from December 17

CONGRESS PASSES TAX PACKAGE INCLUDING KEY PROVISIONS FOR AGRICULTURE

     The U.S. Senate voted yesterday (12/16) to approve the tax extenders package containing key provisions for small businesses, including farms and ranches. On a 76 to 16 vote, senators passed the tax extenders bill previously approved by the U.S. House. The bill now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
     NCBA President Bob McCan said passage of the legislation is good news for the cattle industry because it encourages economic growth and provides greater certainty in the tax code. Of particular benefit to agriculture are section 179 expensing and bonus depreciation. Section 179 allows a higher deduction level for some capital expenditures, like machinery and equipment. During 2013, farmers and ranchers were able to expense up to $500,000 in capital investments, but the amount was lowered to $25,000 this year.
     “For large equipment purchases and other capital investments, cattle producers need certainty in order to properly plan for their businesses,” said NCBA Director of Legislative Affairs Kent Bacus.
     The retroactive extension covering this year again leaves producers operating under an expired tax code in 2015. Bacus said this could add the needed pressure to complete a comprehensive tax reform deal next year.

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from December 16

STATE AGENCIES COMBINE FORCES TO INVESTIGATE CATTLE THEFTS

     Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) have entered a joint agreement intended to enhance the state’s ability to investigate cattle thefts. Schmidt formed a new Livestock/Brand Investigation Unit within his office’s Consumer Protection Division. According to Schmidt, combining the law enforcement authority of the attorney general’s office with the livestock investigation authority of the KDA Division of Animal Health (DAH) is an efficient way to address the problem.
     “This agreement is a great example of finding efficient ways for government to better serve the people of Kansas,” said Schmidt.
     The attorney general has hired longtime Kansas lawman Kendal Lothman to lead the new unit. Lothman has been a law enforcement officer for 22 years, including six as Kiowa County sheriff. In his new position, he will respond to requests from local authorities for assistance in cattle theft investigations.
     Kansas Animal Health Commissioner Bill Brown also welcomed the new collaborative effort. He said having an investigator in the field will provide support for local law enforcement and the DAH brand program.
     Ranchers, feeders and dairymen who suspect thefts should contact their local sheriff. These agencies will, in turn, request assistance from the attorney general’s office if needed.

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from December 15

CONGRESS PASSES APPROPRIATIONS BILL

     The U.S. House and Senate last week passed the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, funding much of the government through September 30, 2015. According to NCBA President Bob McCan, a rancher from Texas, the bill contains many priorities for livestock producers.
     Included in the bill is a provision instructing U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to submit a report with his recommendations for changes in the federal law required to bring the country-of-origin labeling program into compliance with international trade obligations. This report would need to be submitted within 15 days of the appeal decision from the World Trade Organization or by May 1, 2015, whichever comes first.
     The bill also directs Secretary Vilsack not to implement a duplicative beef checkoff and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw the waters of the U.S. interpretive rule. In addition, it contains language to continue defunding of the GIPSA provisions and language on a number of other environmental regulations. Specifically, the bill prevents funding for the EPA to require cattle producers to obtain greenhouse gas permits for livestock and to prevent mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems.

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from December 12

KLA SUBMITS COMMENTS OPPOSING SUPPLEMENTAL CHECKOFF

     This week, KLA submitted comments to USDA in opposition to the creation of a separate beef checkoff. At the recent convention, KLA members expressed their support for an increase in the checkoff assessment rate to adequately fund effective beef demand-building programs. At the same time, the member-passed policy opposes the creation of a supplemental beef checkoff under the 1996 Generic Checkoff Act.
     KLA members determined a beef checkoff program administered under the 1996 act would give more power to the federal government, allow for an increase share of the checkoff funds to be used for administrative costs and not ensure a coordinated state and national partnership.
     KLA comments were submitted in response to a notice of inquiry distributed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Several national organizations representing beef producers continue to work toward industry consensus on enhancements to the current beef checkoff. 

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from December 11

BAUER WINS TOP RECRUITER AWARD

     The KLA membership year wrapped up December 4 with a total of 5,002 members. Eighty-two individuals and county committees recruited a total of 197 new members for the 2014 Top Hand contest, sponsored exclusively by John Deere.
     Jake Bauer of Oakley signed up 42 KLA members, the most recruited by anyone since 1991. The Anderson County Committee signed up 21. Both Bauer and Anderson County will receive 30-30 rifles. Bauer also will be awarded a hat from Greeley Hat Works for being top recruiter of the year.
     Other top recruiters included Clint Sturdy, Lyndon, with 10; the Nemaha County Committee with eight; Vernon Bohn, Dwight, with seven; and the Phillips County Committee with five.
     Harper County joined the ranks of those qualified for a seat on the KLA Chairmen’s Circle by reaching the 35-member mark this fall. They will be represented by Travis McIntire of Argonia.
     Nemaha County continues to lead the association in total members with 125. Rounding out the top five counties are Pottawatomie with 94, Anderson at 85, Butler with 83 and Riley at 81.

