Grassley and Ag Reject Japan’s TPP Offer

grassley-headSenator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) took time between votes today to join with several agricultural organizations and voice strong opposition to Japan’s negotiating position in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership to exclude a number of agricultural products as part of a final agreement.

“Japan seems to believe that they’re entitled to keep five sacred agriculture products off the table,” said Grassley, who said he just spoke with US Trade Representative Michael Froman this morning about the issue, stressing that when Japan agreed to join the negotiations they knew everything had to be on the table. “We’ve got to hold their feet to the fire.”

“The third largest country in the world can’t make protectionist moves like that without it having a ripple effect,” he added.

The five broad agricultural product categories that Japan wants to exempt from the TPP agreement are pork and beef, wheat and barley, rice and starch, dairy, and sugar. Participating in a conference call with Grassley today were representatives from the National Pork Producers Council,
American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, and the National Association of Wheat Growers Association. All of them and more are strongly urging the administration to reject Japan’s offer.

Listen to the press conference here: Ag Groups Reject Japan's TPP Offer

New NCBA Officer Team

ncba-officersThe new president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is Bob McCan of Texas, who succeeded Scott George as president during the board of directors meeting last week.

“It is a great honor to be elected to lead NCBA for the next year. A strong future lies ahead of us with endless opportunities for U.S. cattlemen and women,” said McCan. “There are many issues that need our attention, and my goal is to bring unity to our efforts to address them. In addition, I look forward to meeting cattlemen throughout the country to hear their concerns and work to make our industry as successful as it can be.”

The new NCBA President Elect is Philip Ellis of Wyoming. Tracy Brunner of Kansas is NCBA’s new vice president. Cevin Jones of Idaho was elected chairman of the NCBA Federation Division, and Jennifer Houston of Tennessee is the Federation Division’s vice chair. The new NCBA Policy Division chairman is Craig Uden of Nebraska and Kevin Kester of California is the new policy vice chairman.

Pictured here from left to right are Kester, Brunner, NCBA CEO Forrest Roberts, Uden, Houston, Treasurer Richard Gebhart, McCan, Jones, George, and Ellis.

Cattle Industry Convention

New Holland at Cattle Industry ConventionIt looks like all systems are go for this year’s Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, TN. It’s the first time I’ll be missing it in a long time. But that’s the way things work sometime. I enjoyed the opportunity to be the Beef Board Blogger for eight years and it’s in the hands of the very capable staff of the CBB.

It looks like attendees dodged a weather bullet this week. That’s a good thing.

I see that New Holland is very visible outside the Gaylord. We’ll see them next week at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville.

If you can’t attend the convention then check out the Twitter hashtag – #CIC14 to keep up on the latest. You might want to follow the Beef Ambassadors too – @BeefAmbassador.

Cow That Stole Christmas 10 Years Later

grinch-cowThis week marks the tenth anniversary of the “cow that stole Christmas” – a day that will live in infamy for the U.S. cattle industry and one that Kendal Frazier with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association remembers well.

Kendal recalls that NCBA received a phone call from USDA at 1:30 pm on December 23, 2003. “We immediately started to implement a crisis management plan that we had worked on for nearly 10 years in anticipation of that moment,” he said.

ncba-frazierBy taking action to get accurate information out to the public, the beef industry was able to calm American consumers’ fears about so-called mad cow disease, but the international market was a different story. “Countries around the world … immediately closed their borders to U.S. beef, and that was a tremendous fallout for our industry,” said Kendal. “We just now this year, ten years later, have reached the levels from a volume standpoint of beef exports that we had. It’s been a long road back.”

Two major milestones were reached just this year with Japan now allowing imports of beef from cattle less than 30 months of age and the approval of a final BSE rule by USDA in November, but the cow of Christmas past still haunts us. “The market is still not fully open although we are selling a lot of beef products into Japan,” said Kendal, adding that they have high hopes for the future where beef trade will no longer be impacted by BSE. “This is a dying disease,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have wide open markets regarding BSE in the not too distant future.”

