APRIL | MAY 2023 • VOL. 62 | ISSUE 3
CATTLE INDUSTRY GETS JAZZED IN NOLA
INFORMING COW-CALF, STOCKER AND FEEDYARD PRODUCERS
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WHAT’S INSIDE CATTLE INDUSTRY GETS JAZZED IN NOLA APRIL | MAY 2023 INFORMING COW-CALF, STOCKER AND FEEDYARD PRODUCERS
Editor & Publisher Betty Jo Gigot | (620) 272-6862 National Account Manager Jessica Ebert | (785) 477-1941 Designer & Production Manager Tayler Durst | (402) 910-9012 Ad Accountant/Subscription Manager Micky Burch Copy Editor Larisa Willrett | Lariat Services Contributing Editor James Coope Contributing Editor Blaine Davis Contributing Editor Chris McClure Contributing Editor Jayden Osborne Contributing Editor Burt Rutherford Contributing Editor Larry Stalcup Contributing Editor Will Verboven Contributing Editor Megan Webb, Ph.D. CALF NEWS The Face of the Cattle Industry April | May 2023 Vol. 62 Issue 3 Published bimonthly by B.J. Publishing
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8 Big Time in the Big Easy
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7 Gypsy Wagon 32 Chuteside Manner 40 Hot Off the Grill 41 Where’s the Really Exceptional Beef? 42 Recollections 43 CALF's Featured Lady 44 On the Human Side 45 Gatherings 46 Index of Advertisers 46 Events Calendar IN EVERY ISSUE
24 Prime Points 25 All In 27 Rumblings From the Great White North 29 Beyond the Ranch Gate 30 Whitt & Wisdom CALF VOICES
SPECIAL FEATURES 18 Viable Alternatives Texas Company Provides Innovative Water Solutions 20 USDA Cattle Contracts Library Magnifies the Value of Quality Cattle 22 Antibiotics Will Now Require A Veterinarian's Prescription 34 Coors Cowboy Club Ranch Rodeo Vance Reed's Amarillo Dream Readies for 35th Session 37 Certified Angus Beef Continues Global Growth 38 A New Alternative in Antibiotic Treatment Norbrook Introduces Tulieve 35 What Does Sustainability Look Like in Cow-Calf Operations?
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On The Cover: New Orleans lived up to its “Gets Jazzed” promotion from NCBA. Photo courtesy Larry Stalcup
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A s long as it’s been in existence, CALF News has taken you with us wherever we’ve gone. This issue takes you to New Orleans for the CattleCon celebration. Business and pleasure and friends were all there in abundance and, whether you were there or not, I know you will enjoy this reflection on one of the most important events of the year for those of us in the cattle industry. The opening event for our staff was to attend the Cattle Feeder’s Hall of Fame (CFHOF) banquet held in conjunction with the national convention. A pet project of mine, the Hall of Fame has come a long way in 14 years. I was the emcee for the first one in Denver, Colo., and we had 110 who attended. This year, there were reservations for more than 500. Be sure to visit cattlefeeders.org and vote for next year’s nominees. As you can see from the stories and photos throughout this issue, the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show was full of excitement, serious business and a great chance to see friends and colleagues. Look closely, I am sure you will see someone you know. Make plans to attend in Orlando, Fla., next year. Unfortunately, being on defense is necessarily part of today’s business climate, and your state and national associations are the best bulwark protecting your interests. Several major changes are coming up in June regarding antibiotic and implant regulations, so be sure you are up to date. My dad, Harold Bradford, was a soil conservationist and had one mantra all of his life: “Keep the water, keep the water, keep the water.” Every issue of my newspaper in Colorado nowadays is about the water problems on the
Colorado River. We published an article about the Ogallala Aquifer last issue, which garnered a lot of interest. I have decided to make water a regular part of each CALF News . Be sure to read Patti Wilson’s article on All-Tex Irrigation in this issue. If you have suggestions on articles, please let me know. Our “Where’s the Exceptional Beef?” column
Photo courtesy James Coope
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this issue is about taking a chance in a tiny town in Kansas and building your own dream. From a restaurant in New York’s Grand Central Station featured in our last issue to a bar and grill in small- town Hugoton, Kan., this time “Where’s the Exceptional Beef?” certainly covers the waterfront in recommended places to eat. No one could be prouder than the owners of the Bonnie and Clyde Grill and Sports Bar. Once in a while, we get requests from ag journalism students to publish articles for class credit. Jayden Osborne from West Texas A&M University has written a story on sustainability in this issue and comments would be welcome after you read her story. I know she would appreciate it. New to my vocabulary are the terms greenhushing and greenwashing . It seems that there is a movement to crack down on companies that inflate their environmental credits. In order not to be chastised or fined, some companies might be greenhushing to stay out of the spotlight, or even greenwashing their claims. Seems like the solution would be telling the truth. As you can see, I am greentiring.
Dear friends of CALF New s are celebrating these days. Capitol Land and Livestock was founded by Eugene Schwertner in 1946 and the company has managed 400,000 calves annually for the past 30 years. Capitol Land is a frequent subject and advertiser in the magazine and we congratulate them on three decades of service to the cattle industry. These days, sometimes you have to wonder what in the world is going on, but inspiration is near with the recent release of SAVED: A War Reporter’s Mission to Make it Home . It’s the story of Benjamín Hall, a war correspondent who survived traumatic injuries when the vehicle he was in was struck by incoming fire while reporting on the war in Ukraine. The book reminds you of the difference between small and large life problems. I strongly recommend it. As spring comes upon us, it’s time to keep the faith. We need lots of moisture and freedom to feed the world the best of products – BEEF. Not a lot to ask. Betty Jo Gigot
Electronic identification would help prevent another black swan event such as an FMD outbreak.
