Farm Progress

My news feed this week is a weird mix of justice, soil health, and trade-war worries.

Alan Newport, Editor, Beef Producer

August 10, 2017

4 Min Read
Our ongoing work with soil health at Beef Producer yielded a nice letter from a reader about his progress growing healthier living soil.Alan Newport

Three things are on the front burners of my news feed this week, and can't seem to sort one out over another, so I'll just share them and let you sort them out.

First, the price ABC/Walt Disney company paid to attack Beef Products Incorporated for its lean, finely-textured beef product came out in the news today. Disney reported it paid $177 million, in addition to insurance recoveries, to settle the "pink slime" defamation lawsuit.

BPI sued American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in 2012 for $5.7 billion, saying it had defamed the company by using the "pink slime" moniker, and making errors and omissions in a series of reports that year.

Interesting ...

Second, we had a nice letter from an Ohio reader about the soil health materials in last week's Beef Producer newsletter. He wrote:

"I just read your latest piece on drought management and have one thought to add about how grazing improves the soil by increasing organic content and soil life. This is a slow process. I started the transition on this farm in 2004 from row crops to pasture, I think the field the cows are now in was last tilled in "06" and this year the pasture has literally exploded. It helps that we are in the opposite of a drought although it did not rain at all last week. There is a clay knob in the middle of that field that in 1991 grew beans about one and half inches tall. The cows are on their second rotation through this year and the grasses are chest high on that knob. Simply amazing, went from producing two pounds of forage per acre to five tons and already grazed it once before this year.

"That knob is, or was, severely eroded with several feet of topsoil gone, maybe as much as five feet missing, washed into Lake Erie. It seemed as though there was something toxic in the subsoil as nothing would grow if the subsoil was brought up. I thought for years it was only a lack of organic matter and worked to increase it but in "05" discovered the magic of calcium. PH on this farm was over seven and I was advised repeatedly it did not need lime.

"I understand now looking back I made many mistakes but a lot of the time was following the fertilizer salesman's advise, oops, agronomist. Anyhow, before this gets too long, I just want to give you a pat on the back. Your advise, and your coauthors, is spot on. I forwarded Walt's piece to an aspiring grazier earlier this morning with the comment that his advise closely mirrored my own experience for example."

I'd like to hear more reports like that from readers.

Third, several sources I follow believe we're headed for a trade war with China, so that puts me wondering about the future of the newly agreed protocols for US beef exports to China. Add to that other possible backlashes from recent legislation and one must wonder about the propects for our beef trade.

The House and Senate just days ago passed sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, and President Trump begrudgingly signed the legislation, which sounds like it could return to bite us in an curious circuitous cycle.

For example, US sanctions hit hard at Russia's energy sector, which has entanglements with European energy giants like BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total. Based on that, reports suggest the EU is now considering retaliatory sanctions of its own against the US.

Financial broadcaster Max Keiser says Germany is not going to go along with American sanctions, which are "pushing Germany into the arms of Russia." This creates a huge axis of power among Germany, Russia and China, and encourages them further to stop dealing in US dollars.

Analyst Jim Rickards adds that the Trump administration has made clear its intentions to impose tariffs on cheap Chinese steel and aluminum and to punish China for theft of US intellectual property.

He adds, "By November, the US will label China a currency manipulator, which will start another review process, leading to still further sanctions. Like Russia, China will not take any of this lying down but will retaliate with its own sanctions, tariffs and bans on US investment in China. Get ready for an all-out financial war between the US and China."

At this I can only sigh ...

About the Author(s)

Alan Newport

Editor, Beef Producer

Alan Newport is editor of Beef Producer, a national magazine with editorial content specifically targeted at beef production for Farm Progress’s 17 state and regional farm publications. Beef Producer appears as an insert in these magazines for readers with 50 head or more of beef cattle. Newport lives in north-central Oklahoma and travels the U.S. to meet producers and to chase down the latest and best information about the beef industry.

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