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January 2014 — Issue 2

It’s the lease you can do

How to get the perfect grazing lease PAGE 11





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January 2014 — Issue 2 

The Land & Livestock Post

China promises to promote U.S. beef By JOE McDONALD Associated Press


turn 35 in a few days, which means one thing: I officially can run for president of the United States. I’ve never really aspired to be president, not really a path I set on, but it is nice to know that JESSE WRIGHT it is an option now. Actually, come to think of it, I kind of wish I had put “presidency” on my to-do list, because I could have gone down in history as the youngest president ever. If I had tried half as hard to become president before the legal age as I did to get beer before I was of legal age, I would have been running this country years ago. But, now that I can be president, I really don’t want

to be. Sorry, America. It’s for the best, however, because if I was in the White House, I wouldn’t be able to bring you this issue’s story on leased grazing. In our cover story, we take a look at grazing leases and ways they can benefit your herd and your bottom line. We also have news and information on upcoming events as well as some outlooks for 2014. Hope you enjoy it, and thanks for reading. ’Til next time,

• For more information about content or advertising, contact Jesse Wright at jesse,wright@theeagle. com.

January 2014 — Issue 2

large areas of government purchasing off-limits on security grounds and allowed Beijing to wait up to 18 years before implementing all of its promises. The two governments also pledged to strengthen cooperation in criminal enforcement of trade secrets and in combatting violations of patents, copyrights and other intellectual property. The Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, established in 1983, is meant to resolve conflicts over trade issues before they disrupt trade. The U.S. delegation to last month’s meeting was led by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The United States and China have one of the world’s most active trade relationships, with total commerce of some $500 billion a year, but ties are fraught with tension over Beijing’s multibillion-dollar trade surpluses and complaints about market barriers.

China promised recently to ease restrictions on imports of U.S. beef and to speed up work on opening its market for government purchases of software and other goods. The pledges came as American and Chinese envoys ended a meeting of the annual U.S.China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade amid disputes over market access for goods from solar panels to genetically modified corn. A Chinese deputy commerce minister, Wang Chao, said at a news conference the two sides agreed to “promote U.S. beef exports to China” but gave no details. A deputy agriculture ministry, Niu Dun, said the two sides will work on technical issues but gave no timetable for when full-scale imports might be allowed. Beijing banned U.S. beef in 2003 due to fears of mad cow

disease. It has promised in recent years to ease those restrictions but effectively maintained its ban. Wang said Beijing also committed to submitting a new proposal next year to join the Government Procurement Agreement, which extends the World Trade Organization’s free-trade principles to purchases by governments. Government agencies, hospitals and other official entities in China are major purchasers of software and other goods. Business groups say extending the Government Procurement Agreement to China could create multibillion-dollar new opportunities for foreign suppliers. Beijing promised to join the Government Procurement Agreement when it became a World Trade Organization member in 2001. But the United States and other governments complained its proposed terms were unrealistic. They would have kept

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ABC asks judge to throw out ‘pink slime’ lawsuit DIRK LAMMERS Associated Press

ELK POINT, S.D. — A lawyer for ABC asked a circuit judge to throw out a defamation lawsuit related to its coverage of a meat product called lean, finely textured beef. Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering said she’ll issue a written ruling at later date but she did not give a time frame. Beef Products Inc. sued American Broadcasting Companies Inc. and ABC News Inc. in September 2012 following the network’s reports about the product that critics have dubbed “pink slime.” The Dakota Dunes-based meat processor claims the network damaged the company by misleading consumers into believing the product is unhealthy and unsafe. The company is seeking $1.2 billion in damages. Kevin Baine, an attorney representing ABC, said the network in each of its broadcasts stated that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deemed the product safe to eat. “ABC never hinted that this is unsafe,” Baine said. “ABC never quoted critics saying it is unsafe.” But Eric Connolly, an attorney for Beef Products Inc., said those statements in a series of news reports were coupled with negative context calling

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A worker sorts cuts of beef that are used in the manufacturing process of lean finely textured beef, also known as “pink slime,” at Beef Products Inc.’s plant in South Sioux City, Neb. the product filler or “not meat” and implying that the FDA was not a credible source because the agency overruled scientists in approving the food product’s use. Connolly said the company was the only producer mentioned in ABC’s reports, and the network intended to damage Beef Products Inc.’s reputation and destroy its relationship with its customers. He said ABC used the derogatory phrase “pink slime” 132 times. “This was not an off-the-cuff remark or a one-time incident,”

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Connolly said. Lean, finely textured beef is made using a process in which trimmings left after a cow is butchered are heated, lean meat is separated from fat and ammo-

nia gas is applied to kill bacteria. The product has been used widely in ground hamburger. Beef Products Inc. officials long have insisted that the product is safe and healthy, and they blamed the closure of plants in Iowa, Texas and Kansas and roughly 700 layoffs on negative media reports. Baine said although the company might not like the connotation of the rhetorical and hyperbolic phrase, “pink slime” is not incorrect and the company doesn’t get to choose ABC’s words. Lean, finely textured beef is both pink and — like all ground beef — has a slimy texture, he said. In addition to ABC, the lawsuit names ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer and ABC correspondents Jim Avila and David Kerley as defendants. It also names Gerald Zirnstein, the U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist who named the product “pink slime,” former federal food scientist Carl


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John Robinson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service cotton economist, said the outlook for cotton prices will be determined by a combination of planting and growing conditions for the 2014 new crop and how much cotton China uses out of its massive government reserves.

