December Line Rider 2021

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PRESIDENT Mark Pratt..................(Blackfoot) 208-681-6597 PRESIDENT-ELECT Kim Brackett..............(Homedale) 208-308-1952



Financial Issue

VICE PRESIDENT Jerry Wroten................... (Wilder) 541-709-6590 PAST PRESIDENT Jay Smith.......... ...........(Carmen) 208-940-1020 TREASURER Cody Hendrix................... (Rigby) 208-360-9693 FEEDER COUNCIL CHAIR Spencer Black................... (Almo) 208-647-8130 PUREBRED COUNCIL CHAIR Val Carter..................... (Pingree) 208-390-4811 COW-CALF COUNCIL CHAIR Brayden Eliason.......... (Holbrook) 208-705-2541 CATTLEWOMEN COUNCIL CHAIR Maggie Malson................ (Parma) 208-739-2265 DISTRICT 1 REPRESENTATIVES Mike McClean............. (Post Falls) 208-661-7518 Quin Wemhoff...............(Kamiah) 208-983-6448 DISTRICT 2 REPRESENTATIVES Lori Ireland.......(Mountain Home) 208-866-0112 Marg Chipman...............(Weiser) 208-550-0605 DISTRICT 3 REPRESENTATIVES Eugene Matthews............(Oakley) 208-431-3260 John Peters........................ (Filer) 208-358-3850 DISTRICT 4 REPRESENTATIVES Ryan Steele.............. (Idaho Falls) 208-390-5765 Norman Wallis.....................(May) 208-993-1342 DISTRICT 5 REPRESENTATIVES Roscoe Lake..............(Blackfoot) 208-604-3650 Arnold Callison......... (Blackfoot) 208-681-8440 ALLIED INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVE Kelton Hatch............... (Kimberly) 208-539-0417 DIRECTORS AT LARGE Robert Oxarango.......... (Emmett) 208-431-0777 Adrian Meyer.......... (Grand View) 208-509-1892 CATTLEWOMEN BOARD REPRESENTATIVE Tay Brackett...................... (Filer) 208-866-4967


EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT Cameron NATURAL RESOURCES POLICY DIRECTOR Karen ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Michelle Johnson.......... DIR. OF MEMBERSHIP & INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT Morgan Lutgen............. Contact Idaho Cattle Association: Mailing address: P.O. Box 15397, Boise, ID 83715 Location: 2120 Airport Way, Boise, ID 83705 Phone: 208-343-1615

For advertising sales, contact: The Line Rider is the official publication of the Idaho Cattle Association. It is published 10 times each year, in January, February, March, April/May, June, July/August, September, October, November and December.


DEPARTMENTS Message from the President


Message from the EVP


Message from the Treasurer


Message from the Natural Resources Policy Director


New and renewed members


ICA archive

Consumers want to know more about how beef is raised


Looking forward to 2022: Market forecasts, other signs indicate better days on the horizon 18 Solid consumer demand drives positive outlook for cattle 24 Convention recap: What the experts shared about animal health, tech, politics and more 29 IDAHO CATTLE ASSOCIATION  3


A fourth-generation rancher, ready to tackle ‘issues of the day’


Working with fellow cattle producers and Idaho families will be an honor, so please share your thoughts


ifty Christmases ago, Santa graced me with a brand-new lever-action ricochet rifle. It had a simulated wood-grain stock with a little speaker that blurted “puwow” when you pulled the trigger. On the way to meet Grandpa at the feedlot, Dad warned me not to shoot it around the calves. He should have known better than to think I could resist the temptation. I lasted for a while … and then as I squeezed the trigger, there were two ricochets that happened simultaneously: the rifle and the calves off the back fence. I got a lot more careful from then on. Favorite things change as we grow older. But raising cattle has been a family favorite for several generations. I’m the fourth generation at my place. My grandfather was born in the same house where our son and daughter-in-law now live with their daughter. As with many ranches, ours started with a 160acre homestead. Each generation, with help from the previous ones, has added on to the ranch. I


Mark Pratt and his children — from left, Seth, Anna and Callie — get ready to feed the cows on a ranch that’s been in the family for several generations. guess you could say we’re in it for the long haul. At least as long as blessings and reasonable management can keep us afloat. Grandpa would say, “A cow will take care of herself and you, but she won’t cover many mistakes.” As I humbly take the reins of our association, I

As with many ranches, ours started with a 160-acre homestead. Each generation, with help from the previous ones, has added on to the ranch. I guess you could say we’re in it for the long haul. 4  LINE RIDER DECEMBER 2021

think about all who have gone before me. In his first address to the newly organized Idaho Cattle and Horse Growers’ Association in 1916, then-president Clay Vance said, “While this association has for its purpose many other features, yet I consider the conservation of the range of this state one of the biggest objects we have to accomplish and one that will mean much to Idaho’s future wealth and standing.” For Vance, conservation was meant to go hand in glove with making a living from the land. If we’re picking favorites from the wide array of issues we face as cattle producers, range conservation would, admittedly, have to be mine. I have, however, learned that there’s a lot more to this job than that, and I hope you know that I’ll be working to represent the membership-directed stance on all issues while serving in this role.



