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Volume 12, Number 1 - January 2006

This Month in Ag Connection

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Missouri Premier Beef

As cattle producers approach the time to make a decision on whether to keep or sell their cattle, they should be aware of the options, advantages and disadvantages of group marketing alliances. Marketing alliances offer advantages on several levels:

  1. Reduced Transportation Costs: Marketing animals together in truck load size lots allows fewer stops for the buyer.
  2. Improved Market Power: A single producer with 1000, calves or several producers that have worked together to develop 1000 calves with similar production practices can attract a larger number of buyers, which in turn increase the chances of a greater price paid for the extra additional value of the calves.
  3. Fewer Transactions: Buyers are more willing to pay a higher price if they can fill their orders in large quantities. For example, every time a calf is sold there are commissions, trucking charges and some health costs associated with the transaction. These costs are paid for by the producer. If producers own the calf from the cow to the slaughter plant, they will save the marketing costs of two transactions.
  4. Better Information: Buyers will be provided with substantially more information about the husbandry practices of these animals than they would normally receive. In addition, in subsequent years carcass data from the previous year's siblings may be available if the alliance chooses some form of retained ownership.

There are seven groups statewide and each group has their own personality and ways of doing business. If you are a small or medium sized cow/calf producer and want to find out how to increase your marketing opportunities, Premier Beef might be an option.

In November 2005, eight producers from Howard, Boone and Pettis counties commingled approximately 270 head of heifers and steers. The group calls themselves the Mid-Missouri Premier Beef Marketers (MMPBM) and members consist of small and medium sized cow/calf operations. The producers involved in MMPBM bring their feeder calves together, commingle their cattle, send the calves to a backgrounder, and sell them to a feedlot, usually in Kansas or Iowa.

This year MMPBM members are looking at retaining 25% ownership of their cattle through the finishing phase of production. Retaining ownership gives the group members more marketing options, increases a positive relationship with the feedlots and allows the members to more easily get their carcass data back on their cattle. When cow/calf producers retain at least 25% ownership of their feeder cattle, this shows the feedlot that the producers are confident their cattle will perform well and is a good relationship building tool as well. This relationship will become increasingly important in the beef industry-connecting the smallest cow/calf producers to feedlots and the beef the cow/calf producers produce, which will eventually end up on a consumer's plate.

For more information on premier beef, contact your local University of Missouri Extension Livestock Specialist.

(Author:Wendy Flatt, Livestock Specialist)

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Energy Prices! OUCH!!

Here are some ways livestock producers can save energy costs and maximize efficiency without adversely impacting production.

These suggestions may have a small impact individually, but in combination, they may decrease your energy costs significantly during this time of high prices. Other ideas for conserving may be found at this Iowa State University Web site:

(Authors: Jay Harmon, Ph.D., P.E., Iowa State University and Mark Boggess, Ph.D., National Pork Board)

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Power of Attorney

Occasions arise in business and estate planning where you may want to grant authorization to another person to act on your behalf. The actions of an agent appointed by power of attorney are legally binding on you, the principal, just as if you had carried out the action yourself. So it is extremely important to give proper consideration to who you grant power of attorney. The agent granted power of attorney may be any adult; frequently they are a close relative, lawyer or other trusted individual.

A point many people fail to understand is, if the principal becomes incapacitated, an ordinary power of attorney is revoked and the agent's power to act on behalf of the principal ceases.

A durable power of attorney is a tool that will allow someone whom you have chosen to make medical decisions for you when you are unable. However, the death of the principal revokes even a durable power of attorney.

To create a durable power of attorney in Missouri, the title of the document must include the word "durable" and the document must state "this is a durable power of attorney and the authority of my attorney-in-fact shall not terminate if I become disabled or incapacitated". Numerous sources of durable power of attorney and health care medical directives are available online. You are encouraged to visit with your attorney if you have questions.

Additionally you might want to consider a "springing" power of attorney. A springing power of attorney is one that only becomes effective if certain conditions are met. Most people desire to be responsible for making health-care decisions as long as they can, so a typical springing power of attorney would be conditioned on the principal becoming disabled or incapacitated.

Durable power of attorney is a compliment to a living will or advance-directives for medical care, not a substitute. In fact, many sample health-care advance directive documents suggest a comprehensive format and include a section for naming health-care agents and specifies the powers granted to the agents.

Power of attorney can be a very effective estate planning tool. States vary with regard to health-care directives, thus if you do extensive traveling, check with your lawyer to insure your documents will provide you the protection you desire. Additionally, it is recommended you carry a "notification card" in your billfold to inform emergency medical personnel that you have an advance directive and/or durable power of attorney - with the phone numbers for contacting the individual(s) you have given durable power of attorney.

