Beef in Winter Options and Preparation

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Winter in the Northeast is bound to be cold, with snow or freezing rain, no matter where your farm is located. But some areas experience substantially more precipitation, snowfall and colder temperatures than others.

No matter where or how cattle are kept in the winter, they need to be able to eat enough to produce the energy needed to stay warm and healthy and they need to be kept dry. It’s not the cold or even the snow cover that negatively impacts healthy cows: it’s the moisture, mud and wind. Although cattle with adequate body condition can handle cold weather, getting wet, experiencing a wind chill or standing in mud are detrimental to even the hardiest cows. But these factors can be handled successfully in many beef management systems.

Some farmers are going to keep cattle outside all winter, 24/7, either in areas with natural shelters such as trees, or with built shelters from the wind and rain. Others bring animals into the barn during severe storms only, whereas some farmers will opt to keep the herd confined in the barnyard for the duration of the winter season. Feedlot producers may need to adjust bedding management for the colder months and establish wind breaks around the lot to keep the cattle comfortable and dry.

Farmer Louis Tommaso, of L.L. Pittenger Farm in Andover, New Jersey, has managed his herd of approximately 70 beef cows, a mix of Hereford, Simmental and Piedmontese genetics, outdoors year-round, in the northwestern corner of New Jersey, not far from the southern New York and eastern Pennsylvania borders for the past 15 years. The pastures include forested areas, where trees act as natural windbreaks and provide shelter from precipitation. Several areas also have lean-to structures available during inclement weather.

“They prefer the woods over the shelter,” and will choose the woods when given the option, Tommaso said of his herd.

Winter pasture

Some pastured herds graze rotationally on stockpiled forages even when snow is on the ground, receiving supplemental feed as needed. Others are primarily fed while on pasture, with feeding areas adjusted to prevent any heavy use areas.

Tommaso pastures his animals in a rotational system using 20 acres of pasture land. He grows hay on 20 acres of cropland and corn silage on another 20 acres, to supplement the herd. The animals are primarily grass-fed, but do receive small amounts of supplemental corn silage, free-choice, along with fed hay.

Tommaso provides two feeders in his pastures, one for corn silage and one for hay. In the fall, the amount of supplemental feed is increased as the animals rely less on pasture grazing and to help condition the animals for the winter season. Tommaso does not stockpile forage and supplements the herd with his stored feeds to provide for their energy needs while out on pasture during the cold winter months.

Certain pasture forages, such as sudangrass, become toxic after a frost event and need to be avoided for several weeks afterward to prevent prussic acid poisoning, Melanie Barkley, Penn State Extension livestock educator, cautioned. Producers pasturing herds outside of the primary growing season need to be careful to monitor for frost events, she said.

It’s becoming more common for beef producers to actively practice winter grazing by stockpiling forages on some pastures. Healthy cattle are able to graze through almost a foot of snow, although it is not recommended for calves or pregnant cows. One challenge for producers is not knowing exactly how much forage is available in the snow-covered pasture; ice coverage can also be a concern, according to Jenn Colby, pasture program coordinator at the Center for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Vermont.

Colby said that making stored feed available while the herd is on stockpiled pasture will allow them to balance their nutritional needs and prevent concerns. Winter grazing of any type requires active, daily management, she said, to appropriately manage changing conditions.

Other producers might want to consider keeping cattle off of pastures in the winter, Ashley McFarland, Cornell Cooperative Extension regional livestock specialist, said. McFarland recommended that cattle be overwintered in a barnyard or a sacrifice lot, since there typically is not enough feed left to graze on New England area pastures and grazing what is there can impact next season’s growth.

Feed and water needs

“Animals will eat more in the colder temperatures, in order to provide extra calories for heat energy. Cattle require more feed in the winter months than they do out in the warmer months,” McFarland said. “They will also require more feed outside than if they were in a barn.”

No matter what is being fed to meet the nutritional needs and maintain body condition – pasture, hay, corn silage or other rations – or how the animals are housed, the amount of feed needed will be more than what they normally would consume in milder conditions.

“The forage consumed needs to be adequate in protein and energy to meet nutritional needs of the cattle. Most average to high quality forages will do this unless cattle need to improve body condition scores and the forages available are not high enough quality to do this,” Barkley said. “Cattle will need additional feed resources during colder temperatures and during cold rains. A cold rain is when the temperatures are in the 30s and low 40s. The additional feeds are needed to account for the energy to keep the animals warm.”

When feeding on pasture, hay can be bale grazed in different parts of the pasture to prevent damage and spread out the manure. Hay not eaten is then trampled into the pasture, improving soils. Feeders can be moved around paddocks to avoid the development of heavy use areas, too. Tommaso is careful to provide sufficient spacing for all herds to maneuver around the feeders and avoids low-lying areas when mud or ice is a concern.

Water is as important as feed and during the winter animals still need adequate amounts of water. If they do not drink enough water, they will limit their feed intake and not be able to meet their energy needs. Water that is frozen, or overly cold, will not be consumed as readily as warmer water.

The watering system at L.L. Pittenger Farm is an automatic flow system that feeds into several 150-gallon tubs, equipped with heaters. But Tommaso can’t put in underground piping, so the automatic flow system will freeze in the cold winter and is not used once the temperature drops. In the winter, he hauls water out to the pastures twice each day, filling the heated waterers manually.

“Producers utilize a variety of methods to keep water from freezing,” Barkley said. “Constantly flowing water systems, such as spring development or streams and water systems that vector heat from the ground are both options, as well as heating elements placed in watering systems to keep water temperatures just above freezing.”

Colby stated that although cows can eat snow, it takes more energy for them to do so than just drinking water. The animals have to expend their energy to bring the snow up to body temperature. A centralized watering system, protected from freezing, is recommended.

Winter herd health

“Beef producers should pay attention to body condition on their cows and first-calf heifers,” Barkley recommended. “Both should be body condition scored, with the goal of having cows reach a body condition score of five to seven and heifers of six to seven, by calving time. Cows and heifers with lower body condition scores at calving tend to take longer to rebreed and thus would calve later the following year.”

Adequately maintaining body condition during the winter begins with fall feeding and culling any questionable animals from the herd. Overwintering animals that have the energy reserves needed for cold weather survival is always the best option.

“In prepping them for the wintertime, it’s critical to get good body condition on them,” Tommaso said, noting that while he doesn’t formally use body condition scoring, he doesn’t want to see any ribs or hip bones and is “looking for a nice layer of fat going into the winter.”

