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published: October 30th 2020

USDA announces initiatives after price spread report issued

Washington-U.S. De-partment of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regula-tory Programs Greg Ibach announced on Oct. 13, 2020 that three USDA initiatives that build upon the considerations included in USDA’s July 2020 Boxed Beef and Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Re-port -- risk management education funding, updates to livestock market reporting and producer training opportunities will be highlighted.
    Recently, USDA an-nounced two competitive funding opportunities for educational projects de-signed to help livestock producers and other agricultural producers improve their economic viability through targeted risk management strategies. The application deadline is Nov. 19, 2020, and awards will be announced on Feb. 12, 2021.
    “USDA is committed to transparency, accountability and resolving ongoing challenges in the cattle market by equipping producers with information to help make business decisions. I encourage livestock organizations to look at these funding opportunities, as well as other existing resources available from USDA,” Under Se-cretary Greg Ibach, said.
    This newly announced funding is available from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Extension Risk Management Education (ERME) Program, which is operated through four regional risk management education centers. The program provides funding for results and outcome-based risk management education projects designed to help producers learn and use tools and approaches that can reduce the adverse effects of the uncertainties of weather, yields, prices, credit, government policies, global markets and other factors, including human resources and legal issues – all of which may result in wide swings in farm income or threaten the economic viability of the farm or ranch.
    USDA will also update its daily national livestock slaughter report by removing the word “estimated” from the title in order to encourage the market’s immediate use of the information.
    USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) collects daily data from meat packers and currently publishes the Estimated Daily Livestock Slaughter under Federal Inspection report to provide industry stakeholders with information on supply and volume of several species. Two weeks later, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) publishes the Actual Slaughter Un-der Federal Inspection which includes the actual weights for cattle, steers, heifers and other livestock.
    “Because a majority of meat packers are included in the data collected by AMS, the accuracy of the AMS estimated slaughter report is high with usually only a 0.5% differential compared to the FSIS actual slaughter data. We believe dropping ‘estimated’ from the title of the AMS report will provide more timely information without sacrificing accuracy,” Under Secretary Ibach, said.  
    Also in an effort to increase engagement with producers, in the next few weeks USDA will an-nounce a series of webinars hosted in partnership with the CME Group and the three USDA Cattle and Carcass Grading Correla-tion Training Centers.
    These centers, established in 2019 to educate and train stakeholders across the country in the grading of feeder cattle, fed cattle and beef carcasses, are hosted at West Texas A&M University, Colora-do State University, and USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center. The series of webinars will discuss how live cattle and carcasses are evaluated for quality and yield grades, how production decisions influence the process, how official grades play into CME live cattle deliveries and carcass certifications, and how USDA officially grades carcass to the U.S. Standards for Grades. Details about registering for these free webinars will be announced soon.

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