Please join me as we work to address the “issues of the day” over the course of the upcoming year. I look forward to meeting many of you and am always happy to talk with my fellow

producers. Here’s wishing you a great new year, and in the words of humorist Garrison Keillor: “Be well, do good work and keep in touch.”


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As industry encounters roadblocks, ICA is steady at the wheel Idaho’s producers know it takes patience, purpose and pragmatism to navigate the feds’ changing traffic patterns


early every day, I make my commute from the greater Wilder metropolis to our ICA office in Boise. The trek of 37 miles can take varying lengths of time, ranging from 40 minutes to well over an hour, based on the obstacles you encounter along the way. As I travel in either direction, I know at which exit I am getting on or off when I hit the freeway. My routine is to work my way to the far left lane in order to avoid any congestion associated with merging at the ramps. It never fails that another driver doesn’t think I am driving fast enough when I leave a semitrailer-plus length between me and the car I am following. The other driver quickly darts to another lane to hurry around me, before slowing down to my pace 5 feet behind the next car. As their frustration grows, they quickly dart over two lanes, as that one looks faster. Then, as they get stuck, and I pass them yet again, they return to their original place behind me in the far left lane. I tell you all of this because my message this month is to be patient and steady — similar to the folktale of the tortoise and the hare. A steady and direct path will get us to our destinations more quickly in the end. Last month we met in Sun Valley for our annual meeting and discussed some of the topics that are at the top of the list for the new federal adminis-



ICA Executive Vice President

tration. To my point, they have a shiny new car and are in a hurry to get somewhere. They have placed attractive titles on these somewhat obscure ideas, such as “America the Beautiful,” but they don’t have lanes yet for us to navigate in these agendas. We must stay in our lane and be patient as these things come our direction. The association has continually drafted policy, just as we did at our convention, to guide our car down the road. We try not to jerk the wheel toward every quick opening, or move from one side of the road to the other, without the careful guidance of our driver — the membership we serve and represent. Now let us switch gears a bit, to the ol’ idiom “beware a wolf in sheep’s clothing”...


With patience and research, our association continues to try to educate our membership, leadership and the public around things related to our industry. I’ll return to the earlier mentioned idea of “America The Beautiful,” or 30 X 30. The general message here is that we will “conserve” 30% of the lands in the U.S. by the year 2030. In return, this will somehow “beautify” our nation. Our first general question is, what qualifies as conservation? What do we already do as producers to achieve “conservation” status? Where is the aesthetic view of America in a definition of conservation? As I write this, the answers are unknown. As producers, we know that a do-nothing management approach is not a useful tactic for “conservation.” In my opinion, black, barren ground CONTINUED, PAGE 8



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following a fire or a mess of wolf plants and dead brush do not add aesthetic value to our nation. The time is now to begin formulating our approach for navigating the roads ahead. With this topic, among others, we utilize the resolutions of our association to guide our travels. Here is the question: How patient can we be? We need to act carefully, but we also need to be aggressive in advocating for the needs of our industry. Be assured, the steady and consistent message of our association is heard by those who are making decisions in Washington. We are pragmatic in our decisions and our actions, and this has created respect for our association. However, as time goes on, I am seeing more wolves disguised as sheep while policy decisions come down the halls. The titles are flashy, and we may be inclined to jerk the wheel in one direction. If we are not careful, however, we will quickly have to jerk things back the other direction, and this is what we are seeing in our leadership changes in D.C. While the changes are drastic on a national level, the ICA has consistently selected long-term producers who are the boots on the ground to lead our association. This year we welcome Mark Pratt to take our association’s wheel and carefully steer through the lanes of our state and national leadership. Be sure to look at the listing in the front of our magazine for an updated account of board members in your area or producer segment as we begin 2022. Though the issues in the coming year may prove to be challenging, you can count on the ICA to drive steadily and patiently toward the solutions that benefit our membership base and industry as a whole.

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Know the math to know your beef operation’s path As costs and prices fluctuate, figure out the breakeven point and ask vital questions about expenses


his has been an interesting year. Despite all the challenges, it looked like there was going to be an opportunity for producers in all sectors of the beef industry to be profitable. Then we started to watch the price of feed climb, and it continues to climb today. We have been hearing some quotes for hay at $260/ton, which leaves us feeling good if we can find hay at $225/ton. This is crazy, thinking that the same hay was $100 less a year ago. How did we get here? A big driver of the increased price on calves has been the need for herd reduction due to drought. The increased cost of hay also was driven by the drought. Imagine, the same event that hurts us can also help us. There is nothing we can do to change the drought we are currently in. All we can do is make decisions to help us get through it. Some of those decisions have been tough and resulted in portions of the herd being sold. The reason for this, as we know, is that we can’t afford to pay $250/ton for hay, feed that to cattle and be profitable. In my opinion, the real question should be how much we can afford to spend on feed and still be profitable. That answer is different for every operation, but it’s one that every operation needs to know in order to manage operations now, and for years to come.


