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Four calves killed on Harding County, South Dakota, roads

The Harding County, South Dakota, sheriff is looking for clues as to who hit and killed two calves on Oct. 7, and two more on Nov. 7.

Sheriff Wyatt Sabo said the two incidents could be unrelated but the fact that they happened exactly one month apart immediately caught his attention. In each of the instances, there was no braking or swerving evident.

All four of the calves were on open range country roads in the southwestern part of the county. The first two calves were hit about 1/2 mile off the Harding Road and were in different pastures, belonging to different owners.

The second two calves were hit within about 5 miles of the first incedent and belong to a third rancher. In the second instance, one calf was killed and appeared to have been drug under a vehicle, then run over when the vehicle backed up to get rid of the calf. The other calf was not killed but suffered a broken back and had to be euthanized.

While the instances could have been accidents, Sabo said that usually if someone indavertantly hits a domestic animal, the driver contacts the sheriff or the cattle owner to report it, and usually there is braking in that kind of situation. No vehicle tracks could be identified in any of the instances. The sheriff said more than likely or vehicles that did the damage are equipped with substantial grill guards or bumpers.

All of the calves were black or black baldy spring calves, a mix of heifers and steers.

Sabo said he does not have any leads and encourages anyone with information to contact the Harding County Sheriff’s office at (605) 375-3414. The informant can remain anonymous if he or she chooses. “If someone sees something out of the ordinary, write down plate numbers. They are huge for solving this kind of thing,” he said.

Colo. dairy farmer leads sustainability conversation at #DairyAmazing Symposium

A world well-nourished is supported when groups with different backgrounds and expertise can gather to share ideas on sustainably feeding the population. And when it comes to the role dairy farming plays in sustainable nutrition, these ideas span from food to environmental impact, communities and everything in between. A crucial voice in these conversations is that of the farmer, and it’s more important than ever for dairy farmers to have a seat at the table.

Mary Kraft, fourth-generation dairy farmer from Fort Morgan, Colo., fulfilled that role by attending the fifth-annual #DairyAmazing Symposium hosted by Dairy MAX. Her presentation, “Healthy Cows, Healthy People, Healthy Planet,” gave the audience a look into sustainable practices that occur at her family owned and operated dairy farms, Badger Creek Farm and Quail Ridge Dairy.

Every year a group of 50-plus stakeholders from the health and wellness community are invited to the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, Texas, to hear the latest dairy nutrition research from industry experts. This year’s sessions covered topics about strengthening sustainable food systems, dairy’s role in preventing hunger, and more. In between science presentations, the symposium had hands-on culinary demonstrations featuring dairy foods to help bring it all to life.

According to Kraft, it’s important for farmers to attend conferences with audiences like the health and wellness community to not only share the farmer’s story, but also gain a different perspective from allied industries. A food insecurity session led by Clancy Harrison, registered dietitian, TEDx speaker, and food justice advocate, opened Kraft’s eyes to the preconceived notions many have on that topic. Harrison’s presentation concluded by highlighting dairy’s affordability and nutrient profile, which is especially important for the food-insecure.

“The industry experts who spoke at Dairy Amazing Symposium really are on the dairy farmer’s side, and it was a pleasure to hear what messages are being shared about the science behind dairy’s nutrition,” she said.

Kraft is no stranger to advocating for the role dairy farming plays in a sustainable future. Her family has been farming in Colorado since 1906.

This experience showed when attendees at the symposium asked Kraft questions about dairy farming. Her answers were packaged neatly in simple analogies the audience could understand, like every cow having Bluetooth technology and how farmers are like dietitians by using what ingredients they have available to create a wholesome product.

One of Kraft’s biggest takeaways from #DairyAmazing Symposium was learning more about the role of registered dietitians and the importance of targeting this group.

“If you want to stay on the farm, you have to get off the farm and attend events like this,” she said. “I learned so much while advocating for our product. Hopefully I was able to help fellow farmers because I was there.”

Visit DairyMAX.org to learn more about how local checkoff works to educate health professionals on the science behind dairy’s nutritional benefits and the commitment farm families have to sustainability.

The value of grass in Nebraska

Grass is valuable in Nebraska.

