Capital Press | Nation/World http://www.capitalpress.com Capital Press Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:03:39 -0400 en http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Capital Press | Nation/World http://www.capitalpress.com Outlook murky for port productivity proposals http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150729/outlook-murky-for-port-productivity-proposals http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150729/outlook-murky-for-port-productivity-proposals#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:09:36 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729831 Key port productivity language was removed from legislation pending before Congress, casting doubt on the outlook for other bills intended to prevent shipping slowdowns.

Initially proposed as the standalone “Port Transparency Bill” — S. 1298 — the legislation was recently folded into a broader transportation funding package the Senate is expected to vote on imminently.

Under the original language, the bill would have required ports to submit monthly productivity reports during labor negotiations between terminal operators and the longshoremen’s union.

The goal was to document whether longshoremen were engaging in work slowdowns, as they were accused of doing during recent labor talks on the West Coast.

Agricultural shippers reported sustaining millions of dollars in losses due to port congestion, which they blamed in part on the longshoremen’s alleged tactics.

While other aspects of the Port Transparency Bill were included in the latest version of the transportation funding legislation, provisions requiring monthly reports during labor negotiations were left out.

Two more stringent bills geared toward preventing port slowdowns have also been proposed in Congress, but the failure of the productivity tracking proposal raises questions about their chances of success.

“If the most modest of the three bills encountered such opposition, can these bills pass?” asked Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agricultural Transportation Coalition, which represents farm exporters.

Another bill introduced in the Senate, the Preventing Labor Union Slowdowns Act — S. 1630 — would prohibit slowdowns under the National Labor Relations Act.

The third bill, the Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit Shipments Act — S. 1519 — would give state governors the authority under the Taft-Hartley Act to order unions back to work in the event of a slowdown or strike, if the U.S. President doesn’t take action.

These proposals face a tough road ahead, but the National Retail Federation and other groups that depend on ports will continue pushing for reform, said Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy for the organization.

“We think something needs to change when it comes to these labor negotiations,” he said. “These issues are not going away on the congestion.”

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union pointed out that it was joined by the U.S. Maritime Alliance, which represents East Coast terminal operators, and U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in objecting to the proposals.

“The diverse opposition to these proposals — coming from employer representatives, port managers, unions and senior administration officials — all strongly suggest that Congress would be wise to heed the advice from such a wide range of industry experts,” ILWU said in a statement.

While the longshoremen’s union ultimately resolved its dispute with the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents West Coast terminal operators, the contract is set to expire in 2019 and exporters don’t want a repeat of recent disruptions, said Friedmann of the Agricultural Transportation Coalition.

“People are already nervous,” he said.

Preventing congestion at the West Coast ports without federal legislation is “the ideal course,” so the Agricultural Transportation Coalition intends to work with ILWU to implement voluntary measures that ensure smooth port function, he said.

Labor, shippers and terminal operators on the East Coast have been able to cooperate to increase their market share, and the West Coast should try to emulate that model, Friedmann said.

“Those are the results of a shared vision,” he said. “The West Coast, we need to get a shared vision.”

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Cattle on feed up, marketings lower http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20150729/cattle-on-feed-up-marketings-lower http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20150729/cattle-on-feed-up-marketings-lower#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:39:02 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729832 At 10.2 million head, the number of cattle on feed in large feedlots as of July 1 was up 2 percent year over year, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

That represents a 7 percent increase in steers and steer calves and a 7 percent decrease in heifers and heifer calves.

However, marketings, at 1.75 million head, continued the year-over-year decline seen since November 2013. June marketings were down 163,000 head, or 5 percent, from June of last year. It’s the smallest June marketings since the cattle on feed series began in 1996, NASS reported.

Placements in June were 1.48 million, up 13,000 head and 1 percent year over year, NASS reported. June had one more business day than June 2014.

But that doesn’t mean the U.S. is producing more cattle; total placements have been down for the last six or seven months, said Derrell Peel, livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.

Feedlots are holding cattle longer to put on more weight to balance high feeder cattle costs with fed cattle prices. Cattle on feed numbers look higher because they are staying longer, he said.

Slaughter is down for the year. Combined steer and heifer slaughter is down about 6.8 percent year to date. That includes an 11 percent decrease in heifer slaughter, reflecting heifer retention for herd rebuilding, he said.

Year-over-year federally inspected cattle and calf slaughter January through June was down 1.09 million head, with beef production down 4 percent and veal production down 20 percent, NASS reported last week.

Total marketings of fed cattle January through June were down 5.9 percent and total placements into feedlots were down 5.5 percent, Peel said.

For the first six months of 2015, total placements into feedlots were down 611,000 head and marketings were down 618,000 head year over year, according to NASS.

The July 1 cattle inventory does show more feeder cattle outside feedlots, up about 1.8 percent. More feeder cattle are in the pipeline, but the majority of the increase is new-crop calves that won’t be placed in feedlots until late this year and into next year, he said.

Idaho and Washington saw sizable increases in the number of cattle on feed on July 1, with Idaho up 25 percent at 225,000 head and Washington up 23 percent at 215,000 head. California’s numbers were also up, 6 percent to 460,000, NASS reported.

Drought in states west of the Continental Divide likely forced more cattle into feedlots, extension livestock economist Tom Petry with North Dakota State University said in a report this week from the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

June placements in Idaho feedlots were up 19 percent at 31,000 head, and Arizona placements were up 40 percent at 28,000 head. California placements were in line with June 2014 at 45,000 head, and Washington placements were down 25 percent to 30,000 head.

The national trend of placing more heavier-weight cattle continued in June with placements under 600 pounds down 13.6 percent year over year and placements of over 800-pound feeder cattle up 11.2 percent, Petry said.

The higher number of steers on feed — up 461,000 head year over year to 6.91 million — is due to a number of contributing factors, including record-high feeder cattle prices and a stronger U.S. dollar drawing increased imports from Mexico and Canada, he said.

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Utah woman sues Starbucks for $2M over tainted coffee claim http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20150729/utah-woman-sues-starbucks-for-2m-over-tainted-coffee-claim http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20150729/utah-woman-sues-starbucks-for-2m-over-tainted-coffee-claim#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:37:56 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729833 SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah woman is suing Starbucks for more than $2 million after she says she drank a coffee at the chain that contained a cleaning solution.

Cheryl Kingery claims in a lawsuit filed in state court last week that she drank a coffee in July 2012 at a Starbucks in the northern Utah city of Clinton. Kingery believes the drink contained a cleaning solution used on coffee and espresso machines.

Kingery’s attorneys say the coffee burned and damaged her mouth and esophagus.

Starbucks did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press on Wednesday but company spokeswoman Laurel Harper told The Salt Lake Tribune that safety is a priority and that Starbucks is investigating Kingery’s claim.

A message left with Kingery’s lawyers seeking additional details was not returned Wednesday.

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Panera shares jump on report of Q3 sales uptick http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20150729/panera-shares-jump-on-report-of-q3-sales-uptick http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20150729/panera-shares-jump-on-report-of-q3-sales-uptick#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:26:59 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729834 ST. LOUIS (AP) — Panera Bread Co. shares jumped in extended trading Tuesday after the restaurant chain reported an uptick in sales in recent days.

The company said that revenue from its established company-owned sites rose 4.7 percent for the first 27 days of its current quarter. That’s much better than the 2.4 percent increase in that same measure during the second quarter that ended June 30.

It also helped offset concerns about a disappointing second-quarter performance.

Panera also reported Tuesday that it earned $41.9 million, or $1.60 per share, for its second quarter. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to $1.61 per share. That fell short of market forecasts; analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research, on average, were anticipating earnings of $1.63 per share.

Its quarterly revenue increased 7 percent to $676.7 million, but analysts were anticipating $681.4 million.

Panera, based in St. Louis, has been making changes to its food, marketing and store design to increase its competitive edge. It also is working to expand into catering, delivery and other related businesses, but said those cost dampen profits due in quarters ahead due to startup costs.

Panera shares soared 8 percent in extended trading. Its stock closed regular trading at $186.99 Tuesday, up 30 percent in the last 12 months.

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Portland daily grain report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150729/portland-daily-grain-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150729/portland-daily-grain-report#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:21:25 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729835 Portland, Ore., Wednesday, July 29, 2015

USDA Market News

All Bids in dollars per bushel. Bids are limited and not fully established in early trading.

Bids for grains delivered to Portland, Oregon in dollars per bushel.

In early trading September wheat futures trended 8.00 to 11.00 cents per bushel lower compared to Tuesday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for July delivery were not available for ordinary protein.

Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 protein were not well tested in early trading but were indicated as steady to lower compared to Tuesday’s noon bids. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for July delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as lower compared to Tuesday’s noon bids.

