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Frequent-flyer Haven Meged moves on to RAM NCFR semifinals

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Jet lag wasn't a problem for tie-down roper Haven Meged.

Meged, 21, competed for Tarleton State University at a rodeo in Sweetwater, Texas, Friday morning and then hopped on a flight from Abilene, Texas, to Orlando, Fla., arriving at midnight Saturday morning to continue competing at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Fla., Saturday afternoon.

The whirlwind trip paid dividends as Meged clocked an 8.5-second run – the best of performance four – and secured a berth into the RAM NCFR semifinals by placing second in the two-head average with a 16.3-second time.

"I woke up Saturday morning and I didn't feel good and had a bad sore throat," Meged said. "I feel better now, after my run. I was kind of nervous for my run today. Going in there I had 11 seconds to tie her down and I would move on. I went out there and took an extra swing and set up. I bobbled my string when I strung her, and that cost me a little bit, but I'm still coming back."

The RAM NCFR concludes at 1 p.m. Sunday. The top eight contestants in each event compete in the semifinals and the top four in each event advance to the finals.

"This is a great opportunity to get to rope here Sunday," Meged said. "This is a huge rodeo. The next two rounds are ($7,581) rounds, and if I draw good and rope good hopefully, I will win good."

At the RAM NCFR, Meged is riding his 9-year-old horse Beyoncé.

"She has been really good for me," Meged said.

This has been a strong rookie season for Meged. He's 10th in the latest PRCA | RAM World Standings with $26,954.

"I had a really good winter, I did well at San Antonio and I hope to keep it going," Meged said. "My main goal is to make it to the NFR. There are very few people who make the NFR, but that's something I wanted to do since I was little."

At the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo in Bracket 3, Meged won the first round (8.8 seconds); split the win in Round 2 with 11-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Matt Shiozawa (8.5 seconds) and was third in the third round (8.1 seconds).

Meged, of Miles City, Mont., is making his debut at the RAM NCFR representing the Montana Circuit after winning the year-end title.

"This has been great," he said. "I had never been to Florida before this week and it has been cool to be here. I'm really looking forward to Sunday. I believe I will go second to last in the semifinals, and I will know what I have to do (to be in the top four for the championship round). Everybody in the eight-man (semifinals) will be trying to win the round, because there's so much money to be won if you go to the finals."

Tune in to watch the RAM NCFR on CBS Sports Network on April 8 at 8:30 p.m. (ET).

Tyler Bingham shakes off injury to qualify for semifinals

Tyler Bingham was thrown off his bull extremely hard in the first round. He shook it off to take second in the second performance with an 86-point ride on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo's Bonanza.

"We don't ever think about that, that was in the past, there's nothing we can do about that," Bingham said. "… I took a 30-minute nap at the hotel after that and I've felt great since then. It kind of made my back a little sore because I landed kind of weird, but you can't feel anything when you're riding. It's so fast and your adrenaline is going. If you can feel it while you're riding, you probably shouldn't be riding."

Diaz rebounds to win second round

After a no score on his first horse, Isaac Diaz bounced back to post an 85-point ride on Korkow Rodeos' Wiggle Worm to win the second round at the RAM NCFR.

"When you have a no score on your first round, that's always your plan to come back and win the round," said Diaz, who entered the weekend in 11th place in the world standings with $36,040. "It hardly ever works out that way."

Diaz, who won the RAM NCFR last year, did his part and Wiggle Worm helped out.

"I didn't know if I had enough horse for it, but that horse had the best day its ever had," Diaz said.

Team standings after the completion of the first round at the RAM NCFR

1, Texas, $65,595; 2, Mountain States, $51,479; 3, Prairie, $50,446; 4, Wilderness, $49,467; 5, Badlands, $46,114; 6, California, $42,595; 7, Montana $30,325; 8, Columbia River, $29,657; 9, Southeastern, $28,008; 10, Turquoise, $16,805; 11, Great Lakes, $9,476; 12, First Frontier, $4,549.


Varilek’s Cattle Call: Placements and cattle on feed higher than expected

If you recall a few weeks ago, I stated the funds are still the main story in the live cattle futures. We continue to grow the record open interest with the funds holding a record long position. The funds still appear to have more control over the cattle futures than the fundamentals.

The June contract is the leader with over 200,000 contracts of open interest. We expect tougher movement in the futures when those long positions start to unwind. It is not unusual for some of the major rolls to start in late April or early May. The steady uptrend currently gives the funds no reason to exit their June position.

Cash prices are not the leader of the uptrend in cattle. Live cattle basis has remained negative. The stretch over the next two months is typically when we see our best basis of the year. However, we have yet to claim a positive basis victory yet. Packers still have ample supply week in and week out despite weather struggles sliding more cattle back in performance. Producers cashed in on the 2017 and 2018 positive basis. So, part of me thinks the funds might be here to claim some of that prize.

