Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Illinois Cattlemen Tell USDA: Don't Hijack the Checkoff

The Illinois Beef Association (IBA) recently sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, urging him to cease any efforts to establish an additional beef checkoff under the 1996 General Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act. IBA President Alan Adams of Sandwich said beef producers in Illinois are highly concerned that this effort by the Secretary will harm the success of the current checkoff and erode producer support.

"Illinois cattlemen will not support any attempt to supplement or replace the Beef Checkoff with the 1996 Act. The 1996 Act is simply not a proper fit for the beef industry," Adams said. "The industry's Beef Checkoff program enjoys the support of a vast majority of beef producers, as it should. Recent research shows that it returns $11.20 for every dollar invested. To impose a new checkoff without a referendum and to lay the control of that program in the hands of the federal government will jeopardize our industry's research and promotion efforts for political gain."

Secretary Vilsack announced to representatives of various stakeholder groups on Sept. 30 that he intended the USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service to begin drafting a proposed rule to implement a supplemental checkoff under the 1996 Act.

"The foundation of the 1985 Beef Checkoff is the participation of state beef councils," Adams said. "Through the state beef councils, grassroots producers invest and direct programs that build demand for their product and help direct research and promotion dollars on the state and national level. By comparison, the 1996 Act is a top down, federally controlled program that not only fails to recognize the role of the states, but places the control and administration of promotion dollars in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington D.C. We oppose greater government control of our industry and heavy-handed, federally-mandated action by giving more power to the federal government."

More information can be found at www.beefUSA.org and producers can sign a petition directing the administration to abandon their efforts to take over the Checkoff here

Monday, October 6, 2014

2015 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show Registration Opens Today

Registration for the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show is underway. The 117th Annual Convention will be held in San Antonio, Texas, Feb. 4-7, 2015. Advanced registration is open until Jan. 10, 2015.
Convention participants will hear from industry leaders, gather insight on industry trends, and enjoy an evening at the Cowboy Comedy Club & Mustache Bash After-Party. NCBA President Bob McCan said this convention is a must for everyone involved in the cattle industry.
“The Cattle Industry Convention is the oldest and largest, national convention in the cattle business,” McCan said. “It is a unique opportunity to join other leaders in the industry to network, discuss policy, and visit with the many trade show participants. Plus, San Antonio is a hard location to beat!”

In addition to access to all of the 2015 convention events, registrants for the full convention will receive a 50 percent off coupon for Roper and Stetson apparel and footwear at the NCBA Trade Show.
To register for the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, visit www.beefusa.org or e-mail meetings@beef.org.
Follow us on Facebook and join the conversation on Twitter at #beefmeet

Thursday, October 2, 2014

CattleFax - Weekly Recap

The fed cattle market was not established in the North or South as of press time, but the market tone was steady to weak compared to the previous week. Boxed beef prices were softer last week but strengthened towards the end of the week as lower prices attracted buyers.

Feeder cattle were steady to $4 higher amidst increased cash receipts. Calves were mostly steady to narrowly mixed. Slaughter cows were steady to $2 lower for the week as the 90's lean trim showed some weakness midweek.

Corn traded several cents lower again last week as warm fall weather across most of the country aided crop maturity.

Check out today's
 Chart of the Day. For recent market news and analysis, visit CattleFax.com.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Illinois NRCS Announces EQIP Application Deadlines

Illinois State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Ivan Dozier announced that November 21, 2014 and January 16, 2015 will be the two Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) application deadlines. “Producers can sign-up for EQIP at any time throughout the year, but to compete for the upcoming funding periods, I encourage producers with resource concerns to submit an application by one of the application deadlines.” Dozier explains.

Many applicants have shown interest in the funding pool to address soil erosion and water quality issues on cropland. “There are also funding pools for grazing land operations, confined livestock operations, organic producers, and wildlife habitat improvement, just to name a few,” Dozier said.

In addition to conservation practices, EQIP provides funding for the development of plans, such as Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP), Grazing Plans, Drainage Water Management Plans, and others.

Producers interested in EQIP should submit a signed application (NRCS-CPA-1200 form) to the local NRCS field office. Applications that are submitted by November 21, 2014 and January 16, 2015 will be evaluated by NRCS staff. The staff will work with producers to complete worksheets and rankings in order to compete for funding.

For more information on EQIP, contact the local NRCS field office or visit www.il.nrcs.usda.gov.

Monday, September 15, 2014

CattleFax - Weekly Recap

The fed cattle market was not fully established in the North at press time, but the market tone was steady to softer last week. On trade that had occurred in the North it was in a range of $248 to $252, near steady with the previous week. In the South, live cattle traded at $161 to $162, $1 to $2 lower than the previous week.

Boxed beef prices were mixed for the week as Choice product closed steady and Selects closed lower, following the seasonal pattern as the spread widens into the fall.

Feeder cattle and calves were both steady to $5 higher for the week. Feeder cattle and calf receipts are increasing seasonally into the fall. Slaughter cows were steady for the week.

Corn trended lower again last week as the USDA's September Crop Production report showed an increase in yield of 4 bushels/acre over the August report, increasing the stocks to use ratio to 14.70 percent.

Check out today's Chart of the Day. For recent market news and analysis, visit CattleFax.com.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NCBA now Accepting Internship Applications for 2015 Cattle Industry Convention

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is accepting applications for internships during the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio, Texas, Feb. 4-7, 2015. The deadline to submit an application is Oct. 6, 2014.

This year will mark the 117th Cattle Industry Convention, which is the oldest and largest convention for the cattle industry. The convention and trade show create a unique, fun environment for cattle industry members to come together to network and create policy for the industry.

