On-farm reality TV

A new reality series documents the work of caring for livestock by five veterinarians and 20 client farms. Entitled “Veterinarians On Call,” the series is aimed at providing consumers with an up-close and personal look at responsible livestock farming in the U.S.

The series premiered in September on YouTube.com/VeterinariansOn Call and is part of Pfizer Animal Health’s Commitment to Veterinarians™ platform. Among the featured vets are Paul Ruen, Fairmont, MN; Peter Ostrum, Lowville, NY; Angie Supple, Algona, IA; Ross Kiehne, St. Peter, MN; and Don Goodman, Navasota, TX.

Congress approves FTAs

In quick succession, the U.S. House and Senate, on Oct. 12, approved the pending U.S. free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The next step was President Obama’s desk for final approval.

According to the International Trade Commission, the three agreements, once fully implemented, will create 250,000 jobs. Meanwhile, annual exports of U.S. beef to South Korea are expected to increase as much as $1.8 billion once the agreement is fully implemented.

Bill Donald, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president and Montana rancher, says implementation of the agreements will level the playing field for U.S. beef by reducing and eliminating import tariffs imposed by Colombia (80%), Panama (30%) and South Korea (40%).

Corn prices to remain high

Corn prices will remain “historically high into early 2012,” says Bill Tierney, chief economist at AgResource Company in Chicago. Speaking at the Beef Financial Management Conference in Amarillo last month, Tierney says China will be a key. “Chinese corn prices are at a record-high range of $9.40 to $10/bu. China will secure U.S. corn whenever profits exist, which limits the downside in the world corn market to $6.30/bu.,” he says.

But, Tierney doesn’t expect China to increase corn production significantly in the next few years, as its corn production typically occurs on very small acreages, with two- to three-acre fields only in the most productive areas. With relatively small plots, he says, Chinese farmers will not invest in the technology necessary to increase yields.

Increasing world demand also will keep corn prices up, Tierney adds. “The world will need to plant an additional 5-7 million acres in 2012 to keep world stocks steady. The world is on a collision course with corn demand outstripping supply and the two largest producers, China and the U.S., having limited ability to expand acreage.”

Traceability study

A study assessing the impact of traceability and animal ID programs on the international market for red meat has been released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Conducted by researchers at Kansas State University, Colorado State University and Montana State University, the study, “Economic Assessment of Evolving Red Meat Export Market Access Requirements for Traceability of Livestock and Meat,” found that the U.S. and India are the only two major beef exporters without mandatory traceability systems.

The report also notes that Japan and Korea, which are among the highest value markets for U.S. red meat exports, have adopted mandatory traceability programs. These measures could eventually lead to similar requirements being applied to imports, the report says.

Comment period extended

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has extended to Dec. 9 the comment period for the proposed rule on animal disease traceability. Under the proposed rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate must be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates. Learn more at www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability.

BEEF Book Corner

“W.D. Farr: Cowboy in the Boardroom,” by Daniel Tyler, chronicles the visionary life of W.D. Farr, an icon of 20th century agricultural development in the West. Farr, who passed away in 2007, was a Colorado rancher, banker, cattle feeder and irrigation expert. He envisioned and guided sweeping changes in agricultural production and irrigated agriculture in Colorado and across the West.

Tyler, a Colorado State University professor emeritus of history, bases his portrait of Farr on extensive archival research and interviews. By embracing change and seeking consensus rather than forcing his will on others, Tyler says Farr’s greatest legacy may be the model of leadership he provided.

The 312-page hardcover book is available for $29.95 from www.oupress.com.