January 2014 — Issue 2

residual, food, seed and industrial and exports. The question is whether farmers will switch corn acreage to alternative crops now that prices are near or in some cases, below, the cost of production.” Meanwhile, cotton prices will be determined by a variety of factors, said John Robinson, AgriLife Extension cotton economist in College Station. “The outlook for cotton prices will be determined by a combination of planting and growing conditions for the 2014 new crop, and how much cotton China uses from out of their massive government reserves,” he said. “If China maintains their reserves at their current levels, cotton prices in Texas may range from the upper 60s to mid70s (cents per pound). If China were to start auctioning off large amounts of their reserves, then Chinese mills would not have to import as much cotton, leaving more surpluses of cot-

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension economists were asked to provide 2014 projections for major commodities produced in Texas, with many pointing to past drought conditions as a key factor in making or breaking a crop. The Plains region of Texas and part of South Texas were dealt a severe blow in 2013 with drought conditions. AgriLife Extension economists said, however, if positive weather patterns develop and lead to periods of timely rainfall, there’s reason for optimism for the 2014 crop year. Livestock markets also are projected to continue to show strength, particularly beef cattle, as inventory levels have yet to recover from lows not seen since the 1950s. Mark Welch, AgriLife Extension grains marketing economist in College Station, said

2013 brought record supplies of corn and wheat, but demand remains strong. “With another year of good growing conditions, look for lower prices,” he said. “But given the strong demand base, look for higher prices on any production concerns.” Welch said U.S. farmers produced a record corn crop in 2013 with 14 billion bushels. “In the current marketing year, supply is outpacing demand, resulting in estimated carryover stocks of 1.8 billion bushels,” he said. “This is twice the level of carryover stocks after the drought reduced crop in 2012. In response to this buildup in stocks, the season average farm price for corn is estimated at $4.40 per bushel, down from $6.89 last year.” Looking ahead to 2014, Welch said the demand base for grain remains strong. “Use estimates are higher in every category: feed and

The Land & Livestock Post

News Recent drought continues to haunt Texas agriculture

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News 2014, from Page 5 ton in the U.S. that would lower prices another five to 10 cents.” The following are summaries from AgriLife Extension economists in districts across Texas regions:

Plains region

Outlook on grains — “I am expecting a small increase in wheat acres planted for harvest in 2014,” said William J. Thompson, AgriLife Extension economist in San Angelo in West Central District 7. “We had some timely showers in the early fall and producers took advantage of that. Grain and cotton price expectations are down for the coming year. “If rainfall patterns return to something closer to normal, I think we will see more interest in cotton. “For 2014, that will come at the expense of grain sorghum acres, as wheat is already in.” Outlook on cotton — “For 2014 there is a mix of factors affecting cotton. “The huge stocks being held in China will likely temper any short-term price increases,” Thompson said. “Prices have been relatively strong, considering the level of

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Cattle prices are projected to remain strong in 2014 due to a lack of supply. global stocks we have. But as long as those stocks are effectively out of the market channel, the market should maintain current levels in the mid to high $70s range. “That price uncertainty and some timely fall rains likely increased fall planting of wheat, some at the expense of cotton acres. “Any increase of planted cotton next spring will be at the expense of what few grain sorghum acres we have out here.” Outlook on livestock markets — “I expect to see further contraction of the sheep num-

bers in 2014,” Thompson said. “Lackluster prices for threequarters of the year (2013) and spotty precipitation led to additional reduction of the West Central Texas ewe flock. Prices have improved considerably in the fourth quarter, but many producers had likely sold their lamb crop by then. “Rangelands will need additional above-average rainfall and time to recover from the effects of this prolonged drought.

While I am not expecting to see a large reduction of ewe numbers in 2014, I am not expecting to see any significant growth either. “Beef cattle numbers may show minimal increases in 2014. Discussions with county agents and producers indicate that some expansion/reinvestment is being considered. Very strong calf and feeder prices, bolstered by a sharp drop in corn prices, have producers wanting to expand.” 2014 general outlook for region (weather, yields, other factors) — “Soil and range conditions are varied across the region depending on the track of several large storms in 2013, Thompson said. “It has remained pretty dry north and south of that track which moves diagonally (southwest to northeast) across the state. “Even those areas that did receive the timely rains have not replaced any subsoil moisture. We did produce some cotton, grain and forage in 2013, but only because of the timeliness of the rains. It will not take much of an extended dry period in 2014 to push the area

back into some level of drought category.”

