6-29-2021

While demand for beef remains high in grocery stores, some livestock producers say they’re losing money and the Senate Ag Committee wants to know why. So they invited a rancher, a leader with the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, an agricultural economists and livestock industry researchers to a hearing in Washington. It was carried out with the backdrop of accusations concerning the lack of transparency and anti-competitive practices in the cattle industry. Concerns include packers feeding and slaughtering cattle they own, rather than going to an open market to purchase cattle they need to keep their production line full, and packers making secret arrangements with certain feedlots to avoid public scrutiny of the prices they’re paying for cattle. Justin Tupper, Vice President of U.S. Cattleman’s Association pointed out that fed cattle prices are negatively impacted when the big four meat packers use these tactics as a means to keep fed cattle prices low. Ashland, Kansas Cattle rancher Mark Gardiner also blamed the low prices on the lack of processing capacity by the big four.

While the impact of carbon dioxide on the world’s climate is a hotly contested topic, recently scientists at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii measured an average of 419 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during this past May, the highest concentration of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere ever experienced by humans, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. These carbon dioxide levels are comparable to the Pliocene era, more than 4 billion years ago, when the average temperature was 7°F higher than in pre-industrial times. Scripps scientists point to fossil-fuel emissions as the source of this increase in carbon dioxide levels.

Many livestock producers are pleased with a unanimous decision by the Colorado Supreme Court, which ruled that the State Title Board erred in giving a green light to Initiative 16, also called PAUSE, an unprecedented measure that would have criminalized many traditional farming and ranching practices. The Court held that Initiative 16 contained multiple subjects and, given its complexity, could mislead voters when they cast their ballots.

Often, we think of bees as being the only pollinators of plants that are important to our food supply, but researchers in Western Washington observed that out of more than 2,400 pollinator visits to flowers at urban and rural farms about 35% of were made by flies—most of which were the black-and-yellow-striped syrphid flies that have bee-like colors, which probably helps them avoid predators that are afraid of getting stung. These true flies have two wings as opposed to bees which have four. The flies might have additional benefits for plants, because as juveniles they eat pests like aphids, while the adult flies consume nectar and visit flowers so they have the potential to move pollen the same way that bees do, although it’s less intentional than bees that collect pollen to feed their young. For a few plants, including peas, kale and lilies, flies were the only pollinators researchers observed. Overall, bees were still the most common, accounting for about 61% of floral visits, but the rest were made by other insects and spiders.

Will Rogers quipped, “We’ve killed more people celebrating our Independence Day than we lost fighting for it… Stay safe.

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