BIG TIME IN THE BIG EASY Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show By Larry Stalcup Contributing Editor
T he weather was a hot topic during late January’s winter blast that prevented some cattle producers from attending the annual Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show in New Orleans. But with projections that the southwestern drought may finally dry up, many were hoping Mother Nature was finally acting in their favor. Cattle disease traceability was another crucial subject, as producers and feeders illustrated how another BSE incident, or worse, foot and mouth disease (FMD) could throttle the entire beef supply chain. Numerous National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) committee members and others also discussed a range of other issues and policies that impact ranches and feedyards back home. The annual Cattlemen’s College presented experts who outlined numerous methods of improving cattle well-being through various classes of animal health and nutritional products, equipment and management techniques. More orderly ways to market cattle were discussed, along with the many benefits of the Beef Checkoff. The ice storm prevented the genius of TV’s Yellowstone – Texan Taylor Sheridan – from taking the stage as the keynote for the convention’s opening general session. But he used Zoom to discuss the Yellowstone franchise and how he was able to buy and use the 6666s Ranch to film and depict a true working ranch, Hollywood antics of sex and violence, notwithstanding. While disappointed, thousands of Yellowstone fans in attendance seemed just as entertained when former New Orleans Saints Archie Manning pulled a quarterback sneak and took the stage to cap off the opening general session.
full CattleFax coverage on page 16).“This suggests improving drought conditions and more favorable growing seasons and healthier soils,” he said.“But considering that an El Niño can cause drought across northern states, there is no win-win for everyone.” Day added that the massive volcano that erupted in the South Pacific near Tonga in January 2022 might have thwarted an earlier end to La Niña last year. Unusual natural acts like that mean there is no guarantee that La Niña, El Niño or a weather-neutral pattern will With recent frets over the discovery of BSE in cattle in Brazil, there are added worries about being able to trace BSE- or FMD-infected cattle. New NCBA President Todd Wilkinson of De Smet, S.D., served as chairman of an NCBA Traceability Working Group in 2022. During the convention, the NCBA Cattle Health & Well-Being Committee adopted an Enhanced Animal Disease Traceability System (ADT). On the federal side, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) wants to amend animal disease traceability regulations and require electronic identification (EID) for certain classes of cattle that are crossing state lines. The USDA program calls for EID of sexually intact cattle and 18 months of age or older; all female dairy cattle of any age and male dairy animals born after March 11, 2013; cattle and bison of any age used for rodeo or recreational events; and cattle or bison of any age used for shows or exhibitions. A comment period for the proposal was scheduled to end in March. prevail, he said. Traceability
Meanwhile, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Jewel H. Bronaugh, Ph.D., joined Ethan Lane, NCBA vice president of legislative affairs, in discussing how USDA and NCBA can work together to improve marketing, sustainability and animal health. Disaster programs to help offset drought-reduced cow herds were also examined. Adios La Niña? Several thousand producers, feeders and other convention attendees soaked up the positive takes on drought relief. Don Day Jr., president and founder of DayWeather, Inc., said the three-year La Niña cycle that has parched pastures across the Southern Plains and beyond is forecast to finally yield to an El Niño. That’s due to weather-impacting signs that Pacific Ocean waters are finally warming along the Equator.
The NCBA working group supports EID measures that would include feeder cattle. It also supports U.S. CattleTrace, a single entity made up of beef producers and feeders designed to oversee the animal ID program. To protect producer confidentiality, data provided from tags would be limited to the date, time, GPS location and animal ID number. No names of producers, their production procedures or marketing programs would be available without their consent. Of course, the goal is to be able to swiftly identify cattle infected with a highly contagious, herd-threatening disease. It would help prevent another black swan event such as an FMD outbreak. During his NCBA presentation on ADT, Wilkinson pointed out the proximity of Australia to Indonesia, which is rampant with FMD. “Indonesia [a huge population center], presents a big test for Australian [cattle production],” he said.“For the U.S., it’s not necessarily cattle entering the country – it’s people. The southern border is extremely porous. We cannot control it. The risk is high and very real [that a person carrying FMD crosses into the U.S.]. It’s not a matter of if, this is a when.” Under the current USDA-APHIS FMD prevention program, if an animal is diagnosed with FMD, the complete cattle supply chain could stop for 72 hours or more. It could take two weeks or more to get FMD vaccines available from the North American Foot-and-Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank (NAFMDVB) or the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank (NAVVCB). Export sales of U.S. beef would likely halt. And with exports
generating more than $500 in value per head of fed cattle
– it would be catastrophic. “NCBA is
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jewel Bronaugh, Ph.D.