The question I’m asking is, what is the breakeven on your cattle, at what price? In agriculture we are largely price takers, often able to sell our cattle only for what the market price is, regardless of whether the quality of our product is worth more. 10  LINE RIDER DECEMBER 2021


Because we don’t have full control over the sale price of our product, it’s important to manage the things we do control: our cost of inputs. We have fixed and variable costs. The fixed costs are the things that must be paid each year, regardless of what we sell. These can include debt service, rents, power/utilities, living expenses, etc. Things that drive our fixed costs are our business model, location, overhead costs, total debt levels or the technology we use. For example, if we are renting a farm, we pay that rent regardless of the crop that is produced and sold off that farm. Variable costs are driven by the market. The prices of feed (as mentioned), chemicals, fertilizer, twine, fuel and many other supplies we need have increased this year. And we either pay the asking price, or we don’t get the product. Following the example of renting a farm, our variable costs are the expenses necessary to get our product to market, over and above the fixed costs. You might be asking, how do I figure out what my break-even is? It’s a simple calculation: Fixed Costs / (sale price - variable costs) = Break-Even Point (# of head)


If you are a feedlot and the average sale price of your cattle is $750/head, the fixed costs of your operation are $100,000 and the variable costs are $250/head, then the formula to figure out how many head you need to feed/sell to break-even is: $100,000 / ($750-$250) = 200

Based on the calculation, we need to feed 200 calves to break even, and after calf 201 is sold, the operation is profitable.


We can calculate the break-even price using a ranch that sells 200 calves per year with fixed costs of $100,000 and an additional $250/ head in variable costs as follows:


$100,000 + (200 hd x $250) = $150,000 $150,000 / 200 hd = $750 In this example, we calculate that each calf has a break-even price of $750 and must be sold for more than that to be profitable. Doing these calculations can answer my previous question: “How much can we afford to feed a cow and keep her?” Other questions to consider: • Where can we trim expenses to be more efficient? • How much do we have to generate to cover all expenses? • Can we afford to make a change (like an expansion)? • Does it make sense to continue as-is, or does something need to change to preserve the operation? • Is this helping us obtain our goals? We all have different costs, both fixed and variable. Calculating the break-even on an operation can help answer questions, make management decisions easier and — most importantly — determine whether you are on the path to success.

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The season of joy can propel us into 2022 with hope After a difficult couple of years, this Christmas is the perfect time to lift spirits and gain perspective “Joy to the World, the Lord is come” “Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant” “Joyful all ye nations rise” “Sing in exultation” “Shepherds why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong?” “And with delight in peaceful night” “Lord with the angels we too would rejoice”


ou may recognize these familiar words, all lines from the Christmas hymns that are heard so frequently this time of year. Joy, joyful, exultation, jubilee, joyous, delight, rejoice. In the scriptural telling of Christ’s birth, there are also expressions of joy. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth while both women were expecting, Elizabeth told Mary, “For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” In announcing Christ’s birth to the shepherds, the angel said, “For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” When the wise men saw the star, “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” These synonyms of joy and happiness are repeated throughout the songs and stories of Christmas and throughout the Christmas season. This time of year, the word “joy” is one of the most


BY KAREN WILLIAMS ICA Natural Resources Policy Director

common words. It appears in storybooks, in home decoration, in wall art, on apparel, in stores — and in our hearts. Given the tumultuous couple of years we’ve just had, joy is something that we all could use a little more of. Reading the news, hearing the cattle market report, seeing the bitter divisiveness permeate our society and surviving a rainless summer all give justifiable cause to feel a constant state of depression and hopelessness. The Christmas season — and the reason for it — offers just the measure of hope and optimism that is so desperately needed in our world right now. I’ve always been a bit crazy about Christmastime. I love the season and the rich traditions that come with it, and look forward to it every year, even in the midst of all the accompanying stress a mother tends to feel. The feeling in the air is not replicated at any other time of year. I feel the joy that is so commonly expressed. For me, joy is abundant and found in: • Finding that perfect tree on a mountainside after a snowy hike. • Bins full of Christmas decorations just brought out of storage. • Christmas lights. • The poetical sound of the story of the birth of Christ as written by Luke. • A white Christmas. • Opening the boxes of treasured, heirloom ornaments as the tree is decorated. • Turning all the lights off in the house except for those on the Christmas tree. • Images of Christ all around, and seeing his image reflected in countless acts of charity.

I’ve always been a bit crazy about Christmastime. I love the season and the rich traditions that come with it, and look forward to it every year. … The feeling in the air is not replicated at any other time of year. • Finding the elusive perfect Christmas gift for someone. • Watching that someone open their perfect gift. • Family gatherings. • My treasured nativity, reflective of my German heritage. • A lit-up house and landscape. • An abundance of good chocolate. • Listening to nothing but Christmas music for a month straight. • Reading a child’s Christmas wish list. • Straight-out-of-the-oven Christmas cookies. • The anticipation felt by both kids and adults alike on Christmas Eve night. I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift. For me, joy abounds during the Christmas season. The beauty of all this is that even though the glitter and sparkle of the season may last just a month, a shift in perspective and focus can help us feel at least a measure of this joy year-round. Certainly, the road ahead will be paved with troubles. My 2022 Line Rider articles will be full of them, I’m sure. But we can focus on them as they come and work toward fixing the problems in our industry and our society along the way. For now, let’s all take a collective moment to find joy in the season and find ways to carry hope forward.

