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NLPA News Brief
August 17, 2016
Livestock and Ag Credit News

The Latest Threat to The American Cowboy: Environmentalists

By Blake Hurst, The Washington Post, 07/21/16— Pity the poor cowboy. Once the hero of hundreds of movies, television shows and pulp novels, he's no longer an icon. Instead, he's a social pariah, spending his days caring for cows, the worst environmental villain that modern man can imagine.

No longer a larger–than–life figure like John Wayne or Gary Cooper, the present–day cowboy has the social cachet of an Exxon executive without the stock options or the private jet. He's still out there on his horse or his four–wheeler, but he's no longer anyone's hero.

True, he's finally free of the diet mavens who bedeviled him for a generation (four meta–analyses published since 2009 have failed to find any connection between consumption of saturated fat and heart disease). But now our lonely cow–puncher is attacked by global climate–change warriors, who have decided that only the hamburger stands between modern man and Eden.

Before we decide that beef is a luxury that humankind can no longer afford, a little bit of history might be in order — a reminder that the future is hard to see. In 1980, the U.S government published the first set of dietary guidelines, which called for less saturated fat and less red meat. Since then, we've cut our consumption of beef by about a third, and the obesity rate in the United States has nearly tripled. Of course, correlation doesn't mean causation, but we at least should apply scepticism to the latest dietary fad or grand plan to save the world by a single change in our diet.

Cowboys will always be my heroes. And I will always eat steak to celebrate the milestones in my life. Somehow, tofu for a graduation or broccoli for a promotion just doesn't seem right. Cowboys have learned to produce beef more efficiently, cutting methane emissions significantly in the past 30 years using better feed efficiency and encouraging faster growth. If that trend continues — and there is no reason it shouldn't — we can celebrate our special occasions without guilt. So, fire up the grill, and enjoy beef. It's the cowboy way.


GIPSA NEWS: No new posts this week.


Livestock and Ag Credit News

Ohio Pig Farmer Wins Bronze at Rio Games

By Andrew Flinn, Brownfield Ag News, 08/16/16— An Ohio hog farmer has claimed a medal at the Rio Olympics. Clayton Murphy won the bronze medal finishing third in the 800–meter at the games Monday night.

Murphy grew up on a family farm in New Paris in southwest Ohio, showing and selling pigs at area fairs. He ran the 800 in high school, finishing seventh in state competition, and continued training at the University of Akron.

At Rio, Murphy finished third behind runners from Kenya and Algeria. Murphy's time of about 1 minute, 43 seconds makes him the third–fastest in U.S. history.

Troup Extension Agent: Calling All Shepherds and Goatherds

By Brian Maddy, LaGrange Daily News, 08/12/16— We are currently seeing a renewed interest in raising sheep and goats in Georgia. Sheep production is as old as our nation. Goats and sheep have provided meat, fiber and milk for many generations. Sheep production peaked in 1942 when there were 56 million head in the U.S. There are approximately 8.1 million goats and sheep in the United States at this time.

According to the Georgia County Guide, there are a little over 142,000 goats in Georgia. The meat goat industry is the fastest growing animal industry in the United States. Most of this demand emanates from the ethnic markets, and the health and gourmet food sectors.

For those folks interested in sustainability, sheep and goats can be thought of as walking compost bins. They can convert relatively low quality feed stuffs into high quality products for humans. We need to reintroduce lamb and goat meat, also called chevon, again to the American consumer.

Value–Added Lamb Products Will Be Next Menu Sensation in Food Service Sector

By Kim Woods, SHEEP Central, 08/15/16—Value–added lamb products, including pulled lamb, are fast becoming the next big menu sensation in Australian clubs, pubs, cafes and restaurants. No longer can chefs afford the traditional lamb rack and they are changing the way they order and use lamb cuts.

Food service supplier Peter Andrews Jr. says the trend of using secondary lamb cuts in casual dining cuisine include forequarter, shoulder, neck fillet, neck rack, diced cuts, mince, shank, breast flap and riblets.

McDonald's Concludes Sustainable Beef Pilot Project

By Krissa Welshans, Feedstuffs, 08/10/16—McDonald's recently announced that it successfully achieved a commitment it made in 2014 to source a portion of its beef from verified sustainable sources by 2016, marking a major milestone in its collaborative partnership with the Canadian beef industry to advance more sustainable beef practices and support the global company's broader aspirational goal to source all of its food and packaging sustainably.

McDonald's said it chose to collaborate with Canadian beef producers for the Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot after Canada's beef industry leadership expressed not just willingness but also a desire to work with the fast–food company on its beef sustainability initiative. Additionally, Canada was already home to a significant number of programs and tools critical for the success of the pilot project, and the company had already developed strong relationships across the Canadian beef community by sourcing 100% Canadian beef for the hamburgers supplying all of the Canadian restaurants.

As one of the country's largest purchasers of Canadian beef, McDonald's Canada, through the pilot, tracked the journey of nearly 9,000 head of Canadian cattle, or the equivalent of 2.4 million patties. The cattle spent their entire lives — from "birth to burger" — raised on or handled by verified sustainable operations.

