The new jobs report came out a few days ago showing some 119 million people out of work in the United States. This is a massive never-heard-of-before number in the eyes of many.
Have you, in agriculture, ever seen so much change in a decade or less, here in our weather? Year before last, we had wonderful moisture, and last year we were in a terrible drought. This year, there's a tremendous change here in our area to the up side on this moisture situation. We are seeing one of the greatest changes in moisture in previous drought areas that we've seen maybe in our lives. Mother Nature has poured from 2 to 17 inches of moisture across the droughty areas of this great, growing nation.
When we look at feed numbers, it appears as though there is going to be a super amount of corn planted before the year is out. The storage, however, of wheat and corn is still huge in the farm elevators, especially, across America.
Yes, indeed, in the country, across the country, the livestock industry got a real shot in the arm these last three weeks with moisture. The amount of grass available is going to increase, the amount of grains available is going to increase, and the amount of interest on the part of buyers is going to increase. However, you must remember those feeder cattle last year sold awfully well. They may not sell as well this year because it rained and because of the amount of losses incurred in the feedlot industry. Ranchers and producers should be ready to brace their heels just as the feedlots had to brace theirs a year ago.
Beef's identity crisis...
By Leesa Zalesky
Call me uninformed, but I didn't know that pigs have a brisket. Furthermore, I don't think they do... or at least I don't think they did until a recent collaboration between the beef and pork checkoff programs took it upon themselves to use our hard-earned checkoff dollars to introduce new names to standardize what beef and pork cuts are called in the retail case. Sure enough, brisket is now officially a commonly shared name between the two species.
Now it's coming out that checkoff-funded work on standardizing meat cut names began in about 2010, but in 2012, the beef and pork checkoff programs partnered on funding a consumer study that was conducted by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) on behalf of the National Pork Board (NPB) and the beef checkoff (see meattrack.com). NCBA was acting as a contractor for the beef checkoff. The outcome of the study boils down to some significant shifts in what pork cuts will be called and how they will be labeled for consumers. The plain old pork chop has now become a rib-eye, a porterhouse, or a New York; pork loin roasts will now be called sirloin roasts; and pork shoulders will now be called, you guessed it, brisket.
These names - ribeye, porterhouse, New York, sirloin, and brisket -- have historically been used to set beef apart in the retail case; in fact, they are names that, over time, have become the cattle industry's "brand" and are something that consumers understand and count on for a great eating experience... thanks to beef.
This week's winner...
The Discovery Channel and its seven-episode series, "North America." You simply don't want to miss this extraordinary television event, but if you have missed any of the episodes so far, you need to look for it on DVD. Narrated by award-winning actor Tom Selleck, the series premiered on May 19 and airs on Sunday evenings on the Discovery Channel. Discovery's determined production crew journeyed the span of North America from the frigid Yukon Territory to the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and the barren deserts of America's Southwest to produce this sweeping series revealing an amazing look at the wildlife and fauna of North America. If you think you know North America, think again. This is an unforgettable television event for the entire family.
Delisting wolves in Lower 48...
As this is written, the Obama administration says it will propose lifting federal protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states, ending four decades of efforts to protect the species. Officials with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service say gray wolves have rebounded successfully from near extinction and that more than 6,100 wolves now roam the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes regions. Delisting wolves won't be easy: dozens of members of Congress say protections need to be kept in place so the animals can expand beyond the 10 states they now occupy. Officials say they want to focus their recovery efforts on the small number of Mexican gray wolves living in Arizona and New Mexico, where a protection effort has been impeded by illegal killings.
Fed-up Colorado counties say they want to secede!
By Leesa Zalesky
Saying their county's main economic drivers -- agriculture and energy -- are under attack, Weld County, Colorado, commissioners announced late last week that they will join seven other northeastern Colorado counties in forming a new state called North Colorado. County commissioners in Kit Carson, Yuma, Washington, Phillips, Sedgwick, Logan, and Morgan counties are also contemplating the idea of secession. According to a Greeley Tribune report, county commissioners in all eight counties say the state's new gun control laws, oil and gas regulations, and the fact that their rural counties hardly see a return from their financial contributions to state coffers are among the cumulative issues that are isolating rural Colorado from the rest of the state and putting those rural counties at a significant disadvantage.