South Texas

Outlook on livestock markets — “(With regards to prices), beef looks like higher than last year and higher next year than this year, said Rob Hogan, associate professor and AgriLife Extension economist in Uvalde in District 10 (plus a portion of District 6 lying along the Rio Grande River). “Although the year started out rather droughty, we started getting rains late summer in both District 6 and District 10 and the grass grew like crazy. The calves look like they should be coming off at a good weaning weight for the year and we are going into the winter with good subsoil moisture, so we should have some good grass next spring.” 2014 general outlook for region (weather, yields, other factors) — “ If we continue getting rains thru the winter and into spring, it could really be a good year in 2014. I believe that most producers believe that also,” Hogan said.

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Rolling Plains

wheat pasture cattle out. Wheat is holding up, but moisture is going to be needed if the cattle are going to stay out there. Wheat will quickly be eaten up without additional moisture. “For the Rolling Plains, it is always a question as to how much wheat will be: 1) harvested for grain, 2) grazed out by stocker cattle, 3) laid down and baled as hay, and 4) abandoned with insurance collected on it. In most years, we can determine this by wheat and cattle prices, however, with the limited moisture thus far, it is difficult to say.” Outlook on cotton — “This past cotton crop was a mixed bag, with some doing very well and other areas being destroyed for insurance purposes. While we have lost cotton acres prior to the past five years, cotton areas are pretty stable here (albeit at a reduced number of acres),” Bevers said. “At this point, I don’t see a lot of change in the cotton acres. Our remaining cotton producers are a pretty staunch group of growers. They will plant cotton next year. Moisture remains

Outlook on grains —“Wheat is off to a good start in northeastern Texas. We had good soil moisture for planting, and appear to have come through the most recent cold spell without much damage,” said Blake Bennett, associate professor and AgriLife Extension economist assigned to Northeast Texas District 4. “If we can get timely spring rains, we are looking at another year of above-average yields ranging in the 60 to 70 bushel range. Corn is also looking to be sitting quite well with yields coming in about 75 bushels compared to a long term average of 60 to 65. “Pasture conditions are looking good with early rains providing good growth to winter pastures. This provides a good base for cattle producers to be able to make it through the winter months with lower feeding costs.”

Rolling Plains predominant grain is wheat. Wheat planting began in September, which is common for our stocker cattle operators,” said Stan Bevers, professor and AgriLife Extension economist in Vernon in District 3. “Wheat for grain planting ended last month. The Rolling Plains received above-average rainfall for July 2013. This helped for a month, but September through December has once again been below average. “So, for those who planted early, wheat is reasonably holding on. For those who planted later, wheat is struggling. Moving forward, it all depends on the winter moisture. “For us, we don’t receive a lot of winter moisture, but anything will help. Our spring rains (March, April and May) will be very important for making a wheat crop for 2014. Planted wheat acres were near average, although canola acres taking the place of some wheat. Estimates are we have about 5,000 total acres of canola in the Rolling Plains. “Those who got their wheat established early have put a few

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The Land & Livestock Post  January 2014 — Issue 2

News Crops, from Page 7 to be seen as pointed out for the wheat.” Outlook on livestock markets — “Our cattle situation is varied across the types of cattle,” Bevers said. “First, our cow-calf producers still deal with the drought and most have not even considered restocking or rebuilding their herds at this point. The grass just hasn’t recovered yet, and in some cases, water tanks have not regained enough runoff to supply cattle needs. “Further, at the price of replacement cattle, I’m not sure how many are going to be real excited about restocking anyway. The stocker cattle situation was explained in the wheat section. However, a few more issues include the limited number of calves available for grazing and the high cost of buying cattle for grazing,” Bevers said. 2014 general outlook for region (weather, yields, other factors) — “Given all the gloom I mentioned above, one might think that the general outlook is dark and gloomy as well. But given what the Rolling Plains has come through over the past three years, any outlook has to be better than the past,” Bevers said. “A little moisture has fallen, but we have a long way to go. Records show that 2011 through 2013 (three years), we received two years of rainfall during the three-year period. That’s how far behind we are.”


Outlook on grains — “Large feed grain carryovers nationwide, stagnant ethanol demand combined with a marginally increasing feed demand should cap corn prices in the $4 to $4.50 price range, making production in the Panhandle marginally profitable at best. “Therefore, I expect planted feed grain acreage in the area to fall 5 to 10 percent,” said Steve Amosson, Regents Fel-

low, professor and management economist in District: 1, the Panhandle. Outlook on cotton — “Current 2014 projected cotton price for the area is 73 cents. At that price, irrigated cotton appears to be slightly more profitable than irrigated feed grains,” Amosson said. “Given the lower water requirement of irrigated cotton compared to corn, I expect cotton acreage to increase approximately 10 percent this year in the Panhandle as producers attempt to manage their available irrigation water more effectively.” Outlook on livestock markets — “Profitability of area feedlot operations has improved with falling feed prices and strong fed beef prices. However, they will continue to be under stress because of low inventory numbers due to record low cow herd,” Amosson said. “The lower feed prices have led to higher calf prices making cow-calf operation profitability rise to the highest level in recent years. “This profitability combined with somewhat marginally improving range conditions should lead to some rebuilding of the cow herds in the area where cow inventories had decreased 30 to 50 percent because of the drought.” 2014 general outlook for region (weather, yields, other factors) — “Right now I expect average yields for most crops in the Panhandle. Three-year droughts of record for the area, which occurred in the 50s, were followed in both cases with a normal or above normal rainfall year. Maybe we’ll get lucky again!” “This is going to be a tough year for producers to make a profit even with normal rainfall. “It is critical they use a sharp pencil in determining the crop mix they are going to plant and be proactive in marketing their crops when the market offers them the opportunity to price in a profit.”