Friday's cattle on feed report had a slightly negative tone. Placements and cattle on feed were higher than expected. The marketing number was also a touch negative with the large placement number being the biggest of the hurdles.

In other news, the action in the lean hog market is hard to ignore. The recent analysis showing catastrophic swine death loss in China due to African Swine Fever, has created a sharp rally in pork prices. Higher pork prices could be a boost for the already healthy beef demand. However, our large pork supply domestically has not changed. The pork demand will have to rely on exports to maintain these prices.

In closing, everybody loves the funds when they are on your side. Currently they have our beef markets on the rise so keep an eye on what the funds are doing. Futures prices are keeping our hopes of positive closeouts high with sunshine finally in our sky.

The risk of loss when trading futures and options is substantial. Each investor must consider whether this is a suitable investment. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

APHIS issues travel guidelines to avoid African swine flu

Agriculure Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach on Wednesday issued a video and alerts to help international travelers avoid bringing African swine fever back to the United States on their clothes, shoes or hands.

"African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious and deadly disease affecting both domestic and feral (wild) pigs," said Ibach. "It does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans."

"ASF has never been detected in the United States," he said, "but an outbreak here would not only affect the pork industry, but would have major impacts on trade and raise food prices for consumers.

"We are asking international travelers to help prevent the spread of ASF to the United States by understanding what products can be brought back into the United States, and declaring any agricultural items in their baggage."

Travelers will also see some changes at airports as USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) works with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to increase screenings of passenger baggage, APHIS said. This includes training and adding 60 additional beagle teams for a total of 179 teams working at key U.S. commercial, sea, and air ports and ensuring travelers who pose an ASF risk receive secondary agricultural inspection.

USDA is also coordinating with CBP to expand arrival screenings, including checking cargo for illegal pork and pork products.

"Anyone who visits a farm in an ASF-affected country should take specific precautions before returning to the United States," APHIS advised.

"Follow the farm's biosecurity protocols and wear site specific footwear and coveralls or clothing. Thoroughly clean and disinfect or dispose of clothes and footwear worn on the farm before returning, and declare the farm visit to CBP when re-entering the United States.

"Travelers should not visit farms or any other locations with pigs — including livestock markets, zoos, circuses and pet stores with pot-bellied pigs — for at least five days after returning."

–The Hagstrom Report

River flooding continues with cool and wet outlook for April 2019

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Snowmelt due to warming temperatures is predicted to result in a second river crest for South Dakota's James, Vermilion and Big Sioux Rivers. And, more rainfall is predicted according to the March 21, 2019 National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) April Climate Outlook.

"This is not the outlook that many wanted to hear," said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension State Climatologist. "The risk of major flooding is not over. Now is the time to act."

Hydrologists and emergency managers strongly recommend state's residents take flood preparation seriously. The state has activated its Emergency Operations Center in Pierre, with state and federal agencies in close communication.

And, the flood risk is not isolated to eastern South Dakota. The White River is already in moderate-to-major flood stage. Anticipated snow runoff is predicted to impact the Grand and Moreau Rivers similar to the upper James and Big Sioux Rivers.

Edwards encourages South Dakotans to follow the National Weather Service for most up-to-date weather and river forecasts and check out the SDSU Extension website where staff are posting daily updates to the site's Flood Page, at extension.sdstate.edu.

Snowmelt continues to drive flooding

Across the state, Edwards said snowpack is above average for this time of year, resulting in increased potential for more flooding. "Moderate to major flooding was already predicted to occur this spring for many of the state's rivers. And, with much of the northern areas still waiting on their snow to melt, and a forecast of wetter than average conditions, South Dakota could experience accelerated snowmelt that will potentially increase runoff into rivers."

Impact on planting season 2019

Although warmer, more seasonal temperatures moved into the area the week of March 18, Edwards said the outlook predicts cooler temperatures to return at the end of March and into the first part of April.

"This pattern may hold throughout April, according to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, as cooler than average temperatures are slightly more likely in April for the eastern two-thirds of the state," Edwards said.

For many of the state's farmers, this is unwelcome news.

"Cool and wet conditions will slow down spring planting, as the soil will be slow to dry after recent flooding," Edwards said.

Resulting muddy conditions are also a concern for livestock producers. "Mud will continue to be a concern," Edwards said. "The soil will also be slow to warm in preparation for planting."

As of March 21, frost depths are close to 2-feet in southeastern South Dakota and as much as 4 to 5-feet in the north.

"Farmers may need to work quickly when conditions improve to plant their spring crops such as spring wheat, corn and soybeans," Edwards said.

