Iowa
Visitation – Friday, December 6 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.; Powers Funeral Home in Creston, Iowa
Offerings – Please send all memorial checks for the TJ and Nathan Frey Fund to St. Malachy School (403 W. Clark St.; Creston, IA 50801.)

All sales at Creston Livestock Auction will proceed as scheduled this week.
Friday – Special Bred Heifer and Cow Sale with regular sale beginning at 10:00 a.m.

LMA Membership Directories are in the mail; extra copies available
LMA members have been sent one copy of the new directory. If you would like one additional copy of the directory (at no charge,) please contact Cathy Collett at 816-891-0502. Non-members can request a copy for $150.00 dollars.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Video series addresses “superbugs” in meat and poultry products
Consumers aware of food safety issues may worry about “superbugs,” but the bacterium resistant to all antibiotics that can cause a foodborne illness is rare according to the latest Meat MythCrusher video.

The newest video in the series released this week addresses concerns about the occurrence of superbugs on meat and poultry products. While activists may claim such cases are on the rise, Mindy Brashears, Ph.D. professor of microbiology and food safety at Texas Tech University, says USDA data points to an opposing result.

“Overall USDA testing shows that all bacteria are decreasing in meat and poultry products, not increasing,” Brashears says. “The number one goal of any meat and poultry processor is to reduce or eliminate all the pathogens in the product before they are consumed.”

Farm bill conferees cite progress, but no final deal yet
The top four farm bill conferees are likely to meet again Thursday after holding a short meeting today where they declared “great progress” on reaching a final deal, but offered scant details.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., sat down with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., this morning and came out of the meeting together smiling. Stabenow and Peterson said they discussed every title of the bill.

Conference Committee Must Act Now to Pass Farm Bill this Year
US - The US House of Representatives will recess on December 13, presenting another looming deadline for farm bill completion this year. National Farmers Union (NFU) has continued to send a clear message to members of the Farm Bill Conference Committee: we need a farm bill now.

NFU sent a letter to the members of the conference committee earlier this year outlining its grassroots-driven policy priorities, including:

  • Maintaining permanent farm bill law;
  • Establishing fixed reference prices for commodity programs;
  • Opposing any legislative changes to Country-of-Origin Labeling;
  • Enacting an inventory management tool as part of the dairy safety net;
  • Providing $900 million in mandatory funding for renewable energy funding; and
  • Including adequate funding levels for the Farmers Market and Local Foods Promotion Program.

Cold snap and ice threaten U.S. wheat, livestock, logistics
Bitter cold temperatures and ice are posing a threat to livestock and portions of the U.S. winter wheat crop into the weekend, an agricultural meteorologist said on Thursday. 

"There may be some winterkill in the Plains but I don't think it's a major problem. A bigger issue will be the ice cover from northeast Texas into the Delta," said Don Keeney, a meteorologist for MDA Weather Services. 

Keeney said temperatures would fall to 3 degrees to 5 degrees below zero Fahrenheit on Friday and Saturday in the Plains hard red winter wheat region, and a lack of snow cover could lead to winterkill in northwest Kansas and southwest Nebraska.

December 4, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Frey family service, memorial information; Creston Livestock Auction sale schedule
The LMA is deeply saddened to learn that two members of the Tom and Leisa Frey family passed away on Saturday, November 30. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family as they grieve the deaths of Nathan, 9 and TJ, 11.

Service – Saturday, December 7 at 10:00 a.m.; Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Creston, Iowa
Visitation – Friday, December 6 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.; Powers Funeral Home in Creston, Iowa
Offerings – Please send all memorial checks for the TJ and Nathan Frey Fund to St. Malachy School (403 W. Clark St.; Creston, IA 50801.)

All sales at Creston Livestock Auction will proceed as scheduled this week.
Wednesday – Special VACC Sale beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Friday – Special Bred Heifer and Cow Sale with regular sale beginning at 10:00 a.m.

A roll-over calf sale to benefit the TJ and Nathan Frey Fund will take place during Wednesday’s sale and will begin at noon. For questions regarding the sale and to participate, please contact LMA REO, Corey Schultz, at (816) 645-9357.

LMA Membership Directories are in the mail; extra copies available
LMA members have been sent one copy of the new directory. If you would like one additional copy of the directory (at no charge,) please contact Cathy Collett at 816-891-0502. Non-members can request a copy for $150.00 dollars.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Lead negotiator sees January finish for overdue farm bill
Congress could enact a new U.S. farm law that cuts food stamps for the poor and expands federally subsidized crop insurance in January if negotiators soon break a deadlock, the lawmaker overseeing the negotiations said on Tuesday.

Cuts in food stamps are the paramount issue for the farm bill, which is more than a year overdue. Conservative Republicans want the largest cuts in a generation, $40 billion over 10 years. House Democrats solidly oppose any cuts. The sides continue to struggle for a compromise.

The food stamp fight has repeatedly slowed work on the five-year, $500 billion bill, which has also endured the first-ever defeat of a farm bill in the House of Representatives. Deep divisions also remain over crop subsidies and dairy reform, other lines of dispute that must be resolved.

Finally, lower feed costs for dairy farmers
With most of the 2013 corn crop in the bin, dairy farmers are finally starting to see some relief in their feed bills. It’s not all Mai Tais and Yahtzee, as one of my farmer friends likes to say, but $4/bu corn will go a long way in easing the income-over-feed-cost red ink.

Robert Tigner, a University of Nebraska Extension dairy educator, shares with me his monthly spreadsheet on dairy costs and returns. When corn was at $7.50/cwt, whole herd feed costs were running in the neighborhood of $17.50 per hundredweight of milk produced. (Note: Soybean meal was plugged in at $440/ton and alfalfa hay at $250/ton.)

Tigner’s October spreadsheet had corn at $4.30/bu, soybean meal at $436/ton and alfalfa at $250/ton. Consequently, whole herd feed costs—for milking and dry cows plus replacements—dropped to $12.75 to $14/cwt. (The lower number is for herds producing 24,000 lb. of milk per cow; the higher number, for 20,000 lb. herds.)

6 potential grain market movers
With the calendar soon flipping to 2014, market experts share their thoughts on what factors could be game-changers for grain prices.
Volatility seems to be the new normal for the corn and soybean prices. The last few years have brought us record-high prices, unbalance between supply and demand, as well as horrible weather challenges.

So, what will be in store for 2014? Several market experts have weighed in add their predictions (in no particular order) are below. These comments are experts from a recent Top Producer article that features analysis and commentary from 15 ag market analysts.

Game-Changer #1: Ethanol / Biofuel Usage
Game-Changer #2: China
Game-Changer #3: South America
Game-Changer #4: U.S. Economy
Game-Changer #5: Massive 2014 Crops
Game-Changer #6: Weather

December 3, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Frey family service, memorial information; Creston Livestock Auction sale schedule
The LMA is deeply saddened to learn that two members of the Tom and Leisa Frey family passed away on Saturday, November 30. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family as they grieve the deaths of Nathan, 9 and TJ, 11.

Service – Saturday, December 7 at 10:00 a.m.; Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Creston, Iowa
Visitation – Friday, December 6 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.; Powers Funeral Home in Creston, Iowa
Offerings – Please send all memorial checks for the TJ and Nathan Frey Fund to St. Malachy School (403 W. Clark St.; Creston, IA 50801.)

All sales at Creston Livestock Auction will proceed as scheduled this week.
Wednesday – Special VACC Sale beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Friday – Special Bred Heifer and Cow Sale with regular sale beginning at 10:00 a.m.

A roll-over calf sale to benefit the TJ and Nathan Frey Fund will take place during Wednesday’s sale and will begin at noon. For questions regarding the sale and to participate, please contact LMA REO, Corey Schultz, at (816) 645-9357.

LMA Membership Directories are in the mail; extra copies available

LMA members have been sent one copy of the new directory. If you would like one additional copy of the directory (at no charge,) please contact Cathy Collett at 816-891-0502. Non-members can request a copy for $150.00 dollars.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16

Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.
Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Packer, feeder margins improve to close November

Feeder margins regained some lost ground last week finishing the week ending November 30 at $65.88, compared to $45.36 the previous week, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. While this is more than $57 lower than feeder margins one month ago, last week's margins finished more than $112 higher than one year ago at this time, when they closed out November 2012 at negative $46.24. Feed costs were down $4.19 last week, while total costs increased by $4.40. Fed cattle finished the week at $132 per hundredweight, and feeders closed out the week up at $166, compared to $162.93 the previous week.
Packer margins improved last week to negative $25.16, compared to negative $53.23 the previous week and negative $38.07 one month ago. After spending several weeks above $200, the beef cutout value finished the week at $198.75 last week, compared to $196.32 the previous week and $200.33 one month ago. The beef cutout value was $8.46 higher than it was at this time last year.  

Schwieterman: Cattle futures temporarily bearish

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed narrowly mixed on Monday, with weakness in the December contract. We expect to see more short term bear spreading as we head toward first notice day for deliveries against the Dec contract. Option expiration on Friday could also be a factor into weeks’ end. Open interest climbed a solid 2,534 contracts on Monday in spite of the narrow trading range. Show lists appear to be smaller in most locations, which should continue to add support.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures settled narrowly mixed on Monday, with light bear spreading a feature. Overnight trade is modestly higher across the board, with corn prices showing some modest weakness. Cash index levels jumped 1.25 on Monday, reaching a new all-time high of 165.88. The January contract is now discount to the current index. Technical indicators are in a positive mode. We look for overall market direction to remain firm into the 1st qtr of 2014.

Optimistic about farm bill

With just a few legislative days left before the end of the year, the question remains if the Farm Bill can be completed in time.
Mike Stokke director of the Farm Credit Administration Office of Congressional and Public Affairs says he’s trying to remain positive.  “So here’s the good thing,” he says.  “Deadlines are good.  With just a few days left it is a really short amount of time to get some really big things done.  They have to come to a compromise on a number of things.  It’s very difficult to do and I know they’re trying.  But I like deadlines – they kind of force things to happen that maybe wouldn’t.”
One other item that could work in the committee’s favor, he says, is putting together an extension isn’t getting any easier.  “So that means there is no easy out,” he says.  “And that’s good, because that means they’re more likely to come to a compromise and get a bill done.  There are just a few days left and they know they are under the gun.”

December 2, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Condolences to Frey family (Creston Livestock Auction; Creston, IA)
The LMA is deeply saddened to learn that two members of the Tom and Leisa Frey family passed away on Saturday, November 30. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family as they grieve the deaths of Nathan, 9 and TJ, 11.

Funeral services and memorial fund information is currently pending. The LMA will disseminate that information as soon as it becomes available.

LMA Membership Directories are in the mail; extra copies available
LMA members have been sent one copy of the new directory. If you would like one additional copy of the directory (at no charge,) please contact Cathy Collett at 816-891-0502. Non-members can request a copy for $150.00 dollars.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Despite low volume, feeder deman stayed high during holiday week
As a result of the shortened Thanksgiving holiday week and inclement weather across the Southern Plains, feeder cattle marketing was very slow last week. According to USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall, there were not enough sales of calves or yearlings to determine an adequate national trend.

For example, compared to the holiday week in 2012 when the Oklahoma National Stockyards had 6,000 head at the Monday auction, this year’s total was just 1,500. While volume was low at the Oklahoma National Stockyards, feeder demand was high at Green City, Mo., last week for its annual Thanksgiving Yearling Special. Prices were 22.00-24.00 higher than a year ago, with nearly 700 of the top quality 800-900 pound steers averaged 855 pounds at $173.06.

Washington Week Ahead: Farm bill talks to step up as clock winds down
Negotiations over a long-term farm bill are likely to intensify this week as House lawmakers return to town and top conferees huddle to strike a deal by the end of the year.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., held a few meetings and phone discussions before the holiday break.
The conferees reported no significant progress, leaving several thorny issues unresolved. Stabenow said last week the farm bill titles are still open with disputes ongoing over the commodity title, dairy policy, nutrition, crop insurance, and conservation compliance, among other things.

With the amount of outstanding issues, the discussion of another extension of current farm policy will increase as time is running out on the congressional clock. The Senate is not in session this week and returns next week. Both chambers are hoping to recess for the year by Dec. 13.

Ag markets moved mostly lower Monday morning
Cattle futures began the week rather weakly. Despite talk of frigid Great Plains weather later this week and modest cash gains late last week, cattle futures were mixed to lower Monday morning. The general weakness may mark a response to ideas that the market is due for a technical setback after last week’s surge. February cattle futures were steady at 134.25 cents/pound just before lunchtime Monday, while April futures skidded 0.15 cents to 134.82. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle slipped 0.05 cents to 165.42 cents/pound, and March feeders slumped 0.02 cents to 165.65.

Ideas that hogs have bottomed are seemingly attracting buying. Cash hog and wholesale prices firmed last Friday. Moreover, the CME lean hog index turned upward after having declined steadily for weeks. Traders probably think fall lows are in, so they’re buying nearby futures as a consequence. February hog futures gained 0.20 cents to 85.77 cents/pound late Monday morning, while June rose 0.02 to 100.45.

November 27, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

LMA offices will be closed Thursday, Nov. 28 and Friday, Nov. 29 for Thanksgiving holiday
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the LMA offices will be closed this Thursday, Nov. 28 and Friday, Nov. 29. Business as usual will resume on Monday, Dec. 2. We wish you a safe and happy holiday!

LMA phone system experiencing technical difficulties
The LMA phone system is currently experiencing intermittent technical difficulties with the 800 number. If you do not reach the switchboard via the (800) 821-2048 telephone number, please try (816) 891-0502. The LMA fax number is (816) 891-7926. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused to our members and affiliates.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.
Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Farm bill update – SDSU Extension
Congress is currently debating farm and food policy legislation commonly referred to as the farm bill. The U.S. Senate’s version, called the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 was passed in June. In concurrent legislation, the U.S. House failed to pass their version of the 2013 farm bill. In July the House did pass a variation of the bill that was defeated in June, however, that legislation did not include a food and nutrition title. In September, the House passed a separate food and nutrition bill. A subsequent House resolution combined portions of both House bills in an attempt to reconcile their proposed legislation with the Senate’s bill.

Schwieterman: Live, feeder cattle futures move higher Tuesday

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed sharply higher on Tuesday, setting the stage for a possible rise in cash prices ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Packers are buying for a full kill week and cutout values have been firm so far this week. Overnight trade has trended modestly higher, with volume continuing to be seasonally light. Open interest did rise 920 contracts on Tuesday’s up day. We will be surprised if packers don’t become more aggressive and procure cattle today.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Call: 10-30 Higher

Feeder cattle futures posted triple digit gains on Tuesday, with the lead January contract leading the way higher. Futures are trapped in between the 50 and 100 day moving averages but appear ready to turn shorter term indicators back up on any further strength. Overnight corn values are trying to rebound from Tuesday’s sharp decline. Cash index levels remain on the defensive, with Tuesday’s average falling to 164.21.

November 26, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

LMA phone system experiencing technical difficulties
The LMA phone system is currently experiencing intermittent technical difficulties with the 800 number. If you do not reach the switchboard via the (800) 821-2048 telephone number, please try (816) 891-0502. The LMA fax number is (816) 891-7926. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused to our members and affiliates.

LMA offices will be closed Thursday, Nov. 28 and Friday, Nov. 29 for Thanksgiving holiday
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the LMA offices will be closed this Thursday, Nov. 28 and Friday, Nov. 29. Business as usual will resume on Monday, Dec. 2.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Feeder, packer margins fall
After reaching $124.67 one month ago, feeder margins dropped to $45.36 the week ending Nov. 23, 2013. Feeder margins were $84.63 one week ago and negative $67.07 at this time last year, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feed costs increased $0.15 last week to $333.63. Compared to one year ago, when feed prices were $501.76, prices have decreased by more than $168. Total cost was down $8.40 compared the previous week, finishing the week at $1,735.78. Both fed cattle and feeder cattle were down last week, finishing the week at $131 per hundredweight on the fed cattle side and $164.93 for feedlot placements.

The farrow-to-finish margin finished the week ending Nov. 22, 2013, at $25.44 compared to negative $21.37 the previous week and negative $9.88 one month ago. At this time last year, the farrow-to-finish margin was negative $41.65 according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs were down $2.47 to $80.10 compared to $82.57 the previous week, $88.46 one month ago and $77.18 one year ago. Feed costs decreased nearly $4 to $84.89 last week, and total costs were down $4 last week to $141.34.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending November 23:

  • Average feeder margins: $45.36 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$53.23 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending November 22:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$25.44 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $20.90 per head.

Schwieterman: Higher corn triggers cattle futures selling
Corn                                      Estimated Fund Position
Trends – December Contract
Short Term: Up                     Net Long Futures and Options: -194044
Long Term: Down                  Change: +6000
Overnight Trade: Z +1 @7:30 AM

It is turn around Tuesday and the corn has given up all of yesterday’s gains. The December contract had been creeping towards trend line resistance, which lies at the $4.30 area today, but that has been put on hold for the moment. There shouldn’t be too much weakness this week since the basis levels are strong and the threat of delivery is low. We will probably continue to see the December contract gain on the March this week as well.

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed mixed on Monday, with December lower on deferred contracts modestly better. Overnight trade has been two sided with a slightly higher bias. Show lists in Kansas and Texas are seen as larger than week ago levels. Our list was up a couple of percent, with just under 20% carried over from last week. Cutout values jumped 2.40 in the choice cuts, with hide and offal values rising above 15.00 for the first time ever. The increase in carcass values could re-energize the cash market on this Holiday shortened week. Cash trade could start taking shape as early as this morning.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Call: 10-30 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately lower across the board on Monday, with lower cash and modestly higher corn values triggering the selling. Flow of cash into the beef futures market over the past week is slowing down and adding to the negative attitudes. Overnight trade is firming as we write, with moderate gains in the feeders boosted by a nickel drop in corn values.

Fewer cattle on feed will reduce beef production
USDA-NASS released the monthly Cattle on Feed report on November 22. The number of cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the U.S. for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more totaled 10.607 million head on Nov. 1. The inventory was almost 6% below Nov. 1, 2012, and marks the 15th consecutive month with lower cattle on feed numbers than the previous year. And it was the lowest number of Nov. 1 cattle on feed since the data series began in 1996.

Smaller inventories imply lower beef production ahead.  The Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) is projecting 4th quarter 2013 beef production to decline about 5.2% from last year. That would result in a 1.5% decline in beef production for the year. If U.S. pasture and range conditions continue to improve, declining cow slaughter coupled with lower fed cattle slaughter could result in 2014 beef production at 6 to 7% lower levels than 2013.

SD Farm Bureau adopts policy favoring animal cruelty law
The South Dakota Farm Bureau adopted policy this weekend making it a felony to willfully torture animals. South Dakota Farm Bureau President Scott VanderWal tells Brownfield that animal rights groups have cited the state as the last in the Union to not prosecute such crimes as felonies.

November 25, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

LMA phone system experiencing technical difficulties
The LMA phone system is currently experiencing intermittent technical difficulties with the 800 number. If you do not reach the switchboard via the (800) 821-2048 telephone number, please try (816) 891-0502. The LMA fax number is (816) 891-7926. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused to our members and affiliates.

LMA offices will be closed Thursday, Nov. 28 and Friday, Nov. 29 for Thanksgiving holiday
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the LMA offices will be closed this Thursday, Nov. 28 and Friday, Nov. 29. Business as usual will resume on Monday, Dec. 2.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Calf demand remains strong
Feeder cattle and calves weighing more than 600 pounds sold steady to $3.00 lower while lighter-weight, stocker-type calves traded unevenly steady to $5.00 higher, according to USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall.

Calf demand remains very good as beef cattle inventories remain tight and many areas around the country have stocks of hay and winter pasture to hold calves this winter. Wall says backgrounders are already worried about their ability to purchase grazing cattle in the spring.

The November Cattle on Feed report from USDA was released on Friday, Nov. 22, and showed feedyard inventories in U.S. feedlots with 1,000 head or more capacity at 10.6 million head as of November 1, down 6 percent from a year earlier. Feedyard inventories have run below year-earlier totals every month of this year. Wall said the report appeared slightly bearish.

New report highlights economics of passing farm bill
The Administration has made clear that passing a comprehensive farm bill is a priority, and of importance for every American. The White House released a new report last week that explains what is at stake in this debate. You can read the full report HERE.

The new report outlines the many benefits of a new Farm Bill for all Americans. Passage of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would:

  • Build on recent momentum of the U.S. agriculture economy, a key engine of economic growth.
  • Promote development in communities across the country, by expanding new opportunities for American agriculture, increasing manufacturing potential and supporting businesses across rural America.
  • Protect our vital food assistance programs, which benefit millions of families and individuals – in rural, suburban and urban areas alike
  • Create a reliable safety net for our farmers and ranchers, including a strong crop insurance program, a long term extension of disaster programs and retroactive assistance for livestock producers.
  • Continue federal conservation efforts, working alongside a record number of farmers and ranchers to conserve our soil and protect our water.
  • Promote new markets for U.S. producers abroad and at home, honor our trade commitments and assist our farmers and ranchers to export a record amount of product around the world.
  • Support research, and ensuring that our long history of agricultural innovation continues.
  • And reduce the deficit, by enacting reforms saving billions of dollars in the coming decade.

The report highlights the economic benefits – for the domestic agriculture sector, its workforce, rural American communities, and families and businesses across the country – that would result from these changes, and the imperative to passing a comprehensive Food, Farm, and Jobs bill as soon as possible.

Ag markets start the week in mixed fashion
Cattle futures are expected to open steady to slightly lower. The Cattle on Feed report released after the close on Friday showed a 10% increase in placements with cattle marketed up 1% leaving COF as of Nov 1 at 10.6 million head, down 6% vs. year ago. The report was right in line with expectations, but the larger placement figure may trigger some further near-term long liquidation in futures. The Cold Storage report showed a modest build in beef stocks to 443.6 million pounds, up 3% from a year ago. Wholesale prices have been weak, but edged slightly higher on Friday. December cattle futures are expected to open steady to down .20 cents from 131.48 with April also steady to lower from 132.57. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle are at 163.50 cents/pound, and March feeders at 163.375.

Cash hogs were firm Friday which may help stabilize futures in early going Monday. Frozen pork supplies came in near expectations at 566.7 million pounds, down 6% from a year ago. The Commitment of Traders indicated that funds continue to liquidate long positions, but are still net long just over 70,000 contracts leaving the market vulnerable to further long liquidation. Friday’s futures close near the daily low sets the stage for a steady to lower opening. December hog futures are expected open steady to down .20 cents from Friday’s close at 85.62 cents/pound while April may also be steady to .20 cents lower from 93.00 on Friday.

Cattle on feed inventory down 6 percent year-on-year
Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.6 million head on Nov. 1, 2013, according to USDA’s latest Cattle on Feed report.

The inventory was 6 percent below Nov. 1, 2012, which was the average of the pre-report estimates published by ThomsonReuters.

November 22, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Don’t be caught by surprise: Take stock of backtags and glue
The federal government shutdown in October caused the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) warehouse responsible for distributing glue and some backtags to livestock markets to cease all operations. This closure caught livestock markets and state health officials across the nation by surprise.  As a result, several markets found they had insufficient inventory of backtags and/or glue during the shutdown. 

USDA officials have confirmed that if the federal government shuts down in January, the warehouse will once again close.  This means new orders of all backtags and/or glue cannot be placed. Additionally, existing glue orders that did not ship prior to the shutdown will not ship during the closure.

As a courtesy, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) is providing this information to help ensure that Texas livestock markets are prepared and have sufficient supplies to continue business as usual in the event of a federal government shutdown. The TAHC encourages all livestock markets to assess their backtag and glue inventory and fax or email any orders to USDA by December 15.  Orders may be faxed to Mr. Charles Horton at 512-916-5525 or emailed to charles.c.horton@aphis.usda.gov.  For additional information, please contact Mr. Horton at 512-383-2427.   

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle futures see modest gains
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed about .40 higher across the board on Thursday, climbing back above the 100 day moving averages in the active Feb-Apr contracts. Some moderate trade developed in the south, with a few feedlots accepting $1.00 lower bids of $131. A majority of the trade remains for today, with asking prices of $133 in the south and $208+ in Nebraska. This afternoons’ on feed report is expecting 6% lower total on feed, 9-10% higher placements and 4% more marketed cattle. Overnight trade has been narrowly mixed on either side of unchanged.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures posted modest gains on Thursday, with the exception of the Jan contract closing up a solid .63 for the session. Overnight trade is trending modestly higher, with corn prices also seeing modest gains. We expect futures prices to remain shaky for another couple of weeks, with cash sales limited by the holiday period.

Farm bill hits more snags
Negotiations between the top four principals over a long-term farm bill slowed today with no real progress and no further face-to-face meetings scheduled before the congressional Thanksgiving recess.

“I'm very disappointed that there's no agreement yet,” said Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., as she emerged from a second meeting of the day with the other top conferees.

Stabenow, committee ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., House Agriculture Committee Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., hunkered down for a meeting early Wednesday in the House Longworth building. Then, they met again later for a meeting in the Senate basement that lasted about 20 minutes.

Still, hopes of a breakthrough this week or next seem to be dashed, largely because there has been no compromise reached on the commodity title. One of the biggest sticking points is whether farm program payments will be calculated on planted acres, base acres or a new formula that represents a compromise between the two.

Lancet commission calls for changes in antibiotic use
This week, November 18 to 24, is Antibiotic Awareness Week in the United States, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia. Thailand, Europe and Mexico among others observe Antibiotic Awareness Day on November 18. Over the past few days, we have run a series of articles from the multi-disciplinary conference on antibiotic resistance hosted by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture last week in Kansas City. In keeping with the theme, the medical journal The Lancet this week published an editorial calling for a coordinated, global effort to combat antibiotic resistance.

To address the issue, The Lancet appointed an international expert commission, which operates under the theme of “Antibiotic resistance—the need for global solutions.” The goal of the Commission is to explore “why antibiotic resistance has become such a problem worldwide, and, most importantly, proposes solutions to avert the impending crisis.” The Lancet recruited experts in the various topics and asked them to write pieces focusing on how we got to this point and potential solutions to the problem. The individual contributions were peer-reviewed, revised, and assembled into a single document.

Animal health companies increase R&D developments
Animal Health Institute member companies invested $747 million in 2012 on the discovery and development of new medicines for animals and the maintenance of existing products.  That figure is a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year, according to AHI’s latest Research and Development Survey.   

“Innovation is essential to keeping a pipeline of new products that are needed by veterinarians, livestock producers and pet owners to keep animals healthy,” said AHI President and CEO Alexander S. Mathews.  “This level of investment by our members demonstrates their commitment to innovation and to a steady supply of safe and effective medicines.” 

Data were collected and compiled by the Animal Health Institute.  R&D spending is calculated according to the type of product manufactured by AHI’s member firms: pharmaceuticals, biologics, feed additives, insecticides and diagnostics.

Northey challenges Vilsack’s stance on King Amendment
Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey is challenging recent comments by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in regards to the so-called “King amendment”. 

That amendment to the House farm bill, sponsored by Iowa Congressman Steve King, would prohibit states from regulating other states’ means of agricultural production.  In a recent conference call with reporters, Vilsack called the amendment “a bit troublesome” and said it would create legal challenges and confusion in the market place. 

Northey disagrees and says it’s troubling to him that Vilsack appears to siding with California and the Humane Society of the United States on the issue. 

November 21, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Schwieterman: Feeder, cattle futures move higher Wednesday
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: 10-20Lower

Live cattle futures closed moderately higher on Wednesday, with deferred contracts garnering most of the support. With cash trade yet to develop, trade will likely be two sided and choppy until cash is established. We look for trade to be a full dollar lower this week. Slaughter pace has picked up compared to a week ago but remains sluggish verses historical data. The on feed report should be supportive to front months and more neutral to the deferred.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures posted solid gains on Wednesday, but remain in negative trend as we edge toward the holiday season. Corn prices are gaining 2-4 cents in overnight trade, which is putting some modest pressure on the feeders. We do need to remind followers that a 10% rise in October placements is still the second lowest placement number for that month in the past 10 years. Cash index levels remain on a decline heading into weeks’ end. It has dropped .50 since peaking on Monday.

Higher placements expected as feeders capitalize on cheap corn
Although cattle have been selling for a premium, analysts are forecasting higher placements in this Friday’s Cattle on Feed report as feedlots take advantage of inexpensive corn.

Yearling feeders have been in high demand as feedlots look for lightweight animals to bulk up and supplies remain limited which has helped push prices higher. Heifer retention has further constricted the market as producers look to rebuild herd sizes.

Year-to-year data in the Cattle on Feed report has been difficult to compare as the previous two years of drought conditions have pushed cattle into feedlots early and improving pastures this year have kept livestock on the farm longer than usual.

White House report pushes for farm bill passage this year
While the four principals of the Farm Bill conference committee hold discussions on Capitol Hill today, the Obama Administration released a report emphasizing the benefits of passing a new farm bill before the end of the year.

“The alternatives to full reauthorization-either delay or reversion to permanent law-would result in continued uncertainty for farmers and rural stakeholders,” notes the report from the White House Rural Council.

During a call with media today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the document lays out the contributions U.S. agriculture and the rural economy make to the rest of the country. He said the report could serve as “additional ammunition” for the conference committee leaders trying to pass a farm bill before the end of the year.

Hogs the exception to bullish rule on Thursday morning
Modest cash losses sparked a late-morning cattle surge. This week’s wholesale weakness and futures losses had seemingly set the stage for a sizeable decline in country cash prices this week. However, fed cattle reportedly traded $1.00 lower at $131/cwt (cents/pound), which prompted a strong bullish reaction in Chicago. December cattle futures advanced 0.55 cents to 131.60 late Thursday morning, while April futures added 0.42 cents to 133.10. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle ran up 0.62 cents to 163.37 cents/pound, and March feeders ran up 0.47 cents to 163.65.

Hog futures set back from late-Wednesday highs. Ideas that forthcoming hog supplies may not prove as large as previously feared seemed to send hog futures sharply higher Wednesday afternoon. However, cash and wholesale quotes continued their late decline late yesterday, which apparently sparked renewed interest from sellers. December hog futures slid 0.27 cents to 85.97 cents/pound in late Thursday morning trading, while April fell 0.40 cents to 93.20.

Tyson drops pork supplier caught abusing pigs
Tyson Foods announced it has terminated immediately its contract with an Oklahoma farm whose employees were caught on videotape abusing pigs.
The video was captured secretly and published today by Mercy for Animals at West Coast Farms in Okfuskee County, Okla. It shows employees kicking, throwing, hitting and slamming pigs on the ground. Footage even shows an employee throwing a bowling ball at a pig.

Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said in a statement the company is severing ties with West Coast Farms and taking possession of the animals remaining on the farm

Key lawmakers met ahead of deadline for farm bill
With a deadline looming, the four top agricultural negotiators in Congress met for nearly two hours late on Wednesday without reaching agreement on a $500 billion U.S. farm bill, and they will try again on Thursday morning, the lawmakers said.

The leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives agriculture committees, leaving Capitol Hill, told reporters they made progress during the session and that talks were moving in the right direction.

Policy disputes remain centered on a handful of issues including Republican demands for sweeping cuts in food stamps for the poor.

November 20, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle future prices losing ground
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher

Live cattle futures suffered their second consecutive sharply lower close, falling below the 100 day moving average in all but the lead December contract. Cutout weakness continues to be a contributing factor in the break. This weeks’ cash trade remains untested, with asking prices of $133+ not being approached by packers who finally feel they have some market leverage. Estimates for Friday’s on feed report call for 94% on feed, 110% placements and marketing 101.5%. the numbers could be negative to the 1st qtr of 2014.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures have now dropped more than 3.00 in the past two sessions. The weakness is piggybacking the decline in the fat market and comes in spite of corn being within a few cents of its’ yearly lows. The retreat also coincides with two straight days of lower equity closes. We will monitor that relationship for further direction. The projected 10% rise in October placements would still be the second smallest placement total for that month in the past 10 years.

US farm bill could weaken states’ animal welfare laws
The future of state laws that regulate everything from the size of a hen's cage to the safe consumption of Gulf oysters may be at stake as farm bill negotiators work to resolve a long-simmering fight between agriculture and animal welfare interests.

The House Agriculture Committee added language to its version of the farm bill earlier this year that says a state cannot impose certain production standards on agricultural products sold in interstate commerce. The provision, authored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is aimed at a California law that will require all eggs sold in the state to come from hens that inhabit cages in which they can spread their wings - a major burden for egg producers in Iowa and other states who don't use large cages and still want to sell eggs to the lucrative California market. The law goes into effect in 2015.

"Bottom line of it is no state should be allowed to regulate production in other states," King said at a meeting of House-Senate negotiators last month.

But opponents say that depending on how the language is interpreted, the provision could lead to challenges of dozens of other state laws - including some aimed at food safety, fire safety and basic consumer protections.

Feeder margins $178 higher than a year ago
Feeder margins bounced $12.12 higher last week, finishing the week ending November 16 at $84.63. One month ago, feeder margins were $88.68. Feeder margins have increased $178.21 from the negative $93.58 at this time last year, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feed costs fell $2.84 last week to $333.48, down from $491.58 at this time one year ago. Total cost was down $2 compared the previous week. Both fed cattle and feeder cattle were up last week, finishing the week at $132 per hundredweight on the fed cattle side and $165.99 for feedlot placements.

Beef packer margins retreated last week to negative $30.71 compared to negative $25.74 the previous week. At this time last month, packer margins were at negative $60.28 and negative $83.31 at this time one year ago, according to Sterling Market, Inc. The beef cutout value dropped below $200 last week to $198.75, a $1.79 drop compared to the previous week.

Vilsack pushes for farm bill’s passage with safety net
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack continues to push for completion of the 2013 Farm Bill including an adequate farm safety net, which he says benefits all Americans. Speaking to farm broadcasters Friday in Kansas City, Vilsack said that without a safety net, unavoidable crop failures could push producers out of business.

“What that will mean is that the nation, which is currently a food-secure nation, a nation that’s capable of producing and in fact does produce virtually all that we need to feed ourselves, is no longer a food-secure nation,” said Vilsack, during an hour-long news conference. “We’re no longer as strong or as safe when we are no longer a food-secure nation.”

At the same time, Vilsack says it will be necessary to cut programs, each of which have a constituency that wants them saved.

FDA pushes back food safety comment deadline as lawmakers ask for more time
FDA has extended the comment deadline for two of its proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules, the agency announced yesterday. Though comments on accreditation of third-party auditors and foreign supplier verification programs (FSVP) were originally Nov. 22, FDA will now accept comments until Jan. 24, 2014.

FDA says is it permitting the extension to “allow interested persons an opportunity to consider the interrelationship between these two proposed rules and the proposed rule announced in October 2013, ‘Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals.'”

HSUS ramping up again on gestation stalls
Over the past 10 day the Humane Society of the United States has issued three news release related to its efforts to stop hog producers from using gestation stall to house pregnant sows.

These releases are consistent with others HSUS has fed media outlets over the past couple of years, which typically highlight foodservice and retail chains that either encourage their suppliers to stop using the housing method or in some cases have set a date in the future when they will only purchase from suppliers that do not use them.

November 19, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle futures, corn futures fall
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Lower

Live cattle futures closed sharply lower on Monday, with most contracts closing at or below key longer term moving averages. Boxed beef price and demand weakness over the past week are seen as key fundamentals for the decline. Show lists were smaller overall, with our list unchanged but carrying 38% over from a week ago. Overnight activity has been softer throughout the session but resting on its daily highs as we write. Technical damage has taken place, which will encourage more aggressive pricing strategies on any recovery effort.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Call: 20-40 Lower

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately to sharply lower on Monday, in spite of double digit losses in the corn futures. Spillover weakness from the live pit, along with recent weakness in the cash index brought new sellers into the fold. Overnight weakness continues, with a modest rebound in corn values adding to the pressure. Expectations that a big placement number could show up in Friday’s report is another factor being discussed.

Beef economist expects near-record profit in 2014
Limited cattle supplies will keep cattle prices high next year, and a beef economist says high domestic beef demand and improving global opportunities are just a few reasons to expect near record-high profitability.

Scott Brown, University of Missouri beef economist, said the forecast for the cattle market over the next two years compares to the “golden era” of beef profits in 2004. Brown presented his outlook to producers at the annual Missouri Forage and Grassland Conference at Port Arrowhead at Lake Ozark earlier this month.

In addition to high cattle prices and low feed costs, demand in the U.S. and global markets is improving.

Three possible outcomes to farm bill
The House and Senate are beginning to conference the farm bill. Conference is a committee of key farm bill senators and representatives appointed to resolve differences in the bills passed by the Senate and House of Representatives.

Because the Constitution requires the House and Senate to pass identical legislation before it goes to the President, the conference committee process was established for the two chambers to resolve differences in legislation each of them pass. Conference committees have wide latitude in resolving differences to produce a final bill. Few rules actually apply to conference. The most common guidelines for conferees are that they are not to introduce completely new matters in conference that are outside the scope of the bills passed in the House and Senate.

Many paths forward exist, with these 3 spanning the possible outcomes:

  1. The Conference Committee reaches an agreement that is enacted into law.
  2. The Conference Committee does not reach agreement and the current 2008 farm bill is extended for another year. A 2-year extension could occur if Congress wants to avoid a farm bill debate in a Congressional election year. To help meet federal deficit reduction goals, an extension will likely include a reduction in direct payments at least equal to and probably larger than the current 8.5% cut under sequestration.
  3. The Conference Committee does not reach agreement and permanent law is repealed, ending farm commodity support programs. The farm safety net becomes the insurance program, meaning multiple-year losses would not be covered by the farm safety net.

Farm bill takes aim at state animal welfare laws
The future of state laws that regulate everything from the size of a hen's cage to the safe consumption of Gulf oysters may be at stake as farm bill negotiators work to resolve a long-simmering fight between agriculture and animal welfare interests.

The House Agriculture Committee added language to its version of the farm bill earlier this year that says a state cannot impose certain production standards on agricultural products sold in interstate commerce. The provision, authored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is aimed at a California law that will require all eggs sold in the state to come from hens that inhabit cages in which they can spread their wings — a major burden for egg producers in Iowa and other states who don't use large cages and still want to sell eggs to the lucrative California market. The law goes into effect in 2015.

Value added numbers – Oklahoma State Extension Ag Economist (video)

November 18, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Steer, heifer prices continue climbing
Despite holiday schedules rapidly approaching, USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall says there still seems to be enough demand in the marketplace to push feeder and stocker calves higher.

Steer and heifer calves sold $1 - $4 higher with many instances $8-$10 higher on steer calves weighing less than 500 pounds. Wall reports bidding for lightweight steers weighing less than 500 pounds generally started at the $2 per pound mark. He says buyers became “price conscious” at $2 per pound on calves weighing more than 500 pounds because “the arithmetic of $1,000 per head was just too easy to figure.”

Replacements were in high demand last week with bred heifers brining $1,800-$2,250 and young bred cows bringing as much as $2,500 per head at the Northwest Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association annual fall bred cow and pair sale last week. Young pairs sold for between $2,700 and $3,000. Wall says many believe these prices could be the “tip of the iceberg” by early spring, depending on winter weather in cattle country.

Washington Week Ahead: Congress looking at RFS, farm bill, budget
Discussions among lawmakers and stakeholders are expected to continue this week about the EPA's decision to lower the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirement, how to move forward on a long-term farm bill, and how to resolve budget issues between the Senate and the House.

The EPA issued a proposed rule Friday to lower the RFS requirement for 2014 below the congressional mandate to 15.21 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel for blending into gasoline. Congress initially called for an 18.15 billion gallon mandate.

Think tank group Third Way will hold a panel discussion Tuesday on the proposal featuring Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

As the congressional clock runs down, lawmakers are expected to push harder on farm bill negotiations, even though a second formal conference meeting has not been scheduled. Lawmakers also are expected to continue work on resolving differences between the House and the Senate budget proposals.

Ag markets narrowly mixed Monday morning
Wholesale weakness may be undercutting cattle futures. Cash cattle reportedly traded at steady-firm levels last Friday, which provided support for cattle futures. However, the late-day wholesale report stated choice beef cutout values had declined about 1.5 cents to their lowest level since late October. Concerns about further losses seem to be dragging prices downward. December cattle futures sagged 0.37 cents higher at 133.02 cents/pound in late Monday morning action, while April futures lost 0.22 to 134.80. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle slipped 0.02 cents to 165.80 cents/pound, but March feeders rose 0.25 cents to 165.70.

November 15, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Ag markets moved mostly higher Thursday night
Cattle traders may still expect a cash market advance. Wholesale beef prices rose sharply at midday Thursday, but cattle futures rallied quite modestly. Conversely, the afternoon beef report was bearish, but futures managed sustained their upward momentum. Ultimately, this may simply reflect firm industry expectations for another increase in country cattle prices later today. December cattle futures inched up 0.10 cents to 133.07 cents/pound early Friday morning, while April futures elevated 0.05 to 135.00. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle ran up 0.30 cents to 165.50 cents/pound, and March feeders lifted 0.17 cents to 165.07.

Thursday’s late pork strength boosted hog futures. Signs of increasing hog and pork supplies have recently weighed upon CME swine prices. However, while cash quotes slid again yesterday, pork values rebounded substantially from big Wednesday losses. That translated into moderate overnight gains in electronic trading. December hog futures surged 0.40 cents to 86.00 cents/pound as the sun rose over Chicago Friday, while April ascended 0.30 to 92.40.

Vilsack presses on renewable fuels, farm bill
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reiterated his department's commitment Thursday to helping the growth of the renewable fuel industry as stakeholders anxiously await the EPA's decision on setting the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) requirement for 2014.

“I don't know what the EPA is going to do … but we need to be more aggressive on renewable fuels,” Vilsack said. “We need higher blends of ethanol.”In addition to comments about renewable fuels, Vilsack again expressed his concern about getting a long-term farm bill approved this year.

Cattle continue to wait for cash trade
Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures were mixed and feeders were up, with both pits watching the weak corn, while getting ready for widespread cash cattle business.

Boxed beef cutout values at midday were higher. Direct cash markets were fairly quiet, but packer inquiry is improving. Bids are $129 Live and $205 to $207 Dressed with asking prices around $133 to $134 South and $208 to $209 North.

Lean hog futures were lower, coming under continued fundamental pressure. Packers haven’t found much resistance to their lower bids lately, taking advantage of the ample market ready numbers and continued slow pork demand. Terminal trade was $2 lower to $2 higher.

Tom Vilsack: More that agriculture at stake in farm bill
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pushed back on Thursday against efforts by some lawmakers to include provisions to change the controversial country-of-origin labeling rules in a final farm bill, saying the issue is better handled by the World Trade Organization, which is already looking at the issue.

It would set a bad precedent if “every time there is a trade discussion, folks can run to Congress and get the rules changed in the middle of the game, and I think we need to let the game play out,” Vilsack said at an event to mark the launch of POLITICO Pro Agriculture.
Country-of-origin rules, which require that certain meat and food products imported into the United States are labeled, have been a hot topic during the farm bill negotiations. In opening statements last month, several lawmakers came out in opposition to the controversial USDA rules, pointing to concerns that they serve as a protectionist trade measure and complaints about the rules by the meat industry.

 

November 14, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Schwieterman: Cash market stronger, feeder futures improve
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher

Live cattle futures closed mixed on Wednesday, with bull spreading a feature for the day. The front two months are leading the market in overnight trade as well, with 133.25 resistance levels in the December contract being targeted. We look for ready cattle to continue to tighten into the end of the year. Open interest in the live cattle was up 4,829 contracts on Wednesday and continues to be the traders’ choice vs the lean hogs. Futures action indicates that feedlots have a great chance at better money this week.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures gained ground in the front 3 months on Wednesday and are seeing good underlying strength re-entering the cash market. Dodge City’s sale on Wednesday showed improved prices across the board. The cash index reached new all-time highs on Wednesday, with a 7 day average of 165.50. Corn prices are narrowly mixed in overnight trade and live cattle are lending support to the feeders.

House lawmaker offers motion to instruct farm bill conferees
Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, offered a motion to instruct conferees on the farm bill Tuesday night dealing with the energy title and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The non-binding motion would call for House conferees to use the Senate language in the energy title on funding levels. This would put mandatory funding levels for energy back into the bill similar to the last farm bill. The programs that would receive mandatory funding are the Biobased Markets Program, Biorefinery Assistance Program, Biodiesel Education Program, Rural Energy for America Program, Biomass Research and Development, and Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

In addition, the motion would urge conferees to use the Senate language of reauthorizing the SNAP program for five years instead of the three years proposed in the House bill. This essentially would keep the agriculture and nutrition portions together for reauthorization in the future, Loebsack said.

House floor debate on the motion could occur today with a vote possible on Thursday. It is likely to fail.

NMPF leader: House dairy bill risks repeat of huge dairy surplus
Margin insurance for dairy farmers without a mechanism to check overproduction risks a repeat of conditions in the early 1980s when USDA spent billions of dollars to support milk prices, says the chairman of the National Milk Producers Federation.

Some in Congress “are forgetting the lessons of the past,” Rogersville, Mo., dairyman Randy Mooney told the NMPF annual meeting today in Phoenix. “The House has adopted a farm bill that creates margin insurance, without the means to signal producers to trim production when margins are poor. The insurance payouts will insulate farmers from those market signals. That means the milk will keep coming and coming. It'll be cheap milk for processors, with taxpayers on the hook to keep the insurance money flowing.”

Ag markets were quite mixed Wednesday night
Firming beef prices seemingly sparked this morning’s cattle advance. The cattle industry is hoping for a fresh cash price increase today or tomorrow, but flat-weak wholesale prices discouraged them earlier this week. However, choice cutout values posted a moderate gain Wednesday afternoon, which probably renewed bullish hopes. December cattle futures rallied 0.37 cents to 133.12 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while April futures rose 0.22 to 135.05. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle surged 0.42 cents to 165.07 cents/pound, and March feeders gained 0.40 cents to 164.75.

Diving pork prices undercut hog futures Wednesday night. Hog weights have soared lately, thereby suggesting market-ready supplies are more liquid than previously thought. And while the cash markets apparently firmed Wednesday, afternoon reports indicated a big drop in pork prices; that doesn’t bode well for the short-term outlook. December hog futures dove 0.62 cents to 86.75 cents/pound in early Thursday trading, while April tumbled 0.42 to 92.22.

HSUS forms advisory council of Iowa farmers
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced today the formation an Iowa Agriculture Council of farmers and ranchers intended to increase farm animal welfare standards in what HSUS calls "intensive confinement."

The HSUS's Iowa Agriculture Council is a collection of members that have been vocal about their issues with the structure of the U.S. agriculture industry. The council will pursue market opportunities for farmers and ranchers whose agricultural practices adhere to certain animal welfare standards, as well as “facilitate a dialogue” with other farmers, ranchers and organizations.

Eli Lilly unit raises prices on ractopamine, farm animal drugs
Eli Lilly & Co.'s Elanco Animal Health unit will raise the price of its beta-agonist feed supplements by 2 to 3 percent on November 26 amid strong demand from beef feedlots, a company spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday.

The price increase - which the company said will apply to all of Eli Lilly's products for cattle, hogs and other food animals - comes amid strong demand for its Optaflexx ractopamine-based feed additive for cattle, which helps bulk up the amount of meat on a beef carcass prior to slaughter.

The move is part of a review of its agricultural product pricing, market conditions and production costs that Elanco regularly conducts for all products, said company spokeswoman Colleen Parr Dekker. The price increase, though, will not apply to newer non-betagonist products released in 2012 or this year, she said.

 

November 13, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Ag markets mixed again on Wednesday morning
Cattle futures rose despite Tuesday’s beef decline. CME traders apparently hope to see continued cash market gains later this week, which probably explains the gains posted by nearby futures this morning despite the sizeable wholesale losses posted yesterday afternoon. December cattle futures rallied 0.45 cents to 133.12 cents/pound in late Wednesday morning trading, while April futures sagged 0.05 to 134.95. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle surged 0.62 cents to 164.82 cents/pound, and March feeders added 0.47 cents to 164.67.

Surging weights are probably depressing hog quotes today. Although reduced supplies have provided considerable support for the hog and pork complex since mid-August, hog weights have soared lately. That suggests market-ready supplies are more liquid than previously thought, thereby implying greater numbers and lower supplies in late fall and early winter. December hog futures tumbled 0.65 cents to 86.55 cents/pound as the lunch hour loomed Wednesday, while April dropped 0.55 to 92.77.

Monday Market Sentiment: Cash prices lower on limited sales
Cash cattle prices were a dollar lower last week with sales around $131 per cwt. Trade was spotty as feeders were less willing to sell at lower values, however trade is expected to remain at least steady as packers will need to restock this week.

Our panel of Monday Market Sentiment experts is forecasting a slight increase above last week’s prices, expecting trade to increase 21 cents to $131.24 per cwt.

The Monday Market Sentiment is a forecast of the upcoming weekly cash trade (5-Area weighted average price) prices reported by the USDA. This week’s average cash price fell 99 cents lower compared to the previous week. Last week the USDA announced that cash trade for the week ending November 8th was $131.03 per cwt.

NJ legislators seek to overturn gestational stall ban veto
Accusing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie of pandering to Iowa pork producers in anticipation of running for president in 2016, state legislators are attempting to override his veto of legislation that would have banned the use of individual maternity pens (gestation stalls) for pregnant sows.

 

November 12, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

2013 WLAC videos available for purchase
To purchase 2013 WLAC videos, visit the online store at lmaweb.com/WLAC/store.php.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Congress has about 50/50 chance of passing farm bill
The chances of the U.S. Congress passing a five-year farm bill by year's end are a little better than 50/50 given the gridlock over food stamps for the poor, a top farm policy expert said on Monday.

"There is a slightly better chance than 50/50 that we will get a bill rolled into a budget at the end of the year. But it's no better than that," Barry Flinchbaugh, a Kansas State University agricultural economist who advises legislators shaping the U.S. farm bill, told Reuters on the sidelines of a farm bankers meeting in Minneapolis.

Washington Week Ahead: Budget talks set to resume
Negotiations over how to find some common ground on an new five-year farm bill are expected to intensify this week as lawmakers nervously eye the end of year calendar. Without any substantial progress on the commodity title and other controversial areas, the possibility of another extension continues to loom in the background.

Back in Oklahoma for district visits last week, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas said Friday he remains optimistic a farm bill will be passed this session.

Crop markets posted a general advance Monday night
Cattle traders seemed to reconsider Monday’s gains overnight. Last Friday’s last cash strength gave rise to expectations for further cattle market gains later this week, especially if wholesale demand improves seasonally. However, prices dipped last night, which may signal diminished industry confidence, especially in the absence of holiday news yesterday. December cattle futures slipped 0.05 cents to 132.70 cents/pound as Tuesday dawned over Chicago, while April futures skidded 0.02 to 135.25. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle bounced 0.32 cents to 164.50 cents/pound from Monday’s weak close, while March feeders crept up 0.27 cents to 164.60.

Rising supplies seem to be weighing upon hog futures. Although the cash hog and wholesale pork markets ended last week on a firm note, traders seem to be becoming increasingly worried about the potential for surging supplies during the days ahead. Rising weights certainly seem to be pointing in that direction. December hog futures slid 0.22 cents to 87.82 cents/pound Monday night, while April tumbled 0.30 to 93.75.

The COOL controversy continues
The mess is in the details, so people say.

This is how Glynn Tonsor, Kansas State Research and Extension livestock economist, refers to the latest events surrounding the United States’ mandatory country-of-origin labeling program.

Tyson, the largest U.S. meat processor, announced mid-October that it would not accept Canadian cattle ready for slaughter due to additional costs from more stringent U.S. country-of-origin labeling regulations.

“The reality is, (COOL) is a net economic drain on different parts of the system,” Tonsor said. “Tyson’s announcement is reflecting that.”

 

November 11, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

2013 WLAC videos available for purchase
To purchase 2013 WLAC videos, visit the online store at lmaweb.com/WLAC/store.php.

Registration for final 2014 WLAC Qualifier closes Monday, Dec. 16
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Mo-Kan Livestock Market (Butler, Mo.) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Monday, Dec. 16. The qualifying event is January 2, 2014. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA and second qualifier in Stanford, KY is closed; both events have already taken place.

Attention turns to calves as signs of herd rebuilding mount
Last week marked the first instance of loss in yearling values since mid-May 2013 when this year’s feeder rally took off. Tight supplies seen in recent weeks continued until some weakness was noted mid-to-late week.

USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall says as we work through mid-November, all attention is squarely on calves, which sold uneven last week with the best demand for stockers to turn out to wheat pasture. Southeastern calves headed for the Southern Plains traded steady to 5.00 higher.

“This time of year, feedlots and growing yards are full of new arrivals with some getting sick for the first time and others starting to break as their initial mass treatment anti-biotic wears off,” said Wall. “The best rule of thumb when buying calves late in the fall is to stick to reputation lots that have performed well in prior years. This was no doubt the reasoning at Green City, Mo., on Wednesday where nearly 300 head of top quality six weight steers averaged 653 pounds at $193.26, including a pot load weighing 648 pounds at $195.75.

Signs of herd rebuilding continued last week. According to Wall, it was the “girls that received top billing” at many Northern auctions, including one in Philip, S.D., where 101 Red Angus heifers weighing 542 pounds brought 263.00 or 1,387.00 per head. Wall says it was hard to find an auction this past week that did not sell at least a few of their top heifer consignments for future cows.

This week’s reported auction volume included only 35 percent over 600 pounds and 40 percent heifers.

USDA BSE rule could set precedent in trade talks
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) long-awaited final rule to modernize the agency’s import regulations for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) could come into play as a precedent setter as the United States and the European Union prepare for the second round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership  (T-TIP) negotiations early next week.

Upon implementation, APHIS will base import decisions for a particular country based on that country’s risk classification as determined by OIE. When deemed necessary by APHIS, the final rule gives the agency authority to conduct its own assessment, such as when a country is not yet classified by OIE for BSE risk and requests that APHIS conduct a risk evaluation using criteria equivalent to that used by OIE.

Ag markets generally mixed around midsession Monday
Late-Friday cash strength may be boosting cattle futures. Fed cattle prices apparently bounced from around $131/cwt (cents/pound) on Thursday to the $132 area Friday afternoon. That news seemingly inspired the modest gains posted by cattle futures this morning. Renewed hopes for the short-term wholesale outlook may be supporting prices as well. December cattle futures rose 0.12 cents to 132.52 cents/pound just before lunchtime Monday, while April futures crept up 0.22 to 135.02. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle climbed 0.30 cents to 164.72 cents/pound, while March feeders lifted 0.40 cents to 164.72.

Hog futures began the weak in mixed fashion. Monday’s early cash calls were steady to weak, with wire service reports citing partial packing industry shutdowns for Veterans Day. Traditional seasonal weakness here in early November may also be handicapping bulls. December hog futures sank 0.15 cents at 87.97 cents/pound in late Monday morning action, while April bounced 0.17 to 93.87.

 

November 8, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

South Dakota Ranchers Relief Fund Information
Markets across the United States have been approached by producers wishing to donate one or more animals to a charitable cause. For example, some individuals have recently expressed interest in donating an animal to be sold at market with the proceeds going to the South Dakota Rancher’s Relief Fund, a fund established by the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to provide support and relief assistance to those in the agriculture industry affected by the blizzard of October 4-7, 2013. Markets have a couple options to fulfill this request.

For more information on the options, please see Markets Selling Livestock for Charity.

Ag markets mixed ahead of Friday’s USDA reports
Traders are likely adjusting positions ahead of today’s USDA reports. The USDA will release its latest Crop Production and WASDE reports at 11:00 AM CST, which could have a huge impact upon agricultural markets. Corn futures have recently declined in anticipation of bearish data. However, they bounced Thursday night, which probably reflected short-covering ahead of the reports. December corn futures rose 1.5 cents to $4.22/bushel early Friday morning, while May added 1.25 cents to $4.4125.

Cash and wholesale weakness are depressing cattle futures. Traders had become less optimistic about cash prospects as the week passed, especially with choice cutout values declining simultaneously. Country cattle dipped $1.00 to $131.00/cwt (cents/pound) Thursday afternoon, thereby confirming those fears and exerting additional downward pressure upon CME prices. December cattle futures slipped 0.10 cents to 131.57 cents/pound Thursday night, while April futures slumped 0.12 to 134.07. January feeder cattle actually firmed, rising 0.07 cents to 165.20 cents/pound, while March feeders rallied 0.12 cents to 164.95.

FSIS issues notice on new humane handling guidelines
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued Notice 72-13, informing inspectors in charge at establishments about the new Humane Handling Guidelines released recently.

The FSIS Compliance Guide for a Systematic Approach to the Humane Handling of Livestock represents FSIS's current thinking on livestock humane handling practices that official establishments can use or adapt as needed.

In the notice and in the guidance, FSIS encourages establishments to begin using the document. However, FSIS is requesting comments on it and will make appropriate changes to the guidance in response to comments.

Harmonization needed in trich rules
During the recent meeting of the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA), considerable discussion centered on trichomoniasis and the need for states to move toward more standardization of rules intended to prevent introduction of the disease into cattle herds.

Trichomoniasis, or "trich," is a sexually transmitted protozoan disease that causes pregnancy loss or abortion in the cow, prolonged calving intervals and high open rates in infected herds. An infected bull can quickly spread the disease to a high percentage of females in a herd. To reduce the risk of transmission, several states have adopted rules requiring documentation of trich testing for some classes of breeding cattle imported from other states. Twenty-five states, mostly in the West, have adopted cattle-import rules relating to trichomoniasis. Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee are the only Eastern states with such rules.

Inconsistency in those requirements, however, and in some cases overly stringent regulations, create burdensome barriers to seedstock trade. Seedstock producers, who routinely sell cattle to customers from neighboring or distant states, face an array of testing and documentation requirements, adding complexity and cost to their efforts for timely delivery of cattle following sales.

Dr. Kathy Simmons, chief veterinarian for NCBA, says this issue has emerged as a topic of discussion within the organization's Cattle Health and Well Being Committee. Producers and veterinarians, she says, have expressed concerns over significantly different rules from state to state, often not based on objective risk assessments. Now, she says, state veterinarians and animal-health officials are continuing those discussions within USAHA, which has formed a subcommittee on trichomoniasis.

BeefTalk: Marketing Options are improved with verification
October was a significant but disappointing milestone for the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association (NDBCIA). The NDBCIA source and age efforts came to a close. The NDBCIA board of directors decided last spring not to renew its source and age verification program that was marketed as CalfAid.


The program renewal date was Oct. 3, 2013, so the program is officially on the shelf rather than actively sourcing and aging calves. Some would say that is OK, while others would say that is too bad. The long and short of it is that obvious price incentives for source and aged calves were lacking. However, the concept of verification has not gone away, although the intensity of the discussion of source and age verification certainly has lessened within the marketing environment.

 

November 7, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

South Dakota Ranchers Relief Fund Information
Markets across the United States have been approached by producers wishing to donate one or more animals to a charitable cause. For example, some individuals have recently expressed interest in donating an animal to be sold at market with the proceeds going to the South Dakota Rancher’s Relief Fund, a fund established by the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to provide support and relief assistance to those in the agriculture industry affected by the blizzard of October 4-7, 2013. Markets have a couple options to fulfill this request.

For more information on the options, please see Markets Selling Livestock for Charity.

Cash trade could pressure feeder futures
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-20 Lower

Live cattle futures closed narrowly mixed on Wednesday, with this weeks’ cash trade still a mystery. Bids at $130 and asking prices $134 look to be fairly firm at this time. Cutouts were mixed and the kill remains 7,000 below week ago levels. New highs in the dollar overnight could start to weigh on exports, while new all-time highs in equities should support the meats. The 40 day moving average in the December remains key support near 131.80.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Lower

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately higher on Wednesday but could come under pressure if significantly lower cash trade in Dodge City on Wednesday becomes a pattern. Heavier feeders were sharply lower in Dodge, which could continue the recent weakness that has developed in the cash index. Friday’s grain report remains the most awaited news for this market, with new lows being posted on a daily basis heading into the report.

S.D. State Vet updates cattle losses, cause of deaths
A month after the unexpected blizzard moved through western South Dakota, state veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven shares the cause of death for so many cattle lost in the storm.

Cattle losses initially estimated by the state veterinarian to be between 10,000 and 20,000 was later increased to as many as 30,000 cattle.
A month after the storm moved through South Dakota, Oedekoven has verified 13,977 cattle deaths and says most of the livestock died of congestive heart failure brought on by stress.

Cows in the cold weather likely got hypothermic, forcing their cardiovascular systems to work overtime. Oedekoven says the cows then suffered from hypertension, or high blood pressure in their lungs.

Cattle bids and asking prices are far apart
Cattle country was slow to start on Wednesday with bids and asking prices still not fully established. A few of the showlists have been priced around 134.00 to 135.00 in the South, and 210.00 in the North.  We did see a few preliminary bids start to surface in parts of feeding country around 129.00 in the South and 204.00 in the North. Yet such token efforts won’t be very successful in attracting would be sellers who feel comfortable pricing cattle 5.00 to 6.00 higher. The cattle slaughter was estimated at 119,000 head, 5,000 more than last week, and 4,000 above last year.

 

November 6, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Horse slaughter resumption is off again
The on-again, off-again resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S. is off again.

Reuters reports that a federal appeals court on Monday granted an emergency request by animal rights groups to temporarily block the U.S. government from conducting inspections of horses destined for slaughter.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a temporary injunction barring the USDA from providing horse meat inspection services to Roswell, New Mexico-based Valley Meat Co. and Rains Natural Meats in Missouri.

