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Angus Journal

The Angus Journal Daily, formerly the Angus e-List, is a compilation of Angus industry news; information about hot topics in the beef industry; and updates about upcoming shows, sales and events. Click here to subscribe.

News Update

July 22, 2013

Committee on Foreign Investment:
Halt Smithfield Purchase by Chinese Company

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson sent a letter July 19 to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), in opposition to the proposed acquisition of Smithfield Foods Inc. by Shuanghui International, a Chinese firm.

“The proposed buyout of Smithfield by a Chinese interest is extremely alarming to NFU members across the country,” said Johnson. “Uncompetitive markets in the pork and beef industries have had a dampening effect on the ability of family farmers and ranchers to stay in business.”

In 1980, there were 660,000 hog farms. Today there are only 67,000. In 2011 alone, approximately 2,300 hog producers went out of business.

“The costs of the acquisition far outweigh the benefits to Americans, and the security of our domestic food system is threatened by foreign control,” said Johnson. “I urge CFIUS to set a bold precedent — that the administration values our farms, our food and our rural economies so much that the federal government will stand up to a takeover of a large swath of our agriculture industry.”

If the sale is permitted to move forward, Shuanghui would take control of a very large portion of the U.S. pork industry. Smithfield currently controls 15% of domestic pork production and 26% of pork processing in the United States.

Ohio State Farm Policy Expert Offers Farm Bill Update

As the debate about the future of the 2013 Farm Bill continues, an Ohio State University (OSU) farm policy expert has issued a summary that provides a detailed overview of the debate and examines the farm bill situation from a political, process and content perspective.

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of the farm bill last week (July 11) that does not include the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) for the first time since the 1970s, according to Carl Zulauf, an agricultural economics professor in OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The Senate’s version of the farm bill, passed June 10, included the food assistance program. The Obama Administration had said it supported the Senate version of the bill but indicated that it would veto the House bill.

To help growers, producers and other interested parties understand the current status of the farm bill debate, Zulauf has co-authored the 2013 Farm Bill Update with Gary Schnitkey, a professor of agriculture and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The analysis, at, offers a history of the debate since the 2008 farm bill expired Sept. 30, 2012; an overview of some political considerations; an overview of the process; differences in the bills; and summary observations, including a look at four potential farm bill outcomes.

Is Corn Worth More as Silage or Grain?

Ongoing drought conditions in Nebraska have continued to support hay and forage prices. While eastern parts of the state had a good first cutting of hay, areas further west haven’t fared so well. Sandhills meadows will likely on average have more production than last year, but yields will still be below long-term averages.

At the same time, nationally, a record number of acres were planted to corn in 2013 and the central and eastern Corn Belt have received ample precipitation that has eliminated drought conditions in those regions. December corn futures are currently in the $5.00-per-bushel range and will likely fluctuate through the rest of the summer. These conditions have developed an interesting situation in regards to the price relationship between a bushel of corn and a ton of good-quality alfalfa hay in Nebraska.

A historical rule of thumb for pricing corn silage at 65% moisture has been to value it at eight to 10 times the price of a bushel of corn. Another common pricing point of reference has been that corn silage is equal to ⅓ the price of alfalfa hay. So what is a fair value for corn silage under current market conditions and how might that price impact the decision on whether to harvest a field for silage or as grain using historic rules of thumb?

For more information, please view the full release here.

Food Science Review Seeks to Break New Ground

From teaching techniques to help growers improve water and soil quality to helping farmers and producers learn how to combat invasive species, experts from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will seek to “break new ground” during this year’s Farm Science Review Sept. 17-19 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

Following the theme “Breaking New Ground,” the event will emphasize the best agricultural research, resources, information and access for farmers, said Chuck Gamble, who manages the Review.

“How do we protect the soil, how do we improve water quality are just some of the issues farmers are facing now because so much of what is going on today in agriculture is oriented around water quality,” he said.

“Invasive species are also a huge issue for Ohio. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people don’t understand or know what it is when we talk about invasive species.”

Invasive species, which can include trees, beetles, shrubs, mussels, fish, fungi, weeds or pigs, are those that aren’t native to a place but arrive through people’s actions, either by accident or on purpose. They usually spread fast and can reduce or eliminate native species.

These issues are just a sampling of some of the topics participants can expect to learn about during the three-day farm trade show that annually draws more than 130,000 farmers, growers, producers and agricultural enthusiasts from across the U.S. and Canada.

For more information, please view the Angus Journal Virtual Library’s calendar of upcoming events here.


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