News Update
April 28, 2011

Auxiliary Heifer Auction to Benefit Youth

An American Angus Auxiliary fundraising tradition will return this summer after a nearly 15-year hiatus. The Auxiliary’s heifer auction at the All-American Angus Breeders’ Futurity June 19 in Louisville, Ky., will raise money toward the organization’s youth scholarship fund.

Heifer donors Jim and Ardyce O’Neill of O’Neill Angus Farm, Logan, Iowa, said it was time to reinstate the auction tradition that first began in 1958.

“Our children went through the junior Angus program and received scholarships, and since we’ve been members both within the Association and the Auxiliary for many years, we decided it was time to donate the heifer,” Ardyce said.

That top-quality heifer, O’Neill’s Eraline 259 (reg. no. 16717542), is sired by SAV Final Answer 0035. Both the heifer and her dam combine two noted O’Neill cow families — the Delias and the Eralines — originally purchased in 1951 when O’Neill Angus Farm was founded.

The heifer auction provides added meaning for the O’Neills. The Iowa couple is donating the heifer in honor of their daughter, Debra Ellen O’Neill, a former scholarship recipient and showman prior to her death in 2003. 

“The American Angus Auxiliary appreciates the O’Neills’ heartfelt contribution and continuous support of Auxiliary activities,” said Barbara Ettredge, Auxiliary president. “These scholarships help maintain interest and commitment to agriculture among junior Angus members.”

Proceeds from the sale of this heifer will go toward the Auxiliary Scholarship Fund, which is administered through the Angus Foundation.

For more information about the heifer, including a link to a video feature and the Angus Journal ad featuring the heifer, visit the American Angus Auxiliary website at You may also contact O’Neill Angus Farm at 712-644-2062.

— Release by American Angus Association.

NCGA Concerned About EPA’s Newly Announced Clean Water Act Guidelines

The possibility of federal government regulation of ditches and farm ponds has led the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) to be concerned about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s recently announced guidelines for determining federal waters that are jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act.

“The proposed guidelines are worrisome to our farmers as federal agencies could have the authority to regulate ditches and ponds,” NCGA President Bart Schott, a grower from Kulm, N.D., said. “The announced guidelines have the potential to expand federal jurisdiction in a way that could lead to additional permitting requirements and make famers more vulnerable to citizen action lawsuits.” 

According to the agencies (see the April 27 Angus eList News Update), the draft guidance was developed to clarify the scope of protections under the law following two complex Supreme Court decisions during the past decade. While the guidance maintains existing exemptions for normal farming and ranching activities, NCGA remains concerned that the new proposal could expand EPA’s authority over isolated waters including ditches and farm ponds, Schott said. NCGA believes states should have the authority to regulate waters and that specific definition between state and federal jurisdictions are important. 

Although the proposed guidelines do not have the full force and effect of law, regulatory decisions could still have an impact. NCGA joins with several other agriculture and environmental groups to request the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers initiate a formal rulemaking process on this matter to ensure transparency and public participation.

“Corn growers are dependent on clean water for our livelihood and for our homes, and we are committed to conservation practices that protect our nation’s streams and rivers,” Schott said. “Since the guidelines are still in draft form, we hope to have the opportunity to provide feedback to the Agency and the Corps about our concerns and find common solutions.”

— Release by NCGA.

Cattle Groups File Lawsuit Against EPA 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association (FCA) filed a lawsuit today, April 28, challenging the EPA’s determination letter and final rule establishing numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) for Florida’s lakes, rivers, streams and springs. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee. According to NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel Tamara Thies, the groups are asking the court to do two things.

“First, we ask the court to set aside and hold unlawful the letter and rule because they are arbitrary, capricious, go beyond EPA’s statutory authority and are in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act,” said Thies. “Secondly, we ask the court to set aside the letter and rule and stop EPA from further action on both due to the irreparable harm Florida agricultural producers will suffer if the agency’s actions are not stopped.”

Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), each state must develop water quality standards that relate to the designated uses the state chooses for its waters. In a review of its water quality standards, Florida determined on its own that numeric criteria would be appropriate. On Sept. 28, 2007, EPA approved Florida’s revised Numeric Nutrient Criteria Development Plan. Environmentalists then sued EPA for failure to develop new water quality standards for Florida. EPA initially contested the argument. However, in a December 2008 memo, EPA staff caved to the environmentalists, laying the foundation for EPA to establish numeric nutrient criteria in Florida. According to Jim Strickland, FCA president and a cattle rancher from Myakka, Fla., EPA’s plan will likely serve as a model for other water basins across the country.

“There is no reason to believe that this is only a Florida or Florida agriculture issue. It touches every homeowner in the state. EPA has indicated that this rule in Florida will be a template for the rest of the country. I have no reason whatsoever to believe Florida is the only target,” said Strickland. “I believe if this rule isn’t stopped dead in its track, it will be a model for every water basin in the country, including the Mississippi River Basin, which is the lifeblood of rural America.”

