Along the Trail

03-20-98 ยท Dan Green, Editor

I hate to rub it in about NAFTA, but the facts are that it is looking awfully good for beef exports under the trade accord.

This is especially important in light of the decreased exports to Asia, particularly South Korea and Japan, due to that continent's recent economic problems.

U.S. beef exports to Mexico, including variety meats, totaled 145,959 metric tons, a 64% increase over last year and 28, 238 metric tons more than the previous record set in 1994.

This way more than offsets any Canadian exports of beef into the U.S., according to actual USDA tonnage data, despite ongoing war stories about Canadian-licensed cattle trucks pouring over the border. A lot of that beef goes back to Canada, too, after U.S. interests profit from feeding and slaughtering it.

I can sympathize with the international conspiracy theorists who see NAFTA as a filthy leftist plot, as I hold some of those same views myself, but the raw data show NAFTA has been very good for the cattle industry.

Beef is as good as chicken or fish in a heart-healthy diet, according to studies and research done in the Chicago Center for Clinical Research, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Minnesota.

The institutions are studying how free-living individuals respond, in general health and blood lipid profiles, to a predominantly chicken and fish diet, versus a lean beef diet.

Phase 1 data indicated that both lean beef and chicken-fish diets resulted in a modest but significant reduction in blood lipids over a nine-month period. No significant statistical or clinical difference in blood lipid response was noted between the two diets.

This study should provide great ammunition to counter those who are switching to chicken or fish "because its healthier."

A skinless, unbreaded chicken or fish filet broiled, with no fat added, is very low- fat and healthy, but who can stand to eat much of that?

Just as we were sending the newspaper out of our office to the printer, I received word of the death of Dave Rice, longtime Colorado Cattlemen's Assn. executive, public lands grazing expert and unequaled legislative lobbyist.

Dave was my neighbor in Lakewood, Colo. and I saw him several times a month for over 20 years at our neighborhood gas station or grocery store, frequently with his lovely wife Lucille, buying life's necessities.

He was really of my Dad and Granddad's generation and didn't know me well, but always shouted out a hearty "Hey, Green!"

I'll miss that.

He was one of a kind, and in Colorado's increasingly urban legislature, with fewer cowboys all the time, he still could get more done for cattlemen, rural water rights, private property rights and his beloved alma matre, Colorado State University, than any 10 ordinary people.

Dave had been in declining health for many years, with trouble walking, but he was unrelentingly cheerful and upbeat, and massively on top of what the city folks and bureaucrats were trying to do to his cherished cattlemen.

Rice was an institution that will never be duplicated or replaced, and a once-in-a-lifetime character I'll miss.

Terry Warneke

Worland Livestock Auction

Worland, Wyoming

Its a slow-coming spring. Its too muddy to farm yet. We've had lots of moisture both now and throughout the winter. But its still Wyoming and we can always use more. Most calves and yearlings are sold, but some heavy, warmed up calves are still around for sale that people want too much for this early. Calving is 50% done and we did lose a few in one of the storms. There are no more heifers held back here than normal. Many needed the cash flow from selling their heifers last year. There are very few bred heifers for sale here, but we will sell some pairs in April.n

There's a lot of spring moisture falling, out in cattle country:

Tommy Eckert

Junction Stockyards

Junction, Texas

Our moisture is ample. We had 2-3 inches of rain last night. Our spring grain and wheat is coming along well. There are only a few dry spots around. We had above average moisture in February and are off to a great start in March. We had a mild winter. Some grass was beaten down by hail but mostly we had adequate winter grazing. Everything is green, with lots of weeds for sheep, goats and deer. There is green grass down underneath, but its been too cool for it to grow much yet to make cow feed. The markets have been good for cattle, sheep and goats. Mostly calves are coming through the market right now. Sheep numbers have stayed strong through the market.

Dave Collins

Farmers State Bank

Kiowa, Kansas

We had snow last week and rain for the last two days. Its very muddy. We had at least average moisture over the winter before that. We are under a flood watch right now, which could ruin the wheat that cattle are just coming off of right now for harvesting, or cause the cattle on the wheat they have decided to graze out, to stomp it into the mud and come off anyway. We've had two big sales the last two weeks of cattle coming off wheat and they've sold real well. The heifers were only $3-$4 behind the steers. Early this year and late last year, grazing cattle got too expensive for some of our big operators, so there aren't as many cattle out as you might expect. There are several big orders out around here for grazing calves. Calving is underway, but is tough in the rain. There've been no losses yet. There's lots of carryover hay from the mild winter. We should have great grass when it warms up. Its too muddy to begin spring grain planting.

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