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NLPA News Brief
November 26, 2014
Livestock and Ag Credit News

Beef Industry Success Can Continue If Segments Work Together

By Holly Martin, High Plains Journal, 11/14/14—There's a great story going on in the agriculture world. It's one of an industry that faced some pretty tough challenges but began to turn its focus in a different direction, and thereby turning the story into a success story.

The beef industry could be what you called weighed–down by a variety of factors 30 years ago, says Nevil Speer. Speer is vice president of U.S. operations for Agri–Clear and holds a PhD in animal science. "In a traditional value chain, we start with these core competencies, and we shove it at consumers. We stand around and wring our hands and hope they buy it." A solution–oriented value chain begins at the other end by looking at what the consumer wants and then creating the product to meet their needs. "It's a complete reversal, but that's where successful companies and successful industries have arrived," says Speer.

The beef industry did that. Since 2009, there has been a very sharp and steady increase in beef demand. "We've gone from about a 37 percent of market share to about 45 to 46 percent. We are getting half of ever dollar spent on protein."

And what's even more important, Speer says, is that the story is beginning to instill a level of confidence in beef business."What a great story we have: a story of success. It's a story of a response to the market. It's a story of dedication and commitment that ultimately beef producers have done to turn this around," he said. "We can't lose focus. The game continues to get played and we need to press on."


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Livestock and Ag Credit News

"Big Fat Surprise" Author Talks About Importance Of Beef In Dietary Guidelines

By Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine, 11/24/14
—I recently visited with Nina Teicholz, New York Times best–selling author of "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet." It's an excellent book and I urge everyone to read it. As a beef producer, I appreciate her endorsement of beef as a part of a healthy diet. More importantly, I believe her work aligns well with a growing body of evidence indicating that USDA got it wrong on saturated fat.

Every five years, USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. From the original Food Guide Pyramid to the current MyPlate, government recommendations have pushed consumers to eat more grains, fruits and vegetables, and limit consumption of meat and dairy. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) is currently formulating its 2015 guidelines, and Teicholz warns that even more restrictions on saturated fat are likely.

"Saturated fat guidelines are limited to 10% of total daily calories, but they are looking to ratchet them back even further," says Teicholz. "There is hardly any science to show that this recommendation is a good idea. This is based on 'I think,' believing that saturated fat is a dietary culprit. It's very hard to reverse three generations of medical professionals endorsing low–fat diets." Teicholz urges beef producers to call their congressional representatives and demand an inquiry of the committee before it's too late.

"Soon, the committee will turn around its scientific revisory report, which will then turn into a policy document," Teicholz says. "We shouldn't let bad science dictate how Americans will eat. It's bad for the health of our population." And it's bad for the beef industry, too."

Biodiesel Benefits Livestock Producers

By John Davis,, 11/25/14—While some have tried to pit the biofuels industry against livestock producers, the folks at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) explain their green fuel is actually helping those producers. "The livestock industry is a strong stakeholder. That's how we view animal agriculture in terms of biodiesel production," said Alan Weber, economic consultant for the NBB.

Alan said that while soy oil still remains the main feedstock for biodiesel, the fuel is making inroads using animal tallow. In fact, he said that 25 percent of animal fat from livestock production now goes into biodiesel. He pointed out that while European demand has dropped for animal fats, biodiesel has helped maintain the market and keep money in farmers' pockets. "Every time we crush an additional bushel of soybeans, we also get more meal," actually keeping down feed costs, he said. "It's been a nice relationship, and we look forward to continuing that in the future."

RFS Standards A 'Serious Disappointment'

National Farmers Union, via Drovers CattleNetwork, 11/24/14—National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) announcement today that the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume targets would not be released before the end of the year a 'serious disappointment.' Johnson also noted that NFU remains hopeful the delay will allow the agency to return the RFS target levels back to the statutory targets.

"Ethanol and all biofuels have been the best thing to happen to farm country in generations, and the volume standards that are supposed to be set by EPA are a significant help in establishing the market for biofuels," said Johnson. "Rural America and the biofuels industries rely heavily on these targets for planning and investment purposes. Any hint that the administration might not be fully behind renewable fuels is a major step back for working farmers and the biofuels industries."

'Case for Sustainable Meat' Takes On Many Sacred Cows

By Dean Kuipers, Los Angeles Times, 11/21/14—When food guru Michael Pollan recently tweeted in support of Nicolette Hahn Niman's new book, "Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production," the protest that followed made it perfectly obvious why such a book is necessary. "A Cattle Rancher wrote a book about how free range, grass fed beef is better than factory farmed. Slow clap," commented @FoodNetworkVeg.

But Hahn Niman's mission is much bigger than that. If you are looking for a book to inspire fisticuffs at the Thanksgiving table, you've found it. Her "manifesto" calls for a revolutionized food system — one that requires cows. The co–proprietor of the famed Niman Ranch has not just extended the thesis of her pig book, "Righteous Porkchop," to argue for a few pampered Bessies in today's artisanal foods movement; rather, she's saying here that nearly everything we accept as gospel about the negative environmental effects of cattle ranching, and the ill health effects of eating red meat, is wrong.