His culling decisions combine body condition and the availability of his feed supply going into the winter months. Other prep means ensuring the animals are parasite-free before winter.

“Doing a hard cull before winter will allow the winter months to go much smoother for the farmer,” McFarland said, recommending consideration of body condition scoring, udder issues, feet issues and overall health issues.

Nutritional deficiencies and cold stress can contribute to winter lice, McFarland said, which can spread rapidly through the herd, requiring treatment. Pneumonia is another cold weather concern. Mud can get caked into hooves and cause hoof rot.

“Producers should also consult with their veterinarian for parasite control as well as vaccination schedules,” Barkley said. Observe cattle daily for signs of illness and “watch for any cattle that stand away from the herd or have their ears hanging down. They will often appear listless, also.”

Winter calving

Even the experts have different opinions on winter calving. Depending on the region, it may or may not be recognized. Tommaso calves in the winter, with calving occurring any time from January through September in his herd. Part of that is due to natural service breeding, as using a bull provides less control over conception timing than artificial insemination, he said. Pregnant cows are kept with the general population, which is sufficiently supplemented to meet their pregnancy needs.

“Particularly in the wintertime, when we go out each day to feed, as the cows gather at the two feeders, we’ll observe the herd closely,” he said, looking for signs of calving and if possible, getting the cow into a shelter to give birth. But calves are often born on pasture and he has not lost any in the past three winter seasons. Unless there are excessive amounts of snow or a rain or freezing rain, mom and calf typically do very well with pasture birthing.

“Calving inside is recommended if you are insisting on having calves born in the winter months. Winter calving is not recommended, nor is it a common practice, in the Northeast,” McFarland said. “Calving during the cold months is very hard on calves due to the unpredictable weather. Calves born into mud will tend to get chilled or stuck into it. This is a setback for the calf and it will possibly need to be treated for an illness.”

Barkley, however, does see a lot of winter calving being done successfully in Pennsylvania, primarily in late winter into early spring, from March to May.

“When calving in the winter, cows should have access to an area that blocks the wind. This could be a natural windbreak or something manmade. This can be as simple as round bales, a wooden wall, or something more substantial such as a barn,” Barkley said. “Cattle are much healthier calving outside as compared to calving inside a barn because of issues related to pneumonia or scours. Calves can thrive in most conditions as long as they receive adequate amounts of milk,” although mud is a concern due to its chilling effect.

There is no one right answer to winter calving decisions, or to winter beef herd management practices. Each producer has to make decisions based upon their own specific land base, infrastructure and overall management philosophy.

Keeping the herd healthy all winter long begins before the cold weather arrives. Having enough feed stocks to provide the additional energy needed during cold weather; offering some protection from wind and moisture; beginning the winter with healthy stock in good body condition; and assessing the herd daily – all of these practices help to ensure that beef herds and their farmers can thrive through the cold winter months.

Tools To Increase Beef Competitiveness And Profitability

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There are a lot of variables unique to each stocker enterprise, which can change the aforementioned example. However, for the astute producer, it looks as if running stocker cattle in 2017 will be another profitable year.

It’s been another summer for the record books. Last year we couldn’t buy rain, and this year we can’t get it to stop. I guess the only constant we can count on is change.

For stocker operators who don’t worry so much about dry hay production, the wet weather has kept the pastures growing nicely. This should promote higher gains per acre and allow for some stockpiling. Stockpiled forages can be used for late-season grazing of current stockers, or for a new batch of stocker calves. This is an advantage of running stocker cattle; if a market opportunity presents itself, you have the flexibility to take advantage of extra feed or cheaper fall priced calves.

What about this year? The stocker grazing season is about over and for some farms has already ended. One of the tools stocker operators now have is the Livestock Market Reporting service provided by an agreement between Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Market Service and funded by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. This provides detailed prices on feeder and slaughter cattle and can be located at the USDA.

A sample of the July feeder cattle sale at Finger Lakes Livestock Exchange (FLLE) in Canandaigua, New York, is shown in the table at right. Note first the large difference between medium and large 1 (ML1) steers and medium and large 2 (ML2) steers. ML1 cattle are heavier muscled than ML2 cattle.

For example, an ML1 steer with an average weight of 778 pounds brought $134.44/cwt compared with the 724-pound ML2 steers at $126.03/cwt. That’s a difference of $8.41/cwt or $60 to $65/hd. Use this website to evaluate effect of weight, sex, frame score and muscling on the price for feeder and slaughter cattle.

Feeder Sale Results

Albany, New York, Saturday, July 8, 2017, USDA — Cornell University Finger Lakes Livestock Exchange Special Feeder Sale — Canandaigua, New York, Feeder Cattle Weighted Average Report for July 7, 2017

By Receipts:

  • Today: 474
  • Last sale: 449
  • Year ago: N/A

Compared to the last sale, feeder steers sold mostly $4 to $5 lower. Holstein steers sold steady to $1 lower. Feeder heifers sold $3 to $4 lower. Feeder bulls from 300 to 700 pounds sold $2 to $3 higher while the 700- to 1,100- pound bulls sold $4 to $5 lower. Cattle supply: moderate. Demand: moderate. Feeder cattle supply consisted of 30 percent steers,11 percent Holstein steers, 43 percent heifers and 16 percent bulls, with 73 percent weighing over 600 pounds. Cattle supply consisted of 191 steers, 193 heifers and 90 bulls.

Now let’s examine the projected profitability of running stocker cattle this summer. At the May 8, 2017, feeder sale at FLLE, 451-pound ML1 steers brought $147.65/cwt and 544-pound steers sold for $147.89.

I used a spreadsheet developed by Oklahoma State University to make the calculations with cattle placed on pasture at two weights, 450 pounds and 550 pounds. I assumed that the cattle were purchased two weeks before pasture turnout and fed a receiving diet consisting of hay and grain. They grazed for 150 days with an average daily gain of 1.5 pounds. While on pasture, the cost of gain was $0.60/pound of gain. Total feed cost of gain, which included the receiving program, was $0.69/pound and $0.71/pound for low- and high-weight steers. A summary of the expenses is shown as follows with a break-even needed to cover these costs.

