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Beltie-Briefs Newsletter

May 15, 2020


Beef Tips

Clete Kirschbaum

This month has resulted in a few extra calls to the farm.  Given all of the news surrounding the commodity livestock markets and the disruption of the centralized meat supply chain due to COVID-19, many consumers are starting to seek alternatives. Local business and local supply chains were common practice not that long ago and fueled many small towns across America. That ecosystem has changed with the centralization of processing in many areas and the associated diversion of local dollars to economies outside of the place of the products agricultural origin. This centralization has also brought on other impacts in terms of food safety and affects the price farmers receive for their goods in the marketplace. One of the key strategies of local producers in past years has been Direct Marketing. In order for Direct Marketing of beef to work, there have to be inspected facilities that enable small producers to market and package their products for resale. We are fortunate where I live, that there are still many small abattoirs available to service our community. There are also still enough local producers who supply these pipelines and enable beef products to be produced. John Hamm recently shared his story and during COVID-19, John had been leveraging this channel to supply meats to consumers in different markets in Wisconsin, before the disruption of the central packing houses.  This demonstrates the resilience of a diverse and local ecosystem in agricultural marketing. While this sort of ecosystem comes with seasonality, it is the supply chain that built America. Economist have long toiled over the benefits of specialization and centralization citing the myriad economic philosophies and phenomena that occur in such systems. As a farmer, I have found that flexible,  agile, and resilient systems come from diversity. Without small farmers and producers, Abattoirs could not exists and the high quality food chains that are resilient and local could not have helped. I think the lesson I have learned in this is that the pursuit of Direct Marketing, partnering with local abattoirs and building a local food stems are what strengthens America. We enjoy the modern idea of going to a grocery store and getting exactly what is needed, but shouldn't we also enjoy knowing the producer of our food, that our dollar is used within our communities to better it, and that the food we produce really does feed America? Farmers have long been stewards of the land and community. We should not forget that, and as the backbone of our local food systems, we have the ability to feed our communities. We have planted a garden this year that will produce more than we can eat. That too can help feed our community. The disruption caused by COVID-19 may persist while America gets back to work. Support your local food system and try out Direct Marketing of the products on your farm. There is demand.  



Industry Update

John Hamm - Wisconsin River Meats

Good evening my friends. There is a struggle going on in the pandemic that You may not be aware of that troubles me greatly. I am sure You are aware of the meat shortages now upon us. There is NOT a shortage of live meat, the real shortage is that of capacity to slaughter and process the livestock, with plants shut down due to Covid 19 outbreaks Tonight I am focusing on Pork production. There are 2 Midwest plants, in South Dakota and Minnesota that process together 40,000. hogs per day. They are closed for a while. That is 8 million lbs. of pork off the market a day, and that is 40k pigs from farmers with no place to go So hogs are backing up, getting bigger, and not leaving the farm so the next batch can fill the barn. Small meat plants around Wisconsin and the Midwest like ours are processing THOUSANDS of extra hogs, but we are way behind in the total numbers race. To find a solution to the surplus of hogs I called Sen Ron Johnson's office to suggest a plan for the USDA to purchase these hogs and hold them for slaughter at a later workable date. Interestingly I was told that Iowa Senate delegation was suggesting a similar solution. Obviously, this is not an ideal solution but certainly not unworkable. The Iowa Pork Producers Assn is reaching out to find markets for these hogs. However other entities are pushing for large scale euthanasia of 300 to 400,000 hogs. (source MN Pork Producers) This is the equivalent of burying 40 million in gold bullion in the landfill, only worse because you could dig up the bullion. This Pork would be worth 100 million when slaughtered and boxed and more when retailed. To me this is an unacceptable waste of resources and labor and we can do better. And while I am not an animal rights person this is so disrespectful to our animals who God provided to feed us even, they deserve better. This is the kind of thing that destroys farms and businesses and families. People will be paying $6 per lb. for pork next week if they can even find it yet pigs are being euthanized? We are better than this and there must be a solution, Folks against Livestock Production are already jumping on this to bash Farmers and Meat Processors. Now You are up to speed on the struggles some of us are now facing. I don’t know what we can do but ask our politicians to provide real world help to farmers, respite to Meat Packers and if you talk to them tell them that wasting our Country’s Bounty isn’t the answer. Pray for Farmers and workers. God Bless and Good Night.




Terry and Julie Willis, Sunnybrook Farms, Belvidere, IL

Sunnybrook Farms is located in Belvidere, IL and is owned by the Willis Family, Terry, Julie, Chris and Steve. Our goal is to produce cattle that work in the pasture as well as the show ring. We take great pride in selecting cattle and genetics that will work for breeders at all levels. We have implemented the use of production records, DNA trait identification, and carcass results from the use of ultrasound and slaughter data, and recently implemented the use of IVF to further the predictability of the offspring produced in our herd. For 20 years we have been breeding and showing Belted Galloways successfully at the local, state and national level.   Our motto “We don’t breed show cattle, we show breeding cattle” is very important to us.
Julie serves as an advisor for the Regional 5 BYG and superintendent for several GLBGA shows. 




June 11-14, 2020
2020 Spring Field Day
Regional Round Up Junior Show
Doug Abney Memorial Open Show
Postponed until 2021- COVID-19

Still Scheduled

June 27, 2020

Midwest Classic Show
Pecatonica, IL
Register for the Midwest Classic Now!

Reminder to send in your dues and advertising for 2020
We understand the crisis is affecting all of us, but without your support the GLBGA will not be able to continue to supply the information and events to help you in the cattle business. Watch for a second  notice in the mail

Herd this at the fence...