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Consumers want to know how Idaho beef is raised, so let’s tell them It’s vital to let state residents know about safety, sustainability and preservation when it comes to cattle ranching By the Idaho Beef Council The Idaho Beef Council serves as the marketing arm for the Idaho beef industry, and it relies on market research data to make sure that the messaging delivered to consumers addresses the things they care about most, and speaks to areas where they may lack knowledge or understanding about beef or the beef production process. Insights gathered through the August 2021 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Consumer Dashboard Survey tell us that beef consumption in Idaho is similar to the rest of the U.S.,



with 70% of Idaho consumers claiming to eat beef weekly, compared to 76% nationally. These results are positive, and we want to keep them that way. So keeping a pulse on the top concerns related to beef and beef production is paramount. Census data show that Idaho’s 17.3%

population growth in the past 10 years made it the No. 2 fastest-growing state, behind Utah (18.4%). The data also tell us that the majority are coming from larger urban areas such as Seattle and Portland, and 26.3% are coming from CONTINUED, PAGE 16 IDAHO CATTLE ASSOCIATION  15

population-dense areas of California. In a recent focus group of California-to-Idaho migrants, we learned that while they enjoy eating beef, there are gaps in their level of understanding of beef production. Additional insights from the August 2021 Consumer Dashboard Survey tell us that when it comes to beef, environmental concerns and animal welfare are important to consumers. Fewer than 48% of survey respondents could say with confidence that cattle spend at least half of their life on pasture, consume a natural diet and are not a major contributor to climate change. At the same time, this group reported to have a low level of knowledge of beef production, with 40% claiming to be unknowledgeable and 27% claiming to be only somewhat knowledgeable.


As our state’s consumer demographic continues to evolve, with the influx of arrivals from neighboring regions, education about the way beef is raised in Idaho becomes increasingly important. With these insights, the IBC has identified “Growing Consumer Trust” as a key strategic priority for FY22. Sharing more information about how cattle are raised, and how cattle

IDAHO NEWS MEDIA REACH Publication Reach Coeur d’Alene Press 258,000 Spokesman-Review 1,011,300 Idaho Press 187,278 Teton Valley News 15,100 Idaho Falls Post Register 84,000 Twin Falls Times-News 178,000

producers protect the land and the environment, can elevate consumers’ perceptions. To advance this objective and share beef’s positive sustainability stories, Idaho cattle ranchers Bill Lickley, Trish Dowton, Robert and Linda Rider, and Liz Woods agreed to share their sustainability stories to educate consumers across the state (and the surrounding region) by submitting letters to the editor as part of NCBA’s reputation management efforts around Climate Week NYC and the U.N. Food Systems Summit in late September. Hearing from Idaho ranchers gives consumers a deeper understanding of how sustainability is an integral part of the daily life and standards of Idaho’s most vigilant stewards of the land and livestock. Leveraging media outlets across the state is a cost-effective way to get the message out to a broad audience. So far six publications

Hearing from Idaho ranchers gives consumers a deeper understanding of how sustainability is an integral part of the daily life and standards of Idaho’s most vigilant stewards of the land and livestock. 16  LINE RIDER DECEMBER 2021

have published Idaho producer letters, potentially reaching 1.7 million consumers. Here is a sampling:

The Spokesman-Review

“Our goal is to effectively manage the ranch and natural resources so we can pass them on to the next generation in even better condition. Our cattle graze on land that is hilly and heavily treed, so proper forest management is central to our conservation efforts. We keep space between trees and plant grass seed in open areas, which maintains forest health and provides forage for both cattle and native wildlife.” Robert and Linda Rider, Coeur d’Alene

Idaho Falls Post Register

“Sustainability is at the forefront of what we do each day. Our grasslands remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. Our cattle grazing practices accelerate the process of carbon storage in the soil, reducing the carbon footprint and increasing the soil’s capacity to hold water so the land is more drought-tolerant and wildfire resistant.” Trish Dowton, Ellis

Idaho Press

“Our improved soil quality promotes the growth of diverse plant and habitat of wildlife species. By understanding the symbiotic needs of these living systems, we create an optimal environment for our cattle while enriching the natural ecosystems, leaving the land better than we found it.” Bill Lickley, Jerome The next phase in IBC’s strategy includes the launch of a targeted advertising campaign that highlights the way Idaho cattle graze and enjoy the freedom to roam in wide-open spaces. Consumers will learn more about the

ways that grazing protects the land while upcycling inedible plants into high-quality beef, all while keeping the views vast and open. The Nourish Idaho campaign presents beautiful Idaho-specific imagery and messaging that reinforces the importance of beef ranching and the way it helps to preserve the things we love about Idaho. Reaching consumers where they are through a robust social media campaign will connect with an audience that’s less familiar with Idaho’s beef industry and will deepen their understanding about the way cattle are raised. It also will highlight the tremendous benefits that the beef industry contribute to the landscape we all cherish. The Nourish Idaho campaign launches in January and the IBC will share updates with you as it progresses. If you are on social media platforms, we encourage you to follow the Idaho Beef Council on Facebook and Instagram to like, share and comment on these important messages to amplify their impact. Sharing the story of Idaho beef production is an excellent way to help Idaho’s newest residents learn about and gain a deeper appreciation for the industry. This expanded knowledge builds trust and strengthens beef’s position in the marketplace. Your own beef production story may hold the key to unlocking consumer trust. Across the beef industry supply chain, there are many opportunities to share your expertise to help consumers gain a clearer understanding of the ways cattle are raised in Idaho and how they are part of the solution to today’s climate challenges. From Beef Quality Assurance Certification or Masters of Beef Advocacy training, you can find excellent resources and information to help you share the message at