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Cotton dethroned as king of all South Texas crops

Published by Bryan-College Station Communications, Inc. (979) 776-4444 or (800) 299-7355

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AgriLife Communications photo by Rod Santa Ana

Cotton modules await ginning at the Port of Harlingen. Experts say quarter million acre cotton crops in extreme South Texas are a thing of the past. 40 percent of capacity, there’s a lot of uncertainty going into [this] year’s cotton crop, especially about what China will do.” Uncertainty means fewer acres planted, Ribera said. Despite July futures prices hovering at a “good” 82 cents per pound of lint, those prices could be artificial, leaving growers fearful the bottom could fall out at any second. “The cotton market is now less about supply and demand, and more about what China does or doesn’t do,” he said. China currently is buying up cotton — which is driving the price per pound higher — and storing it in huge amounts.

“The world’s stock-to-use ratio of cotton is currently over 80 percent,” Ribera said. “That’s huge; it’s usually much lower. In fact, I’ve never seen it higher than in the 60 percent range. China has the lion’s share of that; more than half of that stored cotton is in China and they continue to buy.” But if they suddenly stop buying up lint, or decide to release their stockpile, the world price of cotton could plummet. “So, the question is, how long will China keep buying?” he said. “The good news is they have internal pressures to continue buying because if they stop, the price drop would hurt their own farmers. So, they

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January 2014 — Issue 2

WESLACO — The days of quarter-million acre cotton crops in extreme South Texas are a thing of the past, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts. “Unless things change drastically, the days of 200,000- to 300,000-acre cotton crops here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are long gone,” said Luis Ribera, an agricultural economist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Weslaco. The conditions Ribera refers to are drought, the preference of growers to plant grain sorghum, and uncertainties in the world cotton market. “Cotton down here will never go away completely because it’s a rotation crop for grain sorghum,” he said. “Among other things, cotton as a rotation crop helps growers manage weeds in their sorghum crops, and vice versa.” Growers in the four-county Valley planted a meager 88,772 acres of cotton in 2013, but harvested only 38,348 acres, according to figures supplied by the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation. “Only 43 percent of the 2013 crop was harvested, mostly on irrigated land,” Ribera said. “The rest was lost to drought. Mexico delivered some of the water owed to the U.S., but not much. With reservoirs at Falcon and Amistad lakes at only about

cotton and a price drop that’s only being propped up by China’s current buying spree.” The Valley has not seen a return to high-acreage cotton crops since 2006, when 72 percent of the area’s 255,000 acre crop was lost to drought, Ribera said. Crops generally have stayed under 100,000 acres since then, except for 2011 when prices hit $2 and 196,000 acres were planted, and last year when 137,000 acres were planted.

want the price to remain high. But how long can they keep it up there?” Ribera thinks cotton growers today are still paying for the abnormally high price cotton was fetching in 2011. “The price of cotton in 20102011 hit $2 per pound, which signaled the need for more cotton and the desire of growers to cash in, so more cotton was planted,” he said. “That led to overproduction, lots of stored

By Rod Santa ana Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

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News Cattlemen’s Conference examines risks, opportunities By HugH Aljoe Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation

Cattle producers across the country face new challenges as the cattle market reaches new heights. Although advantageous to sellers, as purchasers the market creates consternation. Additionally, even though feed and fertilizer are less expensive than in years past, most agricultural inputs are on the rise. Cattlemen perhaps are operating with greater exposure to associated risks; but higher risks usually mean there is potential for higher rewards. So where are the opportunities? What are the risks we need to manage, and how do we do that successfully? On Feb. 27, the Noble Foundation will host the Texoma Cattlemen’s Conference at the Ardmore Convention Center in Ardmore, Okla. The theme for the event is “Rising Risks — Expanding Opportunities.” The conference will provide in-

sight to regional beef producers on how to manage successfully their operations with today’s markets. Ron Hays of the Oklahoma Farm Report — Oklahoma’s “Voice of Agriculture” — will moderate the event starting at 9 a.m. Here is the conference agenda: 9:15 a.m., Finding Opportunities in a Record Cattle Market — Dan Childs, senior ag economist, Noble Foundation. The smallest U.S. cow herd in decades, talk of expansion and beef demand has pushed boxed beef and feeder calf prices to record highs. Rising inputs squeeze margins, however. Childs will discuss the opportunities that come with higher prices. 10 a.m., Marketing Excess Forage in Favorable Years — Ted McCollum, professor and extension beef cattle specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. McCollum will discuss manage-

