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News Update

March 22, 2012

NJAA Offers New Ambassador Program

Members of the National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) are the future of the business breed, and there's no better time to start preparing them than now. In the new NJAA Ambassador program, one junior member will be selected to represent Angus at important industry events, both on a national and international level.

"The new Ambassador program is designed to allow our young Angus leaders a chance to get involved early in higher levels of the cattle business," says Robin Ruff, American Angus Association director of junior activities. "This is a great opportunity for youth to get their foot in the door and create a network in the industry they are passionate about."

The selected person will represent the NJAA for one year at major beef industry conferences and events across the United States and Canada. Travel includes an American Angus Association orientation in Saint Joseph, Mo.; the National Angus Conference and Tour in Wichita, Kan.; a Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) Building Blocks Seminar in Wooster, Ohio; the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Tampa, Fla.; and the Guiding Outstanding Angus Leaders Conference in Canada. Additional travel options will vary depending on the selected ambassador's location, schedule and availability.

American Angus Association members, ages 17-20 as of Jan. 1, of good standing and who own purebred cattle are eligible to apply. A cover letter, résumé and two essay responses are required to be considered for the program. More information on the application process can be found online a

All applications must be received by June 15 at the Association's Junior Activities Department, 3201 Frederick Ave., Saint Joseph, MO 64506.

Beef Supplies Short in 2012; Producers Look to Expand Herd

U.S. beef producers have started the early stages of herd expansion as beef supplies remain very short, says Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt.

Beef cow numbers have dropped by 9%, or 3 million head, since 2007. They dropped by 3% in 2011 alone, meaning a smaller calf crop in 2012 and lower slaughter numbers through 2014. But strong finished cattle prices and moderating feed costs have driven some producers to start the expansion.

Producers have reduced their herds in recent years primarily because of escalating feed costs since 2007 and a drought in the southern Plains that dried up pastures and forages.
According to a January USDA cattle report, the most recent available, beef heifer retention has increased 1% — a sign that producers are starting to expand. If U.S. crop yields return closer to normal during the 2012 crop year, Hurt said feed prices could come down even more, which would encourage further herd expansion.

"This is the first increase in heifer retention since feed prices began increasing," he said.
While higher retention rates would seem to suggest lower finished cattle prices in 2012, Hurt said the opposite is likely true. Beef producers retaining heifers results in lower slaughter supplies and, ultimately, lower beef supplies.

With a reduction in cow numbers, the calf crop could be down more than 2% in 2012, and if heifer retention continues in 2012 and 2013, Hurt said beef supplies might not increase until 2015.

"The modest heifer retention now is actually a price-enhancing factor in the short run," he said. "Look for finished cattle prices to push into the higher $120s in the spring, moderate to the mid-$120s this summer, and finish the year near $130. Spring highs in 2013 could climb to the low $130s."

Despite the high finished-cattle price projections, Hurt said producers need to keep an eye on the weather and 2012 crop yields before they make further expansion plans. Producers in the southern Plains should watch drought conditions, while producers nationwide need to watch crop progress.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting that a region of the western Corn Belt will continue to be very dry into the spring.

"That raises concerns for corn and soybean meal prices," Hurt said. "Higher feed prices would depress cattle prices."

Jeff and Deb Hansen Pledge $2 Million to
ISU Agriculture Center

A $2 million pledge from the owners and founders of Iowa Select Farms is the key step needed for construction to proceed on a new learning center for students at Iowa State University (ISU).

Jeff and Deb Hansen pledged $2 million to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for the project. On Wednesday, March 21, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa approved a request to name the facility in honor of the Hansens.

The center will be located on land south of campus now used by the Department of Animal Science's equine program. The facility will include an indoor 125-foot-by-250-foot arena with seating for 1,000 people, a set of classrooms and a conference room. The center will be used for courses, labs, training programs, student club and judging team activities, and public events.

"Deb and I are pleased to invest in the future of our state by supporting this project which will enhance teaching in animal sciences and agriculture," said Jeff Hansen. "This facility will provide an invaluable learning environment for young people for both coursework and extracurricular events that build tomorrow's leaders. The commitment toward construction of the Agriculture Student Learning Center makes a compelling statement about the promising futures in animal agriculture and many related fields."

Construction of the $7 million center will be funded entirely through private gifts. With the Hansens' gift, more than $6 million has been raised. The university expects groundbreaking to be scheduled this fall.

"The Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center will be a much-needed, all-weather facility that will reinforce the learning experience for hundreds of students each year," said Maynard Hogberg, chair of the Department of Animal Science. "We envision the facility will be heavily used year-round, for teaching during the week and for student activities and outreach events on weekends and during the summer. We also see the center as a great venue for 4-H and FFA events and activities that welcomes the next generation of agricultural leaders."

Jeff and Deb Hansen are third-generation family farmers and pork producers. In 1992, they founded Iowa Select Farms, a pork production company headquartered in Iowa Falls, Iowa, which employs 1,000 people in 45 counties. The Hansens established the Deb and Jeff Hansen/Iowa Select Farms Foundation to provide ongoing support for community development and service by working with and through philanthropic organizations, particularly those that focus on childhood cancer, support for military families in Iowa and hunger relief.

Iowa Select Farms has long supported ISU research efforts by funding studies in animal nutrition, animal welfare and well-being and air quality. Company personnel have been guest speakers in ISU swine production courses. A gift by Jeff Hansen in 2006 established an endowed position in ISU's Department of Animal Science to support and coach student livestock judging teams, which have been a department tradition for more than a century.

Study Reveals Mental Benefits of Consuming Red Meat

A recent study found women who eat the recommended amount of red meat were mentally healthier than those who were over or under consuming red meat.

The study from Deakin's Barwon Psychiatric Research Unit studied the relationship between consumption of lamb and beef and depression and anxiety. According to Medical Xpress, the results from the study involving more than 1,000 women are in the current edition of the journal Psychotherapy Psychosomatics.

Associate Professor Felice Jacka said the study shows women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a depressive or anxiety disorder when compared to those eating recommended levels of red meat. Results were consistent among a range of diets, activity levels, smoking and socioeconomic status.

"We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health, as studies from other countries had found red meat consumption to be associated with physical health risks, but it turns out that it actually may be quite important," Jacka said.

Jacka said depression and anxiety was also increased with higher-than-recommended consumption of red meat.


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