The order comes after a U.S. District Judge in New Mexico on Friday threw out a lawsuit, which the Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection groups had filed in July. That suit sought to permanently halt the slaughter of horses.

Schwieterman: Cattle futures higher with new corn lows
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures settled mostly higher on Tuesday, with the exception being the December contract. Dec was off a nickel, due to rolling of longs out of that month. Deferred contracts saw the most strength and jump in open interest. Overnight trade has been narrowly mixed, as the trade prepares for this weeks’ cash movement. Asking prices remain firm at $134+ in the south and near $210 in the beef market up north. Firm overnight recovery in the equities could support meat markets. The 40 day moving average remains key technical support for the December futures.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures closed sharply higher on Tuesday, with support from deferred fats and new contract lows in the corn market. Overnight trade is continuing to show strength, after closing just above the 40 day moving average in the lead contract. Cash index levels moved higher on the day, with the single day average showing its best performance in several days. Friday’s grain report remains the focus for the near term.

 

November 5, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Ag markets changed little Monday night
Cattle futures were mixed Monday night. Despite news of another increase in beef cutout values, particularly in choice prices, nearby live cattle futures slipped in overnight trading. Deferred futures rose slightly, which probably reflected optimism about seasonal prospects. Ultimately, cattle traders are very likely uncertain about the market’s potential performance during the run-up to Thanksgiving, when turkeys and hams dominate the meat markets. December cattle were unchanged at 132.10 cents/pound in early Tuesday action, while April sagged 0.02 to 133.87. January feeder cattle crept up 0.02 cents to 163.87 cents/pound, while March feeders slipped 0.05 to 164.12.

Conflicting cash and wholesale moves limited shifts in hog futures. Pork cutout values rose rather strongly Monday afternoon. However, country hog prices at markets west of the Mississippi River fell rather sharply, which seemed to drag CME futures slightly lower. December hog futures declined 0.27 cents to 88.05 cents/pound in early Chicago trading Tuesday, while April slumped 0.32 cents to 93.12 cents/pound.

Washington Week Ahead: Farm bill conferees look for sweet spots
Lawmakers are expected to continue efforts this week to hammer out a myriad of differences over a long-term farm bill, which conferees hope to have done by the end of the year.

During an exciting open door meeting of the 41 conferees Wednesday, lawmakers offered opening statements and laid down their positions.
Later in the week, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said the top four conferees - the chairs and ranking members of both chambers - may sit down this week for more talks.

 

November 4, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Calves in high demand with limited yearling numbers; herd rebuilding becoming a reality
Yearling feeders are in short supply, turning interest towards calves selling steadily at higher values than the previous week.

While interest in tight supplies of heifers and yearlings remains, calves were moving in large volumes last week at prices of up to five dollars higher than the previous week.

USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall says the Fall Run is upon us with heavy supplies of spring-born cattle weighing from 400 pounds all the way up to 800 pounds.

Herd rebuilding is becoming a reality thanks to positive factors in the cattle industry. Corn fell to a three-year low last week and hay supplies and winter pastures are near pre-drought levels. High cattle prices and low feed costs have producers in a bidding war for any heifer on the market.

Farm Bill negotiators to take up COOL repeal
A House-Senate conference committee will look at a repeal of the country of origin labeling (COOL) rule as members work to draft a final version of the U.S. farm bill, Reuters reported.

Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said he would support a House provision under development that is expected to be a repeal clause for COOL, according to the article.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) was quoted as saying COOL "clearly is one of the issues" on the farm bill agenda.

U.S. judge tosses lawsuit seeking to block horse slaughter
A U.S. federal judge on Friday tossed out a lawsuit seeking to block inspections of horses destined for slaughter, potentially clearing the way for the resumption of equine killing for human consumption.

A U.S. District Judge in New Mexico threw out a lawsuit by the Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection groups lodged in July that sought to permanently halt the slaughter of horses.

Horse slaughter law goes into effect in Oklahoma
Effective November 1, 2013, a law permitting horse slaughter in Oklahoma’s takes effect. At his time, however, it is anyone’s guess when a horse slaughterhouse could begin operations. The law to permit slaughtering of horses was passed into law at the legislative session that ended in May, 2013.

In order to build a slaughter house in Oklahoma, approval is required from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There are no active applications for Oklahoma at the USDA.

APHIS Finalizes Bovine Import Regulations in Line with International Animal Health Standards
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced today a final rule that will complete efforts to modernize the Agency’s import regulations for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), demonstrating to the international community that the United States is committed to basing its BSE regulations on internationally-accepted scientific literature and standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).  The final regulation will allow for the safe trade of bovines and bovine products, while still protecting the United States from the introduction of BSE. 

Inventories down, placements inch upward
The USDA released its delayed and much anticipated October Cattle on Feed report on Thursday, Oct. 31, showing on-feed inventories at 10.1 million head as of Oct. 1, down 8 percent from a year earlier.  The report had been scheduled for October 18 but was delayed due to the government shutdown.

Inventories have run below the year-earlier figures every month this year. In fact, the last time the monthly report showed a year-to-year increase in feedyard inventories was August 2012, when numbers were up 1 percent from the previous August.

Based on a total capacity of 16.7 million head in U.S. feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more, feedyard occupancy rates were just above 60 percent of capacity on October 1.

Placements into feedyards during September totaled just over 2 million head, according to the report, which was up 1 percent from those during September 2012. Marketings of finished cattle during September totaled 1.7 million head, which was up 6 percent from September 2012.

The Cattle Board: corn falls under $4.30; cattle prices down
Corn prices fell for the second consecutive day Thursday, down 2 cents to $4.28. The drop sets a new low for the year. Corn finished the day $3.13 below this year’s high.

Cattle prices also moved lower ahead of the delayed Cattle on Feed report. Feeder cattle prices fell 85 cents to a 10-day low of $164.38. The drop moves feeder prices lower for the third consecutive day. Losses for live cattle weren’t as steep, down 62 cents to $132.73. Live cattle prices remain 64 cents above the 10-day average.

 

October 31, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Government and Industry Affairs Update
USAHA ANNUAL MEETING

Chelsea Good presented at the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) annual meeting about implementation challenges the LMA and its members seen with the federal Animal  Disease Traceability (ADT) rule. She also participated in some regional conversations about ways to achieve more consistency. 
Additionally, the USAHA discussed and passed a resolution supporting the creation and maintenance of an easy-to-use, publically-accessible resource that compiles identification, documentation, disease-specific, and other movement requirements for livestock moving interstate. The resolution was written to provide flexibility about what groups should be involved in the effort and the roles they should play. Specifically mentioned were USAHA,  the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services (VS) and the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials (NASAHO)working  in collaboration with private and public stakeholders. This concept has been discussed in a variety of LMA meetings as project with which the LMA could potentially be involved.

Ag markets mixed again Thursday morning
Cattle futures were mixed ahead of the COF report. The USDA is set to belatedly release its monthly Cattle on Feed report at 2:00 PM CDT today. Thus, it wasn’t terribly surprising to see futures trading in decidedly mixed fashion during the run-up to its release. December cattle inched 0.02 cents lower to 133.10 cents/pound just before lunchtime Thursday, while April advanced 0.22 to 134.17. November feeder cattle slipped 0.17 cents to 164.77 cents/pound, and January feeders slid 0.25 to 164.55.
Sliding cash and wholesale prices kept hog futures under pressure. After suffering general losses Wednesday, cash hog and pork prices seemed weak in early Thursday trading. Concerns about seasonal weakness are probably adding to short-term pessimism. December hog futures slumped 0.80 cents to 89.60 cents/pound in late Thursday morning action, while April sank 0.57 cents to 93.87 cents/pound.

HSUS joins groups asking the US Court of Appeals to uphold COOL
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), along with Organization for Competitive Markets, United Farm Workers of America, American Grassfed Association and three independent livestock farms filed a brief supporting the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.
The court denied a motion to delay the COOL rule in September, and the case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

COOL getting farm bill attention
Consumer groups are in favor of the country-of-origin labeling requirements, but pushback from neighboring countries and meatpackers have members of a House-Senate panel reconsidering COOL in the new farm bill.
Lawmakers met Wednesday to resume negotiations on the $500 billion farm bill. According to Reuters the risk of international sanctions has some participants debating a repeal or revision to the COOL policy. Canada has considered substantially raising taxes on some U.S. products, including beef.

October 29, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Ag markets narrowly mixed Tuesday morning
Taiwan news may have depressed cattle futures Monday night. Surging beef prices boosted cattle futures Monday, with traders thinking the wholesale strength could boost cash cattle values again later in the week. However, prices dipped in overnight action, which may have reflected a report that Taiwan had found U.S. beef containing Zilmax at one of its restaurants Tuesday. Any news that threatens a slowdown in U.S. beef exports can hardly be seen as supportive for prices. December cattle declined 0.07 cents to 133.72 cents/pound early Tuesday morning, while April lost 0.25 to 134.35. November feeder cattle fell 0.40 cents to 166.67 cents/pound and January feeders slumped 0.20 to 166.72.

Beef packer margins saved by improving beef prices
Feeder margins increased as cash cattle prices reached new record highs while packer margins improved on better beef prices according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending October 26:

  • Average feedyard margins: $124.67 per head.
  • Average packer margins: -$50.06 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending October 25:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$9.88 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $4.91 per head.

Dairy in the middle of farm bill discussion
The House-Senate Farm Bill conference committee will hold their first public hearing on Wednesday and dairy is expected to be in the middle of the discussions. Not only the supply management provisions contained in the Senate version of the Dairy Security Act but not in the House version but the differences in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Senate bill cuts about $4 billion in funding over ten years while the House bill cuts nearly $40 billion. USDA says SNAP recipients spend between 10 and 12 percent of their food budget on dairy products so any cut in funding will most likely affect dairy consumption.

Another big issue for dairy is once again…if Congress does not get a bill passed by January 1, we would revert to 1949 law and a substantial increase in the price of milk, no one wants to see that happen.

 

October 28, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
The 16-day partial government shutdown concluded on October 16. All federal employees are now back to work. However, there were lessons learned in the shutdown that should be kept in mind in the event another shutdown looks possible. The agreement reached to reopen the government funds the government at pre-shutdown levels until Jan. 15 and also suspends the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.

During the shutdown, USDA APHIS warehouse employees were furloughed so states and markets could not receive federally-approved backtags or scrapies tags. Restocking these supplies prior to January could be a good precautionary measure for markets to take.

Additionally, the USDA Packers & Stockyards (P&S) staff was furloughed during the shutdown. Any time-sensitive requests to P&S should be made as early as practicable to avoid backlog or furlough complications.

If you have any questions about the government shutdown, please contact LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good at cgood@lmaweb.com or 816-305-9540.

DELIVERY POINTS
The CME Group has announced live cattle grading capacity limits for USDA and CME approved delivery point stockyards effective beginning with the August 2013 live cattle delivery cycle.  These limits can be found here: http://www.cmegroup.com/tools-information/lookups/advisories/clearing/files/Chadv13-325.pdf

LMA and industry partners are investigating the decision as the limits do not appear to be directly tied to facility capacity. A survey is currently being conducted of delivery points to help determine whether there should be an attempt to increase the limits for some delivery points.

If you have any questions about delivery points, please contact LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good at cgood@lmaweb.com or 816-305-9540.

Fed Cattle Pass $130 On the Way to New Record Highs
Cash cattle prices moved up to $5 higher last week sailing to $134 per hundredweight, passing the previous record of $130 in March 2012.

Cash and futures markets are improving as cattle supplies remain tight and beef prices top $200. Market direction may be influenced in the coming months if consumers opt for pork and chicken as beef prices are expected to continue higher.

Prices improved with tight yearling supplies and improved heifer demand with increased heifer retention and interest in herd expansion as producers look to take advantage of low feed costs. Calves, especially heifer calves, dominated receipts according to USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall, with heavy sales observed in mountain states.

Replacement Heifer Demand is Impacting the Feeder Heifer Market
There are indications that heifer retention is increasing this fall, although definitive data are not yet available.  The delayed October Cattle on Feed report, due out October 31, is expected to show a deeper decrease in heifers on feed.  Heifers on feed dropped sharply in the last half of 2012 then increased relatively in the first half of 2013.  By July of this year, heifers on feed were still down year over year, but down only 3.5 percent compared to a 9.5 percent decrease on January 1, 2013.  It appeared that more heifers entered feedlots in the first half of the year.  This is further indicated by the fact that heifer slaughter has been higher by 2.7 percent since July after being down 3.7 percent, year over year, in the first half of the year.  This bulge in heifer slaughter should be nearly finished and decreasing heifer slaughter is expected for the remainder of the year.

Meanwhile, auction market reports indicate that replacement heifer demand is picking up.  A partial check of auction reports from around the country for the last week indicates at least ten markets where replacement heifers are noted in the feeder heifer auction summaries.  The majority of these reports are in Nebraska and South Dakota but also in several other states as well. Heifers denoted as replacements are bringing significantly higher prices than uncommented feeder heifers of the same weight and class.  The replacement heifers are priced with small discounts to comparable steers or even higher prices in a few instances.  Based on Oklahoma City auction prices, 525 pound heifers (Med/Large #1) have been discounted to steers an average of 11.6 percent over the period 2008-2012.  So far in 2013, the discount has average a little larger at 12.8 percent. In several specific cases last week, the replacement heifers were discounted only 2-4 percent from comparable steers, with some examples of heifers priced higher than steers.

Years of Genetic Value Lost with S.D. Blizzard
The early October blizzard took away more than this fall’s calf crop for many producers in western South Dakota, the genetic makeup of the lost animals will take years to rebuild.

Jim Krantz, South Dakota State University Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist, says cattle are bred to fit the resources surrounding them with those specific genetics taking years to develop.
"A cow or heifer only has one calf each year, so it takes years and generations to develop genetics," Krantz said. "Each ranch is unique and may have different genetic needs based on the environment, feed resources and country they live in."

Donations are pouring in to assist producers affected by the blizzard, and government assistance is anticipated with the passage of a new farm bill, although a definite timeline is unknown. The blizzard has led some producers to find another job to cover some of their losses.

 

Upcoming Sales-Tuesday Oct. 28th

  • Gordon Livestock Auction Market, Inc. Gordon, Neb. Regular Cattle Sale and Special Feeder Sale

 

October 25, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Livestock futures outperformed crop futures Thursday night
Cattle futures sustained their recent uptrend. The cash and wholesale strength lately are almost surely encouraging bulls in the CME pit. Thus, while beef values rose only modestly Thursday afternoon, live cattle futures continued their late advance. December cattle climbed 0.37 cents to 133.25 cents/pound in early Friday morning action, while April moved up 0.17 to 135.10. November feeder cattle advanced 0.25 cents to 167.20 cents/pound and January feeders ran up 0.32 to 167.02.

Farm bill, food stamps back on legislative agenda
House and Senate Agriculture committee members announced a conference committee will begin work next week on the 2013 farm bill, which is expected to involve a fight over proposed cuts in food stamps.

The Republican-controlled House is pushing for stricter eligibility rules for food stamps that would cut $39 billion from the program over a decade. The Senate bill passed in June would cut about $4 billion; the House failed to pass its version of the bill a few weeks later.

Lawmakers urge support for beginning farmers in farm bill
As House and Senate farm bill conferees prepare for their first official public meeting next Wednesday, a group of bipartisan Representatives and Senators today delivered two “Dear Colleague” letters to House and Senate leadership earlier today.

Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., and Chris Collins, R-N.Y., and Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., led 37 of members of Congress in calling for a farm bill that with programs meant to break down barriers that make it difficult to enter agriculture.

The Senate letter urged farm bill conferees to “maintain the strongest possible support for beginning farmers and ranchers through targeted programs that provide new and young farmers with education and training, access to credit, and access to affordable land with support for conservation programs.”

 

October 24, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Flash sale! 2013 WLAC hats and T-shirts for $10 each
Needing some new LMA gear and want to show your support for the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship?  Log on to www.lmaweb.com/WLAC/store/apparel.php to purchase a 50th Anniversary WLAC shirt or hat.

Past LMA President (1980), Sohler, retires from livestock marketing business
Surrounded by long-time customers, 75-year-old Gail Sohler held his last cattle auction Wednesday.

It marked the end of a 52-year career as the sole owner of Stockmen’s Livestock Market in Yankton.

“I always knew I wanted to be in the livestock business in some way,” Sohler said. “I heard this place was for sale, and I could buy it for very little money down. I gambled and bought the place. Here I am 52 years later, and it worked out fine.”

At the age of 23, Sohler and his wife, Janet, purchased the Anderson Livestock Market and rechristened it Stockmen’s in honor of the great stockmen in the area. Sohler said the market was run down and had almost no business. At the time, he was the youngest person to own a livestock auction market in the United States.

Sohler would eventually serve as national president of the Livestock Marketing Association.

U.S. cattle markets set more records as supply shrinks
Slaughter cattle in Texas and Kansas set the highest price on record Wednesday when they traded at mostly $132 per hundredweight, the result of a smaller herd and rising beef prices, analysts and economists said.

Cattle prices have been trending higher for several years as droughts and high feed prices have caused producers to pare herds. The $132 paid by beef packers on Wednesday compares with the previous record of $130 during the week ended March 2, 2012, according to analysts and economists.

"There are not enough cattle," University of Missouri livestock economist Ron Plain said of the higher prices.

Packers and feedyards are drawing from a smaller pool of cattle after ranchers downsized the U.S. herd to the smallest in 61 years. Prolonged dryness hurt crops that last summer pushed feed and hay costs to all-time highs.

Higher cattle prices have been good news for feedlots. Those prices and cheaper corn due to a huge U.S. corn harvest, narrowed their losses while offsetting costly feeder cattle.

Tyson no longer accepting Canadian cattle shipped to U.S. plants
Tyson Foods has stopped buying cattle for shipment to its U.S. beef plants, citing the impact of U.S. country-of-origin labeling rules, company spokesman Worth Sparkman said in a statement emailed to Meatingplace.
The new policy became effective in mid-October, he said. Tyson is continuing to buy Canadian-born cattle that are finished for market at U.S. feedlots.

Ag markets generally suffered modest losses overnight
Surging beef prices continue supporting cattle futures. Despite news that cash prices had pushed to record highs Wednesday morning, live cattle futures slid soon thereafter. Traders apparently worry about seasonal weakness from this point. However, the late afternoon wholesale report stated cutout values significantly higher once again, which very likely powered the modest overnight bounce. December cattle rallied 0.30 cents to 133.05 just before sunrise Thursday, while April gained 0.07 to 135.07. November feeder cattle inched up 0.07 cents to 167.70 cents/pound and January feeders added 0.17 to 167.75.

Renewed wholesale weakness apparently depressed nearby hog futures in early Thursday action. Concerns about the short-term outlook have rather clearly weighed upon the hog and pork complex lately. Indeed, pork cutout fell sharply again Wednesday afternoon, but a modest rise in Iowa-Southern Minnesota cash values seemed to limit overnight losses. December hog futures slumped 0.10 cents to 88.05 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while April crept up 0.02 cents to 90.62 cents/pound.

Cattle losses won’t deplete opportunities for Northern Beef
As the beef processing facility in South Dakota preps for auction, officials say the tens of thousands of cattle lost to the early October blizzard won’t affect production opportunities for new owners.

Although the livestock lost following the blizzard earlier this month will impact the area’s economy and individual ranchers, Cory Eich, South Dakota Cattlemen's Association president, says the cattle supply in South Dakota and neighboring states in the region will keep the processing facility busy.

A public auction is scheduled for Dec. 5, attorneys are hoping to set a minimum bid of $12.75 million for the facility. Assumed need for the facility in the region would make the minimum bid a deal for potential investors. Mary Worlie, Brown County director of equalization, valued the plant and land for tax purposes at nearly $54 million.

 

October 23, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Flash sale! 2013 WLAC hats and T-shirts for $10 each
Needing some new LMA gear and want to show your support for the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship?  Log on to www.lmaweb.com/WLAC/store/apparel.php to purchase a 50th Anniversary WLAC shirt or hat.

Feeder and packer margins steady as cash trade improves
Cash trade improved by a dollar per hundredweight last week, but higher total costs moved feeder margins marginally lower according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

Feeder margins fell 40 cents per head last week, averaging $88.68 per head. Margins are more than double the $42.88 per head average of a month ago and well above the negative $35.60 this time last year when feeders were forced to pay high feed costs for drought-depleted grain supplies.

Although cash trade improved during the week, higher feed costs and total costs pushed profit margins lower according to estimates by Sterling Marketing, Inc., Vale, Ore. Feed costs were $345.19, increasing by 21 cents per head, which helped push total costs up to 1,733.51 per head.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending October 19:

  • Average feedyard margins: $88.68 per head.
  • Average packer margins: -$60.28 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending October 18:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $0.67 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: -$3.31 per head.

Farm Bill committee set for meeting
Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today announced that the House-Senate farm bill conference committee will convene next week. The senators hosted a farm bill roundtable at North Dakota State University’s Agriculture Experiment Station Research Greenhouse Complex to gather input from agriculture association leaders and discuss the priorities the senators will work on as members of the joint Senate-House committee.

The new legislation in both the Senate and the House versions focuses on enhanced crop insurance. The measure includes a new Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), continues the sugar program and provides new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) to help producers through years of repetitive losses. The Senate bill saves $24 billion to help reduce the deficit and debt.

Creekstone resumes slaughter operations
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef will resume full production at its meatpacking plant in Arkansas City, Kan., today. It resumed slaughter operations Monday.

The resumption of production follows a fire in September that released high levels of ammonia that injured one firefighter.

The cost of a blizzard
The twelve counties comprising the Northwest and West Central agricultural reporting districts (Butte, Corson, Dewey, Harding, Perkins, Ziebach, Haakon, Jackson, Lawrence, Meade, Pennington, and Stanley) were among the South Dakota counties hardest hit by the blizzard on October 4-5, 2013. According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, these twelve counties had 769,000 head of cattle and calves as of January 1, 2013. Of these, an estimated 456,000 head were beef cows on ranches. While final losses are still being tallied, South Dakota’s state veterinary office estimates up to 25,000 head may have perished in the storm. This implies upwards to 5% of the region’s cow herd could have been lost in the blizzard.

 

October 22, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Brian Little wins Stanford WLAC qualifier
Brian Little, Wann, Okla. was named WLAC Qualifier Champion at the second WLAC qualifying event, hosted by Blue Grass South Livestock Market in Stanford, Ky. Brian Curless earned the Reserve Champion title, and Billy Younkin was Runner Up Champion. Additional finalists earning a spot to the 2014 WLAC in Knoxville, Iowa: A.J. Austin, Darren Carter, Will Epperly, Phillip Gilstrap, Daniel Mitchell, Brandon Neely, and Vernon Yoder.

Cattle prices continue higher
Shrinking supplies of feeder cattle and finished cattle, coupled with lower grain prices and the psychological impact of cattle death losses due to the October blizzard likely will be supportive to prices over the coming months.

Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt, PhD, says finished-cattle prices fell to summer lows below $120 per hundredweight in early August. Prices recovered somewhat into the low $120s in August and September, and recently moved toward $130.

Hurt adds that per-capita beef supplies will likely be down about 5 percent for the rest of this year and well into 2014.

Monday midday cash livestock market
The country is very quiet on Monday with feedlot managers collecting new showlists. Bids and asking prices are not well defined. Last week’s trade surprisingly started late Wednesday afternoon in the South at mostly 129.00, a $1.00higher than the bulk of the previous week’s deals. Northern dressed business took place on Thursday with a range of 203.00 to 204.00, $5.00 to 6.000 higher. DTN says they expect the feedlot offering to be somewhat smaller thanks to larger negotiated trade volume totals especially in the North. On the other hand the combination of a bigger buy and last week’s slower chain speed could mean that packers are not as close to the knife as they were the previous week.

Choice boxed beef is 1.69 higher at 197.98, and select is 1.04 higher at 181.02.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Joplin, Missouri Regional Stockyards on Monday totaled 6.000 head. Compared to last week, steer and heifer calves opened steady, yearlings had no early test. Demand and supply was moderate. Feeder steers medium and large 1 weighing 500 to 600 pounds brought 170.00 to 176.00. 5 to 6 weight heifers’ traded at 145.00 to 162.00.

 

October 21, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Recordkeeping Requirement for Approved Livestock Facilities Lengthened to Five Years
Livestock markets that are USDA APHIS approved livestock facilities are now required to keep records for longer than before.

Under the regulation pertaining to the livestock market agreement  (9 CFR 71.20­) that was updated earlier this year, an approved facility has to maintain documents such as weight tickets, sales slips, and records of origin, identification and destination for cattle, bison, sheep, goats, cervids and equine for at least 5 years and for a period of 2 years for poultry and swine.

Previously, the facility had to maintain documents such as weight tickets, sales slips, and records of origin, identification and destination that relate to livestock for a period of 2 years and for a period of 5 years for sheep or goats. 

If you have any questions about recordkeeping requirements, please contact LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good at cgood@lmaweb.com or 816-305-9540.

Second WLAC Qualifier will be streamed at LMAAuctions.com today at 9 a.m. ET
The second WLAC qualifying event, hosted by Blue Grass South Livestock Market in Stanford, Ky., will be streamed online today. The contest will be on LMAAuctions.com starting at 9 a.m. ET with 24 contestants.

Feeder cattle review: Cheaper feed gains becoming a reality
Feeder and stocker cattle markets continue to show strength through October, which is annually the month with the most pressure from spring-born calf sales and shipments of previously contracted cattle. 

Despite the lightest inventory in 60 years, there are literally millions of calves currently leaving the ranch for their first time.  These calves are going to feedlots, pre-condition yards, and wheat fields for continued weight gain, but the stress of the relocation and the volatile weather patterns take a toll on their health. 

Price trends are not available due to the nearly three week federal government shutdown, but a sizeable amount of information continued to be collected by state departments of agriculture that normally work in accordance with USDA market reporters. 

However, the closing of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service website took away the main source of dissemination for these valuable market reports.  The much anticipated cattle-on-feed report due out this Friday has been rescheduled for release on October 31st. 

Steve Kay’s Friday (Oct. 18) Market Update
The cash live cattle trade Friday morning was quiet after an active trade Thursday up north. USDA’s mandatory price reporting service reported very small volumes in the major feeding areas. It did not report weekly totals, although it earlier reported that Iowa-southern Minnesota Thursday sold 46,586 head and Nebraska 45,915 head.

Live cattle futures closed flat to somewhat higher than the day before. October closed up 72 points at $129.87 ($128.80 last Friday), December closed up 25 points at $132.02, February closed up 32 points at $133.87, April closed up 15 points at $134.77, June closed up 5 points at $128.85 and August closed up 25 points at $127.55.

October 18, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Recordkeeping Requirement for Approved Livestock Facilities Lengthened to Five Years
Livestock markets that are USDA APHIS approved livestock facilities are now required to keep records for longer than before.

Under the regulation pertaining to the livestock market agreement  (9 CFR 71.20­) that was updated earlier this year, an approved facility has to maintain documents such as weight tickets, sales slips, and records of origin, identification and destination for cattle, bison, sheep, goats, cervids and equine for at least 5 years and for a period of 2 years for poultry and swine.

Previously, the facility had to maintain documents such as weight tickets, sales slips, and records of origin, identification and destination that relate to livestock for a period of 2 years and for a period of 5 years for sheep or goats. 

If you have any questions about recordkeeping requirements, please contact LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good at cgood@lmaweb.com or 816-305-9540.

Second WLAC Qualifier will be streamed on LMAAuctions.com, 10/21
The second WLAC qualifying event will be streamed online at LMAAuctions.com on Monday, Oct. 21, at 9:00 a.m. ET. There will be 24 contestants competing for a spot at the 2014 WLAC in Knoxville, Iowa.

Dairylea to merge with DFA
Leaders of Northeast dairy cooperative Dairylea plan to merge the 105-year-old organization with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA). Dairylea members were presented with the merger proposal during their annual meeting in Syracuse, N.Y., Oct. 16, and will vote on the issue at a special meeting in February.

“Today’s dairy industry is undergoing unprecedented change,” said Greg Wickham, Dairylea’s chief executive officer. “From consolidation in the marketplace and changing farm demographics to a movement toward a global dairy industry, this change presents both challenges and opportunities.”

The merger proposal follows three years of study by the Dairylea board on the best way to position the cooperative for the future.  A committee formed in 2010 considered various options to generate value “beyond the traditional cooperative structure,” including ways to create additional market opportunities in the processing sector.

Enter DFA, the largest U.S. dairy company, and the 6th largest in the world, according to a recent analysis by Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory group.

USDA dealing with shutdown repurcussions
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) told stakeholders Thursday that its first priority is to reconnect with its customers whose business activities have been put on hold during the shutdown.

In a letter to stakeholders, APHIS said, “As much as we would like to, we can't make up for almost three weeks of missed work in just a day or two.”
APHIS plans to focus on what is most important for animal and plant health and animal welfare, and working with importers and exporters to process permit requests and health certificates.

“We simply ask for your patience as we work to address these critical needs as quickly as possible,” APHIS said, noting that about half of the agency's approximate 8,000 employees were furloughed.

Erin Morris, acting head of public affairs at the Agricultural Marketing Service, said some of their Market News reports are being issued, but others are still being worked on.

USDA cancels some reports, postpones others
The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) have cancelled or postponed publication of selected USDA statistical reports impacted by the lapse in federal funding.

NASS's Crop Production and Cotton Ginnings reports and the WAOB's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) scheduled for October 11th are canceled. The next scheduled release for these reports is November 8, 2013. Additionally, NASS's Crop Progress reports scheduled for October 7th and 15th are cancelled. NASS's Cattle on Feed and Peanut Prices reports scheduled for October 18th are postponed.

Vilsack announces USDA plan of action for SD ranchers (video)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack comments on the South Dakota livestock disaster saying USDA Under Secretary Michael Scuse is going there to get first hand information. Secretary Vilsack also comments on the need for Congressional action on a budget, a new Farm Bill and comprehensive immigration reform.

 

October 17, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Congress approves bill to end shutdown; avoid debt default
Congress approved legislation (H.R. 2775) late last night that would end the federal government shutdown and avert a U.S. debt default.

The bill now advances to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law shortly.

The House voted 285-144 to end the 16-day stalemate. In support were 198 Democrats and 87 Republicans. In opposition were 144 Republicans and no Democrats.

U.S. farm bill negotiators may begin work next week
House and Senate negotiators could meet for the first time next week to work on the new $500 billion U.S. farm bill, more than a year past due and repeatedly delayed by House Republican plans for steep cuts in food stamps for the poor.

The bill is also expected to cut funding for conservation programs but expand by $1 billion a year the federally subsidized crop insurance program, which now costs around $9 billion annually.

