Monday, November 17, 2014

CattleFax - Weekly Recap

The fed cattle market in the North and South was not established at press time but the market tone was steady to stronger compared to the previous week. Boxed beef prices were higher for the week and are expected to strengthen over the next few weeks as supplies will remain tight and holiday buying will increase.

Feeder cattle were steady to $4 higher last week. Calves were steady up to $10 higher for calves that qualify for winter grazing programs. Slaughter cows were steady for the week.

Corn trended higher last week as harvest was only 4% behind the long-term average of 84% complete. The USDA's November grain production report came out last week, the USDA's November corn yield estimate was 173.4 bu/ac, .08 bu/ac below the October report.

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

BQA: Capturing value through quality beef

Cattlemen have a long-standing commitment to quality beef. Now, they can step up that commitment by participating in the checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program and participate in Illinois Beef Association (IBA) sponsored training and certification sessions.

Delivering a quality beef product to the consumer requires more than just superior genetics – trustworthy handling practices are the link that assures consumer satisfaction.

BQA is important to the cattle industry as it gives producers a set of best practices for producing a safe and high-quality beef product. It also gives consumers the assurance that the beef they eat is both healthy and wholesome.

The program covers best management practices such as proper handling and administration of vaccinations and other products, better cattle handling principles, profit tips, and insight to consumer preferences.

“Many producers leave with a sense of validation of the bulk of their practices, but an exited feeling that they have picked up on a few tips that can give them a competitive advantage in the beef market,” said Travis Meteer, state BQA coordinator. “BQA certification serves as hard evidence to the effort and level of care animals receive day in and day out. BQA approved practices lead to a safe, wholesome product that consumers demand. We have all made the comment – what is best for the animal is best for our bottom line. If you are talking the talk then BQA is walking the walk.”

Curt Rincker, a Simmental breeder from Shelbyville, places a lot of value on the BQA program because it was designed by cattlemen for cattlemen and has the research and results to back it up.

“When I realized the improvements made in recent beef audits due to injection sites, I felt it was equally important for the cow-calf sector to also apply the same beef safety practices,” Rincker said.

Rincker’s education through the BQA program has enhanced his day-to-day management practices and enhanced animal well-being on his farm.

“I’ve made a real effort to follow proper injection site guidelines along with more frequent needle and syringe changes during routine vaccinations,” he said. “Practicing more patience in cattle handling procedures and an improved understanding of cattle movement through the BQA program, not only takes stress off of my cows, but takes some stress off of me to. It’s a win-win for all on my farm.”

According to Buzz Iliff, Wyoming Vet Clinic veterinarian, the industry has seen good evidence that a calmer animal stays healthier and provides a much better product in the tenderness of the meat.

“From personal experience, it is gratifying to see producers adopt and follow BQA guidelines and improve their operations,” Iliff said. “More importantly, keeping good treatment records and strictly following withdrawl times on any antibiotics and medications will insure a safer product.”

At the end of the day, the consumer is the industry’s demand driver. If that consumer is willing to open up their wallet, as an industry, we need to produce a consistent product that gives the beef buyer a great eating experience time and time again.

Even at beef’s current high retail prices, John Lundeen, NCBA senior executive director of market research, said consumers are willing to pay the price, but expectations for quality have also risen.

“The checkoff-funded Consumer Beef Index study measures demand drivers and we see taste topping the charts with safety and value following close behind,” Lundeen said. “Those characteristics along with confidence in the beef industry’s production practices are often how consumers describe quality.”

He added that consumers are stepping up to the case and purchasing the product because cattlemen have done a great job to continuously improve their production practices. But, it can’t stop here – the industry is in a strong point now, but producers need to continue to invest in education and keep the momentum going.

“Without a doubt the end-result of all of the BQA guidelines and practices that we as BQA certified producers use, is a safer end-product for our beef consumer. Being BQA certified is the right thing to do and has continued to improve the perception of beef from gate to plate,” Rincker said.

Cattlemen are invited to attend BQA training sessions this winter sponsored by the IBA to learn about the latest best management practices and become BQA certified. There is a $25 registration fee payable at the door to cover the cost of meals and training materials and reservations are encouraged by contacting the IBA at 217-787-4280.

The meetings will begin at 6 p.m. with a meal followed by the training session.

