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OSU Extension BEEF Team
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Previous issues of the BEEF Cattle letter
Issue # 685
May 5, 2010
Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board Sets Schedule for Regional Public Listening Sessions in May
During its first, organizational meeting held on April 27, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board set the dates and locations for their regional public listening sessions in May.
The purpose of the listening sessions is to allow Ohioans the opportunity to provide input to the board and to educate the board members and public on the various factors the board needs to consider as it begins to establish standards of livestock care.
At each of these sessions the public is encouraged to offer comments to members of the board regarding what important factors the board should consider as it creates standards of livestock care that will maintain food safety, encourage locally grown and raised food and protect Ohio farms and families.
Written comment may also be submitted at any time on an ongoing basis via U.S. Mail to the Ohio Livestock Standard Board, 8995 E. Main Street, Reynoldsburg OH 43068 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The board will use the unbiased facilitation services of the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management.
All listening sessions will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The listening session schedule is as follows:
The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is charged with establishing statewide standards governing the care and well-being of livestock while promoting food safety, preventing animal and human diseases and encouraging local food production.
Forage Focus: Winter Memories and Forage Plans - Dr. Mark A. McCann, Extension Animal Scientist, VA Tech
What a great spring for grass and cattle. The quick and sudden warm-up that followed the snowy winter resulted in some flooding and plenty of mud; but it also accelerated early grass growth. The quick changeover from snow cover to grass was surprising and appreciated by all. Outlooks and plans for the future seem to be most influenced by our most recent experiences. As we look ahead to the summer forage season, we need to objectively evaluate the successes and failures of the past winter and recall that it was the snowiest of the past 10-15 years. With that in mind, I offer a few topics for consideration.
1) Stockpile tall fescue- Although the season to begin this management practice is months away, a successful strategy of incorporating it into a farm forage plan needs to begin early. Our recent memory in regard to stockpiled forage this past winter was the difficulty of utilizing it when covered by 12+ inches of snow. Many producers, who regularly stockpile, fed more hay during the winter months of unusual snow cover. They also reported when the snow left in March the stockpiled grass was still there and reduced late winter/early spring hay needs. Budgets that we work through on cow-calf enterprises always favor the investment in stockpiling fescue to furnish forage in lieu of harvested hay.
Take home message. Stockpiling tall fescue should be incorporated into summer hay and grazing plans. The recent winter demonstrated that you can graze it early or graze it late but it still makes a positive contribution to cow nutrition and economics.
2) Quality hay production- Many producers will begin harvesting their first cutting of hay in the next 30 days. Reviewing the body condition of many cows across the commonwealth it would appear that a lot of hay was fed that fit the quality classification of "better than a snowball". Tough winters make us grateful too many times to simply get the cows full. Later evaluation of condition scores, pregnancy rates and weaning weights could tell a different story.
Take home message. Always aim high in targeting hay quality. There is a tradeoff with quantity but the payback is always evident in cattle performance and the value is truly realized when you reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental feed. A forage test will allow identification of your nutritionally superior and less than desirable hays soon after harvest and allow plans for when the hay best matches your cow needs.
3) Hay storage- The final point is hay storage. This past winter, the snow depth and cold temperatures provided additional challenges to feeding hay stored outside. We had good success at the Virginia Tech Kentland farm with the use of hay tarps to expand the amount of hay we kept dry. Although they require some additional labor and patience they were effective in reducing hay loss. Storing hay under cover can reduce hay needs by 20%. In view of the current hay production costs, the economic return of hay storage is greater.
Take home message. Another way to reduce hay production needs for the cow herd is to expand your hay storage capability. Beyond seasonal weather loss, hay stored under cover is not the same perishable commodity that it is when stored outside.
Enjoy our green pastures and hay meadows, but be strategic about their use. The three age old tips above were valuable last winter and will be again next winter regardless of what Mother Nature brings our way.
AgSight: Are Calories Just the Beginning? - Nevil Speer, Professor, Animal Science, Western Kentucky University
Last November's AgSight featured pending healthcare reform and potential implications for agriculture. Specifically, the discussion focused upon recent torrent of criticism related to the nation's food production systems. And I included the following quotation from President Obama in a pre-election interview he did with Time Magazine (Oct 23, 2008):
I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs.
Apparently, the President doesn't perceive American producers as virtuous contributors to society nor esteem their accomplishments in terms of providing safe, abundant and inexpensive food to feed a hungry world.
That was six months ago . . . Obamacare is now upon us. But lots of uncertainty about implementation and long-term implications remain. At the outset, though, the food industry finds itself with a new mandate. The law requires any restaurant with 20 or more locations to provide calorie counts for all food items on menus and/or menu boards. The provision originated from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The committee chair, Senator Harkin (D-IA), noted, "The nutrition information is right on the menu or menu board next to the name of the menu item, rather than in a pamphlet or in tiny print on a poster, so that consumers can see it when they are making ordering decisions." The program's requirements and enforcement will fall under the authority of the Food and Drug Administration.
The intention is admirable - weight loss is an important and ongoing concern for many Americans. The CDC indicates about two-thirds of U.S. adults are now categorized as being either overweight (BMI>25) or obese (BMI>30). Accordingly, the Calorie Control Council (a non-profit trade association which tracks dieting and weight loss trends) reports that 95 million Americans list dieting as a constant concern.
