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Hot Topics

published: February 9th 2018
by: Joe C. Paschal

I think the first person to discuss “Hot Topics” at the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course several years ago was my good friend, Dr. Rick Machen. Rick was the longtime Texas A&M AgriLife Livestock Specialist in Uvalde before he “retired” and went to the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management to fill the Paul Genho Endowed Chair in Ranch Manage-ment. Rick had just re-turned from judging meat goats in Hawaii and had some pictures of the hot lava from the local volcanoes to enhance his presentation.

The hot topics I select for county programs are current events that have a potential to affect livestock or meat production costs or prices, particularly cattle or beef, and may not be well known or understood by everyone. The trick is to be informative without taking a position as an unbiased source. If I have an opinion, I try not to let it creep into my presentation. Sometimes I am successful.
Over the past few years I have covered really hot topics such as animal identification and country of origin labelling, but also disease concerns like foot and mouth disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, trichomoniasis testing rules and rule changes, the fever tick, chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer, and even screw worms. Sometimes the topics deal with antibiotic use in livestock operations and regulation that led to changes in the veterinary fed directive implemented last year. Others include trade issues such as the import-export trade and trade balance of cattle and beef, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, the GIPSA Rule (that would require disclosure of marketing agreements), and the changes in South Africa’s Brazil’s FMD status that would allow them export fresh beef to the US. And of course, a market outlook, or what I think the market is going to do, is always entertaining if not correct.
Environmental issues also make the list, the impact of U.S. agriculture, particularly beef cattle but livestock in general, on greenhouse gas emission and the carbon footprint. Another was the recent attempt to regulate the use of water in the U.S. by extending the navigable boundaries of rivers and streams to your pastures and fields. My hat’s off to Farm Bureau for their lead in stopping that effort.
This year the topics include some old ones (fever ticks and CWD) and some new ones including allowing official documentation of age, as an alternative to detention in beef carcass grading and the removal of the virgin bull status in the Texas trichomoniasis regulations for bulls purchased out of state.
One notable topic that has created a lot of interest is the new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule. Despite the excellent safety record of agricultural trucking, the new rule, if enforced, will only allow trucks to operate 14 hours out of every 24 of which only 11 can be used for driving. Ten hours must be used for rest, specifically eight for sleeping (these don’t apply to trucks with sleepers). Year model trucks earlier than 2000 are exempt as are hauls within 150 airmiles. It doesn’t account for delays due to weather, breakdowns/ re-pairs, traffic, loading/un-loading, waiting, etc., and it applies to Mexican and Canadian trucks as well. Right now, there is a 90-day exemption for agricultural haulers. I have had Boy Scout leaders and agriculture science teachers wondering if the law is going to apply to them. I hope not. If you would like information on any of these topics feel free to contact me a 316-265-9203 or j-paschal@

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