Drover's Update

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Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
Top Stories:
Recession fears drive markets, oil lower
Global stock markets have fallen sharply in recent days on fears that the U.S. economy is close to entering a recession, if it hasn't already. The New York Mercantile exchange was closed on Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King holiday, but overseas markets were down 5 to 7 percent. Early Tuesday, in a highly unusual move, the Federal Reserve slashed the fed funds rate to 3.5 percent, from 4.25 percent, hoping to calm the markets, stimulate the slowing economy and avert recession. Recession worries also drove crude oil prices lower. On Wednesday, crude oil futures fell more than $2 to their lowest closing price in three months, at $86.99 per barrel.
    Analysts claim oil prices are declining because energy investors often view stocks as a barometer for economic growth, and they fear a slowdown will curtail demand for oil and petroleum products. Analysts also note that oil supplies are growing at the same time the economy and demand for oil is cooling off. — Greg Henderson, Drovers editor

Sweden to study belching cows
A Swedish university has received $590,000 in research funds to measure the greenhouse gases released when cows belch. About 20 cows will participate in the project run by the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences. Cattle release methane, a greenhouse gas believed to contribute to global warming, when they digest their food.
    The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization issued at report near the end of 2006 that said "cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation." That quote received a lot of airtime and headlines from most of the major media outlets but has been disputed by many livestock groups. As reported by Drovers in October 2007, Karen Batra, director of public affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said, "Environmental Protection Agency data shows that livestock contribute less than 2.4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse emissions, while fossil fuel combustion contributes 80 percent." Additionally, Dr. Martin J. Hodson, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England, says cattle are directly responsible for a relatively small proportion of global warming. Specifically, he says, ruminants are responsible for 6.3 percent of global warming. To read the story from the October issue, go to www.drovers.com. — G.H.

News and Notes:
In memoriam: Roy Wallace
Roy Allen Wallace, 63, died Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008, in Denver, Colo., while attending The National Western Stock Show. An Ohio native, Wallace graduated from The Ohio State University in 1967 with a B.S. in animal science. He had been employed since 1969 by Select Sires Inc., beginning as a beef sire analyst and was later promoted to vice president, beef programs. Wallace was one of an original group of cattlemen that helped form the Beef Improvement Federation (www.beefimprovement.org). He was awarded BIF's Continuing Service Award and the Pioneer Award, and co-authored the BIF 25-year history, Ideas into Action. Memorials can be sent to The Ohio State University, Department of Animal Sciences, c/o Dr. James E. Kinder, Chair, 2029 Fyffe Court, Columbus, OH, 43210. To read Roy Wallace’s obituary, go to www.drovers.com.

No Better Bull explores feed efficiency
This week's No Better Bull, the weekly Internet-based seminar sponsored by Drovers and Leachman Cattle of Colorado, will examine how new methods of genetic selection for feed efficiency could improve profitability in beef production. Our guest this week will be Dr. Monty Kerley, professor of ruminant nutrition at University of Missouri. Kerley will discuss research and practical application in selecting for feed efficiency. Don't miss this chance to hear from a leader in feed efficiency research and ask questions during the live, interactive show. Tune in tonight, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. Mountain time. For more information and a link for connecting to the program, go to www.leachman.com.

Michigan program violates Clean Water Act
The state Court of Appeals has ruled that Michigan's program for regulating large livestock and poultry farms violates the federal Clean Water Act. In a 2-1 ruling released last week, the court said Michigan is wrongly giving farms too much authority to determine their own rates for spreading manure and keeping that information secret from the public. According to state data, the 200 concentrated animal feeding operations in Michigan generate more than 4 billion pounds of manure annually, nearly all of which is spread, untreated, on farm fields.

Early placements could shift supply trends
Last week’s Livestock, Dairy, & Poultry Outlook report from the USDA’s Economic Research Service shows that forage shortages are driving many cattle into feedyards earlier than normal, which could affect seasonal supply patterns and carcass weights. Feedlot placements were significantly higher in November 2007 than industry analysts expected, especially in the lighter weight categories, and December placements could follow the trend as lack of winter pastures and other lower-cost options move cattle toward feedyards. Normally, the report notes, more calves would remain on wheat pasture until March or later, spreading placements through the winter and spring. Earlier placements, the report says, will result in earlier marketings for significant numbers of fed cattle this spring. Also, with more cattle on feed during the winter months when performance typically suffers, slaughter weights might decline, as could the percentage of cattle grading Choice or better. For the full report, follow this link.

South Korea eyes easing import restrictions
The South Korean government could gradually lift more of its restrictions on U.S. beef imports, according to Korean news reports. The Korea Herald reported on Monday that the government is considering easing restrictions to help win approval from the U.S. Congress for the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement. The report also notes that South Korea’s president-elect Lee Myung-bak, who is to take office on Feb. 25, supports the deal. In the first stage, the government is considering allowing bone-in beef into the country, while continuing its restrictions on the age of cattle, the report says. For more, follow this link.

Beef exports continue to grow
According to the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service, beef exports continue to gain ground, although they remain well below pre-BSE levels. In November 2007, U.S. beef export tonnage was just over 116 million tons, up about 15 million tons or 15 percent from 2006. Analysis from the Livestock Marketing Information Center notes that weekly data indicate further increases during December. On a weekly average basis, preliminary data showed U.S. whole-muscle beef exports during December were about 10 percent above a year earlier. Exports still remain well below the levels prior to the first case of BSE in the United States. In December 2003, weekly average whole-muscle beef cut export tonnage was 12.6 million metric tons, LMIC reports, compared to only 7.8 million metric tons in December 2007. USDA forecasts U.S. beef exports will total about 1.7 billion pounds during 2008, compared with 2.5 billion pounds in 2003. For more information, follow this link.

Dietary protein curtails hunger
A recent study from medical researchers at the University of Washington and University of Virginia could help explain how high-protein diets help people lose weight. The researchers found that protein does the best job at suppressing ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. The report notes that fats do much less to suppress the hormone. Eating carbohydrates initially suppresses ghrelin and appetite, but levels of the hormone rebound quickly and to even higher levels. Several popular diets plans such as the Atkins diet and South Beach diet recommend high protein and low carbohydrates. The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. For the full report, follow this link.

U.N. says biofuels pose environmental risk
A United Nation’s official speaking at a regional forum on bioenergy in Bangkok, Thailand, said yesterday biofuels are causing a spike in the price of corn and other crops and could worsen water shortages and force poor communities off their land. Regan Suzuki, of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, believes biofuels are better for the environment than fossil fuels, but says those benefits must be weighed against the pitfalls. Chief among her concerns is increased competition for agricultural land, which Suzuki says has already caused a rise in corn prices in the United States and Mexico and could lead to food shortages in developing countries.

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