committed to working with the USDA to ensure workable solutions are identified and ultimately implemented. Cattle producers can be confident that any finished
product will protect our
national livestock herd,” Wilkinson said. WOTUS, Farm Bill, Other Regulatory Actions Farm Bill hearings are starting in parts of the country. There’s hope a sound Farm Bill can be written by Congress in 2023. In his Farm Bill talks, Wilkinson said NCBA would work on securing the reauthorization of animal health provisions, expanding the accessibility and funding of risk management and disaster relief programs while protecting voluntary conservation programs. Lane welcomed Deputy Secretary Bronaugh to the third general session stage to outline USDA’s efforts to benefit beef producers. She also pointed out the need for a workable animal disease ID system and sustainability. She commended NCBA for its efforts to expand climate-responsible production
2022 NCBA President Don Schiefelbein
He made that projection at the convention’s Ag & Food Policy
programs by producers who have long been conscious of environmental issues. U.S. beef has had the lowest greenhouse gas environmental impact “of an industry in the world” since the 1990s, she said. She promoted the implementation of broadband improvements across rural America under the Biden administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Bronaugh also reaffirmed the role of USDA in opening new markets for U.S. beef exports and countering non-science- based trade barriers that hamper the sale of American beef worldwide. Not all is rosy between producers and the Biden administration. WOTUS, or Waters of the U.S., was first proposed CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE
Committee meeting. Day said data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other sources indicate dry regions in the Southern Plains could see the break in the drought by early summer and a better chance for increased rainfall in mid-to- late summer and into the fall. A La Niña, caused by cooler Pacific waters, typically spawns U.S. drought conditions in the West and Southwest. It increases the chances for rainy weather in northern and eastern Midwest regions. “The mystery is in the history [of weather and climate],” Day said.“As the Pacific goes, so goes the weather. We have never seen a four-year La Niña.” Meteorologist Matt Makens also projected a potential end to La Niña during his CattleFax presentation (see the
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9
1 percent of the population. About 50 percent of Americans are three generations away from the farm or ranch.” He mentioned a saying that’s old, but factual – many consumers believe their food comes from the grocery store. Better education of consumers can be better accomplished by cattlemen and women working together, he said. New NCBA Officers Wilkinson became the new NCBA president after serving as president-elect in 2022. Along with ranching, he has practiced law for nearly four decades and specializes in business transactions, estate planning and probate, real estate matters and ag law. “I'm going to bring the same level of passion that I bring for my own family and business to this organization. I think it’s important to fight back and protect this industry from the people who want to put us out of business. I think this is something that will unite cattle producers in the future.” Other 2023 NCBA officers include President-Elect Mark Eisele of Wyoming and Vice President Buck Wehrbein of Nebraska. Brad Hastings of Texas was named NCBA treasurer. Virginia cattleman Gene Copenhaver was elected chair of the NCBA Policy Division. Tim Schwab of Indiana was elected policy vice chair. Clark Price of North Dakota and Dan Gattis of Texas were elected as chair and vice chair of the NCBA Federation Division, respectively. Look for additional convention-related articles in upcoming issues of CALF News and on our website at Calfnews.net . Also, follow the CALF Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/calfnews/ .
under the Obama administration. The Trump administration replaced it with a water proposal that was both environmentally sensible and not harmful to ag producers. However, Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency shifted back to WOTUS. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the WOTUS question this year. Meanwhile, NCBA filed suit in January to challenge it.“The Biden administration’s WOTUS definition is an attack on farmers and ranchers,” said NCBA Chief Counsel Mary- Thomas Hart.“The rule removes longstanding, bipartisan exclusions for small and isolated water features on farms and ranches and adds to the regulatory burden cattle producers are facing under this administration.” NCBA, Farm Bureau and many other ag commodity groups contend that regulating these features under the federal Clean Water Act disrupts normal agricultural operations and interferes with producers’ abilities to make improvements to their land.
S:4.298" T:4.798" B:5.298"
Former New Orleans Saints great Archie Manning
2023 NCBA President Todd Wilkinson of De Smet, S.D.
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Producer Unity Needed NCBA has long preached that even though producers and feeders from different regions may disagree on some policies, they should bond together to counter attacks by environmental and animal rights activists that denounce the beef industry. Don Schiefelbein, 2022 NCBA president, stressed the need for unity at the convention.
“Our enemies have figured out they can put wedge issues between us to divide us,” he said.“That’s how they plan to conquer us. Anti-beef environmentalists and animal welfare activists are trying to put us out of business. “Cattle producers are the foremost environmentalists. We should be shouting from the roof how environmentally conscious we are. We’re only about
BEEF QUALITY ASSURANCE AWARD WINNERS 2023 Annual Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) award winners were announced at the Cattle Industry Convention in New Orleans. The BQA program provides producers with guidelines and certification that are established from sound animal welfare techniques and accepted scientific knowledge on how to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. Josh White, senior executive director of producer education and sustainability at NCBA, said the 2023 winners “exemplify high-quality animal care and handling principles as part of their day-to-day operations and are continually improving through BQA. The 2023 BQA Award winners are: • Cow-Calf Award – Wilson Flying Diamond Ranch, Nebraska • Dairy FARM Award – Temme Agribusiness, Nebraska • Feedyard Award – Darr Feedlot, Nebraska • Marketer Award – Fresno Livestock Commission, California • Educator Award – Dr. Tom Noffsinger, Nebraska Award winners are selected by a committee comprised of BQA-certified representatives from universities, state beef councils, sponsors and affiliated groups who assess nominations based on their demonstrated commitment to BQA practices “As good stewards of the cattle industry, they also encourage others to implement BQA principles,” White said. For more about each of the award winners, visit https://www.bqa.org/about/bqa-awards .