Bids for 14 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for July delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as lower compared to Tuesday’s noon bids. Some exporters are not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains trended mixed compared to Tuesday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains were not available in early trading.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White Wheat - delivered by Unit Trains and Barges

Ordinary protein

Jul NA

Aug NC NA

Sep NA

Oct NA

Nov NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jul mostly 6.2475, ranging 6.2475-6.3800

Aug NC 6.2975-6.4300

Sep 6.2975-6.4300

Oct 6.3425-6.4925

Nov 6.3425-6.5125

US 1 White Club Wheat - delivered by Unit Trains and Barges

Ordinary protein

Jul NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jul mostly 6.2475, ranging 6.2475-6.3800

US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat - (Exporter bids-falling numbers of 300 or

better)

Ordinary protein 5.3975-5.5975

11 pct protein 5.4775-5.6775

11.5 pct protein

Jul 5.5175-5.7175

Aug NC 5.5675-5.8175

Sep 5.6175-5.8675

Oct 5.8700-5.9200

Nov 5.8700-5.9500

12 pct protein 5.5175-5.7175

13 pct protein 5.5175-5.7175

US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat (with a minimum of 300 falling numbers, a maximum

of 0.5 part per million vomitoxin, and a maximum of one percent total damage)

13 pct protein 5.7025-5.8025

14 pct protein

Jul 6.1025-6.2025

Aug NC 6.1025-6.3025

Sep 6.1525-6.3025

Oct 6.3775-6.5775

Nov 6.4775-6.6275

15 pct protein 6.3025-6.4025

16 pct protein 6.5025-6.6025

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jul 4.4875-4.5075

Aug 4.5275-4.5575

Sep 4.5475-4.5775

Oct 4.5625-4.6225

Nov 4.6125-4.6225

Dec 4.6225-4.6625

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jul NA

Sep 10.2975-10.3175

Oct 10.3275-10.3575

Nov 10.3675-10.3975

Dec 10.4125-10.4525

Jan 10.4225-10.4525

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.8475

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Jun 2015

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges NA

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 6.1300

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 6.2500

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 7.4800

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

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Opportunity knocks for U.S. dairy exports http://www.capitalpress.com/Dairy/20150729/opportunity-knocks-for-us-dairy-exports http://www.capitalpress.com/Dairy/20150729/opportunity-knocks-for-us-dairy-exports#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:13:41 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729837 TWIN FALLS, Idaho — While current prices in the international dairy trade rival the lows of the 2009 crash, the fundamentals of strong dairy demand remain, and that means opportunity for the U.S.

Demand is still growing and will continue to grow, and the U.S. is in a good position to fill that need, Rabobank dairy analyst Hayley Moynihan told dairy farmers at a June 16 client dinner.

There’s no doubt current prices paint a somewhat sobering picture in the short term, but the long term remains exciting, she said.

By 2020, China will need the equivalent of another 7 billion pounds of milk, and Southeast Asia will demand an additional 6 billion pounds. Total global demand is expected to increase by 45 billion pounds — equal to the entire production of California, she said.

Demand is expected to increase global traded volumes by 20 million tons (liquid milk equivalent) to 100 million tons, and it’s looking like the U.S. and EU will be the regions to fill that demand, she said.

New Zealand’s rapid growth in milk production is beginning to be challenged, and it’s lost its lower-cost advantage. Hard constraints include the availability of land, labor and water and the increasing cost of environmental regulations. Softer constraints include negative public opinion and resistance to change, she said.

New Zealand’s milk production is still largely pasture based with lower per-cow production than U.S. operations. That annual production is about 10,000 pounds compared with 22,258 pounds in the U.S. in 2014.

There is also huge seasonal fluctuation, with cows going on “vacation” in June and July. It costs more to feed cows in those months than the global market will pay for milk, so New Zealand milking barns aren’t operating at capacity.

Price volatility is another serious factor. Milk prices fell nearly 40 percent — compared with about 13 percent in the U.S. — from the start of last year till the end. It’s the norm in New Zealand, and dairy farmers don’t have the tools, such as futures trading for milk and feed, to manage it, she said.

Constraints on milk production in New Zealand offer opportunity for U.S. dairy exports, but that opportunity also carries risks, she said.

“Dairy is one of the most volatile commodities and will remain so. As you embrace global markets, risk exposure comes hand-in-hand,” she said.

Milk price volatility will increase as the U.S. becomes more integrated in global markets, but being a consistent supplier will pay off in longer term market opportunity, she said.

Anyone can export when prices are high and demand is strong, but long-term success demands meeting customers’ requirements month in and month out through good times and bad times, she said.

It requires commitment to markets and relationships and the ability to withstand the downturns, she said.

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Grocery chain joins initiative on farmworker pay http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150729/grocery-chain-joins-initiative-on-farmworker-pay http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150729/grocery-chain-joins-initiative-on-farmworker-pay#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:46:37 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729844 IMMOKALEE, Fla. (AP) — A major U.S. grocery company joined an initiative Wednesday that requires its Florida tomato suppliers to increase farmworker pay and protect workers from forced labor and sexual assault.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers announced that Ahold USA is America’s first major grocer to join the group’s Fair Food Program.

Ahold USA is the parent company of Stop & Shop, Giant Foods of Landover, Giant Foods of Carlisle, Martin’s and online grocer Peapod. The company represents 780 supermarkets across the country and 50 million customers each month. Ahold’s participation will increase the number of U.S. grocery stores carry Fair Food tomatoes by approximately 75 percent.

“Ahold USA’s companies are deeply committed to responsible practices throughout their operations and to providing customers with great products at great prices from suppliers who share our dedication to strong ethical standards and fair treatment for workers,” Ahold USA James McCann said in a news release. “The cornerstone of this commitment is the Ahold Standards of Engagement, which commit our companies’ suppliers to these values. The Fair Food Program is a time-tested leader in improving the lives of agricultural workers, and we have observed the Program’s success over the past several years.”

Ahold USA joins nearly a dozen other corporations, including Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Chipotle, Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s and Yum Brands — the company whose restaurant chains include Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut.

“We are truly proud to welcome Ahold USA into the Fair Food Program and excited about the opportunity to work with an industry leader like Ahold,” coalition member Gerardo Reyes said. “Ahold USA is the first of the country’s major grocers to join the program and, as such, not only will its partnership help propel to new heights our efforts to protect farmworkers’ rights, but we believe its market leadership will send an invaluable message to the rest of the grocery industry that social responsibility is greatly strengthened when workers, suppliers and retailers work together toward a more modern, more humane agricultural industry.”

Florida tomato suppliers in the Fair Food Program pass on to their buyers a penny-per-pound of tomatoes pay increase for farmworkers. They also must have zero tolerance for forced labor and sexual assault and put in place a mechanism for resolving labor disputes between growers and farmworkers. The program also requires growers to allow farmworkers to form health and safety committees on each farm.

Growers in compliance earn a “Participating Grower” designation, and if they lose the designation through violations, they won’t be able to sell their tomatoes to the participating buyers, such as Ahold USA, according to the coalition.

The coalition began fighting to increase the wages of tomato pickers back in the 1990s, attempting strikes with little success early on. Then the group turned to the major food chains that bought the tomatoes, leading to a nationwide boycott of Taco Bell that culminated in a 2005 agreement with the fast-food chain.

More deals with tomato buyers soon followed, but each time the growers balked. The growers threatened to fine any members who worked with the coalition and instead created their own safety and worker protection plan.

Finally, in 2010, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange agreed to boost wages and working conditions for farmworkers with measures outlined in the Fair Food Program.

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USDA expects to pay farmers $191 million for birds lost to flu http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150729/usda-expects-to-pay-farmers-191-million-for-birds-lost-to-flu http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150729/usda-expects-to-pay-farmers-191-million-for-birds-lost-to-flu#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:39:23 -0400 DAVID PITT http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729845 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. government expects to spend $191 million to pay chicken and turkey farmers for birds lost to avian flu, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday as he called for Congress to consider a disaster program for poultry producers similar to that for other livestock farmers.

That’s just a fraction of the federal government’s $700 million price tag for what is considered by many to be the worst animal disease disaster to hit the nation, Vilsack said. The government has spent $400 million on cleaning up dead birds and disinfecting and is paying to research and stockpile a bird flu vaccine in case the virus returns.

The bird flu killed 48 million birds, mostly turkeys and egg-laying chickens in 15 states as it swept through the Midwest. Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri lost the most birds.

Vilsack spoke Tuesday at a bird flu conference in Des Moines, where the poultry industry and agriculture officials are talking about how to make farms more secure and how to better respond if the virus is again dropped on farms from waterfowl migrating south this fall. The conference was closed to the public and the media except for opening speeches by Vilsack and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. Organizers said they wanted to ensure an open discussion of what went wrong and how to improve responses.