Strickland said EPA’s plan is not just an attack on the cattle industry or rural America. He said the NNC rule will cause substantial financial damage to an already struggling economy. This rule is estimated by EPA to cost Florida approximately $113 million in implementation costs and roughly $35 million annually. However, other experts predict this rule carries a much heftier price tag. A study conducted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the University of Florida and Soil and Water Engineering Technology Inc. concluded that the economic impact could easily reach $3.1 billion in implementation costs and annual costs could top $974 million. The study also predicts 15,000 agricultural jobs will be lost.

“This isn’t good for Florida. This isn’t good for America. We are not alone in our opposition to the NNC rule. Both Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and their predecessors have filed suit on behalf of the state of Florida. Our elected leaders have been outspoken against this rule. Furthermore, just last week our own Department of Environmental Protection asked EPA to rescind this rule,” said Strickland. “EPA is overreaching with this mandate and their methodology is flawed. EPA has little to no regard for farmers and ranchers and obviously no respect for congressional intent.”  

Click here for the lawsuit filed today.

— Release by NCBA.

NASS Releases Meat Animal 2010 Summary

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its “Meat Animals Production, Disposition, and Income 2010 Summary” earlier today. Total 2010 production of cattle and calves, hogs and pigs, and sheep and lambs for the U.S. totaled 72.4 billion pounds (lb.), down 1% from 2009. Production decreased 3% for hogs and pigs, 4% for sheep and lambs, but increased 1% for cattle and calves.

Total 2010 cash receipts from marketings of meat animals increased 19% to $70.0 billion. Cattle and calves accounted for greater than 73% of this total, hogs and pigs nearly 26%, and sheep and lambs less than 1%.

The 2010 gross income from cattle and calves, hogs and pigs, and sheep and lambs for the U.S. totaled $70.5 billion, up 19% percent from 2009. Gross income for cattle and calves increased 17%, hogs and pigs increased 22%, and sheep and lambs increased 22% compared to the previous year’s gross income.

  • Cattle and Calves: Cash receipts from marketings of cattle and calves increased 17% from $43.9 billion in 2009 to $51.5 billion in 2010. All cattle and calf marketings totaled 55.5 billion lb. in 2010, up 2% from 2009.
  • Hogs and Pigs: Cash receipts from hogs and pigs totaled $17.9 billion during 2010, up 22% from 2009. Marketings totaled 31.4 billion lb. in 2010, down 5% from 2009.
  • Sheep and Lambs: Cash receipts from marketings of sheep and lambs in 2010 were $544 million, up 22% percent from 2009. Marketings decreased 3% to 493 million lb.

— Release by USDA NASS.

GIPSA Settles a Case Resulting in a $2,500 Civil Penalty

The USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) enforcement rules provide a mechanism to quickly resolve violations of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act. GIPSA may offer an alleged violator the option of waiving their right to a hearing and entering into a stipulation agreement to quickly resolve alleged violations. GIPSA recently settled a case resulting in a $2,500 civil penalty.

Rex G. Riley Cattle LLC, Loudonville, Ohio, waived his right to a hearing, entered into a stipulation agreement, and paid a penalty of $2,500 after GIPSA found that he failed to pay when due for livestock.

The P&S Act is a fair trade practice and payment protection law that promotes fair and competitive marketing environments for the livestock, meat, and poultry industries.

— Release by USDA GIPSA.

Texas Beef Industry Leadership Circles the Wagons

The Texas Beef Council (TBC) board of directors recently met for a two-day strategy planning session to build a three-year plan for the organization and the Texas beef industry. Kicked off by Executive Vice President Richard Wortham, industry leaders were challenged to circle the wagons and come together to assess the state of the industry and develop a unified direction.

The strategic planning sessions began with industry presentations and discussions to understand trends in the U.S. and international consumer markets. The group learned about consumer trends and the market research conducted on the national level and funded by the Beef Checkoff Program. This research gives insight into demand basics and national trends vs. Texas comparisons.

“During our long-range plan strategy sessions we received valuable marketing information, had discussions and then came together to build a long-range plan for the entire Texas beef industry,” said Don Smith, chairman of the TBC board of directors. “Through the process we identified priorities, opportunities and challenges for our industry, and from there we will build our marketing plans and set strategic benchmarks.”

The TBC directors and staff created a draft of the plan, which includes a TBC mission statement as well as core strategies and strategic initiatives. The long-range plan will be finalized and voted on at the June 8, 2011, board of directors meeting in Austin at the TBC office.

“Our 20-member board of directors represent all segments of the industry and bring forth an innovative vision and plan to strengthen demand for beef both domestically and globally,” said Wortham. “The long-range plan gives us a road map of where we are today and where we want to be in 2014.”

The preliminary plan highlights three core strategies, which include improving domestic consumer preference for beef, strengthening the image of beef and the beef industry and capitalizing on global growth opportunities.

For more information on this and other checkoff-funded programs, please visit or call 1-800-846.4113.

— Release by Texas Beef Council.

— Compiled by Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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