Despite a barrage of media coverage in recent years, the calorie-posting concept isn't new. That experiment has already been tried on several counts. Most recently, New York City initiated such a stipulation in 2008. Bottom-line: published research by Elbel et al. reveals the mandate was ineffective in changing behavior (Health Affairs, 2009):
. . . we did not detect a change in calories purchased after the introduction of calorie labeling. We encourage more research on menu labeling and greater attention to evaluating and implementing other obesity-related policies.
In fact, calorie consumption actually increased after labeling compared to caloric intake prior to the law's implementation. That's not really surprising. The model has proven ineffective for over a decade now.
My daughter's box of Cheerio's is a wonderful learning tool. It has served as an effective platform to begin discussion about nutrients at the breakfast table. But that food label which many of us take for granted is the direct result of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). NLEA became law in 1993 stemming from reports by the Surgeon General and the National Research Council (1988 and 1989, respectively). The Act's key provisions include:
* Labels must include per-serving nutritional information.
* Terms describing food's nutrient content (e.g. "light," "fat-free," "low-calorie") will meet government definitions to provide uniformity across all products.
* Improved consistency across product lines relative to serving sizes to facilitate meaningful comparison.
* Serving sizes must be expressed in common household measures and reflect typical consumption amounts.
NLEA's premise: food labels during the late-1980s didn't provide sufficient information to help consumers follow recommended health guidelines. Increasing information on labels would allow consumers to become better informed, more conscious about what they ate and subsequently more healthy. And what do we routinely check the label for? Calories!!!! Unfortunately, NLEA didn't impact our behavior as intended - despite the labels, the incidence of those burdened by excess weight sharply increased during the last half of the '90s.
Mr. Obama may believe that agriculture and the food industry are responsible for the "huge explosion in healthcare costs." Unfortunately, that type of denigration is misplaced and serves to embolden industry detractors. In fact, I noted last November that, "... staring down the barrel of healthcare regulation ... Anti-agriculture activists and food police potentially have a new-found venue to unite. That convergence enables them to leverage their ideology and impose new regulation."
And so here we are. Rather than focusing on personal responsibility we're now faced with top-down legislation without any promise of effectiveness; calorie posting represents increased burdens on the food industry while providing no real benefit to consumers - the quintessential negative-sum game. More next month.
Weekly Roberts Agricultural Commodity Market Report - Mike Roberts, Commodity Marketing Agent, Virginia Tech
This week I have taken quite a tour of several crop states across the U.S. mid-section. Clients report that crop planting was proceeding well until recent torrential rains. Severe weather looks to have temporarily stopped planting but from the looks of the fields that should pick up again soon. Large planting equipment was parked in the fields and looked ready to go on a moment's notice. Equipment sheds and buildings look to have borne the brunt of the damage.
Grain markets don't like the prospects of the expanding oil slick that may cut off exports of grain from the most busy grain port in the U.S. Between 55-65% of all U.S. grain in shipped out of gulf ports. A slowdown could send supplies to other U.S. ports which will increase costs. Other countries that import U.S. grain may decide to source grain from competitor countries such as Brazil or Argentina. USDA noted a slight decrease in grain exports but those may pick up as traders try and get supplies out quickly before transportation is cut off by the spreading problem. U.S. corn shipments may be affected more than other grains as soybeans are seasonally slow this time of year and wheat is mostly exported from other U.S. ports.
CORN futures on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) were down Monday. The MAY'10 contract closed at $3.626/bu; down 3.5¢/bu but 10.5¢/bu higher than this time last week. DEC'10 corn futures closed down 2.75¢/bu at $3.894/bu but 13.0¢/bu higher than last report. A firm dollar, lack of any fresh export news from China, and record corn plantings pressured prices. USDA placed corn seedings at 68% vs. a 40% average for this time of year. Recent wet weather was supportive. Exports were below expectations of 32-35 mi bu as USDA posted corn-inspected-for-export at 28.2 mi bu. Cash corn was steady to firm. Funds sold 6,000 lots. Corn markets still look fundamentally weak. Hopefully 70% of the 2010 corn crop is priced. If not, it would be good to price more on market upticks.
LIVE CATTLE futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) closed up on Monday. JUNE'10LC futures were up $1.300/cwt at $95.525/cwt and $0.25/cwt higher than last report. The AUG'10LC contract closed at $94.950/cwt; up $1.425/cwt and a $0.625/cwt over last Monday's close. Firm cash markets and fund buying were supportive. USDA placed the 5-area average at $98.43/cwt; down $1.05/cwt from last report. USDA put the choice beef cutout at $170.21/cwt; up $0.25/cwt but $0.13/cwt lower than this time last week. Seasonal price weakness was expected by traders and could provide resistance to further gains. However, cattle-on-feed numbers were well under last year's and this is seen as limiting the downside. According to HedgersEdge.com, the average packer margin was raised $15.40/hd from last report to a positive $60.90/hd based on the average buy of $98.90/cwt vs. the average breakeven of $103.83/cwt.
FEEDER CATTLE at the CME finished up on Monday. The May'10FC contract closed up $0.600/cwt at $113.400/cwt; but $0.35/cwt lower than last week at this time. AUG'10FC futures closed at $116.650/cwt; up $0.575/cwt but $0.300/cwt under last report. Live cattle helped feeders. Demand is expected to stay good on smaller supplies. The latest CME feeder cattle index was placed at $113.53/lb; up $0.09/lb and $1.00/lb over last report.
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BEEF Cattle is a weekly publication of Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County and the OSU Beef Team. Contributors include members of the Beef Team and other beef cattle specialists and economists from across the U.S.
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