How do we know if these cattle that are projected to be sold in October will meet their breakeven? A tool developed through a collaboration with Custom Ag Solutions Inc., Kansas State University and the USDA’s Risk Management Agency can be found at BeefBasis.com. At this site under forecasting tools you will find basis and price forecast. Using Virginia as the location, when I ran this tool it predicted that low- and high-weight steers would bring $140/cwt, above the breakeven. This tool also gives you a confidence interval, which is the expected range in price. For this scenario the interval is $134/cwt to $147/cwt. At the bottom end of the interval the low-weight steers would still be profitable whereas the high-weight steers would lose approximately $17/hd.

There are a lot of variables unique to each stocker enterprise, which can change the aforementioned example. However, for the astute producer, it looks as if running stocker cattle in 2017 will be another profitable year.

Why Talking about the Safety of Your Beef Product is Crucial

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Federal inspection at beef plants is mandatory and provided at no charge to the plant. You — the taxpayer — foot the bill. Meat inspection was born from a series of events.

You’ve heard it and read it many times that you need to “tell your story.” As a beef producer, you have a great story to tell about the safety of your product. This is one that I know very few consumers know about but it is significant in regards to beef safety. Whether you sell direct to the consumer using a local processing plant or sell feeder cattle that eventually makes it to a large commercial plant, this story applies to all federally inspected plants.

First, a few basics. Federal inspection at beef plants is mandatory and provided at no charge to the plant. You — the taxpayer — foot the bill. Meat inspection was born from a series of events:

  • Importers not abiding by our standards in the late 1800s;
  • President Teddy Roosevelt’s investigation into meat packers;
  • The awareness created by the 1906 publication of Upton Sinclair’s book “The Jungle.”

The result was the Meat Inspection Act of 1906, making inspection is the responsibility of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition to federal inspection, some states have their own meat inspection system. Meat inspected in this manner must be held to the same or higher standards as federal inspection. Unlike federal inspection, this meat cannot be sold across state lines.

Carcass grading, on the other hand, is not required but voluntary; as such there is a fee associated with the USDA personnel to grade carcasses. This is why small plants do not provide this service. It is just not economically viable. This does make it a challenge to get a handle on carcass quality in our local plants.

The major part of your story about beef safety is the inspection process that is in place. Most importantly, every animal that comes off the truck is visually inspected by a FSIS inspector — not just some, but each and every one of the 30 million cattle that are processed annually.

That’s pretty amazing. If an animal looks suspect for any reason to the inspector, it is slaughtered separately and automatically sampled. When this “inspector generated sample” is collected, the carcass is held, depending on the results of laboratory testing. If a carcass is found to contain violative residues it is further tested to confirm the initial results. While waiting for the confirmatory results the carcass is cut into primals and frozen. So the notion that any animal can get into the food chain is just plain false.

One would assume this population of suspect animals would be most likely to have violative residues. After all, the FSIS inspector determined that this animal may have been administered antibiotics. However, of all suspect beef and dairy sampled, only seven-hundredths of 1 percent (0.07 percent) of the beef cattle were confirmed containing violative residues (FY 2016).

What a great story to tell! All animals are visually inspected and only 0.07 percent contain violative residues. Now this is not zero percent, and therefore is not acceptable. However, this is good evidence that producers across the country have adopted programs such as Beef Quality Assurance and implemented best management practices to keep the percentage of violative residues in decline.

But there’s more to the story. Each federally inspected plant has to randomly sample carcasses and their tissues for residues (referred to as scheduled sampling). This random sample has been statistically determined to find any evidence of violative residues. For scheduled sampling, in the most recent report, there is no evidence of violative residues in beef carcasses.

You’ve heard the expression: “We’re from the government and we’re here to help you.” Well, in this case, the government has designed a system that is meant to help you as producer assure consumers that your product is safe. Based on the most recent results, you as a producer have stepped up and kept antibiotics out of your product. It’s been a win-win situation. Now go out and tell your story to anyone who will listen.

Reference on sampling: U.S. National Residue Program: FY 2016 Residue Sample Results

Humanely Raised Beef 101

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Photos: Animal Welfare Approved, A Program of A Greener World

Food that is “humanely raised” is in high demand, according to recent literature from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services. The publication reported that 51 percent of consumers indicate that humanely raised food is important or very important when weighing purchasing decisions. The report also found that 68 percent of respondents want to learn how farmers maintain animals while they’re being raised.

Concerns for humanely raised food were more important than food that was fair trade or organic, among other specialty claims. This report also noted that humanely raised products, including meat, could garner at least 10 percent, potentially more, in spending from consumers.

Current state of beef production

Including calves meant for veal production and the 10 million used for milk production, Colt W. Knight, Ph.D., assistant professor of Extension and state livestock specialist at the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension, said that although there are 90 million cattle in the United States, “Only about 28 to 29 million are slaughtered a year for beef.” Beginning with “cow-calf operations,” as Knight said, the standard method of beef production consists of raising cows and their birthed calves until each calf is approximately 400 pounds. Then he explained the rest of a cattle’s pre-slaughter lifetime.

“[In] a stocker operation, in states where they have a surplus of grass or forage, these animals go there and live off eating that surplus grass until they’re old enough to go into a feedlot operation. Or they go into a background facility, which is a mix between stockers and getting them ready to go into the feedlot,” Knight said. “The cattle will actually get fed grain, but more forage than grain [and] when animals are about a year old, they’ll enter into a feedlot. That’s where we feed more grain and feed the animals until they’re about 1,300 or 1,400 pounds, and then they’re slaughtered at about 18 months old.”

A Greener World offers a grass-fed certification, Certified Grassfed by AGW.
A Greener World offers a grass-fed certification, Certified Grassfed by AGW.

Why the demand for humanely raised beef

With many people unfamiliar with the farm-to-table process of raising cattle, people don’t necessarily know what happens before their meat reaches the supermarket. This lack of knowledge combines with documentaries and animal welfare groups issuing content that raises concerns, as Knight mentioned, “Some of [which] are legitimate and some are sensationalized.”

With grass-fed beef seeing more interest, especially in Maine, this could present beef livestock owners with an opportunity to help qualify for humane certification because some humane certification programs mandate animals are pasture-raised, not relegated to a feedlot. Obtaining humane beef certification may be an option that could reach another consumer segment.

Certification overview

Andrew Gunther, executive director of A Greener World and who speaks on behalf of the Animal Welfare Approved certifying organization, stated that a farm audit or plant review is a straightforward process; it’s just an evaluation of the operation’s compliance with AWA’s published standards.