And further, that cattle are necessary to the restoration and future health of this planet and its people.

Purdue Ag Economist: Livestock Industry Will Have Strong Rebound

By Emma Hopkins, Greensburg Daily News, 11/20/14—Livestock producers can look forward to an economic "mini–boom" that may last for the next several years, providing opportunities for expansion of herds and flocks, Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says.

Hurt said high grain prices from 2006–2012 led livestock farmers to downsize herds to cover the extra feed expenses. The price of livestock products then increased, with fewer products available, and consumers had to eat less meat. So this year, prices are record–high for cattle, hogs, poultry, milk and eggs. "If the years from 2007 to 2013 could be described as the 'Grain Era,' in which crop sector incomes had an extraordinary run, the coming period may be described as the 'Animal Era,' when producers of animal products have strong returns," Hurt said.

Pork Board Backs Swine Health Resource

Meat & Poultry, 11/21/14—The National Pork Board's board of directors approved $15 million in funding for a new Swine Health Information Center. The center will be a resource for implementing industry preparedness for swine diseases. The investment will fund the center for five years.

"Although this is a one–time allocation of supplemental funds outside of our regular budget, we realize that this is an investment in the future of the US pork industry," said Dale Norton, NPB president and pork producer from Bronson, Mich. "In the coming months, we will reach out to producers, gather their input and design a center that best meets their needs."

Alternative to Antibiotic Use in Swine, Results Revealed

Pig Progress, 11/25/14—The discovery that the product formed by full, spontaneous oxidation of beta–carotene, termed OxC–beta, has protective health benefits comes at a time when stakeholders across the globe, are looking to avoid usage of antibiotics in livestock . In–feed trials of OxC–beta appear to be gaining attention due to emerging evidence that this natural product may be a safe, effective and affordable alternative to the antibiotics now in use.

In swine, Avivagen believes the results of the 500–pig study are indicative of strong commercial utility. The inclusion of OxC–beta in feeds at just 2 to 4 parts–per–million (less than one teaspoon per metric ton of feed) outperformed both the negative control group and those animals fed with 150–250 parts–per–million of commonly–used antibiotics (chlortetracycline and colistin sulfate).

Global Livestock News

Beef, It's What's For...!

By John Maday, Drovers CattleNetwork, 11/24/14— When middle–class families in Japan, South Korea or China sit down for a special meal, either at home or in a restaurant, beef often is what's for dinner. Each of those beef dinners represents a major change from as recent as 10 years ago, when pork, poultry or seafood were overwhelmingly the proteins of choice in most Asian countries.

The fact is international beef demand has grown rapidly in recent years, and likely will continue to grow significantly as the global economy improves and people become more affluent. And as fate would have it, that demand growth is occurring during a time when global beef production is shrinking. Increasingly high prices will limit growth in export volumes, but the value of our beef exports continues to trend upward.

Canada Program Addresses Sheep Health

Meat & Poultry, 11/24/14—The government of Canada is investing $306,500 to improve the health of sheep flocks. The Centre d'expertise en production ovine du Québec (CEPOQ) will use the funding to develop new genetic tests to detect resistance to two antiparasitic drugs — fenbendazole and ivermectin. The goal is to better control gastrointestinal parasitic infections among sheep by detecting drug resistance.

"We are very pleased that Agriculture and Agri–Food Canada sees sheep production as a suitable area for investment," said Georges Parent, Agr. President of the Centre d'expertise en production ovine du Québec. This project will address a number of the businesses' technical and economic, animal welfare, responsible drug use and sustainable development concerns.

Global Livestock News

ASI Awarded MAP and FMD Funds

American Sheep Industry Association Weekly Newsletter, 11/21/14—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) has awarded funding to more than 60 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for American products.

The Market Access Program (MAP) shares the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. ASI uses this funding for projects to bring international customers to the United States to learn more about American wool and also for sending wool industry representatives overseas to assist with the education of processing U.S. wool, combing and scouring trials and trade show participation.

The Foreign Market Development (FMD) program focuses on trade servicing and trade capacity building by helping to create, expand and maintain long–term export markets for U.S. products. This program is also used to promote U.S. wool overseas by building strong relationships with these buyers and assisting the U.S. wool industry to find and maintain wool markets. Programs include trade missions to the U.S., monitoring trade policies and promotion.

According to Rita Kourlis Samuelson, international wool marketing director for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), "ASI is again grateful for the assistance it receives from these programs. These funds are extremely important for the U.S. wool industry as it continues to maintain, build and explore foreign wool markets." For fiscal year 2015, ASI has been awarded $482,961 for MAP and $148,193 for FMD.

Farmers Urge Congress to Legalize Agriculture Workers

Wall Street Journal, 11/23/14—President Barack Obama took executive action Friday to temporarily legalize millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, though the program doesn't specifically address agriculture. Under the plan, an estimated 250,000 farm workers likely would be eligible for relief from deportation and for work permits, the United Farmworkers Union said. That is a fraction of total number of undocumented workers toiling in U.S. fields, say farmers, who hope that Mr. Obama's decision to take unilateral action will propel Congress to achieve a legislative solution that addresses agriculture workforce needs.

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