Nebraska has one of the highest summer pasture rental rates in the nation for cow-calf pairs or stocker/yearlings, on a price-per-pair-per-month or price-per-head basis. Prices remain historically quite strong, although they have moderated after the rapid run-up that occurred after 2014 and 2015. Reported pasture rental rates are documented in a survey published annually by Nebraska Extension titled “Nebraska Farm Real Estate Report,” which can be found at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Ag Economics website at agecon.unl.edu.

This all points to the importance, for ranchers, of understanding good management of their pastures.

A number of factors contribute to the strong pasture rental rates found in Nebraska, including these three:

The first is that Nebraska has approximately 9 million acres of corn planted annually. These corn acres, many of which are on irrigated ground, provide abundant crop residue grazing for cattle in the fall and winter. The availability of this feed resource helps to drive demand for summer pasture grazing.

The second is the synergy of corn, distiller’s grain production, cattle feeding and harvest facilities in Nebraska. These factors work together to produce strong demand for quality calves and feeder cattle. Market prices in Nebraska are typically some of the strongest in the nation.

The third is a historically strong ranching community with vocational ranchers competing for grazing resources. Many operators are looking to grow their business and expand. Leasing grazing resources provides them with an opportunity to do this.

Grazed forage is frequently valued on an animal unit month basis, or AUM. An AUM, which is 780 pounds of air-dried forage, is approximately the amount of grass that a 1,000-pound cow will eat in a month. Assuming that an AUM is worth $30, this is equivalent to $77 per ton into the belly of the 1,000-pound cow.

This value highlights the economic importance of understanding how to manage grass in a way that maintains or improves plant health, vigor and production, while efficiently harvesting the grass that is grown with cattle. Developing an effective grazing management strategy can be accomplished in part by asking and answering these three questions:

What are the species of grass present and the current level of forage production?

What could potentially be here based on soil type, rainfall and topography?

What drivers of change are available to move the production system in a desired direction?

For a rancher, effectively growing and harvesting grass with grazing livestock is one of the primary economic engines that drive the business. Understanding the value of grass and the opportunities available to grow and harvest more of it are fundamental to ranch success.

What is the value of grass in your operation? What skills, infrastructure or changes could help you cost effectively grow and harvest more of this valuable grass?

Westmoreland, Kan., native crowned Nov. 4 during the 2019 Angus Convention

Hailing from Westmoreland, Kansas, Eva Hinrichsen was crowned Miss American Angus on Nov. 4 during the 2019 Angus Convention hosted in Reno, Nev. Now bearing the noble red jacket, she’s not the first of her family to serve the breed in the spotlight.

Her brother, Cale, finished his year as the Angus Ambassador just moments before his sister was crowned.

“I really want to work on increasing transparency between consumers and producers,” Hinrichsen said. “I think that’s a big problem in our industry today.”

An elevated platform like Miss American Angus will give Hinrichsen the opportunity to use her voice. Hinrichsen’s title-winning speech made her skills and intentions clear when it comes to communicating her passion for the industry in the coming year.

“By wearing the red jacket in hotels and taxis, I’m sure I’m going to get the question of ‘what are you, what do you do?’” Hinrichsen said. “Just reaching those one or two people could really go a long way.”

Now a freshman animal science major at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Hinrichsen has her work cut out for her with a packed travel schedule ahead. Her first event? As always, it’s the North American International Livestock Show (NAILE) in Louisville, Ky.

“There are a few shows out east — like Atlantic Nationals — that I haven’t ever attended before, so I’m real excited to go to those,” she said. “Miss American Angus also attends the Certified Angus Beef brand conference and is able to promote the breed rather than just stand in the ring at a show, though that is also important.”

Finding her stride as a leader came naturally for this Kansas Junior Angus Association member. She is a fourth-generation Angus breeder, following in the footsteps of her parents, Ron and Lynne Hinrichsen. And their parents before them.

“I’ve had an Angus membership since the day I was born,” Hinrichsen said. “My brother and I started showing when we were 7 years old. We haven’t stopped since. We’ve always had a strong passion for Angus.”

Hinrichsen developed an attitude of servant leadership growing up that was further cultivated through various officer positions for both the KJAA and the Northeast District Angus Association. The 18-year-old has also stepped up in the family operation over the years.