"Depending on the House and Senate schedules, the first, formal conference meeting could be scheduled as early as next week," said an aide to House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas. Under congressional protocol, Lucas will chair the conference committee formed to write a compromise bill between the House and Senate versions.

The first meeting of House and Senate conferees is a milestone that marks the final round of work on major legislation. Commonly, a final version emerges within a few weeks.

Cattle futures higher, corn gains strength
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-40 Higher

Live cattle futures closed at their best levels since Feb-Mar of this year. The strength in the market paid off with some moderate cash trade at $129 in the south on Wednesday. Cutout values have been firm all week and in spite of talk that kills would be cut significantly this week, packers were still short bought enough to pay higher prices on a Wednesday. RSI and Stochastics are showing divergences at these new highs for the move. We advise cattle feeders to use this opportunity to place option protection on part of this winters production.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately higher on Wednesday, with the most strength seen in the first quarter of 2014. The early week selloff alleviated overbought conditions for the near term. Strength in overnight corn prices could keep follow through buying from becoming too prominent. Budget agreement euphoria is likely to be short lived. Cattle markets will keep a close eye on equity reactions.

 

October 16, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle hit by rising corn
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed sharply lower in the October contract on Tuesday, with moderate losses in the rest of the complex. The 33 loads were retendered and reclaimed overnight, with no fresh deliveries posted. October is gaining back most of its’ spread losses overnight, with deferred contracts holding near steady. Scattered bids of $126 will not stir much attention, with asking prices holding firm near $130. The uncertainty of what the government will do in the next 24 hours could keep any rally efforts off the table. Cutouts are being reported sharply higher this week, with movement appearing better as well.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures felt the double whammy of higher corn and lower fats on Tuesday, closing nearly 2.00 lower in the front four trading months. Overnight trade is narrowly mixed, with slight gains in the front and modest losses in the deferred. We would expect the market to remain defensive ahead of the government decision. We like holding put protection in this market from current levels. Open interest went up 259 contracts on Tuesday’s sharp break. Fresh sellers are entering the fray.

Cargill plans to close Texas feedlot in 2014
Hampered by consecutive years of drought and cattle herds moving further north, Cargill announced plans to close its cattle feedlot in northern Texas next summer.

The decision marks the second Cargill-owned property in Texas to shut down recently. The company announced in January it would idle its processing plant in Plainview, Texas.

Senate could move today on bill to end shutdown, raise debt ceiling
The Senate could vote as early today on a legislative package that would end the government shutdown and stave off a possible default of U.S. debt, top Senate leaders announced.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said a bipartisan group of 14 senators - seven Republicans with six Democrats and one independent - helped reach the agreement.

The legislation would reopen and fund government agencies, including USDA, through Jan. 15 at fiscal year 2013 levels. The bill would avert a debt default through Feb. 7.

Further, the bill would create a conference committee, led by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to create a negotiated budget resolution in December.

Cattle markets react as estimated S.D. cattle losses swirl
As cattle producers in western South Dakota continue to tally losses following the unexpected blizzard, futures markets react to the idea of even smaller cattle supplies already at their lowest level in over 60 years.

In addition to losses seen in northwestern Nebraska, South Dakota has cattle losses estimated anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 head. The office of State Veterinarian Dr. Dustin Oedekoven has recorded 4,000 cattle deaths, but many more animals remain undocumented or undiscovered in pastures and sloppy conditions created by the snowstorm have made it difficult for producers to navigate pastures.

While producers deal with cleanup efforts, markets reacted at the start of the week. CME live cattle soared to a seven-month high Monday as the effects of the storm, firm wholesale beef prices and higher-than-expected cash prices were all supportive.

 

October 15, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Schwieterman: Live cattle futures across the board
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Lower

Live cattle futures traded higher across the board on Monday, with the front three months .65-.72 higher at settlement. The October contract posted its highest trade since the 28th of March. There were 33 fresh deliveries against the October, with dates partially through the 1st of October. Show lists were generally smaller than a week ago, with our list actually up 2%. A correction from the recent gains in the fats is very realistic from current levels. We remain supportive of this market on any decent sell off. Open interest continues to climb, jumping 3,784 contracts on Monday.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 40-80 Lower

Feeder cattle futures reversed early gains on Monday to close mixed to mostly lower on the day. Overnight business has been more one sided, with near triple digit losses in the Nov-Mar time frame. Corn traded 4 cents higher on Monday and is modestly higher as we write. Cash trade remains supportive but we expect some weakness from the record highs that we have reached in the past week. The market is just a couple weeks away from settling the October contract to an index that doesn’t exist until the Government goes back to work.

Washington Week Ahead: Lawmakers try to solve shutdown, default
Lawmakers are expected to continue to work this week on ending the government shutdown and avoiding a potential debt default.
Hopes of an end to the impasse fluctuated again Monday as Senate leaders first expressed readiness to forge a deal, only to have the White House abruptly postpone talks.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said early Monday, “I'm very optimistic that we will reach an agreement that's reasonable in nature this week to reopen the government, pay the nation's bills and begin long-term negotiations to put our country on sound fiscal footing.”

Feeder futures reach contract highs
Declining corn prices and tight cattle supplies continued fueling calf and feeder markets this week, in spite of the continued lack of market data spawned by the government shutdown (see “Market Data Void Grows”).

“Thursday morning, traders renewed focus on extreme tightness in feeder cattle supplies and boosted Feeder Cattle futures to all-time highs across all traded contracts,” says John Otte, Penton market analyst. Feeder futures moved an average of $1 higher again Friday after gaining an average $1.34 Thursday. Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $2.72 higher week-to-week.

Unfortunately, one reason for snugger cattle supplies is the devastating blizzard in South Dakota last weekend where early reports estimate that as many as 75,000 head of cattle perished.

Based on a sampling of auction markets (see end of this article), calves and feeders sold steady to mostly higher.

 

October 14, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Boehner, Pelosi name House farm bill conferees
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., today named conferees to the upcoming farm bill conference with the Senate.

The House conferees include 17 Republicans and 12 Democrats.

Republican conferees from the House Agriculture Committee include: Lucas, Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, Mike Rogers, R-Ala., Michael Conaway, R-Texas, Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., Austin Scott, R-Ga., Rick Crawford, R-Ark., Martha Roby, R-Ala., Kristi Noem, R-S.D., Jeff Denham, R-Calif., and Rodney Davis, R-Ill.

Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., will serve as a leadership conferee.

Republican conferees from the House Foreign Affairs Committee include Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa.

Republican conferees from the House Ways and Means Committee include Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas.

Democratic conferees from the House Agriculture Committee include: ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Reps. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., Jim Costa, D-Calif., Tim Walz, D-Minn., Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Calif., and Filemon Vela, D-Texas.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, will serve as a leadership conferee.

House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sandy Levin, D-Mich., also were named conferees.

Ag markets generally mixed to start the week
Friday evening cash strength boosted cattle futures today. CME traders were reportedly expecting country cattle to trade at steady-higher levels Friday evening. Indeed, fed cattle prices apparently surged to $128/cwt (cents/pound) later that day. Those bullish expectations apparently limited the futures response this morning. December cattle futures rallied 0.45 cents to 132.92 cents/pound by late Monday morning, while April advanced 0.22 to 135.50. Meanwhile, November feeder cattle gained 0.25 cents to 169.52 cents/pound, and January ran up 0.30 to 169.05.

TSCRA investigating possible $100,000 cattle theft
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association authorities are searching for nineteen cows and calves worth over $100,000 allegedly stolen in eastern Okmulgee County.

The livestock, valued highly because of their genetic makeup, went missing on two separate occasions with the earliest report occurring on Sept. 17. In the first case, six cattle including five Hereford cows that are branded, tattooed and ear tagged; and one Hereford weaning bull calf tagged and tattooed were taken. The first six cattle taken are worth $13,000.

The more recent case involves thirteen animals valued at more than $99,000.

 

October 11, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Back Tags Unavailable from USDA
The USDA warehouse in Kansas City where USDA back tags are shipped from is completely furloughed.  USDA APHIS Deputy Administrator, Dr. John Clifford, confirmed that markets should order similar tags directly from the USDA supplier.
Companies that the glue can be purchased from:
http://www.ruscoe.com/agricultural-products/.
Loftin Team Penning Supplies
Cisco, TX Pete Loftin
800-760-9240
American Animal Health Nebraska
402-529-3527

USDA’s local Farm Services Agency (FSA) offices are closed – Info on liens
If markets have received timely notice FSA has a lien on a certain producer’s cattle they are legally required to write a joint check, so that any check written to that producer to also includes FSA as a recipient of the check. Markets must continue to do this regardless of the shutdown. Producers will have to wait for the government to reopen before they can get these checks endorsed by FSA. Timely notice means FSA has provided notice of the lien within one year for direct notice states and within five years for central notice states.

Packers and Stockyards Shutdown – Responses delayed until after shutdown
Packers and Stockyards (P&S) employees are all furloughed. This may create problems for markets with time sensitive P&S issues, such as needing registration approval to have an initial sale, answering a complaint by a deadline, or filing a bond claim.
Members who have deadlines to meet should fax, email, and/or mail information to P&S in a timely fashion despite the shutdown.  It is advisable to transmit information in a way that will allow the date sent and received to be verified, such as certified mail. However, do not expect a response until post shutdown. For bond claims, filing with a surety company or trustee may also be options. If you have a specific situation that warrants immediate attention, contact LMA staff for assistance.

Post your market report to LMAweb.com
To post your market report to LMAweb.com, log in to the member section and post. For questions, or help locating your log in information, contact Cathy Collett at 800-821-2048.

Dinuba, CA WLAC Qualifier will replay on LMAAuctions.com Saturday, 10/12
The contest portion of the Dinuba, CA qualifier will replay on LMAAuctions.com tomorrow, October 12, at noon (CT).

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle futures reach new all-time highs
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures finished moderately higher on Thursday, with all contracts between .20-.35 higher at the close. Cash trade remained at a standstill, with bids of $125 countered by offers of $128 or higher. October is putting in new highs for the move in overnight trade, with deferred contracts moving into key resistance levels across the board. We could certainly see a choppy session as the market struggles to resolve current activity based on limited fundamental news. We look for cash to improve at least a Dollar over week ago levels sometime this morning.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures continue to put in new all-time highs, posting triple digit gains again on Thursday. The strength stemmed from lower corn futures and shockingly high prices being reported in country sales. Overnight activity is more of the same, with corn posting contract lows and feeders making new all-time highs. Charts remain overbought and we continue to like option strategies for producers who can protect good profits at current levels.

Naming of House farm bill conferees coming, Peterson says
While House leadership is not expected to announce conferees for the farm bill until after the debt ceiling issue is resolved, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Thursday the list will contain 12 Republicans and nine Democrats.

Peterson said the House could move to settle the debt ceiling issue, for its part at least, and appoint farm bill conferees this weekend. He said Democratic conferees will likely be the top nine in seniority on the committee. Peterson said one Republican conferee will not be from committee.

October 10, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Dinuba, CA WLAC Qualifier will replay on LMAAuctions.com Saturday, 10/12
The contest portion of the Dinuba, CA qualifier will replay on LMAAuctions.com this Saturday, October 12, at Noon (CST).

Dearth of USDA news remains major handicap to livestock futures trading
Cattle futures inched upward overnight. The dearth of USDA news remains a major handicap to livestock futures trading, which largely explains the lack of volatility in the market. The October delivery situation seems mixed, with the low numbers of notices being posted largely offset by the lack of demands from packers to this point. This week’s cash trading will very likely play a big role in short-term price direction. December cattle futures edged up 0.10 cents to 132.05 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while April rose 0.02 to 134.70. Meanwhile, November feeder cattle slipped 0.07 cents to 166.30 cents/pound, and January skidded 0.07 to 166.30.

 

October 9, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Additional sources for backtags and glue
The USDA warehouse in Kansas City, Mo., that ships backtags and glue to livestock markets is closed due to the government shutdown. Although the USDA has received some orders for backtags, there will not be any shipped to livestock markets who have ordered the tags. To order from sources the USDA utilizes, see websites below.
Backtags: http://www.stoffel.com/
Glue: http://www.ruscoe.com/agricultural-products/

Contestants announced for Stanford, KY WLAC Qualifier
The following contestants will compete in Stanford, KY (Bluegrass South Livestock Market) on October 21. The top ten will qualify for the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship in Knoxville, IA June 19-22, 2014.

Jared Anstine — Holden, MO
A.J. Austin — Marmaduke, AR
Alex Belcher — Lick Creek, IL
Jake Bettencourt — Hilmar, CA
Darren Carter — Ninety Six, SC
Brent Croom — Dyer, TN
Brian Curless — Pittsfield, IL
Will Epperly — Dunlap, IA
Philip Gilstrap — Pendleton, SC
Mark Lane — Russellville, AL
Brian Little — Wann, OK
Andrew McDowell — Vandalia, IL
Daniel Mitchell — Cumberland, OH
Brandon Neely — Southside, AL
Alex Popplewell — Russell Springs, KY
Henry Redmond — Perkinston, MS
Roger Robinson — Orleans, IN
Sean Taflinger — Muncie, IN
Garrett Underwood — Louisville, KY
Scott Werlein — Mondovi, WI
Chad Wilson — Portland, TN
Doug Wilson — Somerset, KY
Vernon Yoder — Wilmot, OH
Billy Younkin — Cecil, AL

Ag markets mixed again Tuesday
Cattle futures turned mixed Tuesday afternoon. Few delivery were posted again expiring October cattle futures Monday evening (first notice day), which encouraged CME traders. The sizeable October premium appeared attractive to producers, so the lack of deliveries suggests they’re quite optimistic about the likely outcome of this week’s cash trading. However, deferred futures declined on the day. December cattle futures edged up 0.02 cents to 132.32 at the close, but April skidded 0.05 cents to 135.07. Meanwhile, November feeder cattle jumped 0.85 cents to 166.32 cents/pound, and January surged 0.80 to 166.57.
Hog traders appeared ambivalent about market direction Tuesday. News of a salmonella outbreak in California chicken may have supported hog futures today, since consumers may switch to pork in response. However, the generally uncertain environment, especially when the lack of USDA data is considered, apparently limited traders’ willingness to take on risk. December hog futures rallied 0.33 cents to 88.20 cents/pound in late Tuesday trading, while April was steady at 90.55.

Up to 60,000 cattle lost in SD snow storm; aid slow to materialize
Producers are still tallying losses, but calculations from the early blizzard moving through South Dakota Friday estimate livestock losses near 60,000 head. The blizzard, one of the worst in state history, dumped four feet of snow in some areas leaving cattle producers to dig through snow drifts in hopes of rescuing part of the herd. Some producers lost up to half of their herds and early estimates listed herd losses in western South Dakota to be five percent of the total cattle supply.

 

October 8, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Don’t let your trust fund agreement or letter of credit lapse
If a market or dealer has a trust fund agreement or letter of credit in lieu of a bond, GIPSA had historically sent letters when they are set to expire. However, these letters will not be generated during the current government shutdown. Therefore, markets must pay attention to expirations of these financial instruments and get them renewed prior to expiration regardless of not receiving notice from GIPSA to do so. If a market or dealer has a trust fund agreement or letter of credit set to expire in the next few months or is not sure when their agreement expires, they should contact either the trustee with the trust fund agreement or their bank regarding the letter of credit in lieu of a bond about renewal to help ensure there is no lapse in coverage.

If you have questions, please contact Chelsea Good, LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs, at 816-305-9540, or Ernie VanHooser, LMA Legal Counsel, at (816) 322-8000. 

LMA is here to help you deal with government and other issues – keep in touch when you have questions.

Kansas to conduct agricultural preparedness exercise; LMA staff to participate
The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) will lead an emergency preparedness exercise October 9-10, 2013, in Manhattan, Kan., to practice the state’s response plan to a foreign animal disease. 

The two-day functional exercise, which will be based out of the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) on K-State’s main campus, will enable KDA and its partners in other state agencies, federal and local government, industry and universities to practice the state’s foreign animal disease response plan. More than 200 individuals will participate in the functional exercise, which will be based on the confirmation of foot-and-mouth disease in the United States. According to Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman, the exercise will provide valuable preparation experience for the agency and all stakeholders as well as identify gaps in the response plan.

The purpose of the exercise is to evaluate plans and procedures that have been developed and revised since the Stop Animal Movement Statewide KS-OK border exercise was conducted with Oklahoma in 2009. The KDA Division of Animal Health has been working with more than 50 stakeholders from a variety of agencies and associations to refine plans and develop Memorandums of Understanding with border- states to ensure collaboration and continuity of business for the livestock industry should a highly contagious disease outbreak occur in the United States. K-State, Riley County and the State of Kansas will activate emergency operations centers as part of the October exercise.

Livestock Marketing Association staff will participate in the exercise to represent the livestock market sector of the agriculture industry. Staff who will participate are Laura Marks, Director of Livestock Handling; Roy Barta, Region Executive Officer; and Lindsay Graber, Director of Marketing and Communications.

Mike Godberson wins WLAC Qualifier in Dinuba, CA; other finalists named
Twenty-three contestants, including 11 rookies, competed in the WLAC Qualifying Event in Dinuba, Calif., on October 4. Mike Godberson, Pawnee, Okla., was named the champion. Additional results: Reserve Champion, Brennin Jack; Runner Up, Garrett Jones. Remaining finalists: Justin Abell, Chuck Cozzitoro, Mike Imbrogno, John McGill, Justin Mebane, Paul Ramirez, Tyler Slawinski. The event was hosted by the Tulare Co. Stockyards.

Ag markets moved mostly higher in early Tuesday trading
Limited October notices seemingly sparked renewed cattle buying Monday evening. Yesterday was first notice day for October live cattle futures. Despite a substantial premium to last week’s cash quotes, the contract price attracted a surprisingly small number of deliveries against it. That very likely spurred the overnight rebound. December cattle futures crept up 0.12 cents to 132.42 around sunrise Tuesday, while April bounced 0.07 cents to 135.20. Meanwhile, November feeder cattle skidded 0.02 cents to 165.45 cents/pound, and January stabilized at 165.77.

News of a salmonella outbreak may support hog futures today. Although the latest rumblings about the hog and pork situation seem supportive of CME futures, overnight hog strength may have reflected news from the broiler industry. That is, news of a California salmonella outbreak associated with broilers has very likely persuaded traders that consumers will switch to pork over the short run. December hog futures advanced 0.30 cents to 88.17 cents/pound early Tuesday morning, while April rallied 0.12 cents to 90.67.

Tens of thousands of cattle killed in Friday’s blizzard, ranchers say
Tens of thousands of cattle lie dead across South Dakota on Monday following a blizzard that could become one of the most costly in the history of the state’s agriculture industry.

As state officials spent the day calculating the multi-million dollar impact to the regional economy from Friday's storm, ranchers began digging up hundreds of cattle that are still buried beneath feet of snow.

Washington Week Ahead: Government shutdown lags on
Lawmakers will continue to work to end the one-week shutdown of the federal government, which has left the USDA and many agencies nearly abandoned.

The Senate and the House were in session over the weekend, but failed to break the impasse. The main issue that remains is Republican lawmakers' insistence on changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Meanwhile, agricultural stakeholders continue to seek more movement on a long-term farm bill. The Senate re-appointed their conferees last week, but the House has not yet picked their conferees.

 

October 7, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Registration for WLAC Qualifier in Stanford, KY closes today
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Bluegrass South Livestock Market, LLC (Stanford, KY) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) today. The qualifying event is October 21. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration is also open for the final WLAC qualifying event. The third qualifier is in Butler, MO, and registration closes on December 16. Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA closed on September 20, as the event took place on October 4.

Federal offices continue limited services
USDA market reports and FDA rulemaking are on hold, but the agencies continue to provide some critical services during the government shutdown.

A notice from the FDA states that in the absence of either an FY 2014 appropriation or a Continuing Resolution, agency operations will be limited to the following:

  • Emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.
  • Criminal law enforcement work.
  • Activities funded by carryover user fee balances, including user fee balances under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), Generic Drug User Fee Amendments (GDUFA), Medical Device User Fee Amendments (MDUFA), Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA), Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act (AGDUFA), and Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Carryover user fee balances will only be spent on activities for which the fees are authorized under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).

FDA will not be able to accept any regulatory submissions for FY 2014 that require a fee payment and that are submitted during the lapse period.
At the USDA, department websites generally are dark, but each division has published contingency plans outlining procedures during the shutdown and services that will continue. The plans are available online, including those from the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service

The USDA warehouse in Kansas City, Mo., that ships backtags and glue to livestock markets is closed due to the government shutdown. Although the USDA has received some orders for backtags, there will not be any shipped to livestock markets who have ordered the tags.

Law firm lists effect of government shutdown on ag
The shutdown of the federal government for the first time since 1996, initiated at 12 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, by the expiration of FY 2013 appropriations, brought on a wave of uncertainty for citizens and businesses across the nation. The food and agriculture industry is no exception.
This industry was doubly affected, however, with the simultaneous expiration of the Farm Bill, on the same day. This combination of events stands to impact to varying degrees both food production and safety in the short- and long-term.

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle weakness expected early in the week
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Lower

Live cattle futures closed moderately higher on Friday and narrowly mixed for the week. The cash was mostly steady for the week, with some Friday trade in the north at slightly lower than we saw on Thursday. First notice for delivery on the October contract takes place after the close of business this afternoon. With the current premium to cash, we expect to see deliveries posted early in the process.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Lower

Feeder cattle futures closed with moderate gains on Friday and modest gains for the week in the lead contract. The late week bounce in the corn futures did little to alter the direction of the feeders. Setbacks are being bought aggressively, even though cash index levels remain unavailable due to the government shutdown. We should see some modest weakness to start the week, as traders await the results of the delivery process in the live pit.

Kansas enacts new trichomoniasis regulation
After more than 18 months and more than 36 public meetings with at least 2,000 stakeholders, the Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health’s final regulation regarding Trichomoniasis (Trich) in cattle will be effective October 4, 2013.

Trich is a highly contagious venereal disease in cattle that is carried by a bull and transmitted to a cow during breeding. It causes pregnancy loss or abortion in the cow, prolonged calving intervals and high open rates in infected herds, which costs livestock farmers and ranchers valuable income.
The final regulation addresses the change-of-ownership of bulls within Kansas and import requirements for both bulls and females. The department reviewed public comments and addressed stakeholder concerns in the final rule.

 

October 4, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

2014 WLAC Qualifying Event will be streamed today on LMAAuctions.com
The first 2014 WLAC Qualifying Event will be broadcast live on LMAAuctions.com today beginning at 1:00 PT. *Note the time change.

Registration for WLAC Qualifier in Stanford, KY closes on Monday (Oct. 7)
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Bluegrass South Livestock Market, LLC (Stanford, KY) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Friday, October 7. The qualifying event is October 21. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration is also open for the final WLAC qualifying event. The third qualifier is in Butler, MO, and registration closes on December 16. Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA closed on September 20.

Ag markets narrowly mixed Friday morning
Cattle futures declined in overnight action. The lack of USDA information continues hampering the livestock markets, with many traders apparently opting to stand aside at this time. News of firm Southern Plains prices gave the Chicago market a temporary boost Thursday, but later reports of weaker Nebraska quotes seemingly dragged prices back down last night. December cattle futures slid 0.20 cents to 131.57 cents/pound as the sun rose over Chicago Friday, while April slipped 0.27 cents to 134.52. Meanwhile, November feeder cattle fell 0.22 cents to 165.40 cents/pound, and January dropped 0.40 to 165.00.

Hog futures moved slightly mostly in early Friday trading. Again, the lack of USDA news is very likely limiting activity in the hog pit. Talk of steady-weak prices at the various country markets probably supported CME prices, since the nearby contracts have significant discounts built into them. Traders may also believe the USDA overestimated current swine numbers on last Friday’s Hogs & Pigs report, thinking fall prices will be stronger than the report implied. December hog futures rose 0.10 cents to 86.87 cents/pound early Friday morning, while April lifted 0.02 cents to 89.67.

WTO forms compliance panel to address US COOL
Canada applauded the World Trade Organization's move to establish a compliance panel to review US country of origin labeling laws. The Canadian government requested in August that the WTO establish the compliance panel.

"Following through on our commitment to stand up for Canadian livestock producers by pursuing all options available to resolve this dispute, our Government requested and obtained the establishment of a World Trade Organization compliance panel on US Country of Origin Labeling," said Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "Our government continues to aggressively lobby the US government to make a legislative change to finally put an end to mandatory Country of Origin Labeling that hurts producers on both sides of the border."

Federal shutdown hits animal health corridor
The government shutdown is hitting the region's Animal Health Corridor this week, and if the situation isn't addressed, some warn the effects might soon reach the nation's food supply.

Workers at the USDA's Center for Veterinary Biologics are on furlough until the federal government passes a spending appropriations bill. They're the agency charged with testing and approving animal vaccines, and until employees are back to work, those vaccines aren't being distributed.

 

October 3, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

2014 WLAC Qualifying Event will be streamed on LMAAuctions.com
The first 2014 WLAC Qualifying Event will be broadcast live on LMAAuctions.com Friday, Oct. 4, beginning at 1:00 PT. *Note the time change.

Registration for WLAC Qualifier in Stanford, KY closes on Monday (Oct. 7)
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Bluegrass South Livestock Market, LLC (Stanford, KY) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Friday, October 7. The qualifying event is October 21. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration is also open for the final WLAC qualifying event. The third qualifier is in Butler, MO, and registration closes on December 16. Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA closed on September 20.

Ag markets generally edged higher Thursday morning; cattle and hog market activity hampered by lack of USDA information
Cattle futures proved rather weak overnight. The lack of USDA information continues hampering the livestock markets, with many traders apparently opting to stand aside at this time. Still, there are private sources of information available (for a price). We harbor suspicions that they indicated wholesale beef weakness Wednesday afternoon. December cattle futures slipped 0.22 cents to 131.60 cents/pound as the sun rose over Chicago Thursday, while April sank 0.42 cents to 134.50. Meanwhile, November feeder cattle dipped 0.12 cents to 166.07 cents/pound, and January rallied 0.27 to 165.50.

Hog futures moved mostly higher early Thursday morning. Again, the lack of USDA news is very likely limiting activity in the hog pit. Still, talk of steady prices at the various country markets probably supported CME prices. We also suspect wholesale pork prices held up rather well Wednesday. December hog futures climbed 0.30 cents to 86.47 cents/pound in early action Thursday, while April crept up 0.20 cents to 89.40.

House Democrats offer bill to provide legal status to undocumented farm workers
Democrats introduced comprehensive legislation reform legislation today which aims to provide a pathway to legal status for millions of undocumented people - many of whom are farm workers.

The bill, offered surprisingly in the midst of the government shutdown, closely tracks legislation (S. 744) approved by the Senate in June with a strong bipartisan vote. The bill largely seeks to increase border security and finally solve the nation's long-running immigration issue.

For farm workers, the legislation would allow undocumented workers to be eligible for an immigrant visa status called a “blue card.” To qualify, they must have performed at least 575 hours or 100 work days of agricultural employment during a two-year period ending Dec. 31, 2012, and must pay a penalty and pass background checks. 

Under the bill, blue-card holders could apply for lawful permanent resident status after five years if they have continued to work in agriculture, paid their taxes, and pay a fine. Then, they could apply for citizenship after being permanent residents for five years.

The legislation also would create a new nonimmigrant, less-skilled W visa agricultural worker program, which would eventually replace the H-2A agricultural worker program.

New report shows that US leads world in ag exports
A new report released by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress puts ag exports in the spotlight.

The report, titled “The Economic Contribution of America’s Farmers and the Importance of Agricultural Exports,” report shows that the U.S. is the world’s top exporter of agricultural products.

In a news release from the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the U.S. exported a record $141.3 billion in agricultural products in 2012, a $38.5 billion trade surplus for the year for the agriculture sector.

 

October 2, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

2014 WLAC Qualifying Event will be streamed on LMAAuctions.com
The first 2014 WLAC Qualifying Event will be broadcast live on LMAAuctions.com Friday, Oct. 4, beginning at 12:00 PT. Below is a list of contestants.


1.

 Justin Abell — Sigourney, IA

2.

 Jake Bettencourt — Hilmar, CA

3.

 Jake Billington — Twin Falls, ID

4.

 Joel Bleeker — Visalia, CA

5.

 Jake Cheechov — Eugene, OR

6.

 Chuck Cozzitorto — Hilmar, CA

7.

 Mike Godberson — Pawnee, OK

8.

 Steve Goedert — Morgan Hill, CA

9.

 Mike Imbrogno — Fresno, CA

10.

 Brennin Jack — Prince Albert, SK

11.

 Travis Johnson — Oakdale, CA

12.

 Garrett Jones — Los Banos, CA

13.

 Brooks Knight — Central, AZ

14.

 Joel Machado — Tulare, CA

15.

 Ken McDonald — Indian Head, SK

16.

 John McGill — LeGrand, CA

17.

 Justin Mebane — Bakersfield, CA

18.

 Paul Ramirez — Tucson, AZ

19.

 Don Rodgers — Bakersfield, CA

20.

 Daren Shumway — Mesa, AZ

21.

 Tim Sisil — Madera, CA

22.

 Tyler Slawinski — McCreary, MB

23.

 Zack Zumstein — Prairie, ID


Registration for WLAC Qualifier in Stanford, KY closes on Monday (Oct. 7)

Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Bluegrass South Livestock Market, LLC (Stanford, KY) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Friday, October 7. The qualifying event is October 21. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration is also open for the final WLAC qualifying event. The third qualifier is in Butler, MO, and registration closes on December 16. Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA closed on September 20.

US farm law expires again with lawmakers split on new bill

Overshadowed by the government shutdown, the U.S. farm subsidy law expired for the second time on Tuesday with lawmakers still deadlocked over how to confront cuts in food assistance programs for low-income Americans.
Analysts say Congress is more likely to revive the farm law for another year or two, the path it took when the law expired a year ago, than agree on a new bill
"They don't even have the process in place to get it done," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a speech on Tuesday to United Fresh, a trade group for produce growers and processors.

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle futures feed on falling corn

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed lower on Tuesday, with the October contract taking the brunt of the sell pressure. The uncertainty of the government shutdown along with impending first notice for delivery after the close on Monday inspired some liquidation of the October. Deferred contracts were mixed to mostly lower but appear to have found a bit of a bid in overnight trade. The large premium in deferred live cattle contracts should promote hedges out of the October and into those months.  October remains a 1.30 premium to last weeks’ southern cash trade.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Higher

Feeder cattle futures continued to feed off the new lows in the corn market, posting triple digit gains again on Tuesday. Front months saw more modest gains than the deferred contracts, as the market anticipates even lower corn values down the road. Overbought conditions continue in this market, which will likely provide a setback from these historic levels. Overnight prices are modestly higher, with corn near steady.