Historical river levels

The NOAA National Weather Service predicts snowmelt will cause rivers to crest the week of March 25 through the first weeks of April.

"The estimate peak and timing are due solely to snowmelt," Edwards explained.

There is an estimated 2 to 4- inches of water in the snow pack in north central and northeastern South Dakota. "If there is any significant rain, that will change the timing and peak flow through these rivers," she said.

As of March 22, Edwards said the forecasted month-end crest along the Big Sioux from Brookings and southward, and the lower James River, may rank among the top five highest historically.

River levels could be close to past peaks in 1993, 2010, 1984 and even record levels in some reaches of these rivers.

Additional Resources:

For river levels and forecast information: https://water.weather.gov/ahps/index.php

For weather forecasts, flood watches and warnings: https://www.weather.gov/

For road closures and travel advisories: https://www.safetravelusa.com/sd/ or SDDOT 511 app or call 511 F

–SDSU Extension

Trump declares Nebraska emergency as flooding continues

President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Nebraska on Thursday as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that Midwest flooding is expected to continue through May.

"Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State ofNebraska and ordered Federal aid to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by a severe winter storm, straight-line winds, and flooding beginning on March 9, 2019, and continuing," the White House said in a statement.

"Nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through May, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states," NOAA said in its U.S. Spring Outlook.

"The majority of the country is favored to experience above-average precipitation this spring, increasing the flood risk," the weather agency added.

Meanwhile, dams on the Missouri River are having a hard time coping with climate change, The New York Times reported.

–The Hagstrom Report

2018 AQHA Annual Report

The American Quarter Horse Association has released the 2018 AQHA Annual Report, which is available to download at http://www.aqha.com/annualreport. The annual report contains complete statistics for AQHA membership, horse registrations and transfers, show and race statistics, and more.

"AQHA's annual report dives into the Association's functions, goals and how we operate as a business dedicated to serving our members in the best way possible," said AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines. "I encourage all AQHA members to read through the report for a statistical look at our Association."

Also in the report, 2018-19 AQHA President Dr. Jim Heird explains the priorities he focused on during his term as president.

"In addition to focusing on supporting our members, my priorities during my time on the Executive Committee were to be a more inclusive organization; protect our finances; enhance our youth initiatives; serve our breeders; continue to educate our judges and stewards; ensure a level playing field in our shows and races; appreciate and understand our ranch producers and provide a show environment where our horses can excel with riders ranging from professionals to youth; and, above all, make sure our horses are trained, shown, raced and treated safely and humanely every day."

Included in the Annual Report are the top-10 membership countries in 2018:

United States – 200,830

Canada – 14,160

Germany – 6,070

Italy – 1,960

Mexico – 1,931

Austria – 1,084

France – 974

Sweden – 842

Switzerland – 765

Netherlands – 720

View the 2018 AQHA Annual Report or download the executive summary at http://www.aqha.com/annualreport.


State veterinarian orders quarantine on horse facility in Clark County

Horses at Nevada State High School Rodeo in Pahrump may have been exposed to upper respiratory and neurological disease

(LAS VEGAS, Nev.) – One positive case of equine herpes virus type 1 (EHV-1) with neurologic signs has been reported in Clark County, and the Nevada Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian Dr. JJ Goicoechea has ordered a quarantine. There is no public health risk, therefore, details about the facility will not be released per NRS 571.160.

"I have issued this quarantine to help prevent the spread of disease during equine event season in Nevada and surrounding states," Dr. Goicoechea said. "Equine Herpes Virus-1 can cause respiratory disease in young horses, abortions in pregnant mares and neurologic disease in older horses."

Horses at the Nevada State Junior/High School Rodeo that took place Feb. 22-24 in Pahrump may have been exposed and should be monitored for signs of disease, such as fever, cough or runny nose.

The average incubation period for EHV-1 is four to seven days, but some may take up to 14 days. Eight to 12 days after infection first appears, neurological disease may occur.

EHV-1 is a reportable disease, meaning when veterinarians diagnose it, they are required to notify the Nevada Department of Agriculture, per NRS 571.160. A list of reportable diseases can be found at agri.nv.gov.

State veterinarian says: monitor horses, practice biosecurity

"I urge all horse owners to monitor their horses closely, taking temperatures twice daily and seeking veterinarian care for any fevers over 102 degrees," Dr. Goicoechea said. "It is especially important to practice biosecurity to minimize the risk of spreading disease."

Biosecurity means doing everything possible to reduce chances of an infectious disease being transferred by people, animals, equipment or vehicles. EHV-1 and other diseases can be easily transferred on boots, coats, gloves and equipment. Some basic practices include:

Never share equipment between horses, and always wear clean clothes when going from ill horses to others.

Always start chores at healthy horses, and end with sick or recovering (within 30 days) horses.