“The auditor inspects all aspects of the farm, including the land, animals, shelter, feed, supplements, pest control, transport equipment and records,” he said. “We are a farming-based program driven by practical science and grounded in the everyday reality of farm life. We also recognize that each farmer is the expert on their own farm. With that understanding we don’t tell farms how to meet our standards, we just verify whether they are meeting them. All of our audits are confidential and participation in the program is voluntary.”

Gunther noted that his organization works with farmers and ranchers across the U.S. and Canada with a focus on the independent farmer.

“At the end of the day, they are a farmer who has to make a living from farming,” he said. “We require the animals to be on pasture and range. We allow very few alterations to the animal and we prohibit castration beyond a certain age. It’s very animal centered. As part of that you then have some environmental outcomes in terms of making sure we don’t use herbicides and chemicals.”

Steps for certification

As part of the application and auditing process, Philip Ackerman-Leist, director of the Green Mountain College Farm & Food Project and professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, highlighted criteria that is part of the processes to become certified.

Examples of anatomical modifications

When it comes to “the disbudding or dehorning,” as Ackerman-Leist said, guidelines exist within different organizations. For example, with Animal Welfare Approved Standards, hot iron cauterization is permitted for disbudding only, but only up to the first two months of a calf’s life. Anesthetizing agents must also be applied to the impacted areas, per AWA’s requirements.

Castration

Ackerman-Leist also cautioned farmers to be aware of an organization’s specific castration guidelines.

“Castration starts to bring in similar types of questions as to when that’s allowed. That varies in terms of how highly regulated the castration is in terms of timing and process.”

AWA forbids the use of manmade or natural chemical castration or testosterone blocking methods, including interfering with natural immune system responses to induce castration. Ring or rubber band castration is not allowed for calves after they are 7 days old. Burdizzo castration and scalpel methods are not allowed on calves older than two months.

Slaughter requirements

“At the same time we’re probably looking at where the animals will be slaughtered and looking at sending somebody to the slaughter plant to make sure everything [that] goes on at the slaughter plant is [in] compliance with our standards,” Gunther said.

Confinement considerations

If certification is being considered, Ackerman-Leist suggests looking at your farm’s infrastructure and feeding routine because it directly impacts animal management and therefore certification.

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AWA is a market-based certification program that gives farmers and ranchers credit for sustainable practices.

AWA is a market-based certification program that gives farmers and ranchers credit for sustainable practices.

Ackerman-Leist discussed how confinement impacts cattle and how that must be considered for certification, which varies depending on the individual certifying agency.

“I think that most of us agree that it’s an issue of confinement. Confinement has several different issues that are important to consider. One is the comfort of the animal and its ability to get out and move around,” Ackerman-Leist said.

Management concerns Ackerman-Leist raised include if cattle come back to or are left in the same place. Without adequate consideration, fecal matter can build up and may become pervasive in the environment, including the feed. Disease issues may arise, which can call into question use of antibiotics.

With confinement normally requiring feed brought to the animal, it can impact the animal’s health. Because those on pasture are naturally able to exercise more, it also increases the “disbursal rate” of fecal matter and urine. This lowers the risk of potential diseases, chiefly parasites, reducing the risk of cattle becoming sick.

Although each certification organization has their unique standards, Ackerman-Leist also pointed out that the “distinguishing factor is access to pasture, sometimes that’s defined as DMI or dry matter intake,” such as with the 2011 USDA/Organic standards stipulating 30 percent of DMI originating from pasture. He continues to explain how seasonality impacts regional requirements.

“That becomes a seasonal question as to how far you can stretch that out. When you look at the different standards,” Ackerman-Leist explained, “it typically jibes with the amount of time that it’s reasonable to have animals out on pasture. That might be as little as 120 days in certain environments or as much as 365 days in other environments.”

Of all the factors, he puts great emphasis on the feeding pattern, and asks how the farmer is managing their pasture.

AWA standards necessitate “continuous outdoor pasture access for all beef cattle.”

Additionally, although a rotational approach is the preferred method for beef cattle to range upon, it’s not the only acceptable manner, as long as there’s an acceptable alternative that still provides that a “goal of high welfare is not jeopardized” per AWA’s standards.

Along with pasture activities not removing more than 20 percent of the area, there are limited exceptions to the pasture requirements. Examples include if pasture is subject to snow cover or weather or safety considerations. Documented in writing through an “animal management” plan, farmers must list what environmental factors prompted the removal, the space used in accordance with AWA’s guidelines and what factors will permit animals back on pasture for any scheduled off-pasture housing or for unscheduled removals from pasture beyond 28 days.

Nutritional considerations

When it comes to nutritional requirements, as Knight noted, becoming humanely certified may entail a prohibition on using “growth promotants,” which includes hormone implants or certain antibiotics, like Rumensin. In contrast to meat sales, regardless of the type of meat and the type and frequency of growth promotants, generally speaking, there’s a required time frame for all animals slaughtered to have either substance withheld before they are slated for slaughter. Knight explained, “The withdrawal period is there so that they naturally clear out from their system.”

Benefits for producers of humanely raised beef

Ackerman-Leist said this type of certification can help a producer set their operation apart.

“There are more small- to medium-scale producers, along with large-scale producers. For those of us who are small to mid-scale, there are more and more around, which is a promising thing. [However], it means that whereas we’ve had to differentiate ourselves in the larger market place, we’re also having to differentiate ourselves from one another, even within our own communities.”

Impacts of a stressful environment, as Knight explained, can impact an animal’s immune system, making it function suboptimally, increasing the chances of an infection. It can also reduce the quality of a slaughtered animal or as he puts it, “treating your animals better translates into a better product.”

How treatment negatively impacts beef cattle

Knight noted that another benefit of humanely raised beef is increased marketability to slaughterhouses and processing facilities. He explained that slaughterhouses and processing plants look at every carcass to determine its characteristics. Naturally, better carcasses command better prices and incentivize an ongoing relationship for future purchases. As Knight said, “From a production standpoint, humanely raised animals provide better carcasses, and better carcasses sell better.”

“Sustainability is an outcome of place. It’s not necessarily an outcome of system,” Gunther said. “If you take care of the animal, you take care of the land and you take care of your local community and the consumer, you’ll have a truly sustainable product.”

Read more: What Do Beef Labels Mean?

Celebrating May Beef Month

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What is the state of the New York beef industry?