“I do think we’d be better off as a nation if we had for poultry producers a disaster program similar to what we have for livestock producers,” Vilsack said. It would be less costly to the government than dealing with outbreaks as individual disasters, he said.

A proposed insurance program was cut from the 2014 farm bill as Congress sought to reduce spending, Vilsack said.

Of the 211 U.S. commercial poultry barns affected by the bird flu, 90 have been cleaned and disinfected and nearly 70 are ready to bring in new birds, Vilsack said. By the end of September, infected farms should be ready to restock, he said.

Branstad worries about a return of bird flu. The state’s egg production fell 44 percent last month from a year ago after losing nearly 32 million birds, mostly egg-laying hens, to flu.

“We want to be as prepared as we can and do what we can from a biosecurity perspective to avoid it recurring or having it spread like it did this spring,” he said.

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Future unsure for troubled New Mexico green chile production http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20150729/future-unsure-for-troubled-new-mexico-green-chile-production http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20150729/future-unsure-for-troubled-new-mexico-green-chile-production#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:38:25 -0400 RUSSELL CONTRERAS http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729846 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Green chiles have defined New Mexico for generations, gaining fans and fame around the globe.

However, as this year’s harvest begins, labor shortages, shrinking acreage, drought and foreign competition have hurt production in the state.

Farmers and producers say the problems reveal the need for changes in the industry.

To rejuvenate production, investors and inventors are testing machines that would harvest and de-stem the crop.

The delicate chiles are now picked by hand, and problems with bruising and the removal of stems have made it difficult to make the transition to machines.

“The labor force is getting older and not a lot of young people are getting into the business,” said Ed Ogaz, owner of the Anthony, New Mexico-based chile wholesaler Seco Spice Co. “Something needs to happen.”

Ogaz prefers the old ways and believes farmers need more laborers to improve production as acreage dedicated to chile production has fallen to a 43-year low in the state.

Chile has been a staple of New Mexico cuisine for centuries, and the Hatch region has become world famous for its flavorful hot peppers.

Chile is also the state vegetable and the basis of the official state question, “red or green?”

In recent years, researchers at New Mexico State University have been trying to solve the labor issue by developing machines for the harvest.

Elad Etgar, inventor of a chile-harvesting device at an Israeli company, said he will be testing his machine for the next two months. After the harvest, he’ll sit down with farmers to assess its performance.

“So far, everyone supports it but we will have to see,” Etgar told The Associated Press.

Another device by a New Hampshire investor also is being tested.

Ogaz said he is withholding judgment until he sees how the devices harvest green chiles without damaging the signature look.

The stakes are high. In 2014, New Mexico saw a 10 percent decline in acres of chiles harvested. Experts say the state is losing chile acreage to West Texas and Mexico, partly because of the cost and availability of labor.

Despite marketing efforts and the attractiveness of New Mexico chiles to national suppliers, federal numbers show the value of New Mexico red and green chiles was estimated at $38.7 million, compared to $49.5 million in 2013.

State officials say the number reflects only the value of agricultural items in the raw commodity state. They point to New Mexico Chile Association numbers that say the full economic impact of chiles, both fresh and processed, was more than $460 million a year.

“Fresh green chile is what satisfies our cravings in August and September, so that’s the foundation of New Mexico’s chile economy,” New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said.

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State seeks solutions to shipping woes at Hermiston workshop http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20150729/state-seeks-solutions-to-shipping-woes-at-hermiston-workshop http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20150729/state-seeks-solutions-to-shipping-woes-at-hermiston-workshop#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:22:43 -0400 GEORGE PLAVENEO Media Group http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729847 PENDLETON, Ore. — The recent withdrawal of nearly all container shipping at the Port of Portland has forced businesses throughout Oregon to choose between paying more for exports or risk losing customers overseas.

State officials are now asking what they can do to help.

Business Oregon, the official state agency for economic development, is leading a series of workshops to brainstorm solutions while the Port of Portland attempts to recruit another container shipper to Terminal 6.

More than 100 people attended the first Oregon Trade Solutions workshop last week in Portland. The series shifts to Eastern Oregon on Wednesday with a meeting in Hermiston.

Ryan Frank, spokesman for Business Oregon, said the initiative started earlier this year when Hanjin Shipping and Hapag-Lloyd stopped making stops in Portland, taking the vast majority of the port’s container business with them.

Oregon shippers now pay an additional $500-$1,000 per container to send their goods to Seattle and Tacoma. Not only is the freight more expensive, but it has also led to congestion along the other West Coast ports.

Gov. Kate Brown announced a deal in April providing $300,000 to help small and medium-sized businesses stay competitive in the export market. The goal is to deliver a list of solutions to lawmakers for the 2016 Legislature.

The workshops are co-sponsored by Business Oregon along with the state Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation and Port of Portland.

“We want to hear from private industry to tell us what they need,” Frank said. “The best solutions are going to come from people who live and breathe this business every day.”

Bruce Pokarney, spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, said the team was interested in visiting Hermiston based on the region’s vibrant farm economy.

Umatilla County ranks first in the state for growing fresh vegetables that are shipped in containers, mostly potatoes and onions. Processed and packaged foods, such as french fries from the Lamb Weston potato plant, are also moved in containers.

Wheat, on the other hand, is exported in bulk and not affected by Terminal 6.

In all, about 40 percent of Oregon agriculture is exported out of the country, Pokarney said. With the added cost per container, that’s hitting a lot of small growers in the pocketbook.

“There are ideas out there that we at the state level could certainly be advocates for,” Pokarney said.

Input at the Portland meeting included possibly building a drop yard near Corvallis, where containers could be transferred off trucks and onto rail, saving businesses trucking costs. Companies also proposed a website where the state and local ports could communicate shipping delays in real time.

At the Port of Umatilla, manager Kim B. Puzey has spent more than a decade looking into short sea shipping on the Columbia River which would allow inland ports to bypass Portland entirely. So far, Puzey said he has not been able to find funding for the proposal.

“I think it has merits. Europe and Asia seem to think so, and I haven’t given up on the idea,” he said.

More than 1,000 Oregon businesses rely on container shipping for imports and exports, totaling $101 million in revenue, according to figures from Business Oregon. Frank said there’s a whole range of potential solutions that can come out of the workshops.

“A lot of companies are doing really any workaround to get their product where it needs to go,” Frank said. “Sometimes they’ll pay the extra cost to ship to other ports, and are more or less eating those costs ... That’s not really a long-term sustainable solution.”

Meanwhile, the Port of Portland is continuing to work with Terminal 6 operator ICTSI Oregon to restore container service, though port spokesman Kenny Macdonald said bringing in a company the size of Hanjin might take several years.

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CNH Industrial profits down 55 percent in second quarter http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20150729/cnh-industrial-profits-down-55-percent-in-second-quarter http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20150729/cnh-industrial-profits-down-55-percent-in-second-quarter#Comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:13:05 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729848 MILAN (AP) — CNH Industrial, the Italian maker of construction and agriculture machinery, says second-quarter earnings dropped by more than half on lower sales of combines and larger tractors in North and South America.

CNH Industrial, which was formed from the full merger of Fiat Industrial with its CNH subsidiary, reported Wednesday that profits dropped to 178 million euros ($196 million) in the three months ending June 30, from 399 million euros a year earlier.

Net revenues in the period were down 22 percent, to 7 billion euros from 9 billion euros.

Agriculture revenues, which comprise about half of CNH sales, dropped 31 percent in the quarter to 3 billion euros while construction equipment sales were down 20 percent to 740 million euros, due primarily to lower volumes in Latin America.

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Portland daily grain report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150728/portland-daily-grain-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150728/portland-daily-grain-report#Comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:54:41 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729859 Portland, Ore., Tuesday, July 28, 2015

USDA Market News

All Bids in dollars per bushel. Bids are limited and not fully established in early trading.

Bids for grains delivered to Portland, Oregon in dollars per bushel.

In early trading September wheat futures trended 3.25 to 4.50 cents per bushel higher compared to Monday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for July delivery were not available for ordinary protein.

Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 protein were not well tested in early trading but were indicated as steady to higher compared to Monday’s noon bids. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for July delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher compared to Monday’s noon bids.

