A risk management series called “Marketing Your Way To Profitability” is set for selected states. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) are teaming up with cattlemen's associations to feature hands-on training in the use of futures and options in a cattle operation. CME representatives and Cattle-Fax analysts will teach the two-day course.

Upcoming workshops include: Nebraska (one-day sessions on June 30 and July 1); South Dakota (July 7-8); Kansas (July 14-15); Kentucky (Aug. 5-6); Florida (Aug. 7-8); Texas (Sept. 11-12); and Colorado (Sept. 18-19). For more information, contact your participating state cattlemen's association or Renee Lloyd, NCBA, at 303/850-3373 or rlloyd@beef.org.

There's no link between SARS and livestock production. Some media speculation has contended a link between severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and intensive livestock production. But, Peter Roeder, an officer of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Animal Production and Health Division, says of a potential link: “There is currently no evidence for an origin in farm animals [cattle, pigs, poultry, etc.] and it seems unlikely, even if the origin of the virus is still a mystery.”

Roeder says that genetic fingerprinting of the SARS virus shows it to be very different from any other known animal or human coronavirus. Roeder says all the evidence points to SARS being “a human pathogen transmitted primarily by droplet infection from the respiratory tract of affected people.”

In mid-May, the World Health Organization reported that global deaths from SARS had surpassed 500 with 7,000 infected. The agency also ratcheted the global death rate to 14-15% from the previous level of 6-10%.

Trade war with Mexico may be on the horizon. Mexican farmers are upset over the Jan. 1, 2003, next-to-final step in elimination of tariffs on most U.S. agriculture imports under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Mexico's top trade official says Mexico plans to analyze the possibility of renegotiating NAFTA's agriculture provisions.

Under NAFTA, most tariffs on U.S. agricultural imports into Mexico have been reduced to an average of 2%. The National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Grains Council have contacted U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, urging him not to reopen NAFTA.

But, Mexican farmers say they're unable to compete against their subsidized U.S. counterparts. If NAFTA isn't reopened, they threaten to blockade agricultural imports at U.S.-Mexico border crossings.

Gregg Doud, National Cattlemen's Beef Association economist, says Mexican concerns about U.S. beef exports could also become a political issue as Mexico's national elections are coming in July.

Currently, the U.S. exports more beef to Mexico than any other country. Last year, 80% of Mexico's beef imports came from the U.S — 12% more than the year earlier.

Mexico's cattle herd has steadily declined since 1994 as a result of extended drought and a weakening peso. This has forced many medium and small feedlots to go out of business due to high production costs and an inability to repay loans.

Advancing U.S.-Uruguay ag trade. The U.S. and Uruguay signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing a U.S.-Uruguay Consultative Committee on Agriculture (CCA) in May. The aim is to help foster cooperation on global and regional trade issues.

The U.S., Uruguay and other countries are currently negotiating trade issues for the global Doha Round of the World Trade Organization and the hemispheric Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The goal of FTAA's 34 hemispheric partners is to create the largest (more than 800 million people) and wealthiest ($13-trillion, annual, gross domestic product), free-trade area.

Ag officials from both countries say the CCA will increase communication and coordination in market access, food safety, research, technical assistance and standards.

Last year, the U.S. exported more than $17 million in ag products to Uruguay, with consumer-oriented products like snack foods, red meats, pet foods and dairy products leading the way. Meanwhile, the U.S. imported nearly $58 million in Uruguayan ag products, with consumer-oriented and fish and seafood products comprising the largest import categories. Due to a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, imports of fresh/chilled and frozen beef from Uruguay are banned into the U.S.

The first annual meeting of the CCA will take place later this year and will be co-chaired by senior officials from USDA and Uruguay's Ministry of Agriculture.

BEEF magazine's 2003 State Of The Industry Report is now available. The report, available at advertis ers.beef-mag.com/research/index.htm, is provided exclusively for BEEF magazine readers by Iowa State University Extension economists Gary May and John Lawrence. The 13-page report is a great reference piece on U.S. beef industry statistics and the status for various sectors.

Two new stocker-cattle fact sheets are available at www.beefstockerusa.org for free download — “Comply or Die: Country of origin labeling essentials” and “Missed Management.” The second is a comprehensive discussion of managing risk by building and utilizing stocker health programs effectively.

Www.beefstockerusa.org is the industry's number-one source for stocker cattle production and management information. It's a cooperative venture between BEEF magazine and Kansas State University.