From: Ron Hays []
Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2008 06:27
Subject: Oklahoma's Farm News Update
Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Wednesday March 5, 2008!
A service of Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma, American Farmers and Ranchers & Midwest Farm Shows
-- When It Comes to the NFU- What Happened in Vegas- Leaves Vegas(at least their policy decisions)
-- A BLOCKBUSTER! JBS-Swift Announces Deal to Buy National Beef- and is Looking at Smithfield's Beef Processing Assets to Boot!
-- AFR Spreading It's Wings and It's Risk- Expands to 24 States.
-- First Hollow Stem May Arrive By End of This Week...
-- The District Shows- the Preview of the Big One- Oklahoma's Youth Expo!
-- Harkin Tells Schafer to Be Careful About Wholesale Changes for CRP After Comment to the NFU
-- Blackjack Angus Production Sale Set for this Saturday...

Howdy Neighbors!

Here's your morning farm news headlines from the Director of Farm Programming for the Radio Oklahoma Network, Ron Hays. We are proud to have KIS Futures as a sponsor of our daily E-Mail. KIS Futures provides Oklahoma Farmers & Ranchers with futures & options hedging services in the livestock and grain markets- Click here for their "new look" website or call them at 1-800-256-2555.

We are also proud to have American Farmers and Ranchers Mutual Insurance Company as a regular sponsor of our daily update- click here to go to their AFR web site to learn more about their efforts to serve rural America!
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When It Comes to the NFU- What Happened in Vegas- Leaves Vegas(at least their policy decisions)
On the final day of the 106th Annual Meeting of the National Farmers Union, several key policies for the group were decided. Chief among them a position on Animal ID, where the group came out in support of a Mandatory program. It's likely that more states numerically opposed the proposal than supported it that was spearheaded by AFR Vice President Terry Detrick, who operates a wheat and cattle operation near Ames, Oklahoma. However, with Oklahoma and North Dakota delegates supporting the measure, it easily passed in the final vote. Efforts by USDA to individually tag and track livestock such as cattle are generating widespread debate among farm groups, and NFU started policy discussion at its national convention Tuesday in Las Vegas by debating language that would oppose a mandatory system, but that language failed to pass.

Marilyn Momber, president of the Michigan Farmers Union, said her state organization opposes mandatory animal ID even as Michigan has become the first state to mandate its own state program. Terry Detrick, a part of the Oklahoma Farmers Union delegation, said NFU needs to get on board and help the federal government develop a farm program producers "can live with." "How can we support country-of-origin labeling and not support animal ID?" Detrick asked. He added that when we have that next devastating disease outbreak- it's very possible the most likely source of the disease may well come from a producer who is most unlikely to voluntarily participate in an Animal ID program.

In the past week, the chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees in Congress have reaffirmed their support for a mandatory national program while also criticizing USDA's implementation of the current program. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., speaking by teleconference to NFU members Sunday, said USDA has spent more than $100 million and "the department has screwed this up." Peterson said he looked forward to working with a new administration to implement animal ID. "We are kidding ourselves if we don't understand that we need a mandatory ID system," Peterson said. He added that animal diseases continue to resonate nationally and the country would be ill-prepared if an outbreak of foot- and-mouth disease occurred in the country. Peterson acknowledged opposition to mandatory animal ID would continue and that some people "will be forced to come along."

We have comments with Detrick about the Animal ID discussion and outcome as we conclude our coverage from Las Vegas. Click below for those comments.

Click here to listen to Ron and Terry Detrick talk Animal ID- the debate and outcome from Las Vegas.

A BLOCKBUSTER! JBS-Swift Announces Deal to Buy National Beef- and is Looking at Smithfield's Beef Processing Assets to Boot!
And then there were three. Over the last couple of years, it has been said that we have four major packers holding 80% of the nation's slaughter capacity- and suddenly on late Tuesday afternoon, we saw that number potentially reduced to three as JBS- Swift, the world's largest beef processor and number three in the US, has announced a deal to buy National Beef from its majority owner, US Premium Beef, for just under a billion dollars. Even as that was announced, there was a report from the online edition of the Wall Street Journal that JBS-Swift is in an advanced stage of talks with Smithfield to acquire their beef processing assets. National Beef was the fourth largest packer in the beef business, while Smithfield is currently the fifth largest beef packer player.

The sale will combine all of National Beef's operations and facilities, including National Carriers, Inc. and its ownership in Kansas City Steak Company, LLC with JBS-Swift's beef operations. National Beef had $5.6 billion in sales last year and processed almost 4 million head of cattle. National Beef President Tim Klein is expected to become President and Chief Operating Officer of the joint National Beef/JBS-Swift beef operations. "Being able to diversify through JBS will put our company in a position to compete long term in an increasingly competitive environment," said Steve Hunt, chief executive officer of U.S. Premium Beef, the majority owner of National Beef. "Our producer owners and other producers who market cattle through USPB will now have a more geographically diversified company with multiple locations to deliver the high- quality cattle they produce for our value-added programs."

Meanwhile, late Tuesday the Wall Street Journal in its online edition reported that JBS, which acquired Swift & Co., the third-largest fresh meat packer in the U.S., for $1.5 billion in July last year is in advanced talks to buy Smithfield Food Inc.'s beef business for $565 million, excluding live-cattle inventories, which are expected to be sold separately for more than $200 million. The Smithfield Live Cattle Operations are primarily under the banner of Five Rivers Cattle Feedlots. Analysts expect the National Beef and Smithfield deals to prompt regulatory scrutiny because of their size and potential effect on the marketplace. JBS, which has operations around the globe, is already the world largest beef producer with about $12 billion in annual revenue.