Bids for 14 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for July delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher compared to Monday’s noon bids. Some exporters are not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains trended higher compared to Monday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains were not available in early trading.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White Wheat - delivered by Unit Trains and Barges

Ordinary protein

Jul NA

Aug NC NA

Sep NA

Oct NA

Nov NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jul mostly 6.3100, ranging 6.3100-6.3800

Aug NC 6.3600-6.4300

Sep 6.3600-6.4600

Oct 6.4050-6.5550

Nov 6.4050-6.5550

US 1 White Club Wheat - delivered by Unit Trains and Barges

Ordinary protein

Jul NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jul mostly 6.3100, ranging 6.3100-6.3800

US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat - (Exporter bids-falling numbers of 300 or

better)

Ordinary protein 5.4675-5.5675

11 pct protein 5.5475-5.6475

11.5 pct protein

Jul 5.5875-5.6875

Aug NC 5.6375-5.8375

Sep 5.6875-5.9375

Oct 5.9375-5.9875

Nov 5.9575-5.9875

12 pct protein 5.5875-5.6875

13 pct protein 5.5875-5.7875

US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat (with a minimum of 300 falling numbers, a maximum

of 0.5 part per million vomitoxin, and a maximum of one percent total damage)

13 pct protein 5.8025-5.9025

14 pct protein

Jul 6.2025-6.3025

Aug NC 6.2025-6.4025

Sep 6.2525-6.4025

Oct 6.4925-6.6925

Nov 6.5925-6.7425

15 pct protein 6.4025-6.5025

16 pct protein 6.6025-6.7025

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jul 4.4325-4.4925

Aug 4.5125-4.5525

Sep 4.5425-4.5725

Oct 4.5650-4.6250

Nov 4.6150-4.6350

Dec 4.6150-4.6650

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jul NA

Sep 10.1400-10.2400

Oct 10.1600-10.2900

Nov 10.2400-10.3400

Dec 10.3000-10.4000

Jan 10.3000-10.4000

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.8475

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Jun 2015

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges NA

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 6.1300

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 6.2500

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 7.4800

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

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Lawsuit blames insecticide for farm worker’s death http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150728/lawsuit-blames-insecticide-for-farm-workers-death http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150728/lawsuit-blames-insecticide-for-farm-workers-death#Comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:54:01 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729860 The family of a deceased farm worker in Idaho has filed a lawsuit claiming that his terminal lung cancer was caused by a pesticide that’s being discontinued.

The complaint, filed by the wife and four daughters of Jesus Madera, claims that Bayer Cropscience is liable for his death for manufacturing and selling the insecticide aldicarb, commonly known as Temik 15G.

According to the complaint, Madera did not smoke and was not exposed to asbestos, radon or other substances known to cause lung cancer prior to his death in November 2013 at the age of 39.

“Mr. Madera’s medical providers concluded that Mr. Madera acquired metastatic adenocarcinoma of the lung due to his exposure to Temik 15G,” the document said.

His family seeks compensation for medical and funeral expenses, as well as the loss of earnings and companionship, in an amount to be proven at trial.

The complaint claims that Bayer is responsible for Madera’s death because the chemical was “defective and unreasonably dangerous” and the company negligently produced it without adequately warning of its hazards.

Capital Press was unable to reach a spokesperson for Bayer as of press time.

Production of aldicarb was phased out at the end of 2014 as part of an agreement between the company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which had previously found that the pesticide “no longer meets our rigorous food safety standards and may pose unacceptable dietary risks, especially to infants and young children.”

However, the product will continue to be sold until the end of 2016 and growers will have until the end of 2018 to use it on certain crops.

To win such a product liability case, the plaintiffs face the burden of proving that the toxic substance was responsible for the death, said Monique Lillard, a law professor specializing in torts at the University of Idaho.

The plaintiffs can rely on the expert testimony of doctors and other scientists, but they face a tough battle because there can be numerous causes for lung disease, she said.

“The actual cause is often the hardest hurdle for the plaintiff to overcome,” Lillard said.

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Washington agriculture weighs impacts of piece-rate court ruling http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20150728/washington-agriculture-weighs-impacts-of-piece-rate-court-ruling http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20150728/washington-agriculture-weighs-impacts-of-piece-rate-court-ruling#Comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:51:03 -0400 Dan Wheat http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729861 PASCO, Wash. — A recent state Supreme Court ruling makes it more expensive for labor-intensive agriculture to operate and threatens piece-rate pay, a useful competitive tool, growers and packers say.

While complying with the ruling will be difficult, the greater nightmare for employers would be a lawsuit making rest-break pay retroactive three years. That could cost the industry $100 million or more, Dan Fazio, director of the agricultural employer group WAFLA, has previously estimated.

“Most growers would see that as unfair because they were complying with the law as they understood it,” said Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association in Yakima.

For 25 years, the Department of Labor and Industries said rest breaks could be included in piece-rate pay, not paid separately, Fazio said.

“Now the Supreme Court has told us we have to calculate rest breaks separately and we have one day to do it. That’s ridiculous,” he said, referring to immediate implementation of the ruling. The ruling amounts to writing a new regulation, which is the job of the Legislature, not the court, he said.

The court issued a unanimous ruling July 16 that requires piece-rate workers be paid for 10-minute rest breaks for every four hours of work based on what workers would have earned if they worked through the breaks. The alternative is paying an hourly wage, at least minimum wage, with rest breaks.

What piece-rate pickers make varies by the day and it “becomes quite onerous in bookkeeping to keep track of it all,” said Denny Hayden, a small apple and cherry grower north of Pasco.

Switching entirely to hourly pay puts him at a competitive disadvantage, Hayden said. Fast pickers and packers make substantially more money on piece-rate than hourly pay.

“You go with piece-rate to attract good workers. Generally, good workers like piece rate. Slower workers want hourly and cruise,” he said.

Hayden pays hourly for color-picking apples but pays piece-rate when trees are strip picked.

“I do Rainier (cherries) by the hour but it’s tough because I have to compete with higher wages,” he said.

“The bottom line is costs will go up. We’re the highest minimum wage in the country now ($9.47 per hour) and people want to make it $15. Fine and dandy, except in agriculture everything is variable. We don’t know if we will have a crop, what the yield will be and if we’ll get paid. It’s not like making widgets in a factory. We produce what we produce and labor is typically a deciding factor if we make money or not. If we don’t make money there’s no jobs,” Hayden said.

Mike Gempler, executive director of Washington Growers League in Yakima, said the ruling will cost growers paying piece-rate $20 to $30 more per worker per week, depending on how much they are earning.

It’s not just fast picking but fast packing that’s rewarded by piece-rate, he said.

“Another big issue is the cultural shift in the workplace for workers,” Gempler said. “Many want to maximize every minute they have to work whether they get extra pay for breaks or not. The theory is that paying them for breaks removes the incentive for them to skip breaks, but they want money, they’d rather be working.”

State law says workers “shall be allowed” rest breaks by employers but does not mandate them. The court emphasized rest breaks are mandatory, Fazio said.

Fazio believes employers have a third option. Paying hourly wages and a bonus for fruit picked or packed over a certain amount. However, attorneys advising WAFLA say that creates more risk and it can’t be used for H-2A visa foreign guestworkers because it’s not in their contract, he said.

The ruling threatens small growers and growers with small profit margins, Gempler said. People are upset but will adapt and just want to know how, he said.

Tree fruit, berries, grapes, asparagus, hops and any other crops using piece-rate are effected, he said.

Major tree fruit companies are grappling with the ruling. They probably will keep using piece-rate and use the Supreme Court formula to calculate separate rest-break pay, DeVaney said. “It gets complicated. There are different rates of pay for different varieties,” he said.

Compliance will cost “a lot of money, which will be painful” and harder for small growers, DeVaney said.

The only remedy is changing state law, which would be difficult and take time, he said.

David Douglas, president of Douglas Fruit Co. in Pasco, said he’s keeping piece-rate and figuring out rest-break pay and that other companies probably are doing the same.

The president of another large company, who did not want his name used, said the 9-0 decision does not bode well for the industry regarding retroactive pay.

Hayden said that would be “a disaster” and said would be impractical and immoral.

Fazio said employers should preserve pay records for the last three years in case that happens. Attorneys advising WAFLA said retroactive pay could include interest and penalties.

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SuperValu may spin off Save-A-Lot into separate company http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20150728/supervalu-may-spin-off-save-a-lot-into-separate-company http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20150728/supervalu-may-spin-off-save-a-lot-into-separate-company#Comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:39:54 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729863 NEW YORK (AP) — SuperValu said Tuesday that it may spin off its discount grocer Save-A-Lot into a separate publicly traded company as competition in the industry intensifies.

Shares of SuperValu Inc. jumped nearly 13 percent in premarket trading Tuesday.

The company says the split will help each company focus on finding ways to grow. SuperValu Inc. has been getting smaller in recent years, selling its Albertson’s, Jewel-Osco and other chains.

Rival chains have been combining. Last month, the owner of Stop & Shop and Giant stores said it will merge with the parent company of Food Lion to operate 6,500 stores around the world. And discounter Dollar Tree completed its dealt to buy Family Dollar earlier this year, bringing its store count to about 13,000.