In this example, Facebook and Instagram consumers will be reminded that cattle turn inedible plants into high-quality beef, and keep our views vast and open. IDAHO CATTLE ASSOCIATION  17


Fighting for producer profitability, and with your help,

gaining ground


The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association works with USDA to aid the cattle market BY TANNER BEYMER

Director of Government Affairs and Market Regulatory Policy for the NCBA Like countless others, I was glad to put 2020 in the rear-view mirror. Honestly, I will not be heartbroken to do the same with 2021. While we have made welcome progress from the darkest days of the pandemic, recovery has come sluggishly. There is undoubtedly more improvement to be done, but recent developments in Washington, D.C., and long-term market forecasts suggest that better days are on the horizon.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s top policy focus this year has been to advocate for a business climate that increases opportunities for producer profitability across the board. As we have looked for ways to accomplish that goal, we have identified three major focus areas: expanding beef processing capacity, improving price discovery and increasing market transparency. I am pleased to say that we have gained ground in each area. CONTINUED, PAGE 20



Beef demand is strong, both domestically and in our major export markets, and there are plenty of cattle to satisfy that demand. However, since 2016 there has not been sufficient capacity to harvest them. The packing sector is currently the choke point in our supply chain, slowing the flow of cattle down the chain and the flow of margin up to the cattle feeder, stocker and cow-calf producer. It is imperative that the industry return to full utilization of existing capacity, and then expand upon it with local, small and regional plants. Following several conversations with the NCBA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it will make major investments in meat and poultry processing. All told, roughly $600 million will be accessible via grants, federally guaranteed loans

and technical assistance programs to both new market entrants and existing businesses. The industry has already answered the call to expand hook space — several new plants and expansions have been announced and are in various stages of development. As an Idaho boy, I was especially pleased to see some of this new capacity come to the Gem State. We expect this federal assistance to help these capital-intensive enterprises get up and running.


Many are likely aware that we tripped our second major trigger under NCBA’s voluntary approach to achieve robust price discovery in the fed cattle market (sometimes called the “75% Plan”). While that does mean that we will now pursue some sort of regulatory or legislative solution to improve price discovery, it is important to note

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that we have not changed our position on the existing bills introduced in Congress. We remain opposed to cash market mandates. What the second trigger means is that our membership — cattle producers like you — will give us direction on how to proceed from here. The Live Cattle Marketing Committee meeting at our 2022 convention in Houston will serve as the venue for that discussion, and NCBA members are encouraged to attend. A second trigger should not detract from the progress we have made, however. Negotiated trade is up this year, particularly in the southern Plains, where price discovery was lacking most. Additionally, the NCBA’s persistence led to formal information-sharing agreements with the four major packers to evaluate their particCONTINUED, PAGE 22

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The cattle market is easily the most complex commodity market on earth. … It will take a full suite of informed policy solutions to make our supply chain more resilient and ensure profitability at all stages of cattle production.

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ipation in negotiated trade. This information is still collected and analyzed by a third party, and will prove insightful going into discussions in Houston.


Information is power, and the NCBA has led the charge to give more information to cattle producers under Livestock Mandatory Reporting. In August, the USDA began publishing the National Daily Direct Formula Base Cattle report and the National Weekly Cattle Net Price Distribution report. Both have shed new light on the formula transaction bucket, which is most commonly used to trade fed cattle. The association additionally secured introduction of the Cattle Contract Library Act. Led by Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and an impressive list of bipartisan co-sponsors, this bill would require the USDA to establish and maintain a searchable library of the contracts offered by packers to producers. The library would be subject to confidentiality rules, but would allow producers to compare their marketing agreements to others. The bill was marked up by the House Agriculture Committee within 48 hours of being introduced, and as of this writing

awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives. We are also looking more closely at market transparency through a working group established during our 2021 annual convention in Nashville. This group is made up of 25 cattle producers from across the country and regularly meets to explore market transparency; LMR confidentiality; economic research; Packers and Stockyards; reporting thresholds; and captive supply. The group will submit its report, and any recommendations for policy, to the Live Cattle Marketing Committee for consideration at the annual convention in February. The cattle market is easily the most complex commodity market on Earth, and the challenges we have endured over the years have been equally complicated. It will take a full suite of informed policy solutions to make our supply chain more resilient and ensure profitability at all stages of cattle production. Through continued partnership with state affiliates such as the Idaho Cattle Association, the NCBA will remain engaged in Washington to bring those solutions to fruition.