Listen to or download my interview with Kendal here: Interview with Kendal Frazier, NCBA

Merck’s Attack on BRD

nafb-13-26-editedMerck Animal Health is dedicated to spreading the awareness of one of the most common diseases found in the cattle industry. Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) continues to take an economic toll on herds across the country. During NAFB’s Trade Talk I spoke with Dr. Brent Meyer, technical services veterinarian for Merck. He shares what the company is doing to tackle BRD and educate producers.

“We brought a new antibiotic to the market called Zuprevo. It is a macrolide antibiotic labeled for treatment and/or prevention of the disease. So it has a dual label. What’s unique about this product is that it is very fast acting. After one sub-q dose of 1cc per 100lbs. in four hours its in the lung tissue killing the bacteria that might be in there. It also stays in the lung tissue for 28 days.”

It has been on the market for a good year and Merck is excited with the testimonials they are starting to receive. The producers Dr. Meyer has talked with have used the product on high-risk calves and have reduced their death loss from 8% down to less than 1%.

To help educate producers, Merck has launched a blog called BRD Report: From The Fence Post. It’s sole purpose is to raise awareness of BRD for veterinarians, livestock producers, agricultural media and industry influencers to access important information vital to the prevention and treatment of this deadly disease.

Blog content includes valuable insights and best practices from industry experts about easing stress, nutrition, maintaining facilities and recognizing signs of disease, as well as comparative studies, relevant peer-reviewed articles and industry news. Contributing bloggers include university researchers, nutritionists and livestock producers, as well as Merck Animal Health veterinarians.

Listen to my complete interview with Brent here: Interview with Dr. Brent Meyer

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Update From NCBA at NAFB

nafb-13-16-editedThe National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk gave us the opportunity to chat with leaders of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

President Elect for NCBA, Bob McCan, is from Victoria, TX and he operates a 5th generation purebred commercial herd of Brafords. I spoke with him during the event and he shed some light on trade, immigration and the upcoming convention.

“Market’s right now are adding about $275 to $280 a head to every fed animal that is slaughtered these days. That’s significant and really adding to the bottom line. It’s helping our market and we are getting lots of opportunity with the Trans Pacific Partnership coming together. We are hoping in a few months we will have that finalized and it will knock down a lot of the tariff rates that we have had to contend with in the past.”

Bob said that immigration reform is a top priority for NCBA. He stressed the importance of eliminating a seasonal worker program and with a labor shortage it is important to have workers here on a more permanent basis. Coming from the south, border security is something that hits close to home for Bob and neighboring ranchers. He feels if there is an incentive for them to come over legally then the issue of a secure border is lessoned.

Nashville will serve as the home for the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show held February 4-7, 2014. Bob shared that the entertainment will be grand, the educational opportunities insightful and industry issues diverse.

nafb-13-21-editedListen to my complete interview with Bob here: Interview with Bob McCan

Also during Trade Talk I spoke with Clay Burtrum, who represents Region 4 on the NCBA Executive Committee for the Federation of State Beef Councils. Clay talks about the history behind the Federation, it’s role in the Beef Checkoff and the relationship between them and NCBA.

“It’s our 50th year celebrating the Federation. We are housed under NCBA, but we are our own entity, our own face. We are the grassroots producers behind the Beef Checkoff.”

Education is the focal point of the Beef Checkoff program. Promoting beef to the millennial generation has been the objective and that means turning to social media to get their message out. Clay reminds us that this generation isn’t spending hours shopping for food. They are in there to get what they need for that nights meal. He says we have to have a safe, easily available product that they can cook in a timely manner.

Listen to my complete interview with Clay here: Interview with Clay Burtrum

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Rabo AgriFinance Report From NAFB

nafb-13-40-editedRabo AgriFinance was present for the recent Trade Talk during the 2013 NAFB Convention. The company is the leading U.S. ag lender and specializes in protein to produce and inputs to oilseeds. Their expert team monitors and evaluates the global market that influences agriculture around the world.

I spoke with two of the team’s analysts at the event and they each shed some insight into the upcoming 2014 futures and recapped how growers and producers faired in 2013. John Grettenburg is a Relationships Manager in Western and Southwest Iowa and specializes in the corn and soybean market. Don Close is the Vice President for Food and Agribusiness Research (FAR) and his area of interest is in international markets and cattle feeding.