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CATTLE FEEDERS HALL OF FAME WELCOMES ED BARRETT AND JERRY ADAMS
By Larry Stalcup Contributing Editor
W hen the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame (CFHOF) was launched in 2009, only about 150 people attended a small banquet in Denver. Fourteen years later, more than 500 gathered in New Orleans to honor the latest inductees into the elite group that recognizes men and women who have forever made contributions to the cattle feeding industry. The late Ed Barrett of Barrett Crofoot Feedyards in Hereford, Texas, and Jerry Adams of Adams Land & Cattle in Broken Bow, Neb., are the newest CFHOF members. Dee Likes, former CEO of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) in Topeka received the CFHOF Industry Leadership Award. Terry Wegner of Drinnin West Cattle Co., in Palmer, Neb., received the Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award. Dozens of their family members and friends were among the huge CFHOF banquet crowd to help begin the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, Jan. 31 through Feb. 3. Banquet emcee Randy Blach, CattleFax CEO and 2016 Industry Leadership Award recipient, said the 500-strong event illustrates how CFHOF has grown in stature within the cattle business. Ed Barrett Ed Barrett, who passed away in early 2020, grew up as part of a family that was involved in the eastern Kansas cattle business in the 1950s. After venturing to Texas to run Lubbock Feedyard in the 1960s, he returned to Kansas in 1968 to help build and operate Flint Hills Feedyard in Emporia. As the cattle feeding industry grew more active in the Texas Panhandle, Ed moved back to Texas and began working
backgrounding network in 85 locations. Jerry and his wife, Linda, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2022. And this year, Adams Land & Cattle celebrated its 50th year in business. During the expansion and addition of more family members into the company, Jerry focused more on research and technology. He said the challenges facing the feeding industry and all agriculture include the enhancement of production sustainability. “Sustainability is the continuous improvement [in agricultural production],” he said.“The consumer preference is for beef produced with less carbon from cow to plate. Sustainability means getting more from less. It means improved profitability. We need to change the negative narrative [among some consumers] to a positive narrative of beef sustainability.”
with the E.C. Crofoot family. Ed and E.C. bought their first feedyard together in Hereford in the mid-1970s, and expanded with the purchase of their East yard. Ed’s sons, Bob and Rodney, became actively involved in the East and West yards operations in the 1980s. Along with other family members, Bob and Rodney are maintaining the Barrett legacy in cattle feeding. Today, Barrett- Crofoot yards have a total feeding capacity of about 135,000 head. “The award from the CFHOF means a lot to my family,” Bob said. Ed’s wife, Millie, also acknowledged how grateful her family was for the CFHOF’s recognition of Ed. "On behalf of my children and I, thank you," she said. Jerry Adams Jerry Adams followed in the footsteps of his father, Russell, when he joined the family operation in 1972. He had grown up on the Broken Bow farm that was established by his father and mother, Angenette. They had bought 320 acres
Dee Likes, former KLA CEO, received the Industry Leadership Award.
CALF News Publisher Betty Jo Gigot, left, presents Bob Barrett and Millie Barrett with a plaque honoring the late Ed Barrett of Barrett-Crofoot Feedlots as a new CFHOF inductee.
University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. He also served as president of the K-State rodeo team. He joined the KLA staff in 1976 after working as a CattleFax analyst. Likes, who is still seen at NCBA Live Cattle Marketing Committee meetings and other Kansas and NCBA activities, is well-known for his work to position KLA as one of the most respected lobbying organizations in Kansas. In 2015, he was commended by proclamation from Gov. Sam Brownback and honored with a Tribute Resolution by both the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives for his dedication and leadership given to the Kansas beef industry. Terry Wegner Terry Wegner is among those who Blach has often proclaimed as the unsung heroes of the cattle business. Terry was recipient of the award named after Arturo Armendariz of Poky Feeders. Arturo was an employee who went above and beyond to improve the cattle feeding industry and beef.
Terry is currently part of the Drinnin West Cattle Co., team and has served the industry for more than 45 years. He has specifically worked with dairy cattle. His wealth of knowledge, loyalty and countless hard-working hours have been devoted to the betterment of the industry. He maintains a can-do attitude and has never steered away from any new challenges, from computers in feeding and loading equipment, micro machines and inventory tracking. Terry works directly with the consulting nutritionists and communicates with animal health crews to help ensure the feedyard is providing the utmost care and efficiency for the cattle. His devotion to his family, farming and livestock drives him daily. 2024 CFHOF nominees are Jerry Bohn, Kee Jim, Robert Rebholtz Jr., Jack Reeve and Jeff Rudolf. Industry Leadership nominees are Bob Glock, DVM, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., and Delbert Miles, DVM. The 2024 CFHOF Banquet will be held during next year’s Cattle Industry Convention in Orlando, Fla. Voting is already underway for the 2024 recipients. For more on CFHOF and 2024 voting, visit https:// cattlefeeders.org .
Jerry Adams of Adams Land & Cattle in Broken Bow, Neb., was a 2023 inductee into the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame.
to farm and raise cattle. Russell installed the first center pivot irrigation in the region. After graduating
from the University of Nebraska, Jerry worked for ConAgra in Omaha. As the family operation grew, he moved back to Broken Bow to help expand the farm and backgrounding business. He became vice president in 1972. Jerry and his
Dee Likes Dee Likes has been among the most vocal proponents of beef production, marketing and the industry’s care for the environment. He remains so, even after retirement from more than 30 years of involvement with KLA. Following a tour of active duty in the U.S. Navy, Likes attended Kansas State Terry Wegner, Drinnin West Cattle Co., received the Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award.
