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NLPA News Brief
July 19, 2017
Livestock and Ag Credit News

The Sustainability Debate

By Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer, 07/3/17—Fifth–generation Iowa farmer Gary Smith is closely involved with the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), acting as representative to the group for the National Livestock Producers Association (NLPA), where he also serves as chairman of the board. His involvement has given him cause to believe a sustainability program in beef will ultimately be a positive for U.S. producers.

"Our operation, Smith Farms in southwest Iowa, is a heritage farm," he says, explaining it's been in the family over 150 years. Today, the farm includes row crops and cattle, and is run with son, Brady. Smith says he is glad to see so many examples of ranchers passing the family business from generation to generation.

"To me, that is the best possible example of something that's sustainable," the producer stresses. "More than any metric you can use, if you see a farm that is providing a living for generation after generation, that says something very positive about what is happening." Smith is familiar with concerns many have about introducing another label to U.S. livestock.

"Ranchers and the cattle industry are very protective of what they do, and they don't want to see anything that might endanger their ability to operate on their own land in the way they believe is best. But for me, there was nothing that scared me in the Canadian roundtable study. In fact, it relieved some of my fears to see what this really means. And, I was impressed at the lack of animosity between ranchers and some of the greener groups at the meeting."

Smith doesn't believe the concept of sustainability will turn into another regulatory stick. Rather, he hopes it will be a way for the industry to define itself better and have measures that show how sustainable cattle production really is, compared to how it is sometimes portrayed.

"If, for example, we can show how much carbon is sequestered by our system, it would be a good way to defend what we do," he notes.

Asked the long–wearing question whether sustainability should have a label and a premium to go with it, Smith says he doesn't know if that's where this is headed. He does believe if there are additional regulations required to be designated sustainable, there needs to be some remuneration for producers.

By embracing practices that sustain their southwest Iowa beef operation, Smith Farms plans to be in business for generations to come.

GIPSA NEWS: No New Posts This Week.

Livestock and Ag Credit News

Cattle Industry Leaders Establish Direction for Policy, Checkoff Programs

The Cattle Site, 07/18/17— More than 700 cattle industry leaders gathered at the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting in Denver last week to help create direction for industry programs. The meeting ran from 13–15 July.

The event included sessions of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Cattlemen's Beef Board, American National CattleWomen and National Cattlemen's Foundation. Among the purposes of the yearly conference was to create a framework for checkoff and policy efforts on behalf of US cattle producers for the 2018 fiscal year, which for NCBA and the Cattlemen's Beef Board begins 1 October.

Keynote speaker at Thursday's Opening General Session was Eric Baumgartner, executive vice president of VML, a global marketing ad agency. Mr Baumgartner provided insight into the advent of technologies that are changing how consumers purchase almost everything they buy, from hamburgers to vacations. General Session I was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

Also at the Summer Business Meeting, results from the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit were being unveiled. About every five years since 1991, the NBQA has delivered a set of guideposts and measurements for cattle producers and others to help determine quality conformance of the US beef supply.

"While cattlemen and women continue to improve their operations and the beef they produce, here has been tremendous volatility in our industry over the past couple of years," said Craig Uden, a beef producer from Nebraska and NCBA president.

"To maximise their success cattle producers need to understand not only the impact of their own operations but everything in the world that affects how they do business today."

Beef Quality Audit Reveals Need for Improvement

Krissa Welshans, Feedstuffs, 07/14/17—Data from the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) suggests the beef industry continues to improve the quality of its products, but there is still room for improvement. Results from the research were presented this week at a session during the 2017 Cattle Industry Summer Meeting in Denver.

The research, funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, has been conducted every five years for the past quarter century, and provides a set of guidelines and measurements for cattle producers and others to help determine quality conformance of the U.S. beef supply. NBQA results through the years have helped lead to improvements in cattle and beef production, including reductions in carcass blemishes and fewer lost opportunities related to branding and other practices.

Tailored Biosecurity Advice Can Make a Difference

By John Campbell, Western Producer, 07/14/17—Beef cattle producers make decisions every day that can affect the risk of infectious disease entering their cattle operation.

Decisions on where and when to buy new stock or deciding whether to use a community pasture can have major impacts on the risk of infectious diseases such as bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), trichomoniasis, and tuberculosis.

Biosecurity can be described as all of the management practices that prevent the movement of disease–causing agents between and within livestock operations.

Biosecurity involves almost all aspects of farm management including environmental and manure management. We can develop biosecurity plans for entire nations, regions or individual farms to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Food Safety Starts Before Slaughterhouses, Report Says

By Anna McConnell, Successful Farming at, 7/17/17—Cattle, poultry, and swine gather microorganisms that can lead to foodborne illnesses well before they reach the slaughterhouse, according to a new report called "Food Safety From Farm to Fork" by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

For producers, animal health is incredibly important morally and financially, but Pew has confirmed the value of clean food/water and regular vaccinations for livestock in combatting illnesses like salmonella, E. coli, etc.

"An effective food safety system includes measures to prevent contamination at every step along the meat and poultry supply chain. More can and should be done on farms and feedlots," says Sandra Eskin, Pew's director of the food safe project. Within the report, Pew also makes recommendations to help control pathogens.

Some of the suggestions include: government–funded field trials and research on herd management, incentives for preharvest food safety implementations, standards for livestock food and water safety, and better sharing of new research and information.