Save-A-Lot has more than 1,300 stores around the country, selling fresh meat, vegetables and other groceries. SuperValu, based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, distributes grocery items to nearly 3,600 stores and also operates the Cub Foods, Shop ‘N Save and Hornbacher’s chains.

SuperValu said it doesn’t have a timeline for when the separation may happen.

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FDA bans some Mexican cilantro after feces found in fields http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150728/fda-bans-some-mexican-cilantro-after-feces-found-in-fields http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150728/fda-bans-some-mexican-cilantro-after-feces-found-in-fields#Comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:38:20 -0400 MARY CLARE JALONICK http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729864 WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is banning imports of some fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico, after a government investigation found human feces and toilet paper in growing fields there.

The FDA announced the partial ban Monday after cilantro imported from the state of Puebla was linked to 2013 and 2014 outbreaks of stomach illnesses in the United States. The FDA said health authorities in Texas and Wisconsin also suspect cilantro from the region is responsible for more illnesses this year.

Following up on the outbreaks, U.S. and Mexican health authorities investigated 11 farms and packing houses in Puebla over the last three years. The FDA said it discovered “objectionable conditions” at eight of those firms, including five that were linked to the U.S. outbreaks. The FDA said the officials discovered the feces and toilet paper in fields and found that some of the farms had no running water or toilet facilities.

The investigation also found dirty containers that had held cilantro and, at one firm, water that tested positive for the cyclospora parasite that caused the stomach illnesses.

In its “import alert” issued Monday, the FDA said it suspects the contamination came from “contact with the parasite shed from the intestinal tract of humans” in the growing fields, contaminated water or harvesting, processing and packing activities.

The ban will only affect certain shipments of fresh cilantro from Puebla from April through August, corresponding to the timing of the outbreaks. The summer ban will continue in future years unless a company can prove to health authorities that its product is safe.

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Wheat disease impacts Missouri crops http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150728/wheat-disease-impacts-missouri-crops http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150728/wheat-disease-impacts-missouri-crops#Comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:35:59 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729865 COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri Extension Service says continued wet weather has led to serious problems in the state’s wheat fields.

Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute director Pat Westhoff says farmers have had a hard time harvesting the wheat crop, and disease now is making it hard or even impossible to sell.

He says the Wheat Belt has been hit by vomitoxin, which in higher concentrations causes feed refusal and poor weight gain in some livestock. Vomitoxin levels are high enough in much of the affected wheat that grain elevators won’t accept it.

Westhoff says making things even worse is that the large global wheat crop has kept prices lower than producers had hoped. The good news for consumers is that prices for wheat products likely won’t go up.

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Worldwide strengthening El Nino giveth and taketh away http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150728/worldwide-strengthening-el-nino-giveth-and-taketh-away http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20150728/worldwide-strengthening-el-nino-giveth-and-taketh-away#Comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:20:49 -0400 SETH BORENSTEINand FRANK BAJAK http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729867 WASHINGTON (AP) — In California, they’re counting on it to end an historic drought; in Peru, they’ve already declared a pre-emptive emergency to prepare for devastating flooding. It’s both an economic stimulus and a recession-maker. And it’s likely to increase the price of coffee, chocolate and sugar.

It’s El Nino — most likely, the largest in well over a decade, forecasters say. A lot more than mere weather, it affects lives and pocketbooks in different ways in different places.

Every few years, the winds shift and the water in the Pacific Ocean gets warmer than usual. That water sloshes back and forth around the equator in the Pacific, interacts with the winds above and then changes weather worldwide. This is El Nino. Droughts are triggered in places like Australia and India, but elsewhere, droughts are quenched and floods replace them. The Pacific gets more hurricanes; the Atlantic fewer. Winter gets milder and wetter in much of the United States. The world warms, goosing Earth’s already rising thermometer from man-made climate change.

Peruvian sailors named the formation El Nino — the (Christ) Child — because it was most noticeable around Christmas. An El Nino means the Pacific Ocean off Peru’s coast is warm, especially a huge patch 330 feet (100 meters) below the surface, and as it gets warmer and close to the surface, the weather “is just going to be a river falling from the sky,” said biophysicist Michael Ferrari, director of climate services for agriculture at the Colorado firm aWhere Inc.

Around the world, crops fail in some places, thrive elsewhere. Commercial fishing shifts. More people die of flooding, fewer from freezing. Americans spend less on winter heating. The global economy shifts.

“El Nino is not the end of the world so you don’t have to hide under the bed. The reality is that in the U.S. an El Nino can be a good thing,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.

This El Nino officially started in March and keeps getting stronger. If current trends continue, it should officially be termed a strong El Nino early in August, peak sometime near the end of year and peter out sometime next spring. Meteorologists say it looks like the biggest such event since the fierce El Nino of 1997-1998.

California mudslides notwithstanding, the U.S. economy benefited by nearly $22 billion from that El Nino, according to a 1999 study. That study found that 189 people were killed in the U.S, mainly from tornadoes linked to El Nino, but an estimated 850 lives were saved due to a milder winter.

A United Nations-backed study said that El Nino cost Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela nearly $11 billion. Flooding in Peru destroyed bridges, homes, hospitals and crops and left 354 dead and 112 missing, according to the Pan-American Health Organization. The mining industry in Peru and Chile was hammered as flooding hindered exports.

Though this year’s El Nino is likely to be weaker than the 1997-1998 version, the economic impact may be greater because the world’s interconnected economy has changed with more vulnerable supply chains, said risk and climate expert Ferrari.

Economic winners include the U.S., China, Mexico and Europe while India, Australia and Peru are among El Nino’s biggest losers.

On average, a healthy El Nino can boost the U.S. economy by about 0.55 percent of Gross Domestic Product, which would translate more than $90 billion this year, an International Monetary Fund study calculated this spring. But it could also slice an entire percentage point off Indonesia’s GDP.

Indonesia gets hit particularly hard because an expected El Nino drought affects the country’s mining, power, cocoa, and coffee industries, said IMF study co-author Kamiar Mohaddes, an economist at the University of Cambridge in London.

The expected El Nino drought in parts of Australia has started and may trim as much as 1 percent off of the country’s GDP, said Andrew Watkins, supervisor of climate prediction services at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Tony Barnston, lead El Nino forecaster at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University, cautioned that while El Nino has predictable effects and this one is strong, what happens next is not exactly certain.

But Peruvians are worried. Abraham Levy, director of Ambiental Andina, which advises businesses on meteorology- and hydrology-related issues, believes this El Nino could lead Peru into recession. Important export crops such as mangoes and asparagus that grow in coastal valleys are already being adversely affected by the unseasonably high temperatures, said Levy.

“The export mango crop has not yet flowered,” he said. “And if we don’t have flowers we don’t have fruit.”

And then there’s the flooding. Peru declared a pre-emptive state of emergency this month for 14 of its 25 states, appropriating some $70 million to prepare. Hilopito Cruchaga, the civil defense director in Peru’s northern region of Piura, said authorities are clearing river beds of debris, reinforcing river banks with rock and fortifying reservoir walls. Sandbags and rocks are also being piled on some river banks.

“If the sea stays this hot at the end of August I’m afraid we’re doomed,” he said.

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Egg industry struggles to recover from bird flu http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20150727/egg-industry-struggles-to-recover-from-bird-flu http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20150727/egg-industry-struggles-to-recover-from-bird-flu#Comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 20:52:22 -0400 ZANE SPARLING http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729868 Commercial egg prices reached a new high for the year July 23, despite the 38-day gap since the last case of bird flu was reported in the U.S.

A dozen Grade A large eggs were selling for $2.69 on the wholesale market, according to a market researcher, more than double the asking price before the epidemic ravaged the industry, killing 30.3 million egg-laying hens in Iowa alone.

Nationally, infections of H5N2 avian influenza — commonly known as bird flu — led to the death of more than 48 million chickens and turkeys across 15 states. The last known incident occurred in Iowa on June 16.

The egg market has experienced several recent cost fluctuations. When the egg plague was still ongoing, wholesale prices climbed to a near peak of $2.62 a dozen on May 29. Prices then stayed flat until June 19, before diving precipitously to $2.01 a dozen on July 9. The price has since recovered to $2.69 for Grade A large eggs.

“Demand slowed down, and now it’s going back up” Urner Barry egg reporter Brian Moscogiuri said Thursday. “Consumers are getting a little more comfortable with the higher price.”

Moscogiuri said consumers tend to “trade up” when generic egg prices rise. That trend led to increased sales for cage-free and branded eggs, which typically sell at a flat price regardless of generic prices. Since then, consumers have acclimated to the higher price point for regular Grade As.

All affected producers have finished depopulating their farms, and most have finished CDC-mandated cleaning procedures, according to United Egg Producers CEO Chad Gregory. That process alone can take weeks, as barns must be disinfected, heated to high temperatures and then sit empty for 21 days — the incubation period for the virus — before CDC approval is granted.

