from February 4


Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) announced at last week’s Cattle Industry Convention in San Diego that it will make online Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training and certification free through April 15. To become certified or re-certified, clickhere.
     During the promotion period, BI will cover the $25 to $50 online training fee for every person who completes BQA training. This ongoing sponsorship by BI has helped get more than 24,000 beef and dairy producers BQA-certified during the last five years.
     The Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University developed the online certification modules used for BQA training. These modules are customized to fit the specific needs of each industry segment, including cow-calf, stocker, feedyard and dairy.
     BQA is a checkoff-funded program designed to help reassure consumers about beef production practices and safety. In addition, producers who have implemented BQA practices report greater cattle productivity.  


from February 3


     The Kansas Department of Agriculture and Kansas State University Department of Ag Economics have released results of the 2015 Bluestem Pasture Report. Responses from the 14-county Flint Hills area were generated as part of last year’s Kansas Pasture Survey, conducted from July through November of 2015.
     For a full summer season contract, the average bluestem pasture lease rate for the 2015 grazing season was $22.44 per acre when care was provided and $20.40 when no care was provided. The price per head for steers and heifers under 700 lbs. averaged $83.80 with a guarantee of 4.3 acres. A full season contract was considered to be May 1 through November 1. The full season price per pair for all cows and calves averaged $148.00, with 7.3 acres guaranteed.
     The average price per acre for partial season bluestem contracts last year was $24.83 with care and $23.38 without. Average prices per head for steers and heifers under 700 lbs. was $94.50 with care and $73.33 without care. Partial season or intensive grazing was defined, on average, by a May 1 start date and an August 1 shipping date.
     Average full year lease rates for a cow and fall calf during the 2015 grazing season was $190.50 with 7.33 acres guaranteed. The average for a cow and spring calf in a full year lease was $196.88 with 7.06 acres guaranteed. Full year lease rates for a cowherd averaged $21.21 per acre.
     About 47% of respondents reported burning pastures last year. The average burning date was April 10, 2015.
     The average rate charged to build a five-wire fence, including materials was $31.08 per rod. Additional fencing and lease rate information can be found in the report, located here.


from February 2


     KLA provided testimony last week in support of proposed changes to the noxious weed (HB 2479) and brand (HB 2480) laws. Additionally, KLA expressed support for SB 349, which would allow custom harvesters to haul 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel without obtaining a hazardous materials endorsement on their commercial driver’s license. If passed in its current form, this exemption also would extend to agrichemical businesses, farm retail outlets and suppliers, and livestock feeders.
     In addition to testimony provided, a number of other bills introduced last week are being analyzed and monitored by KLA lobbyists.
     Nuisance abatement - HB 2539 would give county commissioners authority to order the repair or removal of any structure located in the unincorporated area of a county. The proposal would extend to private property. This would mirror a city’s authority to clean up unsafe or dangerous structures. In 2014, KLA opposed a similar bill citing constitutional concerns and private property rights. A hearing on the bill has not been scheduled.
     Veterinary premises - HB 2523 would require veterinary clinics to provide written notice when animal supervision is not provided outside normal business hours. A hearing on this bill has not been scheduled.
     Vehicle registration fees - A hearing was held on HB 2503 in the House Transportation Committee. The bill would increase fees for registering vehicles by $2 and be credited to the Kansas Highway Patrol Staffing and Training Fund. Monies credited to the fund could only be used by the Kansas Highway Patrol for increasing staff and retaining personnel.
     Members will have an opportunity to provide input and take positions on these and other bills February 17 during the KLA Legislative Meeting and Dinner in Topeka. The meeting will start with a complementary lunch at 11:30 a.m., sponsored by Capital City Bank. KLA lobbyists will review proposed legislation from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The legislative social and dinner starts at 6:00 p.m. All 165 members of the 2016 Kansas Legislature have been invited to join their KLA constituents for the social and dinner. Dinner is $30 per person. To register, click here.  


from February 1


     Kansas cattleman Tracy Brunner ascended to the presidency of NCBA at the end of last week’s Cattle Industry Convention in San Diego, replacing Philip Ellis of Chugwater, WY. Brunner is a fourth-generation rancher and feeder from Ramona. He becomes the fifth KLA member to serve as president of the national organization.
     The past KLA president and Kansas State University alumnus said he is proud of the beef industry because “the right people are growing the right product in the right way.” That pride extends to NCBA, the organization representing beef producers. Brunner contends the group has the structure to be effective.
     “We have promotion and advocacy, research and education,” he said. “We have public policy efforts to ensure beef producers are represented in the halls of Congress and at the table as laws are made.”
     He said NCBA leadership and staff are committed not only to protecting and promoting the beef business of today, but even more importantly, the beef business of tomorrow.
     Brunner will travel extensively during his year as president, visiting NCBA state affiliates and testifying on key issues in Washington, D.C. 


from January 29


Most of the downward spiral from record high cattle prices has occurred, but the overall trend could continue modestly lower for 2016 through 2018, according to comments made by CattleFax Executive Vice President Randy Blach during last week’s Cattle Industry Convention in San Diego. Tight global protein supplies and a strong export market in 2014 transitioned to larger available quantities of beef, pork and poultry and a strong U.S. dollar slowing exports during 2015. According to Blach, those dynamics were responsible for the large price correction in beef and cattle markets.
     CattleFax Senior Analyst Kevin Good, also speaking during the market analysis service’s annual outlook session, said cow-calf producers will be profitable this year, but at substantially lower levels than the past two years. He looks for stocker margins to be tight, with fed cattle on both sides of breakeven. 
     “We predict the cattle feeder will have tight margins for the year overall, with potential for profit mid-year,” said Good. 
     Analysts predicted U.S. beef exports will add $294 per head to cattle prices during the year ahead, a $66 decline from 2014. The challenging export situation is a combined result of the strong U.S. dollar, a continued slowdown in the global market and market access challenges in countries like Russia and China. CattleFax expects U.S. beef imports to be down 8% this year.