October 1, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Congress fails to avoid government shutdown
Congress failed to avoid a federal government shutdown early this morning largely because of the continuing dispute between Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

The House was expected to approve legislation, around 3 a.m., seeking a conference with the Senate to resolve their differences over (H.J.Res.59), which would keep government operations, including USDA and FDA, funded until Nov. 15.

The effects of a shutdown on USDA employees could be far-reaching. The department posted a detailed agency-by-agency instruction list for employees who may be furloughed.

While a shutdown would not directly affect the core mission of USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) as inspectors would remain on the job, the workload within other FSIS support functions, such as administrative appeals and labeling, could be impacted. Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program enrollment would stop. Funding would likely halt soon for export promotions, including the Foreign Agricultural Service's Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Access Program.

LMA Government and Industry Affairs Updates:
Government Shutdown

A shutdown does not mean everything comes to a halt. The laws and regulations governing shutdowns separate federal workers into "essential" and "non-essential" classes, with essential workers continuing to work. Essential workers include people who provide for national security and activities that protect life and property. Agencies that are independently funded also continue to operate.

About 800,000 government employees will not be reporting to work. That leaves about 1.3 million "essential" federal workers, 1.4 million active-duty military members, 500,000 Postal Service workers, and other employees in independently-funded agencies who will continue working.

For additional information about USDA GIPSA and APHIS employees who will continue working, see the contingency plans below:

USDA GIPSA - http://www.usda.gov/documents/usda-gipsa-shutdown-plan.pdf
USDA APHIS – http://www.usda.gov/documents/usda-aphis-shutdown-plan.pdf

LMA will continue to monitor the funding situation. A continuing resolution at current funding levels is the most likely path forward and preferred to versions of the agriculture budget bills in the House and Senate that attempt to remove funding for horse inspection, which would essentially make horse slaughter no longer a legal option in the United States.

Farm Bill

The one-year extension of the current farm bill expired on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. House and Senate leaders have indicated that another extension to current programs will not be considered.

In June, the Senate approved a five-year farm bill. The House’s first attempt to pass its own farm bill failed in June due to disagreement on nutrition title programs. On July 11, 2013, the House passed a farm bill without a nutrition title.

On September 19, the House passed a three-year nutrition bill. The bill includes a reduction of approximately $40 billion over 10 years to federal nutrition programs and various policy changes to the eligibility requirements of the programs.

On September 28, the House combined its “farm bill-only” farm bill with its nutrition bill. This action clears the way for House leadership to appoint conferees to a House/Senate conference committee to reconcile differences in the legislation. The Senate has named its farm bill conferees, but the House has not.

LMA has sent a letter to Senate conferees and communicated with House Ag Committee members’ offices about a preference for removing language in Sec. 11102(3) of the House version of the bill. This language prohibits GIPSA making any future regulations or policy “similar to” some past policies earlier parts of the section prohibit. The concern is that the language is so broad that it could close the door to other needed updates in Packers and stockyards Act regulations down the road, providing, of course, consensus is there on what those changes would need to be. This conversation is ongoing.

Many are still hopeful a conference will produce a five-year farm bill this fall. Dairy prices won’t be affected until Jan. 1, 2014. Commodity-specific programs, such as wheat or corn, run on a crop-year basis and won’t be impacted until next spring. However, information on these programs is essential as producers make planting decisions.

Feeder margins over $100 higher than a month earlier
Cash trade plays a major role in feeder and packer profit margins this week as a $2 increase above the previous week pushes profit margins in opposite directions.

Feeder profit margins averaged $76.48 last week, increasing $33.60 per head compared to the previous week according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feeder margins are drastically higher than a month earlier when the average was negative $57.96 per head and are even better than the negative $83.47 average this time last year.

Cash prices improving by over two dollars, selling at $126 per hundredweight and slightly lower feed costs, down 60 cents per head contributed to higher feeder margins.

Schwieterman: Live cattle futures follow equity markets lower
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Lower

Live cattle futures followed the equity markets lower on Monday, with thoughts of a government shutdown looming over the markets. We do have the shutdown this morning and with 800,000 government workers on furlough, it may be difficult to rally the meats. Show lists are modestly larger this week, reflecting some cash enthusiasm. Next Monday is first notice for delivery on the October contract, which may limit upside potential unless cash prices continue higher. Cutout values look supportive to begin the week and slaughter is off to a slow start.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Lower

Feeder cattle futures closed narrowly mixed on Monday, with the front month modestly lower and deferred contracts better on lower corn prices. Overnight trade is mostly softer, as news of the government shutting down and overbought conditions weigh on this market. Cash index levels rose to another all-time high of 159.63, with weekend averages slumping below the 159.00 level. Cash receipts for the past few weeks continue to indicate fewer numbers of feeders available to the market.

 

September 30, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Registration for WLAC Qualifier in Stanford, KY closes in one week (Oct. 7)
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Bluegrass South Livestock Market, LLC (Stanford, KY) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Friday, October 7. The qualifying event is October 21. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.
Registration is also open for the final WLAC qualifying event. The third qualifier is in Butler, MO, and registration closes on December 16. Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA closed on September 20.

Feeder cattle market reaches new all-time record
Last week’s feeder cattle rally lifted prices to record highs as lower-than-expected Cattle on Feed numbers prompted higher cattle prices all around.
The falling supplies helped move feeder cattle prices three dollars higher per hundredweight. Gains were more evident as the week came to a close. USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall says feeder prices have reached new localized highs on yearlings over 700 pounds leading up to the record highs last week.

“On Tuesday, the CME Feeder Cattle Index (based on a seven day moving weighted average of 650-849 lb Federal-State reported feeder steer sales throughout the high producing central twelve state area) broke the previous record of $157.44 posted the last week of February 2012,” Wall said. Outstanding demand and falling supplies of true yearlings contributed to the record highs achieved during the first week of fall.

Washington Week Ahead: Congress pushes forward to avoid shutdown
The Senate is expected today to address a possible government shutdown by considering a House-passed bill (H.J.Res.59) that would continue funding for government agencies through mid-December and delay implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, for one year.
The shutdown, which may occur tonight, would affect non-essential functions of the government. The Senate is scheduled to convene at 2:00 p.m. today to consider action.

Schweiterman: Productive week for feeder, cattle futures
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures finished off a good week in positive fashion, with .50-.55 gains in the front four months on Friday. For the week December live cattle gained 2.40and are at their highest level since March 1st. Cash traded $2 higher in the south at $126, with northern trade $4 better in the beef a$200. We believe that the influence of no Zilmax in the rations has more than offset the expected increase in ready fed cattle into the fourth quarter. The hog and pig report could lead to some bear spreading in the cattle, with December getting the short leg.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Lower

Feeder cattle futures had a monster week in the futures and cash, with October futures up 4.05 for the week and the cash index setting new records at 159.37 which was up 2.48 for the period. This mornings’ grain report is likely to determine whether the feeders can sustain their recent strength. We like the idea of protecting feeders with put options heading into the 11:00 am report.

 

September 27, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Ag markets mixed early Friday morning
Cattle futures proved surprisingly firm in early Friday trading. Beef cutout values declined slightly Thursday afternoon, which seemingly boded rather ill for today’s CME trading session. Bulls may simply be expecting steady-firm cash trading this afternoon. However, they may also be anticipating spillover strength from a bullish Hogs & Pigs report this later in the day. October cattle futures inched up 0.02 cents to 127.72 cents/pound early Friday morning, while December rose 0.07 cents to 131.65. Meanwhile, October feeder cattle sank 0.32 cents to 164.05 cents/pound, and January declined 0.45 cents to 166.60.

Senate set to approve bill to avoid government shutdown
The Senate is expected Friday to approve legislation (H.J.Res.59) aimed at avoiding an Oct. 1 federal government shutdown and keeping departments, including USDA and FDA, funded at FY 2013 levels until mid-November.

The Senate is expected to hold four votes Friday, including a vote on stripping House language that would defund Obamacare. After passage, the bill would be sent back to the House for its consideration. The House is scheduled to convene Saturday to consider the legislation.

Taking to the floor Thursday, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, pressed for congressional passage of the continuing resolution and the FY 2014 agriculture appropriations bill.

Cattle Markets: Fall calf run goes late this year
The fall calf run looks like it will be running late this year, but that is being contrasted with the last several years of it running early.  Some great moisture, and a great market, have a lot of folks holding on to their calves much longer this year, even with these outstanding prices.  Of course, it’s going to make for some much bigger calves this year too.

Wheat pasture prospects look good, with most fields ready for planting, and several already planted.  The calf market is great, but the big demand has not come yet with most folks in the field and not thinking a whole lot about calves right now.  Mother Nature is being cooperative at the moment with fairly nice temperatures and it might make weaning calves a little easier.

The cattle on feed report, maybe the last two or three, have looked very friendly.  Certainly less placements, but that might be skewed by the moisture this year and the cattle that have been going in the summer were able to wait until fall this year.  But either way, the numbers look favorable down the road, and the market is certainly favorable right now!

 

September 26, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Contestants announced for Dinuba, CA WLAC Qualifier
The following contestants will compete in Dinuba, CA (Tulare Co. Stockyards) on October 4. The top ten will qualify for the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship in Knoxville, IA June 18-22, 2014.

1.

Justin Abell — Sigourney, IA

2.

Jake Bettencourt — Hilmar, CA

3.

Jake Billington — Twin Falls, ID

4.

Joel Bleeker — Visalia, CA

5.

Jake Cheechov — Eugene, OR

6.

Chuck Cozzitorto — Hilmar, CA

7.

Mike Godberson — Pawnee, OK

8.

Steve Goedert — Morgan Hill, CA

9.

Mike Imbrogno — Fresno, CA

10.

Brennin Jack — Prince Albert, SK

11.

Travis Johnson — Oakdale, CA

12.

Garrett Jones — Los Banos, CA

13.

Brooks Knight — Central, AZ

14.

Joel Machado — Tulare, CA

15.

Ken McDonald — Indian Head, SK

16.

John McGill — LeGrand, CA

17.

Justin Mebane — Bakersfield, CA

18.

Paul Ramirez — Tucson, AZ

19.

Don Rodgers — Bakersfield, CA

20.

Daren Shumway — Mesa, AZ

21.

Tim Sisil — Madera, CA

22.

Tyler Slawinski — McCreary, MB

23.

Zack Zumstein — Prairie, ID

 

Schweiterman: Higher corn prices force feeder futures down
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures settled modestly higher on Wednesday, closing near the middle of the days’ trading range. Cutout values were mixed on the day, slowing a bit of the enthusiasm by midday. Overnight trade remains all over the place, with a .50 trading range that has been .25 on either side of unchanged. Cash trade is untested for the week, with strength of the board raising feedlot asking prices in the south to $126-$127 and near $200 in the northern beef trade. Some sideways trade at these levels would be healthy for a continuation of the bullish move.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately to sharply lower on Wednesday, with pressure stemming from higher corn prices and fresh sellers at new contract highs. Overnight trade is firming back up, with corn modestly lower for the session. Cash index levels rose .37 on Wednesday to establish a new all-time high of 157.48. We look for hedgers to become more aggressive at these new highs, while overall pattern suggest that new multiyear highs may be in the waiting.

Senate creeps forward on legislation to avoid government shutdown
The Senate overcame a procedural hurdle today, with a 100-0 vote, to advance a continuing resolution  (H.J.Res.59) that would keep government departments, including USDA and FDA, funded at FY 2013 levels through mid-December.

The shutdown, which would affect non-essential government functions, is set for Oct. 1.
The Senate voted to begin debate on the House bill, which includes the defunding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

While a shutdown would not affect USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) as inspectors would remain on the job, the workload within other support functions at FSIS, such as administrative appeals and labeling, could be impacted. Enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program will stop.

In addition, a shutdown could halt funding for the Foreign Agricultural Service's Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Access Program.

TAHC Proposes Amendments to Approved Personnel, Animal Disease Traceability, Trichomoniasis and Other Rules
The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) recently held a regularly scheduled meeting on September 10, 2013, at its Austin office. The TAHC adopted five rules and proposed six new rules. The rules were adopted during the Commission meeting and will go into effect on Monday, October 7, 2013. For a full list of the adopted rules, click the title above.

Sen. Thune: Farm Bill still seeking food stamp “sweet spot”
House and Senate will have their work cut out for them in reconciling their wildly different farm bills, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., emphasized today during a media call.

The Senate bill, passed in June, cuts $4 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding over the next ten years. The nutrition title passed out of the House last week, however, cuts $39 billion - creating a gulf almost as wide as the ideological differences between Senate Democrats and House Republicans.

So “where does that number end up? It will maybe split about half - between [39] and four - high teens, twenties,” he predicted.

Very low volatility in the corn market
Last week I delivered a risk management presentation for cattle producers interested in livestock insurance. Initially is seemed like an odd time of year to be thinking about falling cattle prices. But after visiting with the audience a little, they were interested in what might happen to prices much later this fall and into the winter. Backgrounding, which did not pencil out in South Dakota last year, has been looking profitable this year. Thus, producers were looking at feed prices, talking about high prices for light calves sold in the area, and thinking about the value of their raised calves and raised feed. I, however, was distracted by something else – the low volatility in the cattle market.
Source: Matthew A. Diersen, Professor, Department of Economics, South Dakota State University

 

September 25, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Animal activists to protest slaughterhouses throughout North America for World Day for Farmed Animals
This weekend, there will be a coordinated, targeted series of demonstrations at slaughterhouses and other animal agriculture facilities world-wide. The protests are organized by the national non-profit group, Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), in objection to food animal slaughter.

Protests and events will take place in more than 100 U.S. cities including Washington, DC at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's building, and at slaughterhouses in Brooklyn, NY; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; Milwaukee, WI; Milford, DE; Phoenix, AZ; and San Diego, CA. In Canada, FARM is organizing protests in Vancouver, BC; Toronto, ON; Burlington, ON; Maidstone, ON; Breslau, ON; and Lethbridge, AB.

Ag markets proved generally strong Wednesday morning
Cattle futures continued their early-week advance. Bullish cattle-on-feed news and higher cash prices boosted cattle futures early this week, but persistent wholesale strength has enabled bulls to sustain the upward momentum. They seemed to be encouraged somewhat by Wednesday morning events. Whether they’ll be able to do so through the balance of the week is open to question. October cattle futures ran up 0.42 cents to 127.75 cents/pound by late Wednesday morning, while December gained 0.42 cents to 131.65. Meanwhile, October feeder cattle sank 0.50 cents to 163.27 cents/pound, and January sagged 0.52 cents to 163.10.

Meat, livestock groups appeal rejection of COOL injunction
Nine national or regional meat and livestock organizations from the United States, Canada and Mexico have appealed the Sept. 11 decision [Court denies meat industry bid to block COOL regulations] by U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to deny their request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of USDA's May 2013 final rule on country-of-origin labeling (COOL).

The industry's initial brief contends that Jackson erred in accepting the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) argument, which they say is inconsistent with the rationale the agency used in the final rule, that the final rule “is to correct misleading speech and prevent consumer deception” that purportedly occurred because of requirements AMS imposed in its 2009 rule. “Even putting aside the absurdity of a government agency referring to itself as an agent of ‘deception,' the District Court should have rejected AMS's belated declaration because it was a plainly impermissible post hoc rationalization,” it says. “Yet the District Court accepted it anyway.”

The industry groups' attorneys also believe that Jackson applied the wrong legal standard regarding the First Amendment and compelled speech because the mandated labels at issue are not voluntary deceptive advertising. “There is no such voluntary misleading advertisement here; AMS is the source of the alleged ‘deception',” the brief says. “No court has ever before applied lesser scrutiny for compelled speech in such circumstances.”

Schweiterman: New buyers push live cattle futures higher
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed with gains of at least .70 in the front 3 months, as new buyers continue to enter this market. Technical are becoming somewhat overbought but can remain that way for an extended period of time. Asking prices are firmly set at $126+ and near $200 in the north. Overnight activity has slowed, with all contracts trading within .10 of Tuesday’s closing prices. Cutouts were better again on Tuesday, while the weekly slaughter pace is picking up from recent levels. The ability of the beef market to sustain strength in the face of higher slaughter rates is key to maintaining the current rally.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures posted new contract highs in all but the expiring September contract on Tuesday. The strength came on increased open interest, suggesting new money continuing to enter this market. The cash index posted new highs for the move and are within .22 of the all-time record highs. Overnight activity is firm in the front months, with deferred contracts softer as we write. Look for any midweek pullbacks to be well supported in the feeders.

 

September 24, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

LMA met with JBS- Omaha on livestock handling and impacts on carcass quality; insurance questions between packers and markets
Various LMA staff members and LMA Vice President, Dan Harris, visited JBS-Omaha to learn more about the cull cow and cutter bull harvesting process and the impacts of livestock handling on carcass quality. There was also discussion to address insurance questions between packers and markets. A recent JBS study found that carcass bruising occurs within 12-24 hours (on farm, during marketing process, during transport and/or at the packing house) prior to slaughter due to livestock handling issues such as (but not limited to) tool usage, slips/falls, and improper usage of gates. JBS plans to complete further research.

LMA has a strong relationship with JBS, and there will be ongoing dialogue between JBS and LMA. Staff members who visited JBS are Mark Mackey, CEO of LMA; Kurt Hamilton, President of LMIC; Jennifer Aiman, VP of  LMIC; Chelsea Good, VP of Government and Industry Affairs; Laura Marks, Director of Livestock Handling; Lindsay Graber, Director of Marketing and Communications; Roy Barta, REO; and Corey Schultz, REO. 

Registration for WLAC Qualifier in Stanford, KY closes Oct. 7
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Bluegrass South Livestock Market, LLC (Stanford, KY) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) Friday, October 7. The qualifying event is October 21. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration is also open for the final WLAC qualifying event. The third qualifier is in Butler, MO, and registration closes on December 16. Registration for the first qualifier in Dinuba, CA closed on September 20.

Feeders can put the red ink away, margins turn positive
Feeder margins escaped negative figures last week, improving by $71.88 to average $42.88 per head. The improvement lifts feeders out of the red according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

Healthy feeder margin gains were supported by decreasing feed costs, which fell 18 cents lower per head and higher Choice steer prices, breaking the $123 streak to move 95 cents higher per hundredweight to $123.95.

Feeder margins are $71.88 per head higher than a week earlier and $102.41 above last month. Feeder margins are $88.03 per head higher than the average this time last year according to estimates by Sterling Marketing, Inc., Vale, Ore.

Court blocks Missouri horse slaughter plant
A U.S. District Court judge in New Mexico, late last week, issued a temporary restraining order to block federal inspections at a proposed Missouri horse slaughter plant.  Another temporary restraining order preventing federal inspections at proposed horse slaughter facilities in New Mexico and Iowa, were issued in early August.

The orders were in response to a motion filed by the Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue, along with other horse protection organizations and several individuals.

The Iowa facility, Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, indicated in mid August it intended to focus on beef processing instead.

Animal welfare groups suing to stop a return to domestic horse slaughter on Aug. 16 posted a nearly $500,000 bond to keep a temporary ban in effect.   The bond was put in place by the judge who issued to temporary restraining order on the New Mexico and Iowa facilities to cover potential losses by the slaughterhouses.

Rains Natural Meats is located just east  Gallatin, Missouri, located northeast of Kansas City.   The owner, David Rains has already modified the plant to accept horses rather than the beef, pork, elk, bison and venison that Rains Natural Meats previously processed.

Schwieterman: Live, feeder cattle futures move higher
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher

Live cattle futures closed moderately higher across the board on Monday, with higher cutouts and Friday’s friendly on feed report fueling the rise. Overnight activity saw some follow through buying, trading 10-30 higher as we write. Open interest gained 2,214 contracts on Monday, suggesting new buying interest coming into the market. The .025 gap left in the October chart Monday morning could fuel more technical buying near term.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed sharply higher on Monday, fueled by the lower than expected placements in August and rising cash index levels. The auction in Oklahoma City on Monday was called higher to sharply higher, depending on the category. The vertical move higher in the October feeders over the past five days has created overbought conditions, which may allow for a correction if corn can show some strength. We are looking at late first quarter and early second quarter of 2004 as pricing opportunities for producers near these levels.

 

September 23, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Sterling Livestock Commission Flood Victim Benefit- Sterling, Co.
Wednesday, September 25th, Sterling Livestock is going to do a fundraiser for all the flood victims. Sterling Livestock will be donating $1.00 per head that they sell. They will also have a benefit auction at 12:00 in the auction ring. There will be donation jars set up. Please come to Sterling Livestock on Wednesday and help all you can. All the money will go to the Sterling Santa's to distribute. Thanks in advance for your help.  If you would like to donate you can mail a check to Sterling Livestock, P.O. Box 647 Sterling, Co. 80751.  Make Checks Payable to Miracle Letter Program Flood Relief.

Washington Week Ahead: Congress Scrambles to Avoid Shutdown
The main focus of the week will likely be more congressional action to avoid another possible shutdown of the federal government.

Some farm bill action also may be in the offing.

The House approved its continuing resolution (H.J.Res.59) Friday, which would keep government departments, including the USDA and FDA, essentially funded at FY 2013 levels until mid-December. With the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, Congress has one week to resolve the issue.

Feeder Market Gains Traction on Steady Demand, Breaks $123 Trend
Last week’s feeder cattle market finally saw some movement after trading steady since the end of August. Yearling feeder sales reached $125 with momentum picking up most in the Southern Plains.

USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall says demand was highest for steers which provide the best opportunity for profits by adding weight with falling corn values.

New calves traded lower this week while bidders are unable to be two places at once, opting to tend to wheat fields and delay new calf purchases for a few weeks. Wall says new crop spring-born calves traded weak to $5 lower with the full decline once again noted in the Southeastern calf markets. Wall added calf demand should return as soon as fieldwork is done.

Schwieterman: Friday’s Report to Support Cattle Futures This Week
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: 30-50 Higher

Live cattle futures closed modestly higher on Friday and should start the week on a positive note following improved cash trade and a supportive on feed report. Southern cash rose to $124 on Friday, with northern beef sales as high as $196. The big number on Friday was the continued light placements at 89%, which was 3-4% below trade estimates. We look for good support to develop for the deferred contracts, as most believe that first half of September placements were slow as well.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 30-50 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately higher on Friday and just slightly better for the week. The combination of supportive placement numbers and new lows for the move in the corn market should support feeders to start the week. Pasture conditions looked very favorable as I drove across Kansas this weekend. We look for the market to be well supported on any corrections over the coming weeks.

 

September 20, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Registration for WLAC Qualifier in Dinuba, CA closes today; Stanford, KY closes 10/7
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Tulare Co. Stockyard (Dinuba, CA) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) today. Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration is open for the other two WLAC qualifying events. The second qualifier is in Stanford, KY on October 21; registration closes on October 7. The final qualifier is in Butler, MO, and registration closes on December 16.

House approves bill to cut nearly $40 billion from SNAP
The House approved Thursday a three-year nutrition bill (H.R. 3102), with a partisan 217-210 vote, that aims to cut about $40 billion over 10 years for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and provide various reforms to the program.

All 217 votes in support of the bill were cast by Republican lawmakers. Fifteen Republicans joined 195 Democrats in opposing the bill. Five Democrats and one Republican did not vote.

To review the roll call vote, click here.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and other Republican lawmakers said the bill would make “common-sense” reforms to the SNAP program largely by encouraging work and ferreting out fraud and abuse.

Schwieterman: Cattle futures higher ahead of report
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures posted moderate gains on Thursday, with October closing above the 40 day moving average. Open interest ahead of this weeks’ cash trade and the cattle on feed report was up 3,351 contracts. We should see solid resolve from feedlots to get better money this week. The premium in the futures and anticipation of friendly report numbers could finally push southern cash above the $123 landmark. Overnight trade is narrowly mixed, with a slightly higher bias in the front months.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures were sharply higher in all but the expiring September contract on Thursday. The gains came in the face of stronger corn trade. Cash index levels rose .34 on Thursday and traders are looking for the August placement number to fall 8-9% from a year ago. Overnight feeders are trending slightly lower in spite of corn being off a couple cents. We continue to see numbers at tight levels this fall, with strength in the live cattle needed to promote much more of an upward move.

Placements expected lower in Friday’s report
Friday’s USDA cattle report is expected to show fewer Cattle on Feed compared to the previous year and placements at their lowest level since the USDA started tracking data in 1996.

August placements are expected to fall from the previous year with numbers forecasted to be 8.9 percent lower than Sept. 1, 2012 data according to Allendale, Inc.

Some analysts were anticipating higher placements in the August report. Last month’s placements in feedlots during the month of July totaled 1.72 million. The July total was a 10 percent decrease from the same time a year earlier.

The decline is expected to continue as Allendale says cattle feeders remain wary of placing new cattle given the continued loss situation on outgoing cattle. Feeder margins are still in the red, however they have improved over the past month averaging negative $29 per head.

 

September 19, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Registration for WLAC Qualifier in Dinuba, CA closes TOMORROW
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Tulare Co. Stockyard (Dinuba, CA) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) tomorrow (Sept. 20.) Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com

Registration is open for the other two WLAC qualifying events. The second qualifier is in Stanford, KY on October 21; registration closes on October 7. The final qualifier is in Butler, MO, and registration closes on December 16.

Most ag markets rallied in response to Wednesday’s Fed news
Wednesday’s Fed news continued supporting commodities overnight. Most other considerations took a back seat to Wednesday’s Federal Reserve announcement that it will ‘taper’ off its program of buying $85 billion in U.S. bonds each month. They worry about the impact on the economy if they do so. Stocks and commodities surged on the news and continued rising overnight. Concurrent U.S. dollar losses also favor higher commodities. December corn climbed 4.75 cents to $4.61/bushel early Thursday morning, and May rose 5.75 cents to $4.8275.

Cattle futures also rallied in response to the Fed announcement. Although modest wholesale gains posted Wednesday afternoon probably played a role in overnight cattle market gains, the Fed news was probably the main driver of the rise. That is, rising equity markets and dollar weakness are routinely viewed as bullish for domestic and foreign demand, respectively. October cattle futures advanced 0.62 cents to 125.90 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while December added 0.70 to 129.65. Meanwhile, October feeder cattle bounced 0.60 cents to 158.90 cents/pound, and January improved 0.52 cents to 159.45.

House set to act on $40 billion cut to SNAP program
The House is expected to vote today on a three-year nutrition bill (H.R. 3102) that aims to cut about $40 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as make an array of changes to the program.

The House Rules Committee last night approved a closed rule for the bill, clearing the way for House floor action. A closed rule means that no amendments will be in order for the bill.

Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, told lawmakers during the meeting that he expects the bill to be on the floor today.

However, House Agriculture Committee Frank Lucas, R-Okla., told reporters he was “hopeful” it would hit the floor today.

Shortly before the committee action, the White House issued an expected veto threat of the legislation.

Third horse slaughter business qualifies for USDA inspection
A third business has met all the statutory and regulatory requirements to require USDA to provide inspection services when it begins processing horsemeat for human consumption.

Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys representing USDA have informed the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico that it may want to expand its temporary restraining order against horse slaughter to include Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, MO.

That restraining order currently only prevents USDA from providing inspection services to Valley Meat in New Mexico and Responsible Transportation in Iowa, the first two businesses to qualify since a five-year ban on spending federal money on horse slaughter inspections ended in 2012.

Schwieterman: Feeder, live cattle futures higher
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: 30-50 Higher

Live cattle futures closed modestly higher across the board on Wednesday, with further strength seen overnight following the Federal Reserve’s decision to not taper their monthly printing press. Dollar weakness since 1 pm on Wednesday has commodity prices in general on the rise. The shrinking pork production and ongoing strong beef exports should remain supportive into year end. All-time record high equity prices should benefit as well.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 30-50 Higher
Feeder cattle futures closed moderately higher on Wednesday and are expected to see additional strength today in spite of higher corn trade overnight. Placement numbers are expected to be off 8% in this Friday’s on feed report. The lower Dollar trend could bring more strength than expected in the corn market but overall production still looks to be very large.

 

September 18, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Gary Miller of Northwestern Commission Company in Oregon Passes Away
Gary M. Miller died on September 12, 2013 in Hermiston, Oregon at the age of 75 years.

Gary was born on April 7, 1938 in Centerville, Washington to parents, Milton and Velva Yeackel Miller. He attended school in Sherman County, graduating from Moro High School in the class of 1956. He later attended Oregon State University and Eastern Oregon State College. Gary then worked as an ironworker on various construction projects for several years before returning to Sherman County to run the family ranch.

Gary married Rhonda C. Schledewitz on June 30, 1973 in Culbertson, Montana. They purchased Northwestern Commission Company and moved to Hermiston, Oregon in 1979. They have operated the commission company for the last 34 years. Gary was the Northwest Director of the Livestock Market Association for 15 years. He was an avid fisherman who enjoyed hunting and cherished his time with his family and loved his time with his grandchildren. Gary was a past champion steer wrestler in the community.

He is survived by his wife: Rhonda Miller, Hermiston, OR; son: Mark Miller, Salem, OR; daughters: Tara Miller & Lexi Miller, both Hermiston, OR, and Robin Campbell, Salem, OR; sister: Mary Jo Lane, Grass Valley, OR; grandchildren: Trey, Andre, Sloane, Holly, and Amber.

Gary was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Tonai Kirkelie.

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 11:00 A.M. at Northwestern Livestock Commission Company (Westland Road & I-84) Hermiston, Oregon.

Private burial will be at the Hermiston Cemetery, Hermiston, Oregon.

Those who wish may make contributions in Gary’s memory to the American Heart Assoc. at 1200 Naito Parkway, Suite 220, Portland, OR 97209.
Please sign the condolence book at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com.

Affordable Care Act Notices must be Distributed to Employees before October 1
Under the Affordable Care Act, small employers (less than 50 employees) are not required to provide health insurance to their employees and are not penalized for not offering it. Before October 1, however, all employers must distribute a notice to employees regarding the Health Care Exchanges.
There are two kinds of notices – one for employers who offer health insurance to its employees and one for employers who do not.  This written notification must be given to all current employees (full-time and part-time, regardless of eligibility) no later than October 1, 2013. After October 1, new hires must receive this notice at the time of hire or no later than 14 days from date of hire.  This notice may be provided via mail, electronically or hand delivered. 

Below are the notices for employers who DO NOT offer health insurance to their employees. 
http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/FLSAwithoutplans.pdf  (English)
http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/FLSAwithoutplanssp.pdf  (Spanish)

Everyone is required to obtain health insurance and October 1, 2013 begins open enrollment for coverage starting as early as January 1, 2014. As it indicates in the notice, people can get information and apply for insurance at www.HealthCare.gov

Depending on income, individuals and families may be eligible for premium subsidies from the federal government for plans purchased through the Exchanges.  

Those who are not insured by an employer and do not acquire health insurance on their own, including business owners such as livestock market owners, will be subject to penalties at tax time. 

Vaccinations could Reduce Food-borne E. coli Incidence
Results of research in the United Kingdom suggest using E. coli vaccines in cattle could reduce the incidence of human sickness from E. coli O157 by as much as 85 percent.