As I drive across the state talking with producers, feed dealers, veterinarians and Cooperative Extension educators, the message is the same: “There are beef herds popping up all over the place.” With the dairy industry relocating to lands more suited to crop production, these once former dairy farms are again supporting a larger beef population.

The graph illustrates that beef cow numbers peaked in 1976 and declined through the 1990s. This followed a national trend. Beginning in 1991 beef cow numbers in New York increased nearly 70 percent. With adequate rainfall, excellent forage quality, relatively mild weather and strong markets, beef production is poised for continued growth.

A recent CattleFax survey asked its producer members about their annual cow carrying costs. The Intermountain West was highest at $637/cow, with the Southeast lowest at $565/cow. The upper Midwest through the Northeast U.S. was intermediate at $590/cow. Our abundant forage is a resource that gives us a competitive advantage and one that deserves our focus.

One challenge that northeastern beef producers face is marketing feeder calves from their small cow herds. To attract buyers, health risk on these cattle must be reduced and then aggregated into larger load lots to increase procurement efficiency. Two groups, one in central New York and another in southwest New York, have addressed this by offering calves weaned for a minimum of 30 days and vaccinated utilizing a uniform program to reduce risk of respiratory disease. The producers have been rewarded with premiums over cattle not presented in the same way.

The potential to increase economic development of our former dairy lands is evidenced by the financial support of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Through Harvest New York, they have funded the work of Livestock Processing and Marketing Specialist MacKenzie Waro. She has already had an impact through facilitation of several processing workshops and is currently conducting an extensive evaluation of processing and slaughter plants in New York and New England. The New York State Department of Agriculture has also funded the Stocker Initiative, which is focusing on increasing awareness of this enterprise as well as training would-be entrepreneurs. Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball sees the resources available and wants to revitalize rural communities. Stocker cattle are one key component to that revitalization.

Markets for grass-finished cattle are growing. Most farmers like production but are not too keen on marketing. There are an increasing number of organizations that are facilitating getting grass-finished beef to the large consumer base just hours within our reach.

Another specialty market that our savvy producers have begun to fill is “natural.” These markets do not allow added hormones and feed-delivered antibiotics. The connection between cattle that are coming off grass as stockers and the natural finisher is a natural. These stocker cattle are older, have an improved immune system and in general are healthier. This makes a perfect fit for the two production and marketing systems.

Direct-to-consumer sales is a key component to the marketing landscape. Matt LeRoux, marketing specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension Specialist in Tompkins County, New York, has worked to make it easier for consumers to find locally produced meat. The Meat Suite is a region-wide website connecting consumers to farmers. The Meat Locker project provides freezer space for consumers to store their locally sourced meats.

The future is bright for the beef industry in New York and New England. With reasonable cost of production and a consumer base that is the envy of all, producers can proceed with confidence. However, no matter how you slice it, agriculture is not a “get rich quick” scheme. To provide a reasonable level of family income the producer has to be diligent in keeping costs down and never become complacent in a given production or marketing practice.

May is Beef Month – let’s celebrate what beef has to offer to consumers and Northeast farmers alike.

Read more: Checking the Beef Checkoff

Forage-Based Beef 2017 Program Recap

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It’s all about the beef. More specifically, it’s about grass-fed beef. The demand for grass-fed beef has been increasing in recent years, even as that of beef raised in feedlots, with grain-based diets, has been decreasing.

It’s all about the beef. More specifically, it’s about grass-fed beef. The demand for grass-fed beef has been increasing in recent years, even as that of beef raised in feedlots, with grain-based diets, has been decreasing, said Don Woodring, Education Program Associate, District 7 Agriculture Program Coordinator, Penn State Extension.

“That forage-based beef consumption continues to grow in the U.S. even as feedlot, corn-finished beef consumption has seen some decline over the years, demonstrates a trend – not a fad – that consumers want another option concerning beef,” Woodring said. “The reasons are many and varied why consumers are demanding forage-fed beef. My goal is to help producers get through the particular challenges of a forage-based operation and achieve a quality product that the consumer enjoys.”

With that in mind, Woodring — along with Jessica Williamson, Ph.D, Extension Forage Specialist and Dave Hartman, Extension Livestock Educator — has developed a program to assist new and long-term grazers in producing the highest quality beef possible. The program will include all aspects of producing beef on pasture forages from calf to consumer.

“Forage-Based Beef – a Penn State Extension Series on Getting It Right,” brings producers a wide range of topics relevant to raising quality beef on pasture. Partnering with other agencies, including the Lycoming County Farm Service Agency and Conservation District, the USDA and the PA Grazing Land Coalition, the program’s mission is to help producers succeed in their beef operations. The multi-faceted pilot program was launched with a spring classroom session last April and a twilight pasture walk this past fall.

“Our goal is to bring science-based information to the producers who need it to help them better manage their operation efficiently and profitably with an outcome of a quality product,” Woodring said. “My concern was that new producers who might have experience in grain-fed beef or dairy operations, or some people with no experience at all, would not have enough information to actually bring a quality product to market. The focus of the program is forage-based, but any beef operator can learn from the series.”

It’s notable that Woodring uses the term “forage-based,” rather than grass-fed, to describe the program’s purpose. While much debate over grass-fed versus grain-fed beef has occurred in the past few years, the reality is that cows can be grazing more than just grasses.

“Forage-based is more inclusive and representative of grazing management that uses grasses, legume plants, brassicas, corn stalks and other non-grain forages,” Woodring said.

A recent day-long spring seminar, held in Lycoming County, attracted more than four dozen attendees. Ranging from those raising beef in grain-based systems, long-time producers of grass-fed beef, former dairy farmers seeking to raise beef and new beef producers seeking knowledge on forage-based beef operations, many in attendance were from the Central Pennsylvania region. But others traveled from New York, Maryland, Ohio and more distant regions of Pennsylvania.

Featured keynote speaker, George Lake of Thistle Creek Farms in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, may have been one reason many made that trek. Lake, who received the first place award in “The Forage Spokesperson Contest” at the 2016 American Forage and Grassland Council conference, has raised beef on pasture for several decades. With 500 heads of Aberdeen Angus cattle, Lake utilizes a wide variety of grasses, from many regions of the world, to provide optimal pasture nutrition. Addressing issues including the establishment of annual and perennial grasses, intensive grazing rotations, multi-species grazing – Lake raises sheep, too – and pasture maintenance, Lake discussed his program for raising beef in a year-round grazing system.