In conclusion, remember that regardless of how useful this document might be, great care must be given the selection of your agent - you could be putting your life in their hands.

(Author: Parman R. Green, Ag Business Management Specialist)

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Agro-Terrorism or Bio-Security

Both issues should concern farmers. The news has focused on agro-terrorism. Bio-security is a more correct term for our purposes. We have had recent bio security issues. There was Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) in the Southwestern U.S. It was an unintentional introduction. Millions of birds had to be destroyed. A similar, but not nearly as large, problem came from the wheat disease Karnal Bunt. England's bovine spongiform encephalopathy(BSE) outbreak was a huge disaster. It affected England and most cattle producing and importing countries. In Missouri, it is a $4.8 billion issue with $2.5 billion on the farm animal side and $2.3 billion on the crop side.

Something is being done to address potential agricultural disasters. We are the second state to begin planning for bio-security. Meetings are being held in all counties to plan for such agricultural emergencies. Similar meetings have been held for other "Homeland Security" issues. The current meetings are including members from the agricultural community to focus on handling potential agricultural threats.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture's Animal Health Division (MDA AHD) is the lead agency for our bio-security planning. They were chosen since livestock are under constant production all year. Also, livestock shipments are more dynamic. Infected animals from a local auction could end up on both coasts and several states faster than symptoms might develop. Or, infected animals could come to several Missouri farms from an out-of-state source.

The planning sessions use foot and mouth disease (FMD) as a model. Farm(s) infected with FMD would be quarantined with an inner 1.5 mile diameter "infected zone." Plus an outer 6.2 miles diameter buffer zone to complete the quarantined area. All animals within the infected zone would be euthanatized. Animals within the buffer zone would be monitored until they could be confirmed healthy. All movement in and out of the quarantined area would be severely limited. If everything would go well, a FMD quarantine would last a year.

Limited movement within a quarantine zone will have dramatic effects many people may not expect. Farm and rural families will be separated or displaced. Businesses, even if they are not agriculturally based, would be closed or be severely restricted. Employees and goods would have to follow protocols when entering and decontamination when leaving the quarantine zone. Most roads entering a quarantine zone would be closed or closely monitored. Vehicles used inside or that enter the quarantine area typically remain inside the quarantine area until the quarantine is lifted. Vehicles are extremely difficult to decontaminate.

If a bio-security event occurs, quick and firm action would likely limit the size and impact of a quarantine. Cooperation of everyone in a community will be critical. With the END infection, the quarantined only effected the Southwestern United States and parts of some of those states. It could have caused United States quarantine.

Author: Jim Jarman, Agronomy Specialist)

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Asian Bird Flu

"Asian Bird Flu" is the name commonly used in the media to describe a deadly form of avian influenza virus that is currently causing a serious outbreak in multiple Asian countries. This Asian strain of avian influenza is also known as H5N1 avian influenza virus and is a type of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) that causes a severe disease in poultry. More common is a mild form is known as Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) and typically causes a respiratory infection in chickens and other poultry species.

The Asian avian influenza is unusual because it is extremely deadly for poultry (LPAI is not), it has spread to at least 11 countries in Asia, has caused disease outbreaks in wild birds, and it has caused a number of human infections and deaths. These features make this strain of avian influenza more dangerous than any other outbreak of avian influenza that we have seen in the last 60 years.

Avian influenza is normally a virus that infects wild water birds, but it normally does not cause disease in wild birds. The virus on rare occasions has spread to poultry species, like chickens, turkeys, and domestic ducks, where it can cause mild to severe disease.

Avian influenza is not normally considered to be a virus that can spread from birds to people (a zoonotic infection), but the Asian Bird Flu virus has resulted in the infection of over 100 people in Southeast Asia, primarily in Thailand and Vietnam. Almost all of the infected people have had close, direct contact with backyard or village poultry infected with Asian Bird Flu. Importantly, the transmission of Asian Bird Flu from birds to humans is extremely rare. However, if the virus starts to be transmitted efficiently from humans to humans, then a human pandemic of influenza may occur. Public health officials are working on plans for control of any large scale human outbreak with vaccines and antiviral medications, but prevention would be the preferred solution.

There is no danger of acquiring Asian Bird Flu from properly cooked poultry or poultry products. Avian influenza virus is easily destroyed by the heat of normal cooking. Additionally, The United States does not have Asian Bird Flu and we do not legally import poultry from any of the affected Asian countries. Virtually all of the chicken and turkey sold in the United States is produced in the United States.

See the following web resources for more information:

(Author: Mark Stewart, Livestock Specialist)

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Publishing Information

Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University of Missouri Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Managing Editor: Kent Shannon.