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NLPA News Brief
August 15, 2018
Livestock and Ag Credit News

Research Proves Beef Production Nets Positive Use of Natural Resources

By Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine, 08/13/18—The food choices our consumers make today are far different than those of previous decades. Instead of purchasing foods that are delicious, nutritious and affordable, many of today's consumers feel compelled to make decisions based on noble causes. Ethics are closely tied to food, and we frequently see people ditch meat for ideologies based on perceived environmental impacts.

In making these choices, beef has been a longtime target. From the Meatless Mondays campaign to companies banning meat at the workplace, the message to consumers is clear — if you want to save the planet, eat less meat.

Of course, this message is based on poor science and personal vendettas against animal agriculture. And the resulting actions by consumers do very little to combat climate change or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, largely because they ignore the impacts of transportation and energy use when considering our daily consumption of natural resources.

The overarching theme of this messaging is you should feel guilty about eating a cheeseburger, but vegetables and fruits get a free pass. Ever consider how much water it takes to grow green beans or broccoli? Now factor in how much nutrition is derived from fruits or vegetables compared to beef, and it doesn't seem like we're getting the best bang for our buck.


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Livestock and Ag Credit News

Next Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability Moves Forward from NIAA

NIAA News Release, 08/14/18—The National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) brings next steps identified in 2017 and 2018 to a new Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability, to be held in Kansas City, Missouri, September 24–26, 2018.

"We need to follow up on work that occurred last year and the subsequent work of the Cattle Traceability Working Group (CTWG) and begin to synthesize those efforts," says Dr. Nevil Speer, NIAA Board Chair, speaking on the efforts from the group which grew out of the NIAA Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability in 2017.

A comprehensive and continued focus on cattle for this year's Strategy Forum is understandable, according to Speer, who says the cattle industry is the most complex and the most fragmented. "There are 750,000 producers and most States operate on different systems," says Speer. "NIAA brings everyone together to emphasize collaboration across segments and across states."

Out of that vital 2017 meeting, the Cattle Traceability Working Group (CTWG) evolved to work collaboratively and independently across the various segments of the cattle industry to enhance the traceability of animals for the purposes of protecting animal health and market access. The overarching goal of the CTWG is to enhance cattle identification and traceability to a level that serves the needs of producers, marketers, exporters, and animal health officials. An update and report from the CTWG will be an important segment of this year's Strategy Forum.

Now, at the newest Strategy Forum this September, the CTWG, along with USDA, will be updating the industry on their work. Panelists will discuss traceability initiatives across the U.S. The opportunity for exchange will expand on global market dynamics, technology and innovation focusing on traceability. Registration is now open at www.animalagriculture.org

RFI and Your Cowherd: What's the Connection?

By Burt Rutherford, BEEF Magazine, 8/09/18—When the concept of residual feed intake first hit the beef business, the focus was on the feedyard and how breeding feed efficiency into the herd will pay at the feed bunk. And it does. But for cow–calf producers, the benefits of RFI are just as important in the cowherd.

RFI is a measure of how efficiently an animal utilizes its feed, and a negative RFI number is what you're looking for. "If they're eating a little more than they should, they're a plus," McDonnell says. "A little less, they're a negative." Many bull test stations and individual seedstock producers are now calculating RFI and providing that number to bull buyers.

Brown says one big benefit to RFI when selecting bulls is that it's an independent trait, meaning you don't have to worry about any genetic antagonisms. "You're not giving up weaning. You're not giving up yearling, you don't have to give up on feet or udder structure, any of those things. You can take those cattle, reduce input costs and add value to those cattle."

But because it's independent of other traits, you have to study all the traits a bull offers and meld them together.

Interactive Tool Tells Pork Production Story

By Kevin Schulz, National Hog Farmer, 08/10/18—U.S. agriculture keeps hearing that consumers want to know where their food is coming from and how it is being produced. With the advent of social media, we have seen more and more producers and other agvocates opening their barns and telling the agriculture story. Ohio pork producers have taken classrooms across the state on virtual field trips to expose the youth and, indirectly, their families to the world of pig farming.

The Maschhoffs recently took this one step further with the unveiling of a revolutionary digital tool that takes users, step by step, through how this family owned company produces enough pork to feed 16 million people each year.

Petition Aims To Change Labeling Laws for U.S. Beef

By Amanda Radke, Tri–State Livestock News, 08/09/18—When consumers shop the meat case, they have a variety of labels to choose from such as natural, organic, antibiotic–free, grassfed, Certified Angus Beef and Certified Hereford Beef, just to name a few.