Lake was joined by Williamson and Hartman, who discussed extending the grazing season and the use of cover crops and annuals in the pasture. Dwight Linglefelter, Extension Weed Specialist, discussed pasture weed control.

With consumer interest in beef raised in alternative systems, rather than the feedlot, more producers will be adapting pasture-based operations. Doing it right results in high-quality meat and can keep the demand high.

“The reasons are many and varied why consumers are demanding forage-based beef,” Woodring said. “We do not enter into the grain-fed, grain-finished beef versus the grass-fed only beef debate. The individual consumer can decide that question with his or her own taste and expectations. I just want the producers to succeed in their operations and achieve a product that is highly marketable and if Extension resources and our partners can help them get there, everybody wins.”

Upcoming sessions in the Forage-Based Beef Program include summer farm tours and a fall seminar. Future seminar topics will include genetics, marketing, regulations and business models, Woodring said. Interested producers can contact Woodring at 570-726-0022 ext. 3821 for further information.

Raising Holstein Bull Calves for the Beef Market

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Beef and dairy farmers alike attended Penn State Extension’s recent workshop on best practices for raising Holstein bull calves for the beef market.

Beef and dairy farmers alike attended Penn State Extension’s recent workshop last month on best practices for raising Holstein bull calves for the beef market. These animals are not the same as beef breeds, due to the extensive breeding of dairy cattle for milk production and can’t be expected to perform in the feedlot as do native beef breeds.

But that doesn’t mean that Holstein beef can’t be a profitable venture. Instead, it means that even experienced beef producers, or dairy farmers seeking to diversify into raising their own beef steers, need to learn how to get the most gain, for the least cost, while producing a Holstein carcass that grades well.

According to Cheryl Fairbairn, PSU Animal Science Educator, meetings on the calf-fed Holstein beef program, held during the past year on a regional and state-wide basis, have attracted approximately 800 producers. These meetings introduced the protocol and the results from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Evaluation Center’s (LEC) eight month calf-fed Holstein beef feeding demonstration.

“There is a mix of people who are already feeding Holsteins on a small level, those who are thinking about doing it, those who are dairying and want to look at adding this as another enterprise on the farm and those who are feeding native cattle and are thinking of possibly adding Holsteins” Fairbairn said. “The calf-fed Holstein program provides educational opportunities for dairy and beef producers to understand how to finish Holsteins on a grain based diet so they produce calves that are acceptable to packer and consumer. It also gives producers the opportunity to diversify their operations if they so desire too.”

The Model

The program depends upon healthy calves entering feedlot environments at 20 weeks of age. Before then, the calves need to be protected from disease — particularly scours and respiratory illnesses — and acclimated to a grain-based, high-energy diet.

The calf-fed feeding program requires starting the calves on milk or milk replacer and plenty of fresh water, with very little or no hay. The calves transition from milk to grain to the total mixed ration (TMR) that they will receive in the feedlot. Grain is added as soon as one week of age, to introduce the calves to a grain-based diet which they will begin to consume regularly by three weeks of age. Adequate fresh water is important for the development of volatile fatty acids, which stimulate rumen growth.

At eight weeks and approximately 200 lbs — a 1.6 lb average daily gain (ADG) should have been achieved, animals will be weaned slowly. Feeding increasing amounts of grain while decreasing milk in a “step down” pattern, designed to decrease animal stress, is key. After 10 weeks, calves should be fully weaned and adjusted to a high-energy diet.

A primary goal in feeding the calves grain from a young age and not feeding forage, is to develop the rumen to adapt it to a grain-fed diet. Rumen papillae are developed with grain feeding and are needed to increase the ADG. Having the most ADG, from the start, is the goal.

Feeding hay stretches the rumen, but does not cause rumen growth and is counter-indicative in the feedlot. Forage also causes increase in acetic acid levels, which decrease rumen papillae growth. A pasture-based diet will burn energy, decreasing the gain received from grain.

The calf-fed diet is meant to “get them ready for the feedlot setting,” Cassie Youst, Penn State Extension Dairy Educator said. After three or four weeks of rumen development, total mixed rations can be introduced. At 16-20 weeks of age, the animals are ready to be moved to the feedlot. They should weigh 300-400 lbs at this time.

At the feedlot stage, feeding Holsteins is similar to feeding any beef breed. It is the calf stage feeding program that primes the Holstein rumen for a high-grain diet. For calves not weaned to a high-grain diet, adjustment to the feedlot diet will be needed.

Feedlot Finishing

“We’re talking about these Holstein animals because they are beef,” Tara Felix, Beef Extension Specialist said.

Unlike beef cattle breeds, however, Holsteins have been genetically selected for milk production, so their rumens are not the same. Holsteins have comparatively large guts. Gut cells turn over every 24 hours. The larger the gut, the more energy devoted to this activity. Holsteins require more energy to put on the same gain as beef breeds.

This greater maintenance requirement means they need more feed, more water and produce more manure. Holsteins require 10 to 20 percent more days on feed (DOF) than do native beef breeds.

Holsteins “marble at a very young age,” and “are genetically primed to marble well,” Felix said. Their growth is predictable, as “the majority of our Holstein genetics in the United States come from three top sires.”

The target goal is finishing Holsteins at 1,400 lbs in about 18 months time. Finished Holsteins do not look the same as finished beef breeds. The animal might look different, but Holstein beef grades well, with most of the calf-fed Holsteins grading at Choice or above.


Selecting For Disease Resistance: A Consumer-Friendly GMO

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If we can select for cattle that are resistant to disease or deselect cattle that are prone to disease, we can improve profitability and reduce use of antibiotics, a win for the farmer and the consumer.

Use of genomics has transformed agriculture as much as human medicine. It has certainly caused heartburn for farmers in the direct sales business as consumers have concerns about GMO produced foods. But what I’d like to focus on in this article is a form of the genetically modified organism. This article is based on determining what genes are associated with disease and selecting for or against this set of genes. If we can select for cattle that are resistant to disease or deselect cattle that are prone to disease, we can improve profitability and reduce use of antibiotics, a win for the farmer and the consumer.

I’ll start by saying I am not a geneticist. Even if I were, there is not enough space in this entire magazine to explain how genetic selection works. But I will give you the “genomics for dummies” version in a paragraph or less.