Clean certification is no guarantee of production. Chick hatcheries have had trouble ratcheting up production to meet the extraordinary demand.

“Those farms have to start their clocks over, and that clock typically takes 18 months,” Gregory said. “If and fact the virus does not return next spring, I think there will be some confusion by consumers as to why the prices may still be higher.”

Young hens, or pullets, do not lay any eggs for the first 18 weeks of their lifespan. Most hens are culled after about 95 weeks, and farmers must stagger the age of their hens in order to produce a consistent number of eggs each day.

Market analysts say prices will almost certainly rise in the fourth quarter, which begins before Thanksgiving and ends with Christmas. Both holidays spur higher egg demand, mostly due to increased baking at home.

What no one can say, however, is whether the bird flu will return with the cold weather in the fall. While epidemiologists believe wild birds are responsible for carrying the virus into new areas, new evidence suggests H5N2 may have been spread from farm to farm by air.

The USDA is prepping for a worst-case scenario that would involve up to 500 infections across all major flyways.

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National wool and sheep summary http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150727/national-wool-and-sheep-summary http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150727/national-wool-and-sheep-summary#Comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:43:28 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729870 Wool prices in cents per pound and foreign currency per kilogram, sheep prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals on per head basis as indicated.

NATIONAL WOOL REVIEW

(USDA Market News)

Greeley, Colo.

July 24

Domestic wool trading on a clean basis was at a standstill this week. There were no confirmed trades. Most are at a point where they are just collecting pools that were sheared late to store until the fall as warehouses restock. Domestic wool trading on a greasy basis was at a standstill. There were no confirmed trades this week. All trades reported on a weighted average.

Domestic wool tags

No. 1 $.60-.70

No. 2 $.50-.60

No. 3 $.40-.50

NATIONAL SHEEP SUMMARY

(USDA Market News)

San Angelo, Texas

July 24

Compared to last week: Slaughter lambs were $7.50-.30 lower, except at Sioux Falls, S.D., they were $3-7 higher. Slaughter ewes were weak to $10 lower. Feeder lambs were steady to $10 higher. At San Angelo, Texas, 5,814 head sold in a one-day sale. Equity Electronic Auction sold 335 slaughter lambs in North Dakota. In direct trading slaughter ewes were not tested; feeder lambs were $4-8 higher. 7,700 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were firm. 6,500 head of formula sales under 65 lbs. were not well tested; 65-75 lbs. were $10-12 higher; 75-85 lbs. had no comparison and over 85 lbs. were $3-6 higher. 5,277 carcasses sold with 45 lbs. and down $3.88 higher; 45-55 lbs. $4.08 lower; 55-65 lbs. $.38 lower and 65 lbs. and up $.28-.82 higher.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 2-3:

San Angelo: shorn and wooled 100-150 lbs. $120-144.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 1:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs. $220-236; 60-70 lbs. $188-200; 70-80 lbs. $170-182; 80-90 lbs. $160-176; 90-115 lbs. $ 150-155.

DIRECT TRADING (Lambs with 3-4 percent shrink or equivalent):

7,700 Slaughter Lambs shorn and wooled 121-172 lbs. $150-165.50 (wtd avg $156.44); load 215-220 lbs. $125.

California: 2,400 Feeder Lambs 70-80 lbs. $183; 120-130 lbs. $169-173.

SLAUGHTER EWES:

San Angelo: Good 2-3 (fleshy) $60-72; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) $72-82; Utility 1-2 (thin) $60-70; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) $50-59; Cull 1 (extremely thin) $42-50.

FEEDER LAMBS Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: 60-80 lbs. $180-191; 80-95 lbs. $180-185.

REPLACEMENT EWES Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: hair ewe lambs 78 lbs. $226 cwt; 80-85 lbs. $200-218 cwt; 94 lbs. $190 cwt.

NATIONAL WEEKLY LAMB CARCASS Choice and Prime 1-4:

Weight Wtd. avg.

45 lbs. Down $484.26

45-55 lbs. $399.24

55-65 lbs. $343.93

65-75 lbs. $322.38

75-85 lbs. $305.25

85 lbs. and up $286.44

Sheep and lamb slaughter under federal inspection for the week to date totaled 36,000 compared with 37,000 last week and 44,000 last year.

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Selected West Coast hay prices http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150727/selected-west-coast-hay-prices http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150727/selected-west-coast-hay-prices#Comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:39:12 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729871 Hay prices are dollars per ton or dollars per bale when sold to retail outlets. Basis is current delivery FOB barn or stack, or delivered customer as indicated.

Grade guidelines used in this report have the following relationship to Relative Feed Value (RFV), Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF), TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients), or Crude Protein (CP) test numbers:

Grade RFV ADF TDN CP

Supreme 185+ <27 55.9+ 22+

Premium 170-185 27-29 54.5-55.9 20-22

Good 150-170 29-32 52.5-54.5 18-20

Fair 130-150 32-35 50.5-52.5 16-18

Utility <130 36+ <50.5 <16

WASHINGTON-OREGON HAY

(Columbia Basin)

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

July 24

This week FOB Last week Last year

8,585 18,980 51,855

Compared to July 17: Premium and export Alfalfa steady in a light test. Trade slow this week for both domestic and export markets as both have adequate supplies. Timothy not tested this week. Demand light to moderate. Retail/Feedstore steady to $10 higher. Demand remains good.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Large Square Premium 125 $210

300 $200

1000 $240 Del

Good/Prem. 300 $190

Fair/Good 600 $155

Alfalfa Mid Square Good 300 $170

1500 $213

Alfalfa Small Square Premium 300 $260-270

Good 1500 $213

Alfalfa/Grass Mix Small Square Premium 800 $275

Good 360 $195

Oat Large Square Good 500 $120

Wheat Large Square Fair/Good 1000 $85

OREGON AREA HAY

(USDA Market News)

Portland, Ore.

July 24

This week FOB Last week Last year

8,331 6,172 3,840

Compared to July 17: Prices trended generally steady compared to the same quality last week. Trade activity increased slightly this week. However, many producers are still busy in the field with the second cutting. Some areas of Oregon received rain this past week, with some hay suffering rain damage.

Tons Price

CROOK, DESCHUTES, JEFFERSON, WASCO COUNTIES

Alfalfa Large Square Good/Prem. 100 $200

Small Square Premium 20 $240-250

Good/Prem. 25 $230

Orchard Grass Small Square Premium 28 $250

177 $240-255

Good/Prem. 25 $230

Orchard/Timothy Small Square Premium 50 $240

EASTERN OREGON

Alfalfa Large Square Fair 2000 $150

Small Square Fair 80 $165

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Small Square Premium 2 $187

Standing Good 250 $125

Timothy Grass Large Square Good 200 $115

Barley Large Square Good 200 $130

HARNEY COUNTY

Alfalfa Large Square Premium 800 $245

Orchard Grass Large Square Fair 350 $175

LAKE COUNTY

Alfalfa Large Square Supreme 35 $300

Premium 725 $220-225

29 $225

33 $225

Fair 102 $160

1000 $170

Small Square Premium 1000 $210-220

Alfalfa/Oat Mix Large Square

Good 30 $165

Timothy Grass Small Square Premium 1000 $225

Triticale Large Square Good 70 $125

KLAMATH BASIN: No new sales confirmed.

IDAHO HAY

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

July 24

This week FOB Last week Last year

2,800 9,920 8,846

Compared to last Friday: Premium Alfalfa firm. Trade slow to moderate. Demand light to moderate, very light demand on low quality supplies. Scattered rain showers throughout the trade area makes putting up quality hay hard to do. Retail/feed store/horse steady. All prices are dollars per ton and FOB the farm or ranch unless otherwise stated.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Large Square Premium 330 $175-220

Fair/Good 1000 $120-130

Utility 100 $90

Alfalfa Small Square Premium 100 $160

Timothy Grass Large Square Fair/Good 500 $105

Mixed Grass Large Square Fair/Good 500 $115

Oat Large Square Good 200 $110

Fair/Good 70 $120

CALIFORNIA HAY

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

July 24

This week FOB Last week Last year

6,297 22,408 18,865

Compared to July 17: All classes traded slow on moderate demand. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, moisture associated with Hurricane Dolores triggered showers and thunderstorms across parts of southern California and western Arizona. Some locally heavy accumulations (2 to 4 inches) and flash flooding were reported. This storm left many brokers in a hard spot to find non rained on hay. The Intermountain region also had rain that caught a lot of second cutting on the ground. Prices on dry cow hay continue to drop week to week while test hay is getting harder to find.

