The accumulating impacts and costs of trade wars
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
Evolving market dynamics make it easy to underestimate how the impacts and costs of trade issues will continue to grow in 2019. Many agricultural markets have been impacted thus far and the damage will grow and spread unless resolutions are forthcoming promptly. Trade issues will have accumulating impacts in a variety of ways as more time passes.
The most obvious impacts of trade wars are the direct impacts of tariffs and disruptions in trade flows in specific markets. This includes numerous agricultural markets; in particular soybeans and pork as a result of reciprocal tariffs with China; and pork and dairy markets as a result of the retaliatory tariffs from U.S. imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum. The new NAFTA (USMCA) agreement is not yet ratified and implemented but, in any event, much of the benefit is negated by these other tariffs. Economic impacts of tariffs may be initially limited mostly to changes in margins if the disruptions are perceived to be short-lived. Later the impacts will evolve from the initial market shock to larger and more permanent adjustments. With more time and on-going uncertainty about trade issues, more and more of the cost of tariffs are passed on to buyers; alternative products flows develop; and lost market shares become much more difficult to undo. The direct costs of tariffs are difficult to measure but certainly grow over time.
Even more difficult to measure are the lost opportunities associated with trade issues. It’s difficult to know how much you lost from something you never had. For example, the U.S. withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) two years ago. The remaining eleven countries continued and launched the revised TPP (CPTPP) in January 2019. Not only does the U.S. not have the benefit of tariff adjustments and increased market access with TPP – going forward the U.S. will be increasingly less competitive and likely lose ground relative to TPP participants. The stated U.S. intention to negotiate bilateral trade deals with Japan and others has so far not resulted in new agreements or even serious discussions. Any agreements that may result are many months if not years away. In China, the U.S. beef industry had barely begun to build on the market access achieved in 2017 before tariffs hit in 2018. What was expected to be a lengthy process to grow market share for U.S. beef is now at a standstill. While the tariffs didn’t result in significant direct impact since little U.S. beef was exported to China but it certainly is restricting any chance for U.S. beef to participate in the growing Chinese market for beef.
Finally, the uncertainty of global trade turmoil takes a significant but largely unmeasurable toll on the economy. It is nearly impossible to know how much trade and investment has been postponed or abandoned as a result of trade uncertainty the past two years. The combined direct impacts; lost trade opportunities; and on-going uncertainty are reducing growth potential for U.S. and global economies and those impacts are likely to grow in 2019 barring improvement in trade issues. The U.S. macroeconomy has been strong thus far but that doesn’t mean that there were no trade impacts and, more importantly, it doesn’t mean that the economy can continue to absorb trade related blows without more obvious damage.
The beef industry enjoyed strong demand and supportive trade in 2018 but who knows what it might have been without trade impacts. More importantly, growing trade impacts on domestic and international markets could mean that (obvious) negative impacts will be apparent in 2019 while lost opportunities that are less obvious will no doubt continue and grow.
The 3 stages of parturition
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
As the spring calving season approaches, an increased understanding of the parturition process is helpful. The more we understand about the physiology of the process, the more likely we are to make sound decisions about providing assistance. Parturition or “calving” is generally considered to occur in three stages.
Stage 1: The first stage of parturition is dilation of the cervix. The normal cervix is tightly closed right up until the cervical plug is completely dissolved. In stage 1, cervical dilation begins some 2 to 24 hours before the completion of parturition (2 to 6 hours would be most common). During this time the “progesterone block” is no longer present and the uterine muscles are becoming more sensitive to all factors that increase the rate and strength of contractions. At the beginning, the contractile forces primarily influence the relaxation of the cervix but uterine muscular activity is still rather quiet. Stage 1 is likely to go completely unnoticed, but there may be some behavioral differences such as isolation or discomfort.
At the end of stage one, there may be come behavioral changes such as elevation of the tail, switching of the tail and increased mucous discharge. Also, relaxation (softening) of the pelvic ligaments near the pinbones may become visually evident, giving a “sunken” appearance on each side of the tailhead. Checking for complete cervical dilation is important before forced extraction (“pulling”) of the calf is attempted.
Stage 2: The second stage of parturition is defined as the delivery of the newborn. It begins with the entrance of the membranes and fetus into the pelvic canal and ends with the completed birth of the calf. So the second stage is the one in which we really are interested. This is where we find all of the action. Clinically, and from a practical aspect, we would define the beginning of stage 2 as the appearance of membranes or water bag at the vulva. The traditional texts, fact sheets, magazines, and other publications that we read state that stage 2 in cattle lasts from 2 to 5 hours. Data from Oklahoma State University and the USDA experiment station at Miles City, Montana, would indicate that stage two is MUCH shorter. In these studies, assistance was given if stage two progressed more than two hours after the appearance of water bag at the vulva. The interesting thing about the data was that the heifers calving unassisted, did so in about one hour after the initiation of stage two, and mature cows calved within an average of 22 minutes of the initiation of stage two. Those that took longer needed assistance. These and other data would indicate that normal stage two of parturition would be redefined as approximately 60 minutes for heifers and 30 minutes for adult cows. In heifers, not only is the pelvic opening smaller, but also the soft tissue has never been expanded. Older cows have had deliveries before and birth should go quite rapidly unless there is some abnormality such as a very large calf, backwards calf, leg back or twins. If the cow or heifer is making good progress with each strain, allow her to continue on her own. Know your limitations. Seek professional veterinary help soon if you encounter a problem that cannot be solved easily in minutes.
Stage 3: The third stage of parturition is the shedding of the placenta or fetal membranes. In cattle this normally occurs in less than 8 to 12 hours. The membranes are considered retained if after 12 hours they have not been shed. Years ago it was considered necessary to remove the membranes by manually “unbuttoning” the attachments. Research has shown that manual removal can be detrimental to uterine health and future conception rates. Administration of antibiotics usually will guard against infection and the placenta will slough out in 4 to 7 days. Contact your veterinarian for the proper management of retained placenta.
An important ingredient for your calving season preparation is the Oklahoma State University Extension Circular E-1006: Calving Time Management for Beef Cows and Heifers. Cow-calf producers will want to download this free circular and read it before the first calf is born this spring.