Julie Willis 

I hope this issue of Beltie Briefs finds all of you safe because this is our most important goal right now!  Every day I still wake up with “normal thoughts” as I glance out the window at the cows and calves head down in the spring grass.  Then the heart ache of reality creeps in.  For all the hard work and planning throughout the winter months, for all the events that are already cancelled or postponed this year, for the fear of what will happen with the upcoming events later this year, and for the juniors whose projects are blooming with promise and their excitement of exhibiting them dashed.  As I have spoken with so many parents and breeders, it is unanimous that we all are struggling.  But the fact is we have this wonderful fellowship and comradery in good times and in bad making every day more bearable.  After all, we still have our cattle alive and healthy! They don’t know any difference.  So, for now let’s lean on each other for support and together we can make a difference.  As we watch the calves race around the pasture and scratch the shaggy head of the first momma cow that wanders up to us, remember they have been hundreds of years in the making and we are blessed to have them on this day in the green grass and as time passes this crisis will too.

Burt Rutherford | Apr 22, 2020 Beef magazine
 Ranchers were Green before Green was cool
The U.S. celebrated Earth Day. The 50 anniversary, no less. I suspect many of you, like me, didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, going about our daily lives as best we could. But the popular media made a big deal out of it so, if nothing else, Earth Day 50 provided much-needed relief from the all-coronavirus-all-the-time news. Our grandkids are spending a lot more time at our house, doing their virtual schooling under the tutelage of Principal Nana. Their school work was wrapped around the Earth Day theme. That’s why Earth Day is important to beef producers; it provides a venue to talk about what you do. I saw an internet meme a while back that I wish I would have saved. Paraphrasing, it went something like: Pollution
levels are down. Fewer cars on the road. Fewer airplanes in the air. Same number of cows.
READ: Beaver power provides year-long water for Idaho ranch
If ever there was an elevator speech, that’s it. If you want more, there’s plenty of information out there. Elanco has a podcast in celebration of Earth Day that’s worth a listen. NCBA has been working on the producer environment interface for years. And a broad coalition of Ag groups including NCBA launched Farmers for a Sustainable Future (FSF). The coalition is aimed at educating lawmakers and finding solutions to challenges posed by climate change. According to the Farm Bureau, new analysis of updated data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, combined with USDA data, shows U.S. farmers and ranchers continue to reduce per-unit greenhouse gas emissions. All told, the U.S. agricultural sector accounts for less than 10% of total U.S. emissions. That’s less than the emissions from the transportation, electricity generation and industrial sectors. Globally, agriculture accounts for about 24% of GHG emissions.
Related: Sustainability is worth how much?
The EPA’s U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions provides a first look at 2018 U.S. emissions data, which is incorporated into a new Market Intel report from the American Farm Bureau Federation. The Market Intel report finds that per-unit methane emissions from livestock have declined since 1990 as livestock producers have increased productivity. During the past 30 years, U.S. milk production has increased 71% while per-unit emissions of milk have declined by almost 25%. Beef production has increased almost 50%, while per unit emissions have fallen nearly 8%.


If you are interested in learning more about grazing and grazing management, an excellent periodical is the Stockman Grass Farmer. Subscriptions for this are paid, but you can try an issue for free. 

A word from the Bookworm...

Top 5 Cattle Magazines

  1. Drovers Magazine Lenexa, Kansas
 America's beef business source is a monthly magazine for ranchers and feed yard operators. As the nation's oldest livestock publication, Drovers provides useful business management and marketing information for all segments of the beef industry. Editorial content includes profit tips, analysis of industry economics and features on business management, marketing and important current issues.
  1. Beef Magazine Minneapolis, MN
the nation's leading cattle publication, publishes monthly issues for the nation's top cow-calf operators, stocker-growers, cattle feeders, veterinarians, nutritionists and allied industries, covering production, animal health, nutrition, finance and marketing issues
  1. Canadian Cattlemen Magazine | The Beef Magazine
For more than 75 years, Canadian Cattlemen magazine has been the place to discover some of the most interesting and revolutionary thinking in the cattle business
  1. Feedlot Magazine Dighton, Kansas
Feed-Lot magazine provides news and information to all aspects of the livestock industry, including the feed yard sector, stocker and cow/calf industries.
  1. American Cattlemen Magazine Des Moines, Iowa
American Cattlemen magazine provides cattle farming and cattle ranching news and information. It offers timely and relevant editorial that relates to cattle producers. Feature articles feature on production issues, equipment innovations and the rural lifestyle of producers and their families.

What's on the Web...

Mississippi State University Extention Service Cattle Calculator

The MSUES Cattle Calculator allows beef cattle producers to make quick everyday calculations important for their operations.Calculations related to reproductive management, animal performance, and management decisions are available.Reproductive calculations include: calving date based on a known breeding date, breeding date based on a known calving date, number of days pregnant based on today's date and a breeding date, and a breeding season calculator which provides calving and breeding dates based on a set breeding season.Animal performance calculations include: Adjusted birth weight, weaning weight, and yearling weight, average daily gain and required gain.Management calculation include: dosage calculations for dewormers and medicines given an animal weight and manufacturer's recommended dosage, frame score calculations, trailer stocking density, and yield grade.

CRYSTALYX Beef Cow Body Condition Scoring App

The Beef Cow Body Condition Score app gives producers a quick and easy way to track cow body condition by pasture groups.Photograph a cow, enter the ear tag and optionally assign them to a pasture. Compare the individual photos to reference photos provided for each condition score (or supply your own), and assign a score to the cow.The date and location are automatically recorded (if you allow GPS service).The app allows you to organize and track cows individually or by pasture group, view stats on animals and pastures over time, and export data in CSV format via email for further analysis. 

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