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NLPA News Brief
June 29, 2016
Livestock and Ag Credit News

Your July 4th Picnic Will Cost You How Much?

By Christopher Doering,The Des Moines Register, 06/28/16—That July Fourth picnic spread will cost a little more this year, the American Farm Bureau Federation said Monday. The farm group said prices are higher for mustard, watermelon, cheese, hamburger buns and baked beans, but lower for hot dogs, chocolate milk and ground round meat.

The average cost of an Independence Day that includes pork spare ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, cheese, watermelon and eight other items is $56.06, or $5.61 per person, compared with $55.84, or $5.58, in 2015, according to a survey of retail prices.

Meat prices have been trending lower because of a rebound in the country's cattle inventory and commercial beef production. Pork output is at its highest level in 25 years, which has helped make pork spare ribs slightly cheaper than last year, said Veronica Nigh, a Farm Bureau economist.

GIPSA NEWS: No new posts this week.

Livestock and Ag Credit News

Five Minutes with $1 Trillion

By Chuck Jolley, Drovers, 06/27/16—One trillion dollars. Let that number sink in. That's a lot of money, a one followed by 12 zeroes. It's one million times one million. Measured in time, one trillion seconds is 31,688 years. Hard to visualize, isn't it? Try this: A one–dollar bill is a mere .0043 inches thick. A stack of 1,000 one dollar bills measures just 4.3 inches high, easily hidden behind a sheet of note paper. A stack of 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) one dollar bills is 67,866 miles thick, stretching one fourth the way to the moon and weighing approximately 10 tons.

And that trillion–dollar stack of bills plus some change represents what the meat and poultry industry contributes annually to the American economy, according to a study released by the North American Meat Institute.

The public read the headlines and gasped in disbelief. Many people within the industry were astonished at enormity of it all. A trillion dollars, even by today's standards, is one helluva lot of money.

Meat Must Stay On the Military Menu

By Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine, 06/28/16— As Independence Day approaches, my heart is with the men and women who serve this great nation and make such great personal sacrifices to protect our freedoms. While we enjoy our steaks and burgers on the grill this upcoming Monday, July 4th, I'm also thankful that our military men and women will continue to be offered animal proteins instead of having to practice Meatless Mondays, thanks to Congress' willingness to stand up to activists with an agenda against animal agriculture.

In May, Congress reviewed bill H.R. 5293, which provides FY2017 appropriations to the Department of Defense (DOD) for military activities. These appropriations would also include meal provisions, and activists were pushing to take meat off the menus for our troops on Mondays. Thanks to the amendment to H.R. 5293 made by Congressman Adrian Smith (R–Neb.), meat will continue to be an option every day for our U.S. troops. The amendment prohibits the DOD from excluding animal proteins from its food provisions offered to the men and women serving our country.

Of his amendment, Smith released a statement, "Ideologically–motivated activists are working to take meat off the menu in institutions across the country, and they have included the U.S. military on their list of targets. These restrictions would negatively impact the nutrition and morale of the men and women who protect our nation.

"Meat contains vitamins and nutrients not readily available in a plant–based diet. My amendment is not a mandate or a prohibition, it simply ensures there is a meat option available to our troops each day.

"I am not willing to allow activist groups to tell members of our military, who risk their lives to keep us safe, they cannot enjoy a hamburger or steak on certain days of the week simply to advance an agenda against animal agriculture."

Prime and Choice Beef Dominating Production

By Nevil Speer, BEEF Magazine, 06/22/16— Last week, we highlighted the importance of the recent spike in the Choice / Select spread. The focus included implications of a concurrent price surge for middle meats (rib and loin) versus the end meats (chuck and round). That is, the rib and loin now account for over 52% of the overall cutout value – a jump of nearly 10% since the start of the year. In combination, it appears that consumers are opting for the top end of the market – in terms of both selected cuts and quality grade.

As explained last week, though, given other things staying constant, the expectation would be for the spread to narrow as more Prime and Choice product becomes available. In other words, less scarcity of Choice product would typically force it to garner a lower relative price to clear the market. But that's not been the case. Rather, it appears the market is working within the framework of a new, and more favorable, demand for Choice product: tastes and preferences have shifted in a favorable manner.

This all bodes well for the beef industry's position in the marketplace.

Sustainable Beef? U.S. Has Most Environmentally Friendly Livestock Industry In The World

By Wes Ishmael, BEEF Magazine, 06/27/16— Frank Mitloehner, an animal science and air quality specialist at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) will show you two pictures from either side of a California fence. There are 40 acres on one side occupied by a third–generation dairy with 1,000 cows. On the other are 40 acres occupied by a 5–year–old residential development with 1,000 homes. The residential development sued the dairy over environmental quality — and won.

It didn't matter that a subsequent comprehensive life–cycle assessment — an assessment of all environmental footprints — conducted by UC Davis researchers showed that converting farmland to residential land is 70 times more harmful to the environment. It mattered not that the U.S. has the most environmentally friendly livestock industry in the world, as measured with scientific fact by its carbon footprint.

The primary contributors of anthropogenic (human–made) U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the energy sector at 31% and transportation at 27%. That's based on research by leading U.S. scientists, as well as the U.S. EPA's (EPA) Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Emissions and Sinks.

Mitloehner explains livestock production accounts for 4.2% of the contribution to all U.S. GHG. Of that, beef cattle account for 2.2%, dairy cattle for 1.37%, swine for 0.47% and poultry for 0.8%. Sheep and goats contribute 0.03% and 0.01%, respectively.