Retail Beef Reaches Record Prices for 2nd Consecutive Month
Beef prices climbed to record levels in August and remained there throughout the month, setting a new monthly high for the second month in a row according to data from the USDA.September 17, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

 

September 17, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

8 Surprising Factors That Impact Auction Prices for Beef Calves
Marketing studies continue to show cow-calf producers can significantly improve the value of their calves at auction by management strategies.
Britt Hicks, area extension livestock specialist in the Oklahoma panhandle reviewed several recent market studies and says a variety of things such as calf body condition, castration, horns, fill, health, group selling, genetic selection and modification of breeding objectives can have significant effect on sale price at auction.

Falling Beef Prices turn Packer Margins Negative
Wholesale beef prices trending lower over the past two weeks led to negative beef packer margins last week as cash prices remain steady. Packer margins could be further stressed as cattle supplies tighten through the remainder of the year.

Feeder Markets Continue Adjusting to Big Corn Crop
Cash corn prices in the Texas Panhandle have decreased $2.00/bushel since July.  While there is still some uncertainty about how big the new corn crop will be and just how low corn prices might go, there is no doubt that significantly lower corn prices will have a big impact on feeder price levels and feeder price relationships. Overall feeder cattle price levels have risen sharply with prices for most weights of feeder cattle up about $25/cwt., a bit more for the lightweight calves.

Dear Chipotle: Farmers Respond to ‘Scarecrow’ Ad
Chipotle is at it again.

The company’s latest animated short film made its way around the Internet last week, earning praises from advertising critics and consumers, while angering those within the agricultural industry. According to Chipotle, the film and its coordinating game are “designed to help educate people about the world of industrial food production that supplies much of what they eat.”

 

September 16, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Registration for WLAC Qualifier in Dinuba, CA closes this Friday
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Tulare Co. Stockyard (Dinuba, CA) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) this Friday (Sept. 20.) Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration is open for the other two WLAC qualifying events. The second qualifier is in Stanford, KY on October 21; registration closes on October 7. The final qualifier is in Butler, MO, and registration closes on December 16.

Washington Week Ahead: House set to take up SNAP cuts bill
The House is poised for an exciting week as a 3-year nutrition bill that would cut about $40 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is expected to hit the floor.

The legislation, set to come up for debate late in the week, would make several changes to SNAP, including eliminating “categorical eligibility” and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program “loophole.”

The bill contains language similar to several amendments that resulted in the failure of the House's first attempt to pass a farm bill this year.

The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, authored by House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., seeks to “restore the intent of welfare reforms” adopted in 1996 to SNAP.

According to House leadership, the legislation aims to refocus the program on those who need it most. “No law-abiding beneficiary who meets the income and asset tests of the current program and is willing to comply with applicable work requirements will lose their benefits under the bill,” the leadership said.   

Temperature swings pull calves lower; yearling feeders excel
Feeder cattle prices were consistent with the previous week at $123 as the anticipation of fewer livestock for sale is countered by hesitant bids from beef packers seeing margins steadily decline.

Demand for yearling feeders continues to be better in northern states with some bids going up to $3 higher than the previous week. Most sales are steady with the previous week.

Active buyers keep the yearling feeder market strong. According to USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall the St. Joseph, MO Stockyards feeder cattle auction on Wednesday was one of the best markets in the facility’s 130 year history. “Top sales included a load of 834 lb heifers at $146.85, a load of 843 lb steers at $163.10, and two part loads of 735 lb steers from $172.75-$173.50,” Wall said. 

The calf market took a step back last week as the market moves seasonally lower at a time when temperatures are vastly different from midday highs to overnight lows, threatening animal health. In addition to the changing weather, Wall says pre-condition yard sickpens fill up with several calves facing a combination of separation anxiety and shipping fever.

Schwieterman: Cattle futures higher Friday as corn shows weakness
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher

Live cattle futures closed moderately higher on Friday, boosted by improved cash prospects over the coming weeks and months. Outside market influences look supportive to begin the week. The market should start seeing the effects of no Zilmax over the next couple of weeks. A close over the 126.00 level in the October contract would trigger new board buyers. Open interest was up 1,854 contracts on the Friday rally.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures settled moderately higher on Friday, with strength in the live and weakness in corn supported the market. Overnight corn prices are flat, with equities sharply higher and the Dollar lower. Improved pasture conditions in the plains following the past five day rains should raise demand for grazing cattle over the coming weeks. Open interest grew modestly on the positive close Friday.

House Republican plan for 3-year nutrition bill includes $40 billion in SNAP cuts, several changes
Details about the proposed House Republican three-year nutrition bill emerged today as the House prepares to take up the legislation, which would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $40 billion over 10 years and make an array of changes to the program, according to congressional sources.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., confirmed today that the House will take up the bill next week.  

 

September 13, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Registration for WLAC Qualifier in Dinuba, CA closes in one week
Registration for the WLAC Qualifier at Tulare Co. Stockyard (Dinuba, CA) closes at 4:00 p.m. (CST) one week from today (Sept. 20.) Interested auctioneers can find more information and register online at www.lmaweb.com.

Registration for the other two qualifiers in also open to interested auctioneers. The second qualifier is in Stanford, KY on October 21; registration closes on October 7. The final qualifier is in Butler, MO and registration closes on December 16.

LMA completes another successful D.C. Fly In 
Livestock Marketing Association members and staff traveled to Washington D.C. this week for the 8th annual LMA D.C. Fly In. Approximately 30 people met with legislators and legislative staff on current issues and concerns in the livestock marketing industry. Discussion centered on the Farm Bill and a long-term need to update Packers and Stockers Act requirements. 

Over the course of two days, LMA members and staff met with members of the House Committee on Agriculture and Senate Farm Bill conferees, as well as other legislators and legislative staff. Attendees also visited with Neil Hammerschmidt, USDA Animal Disease Traceability program manager; Susan Keith, USDA GIPSA Deputy Administrator; Brett Offutt, USDA Director of Policy and Litigation; and Congressman Frank Lucas, Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture.  

Schwieterman: Cash trade steady Thursday, beef exports solid
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: 20-40 Higher

Live cattle futures closed narrowly mixed on Thursday, with October lower and deferred contracts modestly higher. Following the release of steady cash trade in all regions Thursday afternoon, the market has firmed in overnight trade, led by the October. The steady cash on a Thursday, in spite of lower cutouts throughout the week should be a confidence builder for the feedlots. Beef exports for the week were once again very solid for the third week in a row. Carcass weights should be monitored closely over the next few weeks to see the results of Zilmax being pulled off the market.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately higher on Thursday but well off of session highs after a late day recovery in the grain markets. Feeders are firm again in overnight trade but holding inside of Thursdays’ wide trading range. The daily cash index price jumped above 158.00 on Thursday, with the 7 day average rising .30 to 156.36. Corn is modestly lower overnight, which should keep the  feeders supported, as long as fats can hold above recent lows.

USDA projects record corn crop
The September World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates from USDA, released on Sept. 12, project U.S. corn production at 13.8 billion bushels, up 80 million bushels from the August estimate and more than 3 billion bushels more than last-year’s crop. The projection is based on an average yield estimate of 155.3 bushels per acre, up from last-month’s estimate of 154.4 bushels and last-year’s average yield of $123.4 bushels per acre.
Higher yields for the Central Plains and across the South more than offset yield reductions for Iowa and North Dakota.

The agency also raised its estimate for sorghum production significantly, from 359 million bushels last month to 396 bushels in this month’s report, with the yield estimate up from 59 to 65 bushels per acre. Last year’s sorghum production was 247 million bushels.

Livestock futures diverged from weak crop markets overnight
Cash news apparently boosted cattle futures Thursday night. Recent wholesale slippage has tended to discourage cattle traders, which daily shifts in CME futures have reflected. However, contrary to those pessimistic expectations, fed cattle reportedly changed hands at steady money ($123/cwt) in the Southern Plains yesterday evening, thereby prompting the moderate overnight rebound. October cattle futures rallied 0.52 cents to 125.35 cents/pound early Friday morning, while December added 0.37 to 129.00. Meanwhile, October feeder cattle advanced 0.35 cents to 158.95 cents/pound, and January crept up 0.10 cents to 159.20.

 

September 12, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Past LMA President, Duard Sullivan, passed away Sept. 10
Sullivan, Duard Ray, age 80 of Nashville Tennessee passed away on September 10, 2013.

After college graduation, he started a long, successful career in the livestock industry at the Nashville Union Stockyards. In 1972, he was one of the founding partners of the Dickson Livestock Center, in Dickson, Tennessee, which he helped grow into one of the largest stockyards in the state. He was active in all facets of the cattle business throughout the country serving as the President of the Livestock Marketing Association in 1983 and serving as a director of both the National Livestock and Meat Board and the Meat Export Federation. He was a founding board member of the Tennessee Beef Industry Council where he served as a director for many years. His foresight and knowledge on all industry matters were recognized nationwide.

A funeral service will be held at Immanuel Baptist Church, 222 Belle Mead Blvd., Nashville, Tennessee at 11:00 a.m.  on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 with a graveside service to be held afterwards at Harpeth Hills Cemetery. A visitation will be held for the family at the church on Monday, September 16, 2013 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The family requests in lieu of flowers that gifts be made in Duard’s memory to either Centre College or Immanuel Baptist Church.

Schweiterman: Live cattle traders waiting on cash action
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher

Live cattle futures closed narrowly mixed on Wednesday, as traders struggled to take any new positions ahead of this weeks’ cash activity. Overnight activity is trending higher but remains in this weeks’ tight trading range. A close above 126.00 in the October contract is needed if we are going to see a change in the recent pattern. October should begin closing the gap on the December as we get into the second half of the month.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed moderately to sharply higher in all but the September contract on Wednesday. The gains came in spite of consecutive higher closes in corn futures. This mornings’ grain report should be a driving force in near term direction for the feeders. The report is being released at 11:00 am central daylight time and is expected to be price negative by most analysts. Overnight trade is modestly lower in corn and trending moderately higher in the feeders.

Court denies meat industry bid to block COOL regulations
U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson today rejected a request by U.S. and Canadian meat packers and livestock growers for an injunction blocking a final USDA regulation mandating country-of-origin labels (COOL) on meat sold in retail stores.

In rejecting the principal arguments of the American Meat Institute (AMI) and its allies for an order blocking the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) rules, Jackson handed a major victory to USDA and COOL proponents in the long-running controversy.

AMI said that it disagrees strongly with the decision and plans to appeal because "several aspects of the ruling are susceptible to change." 

Her 80-page opinion concludes that the challengers are unlikely to prevail on the merits of their arguments and have failed to persuade her that the labeling rules would cause irreparable harm to their member companies and livestock producers.

She disagreed with the claims by attorneys for the challengers that the requirements violated their First Amendment “free speech” rights by forcing them to speak when they did not want to do so. She concludes that the rules compel disclosure of “purely factual and uncontroversial information,” and thus need only be “reasonably related to the [government's] interest in preventing deception of consumers” to pass muster under the First Amendment.

“The final rule sufficiently establishes that the regulation was intended to address the possibility of consumer confusion regarding the origin of covered commodities,” Jackson wrote.

Livestock futures outdid crop markets Wednesday night
Cattle futures bounced somewhat overnight. Although the WASDE report released later this morning includes some supply/demand data for the livestock, dairy and poultry markets, cattle and hog traders traditionally pay little attention to it. Thus, there was probably little position squaring last night. Ultimately, the modest cattle gains may have reflected a response to Wednesday’s firmness in beef values. October cattle futures rallied 0.35 cents to 125.40 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while December crept up 0.15 cents to 128.72. Meanwhile, October feeder cattle climbed 0.20 cents to 158.42 cents/pound, and January added 0.37 cents to 158.62. 

Lawmakers override Nixon’s veto; cattle theft penalties get tough
A bill enforcing stronger punishments on cattle rustlers and changes to animal abuse and neglect laws was vetoed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, but was overridden by lawmakers Wednesday.

The bill, S.B. 9, changes language regarding penalties for cattle theft, making the first offense a felony in most cases. The change takes cattle rustling more seriously as the threat increases with high cattle prices.

Another aspect of the bill benefiting livestock producers is the change to the animal abuse and neglect law. The new bill creates a new offense of animal trespass, defined as knowingly failing to provide adequate control of animals for at least 12 hours. With the new wording, livestock producers will not face large fines or imprisonment when animals get loose through a damaged fence or gate.

 

September 11, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

New US meat label rule (COOL) survives challenge by meat packers
A U.S. district judge refused on Wednesday to stop the government from requiring labels on packages of beef, pork, poultry and lamb sold in U.S. stores to include more specific information about the meat's country of origin.

U.S. meat packers said the latest country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rule will drive up their costs and become a bookkeeping nightmare. But in a victory for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson denied their request for a preliminary injunction.

Canada and Mexico are challenging COOL before the World Trade Organization as a U.S. trade barrier. They prevailed in an earlier WTO case against COOL, which led to the revised regulation issued in May and now under dispute.

"We are going to be faithful to the rule," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told a farm delegation early this week. "It's a battle we are going to continue to fight."

The current WTO challenge will not be resolved until 2015, Vilsack said, because of procedural time frames and likely appeals of preliminary rulings.
The meat packers' lawsuit against COOL remains alive although Jackson rejected the request for a preliminary injunction. The judge said the industry failed to show it would suffer irreparable harm if COOL was in effect while the case being decided.

Congress approved COOL in 2002 but it did not become mandatory until March 2009. Consumer groups hailed the labels as part of consumers' right to know the source of their food, while food makers said COOL could disrupt marketing patterns.

Tom Vilsack: Strongly opposed to farm bill extension
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday that he had “very, very strong objections” to another extension of the current farm law, saying that option only rewards Congress for failing again to write a comprehensive five-year farm bill.

“We see an extension as a reward for continued failure,” Vilsack told POLITICO, even as he spelled out immediate problems that will begin to arise at the end of this month if no resolution is reached before the current farm law expires Sept. 30.

The secretary stopped short of raising a veto threat — instead just seeming to add an extra “very” or two to his sentences. But from his own conversations with Vilsack, Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said a veto strategy is in play.

Most ag markets proved rather volatile Wednesday
Cattle futures were also narrowly mixed Wednesday afternoon. Although persistent beef weakness and growing talk of cash market slippage later this week remained a factor in the CME cattle pit Wednesday, futures end the day around unchanged levels. Slight midsession gains at the wholesale level probably offered support, as did a third consecutive surge in stock market values. October cattle futures inched 0.02 cents higher to 125.05 cents/pound as the pit session ended Wednesday, while December skidded 0.07 cents to 128.57. Meanwhile, October feeder cattle climbed 0.45 cents to 158.22 cents/pound, and January surged 0.47 cents to 158.25.

Calif. cracks down on livestock theft
A livestock theft bill bill (AB 924) moved swiftly through the California’s Senate and Assembly last week, passing with unanimous, bi-partisan support. It now is in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown and, if signed, would establish a $5,000 fine for anyone convicted of livestock theft.

 

September 10, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Ag markets declined in starting this week’s action
Cattle futures proved rather weak Monday. Futures rallied last Friday despite late-week cattle and beef losses, but could not buck the downward wholesale trend at the start of this week’s action. Weak sales figures on the weekly beef report very likely discouraged bulls. October cattle futures edged 0.32 cents lower to 125.35 cents/pound as trading wound down Monday, while December tumbled 0.30 cents to 128.72. October feeder cattle dipped 0.03 cents to 158.05 cents/pound, and January declined 0.05 cents to 157.95.

Stabenow calls for House to name conferees
Senate Ag Committee chair Debbie Stabenow and Majority Leader Harry Reid are calling on House leadership to announce their conferees for the Farm Bill conference committee.

Stabenow says it is time “to stop kicking the can down the road…It’s time to do the work we were sent here to do and finally finish this farm bill.” The Michigan Democrat says she does not support any extension of the current farm bill “because it is bad policy that yields no deficit reduction, no reform and does nothing to help American agriculture create jobs.”

There are growing concerns that the House will not get around to the nutrition title of their farm bill in the weeks to come as Congress first deals with the President’s request for action on Syria, then the budget as the fiscal year ends at the end of this month and another debt ceiling increase after that.

Analyst says ethanol rush is over, corn may drop to $3.25
Livestock producers are likely to see shrinking feed costs ahead with one market analyst forecasting lower corn prices as ethanol demand will be “flat-lining” into 2022.

Dan Basse, AgResource Company, told the good news to cattle producers at the eighth annual Feeding Quality Forum at the end of August. After grain producers saw higher profits last year, Basse says it’s time for livestock producers to have their turn.

The swing in ag markets leads Basse to forecast $4 corn this fall and a range from $3.25 to $6 over the next decade. Low feed costs will boost producer margins and may finally help feeders dig themselves out of negative margins which USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Walls says have steadily been between -$75 and -$200 per head for nearly a full calendar year.

 

September 9, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

LMA members and staff in Washington for DC Fly In
LMA members and staff are in Washington, D.C. today and tomorrow for the annual D.C. Fly In. Attendees will meet with legislators and legislative staff to voice the concerns and protect the business of the livestock marketing industry.

Feeder cattle review: Calf demand solid across the country
Compared to last week, available supplies of yearling feeder cattle sold steady to $2 higher with the full advance noted in the direct trade arenas while auction receipts were light.

Steer and heifer calf sales were unevenly steady this past week with the Southeastern markets largely steady to $3 lower, while a firm undertone was prevalent in most other regions on light receipts. 

Labor Day caused most Monday auctions to be closed, including the Oklahoma National Stockyards and the Joplin Regional Stockyards.  Plus, many Tuesday salebarns operated on light numbers as holiday interruptions caused increased market uncertainty but by the end of the week it was evident that buyer demand remains good on most classes.

Washington Week Ahead: Congress focuses on Syria, while farm bill push continues
While lawmakers will largely be focused on Syria this week, agricultural stakeholders will continue the push for congressional approval of a five-year farm bill.

On tap in the House is a nutrition title bill that will likely seek to cut $40 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The House leadership has not yet released the legislative language, but have outlined the parameters.

Several sources have said the bill could come up as early as next week. After that, the next step would be to conference the House-passed farm bill and its nutrition legislation with the Senate-passed farm bill.

 

September 6, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Ag markets ended the week strongly
Cattle futures turned mixed Friday. Beef prices dipped Thursday and Friday, thereby seeming to prompt country cattle trading at steady-lower prices. The fact that Southern Plains cattle traded at unchanged levels actually appeared to boost the October future in afternoon trading. October cattle futures settled 0.45 cents to 125.67 cents/pound Friday afternoon, while December slumped 0.10 cents to 129.02. October feeder cattle fell 0.77 cents to 158.02 cents/pound, and January lost 0.27 cents to 158.00.

Cattle Outlook: Cattle imports from Mexico cut in half in July
Cattle imports from Mexico during July were down 51% while imports from Canada were up 12%. July live cattle imports totaled 90,731 head, down 30% compared to July 2012.

Crop growing conditions are deteriorating but are still far better than last year. As of September 1, 56% of corn acres were rated in good or excellent condition. That is down 3 points from the week before, but up 34 percentage points from a year ago. On September 1, 34% of pastures were rated poor or very poor. That is up 3 points from the week before, but down from 59 percent poor or very poor a year ago.

Fed cattle prices were lower this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $122.42/cwt, down $1.10 from last week, but up 62 cents from the same week last year. Steer prices on a dressed basis averaged $194.22/cwt this week, down $1.79 from a week ago, but up $4.74 from a year ago.

This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $195.23/cwt, down 45 cents from the previous Friday, but up $4.32 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is at $181.18/cwt, down $1.30 for the week and down 81 cents from the same day last year. The choice-select spread, $14.05, was up for the seventh consecutive week.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 569,000 head, down 9.3% from last week (due to Monday being Labor Day), but up 3.3% from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on August 24 was 866 pounds, up 2 pounds from the week before, but down 1 pound from a year ago.

The Oklahoma City auction was closed on Monday due to the Labor Day holiday. Missouri feeder cattle auction prices this week were steady to $3 higher for steers and heifers with prices for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $180-$220, 450-500# $166-$189, 500-550# $160-$187, 550-600# $157-$178.25, 600-650# $148-$177.25, 650-700# $145-$173, 700-750# $147.50-$172, 750-800# $145-$163.10, 800-900# $135-$152, and 900-1000# $138.75/cwt.
The October live cattle futures contract closed at $125.67/cwt today, down $1.13 from last week's close. December fed cattle settled at $129.02, February at $131.00/cwt.

The September feeder cattle futures contract ended the week at $156.57/cwt, down 35 cents from the previous Friday. October feeders settled at $158.02, down 93 cents for the week.

DC Watch: Congress urged to keep up momentum
USDA projects record agricultural exports of $140 billion for fiscal year 2013. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tied the announcement to frustration with Congress over lack of progress on a new farm bill.

 “We’re counting on Congress to help keep up this momentum. With just a few weeks left before expiration of many Farm Bill programs, including trade promotion programs that return $35 in economic benefits for every dollar invested, producers and rural communities need passage of a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible,” Vilsack said in a statement.  
Vilsack also links immigration reform to sound future for U.S. ag trade.

After noting a new farm bill was vital, he added this kicker: “America’s farmers and ranchers need a reliable and stable agricultural workforce to keep up production. House passage of the commonsense immigration reform measure already approved by a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate, would further strengthen American agriculture and keep the U.S. on solid footing to maintain strong exports in the years to come.”

 

September 5, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Ag markets were quite mixed Thursday morning
International news seemed to depress the crop markets Wednesday night. The FAO stated overnight that it expects 2013/14 world cereal production to rise 0.5% to 2.492 billion tonnes, which may have offset talk that China could import 20-30 million tonnes of corn during the coming weeks. Bears may also have been reacting to news that China had sold 417,448 tonnes of soybeans out of its state reserves. December corn slipped 2.25 cent to $4.6725/bushel early Thursday morning, while July dipped 2.0 cents to $4.95.

Cattle futures sagged again in early Thursday trading. The persistent weakness is rather surprising, since wholesale beef posted slight gains Wednesday afternoon. Traders looking for a sizeable seasonal advance may have been disappointed by the modest nature of the beef price increase. October cattle futures declined 0.07 cents to 125.92 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while December slumped 0.05 cents to 129.85. October feeder cattle slipped 0.02 cents to 159.22 cents/pound, while January added 0.22 cents to 158.87.

Corn futures struggle, cash trade quiet
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Down
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed modestly lower on Wednesday, with some light bear spreading continuing to be a feature. Cash trade remains quiet, with most traders not expecting any action until Friday. Cutout values rose on Wednesday and Tyson should be finished killing Zilmax cattle by the weekend. Overnight activity has been modestly lower but nearing unchanged as we write. The slower cow kill should allow feedlots to move their heavy placements in early summer out of the feedlots on a timely basis.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed

Feeder cattle futures closed narrowly mixed on Wednesday and are expected to in those same ranges to start the day on Thursday. Our short term indicators have turned back up on the feeders, with longer term moving averages actually becoming somewhat overbought this week. Overnight corn values continue to struggle, with December putting in new lows for the current move. Outside market activity looks fairly flat to start the day.

Judge expedites horse slaughter case
A federal judge in Albuquerque says she will decide by the end of next month whether a New Mexico horse slaughter plant can open.
The attorney representing Valley Meat Co. of Roswell says U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo put the case on an expedited schedule Tuesday.
Attorney Blair Dunn says both sides will file briefs over the next month and Armijo says she'll issue a final ruling by the end of October.

 

September 4, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Ag markets moved generally lower Wednesday morning
Cattle futures also dipped in overnight action. After proving surprisingly weak Tuesday afternoon, the cattle market continued sliding in early Wednesday trading. The fact that beef cutout values, particularly the price of the select cuts, posted a moderate decline probably played a big role in the drop, since traders are probably expecting seasonal strength during the days and weeks just ahead. October cattle futures slid 0.12 cents to 126.07 cents/pound early Wednesday morning, while December skidded 0.10 cents to 130.00. September feeder cattle futures bounced 0.47 cents to 157.65 cents/pound on the corn decline, while November lifted 0.15 to 160.05.

Feeder margins improve despite rising feed costs, steady sales
Although feeder margins didn’t drastically improve last week, they did well in the face of rising feed costs and steady cash sales of Choice steers which remained at $123 per cwt, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

Feedlot margins remained negative last week, but improved by $1.57, averaging -$57.96 per head. Last week’s feeder margins are less than half as bad as a month earlier when cash sales were $119 per cwt and losses averaged -$124.83 per head according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

Feeder margins were relieved by lower total costs which fell $25.85 per head last week.

The feedlot calculated breakeven price improved by $1.99 per cwt compared to the previous week, but at $132.39 per cwt, last week’s breakeven was 45 cents higher than a month earlier.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending August 31:
Average feedyard margins: -$57.96 per head.
Average packer margins: $18.27 per head.

The beef cow herd could rebuild rapidly: Derrell Peel
Historically, the cattle cycles that the beef industry has observed for many years were self-regulating cycles of inventory driven by internal beef industry factors including calf price levels, beef cattle biology and the rigidity of forage resources used in the industry.

It is these factors that influence what cow-calf producers want to do, and that, when combined with the availability and condition of production resources which determine what can be done, result in changes in the beef cow herd inventory. These decisions by cow-calf producers ultimately determine the cattle supply for the entire industry.

There are indications that heifer retention will accelerate this fall with cow-calf producers holding more heifer calves for breeding.

Most herd expansions in the past have included one to two years of minimal or modest herd growth before accelerating for two to three years. Herd expansion prospects for 2014 include both factors that suggest potential for faster than normal growth and factors that will limit growth.

The young and productive base herd suggests the potential for one of two years of very minimal cow culling, which would contribute to faster growth. A year-over-year drop in beef cow slaughter of roughly 20 percent in 2014 would correspond to a culling rate of less than 9 percent, a low rate typical of herd expansion.

Cattle markets stay active in corn producing states
Weather forecasts and corn market expectations were key drivers for the feeder cattle market last week with upcoming feed supplies pushed and pulled by a bumper corn crop threatened by continued dryness.

Feeders remain in demand for the fourteenth consecutive week in northern states on better pasture conditions and access to good corn yields. Trade was busy at the start of last week following news of lower projected crop yields threatened by continued dryness and the potential for an early frost. Grain prices settled down as the week progressed and yearling feeder prices marched on.

According to USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall last week’s trade proceeded with caution for the first time in 14 weeks. Most yearling feeder markets started the week steady to $3 lower in the Southern Plains while Northern Markets moved $3 to $7 higher. On average, cattle sold last week for between $123 and $123.50.

 

September 3, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Grain lower, cattle higher in new price report
To the relief of livestock producers, prices for feed grains and hay have eased somewhat recently while prices for most livestock and animal products have increased. This month’s Agricultural Prices report from USDA, released August 30, shows the preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in August declined 12 points, or 6 percent, from July.

The August index stands at 188 percent, using a baseline of 100 percent for 1990 to 1992. That same index is down 5 points, or 2.6 percent, from August 2012.

Droughty weather news sent crop markets higher Tuesday morning
Corn futures rallied in concert with soybeans Tuesday morning. Weekend heat and persistent dryness seemingly bode ill for the forthcoming corn harvest. Still, a substantial portion of the gains posted in overnight trading probably represented spillover from soaring soybean prices. September corn jumped 8.75 cents to $5.0375/bushel early Tuesday morning, while December surged 8.5 cents to $4.905.

Cash action kept cattle futures from moving far last Friday. Cattle futures fluctuated Friday in response to sliding beef prices and conflicting reports concerning cash market action as the day passed. Ultimately, disappointing results in the Panhandle markets caused a generally weak close. Feeders are likely to drop sharply in reaction to resurgent soy and grain costs. October cattle futures settled 0.17 cents lower at 126.80 cents/pound last Friday afternoon, but December gained 0.22 cents to 130.47. September feeder cattle futures bounced 0.70 cents to 156.92 cents/pound, while November surged 0.95 to 159.72.

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle futures, corn both higher Friday
Corn                                               Estimated Fund Position
Trends – December Contract
Short Term: Up                            Net Long Futures and Options: -127607
Long Term: Down                        Change: +2000
Overnight Trade: Z +8 @7:30 AM
December corn held at trend line support Friday then jumped higher overnight due to weather concerns in the Corn Belt. Some areas received decent rains over the long weekend, but there were many that didn’t and the forecasts look dry, which won’t provide a good finish to either the corn or soybean crops. For the moment, last week’s high of $5.08 ¼ is a likely upside target.

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed
Live cattle futures closed mixed on the deferred contracts on Friday, while the August contract went off the board with losses of .85 on the day. Cash trade was reflected in the lower close by the August, with the south steady and northern beef trade $1.00 lower for the week. Retail business is expected to show good weekend clearance, as weather was conducive to outdoor grilling along with opening weekend of college football. Packers remain short bought and will be buying for a full kill week. The Dollar and equities remain strong.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher
Feeder cattle futures closed sharply higher on Friday, in spite of a slightly higher close in the corn futures. Overnight corn prices have firmed even more, which may allow for feeders to see some early pressure. The lack of strength in the live cattle pit is keeping a lid on the feeder market. Cash index levels jumped 56 points on Friday and should remain reasonably firm to start this week.

 

August 30, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

The LMA offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 2 in observance of Labor Day 
The Livestock Marketing Association offices will be closed on Monday, Sept. 2, in observance of Labor Day. We wish you a safe and happy holiday! The offices will be open and business will resume on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Ag markets turned mostly lower Friday morning
Cash firmness seemingly supported cattle futures Friday morning. Wire service reports released this morning indicate a few Nebraska cattle changed hands at $126/cwt (cents/pound) late Thursday evening. The implied $1.00 weekly rise almost surely encouraged CME bulls, although the limited futures response almost surely disappointed those optimists. Feeders rallied in reaction to corn and soy weakness. October cattle futures dipped 0.20 cents to 126.77 cents/pound in late Friday morning action, and December edged 0.02 cents lower to 130.22. September feeder cattle futures bounced 0.45 cents to 156.67 cents/pound, while November climbed 0.50 to 159.27.

Corn futures declined modestly Friday morning. The latest weather forecasts seemed somewhat more favorable for growing crops, but were not drought breakers either. News that the International Grains Council had boosted its estimate of the global crop may have added to the downward pressure. Many traders were clearly exiting long positions ahead of the three-day weekend. September corn slipped 4.25 cents to $4.93/bushel early Friday morning, while December slid 3.75 cents to $4.7775.

The soy complex also proved vulnerable in early Friday trading. The latest weather forecasts suggest Corn Belt conditions will improve modestly from previous readings during early September. That probably weighed upon soy values to some extent, but the drop was very likely exaggerated by bullish profit-taking ahead of the long weekend. Bulls couldn’t have been pleased with their inability to sustain the bullish response to early-morning export news. September soybeans fell 9.5 cents to $14.205/bushel around midsession Friday, while November beans dove 16.25 to $13.5225. September soyoil dropped 0.36 cents to 43.42 cents/pound, and September soymeal lost $1.3 to $466.1/ton.