ment options to market excess grass in favorable rainfall years while operating at lower stocking rates. 10:45 a.m., Trade show break. 11:15 a.m., Shaping Consumers’ Perceptions About Beef — Michelle Peterson Murray, executive director of integrated communications for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Murray will present consumer insights about beef and current strategies at work to address marketplace shifts. 12 noon — Lunch, trade show and industry updates. 1:30 p.m., Managing the Risks, Pastures, Livestock, and Finances and Markets — panel presentation by Noble Foundation consultants Chuck Coffey, Deke Alkire and Steve Swigert. This panel of speakers will address risk management in three key areas of operational management. 2:15 p.m. — Trade show break. 2:45 p.m., Farm Policy Update and Implications, from Wash-

ington, D.C. — Roger Bernard, agriculture and trade policy analyst for Informa Economics. What is going on in D.C.? Specializing in farm policy and trade issues, Bernard will bring perspective to the issues on Capitol Hill surrounding agriculture. 3:30 p.m., Market Outlook for the Beef Industry — Derrell Peel, professor of ag economics and marketing at Oklahoma State University, will report on the market outlook for beef pro-

ducers. Registration will begin at 8 a.m., and the conference will conclude about 4:15 p.m. Registration is $35 and includes lunch. For additional information or to register, go to or call Jackie Kelley at 580-224-6360.

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New life on lease

By RoBeRt FeaRs Special to The Post

What makes a good lease?

“A good lease agreement is fair to both parties,” Machen said. “An unreasonable lease for either party will be short-lived. “The lessor must be able to maintain improvements and asset value and realize some return on investment. Improvement costs such as fencing, water systems, corrals, pasture seeding or weed and brush control may be incurred by the lessee in addition to what the lessor has spent. “The lessee needs some return on his or her investment as well.” Lease fees, or services and goods provided in lieu of fees, should offset landowner costs for forage and facilities used by the lessee. Fees requested by the landowner

January 2014 — Issue 2


eased grazing takes on increased importance when owned property was overgrazed during the drought of recent years. Rick Machen of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service talked about leased grazing at the 59th Annual Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course held in August. For property that was over grazed during the drought, it will take two or more years to recover, depending upon range or pasture condition. There are pastures available for lease that were not grazed by livestock during the drought or were stocked at a low density. Use of leased grazing will allow forage recovery on owned property before restocking. “Leasing gives the lessee an opportunity to access land assets without purchase,” Machen said. “It provides an opportunity to enter the cattle business or expand the current business without additional land investment. “Leasing provides the lessor or landowner the opportunity to utilize land assets and to retain ownership without investing in livestock. When land is leased for grazing, the landowner is able to retain an agricultural evaluation which results in reduced property taxes.”

How to get the most out of rented land

The Land & Livestock Post


Photos courtesy of Robert Fears

Prescribed fire,above,is a good range management practice but needs to be covered in the lease before use. Right, and covered with oil tanks and pumps should be excluded from a grazing lease. also should account for improvements contributed by the lessee. Resource stewardship should be the number-one goal of both landowner and lessee. To help accomplish this goal, carrying capacity should not be overestimated by either party. In the lease, write clearly defined expectations of both parties concerning fees, non-monetary contributions, facility maintenance and improvements. When writing a lease, plan for the unexpected such as drought, wildfire, floods, family sickness, or changes in the cattle market.

See LEASE, Page 15


The Land & Livestock Post  January 2014 — Issue 2

News A&M researchers study cowpea drought, heat tolerance By Kay LedBetter Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Cowpeas, known as blackeyed peas in the U.S., are an important and versatile food legume grown in more than 80 countries. Texas A&M University scientists are working to map the genes controlling drought and heat tolerance in recent varieties. New and improved varieties of cowpeas have numerous adaptive traits of agronomic importance, such as 60-70 day maturity, drought tolerance, heat tolerance, aphid resistance and low phosphorus tolerance, said Meiping Zhang, Texas A&M AgriLife Research associate research scientist in College Station. Under a National Institute for Food and Agriculture grant of $500,000, Zhang and other Texas A&M scientists will take advantage of the recently developed DNA sequencing technology to

map and ultimately clone the genes controlling drought and heat tolerance for molecular studies and deployment of these genes in other crops, she said. Joining Zhang on the project are Hongbin Zhang, Texas A&M professor of plant genomics and systems biology and director of the Laboratory for Plant Genomics and Molecular Genetics; B.B. Singh, a visiting scholar and cowpea breeder with the Texas A&M soil and crop sciences department; and Dirk Hays, Texas A&M associate professor of physiological and molecular genetics. All work in College Station. The goal of the study is to develop single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNP markers, the latest DNA marker technology, enabling efficient manipulation of heat and drought tolerances in cowpeas and related species, Zhang said. Cowpeas were chosen for the study because they are a high-

See PEAS, Page 14

Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo

Hongbin Zhang, Texas A&M professor of plant genomics and systems biology, studies healthy and stressed cowpeas in the greenhouse in College Station.