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President & Owner of Sterling Marketing The past two years might be the most interesting and challenging that I have observed in nearly 40 years of market analysis and advisory … and many years prior to that sitting horseback. And I will admit from the perspective of the market outlook and this year’s drought — and the 2022 midterm election — it is nice to be at the end of 2021 and closing in on the new year. I think most of us — market advisers and cattlemen — have a pretty optimistic outlook as we head into 2022. Let’s take a look at the prospects, and I will begin by saying that markets are a function of the dynamics of supply and demand. While this is one of those overused statements made by economists, both have played an important role in markets over the past six months and will do so going forward. Beginning with the supply aspect, I don’t think anyone would argue that cattle numbers will be declining, because low prices and drought have


AUG. 17, 2021

AUG. 21, 2012

"I don’t think anyone would argue that cattle numbers will be declining, because low prices and drought have both led to herd liquidation over the past two years." — JOHN NALIVKA

Source: Laura Edwards, Western Regional Climate Center. The U.S. Drought Monitor is The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the jointly produced University of Nebraska by the National Oceanic andMitigation Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC. Drought Center at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC.

both led to herd liquidation over the past two years. Through the end of October, beef cow slaughter was 10% higher than a year earlier. In fact, the industry slaughtered the largest number of beef cows since 2011, a year when herd liquidation driven by drought in the Southwest and Midwest eventually pushed U.S. cattle numbers to a 50year low by the beginning of 2014. Dairy cow slaughter is up 3% year-to-date, while total cow slaughter through October posted a 6% increase and was the highest number since 1996. Furthermore, we started 2020 with nearly the same U.S. cattle inventory that we had at the beginning of 2011. How about the other part of the breeding herd, heifers? Heifer slaughter through the end of October was at its highest level since 2011. I am forecasting 2022 heifer slaughter to be down 4% from this year and just marginally higher than it was during 2012. Regardless, reduced cattle numbers CONTINUED, PAGE 26

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for 2022 and likely through 2024 are evident. My forecast for the Jan. 1 total cattle inventory is 91.25 million, down 2% from the beginning of 2021 and the lowest total since 2015. It’s just 475,000 more head than at the beginning of 2012. I am forecasting the 2022 cattle slaughter to be down just over 2% from this year’s 3% increase, with fed cattle numbers also down 2% and cow slaughter down 4% from a year earlier. While there is always uncertainty with carcass weights, I would expect weights to fall as fed cattle numbers decline and feedlots are increasingly current with showlists marketing into a strong market. Also, feed costs and cost of gain will continue to be relatively high. So, assuming a 1% year-over-year drop in carcass weights, beef production in 2022 will be down 3% from my estimate for 2021.


Moving on to the next critical piece of the puzzle, I have consistently said in speaking with clients this year that while beef production will be down in 2022, the outlook for prices will be highly dependent upon demand. There was a surge as consumers satisfied pent-up demand — particularly with restaurants opening — during the second half of 2021. In addition, buying at the supermarket meat case was driven by consumer preference in the face of rising prices. If only we could just think about the supply, but that is not the case. It takes a consumer willing and able to buy your beef. Demand has definitely been increasing, and I would submit that consistent quality has been the key. The $64,000 question is whether demand will hold steady into 2022. Other costs in the

household budget, particularly at the gas pump, are rising sharply, with inflation posting a 6% annualized increase and the highest in 30 years. I am assuming in my forecasts that even if demand weakens somewhat, prices across the beef complex, including fed cattle, feeders and calves, will post notable gains during 2022. And this is further supported by global beef demand. U.S. beef exports through September were up 21% from a year earlier, with the value of fresh and frozen beef and variety meats posting a 40% increase over the same period. That value of those U.S. beef export categories is over $7 billion. Japan accounted for 24% of those exports, while China’s share grew from 2% for all of 2020 to 15% for January-September 2021. That is solid support to U.S. beef markets and will continue as a significant contributor to

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Producers hear from experts, get updates on animal health, technology, politics and marketing CONTRIBUTORS: Zane Barckholtz, College of Southern Idaho Anna DeVries, University of Idaho Lauren DeVries, University of Idaho Melissa Hardy, College of Southern Idaho Regann Skinner, University of Idaho Shalani Wilcox, College of Southern Idaho

After the pandemic forced a virtual gathering in 2020, ICA members were excited to reconvene for the 2021 annual convention in person in Sun Valley last month to discuss multiple topics and explore ways to move the association forward in support of our industry. Members were joined by interns from the University of Idaho and the College of Southern Idaho, who assisted with operations and provided recaps of sessions. Shawn Williams, cowboy poet and star of Pearl Snap Fever online, opened the event with a selection of humorous

poems and tales for attendees. As a “highly trained cowboy fashion reporter,” Williams shared thoughts on the fashion at the convention halls as well as his insights into the backbone of any Western ensemble: the pearl snap shirt.