brother, Bill, grew the operation to what is today – a feedyard with a 125,000-head finishing capacity. They also operate a 100,000-head
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FIRST TIMER’S TAKEAWAYS F ROM CATTLECON – The Past, Present and Future COVER STORY
CATTLE INDUSTRY GETS Jazzed in NOLA
By James Coope Contributing Editor
B ig. REALLY BIG. That was my first impression as a first timer to CattleCon 2023 last month in New Orleans. I had heard stories about it, but I was blown away by the size, spirit and energy of the crowd. As more than 7,000 beef industry enthusiasts took over the Big Easy, it was hard not to be caught up in the excitement of a big-time convention in a big-time convention town. What really struck me, however, was the celebration of the cattle industry’s past, present and future. CattleCon – aka the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show – kicked off on Sunday for some, but for me it all started Tuesday evening at the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame (CFHOF) Banquet and Awards presentation. Aside from eating the absolute best steak I’ve ever had at a banquet, the CFHOF presentations opened my eyes to the proud history of the business. We watched Terry Wegner receive the Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award. Jerry Adams and the late Ed Barrett were both inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the legendary Dee Likes was honored with the Industry Leadership Award. The stories from the Hall of Fame banquet not only highlighted the incredible accomplishments of these four men, but also helped me appreciate what has been done in the industry in a relatively short period of time. These men are pioneers, visionaries and leaders in the industry, and their contributions helped create the world we live in today. The amazing thing is that, while we honor their contributions and legacies,
the history of the cattle feeding business as we know it is only a generation or two old, and the majority of producers remain family owned and operated. With corporations and governments taking over so many other industries, that’s truly unique in the business world these days. We are fortunate to be able to celebrate these accomplishments with the individuals and families that created the opportunities we have today. While the Hall of Fame banquet celebrated the past on Tuesday night, the present was on full display at the Convention Center on Wednesday morning. Talk about a lot going on! The trade show floor was buzzing with literally rows and rows of vendors. The trade show provides a great opportunity to connect with industry partners, old friends and, of course, new ones. There is a ton of business happening – in addition to the educational meetings and breakout sessions, the convention is an excellent time to connect with customers, build relationships and learn about what’s going on. I was able to spend some time in the media center, and I was impressed by the number of interviews going on with journalists from all over the world. We’ve had enough isolation in our world over the past few years, so seeing people and catching up in person was a treat. The number of exhibitors and attendees at the trade show was impressive, and that bodes well for the health of the beef industry and the future. Speaking of the future, one of the most impressive takeaways I had was the number of young and aspiring
Photo courtesy Lawrie Coope
chance to chat with some of them. The research and thought leadership coming out of these schools is truly impressive. At the Kansas State University booth, I met two women who told me about a couple of podcasts that they are producing and some of the content they share. Their energy, enthusiasm, and innovation was remarkable. I later met a few Ph.D. students from the University of Georgia who stopped by our CALF News booth. They shared how much they enjoyed the convention, the people they were able to meet, and the many things they were learning during their time in New Orleans. Most industries have a hard time identifying future leaders, but I met a few at CattleCon that will do great things for the beef industry during their careers. As a first-timer to CattleCon, I was truly impressed with how the beef industry puts on a show. More important, I got a taste of the rich history and legacy of the business, an even greater appreciation for the grit and tenacity of the producers and partners in the industry, and a refreshing look at the future and the energy that many young people have to make a difference. On that note, we look forward to seeing you at CattleCon 2024 in Orlando!
NCBA Beef Cattle Specialist Julia Herman, DVM, presented at a Cattle Chat session in the trade show. Photo courtesy James Coope
ANCW President Pam Griffen poses with Betty Jo Gigot at convention. Photo courtesy James Coope
One of the race runners. Photo courtesy James Coope
professionals entering the beef industry. As I toured the trade show floor, there were several booths sponsored by colleges and universities, and I got a
Most industries have a hard time identifying future leaders, but I met a few at CattleCon that will do great things for the beef industry during their careers.
Members of the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management class of 2023 include Sam Newell, Chare Crandall and Nathan Clackun. Photo courtesy Tayler Durst
Jade Morgan and son were proud to be at the convention. Photo courtesy Betty Jo Gigot
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By Burt Rutherford Contributing Editor Better Times Ahead THE PRESSURE MAY LIFT AS 2023 PROGRESSES
Kevin Good's Outlook for Cattle Prices Fed Steer: $158 per cwt average.“The fed cattle market averaged $144 per cwt in 2022, with a general uptrend as cattle feeders regained leverage throughout the year. Tighter supply should continue to push 2023 prices generally higher while following in a seasonal pattern, trading in a range of $150 to $172.” 800-lb. Steer: $200 per cwt average. “Stronger fed cattle values and smaller calf crops over the last four years should support feeder cattle prices at higher levels this year, after averaging $166 through 2022. Expect a 2023 U.S. average 800-pound steer to trade in a range from $180 to $215 per cwt.” 550-lb. Steer: $225 per cwt average.“A smaller calf supply supported prices in 2022 for a $195 per cwt average. Aggressive, drought-forced cow-herd liquidation will further reduce future calf crops. U.S. average 550-pound steer values should increase $29 per cwt on average and range from $200 to $245.” Utility Cows: $100 per cwt average.“Strong lean beef trimmings demand and a lower culling rate expected should support cow prices. After averaging $80 per cwt in 2022, values should be $20 higher in 2023, with a range from $75 to $115.” Bred Cows: $2,100 per head average.“Herd contraction and calf values have pressured bred female values the past several years. The 2022 price was estimated at $1,800 per head and, on average, values should improve in 2023 by about $300, trading from $1,900 to $2,300 for load lots of quality, running-age cows.” In spite of much better price and weather outlooks, beef producers still face headwinds, Good said, including feed cost, interest cost and labor availability. But for 2023 and the next few years beyond, the outlook is indeed brighter for beef producers.
