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When we are out there promoting beef, we usually mention by-products at some point. But if you are like me, you only mention a couple. A person lately was asking me more in-depth questions on beef by-products, and I had to be honest with her and confess that I didn’t know much about them. After having looked them up, I realized there are a whole pile of by-products, and then I wondered if we were getting paid for those by-products or if they are valued-added product for the meat packer.

Beef by-products are divided up into three different categories – edible, inedible and medicinal by-products. Of course, the main product on the beef carcass is meat, but if you have a 1,150-pound market steer, that steer’s carcass yields around 500 pounds of by-products. It all adds up on what that carcass is worth. The market price for the hide and offal the week of Nov. 20 was $10.53 per hundredweight. A hide with no brand or a hip brand is worth the most.

The overseas and Mexican markets are where the most value for the organ meats is, except for the ethnic markets in the U.S. Livers, tongues, kidneys, sweetbreads, hearts, tripe, oxtail, brains, head meat and cheek meat are just some of the value-added by-products sold overseas and here at home.

From the hide and hair, we get around 16 products, including leather footballs. Not all footballs are made from pigskin. Basketballs and other balls used in sports are also products we see. From one cowhide, you can get 12 basketballs, 144 baseballs, 20 footballs, 18 volleyballs, 18 soccer balls or 12 baseball gloves.

From beef fat and fatty acids, we get some 34 other products, from chewing gum, mink oil and shaving cream to perfume, dish soap, make-up – including lipstick and other cosmetics, medicines, crayons and more. The list goes on and on.

  From the bones, hooves and horns, we get some 31 products, ranging from piano keys and dice to ice cream, steel ball bearings, marshmallows, adhesives and hair shampoo and conditioner.

From the intestines, aside from sausage casings, we get all kinds of strings – from musical instrument strings to tennis racquet strings to medical surgical sutures.

It is surprising all the medical supplies we get from the by-products, from bandage strips to ointment base.

The next time you hear a vegetarian or vegan say they don’t eat or use anything from an animal, just subtlety let them know what all they are using from not only a cow, but sheep, goats, pigs and horses. They will be shocked.

Not only does the U.S. harness value from by-products, Australia and Brazil are big markets for the by-products, so we are in global competition. And a strong dollar doesn’t help, especially when we’re considering exports. Importantly, these value-added products do add up.

Remember, every cent counts these days, and we need to take advantage of areas we can get more value for our product. We need to be mindful of any trade agreements being reworked and make sure we get a fair deal globally. There are dollars in by-products.

A new study out from the research firm YouGov and the Washington, D.C. based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation surveyed over 2,000 people regarding their views on socialism and the communist political system. It was reported in the press, like Fox News, but I’m not sure of the accuracy of the survey. Regardless, it does give one something to think about. I also don’t know where in the U.S. the people were surveyed, but I’m sure it wasn’t Wyoming.

The biggest news taken from the study was that one out of every two millennials surveyed said they would rather live in a socialist or communist country than a capitalist democracy like the U.S. A Harvard University poll conducted last year also found 51 percent of the 18- to 29-year-olds in the U.S. said they opposed capitalism. Millennials now make up the largest generation in America, and we can see from the last presidential election with all of the support for Bernie Sanders, capitalism is not popular with some.

Some say millennials “are the next great generation,” which I find hard to believe.

Millennials are defined as those born in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter – from 1982 to 2004.

Back to the results of the survey, I understand capitalism, but I really didn’t know the true meanings of socialism and communism or what their differences were. Socialism and communism both adhere to the principle that the resources of the economy should be collectively owned by the public and controlled by a central organization.

They differ, however, in the management and control of the economy. In socialism, a majority of people themselves decide through communes or popularly elected councils how the economy should work. Communism, on the other hand, controls its economy through a single authoritarian party and everyone belongs to the same class of people.

Socialism and communism also have different views on capitalism, but they both want rid of all the churches. Socialists also believe capitalism can exist in a socialist state and vice versa.

I don’t think millennials have much sense of history. The report found that one in five Americans in their 20s consider former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin a hero, despite his genocide of the Ukrainians and Russian Orthodox priests. Over a quarter of the millennials polled also thought the same for Vladimir Lenin and Li Jong Un.

One of the most troubling findings of the report is that over 40 percent of Americans believe that there should be restrictions placed on the First Amendment and free speech to ensure that anything being said is not “offensive.” Those Americans must have come from New York City or California. Out West, we consider it entertainment to be offensive.

I think a lot of millennials were taught history or revisionist history by those who didn’t tell the true story and just chose to tell their story. Millennials are also in favor of more rights for the workforce, such as we are seeing now with the National Football League allowing players to disregard the National Anthem.

The findings show the percentage of millennials who prefer socialism over capitalism is a full 10 points higher than that of the general population, which is very troubling.

Democracy is the art of disciplining oneself so that one need not be disciplined by others – that is, it’s about being accountable for your actions. 

If you are involved in agriculture and haven’t registered for the upcoming Wyoming Natural Resource Rendezvous (WNRR), you need to get it done. If you are not able to come, at least send a family member. The same goes if you, a family member or someone from your business is going to the Range Beef Cow Symposium in Cheyenne.

