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News Update

September 19, 2012

Col. Ray Sims Funeral Information

Col. Ray Sims died yesterday, Sept. 18, 2012, at St. Joseph Medical Center, Kansas City, Mo, at 90 years old. Sims had an impressive auction career for more than 45 years that shaped the modern cattle auction. Read about his induction into the Saddle and Sirloin Hall of Fame at, and watch an I Am Angus segment on the pioneer auctioneer at

Visitation will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. Both visitation and funeral services will be at Red Bridge Baptist Church, 4901 E. Red Bridge Rd., Kansas City, MO 64137. The church's phone number is 816-761-1194.

'Beef. It's What's For Dinner.' Facebook Fans Surpass 500,000

The checkoff's "Beef. It's What's For Dinner." Facebook page recently surpassed the "halfway to a million" mark when it comes to "fans" of the page. The effort to engage consumers in conversations about beef is paying off: Fans aren't just reading a post, but giving it a thumb's up, leaving comments and forwarding to their Facebook networks. What's more, they are having conversations about beef on the page, what to have for dinner and upcoming celebrations.

During key grilling season holidays including Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, the checkoff promoted the page through advertising targeting consumers who enjoy beef. The beef story is told through beautiful beef imagery and key messaging to engage fans in conversations to keep beef top-of-mind.

So how do other proteins stack up?

Red Angus Association of America Now Offering GE-EPDs Powered by HD 50K

The Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) and Pfizer Animal Health announced availability of genomic-enhanced expected progeny differences (GE EPDs), powered by the High-Density 50K (HD 50K) platform, through the RAAA. HD 50K for Red Angus provides genomic predictions for 13 economically important traits, including calving ease; growth and efficiency; maternal performance; and carcass yield and quality.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Farm and Consumer Organizations Protest Animal ID Scheme

In a letter to the Congressional Office of Management and Budget (OMB), 63 organizations have written to urge that the USDA Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) system, originally known as the National Animal Identification System, be halted in part due to the nationwide drought and the resulting crisis faced by so many farmers and ranchers.

"This is the worst widespread drought since the 1930's Dust Bowl," noted Gilles Stockton, a Montana rancher and member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils. "As our ranchers struggle to keep the herds alive through this disaster, they cannot afford to take on new regulatory burdens."

The letter to the OMB notes that the USDA's fiscal analysis significantly underestimated the cost impacts of its rule to both cattle and poultry producers. The organizations contend, "while the agency claims that the costs are under $100 million annually, independent studies indicate that the costs could be three to five times that high for cattle producers alone."

For more information and the full release, click here.

Public Comment Sought on IDNR Response to Report on CAFO Permitting and Compliance Program

EPA is seeking public comment on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' (IDNR) response to EPA's initial findings from its informal investigation of IDNR's permit and compliance program for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). IDNR submitted its response to EPA on Sept. 11, 2012, which outlines a number of actions to improve its animal feeding operations program.

"Transparency and public involvement are important components of this process, and we need to hear from those that are affected by our decisions," said Karl Brooks, regional administrator. "We look forward to receiving feedback on the IDNR response."

On July 12, 2012, EPA released a report outlining its initial findings, which identified deficiencies in IDNR's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program that the state agency will need to correct. Among other findings, EPA found that IDNR does not have an adequate program to assess whether unpermitted CAFOs need NPDES permits. The findings also note that IDNR must clarify its authority to issue NPDES permits to confinement (roofed) CAFOs that discharge. EPA also found that in a number of cases involving Clean Water Act (CWA) violations, IDNR failed to take timely and adequate enforcement actions, and assess adequate penalties.

For the results of the poll and the full release, click here.

FDA Approves Blending of Corn Containing Aflatoxin

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Department's request to allow corn containing more than 20 parts per billion (ppb) of aflatoxin to be blended with corn with lower levels or no aflatoxin for animal feed. This allows the corn to be safely fed to livestock pursuant to the FDA's long-standing guidelines.