REGION 1: North Intermountain Includes the counties of Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, Lassen, and Plumas.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Premium 300 $200

Good 600 $165

Fair 200 $100

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Premium 25 $260

124 $260

Orchard Grass Premium 26 $300

374 $270-280

Good/Prem. 125 $240

25 $240

Brome Grass Premium 100 $220

REGION 2: Sacramento Valley

Includes the counties of Tehama, Glenn, Butte, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Solano, Sacramento.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Good/Prem. 90 $200

Good 225 $80

300 $198

Brome Grass Good 225 $260

REGION 3: Northern San Joaquin Valley

Includes the counties of San Joaquin, Calaveras, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mono, Merced and Mariposa.

Tons Price

Wheat Straw Good 25 $80

1000 $125

REGION 4: Central San Joaquin Valley

Includes the counties of Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Inyo.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Good 800 $170

200 $200

75 $240

REGION 5: Southern California

Includes the counties of Kern, Northeast Los Angeles, and Western San Bernardino.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Good/Prem. 50 $220

REGION 6: Southeast California

Alfalfa Good 1000 $125

Sudan Good/Prem. 174 $165

Bermuda Straw Good 234 $60

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Mid-year cattle inventory confirms expansion http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20150727/mid-year-cattle-inventory-confirms-expansion http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20150727/mid-year-cattle-inventory-confirms-expansion#Comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:32:16 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729873 Year-over-year increases in both U.S. beef cows and beef replacement heifers show last year’s start to beef herd expansion is on solid ground.

Beef cows are up 750,000 head, 3 percent, over last year’s July inventory, and heifer replacements are up 300,000, 7 percent, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics report released July 24.

The increases were expected and confirm the industry is in full blown, cyclical expansion, though it’s still just starting, said Derrell Peel, livestock marketing specialist with Oklahoma State University.

And, he said, it’s been a long time coming — about 20 years.

The last such expansion tapered off after a cyclical peak in 1996, followed by prices that were telling the market the beef herd had gotten too big. Drought extended a normal liquidation period into 2004, he said.

A mini expansion in 2004 and 2005 was cut off in 2006 by tremendous shocks in input prices — feed, fuel and fertilizer — and poor returns caused the liquidation to continue, he said.

The recession in 2008 and 2009 negatively affected beef demand, and widespread drought, particularly in the Southern Plains, from 2011 through 2013 curtailed attempts at rebuilding, he said.

“We spent most of about 18 years in liquidation mode,” he said.

Those external factors led to a beef herd that was getting smaller than it needed to be from a market sense, he said.

The resulting “tremendous” prices in 2014 and improved drought conditions, which eliminated drought in most of the country except the West, fueled the start of expansion last year, he said.

Producers are responding to basic price signals, but it’ll take a couple of more years to build the herd to the level it needs to be to be compatible with the market, he said.

All cattle and calves, including dairy animals, are up 2.1 million from July 2014 and USDA expects the 2015 calf crop to increase 400,000 head, 1 percent, year over year.

If realized, the calf crop will be larger than the previous year for the second consecutive year, a growth not seen since 1994-’95, livestock economists Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri, reported in the University’s Cattle Outlook report July 24.

But the initial effect of herd rebuilding is even tighter supplies of feeder cattle, and 2015 will be the low supply point in this cycle, continuing to squeeze feedlot operators, Peel said.

There’s a bout a two year lag to start seeing the effects of expansion on beef production. In the meantime, expansion will continue in 2016, much like 2015, he said.

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California shell egg prices http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150727/california-shell-egg-prices http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150727/california-shell-egg-prices#Comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:28:38 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729874 Shell egg marketer’s benchmark price for negotiated egg sales of USDA Grade AA and Grade AA in cartons, cents per dozen. This price does not reflect discounts or other contract terms.

DAILY CALIFORNIA SHELL EGGS

(USDA Market News)

Des Moines, Iowa

July 24

Benchmark prices are steady. Asking prices for next week are 40 cents higher for Jumbo, 55 cents higher for Extra Large, 53 cents higher for Large and 42 cents higher for Medium and Small. The undertone is steady to higher. Offerings are light. Retail and food service demand is mostly fairly good. Warehouse buying interest is good to very good. Supplies are light. Market activity is active. Small benchmark price $2.55.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 324 Extra large 322

Large 308 Medium 275

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Prices to retailers, sales to volume buyers, USDA Grade AA and Grade AA, white eggs in cartons, delivered store door.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 316-328 Extra large 303-315

Large 293-302 Medium 255-264

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National slaughter, feeder and stocker cattle report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150727/national-slaughter-feeder-and-stocker-cattle-report/1 http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150727/national-slaughter-feeder-and-stocker-cattle-report/1#Comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:27:22 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729875 Cattle prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals per pair or head as indicated.

NATIONAL SLAUGHTER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

Oklahoma City-Des Moines

July 24

Compared to July 17: Kansas live sales are $2 lower. In Nebraska a few early dressed sales $2 lower.

Boxed beef prices July 24 averaged $229.80 and is $1.55 lower than July 17. The Choice/Select spread is $2.40. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through July 24 totaled about 14,000 head. The previous week’s total head count was 3,399 head.

Midwest Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 35-80 Percent Choice, 1200-1400 lbs. $146-146.50; Dressed Basis: Steers and Heifers: $232-233.

South Plains Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 35-65 percent Choice, 1100-1400 lbs. $144-147.

Slaughter Cows and Bulls (Average Yielding Prices): Slaughter cows mostly $1-3 lower, with exception of lean cows trading steady to $2 higher. Slaughter bulls mostly steady. USDA’s Cutter cow carcass cut-out value July 24 was $227.93 down $.09 from July 17.

NATIONAL FEEDER AND STOCKER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

St. Joseph, Mo.

July 24

This week Last week Last year

162,600 554,900 229,200

Compared to July 17: The downtrend continues in the feeder cattle markets as feeder cattle and calves traded unevenly steady to $5 lower early in the week turning mostly $7-10 lower from midweek on.

Long liquidation selling and feeder cattle futures looking at sharply lower feeder cattle index pressured prices. The feeder cattle market is starting to break hard over the last several weeks and keeps buyers and sellers on the defensive and more conscious of bearish fundamentals.

We have seen high prices continued to be paid for feeder’s premium to the fat cattle. Prices paid for feeder cattle up till now for the most part have been very good for the backgrounder and the cow/calf man. But break-evens are so distant that it’s looking impossible for any results to be positive for the cattle feeder.

Northern Livestock Video out of Billings, Mont., held a three-day video auction this week selling over 93,000 head of top quality feeder calves and yearlings. Some of the top prices paid included 585 head of value added (all natural) yearling steers weighing 950 lbs. sold for $230 for November delivery.

There was near 3000 head of 900-950 lb. steers averaging 910 lbs. that sold with a weighted average price of $216.84 for September delivery.

Boxed-beef values continue to washout with very few upside moves since before the Fourth of July, as carcass values still try to carve out a summer low. Boxed-beef prices have reached their lowest levels since June 2014, as Choice product on July 24 closed down $1.89 at $230.70.

The market has been worried about consumer beef demand for a long time with concerns over increasing meat supplies of pork and chicken. June beef stocks were at 467.136 million lbs. which is 1.9 percent lower than last month but 30.4 percent higher than last year.

Boneless beef has seen large increases of imports mainly from Australia showing increases of 210 million lbs. compared to last year.

June pork stocks were at 632.209 million lbs down 3.5 percent from last month and 17.6 percent higher than last year.

Retail prices for June saw beef values hit an all-time high with the average price for all beef sold at retail averaging $6.11/lb.

Pork prices have been declining after hitting their all-time highs last summer, the average retail pork prices for June averaged $3.70/lb.

The July 1 Cattle Inventory Report was released on July 24 showing ranchers expanding the cattle herd for the first time since 2006. All cattle and calves came in at 98.4 million head, 2 percent higher than a year ago.

Highlights included beef cows at 30.5 million head, up 3 percent from a year ago; Replacement heifers were at 4.90 million head, up 7 percent; steers over 500 lbs. 14.1 million head, up 3 percent. The 2015 calf crop is expected to be 34.3 million head, up 1 percent from last year.

Cattle on Feed Report was mostly neutral to slightly bearish with Cattle on Feed for July 1 at 102 percent; Placements at 101 percent were larger than expected; Marketings were at 95 percent.

Grain is pretty much now focused on yield potential for this year’s crop. Crop variations will be widespread as the crop potential for the Western Corn Belt is in much better shape than the potential of the eastern Corn Belt. Auction volume included 55 percent over 600 lbs. and 35 percent heifers.

AUCTIONS

This week Last week Last year

93,700 121,100 122,500

WASHINGTON 1,600. 84 pct over 600 lbs. 43 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 700-750 lbs 202.49; 800-850 lbs. $197.60. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 650-700 lbs. $206.14; 700-750 lbs. $186.27; 800-850 lbs. $184.73; 850-900 lbs. $184.51.