7 Things Every Pork Producer Should Know

By Betsy Freese, Successful Farming, 07/14/17—The swine industry is going through a seismic shift in 2017, says Mark Greenwood, senior vice president, Compeer Financial (formerly AgStar), in Mankato, Minnesota. Greenwood works with many of the largest U.S. producers, helping them track production and financial numbers.

He gives these seven key changes taking place in the pork industry right now.

  1. New packing plants will change the industry. Five new plants, plus a plant expansion, are being built for a reason, says Greenwood – packers' margins have been very good for an extended period of time. Thus, producers want in on the action. "Large packer margins have caused a reinvestment into more processing," he says.
  2. The swine industry has little debt. Producers are making a little bit of money this year, says Greenwood, and the past few years of profit mean a financially sound industry. "A lot of systems paid off all operating debt," he says. "The majority of our larger clients have their real estate revolving debt paid down and 80% of real estate debt paid, too. Many systems could lose $20 per head for two years and not touch their operating lines other than for tax purposes."
  3. Producers are adding sows. "We are going to add 5,000 sows" is a common statement from his clients this year, says Greenwood. "When you have a strong balance sheet, you tell your lender what you are going to do!" Industry strength of this level has led to capital spending or reinvestment into production. This time, the focus is on production plus packing plants.
  4. Not enough pigs are negotiated on the open market. It's now 2.5% and it needs to be 10%, says Greenwood. "People don't do it because they say, ‘Man, that's hard work,' and ‘My lender wants me to have everything on contract.' Yes, it is hard work, but the cash market drives what happens on the futures market. The industry needs a larger amount of pigs sold on the open market."
  5. The single biggest risk to this industry is one word: people. We need more people working in the food chain system, including packing, veterinary medicine, and production, says Greenwood. Labor is a real problem for agriculture. Producers need to continue investing in new technology and finding ways to retain employee talent. "Think for the long term, not the short term," he advises.
  6. The U.S. is producing world–class pork. Europe used to beat us on pork consistency and quality, but production, processing, and overall infrastructure in the U.S. has improved in the past decade, says Greenwood. "Financial and operational excellence has become standard the past few years. There has been tremendous risk management by producers." A continued improvement in overall production, including pigs per sow per year, has been almost across the board on farms.
  7. Any disruption to our export market will be devastating.

Drought in High Plains the Worst Some Farmers Have Ever Seen

By Blake Nicholson, Flathead Beacon (Montana), 07/17/17—Drought in North Dakota is laying waste to fields of normally bountiful food and hay crops and searing pastures that typically would be home to multitudes of grazing cattle.

Some longtime farmers and ranchers say it's the worst conditions they've seen in decades — possibly their lifetimes — and simple survival has become their goal as a dry summer drags on without a raincloud in sight.

"We've never been in this sort of boat, honestly," said Dawn Martin, who raises beef cattle with her parents and husband in the southwestern part of the state, an area the U.S. Drought Monitor says is in "extreme" drought.

"We're just trying to make it through and work it out," she said. "There are a lot of people in the same boat. I don't know what the answer is."

The drought's impact likely will be felt not just by farmers but also consumers, state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. Agriculture in North Dakota is an $11 billion a year industry, and the state leads the nation in the production of nearly a dozen crops.

Global Livestock News

Farm Bill Hearing Stresses Importance of USDA Export Programs

By Andy Eubank, Hoosier Ag Today, 07/17/17—Agriculture Department export programs are key to keeping conventional and organic producers in the black, as lawmakers write the next farm bill. That was the message from producers and ag lawmakers at a Senate farm bill hearing.

USDA export assistance programs have no funding guarantee when their 2014 farm bill authority runs out in 2019. Among them are the Market Access, Foreign Market Development and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops programs, returning more than $28 for every dollar invested, or more than $2 billion a year in net farm income, based on a study by Informa Economics.

"More than 13 percent of the beef and beef variety meats we produce in this country are now exported, and exports account for more than 25 percent of the pork produced," said Greg Haines with the U.S. Meat Export Federation. "During the first half of this year exports added an average of $270 per head for every steer and heifer slaughtered in this country, and $55 to the value of every hog. As a producer that can be the difference between being in the red and the black."

JBS Selling Cattle Feeding Operation in Canada

By Krissa Welshans, Feedstuffs, 07/14/17—JBS S.A. announced July 14 that its indirect subsidiary JBS Food Canada Inc. (JBS Canada) has reached an agreement to sell its 75,000 head capacity beef cattle feedyard Lakeside Feeders and adjacent farmland in Brooks, Alberta, Canada, to MCF Holdings Ltd. (MCF), a subsidiary of livestock–base agricultural business Nilsson Bros. Inc., for $50 million CAD (approximately US$40 million).

Under terms of the agreement, MCF will continue to supply cattle to the JBS Food Canada beef processing facility in Brooks. MCF anticipates offering employment to current feed yard and farm employees upon closing.Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory review and approval.

Global Livestock News

Exercise Tests FMD Outbreak Emergency Efforts

Iowa Farmer Today, 07/14/17—More than 60 federal, state and local agency, academic and industry professionals met recently to participate in a mock animal disease emergency response exercise.

The exercise was hosted by the Iowa Department of Agriculture with the support of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

"Unfortunately, Iowa saw firsthand how devastating an animal health emergency can be with the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak that severely impacted our poultry industry in 2015," Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said in a news release. "The Department has made it a priority to take the lessons learned from that disaster and help us be better prepared should we have to deal with another event in the future."

The tabletop exercise was designed to help test response capabilities and review the department's updated Foot and Mouth Disease Response Plan completed this spring.

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