While beef and pork muscle cuts are no longer under the list of commodities covered by the country–of–origin–labeling (COOL) regulation (as of February 2016), many products, such as grassfed beef, are still labeled as a "Product of U.S.A."

However, many in the beef industry are citing a gross error in this labeling claim — it's not just domestic beef that's being packaged with "Product of U.S.A" stickers.

Per current USDA rules, beef that is born, raised and slaughtered in another country, but processed in the United States, can be labeled as "Product of U.S.A."

This loophole, critics say, is hurting the nation's grassfed beef producers and undermining their market shares with a cheaper product. The grass–fed beef industry has grown from $17 million in sales in 2012 to $272 million in sales in 2016; however, because 70–80 percent of grassfed beef on the U.S. market is imported, with much of it labeled as a "Product of the U.S.A.," U.S. cattlemen are working to stop this labeling.

New Research Shows Flies Can Transmit PEDv, Senecavirus A

By Mark Dorenkamp, Brownfield Ag News, 08/10/18—Researchers have gone a step further in showing flies can infect pigs with devastating diseases. In 2003, doctors Scott Dee, Satoshi Otake, and others proved that Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome—commonly called PRRS virus—could survive in and be spread by houseflies.

Gene Spellman with Central Life Sciences says new research led by Iowa State University shows flies can also transmit PEDv and Senecavirus A. "What this means long–term for producers is that maybe (flies) have been overlooked. Flies don't read our biosecurity manuals."

Shift to Grass–Fed Requires Larger Cattle Herd. Cowboys: Duh!

By Greg Henderson, Drovers Magazine, 08/10/18—"This study adds to a body of research suggesting that animal agriculture is destroying our planet," Lauren Wills writes. "Animal agriculture is responsible for a minimum of 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions – more than the combined exhaust from all global transportation."

Sigh… Here, Lauren, is what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. In the U.S., transportation contributes 26% to GHG emissions, power production and use 31%, and all of livestock 4%. Cows are not the environmental boogeyman. .

Global Livestock News

Feedlots to Benefit From New Animal Care Audit

By Barbara Duckworth, The Western Producer, 08/09/18—The Canadian Feedlot Animal Care program attempts to cover all aspects of life on a feedlot from transportation, facilities, environment, handling, feed management and identifying acts of abuse. The program is a companion to the country's national beef code of practice but addresses specific issues in feedlots. A standardized animal welfare program for Canadian feedlot operators should result in healthier, more profitable cattle.

Better animal care has a spin–off benefit because it improves performance, health and reduces the chronically ill or railers, that is, animals that must go to slaughter before they reach market weight.

"They are a loss. They might be a couple hundred pounds lighter so they cost the feedlot money. If there is some way we can reduce those, it saves money," said feedlot veterinarian Joyce Van Donkersgoed.

Global Livestock News

Branstad: Trump Is Justified In Challenging China

By Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, 08/13/18—U.S. ambassador to China and former Iowa governor Terry Branstad says President Trump is justified in challenging China on the issue of free trade.

"China has not treated us or other countries fairly for a long time with their stealing of technology and also not enforcing intellectual property rights, the trade deficit has gone up and up," Branstad says. "We're trying to get fair and reciprocal trade."

He says the administration's goal is to double ag exports to China over the next five years.

"We're continuing to have discussions," Branstad says. "I'm trying to keep the leaders in Washington informed and do all that we can. We've had several meetings and we're going to continue to work on it."

USDA Adds New Tools, Resources to Farmers.gov to Aid Producers

USDA News Release, 08/14/18—Agricultural producers have new resources available to them to prepare for and recover from impacts of natural disasters on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new website, farmers.gov. The site has updated tools and information to help agricultural producers identify the right programs and make decisions for their operations. "Agriculture is a risky business," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. "At USDA, we're here to help you prepare, recover, and build long–term resilience to natural disasters. Whether you want to visit your local USDA service center or visit our new farmers.gov, we want to help you get the help you need."

New additions to the site – being built for farmers, by farmers – include a farmers.gov portal for secure business transactions and a disaster assistance discovery tool. The discovery tool walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs meet their needs. The farmers.gov portal is the first edition of a secure dashboard for producers to manage program applications and other USDA documents.

NLPA News Brief

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Prepared by Polly Welden

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