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NEWS ROUNDUP – for May. 3, 2010

TRADE

COLOMBIAN PORTS REOPENED TO CANADIAN CATTLE

The first South American country to take Canadian beef since 2003 will now accept Canadian cattle born after Aug. 1, 2007.

The Canadian government confirmed last month that Colombia had reopened its ports to imports of Canadian cattle. It is the first South American country to accept Canadian cattle since borders around the world were slammed shut in 2003.

In January Canada met the requirements to reopen Colombia to Canadian beef, following a deal with that country the previous September to work toward valid export certificates.

The Colombian market for Canadian beef exports is worth about $6 million, according to the Canada Beef Export Federation.

Live cattle and selected beef cuts are among the Canadian exports expected to benefit from immediate duty-free access under the proposed Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The FTA between the two countries was reintroduced into the House of Commons for implementation in March. The MANITOBA CO-OPERATOR reported that the opposition Liberals had agreed to support the bill in return for the Conservative government agreeing to present annual reports in Parliament from Colombia and Canada on the human rights impact of the deal in both countries.

GRAZING

ALBERTA FEES WAIVED FOR CATTLE GRAZING OUT OF PROVINCE

Alberta has waived the brand inspection fee and special grazing permit fee for its producers who temporarily move cattle into Saskatchewan or B.C. for the 2010 grazing season that began on April 1.

However, cattle must still be inspected as usual upon leaving Alberta, explains David Moss, chief operating officer, Livestock Identification Services (LIS). Provincial regulations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. stipulate that all livestock must be inspected when leaving those provinces.

The difference is that Alberta producers won’t have to pay the associated fee when moving their cattle out of province. They will still have to pay the brand inspection fee charged by Saskatchewan and B.C. when moving their cattle back home. Likewise, producers from neighbouring provinces who move cattle into Alberta for temporary grazing will be required to pay the brand inspection fee required under Alberta regulations when bringing the cattle back home.

Alberta Agriculture will provide a grant of $25,000 to LIS to cover the inspection cost for the approximately 25,000 head that traditionally move out of Alberta for summer grazing. The program is the first step in the

ministry’s review of existing regulations to address the competitiveness of Alberta’s livestock industry.

EQUIPMENT

THE MOLE HILL DESTROYER

Necessity was the mother of invention when bison producer Stewart Walker of Kamsack, Sask. designed the Mole Hill Destroyer. The proven drag levelling system destroys mole, gopher and badger mounds in hayfields and works just as well for breaking up accumulated manure clods after spreading or winter grazing on pastures and hayfields.

The drags carry the dirt or litter for several feet leaving an even, loose mulch so the forage can easily reestablish. The levelling operation won’t set back forage growth if carried out before the stand reaches a height of six to 10 inches in the spring. With regular molehill maintenance, life expectancy of the hayfield can be extended from three or four years to 10-plus years.

The Mole Hill Destroyer can be ordered as a complete machine or as kits to attach to a harrow packer bar — just drop the packers and attach the drags to create a fully hydraulic, auto-fold levelling machine — no welding or cutting is required.

Kit sizes are for 40-, 50-, 60-and 70-foot lengths and will fit on Flexicoil, Blanchard, Riteway and Morris harrow packer bars, Degelman heavy harrows and some land rollers. Some customers are adding a Valmar grass seeder and some are pulling a liquid fertilizer caddy while levelling, Walker says.

The Jumbo Series 4 drags are twice as heavy as the regular drags. There are also 10-and 12-foot three-point hitch models for smaller jobs. A hardened, adjustable cutting edge and shoes are standard on all models.

After seven years in business, Walker has worked out some interesting numbers based on custom hourly rates for cutting, raking, baling and hauling bales from a 160-acre hayfield that yields two bales per acre.

