News Update
Jan. 27, 2011

Roberts, NCBA Express Urgency in Acting on Free Trade Agreements

U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts of Kansas and Mike Johanns of Nebraska have introduced a resolution encouraging immediate approval of free-trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Roberts said farmers and ranchers are being denied access to the three markets while these trade agreements are “languishing in Congress.” He suggested the billions of dollars in exports riding on the agreements could help create more than 27,000 new U.S. jobs.

“Failure to act on these agreements reduces Kansas producers’ and manufacturers’ abilities to compete with foreign counterparts,” said Roberts, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, which has jurisdiction over trade agreements.

For Kansas ranchers, feeders and dairymen, the agreements with Korea and Colombia would eliminate or phase out tariffs on key U.S. beef products. National Cattlemen’s Beef Associaton (NCBA) Manager of Legislative Affairs Kent Bacus said stalling the free-trade agreement with Korea could give U.S. competitors a significant advantage in the beef export market. If, for example, Australia were to successfully ratify a similar bilateral trade agreement with Korea a year before the U.S., it would give Australia a 2.67% tariff advantage over U.S. beef for the next 15 years.

During 2003, the U.S. sold $815 million in beef, beef variety meats and processed beef to Korea. NCBA projects if a free trade agreement is signed soon, Korea eventually could become a $1 billion market for U.S. beef producers.

— Release by the Kansas Livestock Association.

Allendale projects smallest cattle inventory in more than 50 years

Ahead of Friday’s semi-annual U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cattle inventory update, one major analytical firm expects the report to show the lowest herd number in more than 50 years.

Allendale Inc. has the cattle inventory at 92.4 million head, 98.6% of a year ago, which would be the smallest Jan. 1 total herd since January 1958.

Also, the 2010 calf crop is pegged at 35.4 million head, 98.8% of a year ago, potentially the smallest since 1950, with Allendale expecting lower calf crop numbers to continue for the next three years.

The numbers are out at 2 p.m. Central Time.

— Release by Brownfield Ag News Network.

Improper Cow Nutrition Proves Costly for Beef Producers

Thin cows can be economically devastating as beef producers head into spring calving season, said Purdue Extension beef specialist Ron Lemenager. 

“Spring-calving cows need to be in moderate body condition at the time of calving because it has a pretty significant effect on how quickly these cows will return to estrus after calving and, subsequently, when or if they conceive,” he said. “If cows are thin at calving, producers can expect long postpartum intervals, which means they will calve later the following season.”

That means instead of having a 365-day calving interval, producers may face 13- to 14-month intervals and, ultimately, a loss of productivity.

Thin cows also tend to have lower colostrum quality, which means calves aren’t able to develop the passive immunity they need to protect them against disease, cold stress and other stress factors.

“In addition, these thin cows are going to have lower milk production, resulting in lighter weaning weights of their offspring,” Lemenager said.

Ideally, cows should be carrying a moderate body condition score (BCS), which falls at 5-6 on the 1-9 BCS system. In order to evaluate whether cows are at a healthy BCS, Lemenager said producers need to look past the winter hair coat the animals are carrying right now.

“There are three places on the cow that are the best indicators for body condition, starting along the top line. If you can see bone structure along the top line right under the hide, the cow is probably pretty thin,” he said. “The second place is in the rib section. If the cow shows the 12th and 13th rib, she’s borderline. If you can see more ribs — the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th, the cow is too thin.

“The third place to look, and it’s the least affected by muscle, fill and hair, is right along the loin edge between the 13th rib and the hooks. If a producer can see bone structure at the edge of the loin, the cow is too thin.”

At this time of year, spring-calving cows have advanced into the last trimester of pregnancy. Because of fetal nutrient requirements, correcting low body condition scores can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible if producers can strategically supplement the animals.

Because corn prices are so high right now, Lemenager recommends beef producers look at some alternative feeds such as soybean hulls, distillers’ grains and corn gluten feed, which may be more economical. A chart to help producers make those decisions is available at Also included on the site is a how-to video for checking body condition scores.

“Producers should be looking at cows monthly and using BCS as a wake-up call,” Lemenager said. “They are a good indicator of nutrition and reproduction. If cows look to be gaining or losing BCS, producers need to evaluate and adjust rations to optimize performance and minimize expenses.”

— Release by Purdue Extension.

Iowa YCLP Looking For Applicants

The Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP) has been a useful tool for developing the next leaders for Iowa’s cattle industry and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. Our new class will be starting at this year’s annual convention, Feb. 25-26. If you, or someone you know, is interested in participating, have them fill out this application.

The program is limited to 15 people, and we’re looking for representation from all over the state. The participants will meet 3 to 5 times to learn about the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), and will meet and learn from state and national leaders in agriculture.

Release by Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

— Compiled by Mathew Elliott, assistant editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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