Weekly ag briefs: El Paso County squirrel positive with plague, emergency cattle group meeting and more

Compiled by Candace Krebs
Wet wheat field with cattle.

Cattle groups hold emergency meeting amid stalled market

Member-leaders of American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Farmers Union, R-CALF USA and U. S. Cattlemen’s Association held an unprecedented joint meeting on May 10 in Phoenix, Arizona, to identify pressing marketing issues and potential solutions. The groups convened at the request of the Livestock Marketing Association. In a joint statement, the groups said they agreed to take back several action items to their respective organizations for consideration. Those measures include: expedite renewal of USDA Livestock Mandatory Reporting, including formula base prices subject to the same reporting requirements as negotiated cash and the creation of a contract library; demand Department of Justice issue a public investigation status report and as warranted, conduct joint DOJ and USDA oversight of packer activity moving forward; and encourage investment in, and development of, new independent, local and regional packers. In recent weeks, economists have reported profit margins for beef packers as high as $900 a head, while live cattle prices remain stagnant.

NCBA supports conclusion of packer investigation

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is among the groups speaking in support of a letter sent from Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD-AL) asking U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to move forward with an investigation into anticompetitive practices in the meatpacking industry. "Despite strong consumer demand and reopening across much of the country, cattle producers face significant business challenges. The farmers and ranchers NCBA represents are contending with high market volatility, drought, and extreme input costs, and they can't capture the value they deserve for the high-quality product they supply," said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. "We have a high supply of cattle at one end of this equation and a high demand for U.S. beef at the other, but the middle is being absolutely choked by the lack of processing capacity. It’s in the best interests of both producers and consumers for the Department of Justice to get to the bottom of the current market dynamics, and assess why they seemingly always result in producers getting the short end of the deal. Cattle producers deserve to know whether or not the price disparity that has plagued our market is the result of anti-competitive or other inappropriate practices in the packing sector.”

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Finalists selected for national bread contest

After analyzing, mixing, kneading, baking and tasting, a panel of judges has selected the final recipes that will be presented in the seventh National Festival of Breads, sponsored by Red Star Yeast, King Arthur Baking Company and Kansas Wheat. This year’s event, scheduled for June 9, will be held virtually. Finalists in the adult division include Barbara Estabrook, Appleton, Wisconsin, with her Hearty Wild Rice ’n Tart Cherry Bread in the traditional breads category; Susan Simpson, Harrington, Delaware, with Apricot-Raisin Babka Ring in the sweet breads/rolls category; and Anakkarat Barth, Long Beach, California, with her Savory Thai Peanut Sauce Rolls in the savory rolls category. Finalists in the youth division are Maggie Sleichter, Clay Center, Kansas, with Strawberry Lemonade Swirls, and Madee McKee, Wamego, Kansas, with Blueberry Blossom Tree Braids.

New National Park pushed in Southeast Colorado

Governor Jared Polis is calling on the National Park Service to support the inclusion of the former Amache Japanese Internment Camp Site near Granada, Colorado, into the National Park system. The National Park Service is currently evaluating its suitability for inclusion. Inclusions into the National Park system are done either by an act of congress or by the president, with a special resource study underway to provide recommendations on next steps. The Amache site was one of ten illegal internment camps created during World War II, where Japanese Americans and assumed Japanese Americans were incarcerated without cause after having been forcibly removed from their homes and communities. Amache has the unique distinction of having the most Japanese Americans volunteer to enlist in the military, and in having a rare voice of opposition to the concentration camp in former Governor Ralph L. Carr. As the governor of Colorado at the time, Carr stood largely alone among Western political leaders in taking a strong and public stand against the mass incarceration.

Animal Protection Act adopted by two states

The Working Animal Protection Act passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governors of two states, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The act is being advanced by a national membership organization called The Cavalry Group, in an effort to stop animal rights groups from convincing local municipalities to ban legal, law abiding animal-related businesses, according to group president Mindy Patterson. She said the organization is dedicated to “protecting and defending the Constitutional rights of animal owners and animal enterprise,” with the objective of fortifying the rights of animal-based business owners and agritourism enterprises.

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Plague incidence reported in El Paso County

A squirrel tested positive for plague in El Paso County last week, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is reminding residents it’s not uncommon for plague to be present this time of year. Simple precautions can keep the risk of transmission to humans low however. Those include refraining from directly handling any wildlife and preventing pets from hunting prairie dogs and other rodents. Plague is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected flea, but can also be transmitted by infected animal tissues, fluids or respiratory droplets. Symptoms include sudden fever, headache, chills, weakness and sometimes tender, painful lymph nodes.

Vet shortage gains attention in Kansas

Kansas, a state that relies heavily on the cattle industry to power its economy, faces a shortage of beef veterinarians, the Kansas News Service reports. The state has launched a task force to find out how to draw more people into the profession. Cattle ranching and related businesses employ nearly 39,000 people and contribute an estimated $8.7 billion to the Kansas economy.

-Compiled by Candace Krebs