Avoid common areas such as hitching rails, wash racks, etc. during an outbreak.

–Nevada Department of Agriculture

Record number of trainers to pick up wild horses and burros this weekend

BOISE, Idaho – Preparations for the third annual Mustang Mania Trainer Incentive Program (TIP) Challenge are now underway at the Boise Wild Horse Corrals. Approved trainers will pick up their wild horses and burros at the corrals on March 22-23, from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and from 1-5 p.m., on both days.

This weekend's pick-up launches the journey for both horse and handler to prepare for competition during the 2019 Mustang Mania TIP Challenge, set to return to Nampa on July 6-7, 2019. These challenges involve youth (8-17 years of age) and adults (ages 18 and up) in the adoption and training of mustangs and burros. Participants help promote the adoption of these national treasures by showcasing the animal's value and trainability through in-hand competition.

The TIP Challenge is a segment of the Mustang Heritage Foundation's Trainer Incentive Program. The mission of the Mustang Heritage Foundation is to increase the adoption of BLM-housed American Mustangs and burros through innovative gentling (training) competitions and awareness programs. In keeping with this mission, the TIP Challenge was created to place mustangs and burros in adoptive homes. More and more trainers have participated each year since the competition's inception, leading to a record 67 competitors in 2019. Due to increased demand, a burro division has also been added to the slate of classes.

Extreme Mustang Makeover and TIP trainers Matt and Stacie Zimmerman of Caldwell are hosting the Mustang Mania TIP Challenge. The Zimmermans have helped almost 200 wild horses find good homes in the past six years alone. In 2016, they opened a storefront wild horse training business in partnership with the Mustang Heritage Foundation and the BLM to continue to place trained mustangs into private care. If you are interested in visiting the corrals and talking with one of these wild horse trainers, please contact Heather Tiel-Nelson at (208) 308-3727.


Race-Day Medications: AQHA reiterates position on race-day medication use.

On March 14, a press release from The Stronach Group announced that its California tracks, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields, would implement a zero tolerance for race-day medication. The sole race-day medication permitted in California is Salix, also commonly called Lasix.

These are the first Thoroughbred racetracks in North America to implement such a ban.

The American Quarter Horse Association is opposed to federal legislation that would implement a ban of race-day medication.

"While we share their heart break over the high incidence of fatalities at Santa Anita, we feel it is imperative to protect our right to give certain therapeutic medications, most notably, furosemide," said AQHA Chief Racing Officer Janet VanBebber. "We are here to serve our membership in protecting the horse's welfare. I work to maintain open communication with regulators, sharing my years of experience as a horseman."

VanBebber has represented the Quarter Horse industry in getting breed-specific legislation passed with the Association of Racing Commissioners International, including strengthening medication violations for medications such as clenbuterol and albuterol.

AQHA representatives continue to work to educate legislators in Congress regarding medication regulation, including Salix.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners supports the use of race-day furosemide.

Los Alamitos, located in Orange County in California, has announced it will continue allowing race-day medication use.


Bring home your very own saddle-trained wild horse from the Northern Nevada Correctional Center

On Saturday, March 30, the Bureau of Land Management and the Nevada Department of Corrections – Silver State Industries are hosting a saddle-trained wild horse adoption at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center located at 1721 Snyder Avenue, south of Carson City, Nevada. Public viewing begins at 9 a.m. and a competitive-bid adoption event, conducted by an auctioneer, follows at 10 a.m. The starting bid for all the animals offered is $150.

Up to 16 saddle-trained wild horses from Nevada herd management areas located on BLM administered public lands will be offered for adoption. A catalog of the BLM wild horses offered for this adoption and additional information is posted on-line at https://on.doi.gov/2jE05uy; in addition, videos of the animals offered are posted at https://bit.ly/2STLkBR.

The animals offered at the adoption event, have been started at the NNCC by inmates in the Nevada Department of Corrections program and receive at least 120 days of training. The once-wild horses range in age from 3 to 9 years old and vary in weight and color.

Directions to NNCC:

From Minden: Take U.S. 395 North (Carson Street). Turn right on Snyder Avenue (NV State Route 518) and head east for 1.5 miles. Turn right (south) at the NNCC sign and look for directional signs at the far south end of the facility.

From Reno: Take I-580 South to Carson Street and turn North (right). Turn right on Snyder Avenue (NV State Route 518) and head east for 1.5 miles. Turn right (south) at the NNCC sign and look for directional signs at the far south end of the facility.

Potential adopters are asked to enter the NNCC from the north side and watch for signs and event personnel at the extreme south end of the facility directing event participants to the horse corrals and parking.

NNCC rules prohibit the public from wearing any blue clothing at the auction. In addition, the public is prohibited to use cell phones, cameras, recording devices or any form of tobacco, while on the premises.