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News Update

April 23, 2012

Cattle Outlook: USDA Predicts Higher Beef Production in 2012

After four years of decline, USDA is forecasting that world beef production will be up a slight 0.2% this year. Most of the increase is coming from India, which is predicted to be up 10.6%. Other major beef-producing countries that are expanding include Argentina up 2.8%, Australia up 2.3%, and Brazil up 2.0%. The United States is the world's largest beef producer. Our production is expected to be down 4.2% compared to 2011.

Calculated domestic beef demand during February was up 1.7% compared to a year earlier. Export demand for U.S. beef was down 4.6% in February. Packer demand for fed cattle was 3.7% lower this February than last.

The average grocery store price of Choice beef was $5.053 per pound in March. That is up 0.8¢ from February, up 30.6¢ from March 2011, and the second highest retail monthly average price ever behind January 2012.

The five-area live price for slaughter steers in March averaged $126.80 per hundredweight (cwt.), up $1.10 from February, up $10.20 from March 2011 and record high for the second consecutive month.

Beef cutout value was strongly higher this week. On Friday morning, the Choice boxed beef carcass cutout value was $188.10 per cwt., up $9.94 from the previous Friday. The Select carcass cutout was up $7.04 from the previous week to $184.38 per hundred pounds of carcass weight.

Fed-cattle prices were slightly higher again this week. Through Thursday, the five-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $122.68 per cwt., up 60¢ from last week and up $3.38 per cwt. from the same week last year. Steer prices on a dressed basis averaged $198.52 per cwt. this week, up $3.59 from a week ago and up $7.15 from a year ago. Steer dressed prices are $10.42 per cwt. above the choice cutout value.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 598,000 head, up 2.7% from the week before, but down 7.9% from a year ago. The average dressed weight for slaughter steers for the week ending on April 7 was 843 pounds (lb.), up 7 lb. from the week before, up 24 lb. from a year ago, and above a year earlier for the 13th consecutive week.

Oklahoma City feeder cattle prices were mostly steady to $5 higher this week with the ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450 lb., $201-$213; 450-500 lb., $194-$206; 500-550 lb., $183-$199; 550-600 lb., $175-$188; 600-650 lb., $162-$183.50; 650-700 lb., $159.25-$170; 700-750 lb., $150-$158.75; 750-800 lb., $147.50-$155; 800-900 lb., $133-$152.50; and 900-1,000 lb., $131.50-$136.50 per cwt.

Live cattle futures contracts were slightly lower for the week. The April contract ended the week at $120.55 per cwt., up 3¢ from last Friday. The June contract settled at $115.45 per cwt., down 62¢ for the week. The August fed cattle contract ended the week at $118.85 per cwt., down 20¢ compared to the week before. October settled at $124.60 per cwt.

The 44th BIF Research Symposium Wraps up in Houston

The 44th Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium and Annual Meeting traveled to Houston, Texas, April 18-21. This year's hosts were Texas A&M University, Texas AgriLife Extension and the American Brahman Breeders Association (ABBA).

Event planning began two years ago when Chris Shivers, ABBA, and Joe Paschal, Texas AgriLife Extension, approached the BIF Board of Directors requesting permission to host the event in the Lonestar state. Both men recognized the importance of Bos indicus cattle in U.S. beef industry and wanted to showcase that for all industry members to see.

Texas ArgiLife Extension provided a very integral part of the educational content during the meeting. Several professors from the Texas A&M Department of Animal Science presented valuable research presentations.

"Texas AgriLife is focused on providing adults an educational outlet," Paschal said. "We want our industry members to have opportunities to go and network with people from all over the country."

The first general session was welcomed by Russell Cross, professor and interim department head, Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University. Cross had two major messages for attendees — be prepared to stand up for this industry in order to combat issues such as lean, finely textured beef, called "pink slime" by the popular press.

"Over the past few decades, new technologies have been discovered," Cross said. "We, as an industry, haven't done our job to explain what it is that we are doing and why. This is essential in the future of agriculture as it's known today."

Cross also stressed the importance of university agricultural departments, especially departments of animal science.

"In a decade, we will have a third fewer departments of animal sciences at our land-grant universities," he said. "We can't depend on just state or federal dollars anymore." Cross noted that in May, several heads of animal science departments across the country will be meeting to address these concerns.

"We are coming to industry," he noted, adding that they need help from industry in the form of funding, not leadership.

If you couldn't make it to Houston, Angus Productions Inc. (API) — in cooperation with BIF and with sponsorship of — provides event coverage of the BIF symposium at Visit the site's Newsroom for summaries of the presentations along with the accompanying proceedings papers, PowerPoints, audio and video interviews. Visit the Awards page for announcement of the Seedstock and Commercial Producer of the Year winners; Roy Wallace Memorial Scholarship winners; Frank Baker essay contest winners; and winners of BIF's Ambassador, Pioneer and Continuing Service awards. API will be posting coverage to the site throughout the week.

Next year's event will be hosted June 12-15 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Nominations Accepted for Kentucky
Agricultural Leadership Program

The Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program (KALP) is accepting applications for Class X.

KALP, housed in the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture, is an intensive two-year program designed for young agricultural producers and agribusiness individuals from Kentucky and Tennessee.