I f there are two things that beef producers talk about most, it’s and let’s start the conversation. “La Niña is fading away.” That’s the good news from meteorologist Matt Makins, speaking during the annual CattleFax Outlook Session during the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention in New Orleans this February. Before you start dancing in the mud puddles, however, there are a few caveats. The indications that 2023 will bring a transition from the drought-ridden La Niña of the past few years are based on sea surface temperatures. Based on that, Makins predicts the door is opening to El Niño, which means a return of more moisture to North America. weather and markets. So pour a cup But there’s going to be a period where the transition will be in a neutral phase. “As we get into next fall, we begin to open the door and see if El Niño wants to come in,” Makins said. The issue is that, while chatter will continue about sea surface temperatures heralding a return to El Niño, the atmosphere doesn’t have to listen, he said.“The atmosphere and the ocean do work together, but they may be several months or several seasons offset from one another.” For this spring and summer, the outlook is neutral.“As we get into fall, we’ll start to bring in some elements of El Niño,” Makins predicted. Looking at the spring forecast, he said dryness spreads over the Southwest while the Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains are hit and miss for moisture. “Soil moisture issues, the drought impact for the High Plains from Colorado into the western plains of
Kansas all the way down through New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas will remain,” he said. Moisture’s going to be favored in the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. For temperatures, due to the snow and ice across the upper High Plains and upper Midwest, expect a cooler-than- average spring, which may delay planting, and warmth across the Southwest. “For the summer, we have allowed enough time for the ocean to tell the atmosphere that we’re neutral now,” Makins said. What does that mean? “La Niña provides extremes of one kind. El Niño provides extremes of another kind. To be neutral, you begin to eliminate the extremes.” Nonetheless, Makins expects a better monsoon season and a transition for the Northern and Southern Plains of having a more favorable moisture outlook than the past several years.“And that moisture becomes pretty much evened out east of the Rockies,” he said. Looking to fall, Makins predicts pockets of wetness but doesn’t expect the transition from La Niña to El Niño will be fully complete.“But for the fall, a much more favorable precip outlook for the Dakotas, Nebraska, parts of Kansas, parts of Missouri, really focusing on the Ohio Valley and upper Midwest with moisture late in the season,” he predicted. “Still relatively dry out to the west in California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada.” Indeed, 2023 looks to provide at least some relief from the drought that has caused the massive cow cull the past several years. In spite of the snow this winter and a better outlook for the rest of the year, Makins reminds beef producers
that the drought isn’t over.“That’s how far we are in the hole,” he said. Markets Here’s an interesting tidbit. Among the analog years Makins looked at in making his 2023 weather forecast were 2012 through 2015. Those were La Niña drought years, which resulted in the highest cattle prices in memory in 2014 and 2015. Now, some are comparing the market outlook to prices in 2014 and 2015. Think there’s a connection? May be. According to CattleFax analyst Kevin Good,“As we all are well aware of, we’ve had four tough years of liquidation. We’ve liquidated 5.5 million head out of our cattle herd since the last peak after five years of expansion. So as I think about where we’re at from a big picture standpoint, we’re just starting to get into the short rows of tighter supplies. We all recognize that is coming, not just for this year, but for years to come.” And liquidation likely isn’t over. It takes grass for the cow herd to expand, and a return to wetter weather for everyone in 2023 isn’t a given.“The fact that we’ve got a heifer-on-feed population that’s about 40 percent, still historically strong, and the weather, would all suggest that we still have another 12 months where we’re going to see some liquidation as we go forward.” That equates to a smaller calf crop and fewer feeder cattle. As of the first of the year, the feeder cattle and calf supply was down about 1.3 million head from the year prior. That translates into tighter fed cattle supplies, particularly in the second half of the year, he said.
CattleFax CEO Randy Blach says even though cattle prices are projected higher, cow-calf operators need to see higher profits. Photo courtesy Larry Stalcup
Pono Von Holt, Kamuela, HI, 2022 CattleFax president Photo courtesy Larry Stalcup
CattleFax Meteorologist Matt Makens sees an end to La Niña. Photo courtesy Larry Stalcup
CattleFax Analyst Kevin Good discusses 2023 cattle prices. Photo courtesy Larry Stalcup
Indeed, 2023 looks to provide at least some relief from the drought that has caused the massive cow cull the past several years.
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services are educating farmers on irrigation and up-to-date agricultural practices. There’s no doubt that the government will step in if education programs don’t initiate changes. Perrine sees center pivot, drip irrigation and flooding practices in his business. He maintains that pivots are available with high-tech moisture probes to stop nozzles from watering where ground moisture is adequate. He also warns that, currently, it’s fairly pricey technology. All-Tex is a distributor for Zimmatic pivot irrigation systems and the company is current on all available innovations. Houses and Livestock Surprisingly, rain runoff from a home or barn can provide enough water for a typical household. Domestic water begs the question of purification. All-Tex provides that service, as well. A standard system will handle 15 to 20 gallons of water per minute; it includes a sediment filter, carbon filter and a UV light. Each step filters out progressively smaller debris or contaminants until the water is potable. Many urban customers can store enough filtered water to last a household two to three months. As many area farmers have installed industrial-sized tanks, word of mouth
and scrutiny by neighbors has been an excellent means of spreading the word on the advantages of harvesting rainwater, Harlin says. One remarkable observation made by local farmers involves chemical resistance that weeds have acquired to the herbicide Roundup. When mixed and applied with rainwater, resistance seems to have disappeared, reviving a good, dependable staple in a farmer’s arsenal for weed control. Groundwater runs deep in Texas, so nitrogen leaching into aquifers is not a problem. The water is quite hard, however, and some folks opt to use All-Tex filtration systems on their groundwater as well as rain storage tanks. Though many customers are able to tend to their filtration and UV systems on their own, others rely on expertise from All-Tex to help them adequately maintain their setup. What Does This Look Like? Perrine describes the holding tanks as looking like a “giant grain bin.” Smaller household models are typically made of poly and are sold in a variety of colors; homeowners enjoy this, since they can match it to the color of their home. Agriculture tanks, which are larger
in scale, typically are galvanized and installed out in fields or closer to wells. All are closed-top, which prevents debris and animals from contaminating the water collection. They are priced by the gallon, $1 to $1.50 per gallon for the tank, pipeline and filtration system. Fast becoming top sellers for All-Tex are Pioneer Water Tanks (galvanized storage tanks) and Ranchbot, a water- level monitoring system. These are two Australian companies that have revolutionized how people in West Texas rainharvest and store water. All-Tex contends that Aussies are intelligent when it comes to water conservation. Ranchbot, for example, uses a mechanical gauge to oversee water levels in virtually any tank, and the information can be accessed from your cell phone 24/7. Agricultural tanks run an average of 65,000 gallons, with residential tanks at 30,000. It is not uncommon for a farm or ranch to have multiple units. Many are even equipped to keep one foot of well water in any given tank as a backup for fire suppression. Perrine and Harlin poke fun at Colorado’s regulation prohibiting rainwater harvesting of more than 50 gallons in volume. Harlin says this amount is “nothing.” What Does the Future Hold? Perrine and Harlin, along with their nine employees, continue to strive to grow the business. A big part of that right now means educating farmers, ranchers and homeowners in West Texas about the benefits and feasibility of water storage and rainwater harvesting. They stress the importance of cotton farmers in the area and want to be on the front line of rain harvesting. “Irrigation is important but rain harvesting is more important,” they assert. “You don’t know the value of water till the well runs dry,” Perrine says. “Water is everything, and the sky’s the limit.”