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It always is best not to become a stick in the mud I

March 4 - 5, 2 014

into the mud. I got out and walked down the road alternating from watching lazy snowflakes falling to looking for promising fishing holes in the river below. I was dressed for the weather and enjoying being outside in nature’s beauty. I thought the ranch would be just beyond every bend in the road. Worry slowly crept into my mind after a half hour of trudging with no sign of a ranch. Vaccination for brucellosis was very important and by then I was late for my appointment. I spotted an old ranch house an hour or so into my hike. As I neared it, I noticed it was at the end of the road. A white-haired man with a Scottish accent answered the door and invited me in. I sat down at the kitchen table with him and his brother who was in his 80s. They were impressed that I had come clear from Madras on that snowy morning. The older man told me “Oh yeah, we go in there once a month to buy groceries and get drunk! Don’t you know the ranch you want is up river from the bridge?” They could tell I was

very anxious to get to the ranch and offered to pull my vehicle out of the mud. “Well, it’s almost lunch time. Let’s have lunch first,” the younger brother said. He gathered together a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, a carton of milk and plopped them down on the table along with a butter knife. Lunch was served. After lunch, the younger brother and I headed up the road in an old pickup weighted down with large blocks of a tree in the back. We reached my practice vehicle and went to work. Three times we jacked it up and tucked sage brush under the hind wheels. After it didn’t budge for the third time, the Scotsman exclaimed with a thick brogue that seemed to roll R’s forever, “Well, son, it looks like you’re here for the durrration!” The duration? My heart sunk to my big toe. I had to get to that ranch and vaccinate those calves. I was informed that my best bet on getting out was to walk up the road to the last ranch house I had seen that

January 2014 — Issue 2

steelhead there two weeks previously on my day off and had fished up and down the river. My boss, Dr. Mel Boggs, told me the ranch was about three miles down the river past where I had been fishing, so I turned left off the highway onto the road that headed down river. I passed a couple of ranch houses close to the bridge and then slowed down as the Dr. STEVE snow-covered road beWIKSE came very slippery. The little station wagon had four wheels, but not four-wheel drive. I carefully proceeded on a couple of miles with no sign of a ranch. The road became covered with long puddles of water that made it nearly impassable, but I pushed on. As I gunned through a long puddle, calamity struck. Under the muddy water, my wheels went deeper and deeper into the tracks of a vehicle that had been stuck earlier until I was stuck, too, up to the axles. Rocking the wagon back and forth drove it deeper

t has become a tradition of this column to start the year with a humorous or heart-warming story about animals, their owners and veterinarians. So here we go again. Happy New Year! I had only been out of veterinary school four months. I was working as the junior clinician in a two-veterinarian mixed animal practice in Central Oregon when I was assigned a call to vaccinate 30 calves for brucellosis. Brucellosis or Bangs Disease was on the rampage in beef cattle herds back then. The rancher wanted to start at 10 a.m. the next day on his ranch, which was 70 miles north of the clinic along the John Day River. It was spitting snow when I left at 7:30 a.m. the next morning and roads were icy from a mid-November storm. I enjoyed winter wonderland scenery as I cruised north in the compact Dodge Dart station wagon that was my practice vehicle. I made good time until I reached the bridge over the John Day River where dirt roads went up and down the river. I had caught a nice

The Land & Livestock Post

Ask the Vet

See STUCK, Page 14

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The Land & Livestock Post  January 2014 — Issue 2

News Stuck, from Page 13 morning and wait for a rancher named Huck who had gone to Madras that day. He would have a tractor to pull me out. I waited on Huck’s porch until he showed up after dark and explained my desire to get unstuck as soon as possible. “Sure, I’ll get you out,” Huck said “But it’s too dark now. We’ll do it in the morning. It’s time to eat.” I was tired and hungry from all my walking in snow so made no protest. Huck was a bachelor and glad to have company for the night. He lived in a large Victorian ranch house that once belonged to a judge and was the center of social events for that area in its day. Unfortunately, Huck had let it decline far below its former splendor. It was filthy and every surface in the living room was cluttered with empty whiskey bottles. As Huck carried two bowls of ice cream across the kitchen, a large chunk fell on the floor. I jumped up to clean it up, but he held up his hand and sat me back down. “I’m going to mop soon,” he said.




sue 24 Is

After supper, I was given a tour of the house beginning with the upstairs bedrooms. I hoped I wasn’t going to sleep there — the ceilings and walls were covered with large black spiders. I needed to call my wife and my boss to say I wouldn’t be home. This happened 47 years ago, long before cell phones. Huck had no phone, so he drove me up to the grocery store at the bridge to use its payphone. My boss was mad. He figured he had given me precise directions to the ranch. Of course, I should have driven up river instead of down. He would call the ranch to tell them I’d show up to vaccinate calves in the morning at 10: a.m. Also, I’d better get that Bangs vaccination kit back to the clinic the next day because he needed it to vaccinate calves at the auction that afternoon. Later when hearing of my adventure, my boss’s fishing buddy threw back his head and laughed. “Mel always gets up river and down river backwards.” That night, I thought I lucked out when Huck put me in a downstairs bedroom near the warm


wood stove of the living room. I lay down on the bed and before I turned off the bedside lamp I looked up at the ceiling. It was crawling with big black spiders. By then I was so tired I just reached over, turned the light off, and promptly went to asleep. Huck had no trouble pulling the little station wagon out with his tractor in the morning. I arrived at the ranch to vaccinate calves at 10 a.m. Things went fine, but I had to decline the invitation for lunch. I needed to hightail it back with that Bangs vaccination kit so my boss could vaccinate auction calves that afternoon. Later a rancher told me that for months he and his friends shared many a laugh at the auction about me arriving to vaccinate calves for brucellosis right on time — a day late. And I was so shook up I couldn’t stay for lunch! To be honest, if I could do it over, I would stay for lunch. • Dr. Steve Wikse is a retired professor of large animal clinical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University.

