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October 14, 2013
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Ag Notebook: No market info for producers, UNL expert named one of the best in the beef industry

Shutdown creates vacuum in farm market info

Farmers and livestock producers use the reports put out by the National Agriculture Statistics Service to make decisions, but not only has the NASS stopped putting out new reports about demand and supply, exports and prices, but all websites with past information have been taken down, according to reports.

Since the U.S. Agriculture Department’s local farm services offices also have been shuttered, farmers can’t apply for new loans, sign up acreages for government programs or receive government checks for programs they’re already enrolled in.

According to the Associated Press, Kansas Farmer’s Union president Donn Teske, a grower in the northeast Kansas town of Wheaton, said he worried about payments he’s owed for idling some environmentally sensitive land under the Conservation Reserve Program.

“I always look forward to that check coming in the mail,” the 58-year-old said.

But all of that, farmers say, pales in comparison to the lack of agriculture reports, because farmers today depend far more on global marketplaces than government payouts.

UNL animal scientist named one of top 50 beef industry leaders

Longtime University of Nebraska-Lincoln animal scientist Terry Klopfenstein has been named one of the 50 most influential beef industry leaders in the last 50 years by a leading industry magazine.

Klopfenstein was included on the list in Beef magazine’s September issue.

Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska vice president and Harlan vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, noted that Klopfenstein is one of five people on the list of 50 with Nebraska ties.

The others are Frank Baker, former NU faculty member; Nebraska native Paul Engler, NU graduate, Texas cattleman and benefactor of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources’ Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program; Fred Johnson, whose far-flung cattle operation included interests in Nebraska; and John Pollak, director of the Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center.

S. Korea cuts off beef imports from JBS USA

South Korea has cut off beef imports from a Colorado-based meat-packing company after finding a controversial growth enhancer in the meat.

The beef was in a 22-ton shipment from a Texas plant owned by Greeley, Colo.-based JBS USA, KUNC reported this week. Korean food inspectors found traces of Zilmax, a supplement designed to bulk up cattle before slaughter.

JBS USA operates facilities in Nebraska.

Many European and Asian countries, including South Korea, have banned the use of feed additives like Zilmax.

Some say the supplement may be causing the animals lameness or difficulty in moving.

Meatpackers Tyson and Cargill have stopped buying cattle that were fed Zilmax.

A few days ago the Chicago Mercantile Exchange put in a place a similar policy.

“We are working with our partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the South Korean government to resolve the issue concerning one of our U.S. facilities. Given the current situation in Washington D.C. and the lack of official notification from South Korea, we do not have definitive information at this time,” JBS officials wrote in a statement.

Merck, the pharmaceutical company that makes Zilmax, has suspended sales while further research is done to see if there is a connection between Zilmax and lameness in cattle.

Cattle on feed in feedyards lowest in four years

USDA reported that there were 9.876 million head of cattle on feed in feedyards with 1,000-plus head capacities on Sept. 1. That’s down 7.2 percent from a year ago and is the smallest September on feed inventory since 2003, said Darrell Mark, adjunct professor of economics at South Dakota State University.

“In fact, it is the smallest for any month since August 2009. As feeder cattle supplies have declined over the last several years due to liquidation of the beef cow herd, the number of cattle on feed has decreased year-over-year for the past thirteen consecutive months,” Mark said.

August fed cattle marketings totaled 1.883 million head, which Mark said is nearly 4 percent below August 2012.

“Average daily marketings for the month of August, however, were on pace with a year ago due to August 2013 having one less business day than August 2012,” said Mark.

According to Mark, marketings as a percentage of cattle on feed were 18.8 percent last month. He noted that is the second consecutive month that this metric for the pace of marketings has exceeded year-ago levels, reflecting the heavier placement weights (and therefore fewer days on feed) that have become the norm in the last several months.

Farmers in pinch over checks they can’t cash

One of the ripple effects farmers are feeling in the wake of the government shutdown is the inability to cash some checks from elevators when they bring their grain in after harvest.

State law requires elevators to include a lender’s name on a check when a farmer has a loan against the grain. With no one at Farm Service Agency offices because of the shutdown, checks can’t be cashed when the lender is the FSA.

“We’ve got millions of dollars of grain checks out there that farmers need,” said Dan Poppe, president of the Archer, Neb., Cooperative Credit Union, with locations in Archer, Dannebrog and Central City.

“It impacts not only our farmers, who are relying heavily on the money, but also the local grocery store, hardware store, the feed and seed,” Poppe said.

In response, Archer Cooperative is working with individual farmers case by case to approve emergency loans if the farmer qualifies. Poppe said Archer approved two in the last week.

Contest aimed at highlighting value of ag in Nebraska

Nebraska schools can win a free farm field trip by making videos explaining what life would be like without agriculture.

Details of the contest are available online at

Three winning classrooms will win a field trip to a farm or ranch near their school.

Farm Bureau reverses policy on conservation compliance

The American Farm Bureau Federation board last week reversed its policy position that crop insurance should be linked to conservation compliance, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., praised that decision recently.

Earlier this year Farm Bureau, a generally conservative, Republican-leaning association, organized a large coalition of farm and conservation groups in favor of an agreement to tie crop insurance benefits to conservation compliance. The proposal was considered a breakthrough in the conflict between conservation and farm groups and was included in the Senate farm bill, but not in the House bill.

Farm Bureau did not issue a news release about the board’s reversal, but it was announced this week by Lucas, who had opposed requiring farmers to comply with federal conservation standards to get crop insurance benefits.

Milo demand on upswing in China

The grain sorghum industry sees the sun rising to the east — the Far East.

A U.S. trade mission returned from China in mid-September with a sunny picture of the demand there. Chinese grain brokers and millers told the Americans that they wanted to buy a large chunk of U.S. production.

For U.S. producers of grain sorghum, also called milo, this couldn’t have come at a better time.

U.S. farmers are expected to produce a record 396 million bushels of grain sorghum this year, a huge uptick from last year. Grain sorghum consumes about half as much water as corn, and many farmers in drought-afflicted states switched from corn when it came time to plant last spring.

Although the domestic grain sorghum crop remains just about 2 to 3 percent of the size of the nation’s corn crop, it’s a big crop in Kansas. The state has traditionally been the No. 1 grain sorghum-producing state, with Texas second. Most of the crop is used as livestock feed, with a portion also going to ethanol production.

Until recently, there was little export to China. But this year Chinese grain mills used up their quota of imported corn early and have searched for other products to supply the domestic hog industry, said Adam Baldwin, a farmer in McPherson County, Kan., who went on the trip.

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The Fence Post Updated Oct 16, 2013 02:41PM Published Oct 23, 2013 01:02PM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.