Plains Ag Notebook: Survey reveals confusion on antibiotics; Farmers Union responds to climate assessment

Survey Reveals Consumer Confusion About Antibiotic Resistance

A new survey reveals that consumers are confused about the causes of antibiotic resistance and the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production.

The survey was conducted online in March 2014 among over 2,100 U.S. adults ages 18 and older by Harris Poll for the American Meat Institute.

When asked, “According to the CDC, which of the following is the greatest contributing factor to human antibiotic resistance,” only four in ten Americans (41 percent) correctly answered “health professionals over-prescribing to people.”

Eighteen percent thought use of antibiotics in livestock production was the number one contributing factor according to the CDC. Seven percent thought the CDC found antimicrobial hand sanitizers to be the biggest factor; five percent thought the answer was drinking water and 28 percent said they were unsure.

— American Meat Institute

NFU Statement on National Climate Assessment

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement on the Obama administration’s National Climate Assessment:

“The National Climate Assessment only confirms what family farmers and ranchers have been experiencing: global climate change is increasing the occurrence and severity of volatile weather events, which then directly impact agricultural risk, farmers’ bottom lines and the entire rural economy.

“The administration’s report is clear. Congress must take legislative action to mitigate climate change in order to protect farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural communities.

“I also encourage the administration to heed its own advice by rejecting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s misguided proposal to reduce the biofuel production targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS is currently our country’s most important strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. The EPA’s proposal will not only adversely impact commodity prices and rural employment, but will also move our country further from achieving our climate change mitigation goals.”​

— National Farmers Union

Power Line Plans Divide Sand Hills

Lynn Ballagh sees sand hills and sky when he looks out across his Nebraska cattle ranch.

In a few years, he also could see a high-voltage power line cutting across his open vista north of Burwell, a prospect that makes the 62-year-old rancher unhappy.

“The Sand Hills is the last area of the state that hasn’t been marred by a project such as this,” he said.

The Nebraska Public Power District is moving ahead with plans to build the first 345-kilovolt line in the Sand Hills, a vast expanse of grass-covered dunes in central and northern Nebraska that’s home to more cattle than people.

The roughly 220-mile line, with an estimated cost of $328 million, would represent the largest transmission project built by NPPD since the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Called the R-Project, the line has been in the works for two years, but NPPD has now proposed preferred and alternate routes. Releasing the route proposals has prompted concern among some landowners and wildlife groups, but also support from those who say the line will unlock the region for wind development.

Among supporters is the Cherry County Wind Energy Association. Without large transmission lines such as the R-Project, wind turbines will never be erected in the region, said George Johnson of Cody, the association’s president.

— Omaha World-Herald Bureau

Young Cattle Charge Higher

Cattle prices have been rising rapidly as the U.S. supply remains constrained. The beef industry is still struggling through a multi-year drought in Western states that has destroyed pastureland, making it difficult to grow the national herd.

The relative shortage of animals is causing many ranchers to hold onto animals for the purpose of breeding, which further limits the market-ready cattle in the near term.

Most dramatically, the market for young cattle, known as “feeder cattle” in the industry, has been especially strong, with prices up 40 percent over the last year. Feeder cattle are typically year-old steers or heifers that are ready to be moved into a feedlot, where they are fattened on corn until they roughly double in weight.

The market for May feeder cattle reached an all-time record high again on Friday, trading over $1.84 per pound. Despite the shockingly high prices, there is still strong demand for feeders, since corn prices are still relatively cheap and the market for market-ready, or “fat” cattle, is exceptionally high.

This price differential allows feedlot operators to continue to profitably buy feeder cattle, feed them corn and then sell the fattened animals a few months later.

— Walt and Alex Breitinger, commodity futures brokers with Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, Kan.

Cattle Temperament Linked to Feedlot Performance

The temperament of cattle may have a significant impact in how they perform in the feedlot, according to research by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kansas State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cattle classified as temperamental appear to be less susceptible to lung damage and related respiratory diseases and have decreased yield grades, but at the same time may produce lighter weight carcasses with decreased quality grade.

The research team used 2,800 cattle at a commercial feedlot to determine cattle temperament solely by exit velocity upon arrival to identify the impact temperament had on feedlot performance. Infrared sensors were attached to the processing chute and alleyway and used to time how fast cattle exited the processing chute. Once exit velocity was determined, within each pen the fastest 20 percent were classified as temperamental and the remained deemed non-temperamental.

— University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Nebraska Statewide Wheat Yield Estimated at 40 Bushels Per Acre

Statewide wheat yields are expected to be below average this year, based on an assessment made this week during the annual hard red winter wheat tour in southern Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and eastern Colorado.

Royce Schaneman, executive director of the Nebraska Wheat Board, was one of the experts on the tour assessing wheat in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas. Based on the tour and a survey of Nebraska wheat growers this week, he estimated average wheat yield will be 40 bushels per acre this year, down from the long-term average of 45 bushels per acre.

“We’ve got a wide variety of conditions across the state,” he said. In many areas the reports were similar: “Good wheat is really good. The bad wheat is really bad.”

Planting date and soil moisture/precipitation appear to be the key factors determining why some of Nebraska’s wheat is thriving and some is striving.

The annual tour of the Central Plains is actually much like a web, consisting of five smaller tours traveling to approximately 12 grower fields on each of three days. To get a fuller picture of all of Nebraska’s wheat crop, Schaneman said members of the Nebraska Wheat Board and Wheat Growers Association Board were surveyed this week.

— University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Neb. Town’s Anti-Immigration Rule Stands, But Furor Persists

Immigrants flocked to the meatpacking plants surrounding Fremont, Neb., during the last decade, nearly tripling the local Latino population and prompting some city leaders to propose an ordinance that would ban renting to those in the country illegally.

The lasting, public outrage that followed shocked many in the mild-mannered Midwestern outpost of 26,000 people about 30 miles northwest of Omaha.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to review the ordinance adopted in 2010, a triumph for supporters who predicted more cities would follow their lead.

Appeals courts in other states, however, have blocked similar ordinances, and cities may wonder whether it was worth the uproar.

The Supreme Court has often avoided addressing controversial immigration cases, leaving the matter to states and Congress to resolve.

The justices declined to address similar ordinances that lower courts struck down, seemingly setting up a conflict with the current case, said David Weber, a law professor at Creighton University in Omaha.

— Los Angeles Times

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The Fence Post Updated May 21, 2014 11:43AM Published May 11, 2014 08:12PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.