Both have a lot to offer and are important. It’s too bad they are held at the same time, but this year it couldn’t be helped, and everyone feels bad about it. But life will go on, and we all hope it doesn’t happen again.

WNRR is in Casper at the Ramkota Hotel from Nov. 27-30, and the Range Beef Cow event is in Cheyenne at Little America from Nov. 28-30. Both events have a good number of folks already registered, and both trade shows are sold out.

WNRR is going to be a big event. As most of you know, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) and the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) are partnering, as they do every five years, for a joint convention, and it has worked out well in the past.

While they have different missions, WACD and WSGA have a lot of common interests in Wyoming’s natural resources. In fact, many in the state are members of both associations. These two associations complement each other.

WNRR starts Nov. 27 at 10:30 a.m. with the Progressive Resource Manager Forum, featuring concurrent sessions all day. These sessions are developed with assistance from the University of Wyoming (UW) Extension. There is information for everyone in these sessions on Monday.

On Nov. 28, there are a number of board meetings in the morning and another set of concurrent sessions in the morning with a Soil Health Workshop and an Agriculture Taxation Workshop. Both are important. The Opening Ceremonies begin after lunch with Gov. Matt Mead as the speaker and a presentation of the Landowner Access Awards by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. That afternoon there will be talks by Dr. Laurie Nichols, UW president, and Dr. David Naugle from the University of Montana, who will speak on his recent study that proves livestock grazing is not a deterrent to sage grouse. This is a talk you don’t want to miss. Later, Ethan Lane from Public Lands Council and Chris Heck from the National Association of Conservation Districts will speak. 

That evening will feature a reception and the Live Auction with Lex Madden from Torrington Livestock as auctioneer. This is a really fun event, and there are some great items in the auction.  From a seven-day safari hunt in South Africa, art and fancy tack to horse feed, cattle mineral and jewelry, this is a great place to pick up some great Christmas gifts.

The morning of Nov. 29 will start with talks by our Congressional Delegation in Washington, D.C. and a talk on the beef checkoff challenges by Dee Likes from Kansas. Then, committee meetings will fill the rest of the day. Some will be joint meetings.

The evening social and entertainment is going to be great. This year, WNRR is hosting an agriculture team game show. Audience members can bet on the teams, and this has proven to be a fun evening in the past.

The final day of the event, Nov. 30, will start with the Legislative Breakfast, and then business meetings will start for both associations before the event adjourns at noon. It’s a great event.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

The old saying that if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging, holds true for the State of Wyoming at this moment in time. The good part is, those who manage the dollars and laws of the state, have stopped digging. We are in the “how do we crawl out of the hole?” phase now.

State revenue has risen lately, so the hole for Wyoming to crawl out of is not as deep as it was. A month or so back, the state’s deficit was around $1 billion for the next two-year budget cycle, which will be discussed during the Wyoming Legislature’s Budget Session this February in Cheyenne. But the difficult piece is the more than $500 million short-fall in the school operations account.

The options for the Wyoming Legislature this next session are cuts in spending, increases in taxes – either property or sales taxes, changes in how we manage our savings or all of the above. I’ve always liked to raise sales taxes because they are so equitable. Everyone gets nailed, and so does anyone traveling through the state for whatever reason. Those who spend more, pay more. Raising property taxes is most likely the least favored option in Wyoming.

A recent poll released by the Wyoming Business Alliance shows that Wyoming voters want the Legislature and Governor’s budgets to include cutting administrative education spending. Those polled were really opposed to increasing sales and property taxes. In fact, 71 percent of voters opposed raising sales taxes or property taxes.

This poll differs from a poll released late this summer by the Wyoming Education Association, which said over 75 percent of voters polled were willing to pay more taxes to pay the cost of public education. We do have a difference in the results of these polls.

Remember, the state has to have a balanced budget. There is no way around it.

The Wyoming Business Alliance poll also said 80 percent of respondents called for more cuts in school administration costs and that we should be able to do that without hurting schools.

Along party affiliation, as one can imagine, more Independents and Republicans than Democrats want to cut costs instead of raising taxes.

There is currently draft legislation to impose a one percent excise tax on leisure and hospitality. That would be a tax on arts, entertainment, recreation, motel and food service. It would be a tax on tourism and entertainment of all kinds, which would nail all out-of-staters, but it also would affect Wyoming businesspeople who travel the state for work.

I guess if you want to tax someone, tourists and those in the state who like beer and cigarettes or those who want entertainment is a place to start.

There are also some people looking at changing the laws governing how Wyoming’s investment revenue can be spent. That is, they favor allowing more of the gains to be spent directly instead of being placed in reserve accounts or used as  principle. This was a popular move in the Wyoming Business Alliance poll, and it would be a good way to find money during tough times, but it would be wise in the good times to go back to our standard of putting money in savings. That has worked well over the years. We would just have to decide what the trigger was.

In my opinion, all of the above works, except raising property taxes. Increased property taxes can hurt a lot of businesses.