By Patti Wilson Contributing Editor VIABLE ALTERNATIVES Texas Company Provides Innovative Water Solutions
R ainfall and groundwater vary widely across our country. Often, eastern areas have more than adequate precipitation. Some Nebraskans can stand in a pasture and watch water bubble out of the ground. There are those farmers and ranchers, however, who have neither enough rainfall nor access to an aquifer. Those folks must get creative to survive. A Valuable Business Jeff Perrine, co-owner of All-Tex Irrigation and Supply in San Angelo, Texas, and Justin Harlin are two of the people who serve farmers, ranchers and town folk in arid West Texas. Harlin explains that, although some ground water is available for
Water conservation is encouraged and accepted in Texas. Getting Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) approval is common. There’s government money and some tax- exempt status available with lots of positive feedback from agencies. It is one government program that works. In addition, Texas has nearly 100 water conservation districts that deal with every water-use issue. In many other states, landowners’ wells are metered on “well logs.” Perrine says such regulations do not yet exist in Texas, but water districts are moving in that direction. Parts of the state do not lie over an aquifer. That fact is beginning to settle into districts that anticipate possible problems in the future. San Angelo sits between the Lubbock Aquifer to the north and Edwards Aquifer to the south. According to Comptroller.Texas. gov , the Edwards site is used primarily as a municipal water source for San Antonio, the seventh largest city in the United States. Seventy-two percent of the Edwards Aquifer discharge is used for the sprawling town. Water is becoming an issue. In North Texas, the Panhandle is less productive and more sparsely populated than south of San Angelo; it isn’t squeezed by many water controls. Perrine says that South Texas is moving toward regulations more quickly as cotton farming and irrigation are more commonly used. Farming Practices The duo explain that, although the politics in their area is not broad based, there are inconsistencies in farming practices and water use. Instead of widespread regulations, Extension
household use and stock tanks, farmers who are serious about irrigating crops take their water conservation seriously. They employ water storage tanks and “rain harvesting,” saving water that is mainly runoff from roofs. The close- topped tanks allow very little evaporation and use of marginal aquifer water is cut back drastically. West Texas is an area that may typically receive an average of 20 inches of rain per year. According to Harlin, one-fourth of it might arrive in a single downpour – 5 to 6 inches in one day. All- Tex provides above-ground tanks to catch rainwater from rooftops, and systems to take that runoff to water storage tanks and livestock drinkers of all sorts. It is becoming increasingly popular for town dwellers to install tanks for household use. A Perfect Fit Perrine, along with his business partner Royce Pyssen, purchased their enterprise already intact;
they had previously both been oil field workers. Harlin had been a welder in general construction and owned an autogate business. The new owners saw an opportunity to renew what was already a good, clean, locally owned entity with the possibility of expanding the business base. Almost anything
related to outdoor plumbing and water is on the shelf at the San Angelo location. The collection and storage of rainwater units has turned into a major asset for the company, which can set up any size system you wish.
Jeff Perrine and Justin Harlin visit with CALF News Publisher Betty Jo Gigot at the Cattle Industry Convention in New Orleans.
Jeff Perrine is hard at work in Texas.
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By Larry Stalcup Contributing Editor USDA CATTLE CONTRACTS LIBRARY Magnifies the Value of Quality Cattle
“The other piece of the puzzle that we haven’t seen before is how the base prices are determined for cattle sold through alternative marketing agreements,” he says.“Knowing more information about how base prices are determined, premiums, discounts and spreads, might provide incentives for producers to enhance their genetics or change their production practices. There may also be opportunities for producers to negotiate a better deal by considering other marketing arrangements.” Who Benefits the Most, Packers or Producers? Some question whether CCL data will benefit packers more than producers and feeders.“Time will tell,” Miller says. “Since USDA only requires the four major packers to report data into the CCL, there are concerns that packers can decipher the data in a much more in-depth and expeditious manner than cattle producers and cattle feeders. It’s a
this information would be to better understand the value of producing a premium animal and the added value that is potentially being left on the table,” Miller says. “For producers who retain ownership of their calf crop, the CCL reports show the highs and lows on premiums and discounts and what can be expected if cattle fall within some of the different programs,” he continues.“Higher quality cattle marketed through an alternative marketing agreement are rewarded with more premiums and fewer discounts, which starts with good genetics.” Elements of the CCL have been published since Livestock Mandatory Reporting was developed 20-plus years ago.“In the CCL, USDA has packaged the information in a different format that allows us to look into the future to see what the contracts are,” Miller says. “It shows us the number of cattle being traded by using these parameters.