Dates and locations are:
  •          Dec. 2, Litchfield, Lincoln Land Community College Arts & Technology Building –               Multipurpose Room
  •          Dec. 4, Quincy, Adams County Farm Bureau Building
  •          Dec. 9, Paris, Edgar County Fairgrounds – Multipurpose 4-H Building

Striving to Sustainably Feed the World: 2014 Illinois Commodity Conference

The 2014 Illinois Commodity Conference is set for Nov. 25 at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Normal. The conference represents a great opportunity for farmers in Illinois to see coalition-building and how the state agricultural commodity organizations are working together to improve agriculture as a whole. 

Striving to sustainably feed the world is the main focus of the conference with breakout sessions geared toward the environment and regulations, markets, and other hot-button issues. Following lunch and an annual awards ceremony, the conference keynote speaker, Rob Meyers with PepsiCo, will discuss his company’s push toward sustainability - what their customers want, how they define sustainability and their marketing initiatives, and how farmers will be involved and impacted.  


7:30 a.m. – Registration Opens
8-10 a.m. – ICGA Annual Meeting
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. – A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the GMOs 
Go Down, Richard Levick
11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Breakout sessions
          Farmers Needed: Field to Market – Rod Synder
          Water Quality Control – Caroline Wade, Mike Plumer
          The Intersection of CAFO and WOTUS – Lauren
Lurkins, Ted Funk
12:15 p.m. – Lunch
12:45 p.m. – Awards Ceremony 
         John Sullivan honored with Friend of Ag Award
1:15 – 2:15 p.m. – Rob Meyers, PepsiCo
2:15 – 2:30 p.m. – Wrap up with Association Leadership
2:30 p.m. – Ice Cream Social

Registration and a fee is required. Register prior to Nov. 15 - $65 and after Nov. 15 - $90. Contact the Illinois Beef Association for help with registration at 217-787-4280.

Beef Producers Promote Positive Image of Agriculture

A Chicago-area mom gave beef producers Mike and Lynn Martz and the entire Larson family the ultimate endorsement after touring their Maple Park farm Oct. 18. She expressed concerns about hormones in beef, but after a discussion about hormones in food from Mike she said she feels confident about choosing beef for dinner.

“I started this journey wondering many things: one of them was ‘Should I pay more for naturally raised, free range, non-hormone added beef? Is it worth the extra money per pound? Am I being an irresponsible parent to NOT want to pay the extra money in feeding my kids?’ Last week, at Larson Farms I got my answer – NO, there is no way I am paying extra. For me, it will be about the cut – not the hormones. In the end, when it comes to added hormones in my beef, ‘Frankly my dear I don’t give a beef.’,” said Lynn Prehm of Naperville.

Welcome to the third year of Illinois Farm Families (IFF) Field Moms – a program for Chicago-area mothers who have questions about farming and how their food is raised. IFF is a coalition of commodity groups for beef, pork, dairy, corn, soy and the Illinois Farm Bureau.

The Field Moms were able to tour the Larson Farms cattle handling facility and learned about the process of ultrasounding cattle. They also viewed the cattle in barns while Mike explained the benefits of confinement feeding from an animal welfare standpoint. He also showed the Field Moms a variety of cattle feeds and discussed nutrition.


Before a tapas-style lunch featuring a variety of hearty ground beef meals prepared by Larson Farms family member, Barb, the tour hosts presented a cooking demonstration, and explained marbling, steak selection, and the USDA beef grading system.

Mike pointed out the moms weren’t the only ones that learned from the experience.

“We get a better idea of our consumers and their thoughts,” he said. “The moms were very open-minded and had great questions. The Field Moms program is a great way to share our story about the beef industry.”

The tour was extended to 17 Field Moms and guests, a dietician and national blogger, and Rep. Robyn Gabel (R-Evanston) and constituents. After the tour, the Field Moms were asked to blog about their experience. Read their thoughts about the tour and beef at

CattleFax - Weekly Recap

The fed cattle market in the South was $167 last week, $1 lower compared to the previous week. The fed cattle market in the North was also $167, $1 lower than the previous week. There was a stronger tone for the remainder of the showlist in the North. Boxed beef prices were softer last week as demand is still waiting for holiday buying to start.

Feeder cattle were mostly steady with instances of $2 higher. Calves were also steady with instances of $4 higher. Slaughter cows were mixed, from $2 higher to $2 lower. Corn maintained a sideways trading range and closed several cents lower for the week.

Corn harvest is at 65% last week compared to the long-term average of 77% over the same time period.
Check out today's Chart of the Day. For recent market news and analysis, visit

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 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 or e-mail
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