DIRECT

This week Last week Last year

29,000 72,200 39,800

SOUTHWEST (Arizona-California-Nevada) 600. No cattle over 600 lbs. No heifers. Holsteins: Large 3 325 lbs. $270 Current Del.

NORTHWEST (Washington-Oregon-Idaho) 4500. 69 pct over 600 lbs. 39 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 Future Delivery FOB Price 450-500 lbs. $296 for December-January Idaho; 550-600 lbs. $243-255 for September-October WA-OR; 600 lbs. $230 calves for September-October Idaho; 850-900 lbs. $208-210 for September-October Idaho. Large 1-2 Future Delivery FOB Price 900-950 lbs. $205 Idaho. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 Current FOB Price 800-850 lbs. $200 WA. Future Delivery FOB Price 500-600 lbs. $223-233 for September-October Washington-Idaho; 800-850 lbs. $203-204 for September-October Idaho.

NORTHWEST DIRECT CATTLE

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

July 24

This week Last week Last year

4,500 7,850 3.850

Compared to July 17: Feeder cattle steady to $4 lower, due in part to lower CME prices. Trade moderate with light to moderate demand. The feeder supply included 61 percent steers and 39 percent heifers. Near 69 percent of the supply weighed over 600 lbs. Prices are FOB weighing point with a 1-4 percent shrink or equivalent and with a 5-10 cent slide on calves and a 3-8 cent slide on yearlings. Current sales are up to 14 days delivery.

Steers: Medium and Large 1-2: Future Delivery FOB Price: 450-500 lbs. $296 for December-January Idaho; 550-600 lbs. $243-255 for September-October Washington-OR; 600 lbs. $230 calves for September-October Idaho; 850-900 lbs. $208-210 for September-October Idaho; Large 1-2: Future Delivery FOB Price: 900-950 lbs. $205 Idaho.

Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2: Current FOB Price: 800-850 lbs. $200 Washington. Future Delivery FOB Price: 500-600 lbs. $223-233 for September-October Washington-Idaho; 800-850 lbs. $203-204 for September-October Idaho.

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National slaughter, feeder and stocker cattle report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150727/national-slaughter-feeder-and-stocker-cattle-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20150727/national-slaughter-feeder-and-stocker-cattle-report#Comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:26:17 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150729876 Cattle prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals per pair or head as indicated.

NATIONAL SLAUGHTER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

Oklahoma City-Des Moines

July 24

Compared to July 17: Kansas live sales are $2 lower. In Nebraska a few early dressed sales $2 lower.

Boxed beef prices July 24 averaged $229.80 and is $1.55 lower than July 17. The Choice/Select spread is $2.40. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through July 24 totaled about 14,000 head. The previous week’s total head count was 3,399 head.

Midwest Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 35-80 Percent Choice, 1200-1400 lbs. $146-146.50; Dressed Basis: Steers and Heifers: $232-233.

South Plains Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 35-65 percent Choice, 1100-1400 lbs. $144-147.

Slaughter Cows and Bulls (Average Yielding Prices): Slaughter cows mostly $1-3 lower, with exception of lean cows trading steady to $2 higher. Slaughter bulls mostly steady. USDA’s Cutter cow carcass cut-out value July 24 was $227.93 down $.09 from July 17.

NATIONAL FEEDER AND STOCKER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

St. Joseph, Mo.

July 24

This week Last week Last year

162,600 554,900 229,200

Compared to July 17: The downtrend continues in the feeder cattle markets as feeder cattle and calves traded unevenly steady to $5 lower early in the week turning mostly $7-10 lower from midweek on.

Long liquidation selling and feeder cattle futures looking at sharply lower feeder cattle index pressured prices. The feeder cattle market is starting to break hard over the last several weeks and keeps buyers and sellers on the defensive and more conscious of bearish fundamentals.

We have seen high prices continued to be paid for feeder’s premium to the fat cattle. Prices paid for feeder cattle up till now for the most part have been very good for the backgrounder and the cow/calf man. But break-evens are so distant that it’s looking impossible for any results to be positive for the cattle feeder.

Northern Livestock Video out of Billings, Mont., held a three-day video auction this week selling over 93,000 head of top quality feeder calves and yearlings. Some of the top prices paid included 585 head of value added (all natural) yearling steers weighing 950 lbs. sold for $230 for November delivery.

There was near 3000 head of 900-950 lb. steers averaging 910 lbs. that sold with a weighted average price of $216.84 for September delivery.

Boxed-beef values continue to washout with very few upside moves since before the Fourth of July, as carcass values still try to carve out a summer low. Boxed-beef prices have reached their lowest levels since June 2014, as Choice product on July 24 closed down $1.89 at $230.70.

The market has been worried about consumer beef demand for a long time with concerns over increasing meat supplies of pork and chicken. June beef stocks were at 467.136 million lbs. which is 1.9 percent lower than last month but 30.4 percent higher than last year.

Boneless beef has seen large increases of imports mainly from Australia showing increases of 210 million lbs. compared to last year.

June pork stocks were at 632.209 million lbs down 3.5 percent from last month and 17.6 percent higher than last year.

Retail prices for June saw beef values hit an all-time high with the average price for all beef sold at retail averaging $6.11/lb.

Pork prices have been declining after hitting their all-time highs last summer, the average retail pork prices for June averaged $3.70/lb.

The July 1 Cattle Inventory Report was released on July 24 showing ranchers expanding the cattle herd for the first time since 2006. All cattle and calves came in at 98.4 million head, 2 percent higher than a year ago.

Highlights included beef cows at 30.5 million head, up 3 percent from a year ago; Replacement heifers were at 4.90 million head, up 7 percent; steers over 500 lbs. 14.1 million head, up 3 percent. The 2015 calf crop is expected to be 34.3 million head, up 1 percent from last year.

Cattle on Feed Report was mostly neutral to slightly bearish with Cattle on Feed for July 1 at 102 percent; Placements at 101 percent were larger than expected; Marketings were at 95 percent.

Grain is pretty much now focused on yield potential for this year’s crop. Crop variations will be widespread as the crop potential for the Western Corn Belt is in much better shape than the potential of the eastern Corn Belt. Auction volume included 55 percent over 600 lbs. and 35 percent heifers.

AUCTIONS

This week Last week Last year

93,700 121,100 122,500

WASHINGTON 1,600. 84 pct over 600 lbs. 43 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 700-750 lbs 202.49; 800-850 lbs. $197.60. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 650-700 lbs. $206.14; 700-750 lbs. $186.27; 800-850 lbs. $184.73; 850-900 lbs. $184.51.

DIRECT

This week Last week Last year

29,000 72,200 39,800

SOUTHWEST (Arizona-California-Nevada) 600. No cattle over 600 lbs. No heifers. Holsteins: Large 3 325 lbs. $270 Current Del.

NORTHWEST (Washington-Oregon-Idaho) 4500. 69 pct over 600 lbs. 39 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 Future Delivery FOB Price 450-500 lbs. $296 for December-January Idaho; 550-600 lbs. $243-255 for September-October WA-OR; 600 lbs. $230 calves for September-October Idaho; 850-900 lbs. $208-210 for September-October Idaho. Large 1-2 Future Delivery FOB Price 900-950 lbs. $205 Idaho. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 Current FOB Price 800-850 lbs. $200 WA. Future Delivery FOB Price 500-600 lbs. $223-233 for September-October Washington-Idaho; 800-850 lbs. $203-204 for September-October Idaho.

NORTHWEST DIRECT CATTLE

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

July 24

This week Last week Last year

4,500 7,850 3.850

Compared to July 17: Feeder cattle steady to $4 lower, due in part to lower CME prices. Trade moderate with light to moderate demand. The feeder supply included 61 percent steers and 39 percent heifers. Near 69 percent of the supply weighed over 600 lbs. Prices are FOB weighing point with a 1-4 percent shrink or equivalent and with a 5-10 cent slide on calves and a 3-8 cent slide on yearlings. Current sales are up to 14 days delivery.

Steers: Medium and Large 1-2: Future Delivery FOB Price: 450-500 lbs. $296 for December-January Idaho; 550-600 lbs. $243-255 for September-October Washington-OR; 600 lbs. $230 calves for September-October Idaho; 850-900 lbs. $208-210 for September-October Idaho; Large 1-2: Future Delivery FOB Price: 900-950 lbs. $205 Idaho.

Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2: Current FOB Price: 800-850 lbs. $200 Washington. Future Delivery FOB Price: 500-600 lbs. $223-233 for September-October Washington-Idaho; 800-850 lbs. $203-204 for September-October Idaho.

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