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Reflections on 2006

Posted: 01/08/2007 - Unfortunately, the drought we experienced in 2005 carried over into 2006, and as with many years, the weather wreaked havoc on agricultural producers across our state. Bob French looks back at this past year, and Brazos Valley agriculture’s battle with Mother Nature.

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Feeding Cattle

Updated: 01/03/2007 - The ethanol industry continues to drive a high demand for corn, creating the best outlook for growing grain farmers have seen in many years. While that’s good news for farmers, it’s bad news across the board for people in the cattle business, where grain is a major input cost.

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Planting More Corn

Updated: 12/21/2006 - With the price of corn at a ten year high, and an ethanol industry driving the increased demand, analysts are expecting an increase in the amount of corn planted, with record-breaking levels of production, barring any weather catastrophes in the Midwest. We talked with a Brazos Valley farmer who says while corn prices are high, and the profit margins will be better than normal, they’re not really good enough for him to change what he’s planting.

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Corn Prices

Updated: 12/14/2006 - When you take the expanding ethanol industry and add to it increased export demand for corn, you get prices that have only been at this level a few times in our history. One of the basic characteristics of these price spikes has been that they’ve always been temporary. We talked with an economist who says falling corn prices don’t seem to be anywhere on the horizon.

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Investing in Improved Pastures

Updated: 12/12/2006 - In dry periods like we experienced for the last couple of years, an investment in improved pasture grasses pays dividends to ranchers who need forage to feed their cattle. We talked with one rancher who strives to make his land as productive as possible, and for him that means growing all the grass he can.

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Grass Farming

Updated: 12/01/2006 - In beef production circles the “what came first, the chicken or the egg” question is, “are you a rancher, or are you a grass farmer?” Most producers who have weathered a drought answer quickly.

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Feeding Cotton Seed

Updated: 11/27/2006 - The Brazos Valley is cotton country and most cotton farmers hope that in most years the cotton seed produced that season will pay for the ginning of the fiber. Cotton seed is sold to cotton seed mills that press the oil out of the seeds and sell it to be used in baking and other food processing. We talked with an area rancher who says that cotton seed is also an excellent cattle feed.

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Cow/Calf Drought Adjustments

Updated: 11/16/2006 - Most area ranchers are heading into winter with a fraction of the hay usually available to them and some of that hay will be of lesser quality. The drought that has plagued the Brazos Valley for the last two years has forced agricultural producers to take a close look at the efficiency of their operations.

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House Bill HR 503/Slaughtering Horses (Part II)

Updated: 11/14/2006 - There is a bill that has been passed in the U.S. House that would stop the slaughter of horses in the U.S. by prohibiting the transport of horses for the purpose of slaughtering. We talked with a Texas A&M veterinarian who says that misinformation about this subject is rampant, even within the walls of the U.S. congress.

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House Bill HR 503/Slaughtering Horses

Posted: 11/09/2006 - Currently there are three plants in the U.S. along with plants in Canada, Mexico, and several South American countries that export horse meat primarily to Western Europe and Japan. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill designed to stop the slaughter of horses in the United States. For the bill to become law it will have to be passed by the senate or attached to the agriculture appropriations bill and signed by the president.

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U.S. Animal ID Plan/Pete Scamardo

Posted: 10/27/2006 - One of the big question marks remaining in the on-going discussion about a national animal identification program for cattle is how an animal that isn't tagged with an ID gets tagged before it enters the marketing system where it will change hands several times before it becomes a finished product. Some have said that animals tagged with IDs will bring a premium in the marketplace, but one sale barn owner we talked to says that just isn't happening yet.

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Diversification/Texas Yes/Susan Combs

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Texas Agricultural Commissioner Susan Combs was in town Monday for a town hall meeting, and one of the topics she discussed was a program to help rural Texas towns diversify their economies.

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Late Cotton Harvest/David Stratta

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Rain, flooding, hail, damaging winds, more rain, and more flooding. We talked with a Brazos Valley cotton farmer who fought everything but snow this past May and June.

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Pesticide Use

Posted: 10/27/2006 - THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY WAS CREATED IN PART TO REGULATE PRODUCTS LIKE RESTRICTED USE PESTICIDES COMMONLY UTILIZED BY AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS. IN RECENT YEARS, THE TEXAS COOPERATIVE EXTENSION HAS TAKEN A CLOSER LOOK AT THE URBAN SECTOR IN RELATION TO PESTICIDE SAFETY EDUCATION.

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Boll Weevil Eradication

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Until the Fall of 2002, Brazos Valley cotton farmers were losing an ongoing battle against a devastating little insect called the boll weevil. Since then, great strides have been made toward the eradication of this destructive pest that lays its eggs on the fresh fruit produced by a cotton plant.

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The Texas Legislature In Session

Posted: 10/27/2006 - For several years, an animal identification program has been talked about that would make livestock that are moved from place to place trackable. Rick Hardcastle, Chairman of the Texas House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock, has been working on the details that will shape the program when it is implemented in Texas.

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Using Horses To Work Cattle

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Most of us associate horses with cowboys, and while many horse owners today don't work cattle, horses still play an important role in most cattle operations.

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Recreational Horsemanship

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Horses make an 11.1 billion dollar impact on the Texas economy annually, but sometimes it's easy to underestimate the role played by recreational horsemanship.

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Beef Check-Off Ruled Constitutional

Posted: 10/27/2006 - There's been some disagreement in the beef industry during the past few years about the beef check-off program that assesses one dollar per beef animal at the time the animal is sold. The money collected is used for marketing, research, and education. A group representing a minority of beef producers sued and won a Federal Court decision that found the program was a violation of the first amendment. That decision was appealed recently and heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Texas Association of Meat Processors

Posted: 10/27/2006 - The Texas Association of Meat Processors had their annual convention in College Station last week. Participants came from all over the state hoping to take home information that will help them improve the foodstuffs they produce.

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Cotton Harvest

Posted: 10/27/2006 - It's been said there is no perfect weather for agriculture. While dry weather in September is good for a cotton farmer, it's bad news for a rancher who's trying to get his winter pastures growing. It is hard, however, to find anyone who benefits from the severe weather that could accompany a hurricane. For about the last ten days, local cotton farmers have been trying to get this years crop out of the field.

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Conservation For Future Productivity

Posted: 10/27/2006 - The people of the United States are blessed with the safest and most abundant food supply in the world, but increased pressure on our agricultural lands by expanding development also increases pressure on producers to produce more with less. We talked with a Brazos Valley rancher who believes sound conservation practices will have to be part of the solution.

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Texas Land Prices

Posted: 10/27/2006 - The state of Texas is under increased pressure from population growth every year. Add to that a higher demand for land for recreational purposes as well as people from other states moving to Texas to buy cheaper blocks of land, and you have a recipe for escalating land prices.

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Hippo Therapy/Horses Part 1

Posted: 10/27/2006 - What is hippo therapy and what does it have to do with agriculture?…Well first it has nothing to do with a hippopotamus…. A hippopotamus is a water horse….Hippo therapy is a treatment employed to help balance, muscle tone, posture, mobility, coordination and a host of other things to improve functioning in everyday life routines… And its utilizes many ranchers’ best friend…. A horse.

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Rural Estate Planning

Posted: 10/27/2006 - The future of the estate tax is currently being debated in Washington. Whatever the outcome, it can potentially have serious implications on estates that are largely made up of agricultural assets. However, serious tax consequences can be avoided with good planning.

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