from January 28


     The latest survey of beef producers shows 76% approve of the beef checkoff program. Of the 1,200 beef and dairy producers surveyed nationwide, 84% said the beef checkoff has helped contribute to a positive trend in beef demand and 73% said it contributes to the profitability of their operations.
     Other findings indicated 76% of producers believe the checkoff represents their interests and 67% think the checkoff is well-managed.  
     Aspen Media & Market Research conducted the random survey in late December 2015 and early January 2016. Results of the latest attitude survey show support at the same level as a year ago despite more pessimism about what lies ahead for the cattle market.
     Fewer cattle have led to limited checkoff budgets and more producer communications on digital media over the past couple of years. As a result, Investor Relations Working Group Co-Chair Jo Stanko, a Colorado cow-calf producer, said the survey found younger producers better informed and more supportive of checkoff programs than their older counterparts.


from January 27


     Cargill Beef opened a new $50 million beef distribution center last week at the company’s cattle processing facility near Dodge City. Shelving in the building will hold about 133,000 boxes of beef weighing 60 lbs. each, which is equivalent to 17,000 head of cattle. The automated system increases capacity by 70,000 boxes. According to company officials, it replaces a distribution system more than three decades old and brings increased efficiency and better reliability for Cargill’s foodservice, retail and processed foods customers.
     The Dodge City facility is the largest of six Cargill beef processing plants in the U.S. Opened in 1979, the plant currently processes more than 5,400 cattle each day. Beef products from the facility are distributed nationwide and to seven countries around the world.
     “Our processing plant at Dodge City plays a key role in our beef business, and the new distribution system will help us retain our ability to promptly deliver the highest quality products to our customers,” said Cargill Beef President John Keating.


from January 26


     NCBA members, including a large Kansas contingency, will be in San Diego this week for the Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show. Items on the business agenda will include policy development and the election of officers, during which current NCBA President Elect Tracy Brunner from Ramona will take over as president of the organization.
     KLA members will introduce a directive on animal identification for disease traceability during the Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee meeting. Policy approved by KLA members supports the implementation of a voluntary national traceability system in the U.S. It directs NCBA to secure market incentives supporting the adoption of a disease traceability system. Language in the KLA resolution also directs NCBA to support the expansion of private sector verification programs to meet the needs of disease traceability and initiate a collaborative effort with USDA to develop a market access program that helps meet the traceability goals in the new Beef Industry Long-Range Plan.
     Members of KLA will gather in San Diego to discuss issues likely to come up during NCBA policy meetings. The KLA Caucus will be held Thursday (1/28) at 11:30 a.m. in the La Jolla A&B rooms at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.


from January 25


     Numerous new bills surfaced last week as state lawmakers, agencies and special interest groups made bill introduction requests to legislative committees. Below is a summary of a few of the proposals. Members will have the opportunity to provide input and take specific positions on these and other bills during the KLA Legislative Meeting and Dinner, February 17 in Topeka. To register, click here.
     Noxious weed law - The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a January 26 hearing on a bill that would amend the state’s noxious weed law. HB 2479 would repeal the law requiring the Legislature to designate noxious weeds and authorize the Kansas secretary of agriculture to list noxious weeds after receiving input from an advisory committee. KLA supports HB 2479.
     Brand law changes - A bill that would make several changes and updates to Kansas brand laws recently was introduced at the request of the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) Division of Animal Health. HB 2480 would repeal the county-option brand law and the requirement that cattle owners using number brands for individual identification pay a $1.50 fee in addition to their herd identification brand registration.
     CREP - KLA provided testimony last week to the Senate Natural Resources Committee in support of SB 330, which would authorize the KDA Division of Conservation to continue the Upper Arkansas River Conservation Reserve Program (CREP) after June 30, 2016. This program, in existence since 2007, is a partnership between Kansas and USDA that provides incentives to retire water rights along the Upper Arkansas River. HB 2492 is an identical bill assigned to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
     Filing water-use reports - Current law allows the Division of Water Resources (DWR) to assess a civil penalty, not to exceed $250, if a water right owner fails to file an annual water-use report on a timely basis. HB 2491 and SB 337 would increase the maximum penalty to $1,000 and allow the chief engineer of DWR to indefinitely suspend use of a water right if the annual use report is not filed by June 1 in the calendar year in which it is due. 


from January 22


     Producers from across Kansas were in Topeka this week for the KLA Leadership Conference. The educational event exposed members to services provided by KLA, advocacy training and the legislative process.
     The group spent time at the KLA headquarters office getting acquainted with association President Matt Perrier of Eureka and staff. Attendees participated in an interactive session focused on the importance of being a beef industry advocate, including how they can help answer consumer questions about beef production on social media.
     Members attended a Senate Natural Resources Committee meeting and heard from the KLA governmental affairs staff. Each attendee also had the opportunity to meet with their respective legislators to discuss important beef industry issues. An update on national issues affecting the beef industry was highlighted as well.
     In addition, the Kansas Beef Council provided information on how checkoff dollars are used to promote beef, support important industry research and educate consumers about the benefits of including beef in a healthy diet.