After becoming a certified artificial insemination technician, Hinrichsen took the reins for breeding her family’s Angus herd.

Hinrichsen has her sights set on studying reproduction and genetics in graduate school. She has also contemplated pursuing a medical degree, so she could practice in rural communities.

Those who came before her paved the way for Miss American Angus to reach for the stars. Paige Wallace Arnold, the 2011 Miss American Angus, left a long-standing impression on Hinrichsen.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always watched Miss American Angus and really wanted to be her when I got to this point,” she said. “As a little girl watching Miss American Angus, I always loved how elegant and graceful she was and is. I’ve always dreamed of being that girl.”

Look for the red jacket of your 2019-2020 Miss American Angus at cattle industry shows and events in the coming year. For more information about this American Angus Auxiliary-sponsored contest, visit www.angusauxiliary.com.

Justice asks court for stay in sugar decision

On Friday, the Justice Department filed a motion for a 90-day stay in the Court of International Trade’s ruling that the 2017 amended agreement between the United States and Mexico on Mexican sugar exports to the United States is not valid because the Commerce Department did not release all notes of meetings during the negotiations, the American Sugar Alliance, which represents U.S. cane and beet producers, announced Monday.

U.S. sugar producers, the Mexican sugar industry, and the Mexican government all support the U.S. government’s request for a stay, ASA said.

“This 90-day stay is necessary to ensure that everyone has ample time to file comments with the Department of Commerce on the suspension agreements and to give the Department of Commerce time to follow proper procedure during the process,” Phillip Hayes, an ASA spokesman, said in an email.

“It is important to remember that the court never addressed the merits of the amendments, and the court’s decision was purely on record-keeping procedure by the Department of Commerce,” Hayes noted.

“The Mexican government and Mexican sugar industry have both asked the U.S. government to reinstate the suspension agreements without change — a stance that U.S. producers support. The Department of Commerce has now published the suspension agreements without change as the basis for moving forward and is asking for comments from interested parties.”

CSC Sugar LLC, a Connecticut firm, has argued that “the 2017 amendment was the result of negotiations between the governments of the United States and Mexico that changed the purity definition of refined sugar, effectively altering the product definition for trade purposes and significantly imperiling CSC’s business, whose cutting-edge refining processes were developed to use a higher purity input,” Husch Blackwell, CSC’s law firm, has said.

Husch Blackwell said because the Commerce Department failed to place information regarding ex parte meetings of discussions with other members of the domestic industry and Commerce officials, including Secretary Wilbur Ross, on the record, Commerce had acted in violation of the law regarding the agreement. The court agreed and ruled that the amended agreement with Mexico is null and void.

Bankers: Only 57% of farm operations profitable in 2019

Lenders reported that just over 57% of their agricultural borrowers were profitable in 2019, according to a survey of 450 loan officers, managers and executives released by the American Bankers Association and Farmer Mac, the nation’s secondary market for agricultural credit.

When the survey was conducted between Aug. 5 and Sept. 6, 82% of respondents said that their customers’ profits were declining.

Lenders expect that 56% of their borrowers will remain profitable through 2020. Dairy, grains, and cattle were the sectors that concerned lenders the most, while lenders reported less concern for the swine, poultry, and vegetable sectors.

The survey was released Monday at the American Bankers Association 2019 conference in Dallas.

“Bankers are naturally concerned for their farmers and ranchers as the ag economy continues to regain its footing,” said ABA’s Chief Economist James Chessen.

“Bankers know the cycles of agriculture very well and will continue to work side-by-side with their customers as they have done in the past. While uncertainty has risen, banks are well prepared to continue their support for the ag community through these challenging times.”

“The farm profitability picture remains tight in 2019, and ag lenders see that come through in their customers’ financials,” said Farmer Mac’s Chief Economist Jackson Takach.

“However, America’s farmers and ranchers are adapting to the new economic reality, looking for new sources of income and increased efficiencies through technology adoption.”

Added Takach, “Ag lenders provide an important and unique perspective on conditions in the agricultural economy. The survey responses indicate muted expectations for the farm economy heading into 2020. While ag lenders remain concerned about farm liquidity and leverage, they do not expect major declines in land values and are optimistic for a high approval rate this coming loan renewal season.”