Sustainable Beef Is Within Our Grasp

By Lee Hart, Canadian Cattlemen, 08/15/16— Alberta cattleman Bob Lowe didn't have to do any management back flips on his ranch to produce cattle that under a recently completed pilot project qualify as "verifiable sustainable beef."

He has always aimed to apply sound production and environmental practices with his 500–head commercial cow–calf operation and 7,000–head–capacity southern Alberta feedlot.

He and family members at Bear Trap Feeders, near Nanton south of Calgary, do make sure they are using proper and recommended procedures for handling cattle, attend to proper animal health protocols, and apply proper water and pasture management practices. They follow the procedures and keep proper records. They have completed the Canadian Cattleman's Association Verified Beef Program (VBP) and are fine–tuning recommendations under the provincial Environmental Farm Plan.

"To produce cattle that qualify as verifiable sustainable beef didn't require many changes in how we do things on our ranch," says Lowe, who is also chair of the Alberta Beef Producers. "We know what the recommended practices are, we just had to make sure we were following them to the best of our ability and were keeping proper records. It's probably not much different than what many producers do anyway, but it involves making adjustments where needed and keeping records."

Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers Now Available Online

ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture Program, National Center for Appropriate Technology—The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (WSBDF), the first course of its kind, is now available online. The WSBDF, which is going into its 22nd year, is a cooperative effort of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and Farm and Industry Short Course at the UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The online course offers the same curriculum as the WSBDF pasture–based dairy and livestock seminar offered on campus and at distance–learning sites.

The course emphasizes dairy and beef production, but goat and sheep production are also covered. Participants have access to live recordings of WSBDF lectures addressing topics including business planning, farm selection and setup, parlor design, livestock health, organic production and principles, marketing, soil nutrient management, and much more. Students who complete three exams and submit a business plan will receive a certificate of course completion.

Global Livestock News

Cattle Ranches Experiment with Drones to Keep Track of Animals

By Dave Domer, CBC News, Calgary, 08/15/16— Border collies could one day be phased out of a job on cattle ranches across Alberta and B.C. and replaced by a high–tech alternative — drones.

"It was about two–and–a–half years ago I saw some kids playing with a toy drone and I realized they had a camera on that drone and I thought to myself, 'we could use this to observe cattle in pastures,'" says John Church, the cattle research chair at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. "We can see the video feedback in real time, so for me, I thought, 'wow, if we wanted to inspect cattle or look over that ridge or look in that grove of trees, we can use these drones to extend our vision."

Many ranchers graze their herds on large swaths of Crown land over the summer months, said Church, which can make keeping track of them tough. "Most of the animals make their way down the mountain when the snow starts to fly on their own, but a small percentage stay up on the mountain," he said.

Brazil to Overtake US as World’s Top Meat Exporter

By Kaki Roubaud, Global Meat News, 08/16/16— Brazil will continue to challenge the US for the position of being the world's biggest meat producer and exporter over the next decade, according to government estimates.

The data suggests that Brazilian meat production in 2025/26 will be 30.7% higher than in 2015/6 – amounting to 7.8 million tonnes in additional production – resulting in 33.7mt of output. Chicken meat production is forecast to increase by 34.7% over the next decade, with beef production forecast to rise by 23.3% and pigmeat 35.1% over these years.

Global Livestock News

USDA Amends Swine and Lamb Reporting Requirements

USDA News Release, 08/10/16— The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced a final rule amending several swine and lamb reporting provisions related to the reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting program.

As authorized by the Agriculture Reauthorizations Act of 2015, the final rule includes two amendments related to swine reporting requirements and one amendment to lamb reporting requirements. The first swine reporting amendment requires packers to report swine purchased on a negotiated formula basis as a separate purchase category. The other swine reporting amendment requires packers to report all barrow and gilt purchases made after 1:30 p.m. Central time in their morning submission on the next reporting day.

The lamb reporting amendment revises the definition of "packer owned lambs." As a result of comments received, AMS did not incorporate reporting provisions regarding lambs committed for future delivery and pelts prices paid to producers as published in the proposed rule.

Former Military Leaders Highlight the Importance of Agriculture and National Security

US House Committee on Agriculture News Release, 07/07/16—The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing to examine the on–the–ground experiences of former military leaders and the connection between agricultural policy and national security. This is the fifth hearing in the committee's hearing series focused on national security.

Members heard from a panel of former military leaders who described how the United States' investment in transportation and infrastructure, agricultural research and innovation, and risk management tools for farmers has led to a vibrant and stable agricultural industry in the U.S., which is inexplicably linked to our national security. The panel also cautioned that an insufficient focus on agriculture has led to detrimental effects on the security and stability of countries around the world.

"A strong military and sound agricultural policies are pillars of our national security. The men and women of America's armed services regularly witness food insecurity around the world, and today we heard from former military leaders who shared their accounts of the tremendous instability that occurs in countries where agriculture development is not a priority. The United States is consistently ranked as one of the most food secure nations in the world, which is why it's important we understand the factors that threaten national and global markets.

Sound farm policy is, and continues to be, an integral piece of our ability to prevent food insecurity in this country. I want to thank our panel for sharing their on–the ground experiences and giving us an enhanced global perspective of the importance of maintaining and protecting a safe food supply," said Chairman K. Michael Conaway.


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