Commissioners say they've watched as Front Range interests have demanded -- and received -- improvements to transportation corridors in the Denver area while Interstate 76, a main corridor serving Colorado's northeastern ag counties, is in deplorable condition. They point out that education is critically underfunded in Weld County, and that while overall state tax revenue in Weld County has increased year after year, schools in the county continue to receive inadequate appropriations because of an outdated and unequal Public School Finance Act.
Last week's signing of the Colorado Legislature's SD 252, which increases renewable energy standards in rural areas, was the last straw. County Commissioner Sean Conway told the Greeley Tribune that the revenue the county sees from the ag and energy industries makes up about 70% of the state's budget, yet the county sees very little investment by the state in things as simple as infrastructure or as important as education.
Farmers belong on a tractor, NOT under the bus!
By Mark Gerdes
One of the beauties of life in our great democracy is that spirited debate about important public policies is not only expected, it's encouraged. One of the intrinsic rules of these discussions, if they are to be productive and fair, is that the policy itself should be scrutinized from every angle without demonizing or castigating the various groups affected by these policies. In other words, we should be able to discuss education policy without demonizing teachers or impugning the integrity of students. Likewise, we should be able to debate defense policy without bashing soldiers or peace activists. Unfortunately, when it comes to discussions about farm policy - in particular the decision by many farmers to purchase crop insurance - critics have chosen to throw farmers under the bus time and time again instead of debating the policies on their merits.
Last year, we had one of the worst droughts our nation has seen in decades. And while America's farm families watched their crops shrivel in the fields, some critics said, "Farmers are praying for drought, not praying for rain." Another critic said that farmers who purchased crop insurance last summer "were laughing all the way to the bank." In short, they argued that farmers make more money from collecting a crop insurance check than harvesting a crop and would prefer to watch their crops wither or livestock die to collect a crop insurance check rather than take the fruits of their labors to market.
BLM told to revisit Montana grazing plan
The Bureau of Land Management did not violate environmental law by allowing grazing at the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, the 9th Circuit ruled June 7, but it needs to take a closer look at how that will affect a portion of the scenic land. The federal appeals panel in Seattle partially revived a lawsuit brought by an environmental group (the Western Watersheds Project) and two members who claimed the BLM ignored the detrimental impacts of livestock grazing on some of the monuments protected features, including riparian areas, cottonwood gallery forest ecosystems, and sage-grouse habitat.
The 9th Circuit called the 377,000-acre monument in northern Montana "an area of unparalleled scenic beauty, great geological and biological importance, and special historical significance." It has remained largely unchanged since Lewis and Clark explored it in 1805. The land, which President Bill Clinton designated a national monument in 2001, contains 149 miles of the Upper Missouri River and some of the largest elk and big horn sheep herds in the United States.
Environmentalists sued in 2009 when the BLM approved a management plan that prioritized cattle grazing, oil and gas development, and motorized recreation over conservation. U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon granted summary judgment to the agency in 2011, finding that the BLM abided by "multiple use principles" to protect the monument. The Western Watersheds Project and two of its members appealed, arguing their case with the Montana Wilderness Society, which filed a similar lawsuit challenging the grazing and development plan. Overgrazing can reduce habitat quality for the greater sage-grouse, degrade water quality, and prevent the regeneration of cottonwood and willow trees along the Missouri River, according to the ruling.
And another chapter on how our kids learn to work... rain or shine! Thanks to Jeanie Mahlstedt of Circle, Montana, for sharing this nice photo along with this note: "We have been blessed with a lot of rain lately, but the work must go on. On June 3, Tana Canen and our 3 granddaughters -- Tienna, Corinne, and Alexis Canen -- were taking pairs to summer pasture. They were soaked but still smiling as they rode out with another bunch. We are especially thrilled to have 15-year-old Tienna (in the white helmet) helping. She was thrown from her horse on May 25, branding day, and spent several hours in the ER being checked out. Her black helmet, which is toast now, probably saved her life. We encourage everyone to use the helmets... they do save lives!"