Schwieterman: Corn lower overnight, cattle futures up moderately
Corn                                 Estimated Fund Position
Trends – December Contract
Short Term: Up                Net Long Futures and Options: -140591
Long Term: Down            Change: +2000
Overnight Trade: Z -4 @7:30 AM

The December corn is working deeper into the open chart gap and one should expect to see the market hit the bottom of the gap at $4.74 ½ at some point today. However, as we move closer to the close today traders will be making their final bets on the weekend weather and the Monday night forecast. With large declines in the crop condition ratings expected on Tuesday the market could be very explosive if the weather looks threatening for the first half of September.

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed modestly higher across the board on Thursday, with cash trade waiting for Friday once again. The three day holiday weekend looks perfect for outdoor activity and grilling. Some modest cash trade in Nebraska took place, with a regional packer, while the majors remain at a stalemate with feedlots. The August contract expires today and is currently trading .55 above last weeks’ southern cash. Last weeks’ export sales were the best in the past five months.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed with moderate gains on Thursday and the August contract went off above the 155.00 level. Overnight corn prices continued to work lower, boosting overnight feeder prices to new highs for the week. Cash index levels were lower on Thursday but are expected to rise today, based off the August contracts higher expiration. Higher live cattle prices and better cash trade are needed to see feeders take out near term resistance levels. Numbers should remain tight.

 

August 29, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Schwieterman: Cattle futures close higher; corn modestly lower
Corn                                      Estimated Fund Position
Trends – December Contract
Short Term: Up                     Net Long Futures and Options: -137591
Long Term: Down                 Change: -10000
Overnight Trade: Z -1 @7:30 AM
The December corn is working into the open chart gap, barely, but working into the gap makes the chance of going down to the bottom of the gap at $4.74 ½ greater. New crop export sales of 673,000 MT were ok, but not enough to get anyone excited, so the weather will be the main market factor again today. The forecasts at mid-day will most likely determine the direction of today’s close. A close below $4.74 ½ will be bearish.

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed
Live cattle futures closed moderately higher on Wednesday, with support stemming from higher equity trade and solid cash prospects. Asking prices remain firm, with $125 in the south and $200+ up north holding solid. Seeing some $122 bids surface on Wednesday, with no takers is a good sign that packers may become aggressive enough today to see some action on a Thursday. Outside influences are mixed this morning, with the Dollar and equities both higher.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed
Feeder cattle futures closed with gains of .65-.90 on Wednesday, garnering solid support from lower corn values. Cash index levels remain stagnant, dropping a modest 7 points on the day. Overnight activity has been narrowly mixed, with a slightly higher bias building due to modestly lower corn values. Uneasiness in the Middle East continues to cap any rally attempt ahead of the three day weekend.

Activist groups sue EPA over CAFO rule
Environmental and animal-rights groups want to force the EPA to collect detailed information on confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and intend to take the issue to court.

The issue stems from a proposed rule EPA published in October 2011, which would have required CAFOs to submit extensive information to the EPA. During a public comment period, according to EPA, state regulatory agencies questioned the need for a federal law, as states already collect the information in question. In July 2012, EPA withdrew the proposed rule. In its withdrawal document, the agency states: “Instead, the EPA, where appropriate, will collect CAFO information using existing sources of information including state National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) programs, other regulations and other programs at the federal, state and local level. The EPA believes at this time, it is more appropriate to obtain CAFO information by working with federal, state and local partners instead of requiring CAFO information to be submitted pursuant to a rule.”

NPPC, other organizations urge adoption of TPP principals
A coalition of agricultural and food organizations led by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and Cargill sent a letterrecently to urge U.S. trade negotiators to include its “core” principles for a final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

In a July 15 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the coalition of 37 agricultural and food organizations presented a set of principles aimed at ensuring that the TPP negotiations “fulfill the promise of a high-quality agreement that can serve as a standard for future trade agreements.”

 

August 28, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle futures recover with big day of gains
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Higher
Live cattle futures closed moderately lower on Tuesday, with cash trade looking like a Thursday-Friday trade once again. Issues overseas are keeping money from getting carried away, as traders tighten up their spending until something is resolved. Overnight cattle prices are firmer, supported by higher cutout values and the threat of shrinking cattle weights, due to extreme heat and the dropping of Zilmax usage. Strength in the Dollar this morning could limit buying of commodities in general.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher
Feeder cattle futures closed with triple digit gains on Tuesday, recovering about half of Mondays’ selloff on the back of lower corn close. The cash index posted a modest gain on Tuesday and is expected to be controlled near term by the action in the corn market. Overnight activity is trending higher once again, with the soon to be lead September contract leading the way with .65 gains. Increasing energy prices could limit gains in the meats, as transportation costs go on the rise.

COOL hearing begins; Judge to issue decision in 14 days
Nine representatives from North American meat processing and cattlemen groups were in Washington, D.C. court Tuesday, regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s mandatory country of origin labelling rules (COOL). The oral hearing entertained the organizations filing of an injunction to stop USDA from enforcing its COOL rules.

COOL labeling was first introduced in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills. At the time, the labeling rules were highly contentious among domestic and foreign meatpackers. After a complaint filed by Canada and Mexico claiming that the rules breach trade agreements, the World Trade Organization ordered the United States to comply.

The USDA instead introduced a final rule, which the groups allege violates their rights of freedom of speech and that the labels provide no added benefit to consumers. The final rule requires meat to include information on where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered, and prohibits “commingling”.

A D.C. judge said she would issue a decision on a preliminary injunction within the next 14 days.

Ag markets moved mostly higher overnight
Renewed weather concerns boosted the corn market early Wednesday morning. Although recent weather forecasts include more Corn Belt rain, traders have doubts about those predictions. Overnight buying seemingly reflected those suspicions. September corn gained 0.25 cent to $5.00/bushel Tuesday night, while December rose 0.25 cent to $4.865.

Wholesale strength seemingly supported cattle futures Tuesday night. Pessimism about the late August outlook and concurrent equity market losses depressed cattle futures Tuesday. However, the late afternoon USDA report indicated that cutout values had risen yesterday, which apparently sparked a fresh bout of optimism in the CME pit. October cattle futures crept up 0.20 cents to 126.92 cents/pound as the sun rose over Chicago Wednesday, and December ascended 0.12 cents to 129.90. September feeder cattle futures improved 0.30 cents to 155.57 cents/pound, while November moved up 0.17 to 158.02.

Calf and feeder markets
Feed prices trending lower and feeder cattle prices trending higher may spark some interest in retaining ownership of stocker calves over the winter.

Feeder cattle futures price and projections from USDA-ERS send different signals for different times. Through the remainder of 2013 futures are above fundamental projection levels. Thus, there is an incentive to price feeder cattle to be sold in the short run. By the second quarter of 2014 the projections are above the futures price by $10/cwt. These prices, combined with new crop corn and hay prices remaining lower than last year, suggest profit potential for calves backgrounded throughout winter.

Northern Beef Plant may be liquidated
Rather than waiting for a bid to sell the beef processing plant that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a federal trustee has recommended moving Northern Beef’s bankruptcy to Chapter 7 liquidation.

The request was made in a petition by Assistant U.S. trustee James Snyder. Northern Beef Packers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month and currently has $138.8 million in liabilities and only $79.3 million in assets.

Corn outlook: Hot temps could mean yield loss
Until last week, temperatures throughout much of the growing season have been moderate.  But then, Mother Nature decided to turn up the heat.  Purdue Extension corn specialist Bob Nielsen says while the temperatures may help catch the crop up on GDU’s it’s not all good.  “We’re clearly starting to see the effects of drought stress, even though we’re not in a drought,” he says.  “Never-the-less we’re seeing drought stress appear in fields.  We’re seeing areas of fields or perhaps entire fields beginning to shut down prematurely.”

In fact, Nielsen tells Brownfield farmers could see significant yield loss depending on how bad the heat stress is and at what point in the growing season it hits.  “If we’re looking at whole plant death than yield losses may range from as little as 12% loss if the death occurs before the so-called half milk-line stage,” he says.  “If whole plant death occurs right at full dent, the death loss may be as high as 40%.”

And in extreme cases, if the plant is only in the dough stage, he says, yield losses could be as great as 50 percent.

 

August 27, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Schwieterman: Higher corn puts feeder futures under pressure
Corn                                         Estimated Fund Position
Trends – December Contract
Short Term: Up                      Net Long Futures and Options: -127591
Long Term: Up                       Change: +30000
Overnight Trade: Z -2 @7:30 AM

So far the corn hasn’t seen any follow through buying after yesterday big move higher. The December corn closed above $5.00 and above the 50-day moving average, both of which are bullish from a technical standpoint. Crop condition ratings declined 2 points to 59% Good to Excellent, which wasn’t as bad as expected, but it is below the 5-year average. The forecasts are still warm, which is supportive and for the moment we have to look for a move up to the $5.25 area.

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live Cattle futures closed moderately to sharply higher on Monday, with support stemming from Friday’s lower than expected placement number. Deferred contracts were the daily leaders, with April gaining 1.10 on the day. August was the weak month on Monday and again in overnight trade, with losses so far of .40, while deferred contracts are narrowly mixed. The packer is either struggling to move product or has very little inventory, as they slowed chain speeds to 115.000 on Monday. Open interest did climb 1,444 contracts on Monday’s rally.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Down
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 20-40 Higher

Feeder cattle futures started their week under pressure from the sharply higher corn market on Monday. The Sept. thru March contracts all posted more than 200 point losses for the day, with October down the 300 point limit. Overnight corn activity has been modestly lower for the most part, allowing for a moderate rebound in the feeders. Cash index levels fell below all five days last week on Monday and should be monitored closely over the next few days for direction. With corn now above the 50 day moving averages we need to take a more protective approach in the feeders.

More packers to stop taking Zimax-fed cattle
In an exclusive report on Friday, Cattle Buyers Weekly  (CBW) reported that Cargill, JBS USA and National Beef Packing will stop buying cattle fed the feed supplement Zilmax™. Cargill says the last of the cattle being fed Zilmax that are in its supply chain will be harvested by the end of September. Cargill will suspend purchases of Zilmax-fed cattle in North America, pending research being conducted by manufacturer Merck Animal Health. This will give producers adequate time to transition cattle currently being treated with Zilmax, it says in a statement on its website. CBW understands that JBS and National have started to inform their feedlot suppliers they will stop buying Zilmax-fed cattle, in JBS’s case from Sept 23.

Steve Kay, CBW Editor, reports the non-use of Zilmax causes some analysts to raise their forecasts for fourth quarter live cattle prices. They do so in the presumption that beef production in the quarter will be slightly lower. Zilmax adds an average 28 lbs. to the live weight of cattle it is fed to. More than 35% of cattle marketed each week are estimated to have been fed Zilmax. Any impact on weight won’t be seen until Sept. 6 at the earliest. That’s when Tyson Foods will stop buying Zilmax-fed cattle.

Feeder, packer margins move in opposite directions
Packers saw margins move back above twenty dollars last week as cash trade remained steady and the beef cutout moved $2.75 higher. Feeder margins weren’t as lucky.

Feeder margins remained negative and lost almost $18 moving from -$41.58 to -$59.53 per head. Even with feeder margins near negative $60 per head, they have improved greatly from a month ago, when losses averaged $148.49 per head, and are better than a year earlier when losses were at $156.97 per head according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

Feed costs and the total cost per head increased while cash prices remained at $123 per head. The calculated breakeven price increased by over two dollars last week and is five dollars higher than this time last month.

Cargill invests $48 million in Dodge City beef plant
To better serve its customers and meet their needs for beef produced at its Dodge City, Kan., processing facility, Cargill is investing $48 million in a new automated order distribution system at its plant here.  Construction will begin during the fourth quarter of calendar 2013, with the new system scheduled to be operational by spring 2015.  The new order distribution system, capable of holding approximately 155,000 boxes of beef, will be housed in a new 62,000-square-foot building specifically constructed for that purpose.  This will increase boxed beef capacity at Dodge City by 130,000 boxes.  The new system uses Retrotech automation and Viastore equipment, and replaces a system that has served the plant since Ronald Reagan was president of the United States. 

Strategically located in the western Kansas, the Dodge City plant supplies beef products to retail, foodservice and processed foods customers throughout the U.S., and internationally.  The new system will allow Cargill to better support its customers and improve the plant’s ability to keep highly perishable fresh meat products flowing to hundreds of destinations.

 

August 26, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Analysts speculate if feeder market will run out of steam
Heavy feeder cattle prices march on, however traders are speculating how much longer the streak can continue. Feeder prices have moved higher for 13 consecutive weeks and a correction may be in order. For the week ending August 23, feeder cattle and calves sold steady to $4 higher.

The number of cattle heading to feedlots continues to decline with improving pasture conditions and producers holding onto heifers to rebuild herds. While lower inventories benefit the feeder market, Reuters reports pressure arrived Friday with lower live cattle futures and higher corn prices.

Trading in the cattle market was higher across the board as USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall said action was just as busy on heavy 8 weight feeders as it was for calves under 500 pounds. However, buyers in some sectors of the market aren’t as enthusiastic.

Cargill to join in ban on Zilmax-fed cattle
While stating that it has not linked the beta-agonist Zilmax to any specific incidents involving animal well-being, Cargill says "more research is necessary to answer recently raised questions regarding the use of this product" and "supports Merck’s decision to suspend sales of Zilmax in the U.S. and Canada."

In a release posted on its website, Cargill says it will suspend purchase of Zilmax™-fed cattle in North America, "pending research being conducted by Merck. This will give producers adequate time to transition cattle currently being treated with Zilmax."

The company says that the last of the cattle currently being fed Zilmax that are in Cargill’s supply chain will be harvested by the end of September.

Hot weather forecasts sent crop prices soaring Monday morning
The crop markets shot upward Sunday night. Traders believe recent dryness has set the stage for substantial crop damage over much of the Corn Belt this week, when temperatures seem set to reach their highest levels for 2013. The corn market was certainly not exception. September corn leapt 16.0 cents to $5.115/bushel early Monday morning, while December soared 21.0 cents to $4.91.

Cattle futures declined as trading wound down last Friday. Traders seemed to be evening up positions prior to the release of the monthly USDA Cattle on Feed report. It stated July placements 10% below last year, with the COF total down 6%, both of which seem quite bullish for December futures. Thus, we should probably expect a strong opening this morning. October cattle futures ended Friday 0.50 cents lower at 126.70 cents/pound, and December matched the decline, falling to 129.22. September feeder cattle futures sank 1.05 cents to 156.65 cents/pound, while November lost 0.92 to 159.52.

Cattle rustling: Oklahoma and Texas up 40%
Cattle rustling is up almost 40% this year in Oklahoma and Texas.  State Impact Texas reported there are a number of reasons:

  • Cattle are worth more.  Ranchers have reduced herd numbers because of the drought, and the remaining cattle are more valuable.
  • Increased number of hobby ranchers.  Hobby ranchers tend to check on their herds less frequently, making them more vulnerable to theft.
  • Cattle are hungry, and can be lured in more easily.  Once again, due to the drought.
  • The economy.  Recovery hasn’t occurred in many parts of Texas, and some are willing to rustle cattle.

 

August 23, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Schwieterman: Cash cattle trade the leader in today’s action 
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed moderately to sharply lower on Thursday, with some fresh selling entering the market ahead of cash trade and this afternoon’s on feed report. Export sales were higher for the week, while carcass weights inflated once again. We will be interested to see if the weights decline dramatically once Tyson excludes Zilmax cattle from their kill mix. On feed estimates look supportive but cash will be the leader in today’s action.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Lower

Feeder cattle futures closed narrowly mixed on Thursday, with weakness in the live cattle offsetting the sharply lower corn values on the day. Overnight corn trade has firmed, allowing for some pressure on the feeders. The fats are not doing anything bullish enough to carry the feeders at this point. Cash index levels spiked to new highs for the move on Thursday. Weather and placement numbers in this afternoons report should be supportive. 

Crop markets outperformed livestock futures Thursday night
The crop markets rallied again Thursday night. Although large areas of the western Corn Belt were blessed with rain Thursday morning, forecasts for hot, dry weather in late August probably supported the crop markets once again this morning. Disappointing Iowa results from a major crop tour probably boosted prices as well. September corn climbed 6.75 cents to $4.9425/bushel early Friday morning, while December gained 4.0 cents to $4.685.

Cattle futures were mixed in overnight action. We suspect cattle traders have become somewhat less optimistic about the likely outcome of this week’s cash trading (which may not occur until after the release of the USDA Cattle on Feed report at 2:00 PM CDT). However, the wholesale market proved surprisingly firm yesterday. In addition, the monthly Cold Storage seemed somewhat supportive. October cattle futures inched up 0.02 cents to 127.22 cents/pound early Friday morning, while December sagged 0.02 cents to 129.70. September feeder cattle futures sank 0.35 cents to 157.35 cents/pound, and November lost 0.32 to 160.12.

Beef production higher with increased slaughter, heavier cattle 
Higher cattle slaughter numbers and heavier weights contributed to more beef produced in July compared to the previous month, and previous year. 
Beef production totaled 2.29 billion pounds in July, up 90 million pounds compared to the previous month and 130 million pounds higher than the same month last year.  The six percent increase in beef production assisted in moving total red meat production to 4.16 billion pounds, an eight percent increase from June 2013.

Beef in cold storage below pre-report projection
USDA reports that there was less beef than expected in cold storage at the end of July, while supplies of pork and chicken topped pre-report estimates.
Beef stocks were pegged at 463.921 million pounds, down 4% from the end of June and up 1% from the end of July 2012, but well below the average guess of 480.3 million pounds, indicating better than expected demand. Pork came out at 545.260 million pounds, 3% below last month and 1% lower than last year, but above the pre-report projection of 529 million pounds, due to a combination of increased slaughter rates and comparatively slow demand. Red meat in cold storage totaled 1.038 billion pounds, 3% less than a month ago and just about steady with a year ago.

 

August 22, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Congrats to Kristen Parman and family on the arrival of Emery Daunis Parman
Kristen Parman, LMA VP of Membership Services, and family welcomed their new addition, Emery, on Friday (August 16) morning. She was born at 7 pounds, 12 ounces and 19 inches. Everyone is healthy and doing well.

Ag markets posted were generally weak Thursday morning
The corn market reverted to the downside Wednesday night. Hot, dry weather forecasts have boosted corn prices in mid-August, but the preliminary results of a big crop tour this week suggest corn yields will top the latest USDA forecast. Technical resistance is also proving quite robust. September corn sank 4.25 cents to $4.9375/bushel early Thursday morning, while December dropped 7.0 cents to $4.7625.

Cattle futures suffered another bout of weakness in early trading. CME traders remain generally optimistic about the short-term cash outlook and about intermediate-term prospects as well. However, the market has an historical pattern of late-August wholesale weakness, thereby seemingly reflecting the completion of pre-Labor Day buying by grocers. Thus, Wednesday afternoon beef losses probably caused overnight slippage. October cattle futures skidded 0.05 cents to 127.92 cents/pound in early Thursday action, while December sagged 0.17 cents to 130.30. September feeder cattle futures climbed 0.42 cents to 158.12 cents/pound, and November added 0.15 to 160.45.

Schwieterman: Weaker corn overnight could pick up cattle
Corn                                        Estimated Fund Position
Trends – December Contract
Short Term: Up                    Net Long Futures and Options: -150692
Long Term: Down                Change: +8000
Overnight Trade: Z -6 @7:30 AM
The December corn has found strong resistance at the 50% retracement of the last move down and the 40-day moving average. Weather and crop maturity concerns are still supporting the market while high yield numbers from the Pro Farmer crop tour are capping rallies. It does look like the yield numbers from Iowa and Minnesota will be disappointing when they are released this evening, but the question will be how much will those states drag down the rest of the country? Export sales were a little light with 58,200 MT of old crop and 434,400 MT of new crop sales. On the chart today resistance is at $4.87 with support at $4.67.

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-20 Lower
Live cattle futures closed mixed on Wednesday, with August higher and deferred contracts modestly lower. We could see some cash trade develop today, if packers come up with better money. Non fed kill appears to be slowing, based on the sharp rise in 90% trimmings of more than 12 cents a pound. Cutout values were lower on Wednesday, with movement described as light for midweek. Friday’s monthly on feed report is expected to show 96% on feed, 97.5% placed and marketings of 104.4%. the numbers would be supportive at those levels.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-20 Higher
Feeder cattle futures closed moderately lower on Wednesday, with the exception of the August contract. Cash index levels backed off for the first time in nine days. Overnight weakness in the corn market could provide a lift, along with expected positive numbers in Friday’s report. The possibility of a long wet winter along with added wheat pasture this year could put a lid on first quarter of 2014 feeders.

 

August 21, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Ag markets posted mixed showings Tuesday night
The corn market rebounded slightly Tuesday night. Talk of larger yields on the eastern and western edges of the Corn Belt seemingly exaggerated a technical reversal from resistance Tuesday. And while similar reports closer to the middle of the Corn Belt apparently weighed upon prices Tuesday evening, the markets bounced early Wednesday morning. Ideas that the Nebraska crops weren’t as good as expected may have sparked the move. September corn rose 5.0 cents to $4.8875/bushel around dawn Wednesday, while December gained 4.0 cents to $4.795.

Cattle futures were mixed again early Wednesday morning. CME traders still seem to expect cash strength later this week, as well as sustained seasonal gains through winter and spring. However, there is certainly room for doubt, especially with select cutout losing much more than the choice cuts gained Tuesday. That might explain persistent weakness in deferred futures. October cattle futures rallied 0.17 cents to 128.32 cents/pound in early Wednesday activity, while December inched up 0.02 cents to 130.60. September feeder cattle futures lifted 0.07 cents to 158.32 cents/pound, whereas November stalled at 160.72.

Groups can intervene in COOL lawsuit, US district court says
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered an order Aug. 20 granting a motion by several organizations to intervene in a pending country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) lawsuit, which seeks to block implementation of a USDA mandatory meat labeling rule.

The motion was granted to the United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA), National Farmers Union (NFU), the American Sheep Industry Association and Consumer Federation of America.

Rain has cattle producers seeing green, rebuilding in line
Increasing live and feeder cattle prices, lower feed costs and green pastures across the Great Plains have cattle producers interested in herd rebuilding following consecutive years of drought.

The previous two years of dry weather in most cattle-producing states dropped cattle herds to their lowest levels in 60 years. As corn prices fall below five dollars and grazing pastures remain green through August, cattle producers are ready to talk about adding more cattle to their operations.

Data from the USDA show inventories may still be falling in 2013. The August Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook shows lower inventories are expected in the January 1, 2014 cow inventories. A survey of analysts by LMIC shows some variation with expectations for replacement heifers ranging from a slight decline to an increase.

Canada asks for new WTO review of US meat labeling rules
Canada has asked the World Trade Organization to take another look at the United States' rules for labeling meat with its country of origin, seeking to defend its livestock farmers who have lost sales to U.S. packers.

Canada is requesting that the WTO form a compliance panel to review U.S. country of origin labeling rules, known as COOL, Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast said on Monday. The move signals a new round in a dispute that could become a North American trade war.

Canadian cattle and hog producers say the rules, dating back to 2009, have led to lower U.S. imports of Canadian livestock because they created additional cost for U.S. packers.

 

August 20, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Dustin Focht, World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, featured on The Angus Report
Dustin Focht, 2013 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, was featured on the The Angus Report yesterday morning. Focht spoke on his new title and career as an auctioneer. His interview can be viewed online: http://www.angus.org/pub/Videos.aspx?id=615&desc=The%20Angus%20Report,%20Aug.%2019,%202013:%20Horizons

Cattle feeding margins improve, profits may be near
Cattle feeders are likely running low on red ink to print closeouts, but average industry losses may soon be over, if recent trends are any indication.

Last week cattle feeders lost an average of $41 on every animal marketed, which was nearly $43 per head better than the previous week, and $83 per head better than a month ago, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Margins have shown improvement with decreasing feeding costs and increases in sales prices.

Packer margins improved last week, gaining $7 per head to average $14 profits on every animal processed, according to estimates by Sterling Marketing, Inc., Vale, Ore.

Schwieterman: Live cattle futures higher, show lists smaller
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed
Live cattle futures closed mostly higher on Monday, with the exception of the lead August contract. Show lists appear smaller overall, with our list actually up about 1% from a week ago. Asking prices are developing near $125 in the south and $202+ up north. Overnight trade has been narrowly mixed, with modest strength on the back of a weaker Dollar. We continue to like this market into the Labor Day time frame. Overall open interest fell another 1,273 contracts on Monday, due to liquidation of the August contract.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 50-70 Higher
Feeder cattle futures posted moderate gains on Monday and are trading firmer in early morning trade. The ability of this market to rise in the face of the sharply higher corn on Monday was impressive. The fact that corn is giving back 5-6 cents this morning is allowing for follow through buying in the feeders. The cash index leapt more than 2.50 on Monday to close the day at 155.01. Driving across the state of Kansas the past few days, I saw some of the best pasture conditions in many years. Competition for calve and young yearling should continue to be strong.

Ag markets moved mostly lower Tuesday morning
The corn market set back from technical resistance Tuesday morning. The corn reading on the weekly USDA Crop Progress report fell more than anticipated Monday afternoon, thereby suggesting the recent CBOT rally would continue. However, that was not the case, with the various contracts declining modestly overnight. That very likely reflected the fact that most-active December futures failed to top chart resistance associated with its 40-day moving average. September corn slipped 4.0 cents to $4.8925/bushel in early Tuesday trading, while December declined 4.5 cents to $4.81.

Cattle futures traded in mixed fashion overnight. The fact that choice cutout values rose significantly apparently supported the nearby contracts, but deferred futures inched lower. That may mark a reaction to concurrent grain and soy losses, since those suggest cheaper feed and greater incentives for livestock industry expansion down the road. October cattle futures rose 0.17 cents to 128.25 cents/pound just after sunrise Tuesday, while December gained 0.02 cents to 130.47. September feeder cattle futures also sagged, losing 0.02 cents to 157.92 cents/pound, and November descended 0.35 cents to 160.12.

 

August 19, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Feeder cattle rally marches on, reaches a dozen weeks
The winning streak continues for feeder cattle and calf prices. Compared to the previous week, yearling feeder cattle sold $2 to $5 higher while calves traded $5 to $10 higher with the full advance on lightweight steers under 500 pounds.

“Independent farmer-feeders are fully engaged in the purchasing frenzy as yearling demand continues to be the best in the high corn production areas, while Nebraska Snadhills supplies were much lighter than normal this year,” says USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. “At the sale barn in Fairview, IL, where seed-corn caps outnumber cowboy hats by at least 10 to 1, a fancy load of 752-pound steers brought $167.50 per hundredweight on local demand, while the Wednesday sale at the ol’ St. Joseph, MO, Stockyards saw a three-load string of top quality 705-pound heifers sell for $159.50 bound for a Nebraska feedlot.”

Amid cattle health concerns, Merck halts Zilmax sales
U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co said on Friday it is suspending sales of its Zilmax animal feed additive in the United States and Canada following concerns about animals showing signs of distress after use of the product, which is given to cattle to increase their weight before slaughter.

Zilmax has been the focus of attention in the livestock industry since Tyson Foods Inc announced last week it will no longer accept Zilmax-fed cattle for slaughter.

US farm economy flowing in reverse as drought impact persists
The long reach of last summer's devastating U.S. drought has reversed the flow of the mighty Mississippi River - for corn, at least, with grain-laden barges beginning the rare movement north to Midwest ethanol plants from southern farms.

The shipments come as the U.S. faces a 17-year low in corn supplies by the end of the month due to the historic drought, which slashed harvests and sent grain prices to record highs a year ago.

The tight supply is upending the country's tradition-bound agricultural economy, which is holding its breath in the weeks before an expected record harvest begins some time next month following a wet spring and summer.

Grain, which typically flows south on the river to export markets, is heading north from states like Louisiana and Arkansas, where farmers begin harvesting earlier than their Midwestern counterparts. Normally, much of that grain would ship overseas, but after prices climbed following the drought, exports are set to drop to a 41-year low.

Ag markets are set to begin the week strongly
Weather concerns seem set to dominate the crop markets this week. Anticipated weekend rains over the Corn Belt were very light or nonexistent. Moreover, a high pressure ridge seems set to boost heat and dryness in late August and early September. Talk of potential for an early frost next month may have encouraged bullish corn traders as well. September corn jumped 8.5 cents to $4.8225/bushel in Sunday night trading, while December surged 8.25 cents to $4.7175.

Plaintiffs object to bond in horse slaughter case
Animal welfare groups suing to stop a return to domestic horse slaughter on Friday posted a nearly $500,000 bond to keep a temporary ban in effect.
But the groups are fighting the court order that requires the money to cover potential losses by the slaughterhouses should the organizations ultimately lose their lawsuit.

Attorneys for the Humane Society of the United States and others argue the bond should not be required because their case is against the federal government and its permitting process, not the companies that were recently given permission to begin slaughtering horses.

The groups last month won a temporary restraining order to halt plans by Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M., and Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, to open their plants this month. They were then ordered to post the bond by Friday.

 

August 16, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Make Your Voice Heard: Registration for LMA DC Fly In closes soon
With increasing regulations and decision makers removed from agriculture, it is more important than ever to connect with those in D.C. to explain the livestock marketing industry and needed changes to keep our businesses successful.

Do your part by joining the LMA in Washington D.C. to talk to regulators and legislators about Animal Disease Traceability (ADT), Packers and Stockyards Act requirements, and other challenges faced in your business.

  • Sunday, September 8 – Arrive by 5 PM for LMA briefing and group dinner
  • Monday, September 9 – USDA & Capitol Hill Meetings, Dinner at D.C. Chophouse
  • Tuesday, September 10 – Capitol Hill Meetings, Capitol Hill Briefing, & Depart

Registration closes soon!

RSVP to: Jeahn Creviston at jcreviston@lmaweb.com or 816-801-3222. Questions? Contact LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good at cgood@lmaweb.com or 816-305-9540.

Ag markets partially reversed their Thursday moves overnight
The crop markets set back from Thursday’s gains overnight. There was little fresh news and weather forecasts had not changed substantially. The idea that the forthcoming corn crop will likely be extremely large despite short-term weather events probably discouraged some, whereas technicians seemed to react to the September contract’s failure to top its 20-day moving average. September corn sank 4.75 cents to $4.7675/bushel early Friday morning, while December dipped 4.5 cents to $4.6775.

Cattle futures posted moderate gains Thursday night. Bulls are probably more confident about the outcome of this week’s cash trading at this point, especially after the Thursday afternoon wholesale report built upon the surge posted Wednesday. October cattle futures rose 0.2 cents to 128.30 cents/pound early Friday morning, while December gained 0.15 cents to 130.02. September feeder cattle bounced 0.32 cents to 157.40 cents/pound, but November sagged 0.07 cents to 159.95.