Before doing any blending of corn containing aflatoxin, the grain dealers and the Department must sign a compliance agreement. A memorandum outlining the application process and a copy of the compliance agreement will be sent to all grain dealers licensed by the Department and can also be found on the Department's website at under "Hot Topics."

The compliance agreement outlines the requirements for grain dealers that will be blending corn containing aflatoxin.

These requirements include that the blended product be below the appropriate aflatoxin action level in corn used as or in animal feed as outlined in FDA Guidance Document, Compliance Policy Guide — Section 683.100, Action Levels for Aflatoxin in Animal Feeds. FDA granted Iowa a similar request during droughts in 2003 and 2005 when aflatoxin was found in the state.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Canadian Cattle Herd to Expand

Excellent pastures and abundant forage will support stabilization in the Canadian cattle sector. Inventories will modestly increase in 2013, while exports of cattle will fall. Heavier carcasses will compensate reduced slaughter resulting in a stable beef production, with trade staying flat, according to the USDA's Canadian Annual Livestock report.

With the years of decline left behind, the Canadian cattle sector has now stabilized and is looking for opportunities to grow. Excellent pasture conditions and an abundance of forage are currently the basis for such potential and will help the sector weather the following period of expected high feed prices.

Barley and wheat, both substitutes for corn in Canada, will be plentifully available, though at elevated costs. For 2013, Post forecasts a very modest increase in inventories and calf production. More cattle are expected to stay in feedlots and be finished locally, rather than be shipped to the United States. Exports in 2013 will thus see a decline, in stark contrast with the first half of 2012.

Given a limited supply of slaughter cattle and a stable demand for beef, packers have become interested in heavier animals.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Beef Cattle Producers Advised to get Soil Test, Save on Input Costs

A Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service soil fertility expert advised beef producers to get a soil test as residual nutrients from previous fertilizer applications may still be in reserve.

"We are still facing drought conditions as we did last year, and if producers applied fertilizer last year or this year, they didn't grow much of a forage crop," said Mark McFarland, AgriLife Extension state soil fertility specialist in College Station, at the recent Beef and Forage Expo in Bryan. "As a result, there can be a substantial amount of that fertilizer remaining in the soil for next year."

McFarland said to be certain, producers are advised to soil test each field they plan to fertilize. "Fertilizer prices remain very high," he said. "We are looking at 50¢ to 70¢ per pound of nutrient for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It is a significant part of the overall input cost for forage production." A soil test is a "tried-and-tested method" for determining the correct fertilizer product and rate of application, he said. Applying unnecessary nutrients is expensive and does not improve forage yield or quality.

"A soil test allows us to credit any carryover fertilizer due to the drought and can save producers a significant amount of money," McFarland said. In areas where soil acidity is a concern, soil testing should be done in late fall so that limestone, if needed, can be applied and allowed to react and increase pH by next year. In other areas, soil testing for warm-season forage production should be done in winter or early spring.

For the full release, click here.

NRCS and FWS Reach Historic Agreement to Extend Wildlife Conservation Efforts on Working Agricultural Lands

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe announced an agreement that will provide long-term regulatory predictability for up to 30 years to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners participating in the USDA Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) Initiative. Participants voluntarily implement proven conservation practices designed to protect wildlife habitat, including several at-risk species and vulnerable game species on private lands.

"This agreement will change the way we manage at-risk species on private lands," White said. "It will provide landowners with a mechanism to keep working lands in production while complying with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and will facilitate restoration of habitat for at-risk species. It also will help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners rest a little easier knowing their operations are protected for the long term and that they are contributing to conserving vital natural resources."

The agreement builds on a $33 million investment NRCS announced last spring dedicated toward producers who develop and implement conservation plans to manage and restore high-priority habitats for seven specific wildlife species across the country. The species are greater sage grouse, New England cottontail, bog turtle, golden-winged warbler, gopher tortoise, lesser prairie chicken and the Southwestern willow flycatcher. NRCS, FWS and numerous state and local entities are partnering to implement WLFW.

For more information and the full release, click here.


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