“This convention brings leaders from across the industry together to network and discuss issues important to the beef industry,” said NCBA Public Policy Analyst Mallory Gaines. “Along with helping to see the convention run smoothly, students will be provided time to maximize their opportunities to network and learn throughout the week.”

The annual Cattle Industry Convention boasts over 5,500 attendees and a trade show with more than 250 booths. Interns are offered a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of setting up the trade show, manning the NCBA Political Action Committee booth, assisting with the NCBA-PAC auction, helping members vote on NCBA policy, working with the media and helping to guide cattlemen and cattlewomen to convention events.

To apply, interested college juniors, seniors or graduate students should submit the convention internship application, a college transcript, two letters of recommendation and a resume to internship@beef.org. More information and the internship application are available on NCBA’s website.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Finding More Grazing Days

by Travis Meteer, U of I Beef Extension Specialist

The current cattle market can be distracting. Record high prices, while certainly a good thing, can leave many cattlemen in a state of awe and amazement. Instead of getting caught watching high prices this fall, your time will be better spent monitoring the cost side of your cattle business.

Cow-calf producers can significantly reduce costs by extending the grazing season and delaying feeding of purchased feeds. Common sense and research both tell us cattle are most profitable when they are harvesting their own feed. Allowing cattle to graze into late fall and early winter is crucial to reducing costs. Even with lowering commodity prices, grazing is still the cheapest way to feed cows. Stockpiled forages, cover crop forages, and grazing crop residue are all options for extending the grazing season.

Cool season forages, especially fescue, are excellent candidates for stockpiling. While fescue may garner a bad reputation for endophyte issues and poor production in the summer months, fall is a time to shine for fescue. Cool temperatures in the fall negate complications with elevated body temperatures when cattle are consuming endophyte infected fescue. Re-growth in the fall is primarily green leaf tissue and the plant is not putting on seed heads which are a feared, concentrated source of the endophyte.

The stockpiling process starts with designating pastures that will be used for stockpiling. Cattle need to be removed from the selected pastures in early to mid-August. Applying supplemental nitrogen in August has proven beneficial to yields. When pastures were allowed to stockpile until Dec. 1, applying 50 pounds of actual N per acre in early to mid-August can add approximately 25 pounds of DM per pound of N added or 1,250 pounds of DM per acre.

Grazing management will greatly influence the ability to utilize stockpiled forages. Strip grazing is the common and most recommended practice. Strip grazing will allow close to a 70% utilization of the available forage, a 30% improvement over continuous grazing. Stockpiling fescue for 90-100 days will typically yield approximately 2000 lbs. DM per acre. Assuming a 1400 lb. cow eats 3% her body weight in DM, the cow would eat 42 lbs. DM per day. Using strip grazing, an acre of stockpiled fescue could support a cow for 33 days. Adding 50 lbs. of N can gain an extra 21 days of grazing under the same management and stocking rate.  

Illinois is blessed with very fertile farmland. Higher land prices, soil health benefits, and the ability to grow more feed are incentives to add cover crops to a diversified farming operation. Using cover crops following cash crop production for added forage is one of the best opportunities for Illinois cattlemen to lower production costs. There are numerous options for farmers depending on their crop rotation.

A popular choice after corn silage or in idle wheat ground is seeding a mixture of oats and turnips. Two bushel of oats and 4 pounds of turnips per acre will give a nice stand and offer around three to four tons of DM per acre. Annual Ryegrass is another cover crop that needs to be planted in late summer. Yields can be two to four DM tons per acre. Annual Ryegrass will overwinter and will require good management in the spring to achieve termination of the stand. Oats and turnips will winterkill.

Cereal rye, triticale, and mixes including them are good options for producers looking to provide forage possibilities in the early spring. Many will chop and bag these forages prior to planting beans in the spring. Weather can make this challenging; however yields of up to 4 dry tons per acre can be accomplished. As with any crop there will be variation in success depending on seed choice, weather, and management. Start a discussion with your seed dealer and investigate your options for cover crops.

The cost of grazing cornstalks is low; first because the cows graze and harvest their own feed and second, because all costs to produce the plant for grain production are attributed to the row-crop operation. Even with the cost of a temporary fence (which many farmers already have) and water, grazing cornstalks is more economical than feeding hay.
Cattle eat the more digestible and higher protein portions first. Therefore, a good mineral is probably the only supplementation needed for the first month unless the herd includes fall-calving cows or stocker calves.

Grazing stalks can also have benefits for subsequent crops. Cows grazing cornstalks for 60 days will remove approximately 30 to 40 percent of the residue. Residue buildup has been a well-documented problem in many corn-on-corn fields with new hybrids. Cows deposit nutrients in the form of manure back on the field. As they graze, they reduce volunteer corn, considered a weed and a yield-robber in soybean fields.

Using an equation developed at the University of Nebraska, a field that averages 170 bushels per acre yields 2,430 pounds of leaf and husk. Only 50 percent of the 2,430 pounds is available for the animal; the rest is trampled or lost in weathering. Thus, 1,215 pounds of DM husk and leaf per acre are available as feed.

A 1400-pound cow consumes 1,050 pounds of DM per month. At 170 bushels an acre, approximately 1 acre of cornstalks are needed to feed the cow for 30 days. To feed the same cow on cornstalks for 60 days, 1.5 to 2 acres would be needed.

Producers focused on keeping costs low will be the most profitable in 2014. Those profits could be substantial, allowing for updates and further investment into the cattle operation. Historically, the cow-calf business has been a break-even business. Thus, continuing to monitor the cost side will be important. Illinois cattlemen have the opportunity to use stockpiled forages, cover crops, and crop residues to keep cost low to allow large profits in 2014. 

*Previously printed in Illinois Beef magazine