John hit on on-farm storage of grains and how it can benefit growers. “I think it gives the producer the opportunity to mange it from one tax year to the next from an income tax perspective. Historically we have had some increases and bumps in the market through the spring months and early summer. It allows farmers to increase the speed of their harvest if they have their own drying facility and by not have to wait in lines at local elevators. It gives them that flexibility to move that crop to market when the price dictates.”

nafb-13-42-editedListen to my complete interview with John here: Interview with John Grettenburg

Don describes 2013 for cattle feeders as dismal and says the replenishing of herds will be a slow process and supplies will continue to be tight. “One of the areas the beef industry will be challenged with is the position of both the broiler and hog industry while they gain market shares at the expense of beef. With the likely hood of recovering cow numbers the prospects of growing international trade both short-term and long goals gives a very positive outlook for the future.”

Listen to my complete interview with Don here: Interview with Don Close

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Update from Animal Ag Alliance at NAFB

nafb-13-12-editedThe Animal Agriculture Alliance has been busy over the course of the last year staying up-to-date on animal ag issues, researching current activist campaigns and advocating farm policy. At the 2013 NAFB Convention I met up with Kay Johnson Smith, President and CEO, and Emily Meredith, Director of Communications during the events Trade Talk.

Hot topics of discussion included the Animal Rights Conference Report, Meatless Monday campaign, Farm Protection legislation, their outreach efforts and the 2014 Stakeholders Summit.

Kay shared that they recently attended the Animal Rights Conference Report to better understand what our industry needs to be on the lookout for throughout the next year. The key takeaways from the event were three target audiences these activist groups are focusing on. They include retail restaurants, youth K-12 and students on college campuses as well as, health conscious adults.

Listen to my complete interview with Kay here: Interview with Kay Johnson Smith

nafb-13-15-editedThe Animal Ag Alliance took it upon themselves to do a little digging into the Meatless Monday campaign and the results were shocking. You can checkout their complete report here. Emily shared how people were really surprised and that with such busy news cycle many of the mainstream news media take fact checking for granted.

The 2014 Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit is scheduled for May 8-9 in Arlington, VA. “Cracking the Millennial Code,” is the topic of discussion and will cover hot-button issues including antibiotics, animal welfare, sustainability and communication through the lens of a Millennial.

Listen to my complete interview with Emily here: Interview with Emily Meredith

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Small Numbers But Growing Market

nafb-13-22-editedHerd numbers are down this year in the beef community, but enthusiasm is high. Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) Chairman, Weldon Wynn was on hand at this year’s Trade Talk during the NAFB Convention. There is no doubt that the checkoff dollar is slim, but Weldon said they are making that dollar stretch.

Weldon went on to discuss our international market, how successful it has been and how much better it could be if we had the numbers. With the demand present, all we need to do now is grow our herds.

“Today in the foreign market with USMEF, one of our contractors, anytime we sell a calf we are getting back $234.00 in return for every head we are sending abroad. It’s really working in the foreign marketing end of it.”

The CBB has also put a lot of research into marketing to the millennial generation. And it seems social media marketing is key to educate this group of techies. They are sharing recipes online, answering questions via social media outlets and remembering the power of photo sharing.

The CBB and NCBA are also making final arrangements for this year’s Cattlemen’s Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. Music City will play home to the coveted event held February 4-7, 2014. Mark your calendars and plan your vacation to Nashville where you can have your voice heard on decisions that will shape your beef community.

Listen to my complete interview with Weldon here: Interview with Weldon Wynn

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

NCBA’s Government Affairs Advocating for Beef

nafb-13-19-editedThe National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) attended this year’s NAFB Trade Talk event and I spoke with Colin Woodall, Vice President of Government Affairs, while stopping by their booth. Colin voiced that it is an exciting time to be part of the beef community. He admits herd numbers are down, but that it means people are making money. Beyond cattle numbers he discussed a few other hot topics he and others on Capitol Hill are tirelessly working on to ensure beef production in the United States continues to grow and thrive.

The Farm Bill was a hot topic everywhere you went during Trade Talk, but Colin focused on one aspect of the bill that is front and center for NCBA.

“Country of Origin Labeling is one issue that we have to get fixed because right now we have a retaliation that is looming from both Canada and Mexico where they could should us out of their markets or add a surtax our markets probably sometime in late summer or early fall of 2014.”