First, note that the terms genetics and genomics are used interchangeably. That is not entirely correct. Genetics is the study of a single gene, whereas genomics is the study of all genes and their interaction with the environment. For example there is one gene that affects genetic defects, while there are groups of genes that affect the expected progeny differences (EPDs) for performance, carcass and survivability traits.

It would be convenient if there were one gene that results in easy calving, high marbling, high fertility or disease resistance. But that is not the case; it is a group of genes, and furthermore the trait is also impacted by the environment. This is why you need to understand that when a company tells you their test accounts for 15 percent of the variation in a given trait, they are referring to genetic variation only. These traits also have an environmental component.

For example, you can have a positive test for marbling, but if you don’t feed the animals correctly, then the cattle won’t produce the expected marbling, regardless of genetics. The final point to remember is that genetic tests should not be used as a stand-alone evaluation. EPDs are still the gold standard in selection. Genetic testing should be used to enhance EPDs, not replace them.

The greatest promise and use of genomics is for traits that are difficult to measure (disease resistance) are lowly heritable (fertility) or can only be measured late in life (stayability) or after the animal is dead (tenderness). I recently attended a session on selection for resistance to bovine respiratory disease (BRD) at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Cattlemen’s College in Nashville. The presenter was Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, a faculty member at University of California-Davis. The following is what I learned.

Even with a greater understanding of animal nutrition, health and stress management and greatly improved vaccines, BRD is still the No. 1 cause of death in finishing cattle. In fact, 1.4 percent of all feedlot cattle perish before reaching harvest. This has not changed in the last 30 years. One reason for this is that a bovine has 30 percent of the lung capacity of a similar-sized horse, but requires 250 percent more oxygen. I remember being at a processing facility where they were harvesting bison. The owner showed me the trachea of the bison, which must have been three to four times the size of one from a beef breed. Domesticated cattle just don’t have the lung capacity and associated organs to support anything but a completely low-stress environment.

Our production system that involves commingling cattle from small farms that typify the U.S. beef industry creates a disease challenge. It is estimated that the economic cost of BRD is more than $250/head in the finishing phase only. We also know that BRD affects calves before they get to the finishing phase, which increases the financial losses from the whole production system. Discovering the gene complex that controls response to BRD would be a huge benefit to producers and consumers alike.

The good news is researchers have determined the heritability of BRD susceptibility is considered moderate at 18 to 29 percent. However, this is the heritability of the genome, that is, the group of genes that are involved in BRD. The bad news is that BRD is similar to the common cold in that it is a complex of viral and bacterial organisms. Current research is focused on identifying individual genes that regulate specific pathogens involved in the BRD complex. This work has been completed with beef and dairy calves and is being analyzed. If specific genes can be identified in the genome, heritability estimates should increase. Additionally, if they can find the specific gene that results in susceptibility, this test would be useful across breeds, which is currently not the case with most genetic tests.

The final step is to incorporate the results into an index that producers can use to select against sires that produce progeny susceptible to BRD. An index is built assigning a dollar value to the trait relative to other traits. Van Eenennaam and a colleague have estimated that the relative economic importance of selection to decrease incidence of BRD should be weighted six times more heavily than selection for growth traits (e.g., weaning weight) and 16 times more heavily than carcass traits (e.g., marbling). They have suggested a BRD index with a 1 percent increase in BRD death loss that would be associated with the loss of $2.08/head in the Angus index $Feedlot ($F). This is equivalent to a 1-pound increase in hot carcass weight EPD. Though close, researchers still estimate that we are about five years from having a reliable disease susceptibility index.

In our segregated beef industry the question becomes “Who pays for the genetic testing?” In a perfect world, the feedlot would pass value for receiving healthy cattle back to the calf supplier, who would then pass some of that value to the bull supplier. For the astute cow/calf producer, they will develop a marketing channel that rewards them for buying bulls with more information that can be used to extract value from the feedlot. While it’s exciting to see where this technology can lead, everyone along the production and market channel through the consumer has to receive value, or itwill not be useful.


Guide to Selecting Head Gates

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Whether mounted on posts at the front of the alley or the front of a squeeze chute, the head gate’s ease of use is the single most important factor in determining how effectively the cattle handling job is executed.

If I were king for a day, I would make it mandatory that before anyone could have cattle, they would have to prove the existence of an appropriate handling system on their farm. There are some significant reasons for having a handling system: It’s the only way to humanely handle cattle, and it’s the only safe way for the handler to handle cattle.

Without it, cattle that become sick or injured do not get treated. Vaccines, which prevent disease, do not get administered, so the cattle get sick and not treated (and therefore suffer) or die.

When cattle need to be gathered for sale or slaughter, they are more difficult to handle because the experience of being in a confined space is new. If you are selling meat to a consumer, this stress of being confined can increase toughness and off flavor.

When needed, a veterinarian may not come to your farm, because your cattle cannot afford to get hurt. Veterinarians charge by the hour, so if it takes longer to work the cattle due to a poor or nonexistent facility, your expenses will go up. It’s no fun to work cattle if it is a struggle to get them captured and restrained.

I hope I’m clear as to why this is extremely needed.

Head gates are arguably the most important part of a handling system, or at least one of the key, yet most expensive, components. Whether mounted on posts at the front of the alley or the front of a squeeze chute, the head gate’s ease of use is the single most important factor in determining how effectively the cattle handling job is executed. Let’s consider some items.

Deciding between lock-ups vs. head gates

When working in West Virginia, I never saw cattle lock-ups. The two counties I worked in had a total of two dairies. Coming to New York, that changed. I began to see lock-ups on beef operations. My first reaction was, “Beef producers don’t do it that way!” Today, I still have a few qualms about their use in a beef operation, but in certain situations they do have a place.

To work most effectively, the cattle must be accustomed to using them. If the first time they are caught, they have an unpleasant experience, the party may be over. Use of lock-ups requires training. First, feed through the lock-ups without catching the cattle. Once they are accustomed to eating and not getting caught, flip the mechanism and catch them, but do not do anything unpleasant. After they realize that this is OK, then you can give vaccines, ear tag, synchronize estrous, artificially inseminate, palpate and so on.

If you are going to work from the rear, then the cattle on either end of the row may be more difficult to manage as they can swing from side to side.

Another disadvantage is control of the head is more difficult. Treating pink eye, for example, could be a challenge.

Beef Quality Assurance recommended neck injections have to be administered with care, or the handler can injure his or her arm.

