ranching

David McDaniel / The Oklahoman

A new Oklahoma ballot initiative would make it harder to regulate agriculture in the state, reports NewsOK.com.

SQ 777 is a constitutional amendment that would prevent the State of Oklahoma from regulating agriculture unless it has a “compelling state interest.”

artbandito / Creative Commons

Economies are continuing to weaken among ten Western and High Plains states with large rural populations, reports The Columbia Missourian. The info comes from a monthly survey of bankers. Those surveyed hailed from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Nick Cote / New York Times

The West has changed a great deal since the days of thousand-mile cattle drives. Ranchers now employ drones to track livestock, and many have traded in their trusty horses for four-wheelers. But in Colorado and other parts of the High Plains, notes The New York Times, there’s one tradition that hasn’t changed: branding day.

Sandra J. Milburn / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

It begins in a pasture, just as the sun rises on a February morning.

This is where steaks are born.

Brandon Siemens found the black heifer lying in blanket of green rye near her mother. He gave it a tag number – 802 – and rubbed its sides, coaxing the newborn onto its wobbly legs.

“She must have had her this morning,” Siemens said as he got back into his pickup.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media

The number of farms and ranches in the U.S. is on the decline and the farms that remain are getting bigger, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The U.S. has lost nearly 120,000 farms since 2008, and 18,000 last year alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The average farm size in the U.S. increased 5 percent over those 7 years, to an average size of 441 acres in 2015.

Laura Buckman / New York Times

Texas is a place where wealth is often measured in acres instead of dollars. And for the past several decades, land prices have followed the price of oil. But oil prices have now collapsed from more than $100 a barrel 18 months ago, to a mere $29 a barrel. And The New York Times reports that some investors are seeing the oil bust as a real estate opportunity.

Caninest / Flickr Creative Commons

Colorado officials are resisting a new wolf policy, reports ABC News. The federal government is expanding plans to restore endangered Mexican gray wolves to the Southwest. The attempt to import the predators has now spread to Colorado. About 110 Mexican gray wolves already roam portions of Arizona and New Mexico.

Aaron Marineau / Kansas Agland

Two cattle mutilation cases in McPherson and Harvey counties have law enforcement officials still searching for answers – even delving into cases from more than 40 years ago.

Harper, W. D. / Library of Congress

HPPR stumbled across these photos that provide a magnificent look into the working lives of cowboys on the XIT, FDW and JA ranches in the Texas Panhandle, as well as other ranches in New Mexico over 100 years ago.

amarillo.com

Texas and Oklahoma panhandle ag people had a blast last week at the 2015 Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show, reports Amarillo.com. The event showcases the newest and most technologically advanced farming and ranching equipment on the market. Amarillo sees the industry’s best, due to its status as one of the most productive ag areas in the world.

High Plains Ranchers Need a Drought Plan

Dec 1, 2015
Cynthia Mendoza / USDA photo

Last week Beef magazine published a warning for ranchers: If you don’t have a drought plan, get one.

Brian Bledsoe, a Colorado Springs meteorologist, gave his 2016 weather forecast to more than 700 cattle producers. “This blessing of moisture we’ve had over the High Plains . . . is not going to last,” he said. Bledsoe believes the El Niño will peak in the next month or so. After that, he says the moistures will diminish in intensity and go back the other way.

KUT news

Texas lawmakers are trying to determine how much the decline in oil prices is hurting ranchers, reports KUT. The topic is one of the interim charges for the House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock. That means, the committee has been asked to study the issue before the next legislative session.

Kansas Biologist Takes Issue with Textbook Ag Science

Nov 11, 2015
Professor John Richard Schrock

For decades Americans have been asking whether it’s better for the earth if humans are herbivores, carnivores or somewhere on the omnivore spectrum? Some textbooks purport to have the answers, claiming to show in graphs and clear language that “herbivore” is by far the best route for humans and the planet. The textbooks insist that any land used for crops will increase the world’s food supply. But biologist John Richard Schrock disagrees, reports Kansas Public Radio.

Creative Commons

In light of the World Health Organization’s much-discussed classification this week of red meat as a carcinogen, Smithsonian.com has published a few helpful clarifications about the announcement.

Cropland Prices Droop, While Ranchland Values Soar

Oct 20, 2015
ksal.com

Lower grain prices have caused Kansas farmland prices to slump this year, reports the ­Dodge City Daily Globe. The value of Kansas cropland was down 2.2 percent as of Aug. 15, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Experts expect cropland values to slide even further in the coming months as the agriculture sector continues to struggle.

As Beef Prices Rise, Rustlers Return

Aug 21, 2015
Eric Gay / Associated Press

In regional news, cattle prices are at a record high. And with high prices comes the rise of an old concern in ranching: rustling. Through July this year, The Texas Rangers have worked nearly 400 theft cases, reports The Washington Post. Cases of rustling continue to rise, though stealing cattle is a felony.

Stephanie Paige / Ogburn/KUNC

From Harvest Public Media:

Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the “know where your food comes from” movement.

JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

Rodeo Bullfighters Aren’t Clowning Around

Jul 11, 2015
Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

 

Rodeo season is getting into full swing and at most rodeos, bull riding is the main event. But when the bull ride ends, the work begins for rodeo bullfighters, and a young bullfighter is making a name in the business by putting himself in the middle of the action.

Ranchers rebel over beef checkoff

Jan 23, 2015

Raising money to promote the beef business seemed like a good idea, so a law was passed, and everyone chipped in. Billions of dollars later, a couple Kansas cowboys are raising questions- and a commotion- about the program. Their cries are as old as the Boston Tea Party: "taxation without representation."

Quentin Hope

After getting pummeled by drought and low cattle prices, many ranchers across the Midwest are eager to grow their herds. As they do, grass is turning into a hot commodity.

Recent rains are too little too late for ranchers

Jul 21, 2014
winterlivestock.com

Many Colorado cattle ranchers are beginning to recover from the drought, but for many the rain is too little and too late.

"Beef checkoff" is a national program that funds beef promotion and research. Texas ranchers recently voted in favor of increasing participation in the program by an overwhelming majority.

USDA: Prairie Heating and Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (PHACE) Experiment

Most climate models paint a bleak picture for the Great Plains a century from now: It will likely be warmer and the air will be richer with carbon dioxide. Though scientists don’t yet know how exactly the climate will change, new studies show it could be a boon to some invasive plant species.  

A growing problem

Matthew Starver / nytimes.com

The National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, has been a diamond in the crown of cowboy life for over 100 years.  It also is a reflection of the way life is changing at home on the range.  

Greg Kramos/USFWS

Landowners in Texas tend to be skeptical of more government involvement when it comes to protecting the lesser prairie chicken, a rare bird inhabiting the portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, according to an article in The Texas Tribune.

Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

I met Nate Pike working on a story back in 2012. When I dropped back by his ranch 30 miles south of Dodge City, KS, this summer, he took me on a bumpy pickup ride to see a spring called St. Jacob’s Well and we got to talking about the former owner of some of his ranchland.

Pike has been out on his ranch for a while and he told me the former owner started ranching in western Kansas before 1900.

“He was a fine old gentleman and one of the toughest old men I ever knew,” Pike told me, his gravelly voice carrying over the pickup truck’s rambles.

Matthew Staver for The New York Times

Prescott Frost, the great grandson of poet Robert Frost, is a maverick who sees the Sandhills of Nebraska as the Napa Valley of ranchland.  On his 7,000 acre ranch there he’s dedicated himself to raising and marketing his own brand of artisanal beef, as detailed in a New York Times profile by Kathryn Shattuck.