Here’s a roundup of some of the top headlines in the beef industry this week:

Ag Census Shows Shift In Cattle Population—The U.S. beef cow herd decreased by 11% from 2007 to 2014, dropping from 32.6 to 29.0 million head. Drought has been responsible for large beef cow inventory decreases in Texas (down 25%); Oklahoma (down 12%) and New Mexico (down 16%), according to Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist.

Most of the decrease in these states has occurred since 2011 and significant rebuilding of the beef cow herd in these states is expected when conditions permit. However, decreases in the beef cow herd in much of the eastern half of the country appear to be more structural and long term in nature due to changes in forage production. For example, from 2007 to 2014, the beef cow herd decreased significantly in Iowa (down12%); Illinois (down 16%); Indiana (down 18%); Missouri (down14%); Kentucky (down 16%); Tennessee (down 23%); Minnesota (down 14%); and Georgia (down 18%), according to the Oklahoma Farm Report.  For more, click here.

New Mexico Enters The States Rights Vs. Federal Government Fray—In the latest salvo in the states’ rights vs. federal government movement, county commissioners in New Mexico voted this week to defy the U.S. Forest Service and give a rancher's cattle access to a watering hole.

"We are reacting to the infringement of the U.S. Forest Service on the water rights of our land-allotment owners," Otero County Commissioner Tommie Herrell told Reuters. "People have been grazing there since 1956." But a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said the fence has also been there for decades, protecting a delicate ecosystem surrounding a natural spring as well as an endangered species of mouse from being trampled by cattle.  To read more, go here.

Research Review Looks at Beef Productivity in Relation to Selecting for Marbling—Does selecting for marbling impact reproductive ability in a cow herd? A new research paper debunks the myth that carcass quality must come at the expense of maternal function, according to Beef Producer.

"In a nutshell what we found is that no, it has not, and the marbling has a very smaller, if not insignificant, relationship with most of the traits that we associate with cowherd productivity," says Scott Greiner, Virginia Tech. To read more, click here. 

Cattle Feeders Looking At A Long Summer—The Livestock Marketing Information Center’s cattle feeding model shows breakevens for cattle due to be marketed in August (February and March placements) at $148.56/cwt. live weight. “And let’s remember, those February and March-placed cattle cost somewhere in the low $170s/cwt. April placements cost closer to $180 and it appears May placements will be even more expensive,” says the Daily Livestock Report. The sweet spring of profits for cattle feeders will likely give way to a profit-parched summer. For more, click here.

USDA To Double Up on Ground Beef Testing This Summer—As grilling season heats up, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is enhancing its food safety testing program for ground beef. “While FSIS has a range of safeguards to reduce E. coli in ground beef, this summer we will begin new testing to improve the safeguards against Salmonella as well,” says Brian Ronholm, acting under secretary for food safety. “Salmonella is commonly found in ground beef and, in fact, caused an illness outbreak in January 2013 in six states. Salmonella is an especially difficult bacteria for food safety experts to address because it is so prevalent in almost all food sources.”  To read more, click here.

Millennials – Are They Really That Different From Other Generations?—According to research recently released by the beef checkoff, “mature millennials”—those from 25-34 years old, remain true to beef.

Millennials eat beef a couple times a week, which is not different than non-millennials, and their reasons for choosing beef are also the same; most, regardless of generation, want a great-tasting meal, value and a food they feel confident preparing. Click here for detailed findings and conclusions from the study.

Scientists Scrutinize Role of “Supershedder” Cattle in E. coli O157:H7 Contamination—On average, about 2% of the cattle grazing in a pasture, or eating high-energy rations in a feedlot pen, may be "supershedders" who shed high levels of pathogenic organisms such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 in their manure, according to research led by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist Terrance M. Arthur.

Supershedding is of concern because it could increase the amount of E. coli O157:H7 that makes its way from pasture or feedlot pen into packinghouses where steaks, roasts, ground round or other beef products are prepared. Often referred to as O157, this bacterium is apparently harmless to cattle, but can cause vomiting, severe stomach cramps, diarrhea or other illness in humans. Read more here.

National Farm Mom Of The Year Selected—The votes to determine the national winner of the 2014 Monsanto America's Farmers Mom of the Year contest are in, and the South has spoken. Heather Dineen, a first-generation dryland farmer, who farms just outside of Dallas, secured the most votes to add "2014 National Farm Mom of the Year" to her long list of titles.  To read more, click here.

NRCS Rolls Out Soils Video—A YouTube video titled “How To Differentiate and Identify Soil Horizons In The Field” is now available from USDA’s Natural Recourses Conservation Service (NRCS). It was produced in cooperation with the University of Nebraska - Extension. It is available   here.  A complete list of videos and webinars is available here.

Schmacon, The Un-Bacon, Hits Store Shelves—Schmaltz Products, LLC announces the launch of Schmacon™, smoked & cured glazed beef slices, an innovative alternative to pork bacon with smoky and sweet flavor and a meaty and crisp texture. Schmacon is whole muscle beef seasoned with a proprietary spice blend and cure recipe inspired by its inventor Howard Bender’s deli roots. It fits right into the food trend landscape of unusual and adventuresome meats and unexpected blendings of flavors and textures. To learn more, go to http://www.schmacon.com.

 

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