That's a far cry from the global numbers of 18% and more that opponents often cite as livestock's contribution to climate change.

$20000 Ag Grant Makes Montana Man's Mobile Operation a Reality

By Madison Dapcevich, Ag Week, 06/27/16—Mike Schuldt has been shearing sheep for 28 years, and a grant through the Growth Through Agriculture program last November made his vision of a mobile sheep shearing operation a reality.

Governor Steve Bullock and the Agriculture Development Council announced twelve agricultural businesses and organizations were awarded a portion of the $290,000 in grants through the program, which was established by the legislature to strengthen and diversify Montana's agricultural industry by developing new agricultural produces and processes.

Does Management–Intensive Grazing Grow More, Better Quality Forage?

By Kathy Voth, On Pasture, 06/27/16— Do pastures under management–intensive rotational grazing differ from grasslands under other management in terms of forage quality and quantity, carbon sequestration and biological soil activity?

Not everyone believes the answers are yes, so researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison ran some trials to find out, comparing management–intensive rotational grazing to continuous grazing, hay harvesting, and unmanaged grassland. Their results point to managed grazing as a tool for improving forage production and quality on pasture. If you think you're seeing more and better forage thanks to your Management–intensive grazing, you're right! If you haven't started management–intensive grazing, you might consider how doing so might change and improve your operation and increase profitability.

Read the study HERE.

Global Livestock News

How 'Brexit' May Impact the U.S. Meat Industry

By Rita Jane Gabett, Meat Import Council of America, 06/24/16— The impacts of Britain's decision to leave the European Union might help make livestock feed a bit cheaper in the near term, but a larger issue will be currency market fluctuations and a stronger U.S. dollar, which could curb global appetite for U.S. grain and meat.

As the Euro and the British Pound fell — the latter plummeting to a 30–year low against the dollar — money sought safe havens this morning. Already the Swiss National Bank has intervened in the foreign exchange market as frightened investors boosted the Swiss franc.

For the U.S. meat industry, the concern will be the impact of a strong dollar on U.S. exports. All three major proteins — beef, pork and chicken — have become increasingly dependent on export markets in recent years.

"The U.S. has already lost substantial (export) share to European producers in Asia and should the euro deteriorate further, which is a risk if other countries follow the UK's lead, we believe further share loss is likely. Given our concerns of burgeoning supplies later this year into 2017, along with risks to the feed cost outlook, the protein sector may bear the brunt of Brexit fallout over the short term," wrote BB&T Capital Markets analysts Heather Jones and Brett Hundley in a note to investors.

WA Pork Producer Set to Use Poo to Power Piggery As Australia's First Biogas Digester Facility

By Tyne Logan, ABC Rural AU, 06/27/16— Construction has begun on what is thought to be Australia's first piggery to run electricity from an on–site biogas digester facility.

GD Pork was granted approval for a $14.5 million expansion to their Kojonup facility, 250 kilometres south–east of Perth, in August last year.

The expansion is expected to allow for site production to increase by double, to about 75,000 pigs a year.

But, the increase in production has led the company's managing director Torben Soerensen to look for new ways to supply the site with power. "We're putting in an anaerobic digester tank, so basically a big tank where the waste from the pigs can go in," he said. "The bacteria breaks it down [and] that creates methane which is then put into generators and it can create electricity that way."

The biogas facility is anticipated to enable the site to be fully self–sufficient.

Global Livestock News

Senate Reaches GMO Labeling Deal

By Alison Rice, AgWeb, 06/23/16— The Senate on Thursday reached a compromise regarding labels for food that contains genetically modified ingredients, pre–empting the possibility of a patchwork of complicated and potentially conflicting state laws.

"Unless we act now, Vermont law denigrating biotechnology and causing confusion in the marketplace is the law of the land," Senator Pat Roberts (R– Kansas), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a statement. "Our marketplace––both consumers and producers––needs a national biotechnology standard to avoid chaos in interstate commerce."

The Vermont law takes effect July 1, which has been a looming deadline for months for food manufacturers and lawmakers. While this Senate proposal won't become legislation by that time, it effectively prevents other states from following Vermont's lead by banning future state GMO labelling laws.

What is the timeline for this bill? According to Jim Wiesemeyer of Informa Economics and Washington consultant for Pro Farmer, the Senate is likely to vote on the bill next week and send it to the House of Representatives in early July. "Will the House go along? It's murky," Weisemeyer said, noting how the House presented its own GMO labeling bill a year ago. If the House wants something significantly different from the Senate, time could get tight. The House is scheduled to go on recess in mid–July due to the party conventions in advance of the August recess.

USDA, Interior Announce More Than $47 Million in Investments for Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Drought Response & Agriculture Operations Across the West

USDA News Release, 06/23/16— The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Interior today announced more than $47 million in investments to help water districts and producers on private working lands better conserve water resources. The funds include $15 million in USDA funds and $32.6 million from the Bureau of Reclamation for local projects to improve water and energy efficiency and provide a strengthened federal response to ongoing and potential drought across 13 states in the West.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Reclamation Commissioner Estevan Lopez announced the funding in Brighton, Colo. The Bureau of Reclamation funding will support 76 local projects through the Department of the Interior's WaterSMART program. Funding from USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will support on–farm water delivery system improvements through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program, in tandem with the 76 Interior–funded projects. Vilsack and Lopez were joined by a local water authority and landowner who spoke about the importance of the federal funding in the cost share program.

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