Ethan Lane of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association moderated a panel titled “America the Beautiful,” CONTINUED, PAGE 30


referring to the conservation initiative of the same name from the Biden administration. Kim Brackett, ICA vice president; Peter Ditton, acting Bureau of Land Management director for Idaho; and David Rosenkrance, deputy regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service, all provided insight. Lane, who serves as the vice president of government affairs for NCBA, talked about the conservation plan and relied on the panelists to try to clear the air about its effects. “America the Beautiful” is also known as 30 X 30, a reflection of the administration’s desire to conserve 30% of United States land and water by the year 2030. The guidance that has been received thus far was defined as “hugely vague” by Ditton. There are no plans for upcoming rules for those using federal lands, but they are expected to get things started as instruction is detailed. Grazing already is recognized as a form of conservation in the Western states, and many ranchers showed little to no worry about this implementation in the plan, as data information is being monitored when they let herds out to roam. Rosenkrance said a key point was to “encourage producers to get data and work with your agency representative,” because conservation efforts will play in the industry’s favor as long as there is good record keeping on grazing throughout the season. The agency representatives emphasized the need to collaborate, build value in products and sustain industry practices. There also was talk of sharing conservation practices and of labeling products to show they are high-quality and increase profitability. With the implementation of “America the Beautiful,” there might be opportunities to label products showing conservation procedures and benefits. Lane reiterated that “the larger goal here is profitability,” so anything the 30  LINE RIDER DECEMBER 2021


Outgoing ICA board members Maddee Moore, Shawna Gill, Josh Malson, Scott Rigby, Gwenna Prescott and Dawn Anderson. industry can do to increase the profit for producers might mean small adjustments to please consumers.

upon the group that a healthy calf herd starts with a healthy cow herd and continues to build.



The Zoetis-sponsored Cattlemen’s College featured two speakers who talked about cow/calf reproduction and vaccination, among other topics. Dr. Gary Sides provided information about pre- and post-calving nutrition, and also discussed the numbers ranchers should be looking for when breeding back their cattle herds. Sides noted that for the first 21 days, 70% should be cycling — if supplements and protein in your program are being regulated and fed the way the cattle need them. He also touched on how important meat is in a healthy human diet. Two books he strongly recommended regarding nutrition were “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “The Big Fat Surprise.” Catherine Maguire spoke for Zoetis about vaccines for calves, specifically via Nasalgen, and focused on the animals’ nasal cavity and temperature-sensitive vaccines. She impressed

Ethan Lane, the vice president of government affairs for NCBA, updated the convention about many beef industry issues and what is being done in Washington to address them. He touched on the importance of building relationships with moderate (or Blue Dog) Democrats. And he also said the NCBA has a solid line of communication with the Biden administration and is talking with them regularly. Other topics included the infrastructure package that passed recently; inflation caused by a mass cash infusion in the economy; and the climate conversation. Lane stressed that the beef industry is part of the solution to the carbon issue, not the problem, and that the biggest task is to demonstrate climate neutrality to consumers so they can be educated. Lane verified that there is no “cow tax” in the Build Back Better

structure bill, and also discussed the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021 and international trade. U.S. trade to China increased 700% in the last year. China’s middle class is bigger than our entire country, and Lane pointed out it’s a great place to continue expanding our markets. He also mentioned Korea and Japan, as well as some European countries, as good targets.


Redistricting throughout Idaho was on the minds of many cattlemen, and Idahoans in general, after the U.S. Census Bureau numbers came in this year. Phil McGrane, Ada County’s clerk, laid out some of the procedures and rules that govern the bipartisan redistricting committee, which has to come up with balance when drawing boundaries. McGrane guaranteed that the “one

person, one vote” rule comes before anything else. The Commission for Reapportionment, made up of three Republicans and three Democrats, voted in favor of the LO3 boundary plan. Some opposition has formed, with lawsuits already filed. Many counties are split, including fast-growing Madison County in eastern Idaho and the Treasure Valley’s counties. As McGrane pointed out, Idaho is a big state with lots of land, yet people are converging to just certain areas to live.


On Tuesday afternoon, the ICA was happy to welcome the Public Lands Council. Kelsea Donahue, a third-year law student who attended both Boise State and the University of Idaho, was the 2021 intern for the PLC and shared details about her work for PLC & ICA.

The Public Lands Council also brought in Jerald Raymond to talk about the proposed grazing improvement program for Idaho. He indicated that it’s a way to improve the health and productivity of Idaho rangelands, and said the state is looking to Utah for guidance, because it has a similar program that’s been successful.


Dr. Scott Leibsle, Idaho state veterinarian, addressed three main areas of animal health: trichomoniasis, brucellosis and traceability with RFID tagging. Leibsle commended Idaho ranchers for their compliance with Idaho’s trich law. He noted that Idaho was the first state to implement a testing program, and his estimate of compliance was CONTINUED, PAGE 32

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Governor Brad Little addresses attendees during the ICA annual convention. above 90 percent for Idaho ranchers. In the past year, 29,000 bulls were tested in Idaho, and only one came back positive — a bull tested from across state lines in Nevada. Leibsle also shared a cost-saving feature of testing five bulls at one time, and resources available to ranchers, such as the state Department of Agriculture website. Attendees took a poll to discover the level of risk concerning brucellosis. Many ranchers in the western side of the state don’t have the same risks as those in the eastern side, near Yellowstone. Leibsle said he thought the issue was “managed well because we’ve been doing it a long time.” He warned, however, to not ease up on testing and preventative measures. The brucellosis discussion transitioned into traceability and the importance of RFID tagging in ranchers’ operations. Leibsle informed producers of the 300,000 free RFID tags Idaho’s Department of Agriculture has. Ranchers can use that resource by calling their veterinarian or calling the ISDA directly to request tags. In response to a privacy question, he 32  LINE RIDER DECEMBER 2021

assured people that the data is safe and accessible only by the federal government in the case of a disease outbreak. He said veterinarians have access only to their own records. The fundamental reason for utilizing this technology is to track animals as soon as possible in the case of a disease outbreak.