Colin also brought up Federal Lands Grazing. Many farmers and ranchers utilize permits to graze federal lands in the western part of the U.S. Activists groups are pressuring for the removal of these permits.

“We have two pieces of legislation we are working on right now. One is to try and change the way the federal government approaches wildfires. To make sure we are managing federal lands in a way to mitigate the severity of wildfires. Then also we are trying put in place a Grazing Improvement Act that would make the process to get these permits a little bit more expedited and try and cut out some of the bureaucratic red tape we have to deal with right now.”

The beef industry relies heavily on international trade. On this topic Colin shared news on the Trans Pacific Partnership and what it means to producers and consumers alike. Continue reading

Checkoff Changes Marketing Direction in FY14

BeefForDinnerMillennials and other beef consumers can now see and hear the tantalizing sights and sounds of “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” messages without putting down their mobile devices or leaving the comfort of their keyboards and social-media circles.

That’s thanks to a Sept. 25 decision by the 20-member Beef Promotion Operating Committee to make a major shift in strategic direction for the checkoff’s promotion and marketing efforts. Beginning this month, digital marketing will lead the way in sharing beef’s message about nutrition, health and research and creating a forum for consumers to publically share and celebrate their love for beef.

In recognition of the importance of marketing via electronic devices — such as smartphones, tablets, cell phones, computers and consoles – the committee approved the shift from an print and radio campaign to digital marketing via multi-media beef messages on email, blogs and social networks.

Using geo-tracking, the checkoff can send marketing messages to a very tight target audience whose preferences, food likes and lifestyles fit the checkoff’s target audience. In other words, the checkoff can pinpoint exactly who it wants to reach with beef messages.

The ability to geo-target means that producer and importer investments in the checkoff will be focused tightly on consumers who are most likely to move the needle on beef demand. Social and digital media provide the beef checkoff a clear and focused way to deliver beef-centric information, enabling consumers to select and prepare beef enthusiastically.

Donate to South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund

giveblackhillsLOGOjpgMIDRES_smallSouth Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and South Dakota Sheep Growers Association established the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund Oct. 8, 2013 with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to provide support and relief assistance to those in the agriculture industry impacted by the blizzard of Oct. 4-7, 2013.

The fund will be administered by the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association for the direct benefit of the livestock producers impacted by this devastating blizzard.

To donate to the Rancher Relief Fund visit, and search “Rancher Relief Fund”. Donors can also mail checks to Black Hills Community Area Foundation/SD Rancher Relief Fund made out to the “Rancher Relief Fund.” Address: PO Box 231, Rapid City, 57709.

Answers About Ground Beef

Ground Beef AnswersGot questions about ground beef? Cargill has answers. You’ll find all the information you need on their new website, Ground Beef Answers. If you don’t see what you’re looking for just let them know.

It seems like the consuming public has gotten over the misinformation campaign about finely textured beef which is 100% beef. But some may still have questions. That’s why Cargill has put together a resource website for the public to learn more. FTB helps make food more affordable, is completely safe and improves food sustainability. Read all about it!

New National Beef Ambassadors

New Beef AmbassadorsWe have a new team of National Beef Ambassadors and here they are. This weekend the competition in Arkansas took place and I had the honor to be a judge once again even though it was from home. I’ll update this post when I get the names of these new beef agvocates.

I was a judge of the essay writing which was an issue response exercise. Juniors had to write a letter to the editor regarding this Meatless Mondays effort and Seniors on this lunacy on eating meat leading to climate change. The essays were fun to read and I can tell you we’ve got some great young representatives of the beef business!

ZimmComm is a sponsor of the National Beef Ambassador program via their blog and I encourage you to show your support if you can.

Post Update:
From left to right:

Rachael Wolters
Emma Morris
Tori Summey
Sierra Jepsen
Justana Von Tate

Beef Checkoff Sets FY2014 Plan of Work

BeefCheckLogo_w_TagThe Cattlemen’s Beef Board will invest about $38.5 million into programs of beef promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications in Fiscal Year 2014, if the recommendation of the Beef Promotion Operating Committee is approved by USDA, following review by the full Beef Board.