Interestingly, a study with dairy cattle at Cornell University showed a reduction in intake for cows eating through lock-ups compared with those eating through a feed rail. That being the case, in finishing operations where maximizing intake is the goal, this system may not be the best choice.

Finally, there is always the ornery cow that is too smart and will not put her head in the lock-up, which can be very frustrating.

For operations with relatively calm cows that are willing to take the time to train the herd, lock-ups may be worth considering.

Self vs. manual catch

The self-catch or automatic head gate relies on the animal pushing the head gate with its shoulders with enough force to trip the spring-controlled catch mechanism. Herein lies the challenge: If you are working cattle of different sizes the head gate must be adjusted so that the opening is not too wide or too narrow. Too wide and the animal either escapes or is caught on the hips. Too narrow and the animal will not put its head in the head gate. Now that you’ve taken the time to get the adjustment correct, the animal needs to hit the head gate hard enough to trip the catch.

This works okay for cattle that have not been worked very often. But for the brood cow that has been through this facility many times and usually ends up with an unpleasant experience, she’s not in any hurry to push that head gate closed. Therefore you end up using the “cheater bar” and pulling it closed. So much for self-catching! So between adjusting the head gate frequently, losing animals, trying to get them out of a hip lock and manually catching the stubborn (or educated) ones, you can generally work cattle more easily and quickly with a manual head gate.

This being said, in all operations, there are times when an automatic head gate does come in handy. When you go to the barn and find a calf or cow that is sick and needs to be treated and no one is around to help, an automatic head gate can be an asset. A head gate that offers the operator the option to switch between automatic and manual would be an advantage. However, I have not seen a head gate model that does this very well.

If choosing an automatic head gate, Dr. Clyde Lane, University of Tennessee offers these tips:

  1. Choose a model that is easy to adjust, given that this will be done often. Pulling out the wrenches each time an adjustment has to be made becomes very aggravating.
  2. The mechanism used to hold the head gate closed should be protected so an animal cannot cause the head gate to open. On older models a cow could trip the self-catch by throwing her head up while in the head gate.
  3. Look at the bottom of the head gate to see if there is the potential for an animal to catch its feet when pulling back. The head gate should be constructed in a manner that will prevent an animal from putting its feet through an opening where the feet will have to be removed prior to opening the head gate.
  4. Do not purchase a head gate with curved bars. This may offer more head control, but when an animal goes down, it only takes seconds for it to die. Contrary to the belief that the animal is not choking – if it were it would struggle giving the operator warning that something is wrong. What actually happens is that the blood supply to the brain is restricted, there is no struggling and in less than 60 seconds the animal could be dead. Always purchase a head gate with straight bars.

In closing, it’s very important to spend some time “kicking the tires” so that you know which head gate works best. Each year at Empire Farm Days they host a Beef Handling Demonstration. Cattle are worked through three facilities. This allows participants to see which system best suits their needs and which are easiest to use. As most of us are part-time producers, our work is done in the evenings and on weekends. It has to go well and not be a complete energy drain.

Don’t get lulled into nondecision because of cost. Although a squeeze chute is a “nice to have,” it is not a “have to have.” For small operations, it can be cost prohibitive ($2,000-plus). A head gate (starting at $550) mounted on two sturdy posts or head gate stand will provide the safety and animal husbandry benefits needed until you can work into a squeeze chute.

Beef Producers Optimistic that President Trump Can Work Trade Deal with Japan

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The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) was just one of many agricultural organizations closely monitoring President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) was just one of many agricultural organizations closely monitoring President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month at the White House.

“On the economy, we will seek a trading relationship that is free, fair and reciprocal, benefiting both of our countries,” President Trump stated during their joint press conference. Both leaders seemed optimistic that a bilateral trade deal could be made.

“Free and fair common set of rules should be created for the free trade in the region,” Prime Minister Abe said.

Just two weeks earlier the newly elected president had made good on one of his campaign promises and pulled the U.S. out of a trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The agreement was put together by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama as a way to deepen economic ties, slash tariffs, foster trade and boost growth among the 12 member countries involved.

Many U.S. food and agribusiness groups strongly supported the trade deal, seeing it as a way to boost agricultural exports with other countries like Japan. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, Japan imports over $30 billion in agricultural products each year, one-third of which comes from the United States.

There have been concerns from the agricultural sector over the President’s actions as a successful TPP agreement would have significantly reduced barriers on American imports to Japan. In order to help foster a new trade deal with Japan, more than 80 food and agribusiness groups sent a letter to the President urging for a new trade deal. The letter emphasized the importance that the Asia-Pacific region has on the U.S. economy and jobs. The NCBA followed suit with their own letter to President Trump.

Kent Bacus, NCBA Director of International Trade and Market Access, said he was encouraged by the positive dialogue between the two world leaders but still had questions as to what steps would be taken to keep the U.S. competitive with other countries like Australia who already have favorable trade agreements with Japan.

“The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is encouraged by the recent meeting between President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe,” Bacus said. “Unfortunately, U.S. beef still faces a 38.5 percent tariff which will be a growing trade barrier in future years unless the United States takes swift action to level the playing field by establishing a free trade agreement with Japan.”

Bacus stated that competing countries like Australia have preferential tariff treatment due to their 27.5 percent rate as part of its trade agreement with Japan. Having a TPP agreement, he argued, will keep the U.S. on a level playing field.

“However, since the United States has decided to withdraw from TPP, we must do all we can to encourage the Trump administration to prioritize bilateral trade with Japan,” Bacus said. “Otherwise, we will become much less competitive in Japan and will lose market share to Australia.”

New York Beef Council Chairman Rich Brown was also encouraged by the positive dialogue between the two world leaders. As a producer of Black Angus cattle in Port Byron, New York, Brown said he has been closely following TPP trade negotiations over the past several months.

“We have to change the trade that we have with Asia in general. We’re seeing a demand in Japan for the type of high-quality beef that we produce here in the U.S.,” he said. “I’m very optimistic that the two leaders will be able to put together a better deal than what the TPP offered.”

Brown did comment that the TPP agreement was potentially good for the beef industry over a period of years; however, it was going to take quite a while for to actually materialize. Yet, he remains hopeful for a new trade agreement.

“I’m optimistic that the time frame will be reduced and that we will be able to increase our trade with Japan at a higher rate than it currently is,” he said.