On a field riddled with molehills, you might be able to travel three to four miles per hour during each field operation. After levelling, he says you will be able to increase your speed, cutting the hours required for each operation by 25 to 50 per cent, while reducing wear and tear on your equipment and yourself. The direct time saving was 29 hours per 160 acres and the direct cash saving was $2,600 per 160 acres, or $16.25 per acre.

The cost of a complete 40-foot Mole Hill Destroyer machine, complete with a used packer bar is less than $26,000, therefore, levelling 10 quarters should pay for it.

Pricing is f.o.b. the shop on the farm near Kamsack. He’s also looking for dealers.

See the Mole Hill Destroyer in action at or contact the Walkers for more information at 306-542-4498, or email,

RESEARCH

NEW STUDY DISSECTS BASIS RISK AFTER BSE

One of the many casualties of BSE and the subsequent shifts in U.S. trade policy is the loss of the once dependable basis for fed cattle. The cash-fed basis, measured as the Alberta or Ontario fed cattle price minus the Nebraska fed cattle price adjusted for exchange rate, was once a predictable barometer of market risk that cattle feeders relied on when deciding where and when to sell their cattle.

Today the basis is much more volatile, often running counter to old-established patterns.

A measure of that added risk was recently revealed in the final results of a study by three American cattle economists, Ted Schroeder and Lee Schulz from Kansas State University and Clem Ward from Oklahoma State University.

The study was done on behalf of the Canadian cattle industry and paid for by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Beef Producers and the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association.

The researchers first compared Alberta and Ontario weekly fed cattle prices to Nebraska direct-fed steer prices over 12 years from 1998 to June 2009. Then they looked at actual prices on 4,067 individual fed steers sold from selected Alberta feedlots compared to Nebraska direct-fed steer prices from 2006 to April 2009, to see how a feedlot’s basis compared to a provincial weekly index.

As expected, substantial variation from the old norm showed up as the data moved through the various policy shifts starting in 2003. When the border closed the basis plunged from -$7/ cwt to -$80 for a short but remained below -$30/cwt for nearly two years.

TRADE

COLOMBIAN PORTS REOPENED TO CANADIAN CATTLE

The first South American country to take Canadian beef since 2003 will now accept Canadian cattle born after Aug. 1, 2007.

The Canadian government confirmed last month that Colombia had reopened its ports to imports of Canadian cattle. It is the first South American country to accept Canadian cattle since borders around the world were slammed shut in 2003.

In January Canada met the requirements to reopen Colombia to Canadian beef, following a deal with that country the previous September to work toward valid export certificates.

The Colombian market for Canadian beef exports is worth about $6 million, according to the Canada Beef Export Federation.

Live cattle and selected beef cuts are among the Canadian exports expected to benefit from immediate duty-free access under the proposed Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The FTA between the two countries was reintroduced into the House of Commons for implementation in March. The MANITOBA CO-OPERATOR reported that the opposition Liberals had agreed to support the bill in return for the Conservative government agreeing to present annual reports in Parliament from Colombia and Canada on the human rights impact of the deal in both countries.

GRAZING

ALBERTA FEES WAIVED FOR CATTLE GRAZING OUT OF PROVINCE

Alberta has waived the brand inspection fee and special grazing permit fee for its producers who temporarily move cattle into Saskatchewan or B.C. for the 2010 grazing season that began on April 1.

However, cattle must still be inspected as usual upon leaving Alberta, explains David Moss, chief operating officer, Livestock Identification Services (LIS). Provincial regulations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. stipulate that all livestock must be inspected when leaving those provinces.

The difference is that Alberta producers won’t have to pay the associated fee when moving their cattle out of province. They will still have to pay the brand inspection fee charged by Saskatchewan and B.C. when moving their cattle back home. Likewise, producers from neighbouring provinces who move cattle into Alberta for temporary grazing will be required to pay the brand inspection fee required under Alberta regulations when bringing the cattle back home.

Alberta Agriculture will provide a grant of $25,000 to LIS to cover the inspection cost for the approximately 25,000 head that traditionally move out of Alberta for summer grazing. The program is the first step in the

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