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from December 10

LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS APPROVE POLICY TO GUIDE KLA

     KLA members adopted policy addressing their business interests during the annual meeting, December 3-5 in Wichita. Resolutions on the beef checkoff, Clean Water Act regulations, the threatened listing of the lesser prairie chicken and trichomoniasis were among those drawing members’ attention. The process started in committee and council meetings and concluded with final approval by the general KLA membership.
     “KLA policy is developed through broad member input and constructive debate,” said KLA President Jaret Moyer, a cattleman from Emporia. “The resulting resolutions will direct officers and staff as we represent the membership on various issues during 2015.”
     An existing resolution on the beef checkoff was amended to support changes in the 1985 Beef Promotion and Research Act that would authorize an increase in the assessment rate. It goes further to oppose creating a supplemental beef checkoff under the Commodity Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1996. Compared to the 1985 act, the 1996 act gives more control over checkoff decisions to the federal government, allows for an increased share of funds to go toward administration and does not ensure a coordinated national/state partnership.
     KLA members chose to retain a resolution opposing legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) current proposal to redefine “waters of the United States.” The resolution urges EPA and other agencies to recognize the abilities of states to best manage water resources.
     Policy was amended to support the inclusion of grazing lands in the 4(d) Rule for the lesser prairie chicken. The rule currently grants incidental take protection to routine ag practices on land cultivated within five years preceding the listing of the lesser prairie chicken as threatened, but does not afford the same protection to grasslands used in livestock production.
     Another resolution amended by KLA members supports changes to state law or regulations requiring timely notification of the owners of neighboring herds by Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health officials when a confirmed case of trichomoniasis is discovered.
     The membership voted to retain policy supporting regulatory and/or statutory changes to the current country-of-origin labeling program that would bring the U.S. into compliance with international trade obligations and avoid trade disruptions or retaliatory action.
     Another retained resolution encourages EPA to resist proposals that lower the air quality standards for ozone levels and recognize air quality problems caused by prescribed burning are a rare event for which cities should not be penalized for nonattainment of clean air guidelines.
     The list of amended resolutions contains one that supports state law authorizing local enhanced management areas (LEMAs), but specifies the chief engineer of the Division of Water Resources can only approve a LEMA if it is supported by a unanimous vote of affected water right holders. This same policy supports legislation to allow unused appropriated water from a multi-year flex account (MYFA) term permit to be rolled over for use in a subsequent MYFA.
     KLA members support state legislation that would create a Kansas conservation easement funding source. The same resolution opposes state legislation that would prohibit Kansas landowners from voluntarily agreeing to a perpetual conservation easement agreement.
     Long-standing policy suggesting the livestock industry is best served by the process of free enterprise and free trade was reaffirmed. Members oppose narrowing the business options or limiting the individual freedom of livestock producers to manage or market their products.

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from December 9

MEMBERS ELECT EMPORIA, EUREKA CATTLEMEN TO KLA LEADERSHIP

     KLA members elected Emporia rancher Jaret Moyer as president for the coming year during last week’s annual convention in Wichita. Matt Perrier, a seedstock cattle producer from Eureka, was chosen as the new president elect of the 5,000-member organization.      Moyer’s ranch is focused on growing light cattle using a combination of Flint Hills pastures and a backgrounding facility. He also is president of Citizens State Bank and Trust Company, with locations in Woodbine, Bremen, Gypsum and Reading.
     Moyer serves on both the KLA Executive Committee and KLA Board of Directors. He is a member of the KLA Stockgrowers Council and previously served as the KLA director for Lyon County. Before moving to the Emporia area in 2003, he was involved in the Phillips County KLA Committee. Moyer is a past chairman of the Kansas Beef Council. He is on the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Board of Directors. Moyer serves on the Federation of State Beef Councils Domestic Consumer Preference Committee and Value Subcommittee. He is a past member of the NCBA Retail Committee. Moyer is the current president of Flint Hills Beef Fest, which is the annual celebration of the state’s grass cattle industry.
     Moyer has been actively involved in leadership development programs. He is a past participant in the NCBA Young Cattlemen’s Conference. Moyer has attended the KLA Leadership Conference. He also graduated from the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership program.
He graduated from Kansas State University in 1992 with a degree in animal science. Moyer later completed course work at the graduate school of banking in Madison, WI.
     Moyer and his wife, Shawna, have two daughters. Arissa is a junior at K-State studying ag economics. Sarah is a senior at Northern Heights High School in Allen.
     Perrier represents the fifth generation of his family’s registered Angus and ranching operation in Greenwood County. Dalebanks Angus started as a sheep farm in 1867. It has maintained a registered Angus herd continuously since 1904. Today, the seedstock cattle operation produces genetics for the commercial cow-calf producer.
     The list of industry leadership positions he has held is lengthy. Perrier is a past chairman of the KLA Stockgrowers Council. He currently serves on the KLA Board of Directors and the NCBA Board of Directors. Perrier is a member of the NCBA Ag and Food Policy Committee.
He attended the NCBA Young Cattlemen’s Conference and served as chairman of the group in 2007. Perrier also has attended the KLA Leadership Conference.
     Perrier is a member of the Kansas Animal Health Board and Greenwood County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, of which he is a past president. He is a past member of the U.S. Premium Beef Nominating Committee and Kansas Angus Association Board of Directors. Perrier is a past president of the Greenwood County Cattlemen’s Association and previously served as vice president of the Greenwood Preservation Society, which helped restore the Greenwood Hotel.
     He graduated from K-State in 1996 with a degree in animal science. Prior to coming back to the family business, he was director of retail and foodservice programs for the Pennsylvania Beef Council and served in several staff capacities, including as a regional manager, for the American Angus Association.
     Perrier and his wife, Amy, have four children: Ava, Lyle, Hannah and Henry. They are expecting a fifth child in mid-March. 

