December 1 , 2006
Cattle mutilations puzzle ranchers
Ranchers in Montana are stunned by recent cattle mutilations that are left unexplainable.
Recent reports tell of ranchers finding a cow dead with udder and other body parts cut out with stunning precision. The left side of the animal's face was carved off, the exposed bones stripped as clean as if they'd been boiled.
Similarly mutilated cattle were last reported five years ago. Since the 1970s, Montana ranches have found dozens of cattle carved up in similar, macabre fashion.
The first known incident was a mutilated steer reported near Sand Coulee in late August 1974. By December 1977, sheriff's deputies had investigated 67 mutilation cases in Cascade, Judith Bassin, Chouteau, Teton and Pondera Counties. In each case, the cuts were made with surgical precision, often in circular shapes.
Similar cases have haunted ranchers
in the Southwest since the 1970s, when a 300-page federally-funded report concluded
the killings were work of natural predators.
Source: AFBF; Executive Newswatch; Nov. 13, 2006
The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District recently drafted a policy that would reintroduce the animals in over 5,000 difficult-to-manage acres. Cattle have been kicked off grassy lands because they allegedly contributed to erosion and overgrazing.
Further research has determined that removing livestock can harm wildflowers and certain animal life and can leave areas overgrown with weeds.
Source: AFBF; Executive Newswatch; Nov. 14, 2006
The study was funded by the 25 X 25 Word Group, Energy Future Coalition and the Energy Foundation. By 2025, the U.S. will require 126.99 quadrillion BTUs of energy (quads). About 9.6 quads of energy will be needed for renewable sources to meet the 25 X 25 group's goals.
Source: AFBF; Policy Links; Nov. 16, 2006
U.S. dairy industry at global crossroads
Current dynamics in world dairy markets and the potential for global and domestic trade policy reform are bringing the U.S. dairy sector to a new crossroads as it faces competitive forces from outside its borders.
Those forcesdemand for new products by consumers in industrialized countries, changes in technology, rapid economic growth in emerging developing countries, particularly in Asia, and the increasing role of multinational firms in domestic and global dairy marketsare leading to increased dairy consumption, more opportunities for dairy product trade, and foreign direct investment benefiting both U.S. consumers and producers.
As global demand for milk and new
dairy products expands, the roles
of policies that support prices are diminishing, while the roles of
flexibility and innovation aimed at improving competitiveness are growing.
Source: AFBF; Policy Links: Nov. 16, 2006
plant starts production
E3 BioFuels' Genesis plant will begin production in December at Mead, Neb.
The system uses methane gas from cattle manure to power the distilling operation and the wet distillers grain by-product is fed to the adjacent cattle without need of drying or transportation. The closed-loop system is so efficient the company plans 15 more such plants within the next five years.
Source: Doane's Agricultural Report; Vol. 69, No. 44-1; Nov. 3, 2006
Harkin lists goals
as Senate farm chief
"I intend to do a farm bill, not an extension," Sen. Tom Harkin told Reuters in an interview.
He said his top issues included expansion of "green" payments to farmers for land stewardship, a larger renewable fuels industry, rural economic development and a strong safety net for farmers.
Source: AFBF; Policy Links; Nov. 13, 2006
Tight grain stocks lead to higher prices
Short crops around the world this year, combined with strengthening demand, are shrinking global grain stocks and causing prices to soar to the highest levels in a decade.
Wheat prices have climbed as exportable supplies are sharply down in key Northern Hemisphere exporters such as the United States, Black Sea region, and the European Union. This tightness has been exacerbated by a severe crop shortfall in Australia and strong import demand in India.
Surging corn prices are being driven by a smaller U.S. crop and strong demand for use in ethanol and exports. Barley prices have also jumped to decade highs as a result of sharply lower exportable supplies in Australiathe largest exporter the past three yearsas well as strengthening feed demand in light of poor wheat crops. Sorghum prices are also strong as U.S. production has fallen to the lowest level in 60 years, and this is curtailing export availability.
Source: USDA; FAS; Grain: World Markets and Trade; Nov. 2006
Agriculture 'facts' often lead to misconceptions
The public has many misconceptions about the modern food system. Many of those misconceptions have been developed by authors with fine intentions, but a serious lack of understanding. Unfortunately, once a so-called "fact" is in print, it is often repeated endlessly and used to build other "facts."
Take for example, the statement Frances Moore Lappé made in Diet for a Small Planet, published in the early 70s, that it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef. This "fact" occurs in other books critical of beef production, many textbooks, environmental education curricula and is used as the basis for other authors to create their own "facts."
Figures written about how much water or oil it takes to produce beef are based on the 16 to 1 ratio. These "facts" are then used by authors, animal rights groups and environmental educators to convince teens to become vegetarians and "feed a starving world." Their favorite phrase taken from Lappé is that the world can support more vegetarians than meat eaters.
Research conducted by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has identified how the author arrived at that figure and why it is wrong. The research shows the actual figure is 2.6 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef in the United States.
For more information about challenging the misconceptions about agriculture visit www.ageducate.org.
Source: AFBF; Focus on Agriculture: Nov. 6, 2006