Peas, from Page 12 protein grain, vegetable, fodder and high nitrogenfixing legume that can be intercropped with corn, cotton and other crops in many countries, including the U.S., Meiping Zhang said. “We know it is highly tolerant to drought, heat and several other biotic and abiotic stresses,” she said. “This research will use high-throughput site-associated DNA sequencing to map the genes controlling drought and heat tolerance and to develop SNP markers, enabling efficient manipulation of heat and drought tolerances in cowpea and related species.” Zhang said they already have developed a mapping population of 110 recombinant inbred lines from a cross of two cowpea lines that are highly tolerant or susceptible to both drought and high temperature. This population is being augmented into more than 200 recom-

binant inbred lines for the new project. “We will not only map drought and heat tolerant genes, but also develop a platform for mapping genes controlling several other biotic and abiotic stress tolerances such as aphid resistance and low phosphorus tolerance, both of which are also of extreme significance for agricultural production of many crops.” The drought and heat tolerant genes, once defined and cloned, will significantly advance understanding of the molecular basis underlying plant tolerances to these stresses, Zhang said. This will help researchers design tools to effectively combine multiple traits into new cultivars adapted to the globally changing climate in this and related crops, thus supporting the long-term genetic improvement and sustainability of U.S. agriculture and food systems, she said.

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Lease, from Page 11

Writing the lease

January 2014 — Issue 2

See GRAZE, Page 16

In his presentation, Machen provided a list of items to consider when writing a grazing lease agreement. He cautioned that the list is not all inclusive, but it can serve as a starting point for discussion between a landowner and prospective lessee as they develop a grazing lease contract. Machen stressed that the primary goal of the leases should be conservation of natural resources and watersheds. The first decision to make in preparing a lease is whether all aspects of the agreement and future changes will be in writing and signed by both parties. If there are multiple landowners, will there be one spokesperson? One of the financial aspects to discuss is whether liability insurance will be required and, if so, how much and who will pay the premiums. Other important financial decisions include term or length of the lease, fees and payment schedule. Fees can be assessed in several ways; some of these are listed in Table 1. Advantages and disadvantages of each assessment method to the landowner and lessee also are presented. If late payment penalties

will be assessed, they need to be written into the contract. Additional considerations are rights of renewal, provisions for a change of property ownership, and provisions for lessee vacating prior to lease expiration. Whether the lessee is allowed to sublease grazing rights should be addressed in the contract as well. It is a good idea for the lease to include legal description of the property, total number of acres, total number of grazable acres, definition of an animal unit and maximum and/ or minimum stocking rate. Consider the wildlife population when determining the stocking rate. In the event of a natural disaster such as flood, drought, fire, or tornado, will the lease payment be excused, reduced or deferred? Can horses be kept on the property? Are there additional costs for pasturing horses? All of these questions should be considered when writing a lease. The party responsible for use, maintenance, repair and necessary replacement of permanent fixtures on the ranch are negotiation points for a grazing lease. The list of permanent fixtures could include roads, ponds, barns, feed and hay storage, dwellings, fences, corrals and water systems.

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Photo courtesy of Robert Fears

Define who is responsible for brush control when negotiating a grazing lease.

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News Graze, from Page 15 Which fixtures are the lessee allowed to use and who pays for their maintenance? Trespass rights should be discussed and placed in the lease contract. Who has the right to enter the property and is advance notification required? Are firearms permitted on the property? What use rights does the lessee have on the property in addition to livestock grazing? Does the lessee have rights to hunting, fishing, nature tourism or recreational activity such as horseback riding, all terrain vehicles, cycling, hiking or stargazing? The prominence of energy (oil, natural gas, wind) exploration and harvest adds more points to consider in writing a grazing lease. Questions to address include: • Are surface damages paid by the energy company? • Will damage money be returned to the land and facilities? • Who has the rights to the surface water? • How is the “gate left open” issue handled? • Who is responsible for livestock injury and/or death losses due to energy exploration, construction and production? • In the event of new surface damages, will carrying capacity be adjusted?

