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Copyright © 2015
Angus Journal

The Angus Journal Daily, formerly the Angus e-List, is a compilation of Angus industry news; information about hot topics in the beef industry; and updates about upcoming shows, sales and events. Click here to subscribe.

News Update

February 06, 2015

Genomic-Enhanced Data Has a
Place in Building Back Cattle Herds

Genetic markers are beginning to give cattlemen a more accurate glimpse into their breeding animals’ expected progeny differences (EPDs) when selecting for traits to build into their herds.

As the industry begins to rebuild its herds following years of drought, genomic-enhanced EPDs can help cattlemen make more informed decisions, whether they have purebred or crossbred herds, said Joe Paschal, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock specialist at Corpus Christi.

Speaking at the recent Southwest Beef Symposium in Amarillo, Paschal said the Angus and Santa Gertrudis breed associations are already using this tool and he expects others to soon adopt the technology.

Paschal said two things are important when building a crossbreeding program — breed selection and hybrid vigor.

“You need to make selections that fit the market conditions and the environmental conditions you have because you have to live with those breeds,” he said. “Make sure the right breeds are used for the right reasons.”

Typically, a breeding animal is chosen based on its EPD for a given trait, such as weaning weight. For instance, one bull may have an EPD of 20 for weaning weight and another bull have an EPD of 10, which means the bull with the EPD of 20 will likely sire calves that wean 10 pounds heavier.

EPD traits of interest are birth weight and weaning weight, calving ease score and carcass traits such as marbling, Paschal said. EPDs are calculated from the animal’s data and close relatives and are reported in units of the trait.

“You need to select for all traits that are important to you,” he said. “But traits that are economically relevant, those that have an immediate impact on rate of return, are most important. Selection for economically relevant traits such as weaning weight could increase several pounds or marbling by a large percentage. Selection to decrease birth weight, even by a few pounds, doesn’t affect economics, but selection to increase calving ease does.”

EPDs are not new and are widely accepted in most breeds and have a lot of usefulness in crossbreeding programs, Paschal said.

However, he said, the newer genomic-enhanced EPDs can get breeders a step ahead.

“This process is taking genetic markers and including them into the EPD calculation,” Paschal said. “We can compare known markers in particular young bulls that may not be proven yet and we can improve the accuracy of their EPD values.”

For more information, please view the full release here.

Applications Now Being Accepted for
2015 NFU Beginning Farmers Institute

National Farmers Union (NFU) is now accepting applications for the 2015 class of the Beginning Farmers Institute (BFI). The annual program is open to individuals who are new to farming, in the process of transferring an operation from a relative or non-relative to themselves, or contemplating a career in farming or ranching.

“The Beginning Farmers Institute underscores NFU’s commitment to growing a new generation of family agriculture,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “One unique feature of the Institute is that participants direct the agenda, allowing them to gain information on topics that will be most relevant to their particular operations. The small size and diversity of the group also ensures valuable interaction and learning opportunities among the participants.”

The BFI program helps students gain insight and practical skills needed by beginning farmers and ranchers, including business plan writing, financial planning, and researching available programs to help start and sustain a successful operation.

Applicants accepted into the 2015 program will attend three separate education sessions: Washington, D.C., Sept. 15-18; northern California, Nov. 5-8; and a final session culminating at NFU’s 114th Anniversary Convention in March 2016 in Minneapolis, Minn. Program topics at the education sessions will include business planning, USDA programs, tax and recordkeeping, estate transfer and marketing.

The Beginning Farmers Institute is supported by the CHS Foundation, FUI Foundation, Farm Credit and the NFU Foundation.

Interested applicants can download the 2015 application on the NFU website, as well as visit NFU’s education Facebook page for updates and further information on NFU’s youth and young adult education programs. Applications must be postmarked on or before March 30, 2015. The announcement of accepted applicants to the BFI program will be made May 30, 2015.

Raising the Stakes, Raising Awareness:
Members Step Up Support for AFBFA

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA) launched its new giving campaign, “Seed the future, grow together,” at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF’s) 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show in San Diego, Calif., in January. Donors contributed more than $30,000 to build awareness, understanding and a positive public perception of agriculture through education.

“For those with a stake in agriculture’s future, there is no more important investment,” said Julie Tesch, executive director of the Foundation.

Convention-goers were given buttons to help generate awareness of the new giving campaign and the work of the Foundation. “I Seed” buttons thanked donors and brought attention to the cause. People who have benefited from programs funded by donors, such as those involved in the Young Farmers & Ranchers program, Ag in the Classroom, the Partners in Agricultural Leadership program and White-Reinhardt grant recipients, wore “We Grow” buttons.

In addition, convention attendees showed their support by engaging in a variety of fundraising events. These included visiting the Foundation booth at the IDEAg Trade Show and “planting a seed” in the Foundation’s field of support, hitting the greens at a golf outing, experiencing a night out on a yacht cruise, and enjoying breakfast and the reveal of the Book of the Year at the annual Flapjack Fundraiser.

Underscoring every event was an emphasis on the Foundation’s mission and the importance of building grassroots member support for its ongoing work.

“The lifeblood of the Foundation is education and outreach. It is dedicated to informing the American public about farming, ranching and agriculture,” Tesch said.

The Foundation equips agricultural leaders with teaching tools, materials and resources to educate Americans of all ages. It provides opportunities for agricultural leaders to connect with America’s adults and children to tell the story of agriculture. And it supports communications to all audiences — from consumers to government officials to media representatives — about agriculture.

Farm Bureau member support is critical to maintaining and expanding the Foundation’s mission. As the history of agriculture in the 21st century unfolds, it is more important than ever to reach out and connect with consumers, to tell the story of agriculture and its role in a growing world.

NFU Says RFS Reform Act Will Destroy Biofuels
Industry and the Prosperity It Brought Rural America

The following statement was released Feb. 4 following the introduction of a bill that would eliminate the corn-based ethanol mandate for biofuel production and restrict overall volume targets. The following statement should be attributed to Roger Johnson, NFU president.

“The elimination of the corn-based ethanol mandate and blend cap will gut the nation’s biofuel production, strand existing investment in second generation biofuel production and hurt family farmers, ranchers and rural communities that have experienced much-needed reinvestment from this policy. This is not only a bad step for agriculture, but also is a major setback to the environment and our nation’s attempts to manage its carbon emissions. We urge Congress to reject this policy and continue to embrace the vision of a robust renewable fuels industry as a component of this nation’s overall energy portfolio.”


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