The marketing breakout session was presented by Performix. It featured Tanner Beymer and Cole Lickley as speakers, with former ICA President Dawn Anderson as a moderator. Lickley gave a general beef economic update, stating that overall U.S. cattle inventory is down, something Beymer referred to as a drought-induced herd reduction. As producers know, the rising cost of feed isn’t helping. However, even though the inventory is down, the weekly slaughter capacity of 575,000 head is being reached on average. Within this slaughter capacity, there is an increase in heifers and a decrease in steers. So overall slaughter is

not down, but the percentage between the two is shifting. The feeder cattle market is trending positively. Corn and hay prices are pushing feeders. However, 60% of feeder producers are the cattle themselves, so feed prices are not solely to blame. Overall, the feeder market is trending in a good direction for the future, Lickley said. He finished by talking about rising inflation. With inflation at 6%, the dollar is weakened, which could lead to a decrease in the ability to pay for beef. Beymer gave an update on the Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021. It is designed to give transparency and explain what is going on in formula transactions regarding cattle trades. Formula transactions make up roughly 80% of cattle trades, and they are typically very vague in language. This new act is designed to be more favorable for producers when negotiating cash trades with packers. There will be confidentiality under this legislation. Rather than giving out specific prices, it will use weighted averages.

Beymer also talked about the Fed Cattle Price Discovery policy, and said the NCBA will begin pursuing legislation regarding price discovery. He said the association will not support the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act because it has a regional mandatory minimum system for negotiated cash trades. It creates a floor of the 18-month average percentage of negotiated trade, and also would institute a ceiling of 300% of the lowest region’s mandatory minimum.


The panel featured Kent Oliver of the Magic Valley ATV Association; public relations professional Steve Stuebner; and Mark Pratt, Idaho Cattle Association president-elect. Gretchen Hyde, Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission executive director, moderated the discussion. Pratt shared his experience with recreationists on both private and public land, including hunters, ATV users and campers. He talked about land that previously had no trails and is now covered in ruts, and therefore is prone to erosion. Pratt said it’s vital to start teaching young students about the rangeland system and continue that education through high school. Oliver said his ATV group is not happy with the misuse of rangelands. Idaho has very few areas where ATVs can be driven off-trail, and it is common to see videos and marketing campaigns of recreational vehicles — many of which are filmed on private land or outside the United States, sending a bad message to young recreationists that it is OK to drive wherever they please. Stuebner promoted the Life on the Range website, which has videos and resources about the proper use of rangelands. He stated that the main issue he sees is a lack of courtesy and

civility from the public, but said those people recreating responsibly should be rewarded for their efforts. Producers attending this session took part in a poll on what is most important for new recreationists to know. The top response was to know where to go, followed by disposal of garbage, gates and fences, and fire prevention. In today’s modern world, the excuse of not knowing what land you are on or where you can go is not really a valid excuse, Stuebner said. “We have to take an active part (and tell recreationists) there’s some etiquette out here,” Stuebner said.


The meeting included voting on the amendment or sunsetting of a variety of resolutions. These can all be made available to current members by contacting the ICA office, as there were many up for approval. Additionally, the installation of a new board and executive committee members was approved following recommendation by the nominating committee. These included renewal of Treasurer Cody Hendrix’s term, Jerry Wroten in the vice president position, Brayden Eliason as Cow-Calf Council chair, Kelton Hatch as Allied representative, Maggie Malson as Cattlewomen Council chair, Tay Brackett as Cattlewomen representative, Lori Ireland as District 2 representative, Arnold Callison as District 5 representative and Adrian Myers as director at large.


The convention wrapped up with Dr. John Church from Thompson River University in Canada. A fifth-generation cattleman, Church shared how much he loves using drones in the industry.

The cattle industry was ranked No. 1 for interesting drone applications on two different websites, and Church went on to explain the impact they could have. They can fly low and slowly, and they can hover. Drones also are economical and multifunctional, he said. Church explained a situation in which a $2,000 drone saved a $4,000 newborn bison heifer calf because she had her leg stuck in a badger hole, and there were two coyotes stalking her. The drone spotted the problem so ranchers could get to the calf. Drones can also be used to locate and identify sick cattle. The thermal capabilities, in fact, can help identify sick cattle up to 10 days before a human could, Church said. It allows for the drone to be able to take the temperature from the eye duct, a stable and reliable area. This works because after three days, if it takes that long, most cattle are desensitized to the quiet sound of the drone. Another great way to apply drones to the daily operations is finding cattle in brush or timber using the thermal camera. As stewards of the land, it is crucial that we are observant of the health of the forage on the range; drones can measure the biome and assist in measuring how much feed is left or how well your crops are growing. Drones also have endless applications as herding or observation tools, Church said, and he talked about technology such as wireless fencing collars and satellite ear tags that can be beneficial, too.


With well over 400 attendees and over 50 trade show booths, the 2021 annual convention served its purpose as a platform for education and connection. We hope to see you next year!



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