lot of data, and it takes analysts to review, interpret and draw conclusions from it.” TCFA contends the CCL should also use data from smaller packers and those scheduled to come online.“USDA would say we are seeing 85 percent of the contracts by limiting the CCL to the majors, but it would be helpful to have a more comprehensive library that includes other companies and packing plants,” Miller says. “If we as an industry want a true picture of all contracts, then it’s important to see contracts from the regionals and from the new packers coming online in the next few years. This would help expand participation in the CCL from 18 plants it encompasses today to about 40 plants,” he says. “It would make it more difficult for the major packers to blackout their own data and ‘see’ what their competitors are doing.” Additional contract information has the prospect of assisting cattle buyers and
E arly data from the U.S. Library (CCL) pilot program solidifies the notion that higher quality cattle bring higher prices. And with the magnitude of information on overall Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new Cattle Contracts packer specifications and pricing, it’s up to producers and feeders to read how better genetics and production methods can improve their profits. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) started the CCL program in January. The pilot continues through Sept. 30, 2023. Its goal is to increase market transparency and price discovery. It requires packers that harvest 5 percent or more of the overall national slaughter (basically the four major packers) to provide contract information for the purchase of cattle, as well as the number of actual and estimated cattle purchases under active contracts. The majors – JBS, Cargill, Tyson and National – are required to provide detailed data over and above what they already provide to USDA and other sources. In reviewing the March 3 report, CCL’s January contracts totaled 1,004,631. The report estimated that February contracts totaled 989,796. Of those February contracts, about 764,000 were from USDA reports; about 137,000 were from negotiated contracts; about 82,000 were from top-of-the- market reports and about 22,000 were from CME delivery cattle. The USDA report showed: • 35.17 percent were based on Nebraska's weekly slaughter. • 34.22 percent were based on Kansas weekly slaughter. • 23.73 percent were based on Texas- Oklahoma weekly slaughter. • 5.08 percent were based on
the five-area weekly weighted slaughter- (Texas/Oklahoma/ New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; Iowa/Minnesota). • 1.27 percent were based on Iowa/ Minnesota weighted average cattle report. Contract specs used in the program show that USDA Quality Grade (88.76 percent) and weight (84.27 percent) were the highest considerations in the contracts (see Figure 1). For cattle under 30 months of age, USDA Yield Grade, branded programs and breed were also major considerations in contract specs. Premiums and Discounts Likely the most telling CCL data (see Figure 1) show the value of quality cattle in the selling price. Fed cattle that graded Prime had a price that showed an average premium of $22.95 per cwt. Prime carcasses in the 25 percent level averaged $19.64, while those in upper 75 percent or higher hit $24.81. Carcasses that graded high Choice showed an average premium of $8.35 per cwt. Premiums ranged from $4.65 in the lower 25 percent to $13.58 for those 75 percent or higher. Yield Grade 1s and 2s also produced slight premiums. All- Natural cattle showed an overall premium of $32 per cwt. The big hit comes with discounts seen for Select grade carcasses. The average discount was -$14.62 per cwt., with discounts ranging from -$15.58 for the lower 25 percent and -$13.54 for the upper 75 percent. No Roll, Standard and Dark Cutter carcasses had discounts ranging from about -$28 to -$39 per cwt. Beef/dairy-cross carcasses showed there was only about a -$3 per cwt. discount. However, straighter dairy carcasses had an average discount of about -$28 per cwt.
Glynn Tonsor, Kansas State University Extension livestock marketing economist, points out keys in the premium breakdown that producers can benefit from.“The 25th and 75th percentile detail can provide users guidance on the distribution of premiums and discounts in the market,” he says. “For instance, consider the last report [March 3] and All Natural. The $32 per cwt. average value is augmented by $28.38 [25th percentile] and $35.13 [75th percentile]. This indicates only 25 percent are getting over $35.13 per cwt., suggesting premiums much above that may be hard to obtain. “The available premium/discount information can give insight into marginal increases in revenue, which can be compared to the costs of paying more to buy an animal and/or raise it in a way that complies with a said claim.” Brady Miller, Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) marketing director, says the value of using CCL to monitor quality depends on a producer’s decision to either retain ownership of the cattle or to sell the cattle off the ranch. “If producers decide to sell their cattle to a feedyard and don't know the quality of the animals being produced, then the only advantage of knowing Brady Miller, TCFA market director, believes a true contracts library would include data from many more packers. Photo courtesy TCFA
sellers make better guided decisions, Tonsor adds, but “exactly how much these AMS reports increase information for both sides is debatable.” For instance, since only about 2 percent use the Iowa reported price as a contract’s base, “it illustrates how said reports can illuminate new information to some parties and not necessarily all parties in the industry,” Tonsor contends. “On balance, I do not expect CCL to be a game changer. If it can be administered in a way that is not too costly while providing useful information and protecting the confidentiality of buyers and sellers, then it can be beneficial in some aspects.”
These tables show the breaks of specs monitored by the CCL and the wide range of premiums and discounts reflected in the market (USDA/AMS).
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