AFR Spreading It's Wings and It's Risk- Expands to 24 States.
Oklahoma City-based American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance (AFR) has officially expanded operations into 24 states, stretching from the Southeastern U.S. through the Midwest and Western two-thirds of the U. S. "This is a culmination of a plan by our management and the Board of Directors to spread risk and enter 24 new geographic markets via the acquisition of General Fire and Casualty Company. It is a bright future for AFR Insurance and we look forward to providing quality insurance products for the fine people of these new states," AFR President and CEO Ray L. Wulf said.

The Idaho Department of Insurance recently approved the acquisition by Oklahoma City-based American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance, which was completed November 21, 2007. All General Fire and Casualty Company operations are presently being officially renamed American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance Company, with headquarters based in Meridian, Idaho. Mr. Wulf said this move by AFR would have been difficult if not for the assistance from the insurance regulators in the respective states of Idaho and Oklahoma. "All of the members of the AFR team who successfully completed this expansion are grateful to Idaho Director Bill Deal and Oklahoma Commissioner Kim Holland and their departments for their guidance in making this happen," he said.

In talking with Ray Wulf during the annual meeting of the National Farmers Union in Las Vegas, he says this is all about spreading risk for their core business in Oklahoma- that's the reason that this has been considered and pursued for the past several years. He adds that this puts AFR into almost all states west of the Mississippi, except for Arkansas and New Mexico. It also gives AFR a presence in the southeastern area of the country in the state of Georgia. We talked with Ray Wulf about these developments on Tuesday- click on the link below to listen to that conversation.

Click here to listen to Ron and Ray Wulf discuss AFR's Insurance Expansion into 24 States.

First Hollow Stem May Arrive By End of This Week...
We continue to monitor advancement of first hollow stem at Stillwater and El Reno, OK. Right now, no varieties are at first hollow stem, but there are several that are close. OSU's State Wheat Specialist Dr. Jeff Edwards anticipates that some of the earlier varieties such as Overley and Santa Fe will be at first hollow stem by the end of the week.

The latest newsletter from the OSU Plant and Soil Sciences Department has the latest details and pictures which will help you scout your fields for First Hollow Stem. With wheat prices hovering at or above ten dollars per bushel, the loss of keeping cattle on any wheat pasture acres that you want to harvest for grain would be very significant in 2008- and research has shown that keeping cattle on pasture once first hollow stem is detected is almost a guarantee for robbing grain yield for every day you extend grazing.

We have that latest edition of the newsletter on our website- and we have it linked below for your review as well. Check it out.

Click here for the latest Newsletter from OSU's Plant and Soil Sciences Department.

The District Shows- the Preview of the Big One- Oklahoma's Youth Expo!
Thanks to Jeff Cole for giving us an email update of the Northwest District LIvestock Show being held this week in Woodward.

Jeff writes "The 2008 Northwest District Woodward Junior Livestock show is in full swing in Woodward OK. This event brings youth into Woodward from all across the Northwest part of Oklahoma from Boise City to Hammon to Waynoka. The event began on Sunday with the Guilt show and will conclude Saturday evening with the premium sale. Sunday's winners of the gilt show where Ryan Pullan from Aline Cleo exhibiting his commercial gilt as the Grand Champion Breeding Gilt and Brooke Nation with the Alva FFA chapter exhibiting a Yorkshire as the Reserve Grand Champion Breeding Gilt."
Thanks to Jeff for this update- if you have updates from your part of the state- drop us a note and we'll share some of the highlights over the next few days.

The District Shows are all a part of the build up for the 2008 Oklahoma Youth expo, which has been billed in years gone by as the World's Largest Youth Livestock Show- and in recent years has been compared to the State Finals in the various football classes- or the state Basketball Tournaments. It truly brings together the youth livestock participants of the state to one place- State Fair Park in Oklahoma City- for quite a time of celebration. This year's event kicks off on March 10th and runs through the 20th. We have the full schedule linked on our Calendar page of WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com- we have that linked for you- go and take a look at all the events going on this week as well as the Expo that starts next week.

Click here for the Calendar Page of our website- WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com

Harkin Tells Schafer to Be Careful About Wholesale Changes for CRP After Comment to the NFU
While addressing members of the National Farmers Union in Las Vegas earlier this week, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer said - he wished all acres enrolled in CRP could be planted instead to switchgrass and harvested for use in bioenergy production. That statement got the attention of many, including Senate Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin. Harkin cautioned - we must be very careful about the consequences of abrupt or sweeping policy changes affecting land in CRP.

Harkin points out that - CRP land is not simply idle or nonproductive. He says - land in CRP is producing critical benefits in greater wildlife habitat, a cleaner environment and conservation of our precious soil and water. The Senator is a big advocate of producing energy from biomass, yet he says - I believe that with care and forethought we can have both more biofuels and more conservation.

Blackjack Angus Production Sale Set for this Saturday...
The Blackjack Angus Farms Annual Bull Sale that comes up on Saturday, March 8, 2008 in Seminole, Ok 12:00 noon at the farm, located at 35824 EW 1140 in Seminole Blackjack will be selling 64 performance- tested registered Angus bulls and 75 open commercial heifers. For details, go to the National Cattle website at the link below and take a look at the online catalog for Blackjack- or call Keith Grissom at 405/997-9678.

Click here for the link to National Cattle Services and a Catalog for Blackjack Angus that has their sale this Saturday!

Our thanks to Midwest Farm Shows, American Farmers and Ranchers Mutual Insurance and KIS Futuresfor their support of our daily Farm News Update. For your convenience, we have our sponsors' websites linked at the top of the email- check them out and let these folks know you appreciate the support of this daily email, as their sponsorship helps us keep this arriving in your inbox on a regular basis!

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