July 10, 2017
U.S. beef trade evolving, part 1: imports
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist
There is a growing recognition that international beef trade will play an increasingly important role in the U.S. beef industry in the coming years. Within the dynamics of global beef trade it is important to understand changes and trends in U.S. beef trade. The quantity of U.S. beef imports and exports has varied considerably over time and so has the shares of trade among major countries that trade beef with the U.S. Some of these changes are related to specific events, such as the occurrence of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in 2003, political changes or currency exchange rate impacts. Some, however, are just evolution of markets over time due to changes in production and/or demand in the U.S. and other countries. This article focuses on U.S. beef imports.
The latest monthly trade data shows that total beef imports in May were down 1.7 percent. For the year to date, January-May, total beef imports are down 9.0 percent year over year. This follows a 10.5 year over year decrease in U.S. beef imports in 2016.
Australia, historically the top source of U.S. beef imports, is currently the third largest source, down 24 percent in May and down 34 percent year over year for the year to date. Australia has accounted for about 29 percent of U.S. beef imports over the past decade but only represents about 21 percent so far this year. Australia will likely rebuild some market share in the coming years with herd rebuilding following the drought forced herd liquidation in 2014 and 2015. Imports of beef from New Zealand were down 14.5 percent year over year in May and are down 19.6 percent so far in 2017. New Zealand beef represents about 22 percent of beef imports so far in 2017. New Zealand has consistently averaged about 20 percent of U.S. beef imports over the past decade.
With the year over year decline in imports from Australia and New Zealand, Canada is currently the largest source of U.S. beef imports. May beef imports from Canada were up 3.4 percent year over year but year to date imports from Canada are down 3.6 percent from last year. Canada accounts for about 23 percent of beef imports in 2017. Canada has varied as the number one, two or three source of U.S. beef imports in the last ten years. However, Canada’s share of U.S. beef imports appears to have trended down some over time with the current share considerably lower than the 27 percent average over the past decade.
The clearest and most pronounced trend in U.S. beef imports in the growing role of Mexico as a source of beef imports. In May, beef imports from Mexico were up 27.4 percent year over year and are up 29.7 percent for the year to date. Mexico, which accounted for less than 2 percent of beef imports a decade ago, increased to account for over 16 percent of U.S. beef imports in 2016 and represents 20 percent of beef imports so far in 2017.
Imports of beef from Brazil in May were up 50.3 percent year over year and are up 34.2 percent for the year to date. However, the reinstated ban on fresh beef from Brazil in June may slow imports once again, at least temporarily. Brazil has been a distant fifth place source of U.S. beef imports over the past decade, averaging about five percent of the U.S beef import total. Brazil accounted for 5.1 percent of beef imports in 2016 and 5.3 percent so far in 2017.
This year test the forage before you cut!
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist
Summer has definitely arrived in Oklahoma! Hot dry summer weather brings about heat and drought stress on summer annuals. Stressed plants such as the forage sorghums can occasionally accumulate dangerous concentrations of nitrates. These high nitrate plants, either standing in the field, or fed as hay, can cause abortion in pregnant cattle, or death if consumed in great enough quantities. Nitrates do not dissipate from suncured hay (in contrast to prussic acid), therefore once the hay is cut the nitrate levels remain constant. Therefore, producers should test hay fields before they cut them for hay. Stop by any Oklahoma Cooperative Extension County Office for testing details. Testing the forage before cutting gives the producer an additional option of waiting and allowing for the nitrate to lower in concentration before harvesting the hay. The major sources of nitrate toxicity in Oklahoma will be summer annual sorghum type plants, including sudan hybrids, sorgo-sudans, sorghum-sudans, millets, and Johnsongrass. See OSU Fact Sheet PSS-2903.
Some of the management techniques to reduce the risk of nitrate toxicity (Note: the risk of this poisoning cannot be totally eliminated), include:
1) Test the crop before you harvest it. IF it has an elevated concentration of nitrates, you still have the option of waiting for normal plant metabolism to bring the concentration back to a safe level. And experience tells us that we cannot estimate nitrate content just by looking at the field.
2) Raise the cutter bar when harvesting the hay. Nitrates are in greatest concentration in the lower stem. Raising the cutter bar may reduce the tonnage, but cutting more tons of a toxic material has no particular value.
3) Know the extent of nitrate accumulation in the hay and the levels that are dangerous to different classes of cattle; ie, pregnant cows, open cows, or stocker steers. If you still have doubt about the quality of the hay, send a forage sample to a reputable laboratory for analysis, to get an estimate of the nitrate concentration. This will give some guidelines as to the extent of dilution that may be necessary to more safely feed the hay.
4) Allow cattle to become adapted to nitrate in the hay. By feeding small amounts of the forage sorghum along with other feeds such as grass hay or grains, cattle begin to adapt to the nitrates in the feed and develop a capability to “digest” the nitrate with less danger. Producers should avoid the temptation of feeding the high nitrate forage for the first time after a snow or ice storm. Cattle will be stressed, hungry, and unadapted to the nitrates. They will consume unusually large amounts of the forage and be in high risk for nitrate toxicity. “Adaptation” as the only management strategy may not be sufficient to provide complete safety from high nitrate forages.
5) Be sure to read “Nitrate toxicity in livestock” OSU Fact Sheet PSS-2903 closely before cutting and feeding any summer annual hay.
July 10, 2017