Trump expected to talk trade today as USMCA negotiations continue

President Donald Trump is expected to talk today about trade with China and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade in a luncheon speech to the Economic Club of New York City.

Markets were down Monday, and NBC News reported that Trump may have oversold the likelihood of the China agreement.

Meanwhile, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and House Democrats are expected to continue negotiations on the USMCA.

Trump and House Republicans have been pushing for a vote before Thanksgiving and blaming Democrats for being slow. But Washington Trade Daily noted today that the House cannot act on the USMCA until the White House sends it implementing legislation.

Trump has held off on sending the implementing legislation to Capitol Hill while Lighthizer is negotiating with Democrats.

Senate Democrats release report critical of Trump administration trade aid

A group of Senate Democrats, led by Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., today released a report on the Trump administration’s agricultural trade aid program charging that it “is picking winners and losers in their attempt to aid farmers affected by President Trump’s turbulent trade agenda.”

The report says “The data shows that in the wake of the trade uncertainty created by the president’s actions, the $25 billion in mitigation payments to help farmers has been distributed unevenly across the country, benefitting some regions more than others.”

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue delivering the report, the senators wrote, “Instead of taking a careful approach like Congress did in the recent bipartisan 2018 farm bill, the USDA has replaced markets with short-term, inequitable payouts that lack transparency.”

The report says that “the administration’s Market Facilitation Program (MFP) has treated farmers unfairly by, among other things, sending 95% of the top payment rates to southern farmers, who have been harmed less than other regions, and helping farms owned by billionaires as well as foreign-owned companies, including awarding $90 million in purchase contracts to a Brazilian company.”

The senators urged Perdue “to improve its trade assistance program to better support small farmers and pursue a focused trade policy to rebuild the markets American farmers have lost.”

Popular horse trainer returns to NCTA

CURTIS, Neb. – Equine enthusiasts will again fill an indoor arena next weekend to gain riding and reining tips from trainer Sherman Tegtmeier.

The Ranch Horse Team from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis welcomes Tegtmeier back to the Livestock Teaching Center arena on Nov. 16-17 for a clinic on reining and horsemanship.

“Sherm works with any level of rider or horse and focuses on basic horsemanship skills along with skills for competitions in the show ring,” said Joanna Hergenreder, NCTA equine professor and coach of the Aggie Ranch Horse.

Tegtmeier, of Blair, Neb., provides individual 90-minute training sessions while he, provides demonstrations and instruction while horseback.

He is a National Reining Horse Association trainer and renowned non-professional coach, Hergenreder said. The clinic is open to the public. NCTA students and 4-H youth can ride for a reduced rate.

The Ranch Horse Team competes at the intercollegiate level and at stock cow events primarily in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska.

They’ll compete at the end of November in Loveland, Colo. The team also hosts a large two-day competition in April called, “Punchy in Pink” at the Red Willow county fairgrounds.

Spectators are invited to LTC arena this weekend to audit some of Tegtmeier’s sessions, and to meet some of the Aggie students in the equine programs.

Individuals bringing horses, livestock or stock dogs to campus must follow health and biosecurity measures.

For criteria on health certifications or the Tegtmeier clinic, contact Hergenreder, interim chair of the NCTA Animal Science and Agricultural Education Division, at (308) 367-5293 or jhergenreder2@unl.edu.

ICOW members hold meeting in Casper

Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming met at the Ramada Plaza Nov. 8-9 to learn some new techniques to help them sustain their ranching operations. The first speaker, Justin Benfit from Wyoming Game and Fish department, explained to the group how the agency has worked hard in the direction of developing partnerships with landowners.

The second speaker, Angus McIntosh, presented several laws (and subsequent cases) that explained “public lands.” They have not been fully listed here, but are available upon request. The story begins in the early days of the United States with the vast amounts of land west of the Appalachian Mountains, which were claimed by several states and Indian tribes. When they finally gave up their claims, the result of Article 4, Section 3, Clause 12 of the Constitution said: Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the Territory and other property belonging to the United States. That Territory mentioned is referred to most commonly as “public lands.” Next, property rights were created from “public land” by the John Locke principle of mixing labor, time and effort with natural resources. This Lockean principle runs through all the “public land” laws of the United States.