Schwieterman: Live Cattle Futures Higher Overnight
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 20-40 Higher
Live cattle futures closed modestly lower on Thursday after a day of quiet consolidation. Overnight has been a different story, with solid gains in the August contract ahead of today’s expected cash trade. The strength in the front month is just what the doctor ordered for feedlot managers. The board activity should bolster resolve in their higher asking prices of $124 in the south and $200+ in the north. Cutout values remained on the upswing on Thursday, with choice and select posting solid gains. We should see cash $2-$3 higher in this in this weeks’ trade if the board holds gains.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Mixed
Feeder cattle futures closed moderately lower on Thursday, as sharply higher corn values have more than offset cash enthusiasm over the past couple of days. Overnight is narrowly mixed, with a slightly higher bias. Corn values are currently off a few cents from Thursday’s rally levels. The spread between the cash index and August futures is now under 2.00. Hedgers should look into option strategies for protecting inventory, in order to leave upside potential in this market.


August 15, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Make Your Voice Heard: Registration for LMA DC Fly In closes soon
With increasing regulations and decision makers removed from agriculture, it is more important than ever to connect with those in D.C. to explain the livestock marketing industry and needed changes to keep our businesses successful.

Do your part by joining the LMA in Washington D.C. to talk to regulators and legislators about Animal Disease Traceability (ADT), Packers and Stockyards Act requirements, and other challenges faced in your business.

  • Sunday, September 8 – Arrive by 5 PM for LMA briefing and group dinner
  • Monday, September 9 – USDA & Capitol Hill Meetings, Dinner at D.C. Chophouse
  • Tuesday, September 10 – Capitol Hill Meetings, Capitol Hill Briefing, & Depart

Registration closes soon!

RSVP to: Jeahn Creviston at jcreviston@lmaweb.com or 816-801-3222. Questions? Contact LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good at cgood@lmaweb.com or 816-305-9540.

Oklahoma Beef Quality meeting will be 8/22 in Cherokee, Okla.
The Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association) will host a Beef Quality meeting on Thursday, August 22 with a 7:00 a.m. breakfast and speakers. The meeting will be in the Alfalfa County Exhibit Building at the Alfalfa County Fairgrounds, Cherokee, Okla.

Agenda:
“Oklahoma Quality Beef Network” – Gant Mourer, OSU Beef Value Enhancement Specialist
“Weaning Calves” – Dr. Dave Lalman, OSU Professor, Beef Cattle
“Cattle Outlook” – Dr. Tim Starks, Cherokee Sales Company, LLC; President, LMA

RSVP for breakfast/questions: Alfalfa County OSU Extension Office, 580-596-3131

Schwieterman: Feeder cattle futures lower as corn rallies
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed
Live cattle futures closed modestly higher on Wednesday, with traders looking for direction from the weeks untapped cash trade. Cutout values were sharply higher, suggesting that Labor Day demand looks favorable. The mild weather has benefitted the grilling season, with comfortable August temps a rarity. Feedlots are likely to hold close to asking prices of $124 in the south and $200+ up north into weeks end. Open interest continues to slowly climb in spite of the liquidation of the August contract.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Higher
Feeder cattle futures settled moderately lower on Wednesday, taking their direction from the rally in corn futures. Cash index levels remained on the rise, closing the day at 152.01. It appears that the index rally will continue based on the strength in yesterdays’ cash sales. Strength in overnight corn values could limit gains in the feeders today. Open interest is rising as we head into a promising wheat pasture season.

Drier US Midwest weather forecast lifts corn, soybeans
Drier weather was expected for the Midwest through the end of August and warmer temperatures were slated to arrive beginning next week, said Joel Widenor, meteorologist for Commodity Weather Group. 

"Our forecast scaled back (rain) coverage in Missouri and Iowa compared with yesterday's forecast," he said. "There will be plenty of dry spots in the Midwest which will hinder filling corn and soybeans."

The warmer weather will help to accelerate crop development, which has been lagging this season following late spring planting and cooler summer temperatures, but will also erode soil moisture levels.

The limited rainfall totals in the forecast arrive at a critical time for corn, which is currently filling pollinated ears with grain, and soybeans, which are adding and filling pods. 

 

August 14, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Make Your Voice Heard: Registration for LMA DC Fly In closes soon
With increasing regulations and decision makers removed from agriculture, it is more important than ever to connect with those in D.C. to explain the livestock marketing industry and needed changes to keep our businesses successful.

Do your part by joining the LMA in Washington D.C. to talk to regulators and legislators about Animal Disease Traceability (ADT), Packers and Stockyards Act requirements, and other challenges faced in your business.

  • Sunday, September 8 – Arrive by 5 PM for LMA briefing and group dinner
  • Monday, September 9 – USDA & Capitol Hill Meetings, Dinner at D.C. Chophouse
  • Tuesday, September 10 – Capitol Hill Meetings, Capitol Hill Briefing, & Depart

Registration closes soon!

RSVP to: Jeahn Creviston at jcreviston@lmaweb.com or 816-801-3222. Questions? Contact LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good at cgood@lmaweb.com or 816-305-9540.

Columbus Sales Pavilion (Columbus, Neb.) 80th Anniversary Stocker and Feeder Auction – Saturday, 8/ 17
Columbus Sales Pavilion will celebrate their 80th Anniversary Stocker and Feeder Auction on Saturday, August 17. Cows will be sold at 7:30 a.m. and feeders at 10:30 a.m.

For more information, contact the office, 402-564-3231; Travis Bock, 402-910-6596; Todd Laudenklos, 402-276-0435; or Gary Hines, 402-340-4550.

Oklahoma Beef Quality meeting will be 8/22 in Cherokee, Okla.
The Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association) will host a Beef Quality meeting on Thursday, August 22 with a 7:00 a.m. breakfast and speakers. The meeting will be in the Alfalfa County Exhibit Building at the Alfalfa County Fairgrounds, Cherokee, Okla.

Agenda:
“Oklahoma Quality Beef Network” – Gant Mourer, OSU Beef Value Enhancement Specialist
“Weaning Calves” – Dr. Dave Lalman, OSU Professor, Beef Cattle
“Cattle Outlook” – Dr. Tim Starks, Cherokee Sales Company, LLC; President, LMA

RSVP for breakfast/questions: Alfalfa County OSU Extension Office, 580-596-3131

Carlynn Morgan, bookkeeper for Stephenville Cattle Co., passed on August 8
Carlynn Morgan, 88, who was the bookkeeper for Stephenville Cattle Co. for 34 years and died Thursday, August 8, 2013. Services were on Tuesday, August 13, 2013, at the Evergreen Cemetery in Ballinger, Texas. Memorials may be made to the West Texas Rehabilitation Center, 4601 Hartford Street, Abilene, TX 79605. Full obituary: http://lacyfuneral.com/currentobituary.cfm?obituary=6995

Ag markets diverged significantly Wednesday morning
Cattle futures couldn’t sustain Tuesday night gains. Tuesday’s modest rise in choice cutout values probably encouraged bullish traders to expect another round of cash gains later this week. However, that talk may have been much more muted as the morning passed, which would explain the setback suffered by CME prices. October cattle sank 0.15 cents to 127.92 cents/pound in late Wednesday morning trading, while December lost 0.20 cents to 129.77. September feeder cattle stumbled 0.30 cents lower to 157.40 cents/pound, and November sagged 0.27 cents to 160.37.

Iowa plant drops horse slaughter plan
An Iowa company is dropping plans to slaughter horses in the wake of a federal judge's ruling that temporarily banned the practice as part of a lawsuit filed by animal welfare groups, a company executive said Tuesday.

Responsible Transportation, which owns a slaughterhouse in Sigourney, Iowa, was among two companies that had secured federal permits for horse slaughter. But the Iowa company's president, Keaton Walker, told The Associated Press that his firm cannot afford to wait for more court deliberations and was turning its focus to cattle.

Chipotle to allow some antibiotic-treated beef
After years of touting naturally raised meat, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is considering changing its standards to allow beef treated with antibiotics into its restaurants amid a supply shortage.

The burrito seller is evaluating using meat from cattle treated with antibiotics because of an illness, which currently isn’t permitted to be sold in its restaurants, Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Denver-based Chipotle, said in an e-mail. The company still wouldn’t use beef from animals that had been given antibiotics to prevent disease and promote weight gain, he said.

The burrito seller will use meat from cattle treated with antibiotics because of an illness, which previously wasn’t permitted to be sold in its restaurants, Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., said in an e-mail.

“Many experts, including some of our ranchers, believe that animals should be allowed to be treated if they are ill and remain in the herd,” Co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Ells said today in an e-mailed statement. “We are certainly willing to consider this change, but we are continuing to evaluate what’s best for our customers, our suppliers and the animals.”

Will the corn and soybean crops get finished?
Late planting and weather that continues to be cooler than normal into August has many wondering if the corn and soybean crops will reach maturity and harvest moisture within a reasonable time this fall. Crop conditions remain good for both crops, but crop development, including pod formation and filling in soybean and grain fill in corn, remains well behind normal. Corn is 10 days to 2 weeks behind normal, and soybeans are 2 to 3 weeks behind normal. The number of days behind will “stretch” as the weather cools, so late crops get even later. Ten days behind in mid-August will be become 15 or 20 days behind in mid-September, even if temperatures are normal.

House Democrats push Boehner on food stamps cut
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., led 204 fellow House Democrats today in calling on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to include nutrition funding in the next farm bill.

The letter to the speaker reiterated the House Democratic Caucus’ belief “in the critical importance” of the food stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Given the essential nature of this program to millions of American families, the final language of the farm bill or any other legislation related to SNAP must be crafted to ensure that we do not increase hunger in America,” the lawmakers wrote.

Humane Society continues to urge lawmakers to drop King Amendment from farm bill
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) continued its campaign Tuesday against an amendment in the House-passed farm bill that it says would annul several state bans on “inhumane factory farming practices” and rules regulating agricultural practices.

HSUS held a press conference with state legislators to urge congressional lawmakers to strip out the amendment, offered by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, which seeks to prohibit states from enacting laws that place conditions on the means of production for agricultural goods that are sold within its own borders, but are produced in other states.

The legislative language is not included in the Senate-passed farm bill. The House bill and the Senate bill are expected to be heading toward conference negotiations.

 

August 13, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Make Your Voice Heard: Registration for LMA DC Fly In closes soon
With increasing regulations and decision makers removed from agriculture, it is more important than ever to connect with those in D.C. to explain the livestock marketing industry and needed changes to keep our businesses successful.

Do your part by joining the LMA in Washington D.C. to talk to regulators and legislators about Animal Disease Traceability (ADT), Packers and Stockyards Act requirements, and other challenges faced in your business.

  • Sunday, September 8 – Arrive by 5 PM for LMA briefing and group dinner
  • Monday, September 9 – USDA & Capitol Hill Meetings, Dinner at D.C. Chophouse
  • Tuesday, September 10 – Capitol Hill Meetings, Capitol Hill Briefing, & Depart

Registration closes soon!

RSVP to: Jeahn Creviston at jcreviston@lmaweb.com or 816-801-3222. Questions? Contact LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good at cgood@lmaweb.com or 816-305-9540.

FMCSA requests public comment on new "hours of service" rule; due Sept. 11
The permanent exemption for livestock haulers from the 30 minute rest break has been published, and the comment period is open until September 11.

On July 9, the U.S. Department of Transportation has indicated that it will grant a 90-day waiver of a new hours-of-service rule for drivers transporting livestock and poultry. Effective July 1, the rule from DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute rest break for every 8 consecutive hours of service. For drivers hauling livestock, the hours of service would include time loading and unloading animals.

The Livestock Marketing Association, along with 13 other livestock, poultry and food organizations, in a June 19 letter petitioned the FMCSA for the 90-day waiver and exemption from complying with the new rule.

Monday Market Sentiment: Futures' advances drive cash market
Feeder cattle prices are higher for the 11th consecutive week and the recent live cattle futures and wholesale beef rallies bring plenty of good news to the cattle industry. Cash bidding is already active at the start of the week, setting the expectation that cash prices will continue to gain momentum, leading our panel of experts to forecast higher average weekly cash trade for the fifth consecutive week.
This week’s Monday Market Sentiment predicts an increase of $1.03 per cwt to $123.37.

What effect could last spring have on calves this fall?
The snowstorms that plagued ranchers in the Northern Plains this spring seem like a distant memory. Warm weather and the prospects for better cattle markets heading into fall do have a way of helping the mind forget about the snow, mud, and difficult days. But as ranchers and cattle feeders begin to prepare for fall weaning and marketing, it may be worth one last look back at conditions at calving time this spring and those conditions could impact the health and performance of calves entering the feedlot this fall.

As we think about the conditions this spring, there’s a strong likelihood that the passive transfer of immunity that normally occurs from dam to calf was less than optimal. The combination of winter weather conditions, poor pasture production last year, and a shortage of higher quality feedstuffs resulted in many cows that were in less than ideal body condition. Thinner cows have been shown to produce colostrum that contains fewer immunoglobulins. The conditions the calves were born in also plays a role in immunoglobulin intake and absorption. Calves under cold stress take longer to nurse and may not be as aggressive when they do stand to nurse. When taken together a convincing case can be made that there were a large number of calves born last spring where the passive transfer of immunity has been compromised.

Corn, soybean prices expected to increase, USDA says
The projected season-average farm prices for wheat and rice are reduced, but soybean and corn prices are increased, in this month’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report released by USDA today. 

In its first survey-based crop report, USDA projected that farmers will harvest a record corn crop of 13.76 billion bushels in 2013, up 28 percent from last year and five percent larger than the previous record crop.

USDA’s corn production projection, although a record high, was lower than analysts’ expectation of 13.89 billion bushels, causing the short-term increase in price.

USDA said it expects farmers will achieve a national average yield of 154.4 bushels per acre for the third-highest yield on record, despite farmers experiencing one of the slowest, wettest planting seasons on record.  

 

August 12, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

LMA Passes Four Policy Resolutions
Four policy resolutions passed by the LMA Board of Directors at convention in June were affirmed by members in a vote which ended last week. These resolutions include: 

  • A resolution on Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) – expressing LMA’s support of a smooth implementation of the federal ADT rule, focusing on cattle 18 months of age and older, and LMA’s support of consistency and simplicity between states
  • A resolution on Packers and Stockyards Act requirements – expressing LMA’s support of an association and cross-industry group effort to identify and pursue changes to the Packers and Stockyards Act requirements and agency policy that are beneficial to the livestock industry
  • A resolution on mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (mCOOL) – expressing that LMA policy is neutral on the matter
  • A resolution on information sharing -  expressing LMA opposition to state and federal agencies releasing producer and market information beyond what they are required to do by law 

Make Your Voice Heard: Registration open for LMA Washington D.C. Fly In
With increasing regulations and decision makers removed from agriculture, it is more important than ever to connect with those in D.C. to explain the livestock marketing industry and needed changes to keep our businesses successful.

Do your part by joining the LMA in Washington D.C. to talk to regulators and legislators about Animal Disease Traceability (ADT), Packers and Stockyards Act requirements, and other challenges faced in your business.

Sunday, September 8 – Arrive by 5 PM for LMA briefing and group dinner
Monday, September 9 – USDA & Capitol Hill Meetings, Dinner at D.C. Chophouse
Tuesday, September 10 – Capitol Hill Meetings, Capitol Hill Briefing, & Depart

Registration closes soon! RSVP to: Jeahn Creviston at jcreviston@lmaweb.com or 816-801-3222. Questions? Contact LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good at cgood@lmaweb.com or 816-305-9540.

LMA Participates in Joint Strategy Forum about Animal Disease Traceability
LMA staff and members from Colorado, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wisconsin participated in a joint strategy forum about Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) in Denver last week. The forum, which was co-hosted by the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) and the National Institute of Animal Agriculture (NIAA) focused on issues in implementing the federal rule.

LMA VP of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good participated on a panel about consistency and harmonization issues between states. LMA Regional Executive Officer Roy Barta spoke on a panel about ADT education efforts.

State veterinarians and others in attendance at the forum had an opportunity to hear how the federal rule affects markets and particular concerns about states requiring things not written in the federal rule, such as individually listing dairy steer IDs on health certificates. Forum participants also discussed regional issues with veterinary access and the possibility of alternative movement documents besides health certificates to meet the identification recording requirements for animals moving between some states. 

Feeder cattle winning streak reaches 11 weeks
Feeder cattle and calf markets enjoy a summer-long winning streak that has prices bumping against historic highs. With late-season rains across much of cattle country and the promise of a bumper corn crop, buyer demand seems to increase daily. 

Yearling feeder cattle sold steady to $3 per hundredweight higher, the 11th consecutive week of price gains. Calf buyers were called the most aggressive in last week’s market, with prices unevenly $2 to $10 higher. Market watchers found the best demand on crossbred steers and bulls weighing under 450 pounds in the Southeastern markets, which saw instances of up to $15 higher.

Government argues against bid for court to block COOL
Government lawyers late Friday asked a U.S. District Court here to refuse to issue an order blocking USDA’s implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling. The judge set Aug. 27 to hear oral arguments on the motion by the American Meat Institute and U.S., Mexican and Canadian livestock producers to enjoin the COOL rule. 

U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, representing Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Anne Alonzo, argued that AMI and its allies have failed to show that they are entitled to an emergency order.

The brief, signed by Tamra Tyree Moore of DOJ’s civil division, contends that USDA’s rule “was promulgated to provide consumers with accurate information about the origin of certain meat products that they purchase and to comply with a ruling by the World Trade Organization that the United States had acted inconsistently with its international trade obligations.”

Fall feeder cattle marketing options
Oklahoma feeder cattle prices have increased about $20/cwt. for all weights since the lows in late May.  After being on the defensive much of the first half of the year, feeder cattle markets are poised to hold stronger in the second half of the year.  Good prospects for a big corn crop and corn price relief combined with significantly improved forage conditions is being reflected in stronger feeder prices and open up more marketing options for cow-calf and stocker producers. 

Financial impact of 2012 drought will continue through 2016
For the livestock producer, and particularly the cattleman, the drought began in 2011 in the Southern Plains where pastures were decimated with heat the lack of moisture.  It spread to 80 percent of the rest of the continental US in 2012 and continued into 2013, still in the Southern Plains and parts of the western Corn Belt.  

Keep $77 billion in mind when the drought balance sheet is reconciled.  That has been accomplished by Amanda Leister of Colorado State, and colleagues John Lee and Philip Paarlberg of Purdue.  The trio of economists have analyzed the long term impact of the drought  and attempted to quantify its disruptive impact on the cattle industry, which did not benefit from crop insurance indemnities paid to grain farmers.

In a nutshell, the economists define the overall problem by saying; “In the short term, drought causes increased crop and forage prices as well as decreased prices of live cattle when slaughter numbers increase due to herd liquidation.

COOL advocates asked to intervene in labeling lawsuit
The National Farmers Union Friday announced that it intends to intervene in the lawsuit filed July 10 against the USDA seeking to nullify the USDA's May 23 final rule regarding Country of Origin Labeling.

If granted an intervention, NFU, along with partnering organizations – U.S. Cattlemen's Association, Consumer Federation of America and American Sheep Industry Association – intend to defend the COOL regulation, which requires muscle cuts to be labeled based on where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Groups say consumers want COOL labels, prepare to intervene in COOL lawsuit.

Nine groups filed the original lawsuit, arguing that COOL violates World Trade Organization obligations by creating consumer bias against imported goods.

 

August 9, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Cattle market led the other ag markets generally higher Thursday

Cattle futures backed away from overnight highs. Cattle prices leapt in response to news that Tyson foods will not accept slaughter cattle fed the feed additive Zilmax after September 6 due to lameness problems. However, questions about the extent of the ban and whether other packers would follow suit apparently caused a Thursday setback. October cattle settled ‘just’ 2.40 cents higher at 127.07 cents/pound Thursday afternoon, while December jumped 1.65 cents to 128.87 to end the day. September feeder cattle futures soared 1.45 cents to 157.82 cents/pound, and November leapt 1.18 cents to 160.70.

 

Nebraska on track to be #1 cattle feeding state
If the last five years are any indication of the next five, there’s going to be a slow transition moving more cattle into Nebraska feedlots than the current number one state of Texas.

The prediction is forecasted by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln research team who identifies proximity to beef processing plants and corn stockpiles in Nebraska as key factors of the shift.

The recent years of drought have also forced cattle to move north in search of greener pastures prior to moving into feedlots. Once the cattle have been transported north, it’s saves on transportation costs to move them to a closer feedlot in Kansas or Nebraska.

Schwieterman: Live cattle futures higher following Tyson news

Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Mixed

Live cattle futures closed sharply higher on Thursday, spurred by the news that Tyson was going stop killing Zilmax fed cattle. The news has asking prices raised in the country to $123 in the south and $200 in the north. Outside market activity late in the week has also been a factor in the cattle rally, with the Dollar making 7 week lows. Weights for last week took an unseasonal turn lower for both the steers and heifers. We look for active cash trade at some point today, with a solid chance of cash advancing at least $2.00 from week ago levels.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 10-30 Lower

Feeder cattle futures took their lead from the fats on Thursday, closing sharply higher on the day, in spite of higher corn trade and a softening cash index. The index may end up being a one day blip in the bullish trend, while corn will be awaiting Monday mornings’ supply demand numbers for further direction. Overnight feeders traded mostly softer, with modest profit taking after the new highs posted in the September forward contracts.

 

Judge orders plaintiffs to post bond in horse slaughter case
A federal magistrate judge in New Mexico required animal rights groups to post a $495,000 bond after they won a restraining order last Friday against horse slaughter facilities.

Late last week, a federal judge granted a Temporary Restraining Order against USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to prevent the inspection of horse slaughter facilities to go forward, disallowing the slaughter houses to slaughter horses. In the Order, the district court indicated a preliminary injunction hearing will be held within 30 days, or by Sept. 3.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Hayes Scott concluded that both defendants Responsible Transportation in Iowa and Valley Meat Co. in New Mexico “will suffer harm and injury by virtue of the temporary restraining order and that there is nothing further that either defendant can do to mitigate these damages and loss.”

American Bar Association to vote on animal activist law
The American Bar Association (ABA) will vote next week on whether to support the repeal of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), a law passed in 2006 intended to curtail violent or threatening acts by animal rights organizations.

ABA will vote on Resolution 116, proposed by the New York City Bar Association, which “urges Congress to repeal” the AETA and “urges the Department of Justice to forbear from any further prosecutions under the Act.”

 

August 8, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

LMA Policy Resolutions: Ballots due TODAY, August 8
Ballots regarding the four LMA policy resolutions have been mailed. These resolutions were discussed during the Government and Industry (GIA) committee meeting. Three were passed by the LMA Board of Directors as presented. The mCOOL resolution was amended; the GIA committee recommended that LMA oppose mCOOL. After hearing feedback from members in support of mCOOL and members in opposition, the Board voted to have LMA’s official policy be neutral. Following LMA bylaws, if at least 30% of active members in good standing return valid ballots, 51% of those ballots are required for change in LMA policy. If less than 30% return ballots, the policy adopted by the board will stand. Ballots are due August 8, 2013. If you have any questions or concerns about any of the resolutions prior to voting, please contact LMA President, Tim Starks, at 580-884-9089 or tstarks67@hotmail.comor the GIA committee chair, Jim Santamoso, at 970-520-3047 or jimslc@qwestoffice.net.

Goats are the go-to in historic Congressional Cemetery's eco-cleanup quest
The Congressional Cemetery -- the final resting place for a vice president and dozens of members of Congress – is getting a four-legged face lift.

Cattle Rise to Five-Month High as Tyson Cuts Feed Product
Cattle futures rose to a five-month high on concern that U.S. beef supplies will shrink as Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN) halts purchases of animals fed with a supplement made by Merck & Co. (MRK) after discovering lame livestock at factories. “Some animal-health experts have suggested that the use of the feed supplement Zilmax, also known as zilpaterol, is one possible cause” for the animals being unable to walk, according to a letter sent by Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson to cattle suppliers. The “interim measure” is effective Sept. 6, and the “evaluation of these problems is ongoing,” according to the letter provided yesterday by Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson. Merck said the supplement is safe. Zilmax helps animals gain 24 pounds (11 kilograms) to 33 pounds more than normal and is used to increase lean muscle, according to Steve Kay, the editor of Cattle Buyers Weekly, a trade magazine based in Petaluma, California. The supplement is typically given for about 20 days in the month before livestock are sent to slaughter, he said. “This is not a food-safety issue,” according to the letter by Tyson, the biggest U.S. meat processor. “It is about animal well-being and ensuring the proper treatment of the livestock we depend on to operate.”

Schwieterman: Corn values trying to strengthen
Live Cattle
Trend
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: Sharply Higher

Live cattle futures closed Mixed on Wednesday but the big news came after the pit close, with Tysonbannouncing that they will no longer kill Zilmax fed cattle after the 6th of September. October cattle have rallied toblimit higher overnight, with pools of more than 500 contracts still trying to buy. The news should not only take tonnage off the market, but should create more activity in the cash purchasing sector of the market each week. No new deliveries were posted against the August contract and all 60 retenders were demanded. Cutouts were higher to sharply higher on Wednesday.

Feeder Cattle
Trends
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: Sharply Higher

Feeder cattle futures closed with triple digit losses on Wednesday but have gained it all back and then some on spillover strength from the fat market. Corn values are trying to strengthen, which may limit the buying in the feeders. Cattle feeders will be trying to compute how much feed costs will rise if the growth additives are taken out of the mix. Today could prove to be a major swing day in the industry.

Cattle futures led the ag markets higher Wednesday night
After proving rather weak Wednesday, cattle prices leapt later in the day. The spike marked a response to news that Tyson foods will not accept slaughter cattle fed the feed additive Zilmax after September 6 due to lameness problems. October cattle spiked the 3.0-cent daily limit to 127.67 cents/pound Wednesday night, while December soared 2.57 to 129.80. September feeder cattle futures rocketed 2.32 cents higher to 158.70 cents/pound, and November zoomed up 1.45 cents to 160.97.

August 7, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

LMA Policy Resolutions: Ballots due TOMORROW, August 8

Ballots regarding the four LMA policy resolutions have been mailed. These resolutions were discussed during the Government and Industry (GIA) committee meeting. Three were passed by the LMA Board of Directors as presented. The mCOOL resolution was amended; the GIA committee recommended that LMA oppose mCOOL. After hearing feedback from members in support of mCOOL and members in opposition, the Board voted to have LMA’s official policy be neutral. Following LMA bylaws, if at least 30% of active members in good standing return valid ballots, 51% of those ballots are required for change in LMA policy. If less than 30% return ballots, the policy adopted by the board will stand. Ballots are due August 8, 2013. If you have any questions or concerns about any of the resolutions prior to voting, please contact LMA President, Tim Starks, at 580-884-9089 or tstarks67@hotmail.comor the GIA committee chair, Jim Santamoso, at 970-520-3047 or jimslc@qwestoffice.net.

Kansas Markets to host BQA training in August and September

The Kansas Beef Council and K-State’s Beef Cattle Institute are hosting seven Advanced Beef Cattle Care & Health Training workshops starting next week and continuing through September. The workshops will feature Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training for all industry segments (cow-calf, stocker, feedyard and dairy). Specific topics include: Animal Husbandry Best Management Practices; Downed Animal Care and Humane Euthanasia Training; Stockmanship Principles and Low-Stress Cattle Handling Techniques.
Seven auction markets are the host locations and partners for these events.
August 12 at Winter Livestock, Dodge City, 6:00 p.m.
August 20 at Oakley Livestock Commission Company, 6:00 p.m.
August 22 at Holton Livestock Exchange, 6:30 p.m.
September 4 at Paola Livestock Auction, 6:00 p.m.
September 9 at Coffeyville Livestock Market, 6:00 p.m.
September 12 at Central Livestock of South Hutch, 6:00 p.m.
September 16 at Marysville Livestock, 6:00 p.m.
The workshops are free of charge and include a complimentary meal. Pre-registration is requested but walk-in registration is also welcomed (walk-in attendees are not guaranteed a meal). Questions? Contact Stephen Russell at (785) 458-2650. To register, contact Kelly Oliver at the Beef Cattle Institute by emailing kjoliver@vet.k-state.edu or by calling (785) 532-4844. The LMA works closely with BQA programs and encourages certification to all members. Questions regarding LMA and BQA can be directed to Laura Marks, Director of Livestock Handling, at 800-821-2048.

Cattle feeding margins improving on lower costs
Closeouts were a little easier for feedyard managers to digest last week, but it wasn’t due to higher cattle prices. The improvement to cattle feeding margins was attributable to lower costs – primarily grain costs. Cattle feeding margins improved $23 per head for the week. Still, feedyards lost an average of $124 per head on cattle marketed last week, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Packer margins have been declining for several weeks. Last week packing margins declined $9 per head leaving margins at about $15, according to estimates by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.

August 6, 2013 - LMA News Headlines

Meadowbrook Insurance Group, Inc. Announces Agreement to Provide “A” Rated Policy Issuance Solution
Meadowbrook Insurance Group, Inc. (NYSE:MIG) has entered into an agreement which will provide the Company the use of an “A” rated policy issuance company for a portion of its business. The agreement, which is effective immediately, is with State National Insurance Company and follows A.M. Best’s Friday decision to downgrade Meadowbrook’s financial strength rating to “B++” (good, with a stable outlook.)

The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) created the Professional Livestock Insurance Company (PLIC) in an effort to stabilize rates and ensure accessibility of insurance coverage to the livestock marketing industry. PLIC is a reinsurance company that is wholly owned by the LMA and partners with Meadowbrook Insurance/Star Insurance Company and Swiss Re Insurance to provide a risk management program. The LMA PLIC products are exclusively marketed through the Livestock Marketing Insurance Agency (LMIA). 

Kurt Hamilton, LMIA President, noted that LMIA remains committed to client service through hands-on efforts from the regional executive officers.

Following a recent fire at Floydada Livestock Sales, Inc., LMA Regional Executive Officer, Jesse Carver, was at the market to provide assistance. Don McCandless, Floydada Livestock Sales Inc., said that re-building efforts have been smooth and quick much in part to Carver’s role post-damage. Fortunately, the market will only miss one sale to have concrete poured for the new facility.

In May 2013, OKC West Livestock Market, Inc. sustained a direct hit from an EF-5 tornado. LMA Regional Executive Officer, Terry Chapman, described the destruction as “massive.”

Bill Barnhart, OKC West Livestock Market general manager, credits efficient reconstruction to the excellent service and support from the LMA and Chapman. Barnhart said that Chapman went “way above and beyond” to help the market, and that the entire insurance group was genuinely concerned about getting the market back in business as soon as possible.

“We were treated like family; they took care of us,” Barnhart said.