In action concluding its two-day meeting in Denver this week, the Operating Committee — including 10 members of the Beef Board and 10 members of the Federation of State Beef Councils — approved checkoff funding for a total of 18 “Authorization Requests,” or proposals for checkoff funding in the fiscal yearbeginning Oct. 1, 2013. The committee also recommended full Beef Board approval of a budget amendment to reflect the split of funding between budget categories affected by their decisions.

The committee had to cut about $1 million total from proposals to meet budget requirements and, in the end, cut a total of $1.15 million.

Just one proposal submitted was cut completely, and that was a $100,000 request from the National Livestock Producers Association to help tell the beef story to consumers through participation on the established “America’s Heatland” program on public television.

The remainder of the cuts was achieved through reductions in budgets for the following programs: North American Meat Association’s veal promotion, “Moms, Millenials and More” communcation program, foreign marketing program, and Authorization Requests.

For the full report click here.

A Boat Captain’s Tale

ifaj-13-boat-captainA highlight to Chuck’s recent trip to Argentina for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalist (IFAJ) Congress, was during the livestock tour where he witnessed gauchos drive horses and cattle across a local river.

Unable to turn down the opportunity for a unique interview, Chuck chatted with the Argentinian boat captain while he guided the tour boat across high waters. The captain said he gives fishing tours using his Tracker boat, but seasonally high amounts of rain have left the river quite full and fish scarce.

But have no fear, the high water doesn’t make it impossible for the horses and cattle to cross. The boat captain said they always make it across and are great swimmers.

Listen to Chuck’s conversation with the boat captain here: Interview with Argentinian Boat Captain

2013 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 IFAJ Congress is sponsored by Novus International and Dupont Pioneer

Policy Panel at NAMA Fall Conference

nama-panelThe NAMA Fall Conference featured a policy panel moderated by Sara “Legs” Wyant of Agri-Pulse, and featuring Mike Deering with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Garrett Hawkins with Missouri Farm Bureau, and Steve Censky with the American Soybean Association.

The need for a new farm bill was the major topic of discussion. “We’re all kind of waiting to see what happens with this,” said Deering. “It’s like the cartoon ‘Peanuts’ where Lucy’s holding that football and Charlie Brown’s running as hard as he can to kick it and ends up falling flat on his butt and that’s the same thing we’re dealing with right now as an industry, working together and trying to kick that ball over the finish line but it keeps getting pulled back.”

Deering says they have been busy on the state level fighting against the Humane Society of the United States with the Missouri Right to Farm amendment that passed the state legislature this year and will go to the voters next fall. “It just gives farmers and ranchers in the state the right to farm,” he said. “It’s absolutely vital that we have some protection in our state to keep these wackos out of here.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Mike here: Interview with Mike Deering, Missouri Cattlemen's Association

2013 NAMA Fall Conference Photo Album

Cattle and Ethanol Debating RFS

rfa-ncba-debateNational Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts is live right now on AgriTalk in a debate with Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Great RFS Debate is being co-hosted by Agri-Pulse.

Pictured here, left to right, as the debate begins – Bob Dinneen, AgriTalk host Mike Adams, Agri-Pulse editor Sara Wyant, and Kristina Butts.

Archived program available here.

Reaction to Court COOL Decision

A U.S. district court judge today denied a request for a preliminary injunction blocking a final USDA regulation mandating country-of-origin labels (COOL) on meat sold in retail stores until a lawsuit filed July 8 is concluded. That decision made COOL supporters happy but disappointed the plaintiffs, which include U.S. and Canadian meat packer and livestock organizations.

American_Meat_Institute_Logo“We disagree strongly with the court’s decision and believe that several aspects of the ruling are susceptible to challenge,” said American Meat Institute President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle. “We intend to pursue them on appeal.”

Joining AMI in the lawsuit, filed July 8, are the American Association of Meat Processors, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, Confedaracion Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and the Southwest Meat Association.

NFU1In the other corner is the National Farmers Union (NFU), the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America, who intervened in the lawsuit last month.

“We are pleased that the packer-producer organizations and foreign interests’ attempts to thwart COOL have been denied,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We are committed to defending COOL and will continue to do so throughout this legal process.”

The judge denied the injunction request primarily on the basis that the plaintiffs were unable to demonstrate they would suffer irreparable injury if the regulation were to be implemented by USDA.