After the Act of March 3, 1853, a settler, by “right of occupation and cultivation” (Lockean principle) was able to acquire legal title from the United States. Congress conveyed land by two documents: a land patent or a government survey map. As the United States doubled in size in land mass, it wanted to encourage settlement while retaining mineral rights. The policy was to grant 160-320 acres of agricultural land for “right of occupation and cultivation” on that mineral land. Congress disposed of “public lands” by a classification system to railroads, states and settlers. By “public land” it has long been settled to mean “such land as is open to sale … under general laws. All lands to which any claims or rights of others have attached does not fall within the designation of ‘public lands’“ (Bardon v. N.P.R.R, 1892). As of today, there is very little, if any remaining “public land” in the lower 48 that has not had someone mix labor, time and effort with natural resources, creating a property right, technically leaving no “public land” in the United States.

Going back, however, between 1853 and 1891, Congress adopted a split-estate land disposal policy that changed the definition of public land. From 1910-1920, it enacted several remedial statutes to incorporate this policy into law. In the arid, mineral region West of the 100th Meridian, Congress granted split-estate property to settlers. These statutes granted and confirmed surface occupancy rights, water rights, easements, grazing rights, improvement rights, mineral rights, and timber use rights among others. Several cases from Curtin v Benson, 1911 to Watt v Western Nuclear, 1983 affirmed this. Once the appropriation or improvement was made, or an approved survey map was returned (if required), the property right was perfected and could not be taken by later executive branch action. (Several cases from Altherton v Fowler, 1877 to Ickes v Fox, 1937). The Act of March 3, 1890 “validated” all “occupancy” on land West of the 100th Meridian.

The “grazing fees” paid today is not for a rent or lease of said land. It was established that 25% goes to state/county in lieu of taxes (PILT) for roads and schools, 25% is an administrative charge for survey/services, and 50% is a voluntary, refundable contribution for the construction of range improvements. Ranchers are allotment owners, not renters.

FLPMA protected all of the “land use rights” previously granted by acts of Congress such as brand, water rights, grazing, fences, as under the Laws and Ordinances of the State of Deseret, which included Wyoming. By 1885, all Western states and territories had enacted similar range and water laws. And that’s where we stand today.

GENERATIONAL RANCHING

Jolene Brown was warmly received at the ICOW annual meeting held in Casper, Wyo. Brown walks the walk and talks the talk to farmers and ranchers because she is one of them. Brown wittily poked fun at many rancher’s sacrosanct ideas of generational ranching, while providing tools on how to fix complex, seemingly hopeless situations. She explained how acceptance into the family is unconditional, while acceptance into the family business just because you are blood related, is not. By answering several questions such as “is this a Family-First Business or a Business-First Family?” or “Do the existing owners really want the integrity of the business to continue?,” ranch families can look at the fundamental roles, paths, and possible future outcomes of their family operations. Surprisingly, in-laws play a much more essential role in generational ranching, than other family members may willingly acknowledge. Every role was examined from initial generation to the latest generation. Conflict resolution, business meetings, code of conduct and prerequisites for ownership in a family business were just some of the topics covered that create mistakes that break up the family business. Brown asked everyone to read the following: OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE. Upon reflection, a person realizes there are several ways to read and interpret that. How you decide to accept it, is how your outcome will be shaped.

LEGISLATORS

Two Natrona County Representatives provided some useful tools to ICOW members at the Nove. 8-9 meeting in Casper. Rep. Art Washut urged voters to make personal contact with their legislators so when the session convenes, legislators already have a connection to the person contacting them. He noted sometimes legislators are shoulder to shoulder on a bill, but the next day they might be toe to toe, depending on the current bill. Wyoming legislators are often swamped by out-of-state emails, so the best way to get your email read is to include your name, county where you live, and the bill # you are referring to. If your bill of interest is going to be presented shortly, the email could get read prior to them having to filter through the rest of their list. If your particular bill is not up immediately, it will give them time to research it a little more before the legislative reading. Rep. Chuck Gray explained the basics (as much as possible, in a short amount of time) of the state budget bill. He showed how the “balance” is achieved through various accounts. He informed the group of the process they go through in reading and passing the budget. Both Rep. Washut and Rep Gray are eager to support agriculture and are open to learning the areas they are not familiar with in order to make the best possible decisions when it comes time to vote.