"This is a good fit for anyone who wants to be on the cutting edge of decisions that affect agriculture, rural communities and society in the 21st century," said Will Snell, KALP co-director.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, residents of Kentucky or Tennessee, and be involved in some phase of agriculture. The Kentucky Agriculture Development Board requires at least 25% of the participants to be tobacco-dependent, defined as having received a Phase II or a tobacco-buyout check. There are no specific educational requirements.

The program dates back to the mid-1980s and was originally called the Philip Morris Agricultural Leadership Program, though it was never commodity specific. Philip Morris fully funded the first seven classes. Now, more than 100 financial supporters, including the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, Kentucky agribusinesses, farm organizations, program alumni and participant fees, provide funding.

The program consists of 10 domestic seminars devoted to important agricultural issues. Sessions also focus on improving participants' communication, leadership and management skills. Class members will visit a variety of Kentucky agribusinesses, Frankfort, Ky., and Washington, D.C., and will travel to other states and nations to explore agriculture in different settings. The previous nine classes have yielded 245 graduates, many of whom subsequently have taken on leadership positions within Kentucky agriculture.

"This program is not just about farming," KALP co-director Steve Isaacs said. "Participants will polish essential leadership skills, identify common rural and urban concerns, understand current public policy issues and establish a basis for lifelong learning and development."

Interest is expected to run high for the 22 seats available in Class X. Snell and Isaacs, both from the UK Department of Agricultural Economics, said they received 100 nominations for Class IX.

Candidates may be nominated by county extension agents, farm organizations, trade associations, alumni of previous leadership programs, other interested individuals or be self-nominated. The nomination form link and additional details can be found at the KALP website, Nominations are due June 1, 2012. All nominees will receive information about the program and procedures for submitting the required application, which will be due July 15, 2012.

A list of sponsors can be found at

High Plains Ranch Practicum Now Taking
Applications for 2012-13 Class

A national award-winning livestock extension program is again being offered for 2012-2013, beginning in June and concluding in January 2013. The High Plains Ranch Practicum School is an in-depth ranch management school hosted jointly by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) Extension and the University of Wyoming (UW) Extension.

Enrollment is limited to 35. Participants must submit an application form by May 4. For additional information or to obtain an application, contact UNL Extension Educator Aaron Berger at 308-235-3122 or, UW Extension Educator Dallas Mount at 307-322-3667 or, or visit the website at

The High Plains Ranch Practicum is an eight-day, five-session, hands-on educational program designed to give participants the skills and application of management tools needed to be successful in today's complex ranching industry, said Mount, an instructor in the program.

Sessions are at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff, Neb., and at the UW's 3,400-acre Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC) near Lingle, Wyo.

The course will focus on providing ranchers tools to understand and integrate four areas of ranch management: range and forage resources, integrating nutrition and reproduction, cost of production analysis and family working relationships.

"Ranchers able to integrate these four areas into decision-making will find they can use a systems approach to improve the sustainability of the ranch operation," said Berger, also one of the instructors.

Participants will benefit from instruction and current research in range livestock production, financial management and marketing systems from nationally recognized experts.

Mount said attendees enjoy the camaraderie with other participants, instructors and facilitators throughout the three seasons of the practicum.

"Friendships and exchanges of ideas among participants will be some of the most-valued aspects of the program," he said. "High-quality educational materials are used in the program and include software, notebooks with laminated field guides and an outstanding collection of university publications."

There is a $600 fee for individuals or $900 for a couple that covers materials, instructor costs and meal expenses. However, due to support through a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Grant, producer participants who complete the course requirements will receive a 50% tuition scholarship.

Grass-Fed Beef Conference Teaches to Capitalize on Forage

If recent rains continue to promote forage growth, beef cattle producers do have an option to consider with grass-fed beef production, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist.

Rick Machen, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist in Uvalde, said producers can learn about grass-fed beef production techniques at a conference scheduled May 30-31 at Texas A&M University (TAMU) in College Station. The conference will take place at both the Rosenthal Meat Science Building and the Louis Pearce Pavilion on the Texas A&M campus.

"Grass farmers across Texas have the opportunity to have a decent year with forage growth and may want to consider harvesting that forage with beef cattle," Machen said. "Grass-fed beef production is an emerging trend, and we are finding a growing need to educate these producers on the finer points."

Last year's inaugural conference in College Station was attended by more than 60 beef producers, said Machen, conference coordinator.

"We are excited about the lineup of speakers we will have for this information-sharing opportunity," he said.

The conference will cover a broad range of important topics pertaining to grass-fed beef production and is open to both beef producers and consumers.

The following topics will be discussed: overview of the beef industry; defining natural, grass-fed and organic beef; growing forage — the fundamentals; cattle types suited for grass-fed beef; forage-based nutrition for cattle; preventive herd health; handling cattle for wholesome beef; carcass fabrication; consumers and their expectations; marketing a unique product; and economics and sustainability.

"In addition to traditionally produced beef, products from natural, grass-fed and organic production systems are important contributors to the beef market. We welcome both the beef producer and interested consumers to attend this conference and learn more about this segment of the industry," Machen said. "There will be several topics of interest to both audiences."

As a highlight, this conference will feature carcass demonstrations, allowing producers to learn about fabrication methods and retail cuts, Machen said.

Cost is $250 through May 15 and $300 after. Three continuing education credits will be offered to Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide applicator holders.

To register online, visit and enter keyword "grassfed."


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