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from December 8

BLACH SAYS ELEVATED PRICES MAGNIFY NEED TO MANAGE RISK

      Randy Blach said record setting cattle prices in 2014 have been the result of a perfect storm – decreased cattle numbers, PED virus in pork, a decline in poultry production and an increase in beef demand. But speaking at last week’s KLA Convention during Beef Industry University, sponsored by the Farm Credit Associations of Kansas, he warned ranchers not to “let the good times catch you off guard.”
     “Part of my duty is to wake you up,” said Blach, the executive vice president of CattleFax. “These numbers don’t happen very often, so enjoy it, but don’t go to sleep.”
     He said pork, egg and poultry production is on the rise going into 2015. Blach reminded KLA members to be aware these additional protein supplies will be available in the market.
     Blach sees calf prices softening somewhat, but expects ranchers will sell calves in the low $2/pound-range for years to come.
     “Prices at $2.50 to $2.70 is a bonus, but we can make a lot of money in the low $2 range if we manage costs,” said Blach.
     He said if the fed cattle market starts to soften, the feeder market will as well. And with high prices, volatility can cause large price moves in the market. Now is not the time to ignore risk management, he stressed.
     “Some think they don’t need hedges. But make sure you have protection. It’s not the time to be wide open with what we are seeing,” said Blach.  

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from December 5

HERRING, BLACH LEAD BIU DISCUSSION

     Pay attention to the markets and take advantage of opportunities. That was the theme both Friona Industries President and Chief Executive Officer James Herring and CattleFax Executive Vice President Randy Blach shared during yesterday’s KLA Beef Industry University at the KLA Convention, sponsored by the Farm Credit Associations of Kansas.
     Herring, who spoke about the history of building Friona Industries into one of the largest cattle feeding businesses in the U.S., shared that the company was losing $450,000 per month when he started. Knowing consumers ranked one in four beef eating experiences as unsatisfactory, Herring set out to develop a system of procuring, growing, feeding, harvesting and selling a consistent, quality beef product to consumers.
     By paying attention to market signals and managing risk, Herring developed a plan resulting in 139 different brands of beef originating at Friona.
 Managing risk was a sentiment echoed by Blach, who said to enjoy these times of record-high prices, but “don’t go to sleep.” He said today’s prices are a result of a major supply shock that developed during an uptick in demand.
     Blach said part of his duty is to wake people up, as they are getting too comfortable. He expects prices to soften, but remain profitable in the coming year. Volatility in the market, he said, demands risk management.  

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from December 4

TOP STUDENTS EARN RECOGNITION

     The Kansas Livestock Foundation (KLF) honored 22 students last night during the Cattlemen’s Banquet at the KLA Convention in Wichita. These high-achieving youth were awarded a total of $24,700 for excelling scholastically, in their communities and in livestock industry endeavors.
     KLF scholarship winners, their hometowns and schools they’re attending are Jody Baragary, Tonganoxie, Kansas State University; Sarah Bellar, Howard, Fort Hays State University (FHSU); Eric and Tyler Blythe, White City, K-State; Lindsay Bulk, Riley, K-State; Tristan Davis, Princeton, K-State; Callahan Grund, Wallace, Fort Scott Community College; Jacob Hagenmaier, Randolph, K-State College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM); Brooke Jensen, Courtland, K-State; Ryan Kinsler, Kingman, FHSU; Leigh Ann Maurath, Oakley, K-State/Manhattan Christian College; Brayden Miller, Garnett, Emporia State University; Kaitlin Morgan, Deerfield, K-State; Arissa Moyer, Emporia, K-State; Tyler Murray, Wheaton, Mid Plains Community College; Kacey Rieger, Powhattan, FHSU; Stetson Schmutz, Salina, K-State CVM; Catherine Sharp, Humboldt, K-State; Reid Shipman, Manhattan, Allen County Community College; Barrett Simon, Leon, K-State; Gavin Swearngin, Lawrence, K-State; and Ashley Zelenka, Wilson, K-State.
     Congratulations to all!

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