Check out these five stories impacting beef production and ranching this week.
The hot and dry summer continues
The drought map shows that some areas have improved. Parts of the west remain dry, while others have received rain. In the Midwest, many areas are still very dry and actually extend into the northeast.
The heat and drought are adding up to make this a tough year for ranchers. The past three months have been the hottest on record for San Antonio.
The lack of rain not only impacts the land, but also the livestock and herders who depend on it.
Vicki Brehm has owned and operated her family’s cattle ranch for 28 years. Brehm makes all the decisions, but no rain has made him change course.
“This year, we have no pasture. So whatever they eat, we feed it. On this property, we produce eight bales of hay a week,” said Brehm, who feels lucky after stocking up on hay last year.
The drought has caused hay prices to rise, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Big breeders like Brehm already face other costs.
“You can imagine what the water bill is on a monthly basis trying to keep 40 heads and calves in a lot of water, so it’s been tough,” Brehm said.
It is so hot that the cows spend most of their time cooling off in the shade.
Brehm hopes it can rain soon, but feels even a 10-inch rainstorm would only improve conditions for a few weeks.
Lumpy skin disease continues to be a problem worldwide.
“We treated our cows like family members,” says a distraught Abbasbhai, who lives in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
Three of his 11 cows died in July after being infected with lumpy skin disease, a viral infection that affects livestock. Three other of his cows are currently suffering from the disease.
Abbasbhai is one of thousands of cattle owners in Gujarat and at least three other Indian states – Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh – who are reeling from a severe outbreak of lumpy skin disease.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has described it as “a vector-borne smallpox disease” which is “characterized by the appearance of skin nodules”.
The infection is caused by the Capripox virus – which is genetically similar to the viruses that cause goat pox and sheep pox – and has been labeled an “emerging threat to livestock globally” by health partnership Gavi, the Food Alliance. vaccine. Experts said it is likely to infect cows at a higher rate than buffaloes.
The disease was endemic in many African countries for years and has spread to other parts of the world over the years.
The infection is usually transmitted by certain species of mosquitoes, ticks and other blood-feeding insects.
“The disease causes bumps on the animal’s body and when flies and mosquitoes sit on them, they transfer the infection to other healthy animals,” says Dr Ravi Israni, a senior veterinary officer. of the state of Rajasthan.
He adds that the epidemic may have worsened due to heavy rains in the monsoon season.
The disease can cause fever and infertility in livestock and reduce milk production – a severe blow for many rural households, which depend on the sale of milk to make ends meet.
“The mortality rate of this disease is 1-5%,” says Anil Virani, who works in Gujarat’s livestock department.
More than 2,600 cattle in Gujarat have died from the disease so far according to official estimates – but BBC Gujarati ground reports indicate the toll could be higher. Nearly 6,000 animals are believed to have died in the neighboring state of Rajasthan.
A distressed villager in Gujarat’s Kutch district – which is one of the worst affected – told BBC Gujarati that “around 30 to 40 cows are dying every day”.
Hundreds of animals are also suffering from the infection in the northern states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
“We have seen that a goat pox vaccine works against this disease and takes 15 to 20 days to become effective,” says Virani.
Farmers in Rajasthan and Gujarat claimed state governments had not acted quickly enough to control the spread of the disease.
But the administrative mechanisms of both states are in full swing now – Gujarat Agriculture Minister Raghavji Patel said the state government has vaccinated 300,000 cattle so far.
He added that the state was buying 1.1 million doses of goat pox vaccine to make up for a shortfall.
Rajasthan has also been monitoring the affected districts and deploying additional resources to deal with the situation, BBC Hindi reported.
In the meantime, Abbasbhai’s day begins and ends trying to care for his three cows who are suffering from the infection.
“I feel sad thinking about my cows that died,” he says.
“But I will continue to take care of them as much as possible.”
U.S. consumers struggling with soaring inflation are being hit even harder by high beef prices as ranchers reduce their cattle herds due to drought and high feed costs, a move that will tighten the livestock supply for years, economists said.
Falling cattle numbers, combined with high costs for other production expenses, illustrate why a recent drop in grain prices to levels not seen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one of major exporters of corn and wheat, may not immediately translate into lower food prices at the grocery store.
Feed is the largest cost component of raising a cow for beef, so lower grain prices often help lower meat prices. But meat companies like Tyson Foods Inc, which reported weaker-than-expected profits on Monday, are paying top dollar for animals when there are fewer to slaughter. Processors also pay more for labour, fuel and other items.
“There’s really a lot of distance between the price of these grains and the price of these products at the meat counter,” said Bernt Nelson, an economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Corn futures’ prices have fallen 26% since hitting a 10-year high in April after war in Ukraine sparked global supply concerns. Prices are still up 9% from a year ago, at around $6 a bushel.
Lower prices are benefiting cattle producers, although US government data shows ranchers as of July 1 had already reduced the country’s cattle herd by about 2% from a year earlier to a low in this date for about seven years.
Producers are likely to liquidate even more livestock due to the drought, Shane Miller, president of fresh meats at Tyson Foods, said on a conference call after the quarterly results. Chief executive Donnie King forecast cattle and beef prices to rise in 2023 and 2024.
The announcement of plans to complete the sale of a North Platte Retired Sewer Lagoon signaled the approach of Sustainable Beef LLC’s long-awaited plant grand opening.
The city’s Community Redevelopment Authority will meet at City Hall at 9 a.m. Thursday, passing a resolution executing the $142,500 sale to beef plant organizers listed as a final order of the day.
This step presupposes the completion of Sustainable Beef’s $325 million financial package, as required by the city council which approved a plan to redevelop the old lagoon on December 7.
“I haven’t seen the document, but that’s my understanding” that the funding has been closed, Mayor Brandon Kelliher said Monday afternoon.
Based on this, he said, “the ARC will act appropriately on the basis of previous resolutions of the board and the ARC.”
Sustainable Beef organizers had to show proof of a signed construction contract and full project funding to secure title to the 80-acre site east of Newberry Access and south of Golden Road.
The council took a preliminary step in that direction on July 19, voting 7-0 to pass an ordinance ceding the old lagoon to the CRA.
The five-member panel will first be invited on Thursday to finalize its purchase of the site from the city. An action to sell it at the same price of $142,500 to Sustainable Beef will follow.
The project’s CEO, David Briggs of Alliance, did not return messages seeking comment. Gary Person, president and CEO of the North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp., referred questions to Briggs.
Organizers of Sustainable Beef, primarily in western Nebraska, announced the 1,500 head a day project in March 2021, stating their desire to increase capacity in the U.S. beef industry and give regional ranchers a another place to sell their livestock beyond the country’s “big four” meat packers.
After several public hearings and a trip to a similar Idaho plant by a community delegation, the board gave 8-0 approval to $21.5 million in tax increase funding in addition to the sale of the plant. sewer lagoon.
Prior to this decision, council members in August 2021 approved a pair of $500,000 forgivable project planning loans from the City’s Quality Growth Fund and the Northern Energy Economic Development Fund. -West.
The Legislature also participated by passing a budget bill on April 7 including $20 million for Sustainable Beef’s in-house wastewater treatment system by allocating the $1.04 billion share of federal COVID-19 relief. 19 of Nebraska through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Organizers are planning a one-shift, 1,500-head-a-day beef processing plant. Some 875 jobs are expected to be created by the plant, with hundreds more from related businesses expected to follow.