News Update
June 3, 2011

New Site Opens Door to Sustainable Agriculture Grants and Information

Grant information, videos, books, online courses, profiles of cutting-edge, on-farm research and much more — it’s all available with a click of your mouse at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE) new websites.

Visit any of SARE’s redesigned national or regional sites and navigate seamlessly between them to find a wealth of information about where America’s farmers, ranchers and ag professionals live and work. A state-of-the-art search function makes it easier than ever to find grant information and dig deep into SARE’s library of educational materials, database of research projects and calendar of sustainable ag events in communities across the country.

All sites are mobile-device friendly and offer a bare-bones mirror site for people with slow Internet connections. You can share SARE, too, with RSS, Facebook, Twitter and other share functions.

The redesigned SARE sites include SARE Nationwide: — Visit this go-to site for SARE-wide information or seamlessly navigate to regional sites. Stop at the Learning Center for free downloads of SARE books, bulletins, fact sheets, videos, online courses and a host of other information products searchable by topic or type; North Central SARE: — Live in the Plains states or close by? Visit here for grant information specific to America’s central states. Or read the latest North Central SARE news and research in the region or in each state; Southern SARE: — Keep up-to-date on Southern SARE’s seven grant opportunities and its professional development program. Read about breakthrough research and upcoming events; Western SARE: — Articles, conference proceedings and a host of publications and videos give the latest grant information, news, trends and research in Western SARE; and Northeast SARE: — Integration to the webplex is coming soon. In the meantime, visit the current site to learn about grant programs in the Northeast, find helpful resources in the Dig Deeper section, and discover what’s happening in your area with the updated State Program pages.

— Release by SARE Outreach.

FCS Financial Celebrates Groundbreaking of New Office in Macon

FCS Financial hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, May 27, to celebrate the construction of their new retail facility in Macon, Mo. More than 50 people attended the event including local dignitaries, Macon Chamber of Commerce members, FCS Financial directors, customers and employees.

“As Missouri agriculture adopts new technologies and techniques, FCS Financial strives to provide our customers the best products and service,” said Daryl Oldvader, CEO of FCS Financial. “Our first priority has always been our customers and this new Macon facility will allow us to provide Focused. Customized. Solutions.™ to producers across Northeast Missouri.”

The new Macon retail facility will serve as a home for Kirksville, Shelbina and Memphis customers and employees. It is located at the corner of HBC Road and U.S. Highway 63, north of Macon. Weather permitting, construction will be completed by December 2011.

FCS Financial is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of cooperative lending institutions that provides credit and financial services to farmers, ranchers, rural residents and agribusinesses. With 95 years of agricultural lending experience, the Farm Credit System is the largest single provider of agricultural credit in the United States. Learn more at

— Release by FCS Financial.

Livestock Futures Lower

Livestock futures were lower Tuesday, May 31, on data showing the U.S. economic growth may be slowing down. Live cattle futures were down as much as 160 points on the nearby June contract while October and December contracts declined 145 points and 102 points, respectively. June cattle at $102.15 per hundredweight (cwt.) are currently down about $19 per cwt. or 15.6% compared to where they were in early April.

Feeder-cattle futures also were lower, in large part due to the sharp pullback in live prices but also due to growing uncertainty about the outlook for U.S. corn supplies later this year. Some private analysts now are indicating that U.S. corn planted acres could be almost 5 million acres smaller than the initial U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimate, which is based on the March prospective plantings survey.

At this stage there is a wide range of private estimates trying to account for the flooding and delayed plantings in a number of areas. However, the 5 million acre correction would be truly disastrous for U.S. livestock producers as it would remove about 720 million bushels (bu.) from a balance sheet that already is one of the tightest on record.

At this point, U.S. cow-calf producers and feedlot operators are caught in a short term squeeze that will likely leave a gaping hole in their margins. On-feed supplies as of May 1 were 7.4% higher than a year ago. Drought in the U.S. Southern Plains pushed more calves on feed in the last few months and eventually those animals will have to come out. As long as summer cattle were trading in the $120s, all was well and feedlots could see some decent profits. Packers also appeared willing to pay for those cattle as the Choice cutout hit $190 per cwt. in the spring and was projected to go higher.

As beef prices declined much faster and earlier than they normally do, packers responded by limiting slaughter rates. During much of May, the seven-day running total of steer and heifer slaughter (a rolling 7-day average of the daily kill) has stayed below year ago and 2009 levels. That cannot continue for too long, given the number of cattle on feed, and we should see more steers and heifers coming to market this summer. That expected increase in supply is part of the reason why nearby cattle continue to be pressured lower.

Last year, the choice beef cutout peaked in early May at around $171 per cwt. and then drifted lower all the way into August bottoming out at around $151 per cwt., an 11% pullback. The peak in beef prices this year came a lot quicker as retailers opted to limit their beef features going into Memorial Day and a cool spring backed up product already in the pipeline.

With weak beef demand (high gas prices, plummeting housing values, slowing economy), the market is becoming increasingly concerned that cattle prices could erode further in the next couple of months. Deteriorating feeder values also could push more cows to market, pressuring grinding beef prices lower.

— Adapted from a release by Steve Meyer and Len Steiner for CME Group.

Producer Input Sought For 2011 Beef Quality Audit

Cattle producers are being asked to provide their input to the 2011 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) by taking a short survey at The survey can be completed in approximately 10 minutes.

The 2011 NBQA, led by scientists from Colorado State University (CSU) and Texas A&M University (TAMU), is designed to collect and analyze information from cooler audits in the packing sector, face-to-face interviews with beef supply chain partners and, for the first time, cattle producers including feeders, stockers, cow-calf operators, and seedstock producers will be surveyed.

According to Tom Field, who manages the BQA program for the Beef Checkoff Program, producer input is being sought to strengthen the measurement of quality-based practices implemented on farms and ranches that support consumer confidence in beef products and production systems. 

The checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) has provided important benchmarks for the U.S. beef industry since 1991. According to Field, the audit has been conducted about every four years, with the historic focus centered on quantifying the performance of beef carcasses for a number of value enhancing characteristics. Field said previous surveys have assisted in identifying challenges and opportunities for cattle producers.

“We hope to quantify the current adoption level of quality-driven management practices by the industry and develop a benchmark against which to measure future performance,” says Field. “Our goal is to provide a foundation from which to direct future educational initiatives to improve the competitiveness of beef and beef byproducts. By collecting input from cattle producers, we will help consumers and decision influencers better understand beef production and the commitment of cattlemen to produce safe and wholesome beef products.”

Cattlemen can find the survey online at beginning Thursday, June 2. The survey also will be available to beef producers at a variety of state, regional and national industry meetings and conventions.

— Release by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.

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

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