All the above questions need to be considered to protect the lessee. Responsibility for animal care varies with almost every grazing lease. There are leases in which the landowner takes responsibility for the entire management of the cattle including nutrition, health, dehorning, castration and weaning. The lessee is responsible for the breeding program, culling and marketing. The other end of the spectrum is where the lessor takes no responsibility for animal care and in addition, there are variations between these two extremes. Forage management responsibilities also should be determined. Decide who is responsible for pest management such as insects, feral hogs, weeds and brush. Who pays for the fertilizer applied to improved pastures? Who is responsible for haying? The relationship between the lessee and lessor is usually more compatible when these decisions are made prior to signing the lease. “A lease is more than a handshake and the key to the gate,” Machen said. “Regardless of how well the lease is written, it is important that the lessee and lessor develop a workable, enduring relationship. “The lease will more likely work if both parties are honest and trustworthy.”

ollow us on



Photo courtesy of Robert Fears

Pads for wind turbines cover from 900 to 2500 square feet of ground and these areas should be subtracted from leased acres for grazing.

Worth, TX. 817-831-3161 Feb. 8: Happy 11 Charolais, Charolais for Profit Bull Sale. Columbus, TX. Feb 13: Special Bull Offerings, January Jordan Cattle Auction. San Saba, TX. Jan. 17: Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo starts Feb. 15: Bradley 3 Ranch Annual Angus and Charolais Bull Sale. Jan 23: Special Bull Offerings, Estelline, TX. Jordan Cattle Auction. San Saba, TX Feb. 22: 44 Farms Prime Cut Jan. 24: Texas Angus Association Bull Sale. Cameron, TX. (254) 697-4401 Bull Sale. Fort Worth, TX. Jan. 25: Texas Angus Association Feb, 22: Special Replacement Female Sale, Jordan Cattle Female Sale. Fort Worth, TX. Auction. San Saba, TX. February Feb. 2: 45th Annual Premium Whiteface Replacement Female Do you have a sale or event Show & Sale. Fort Worth, TX. 817you’d like listed? 831-3161 Call Jesse Wright at Feb. 2: Cowtown Select Sale, (979) 731-4721 or email Horned & polled Herefords. Fort

Events Calendar

Farm, ranch estate planning workshops for January By Kay LedBetter Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Texas A&M Forest Service issues safety tips By Texas A&M Forest Service

Significant rain this year could be a potential threat during the winter wildfire season. Rains earlier this year helped suppress wildfire threats by improving moisture levels across majority of the state. This led, however, to a rise in grassy areas, which can help spread fires if it becomes too dry. “The concern is on dry and windy days,” said Tom Spencer, predictive services department head at Texas A&M Forest Service. Several safety tips include:


rk An a l C

• Check for and obey burn bans and fireworks restrictions. • When and where outdoor burning is allowed, keep the fire small, never leave it unattended and remove leaves and other materials from the area surrounding the fire. Avoid lighting piles on windy days. • Keep water nearby in case a fire starts. A spark or burning ember can ignite dry, fine-textured fuels like grass and weeds. • Read and follow label instructions on how to properly discharge fireworks. • Use fireworks with close


gus Ranch L.L. Since 1952 CROCKETT, TEXAS

adult supervision and only in areas clear of dry vegetation. • Avoid using fireworks, particularly aerial varieties, around buildings.

Texas 70, Clarendon Topics will include: • The Will, What all is needed? — Selection of executor, paying debts and taxes, “Share and share alike?,” and “Do I need a trust?” • A living trust, Managing property to take “care of,” not “give to” people — Avoiding guardianships and many other benefits. • Passing on an active farm or ranch — Tips for keeping the business going.

• Power of attorney, What if they don’t work? — Health care power of attorney. Living wills. • Taxes — Estate tax, generation-skipping tax, gift tax, income tax and Social Security tax. • Property in different states – avoid probate. • How Not to Let My Kid’s “Ex” Mess With Me. For more information, contact Jones at 806-677-5667 or 806-681-5145, or by email at .


January 2014 — Issue 2

ule of times, dates and locations: • 6-8 p.m., Jan. 20, O’Laughlin Center, 502 S. Brandt St., Spearman. • Noon-2 p.m., Jan. 21, Carson County War Memorial, 500 Main St., Panhandle. • 6-8 p.m., Jan. 21, AgriLife Extension office for Randall County, 200 Brown Road, Canyon. • 1-3 p.m., Jan. 22, AgriLife Extension office for Deaf Smith County, 903 14th St., Hereford. • 6-8 p.m., Jan. 22, Moore County Community Building, 1600 Maddox St., Dumas. • 12:30-2:30 p.m., Jan. 23, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 6500 W. Amarillo. Blvd., Amarillo. • 6-8 p.m., Jan. 23, Donley County Activity Center, 4430

AMARILLO — Seven Farm and Ranch Estate Planning Workshops are scheduled during January in the Panhandle, featuring Wayne Hayenga, professor emeritus and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist in College Station. These seminars will provide participants with information on tax and estate planning matters to assist in making difficult decisions, said DeDe Jones, AgriLife Extension risk management specialist in Amarillo. Hayenga is an agricultural economist and attorney who

works with farmers, ranchers and family owned firms in financial, business and estate tax planning, Jones said. He will give a thorough analysis of relevant income and estate tax rules as they affect families and agricultural businesses. “These seminars are helpful to married couples in that they discuss estate administration and tax reporting requirements for the surviving spouse,” Jones said. “They are also useful for potential executors and trustees and helpful to all who want to make their estate settlements less burdensome to their loved ones.” No pre-registration is required. The following is a sched-

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