News Update
June 20, 2008

BIF Blog to Discuss DNA Marker Technology

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) has established a Commission on DNA Markers to provide guidance to BIF regarding the implementation of DNA-based technologies in genetic improvement programs.

In an effort to gather industry input and perspective BIF has established an Internet blog, available at

USDA to Assess Flooding Impact on 2008 Crops

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is taking several steps to assess the effect of the Midwest’s extraordinary rainfall and flooding on the 2008 crop acreage.

NASS will release the 2008 Acreage Report as scheduled June 30 at 8:30 a.m. EDT. However, NASS collected most of the acreage data during the first two weeks of June, before the majority of the flooding occurred.

In the report, NASS will use standard procedures to estimate planted area. In an effort to more accurately determine how much of the planted area will actually be harvested for grain, NASS will re-interview producers during the week of June 23 in affected areas of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.

This will provide additional information about producers’ harvesting intentions for corn, soybeans and sorghum. However, because some producers might be difficult to contact or still could be assessing their options, NASS will conduct a more extensive update of planted and harvested acreage in July in the affected areas. This information along with data normally collected from across the country during this time will be reflected in the Aug. 12 Crop Production report.

For more information about USDA’s response and efforts in the Midwest, go to

Total Red Meat Production at Record High For May

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.22 billion pounds (lb.) in May, up 4% from the 4.08 billion lb. produced in May 2007, according to the NASS.

Beef production, at 2.38 billion lb., was 4% above the previous year. Cattle harvest totaled 3.14 million head, up 3% from May 2007. The average live weight was up 19 lb. from the previous year, at 1,251 lb.

January 2008 to May 2008 commercial red meat production was 21.0 billion lb., up 7% from 2007. Accumulated beef production was up 4% from last year, veal was down 11%, pork was up 11% from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 4%.

USDA Awards $1.52M for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects

 Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner announced June 19 that 20 individuals and businesses in six states have been selected to receive $1.52 million in loans and grants for renewable energy systems or to increase energy efficiency in farm and business operations. The funds are being provided under USDA Rural Development’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency program.

“This funding is part of USDA’s ongoing effort to help farmers and businesses invest in technology that will improve their efficiency and their bottom line,” Conner said. “Investments such as these help conserve energy as well as help small businesses.”

The funding will support a variety of energy-production and energy-saving efforts. For example, JRT Focus Farms Ltd. in Rock Rapids, Iowa, has been selected to receive a $37,267 loan and a $37,266 grant to add a geothermal system for the farm’s shop and office to make the farm’s operations more energy efficient. A complete list of the selected projects is available at

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency loan and grant program was established under Section 9006 of the 2002 Farm Bill to encourage agricultural producers and rural small businesses to install renewable energy systems and energy efficient improvements.

The program’s funding can support a wide range of technologies encompassing biomass (including anaerobic digesters), geothermal, hydrogen, solar and wind energy, as well as energy efficiency improvements.

Texas Files Petition to Reduce Mandates for Grain-based Fuels

The State of Texas has filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce federal mandates for production of grain-based fuels.

According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the petition requests that EPA use its statutory authority to reduce the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandate for 2008 by 50% — trimming the mandate to 4.5 billion gallons (gal.) of feedgrain-based ethanol, from the current 9 billion gal. This mandate is scheduled to expand to 15 billion gal. by 2015.

NCBA filed comments with the EPA yesterday in support of the petition.

“NCBA does not believe that issuing a partial waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) will immediately reverse commodity price escalation, nor do cattle producers claim that it will single-handedly address the difficult marketing environment that currently exists for our industry,” says NCBA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Terry Stokes in his comments. “But, the RFS is clearly one factor contributing to higher feed prices.”

According to NCBA, 25% of the 2007 corn crop was processed to produce ethanol. That percentage will likely be much higher this year, as corn acres have been reduced and spring crop progress has been extremely slow, the organization noted.

In its comments, NCBA emphasizes that ethanol production mandates driven by the RFS are not only creating hardship for livestock producers, but for other industries and consumers as well. NCBA sited food price inflation and an increase in overall inflation rates.

“Next year’s higher mandate will bring about even greater economic harm as the beef industry begins to contract and retail prices rise substantially as a result,” the statement read.

Comments from all parties are due at EPA by Monday, June 23. More information on this proceeding is available at

— compiled by Crystal Albers, associate editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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