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Dairy Margin Coverage program signup deadline extended

The National Milk Producers Federation is urging farmers to take advantage of a one-week extension in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program signup deadline to Sept. 27, announced by USDA.

“Dairy farmers have much to gain by signing up for this program, and another week to take advantage of this benefit can be nothing but helpful for them,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We urge producers to take advantage of this added opportunity to sign up.”

The USDA said more than 21,000 dairy farms have signed up for the new program, the main risk-protection tool for dairy farmers enacted in the 2018 Farm Bill, nearing the level that participated last year in the Margin Protection Program, which DMC replaced. DMC is guaranteed to pay all producers enrolled at the maximum $9.50/cwt. coverage level for every month of production through July, according to USDA data. DMC improvements from the MPP include:
• Affordable higher coverage levels that permit all dairy producers to insure margins up to $9.50/cwt.

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The new (dis)order in today’s markets could favor livestock profitability

By Abbie Burnett, production communications specialist for Certified Angus Beef

In a third of the world’s economies today banks charge customers to keep money in savings. This and other disincentives to save has brought world economic debt to record levels, and the U.S. at $23 trillion holds the largest share of the $243 trillion total.

“Economic and political order has become disorder,” said Dan Basse, AgResource president, in market analysis comments at the 2019 Feeding Quality Forum in Amarillo, Texas.

The pressure is on to put money to work in those economies, even to the point of devaluing the money,

“In agriculture, everybody is dropping their currencies so they have a competitive edge in producing more supply,” Basse said. “This is what’s giving us a supply bear market in the grains.”

“It’s really why interest rates cannot rise. So, we are kind of locked into this environment of debt and low growth.”

Enter the Chinese economy.

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Planting alternative grasses that can handle abundant rain

Farm animals want to eat what they’re used to.

And because livestock are not adventurous eaters, farmers have to train them to try something new by limiting their access to the food they’re most familiar with. That can be done by growing new grasses in a different field, and then moving the livestock to graze on that field.

Many farmers in Ohio might be trying to grow and feed their animals different grasses this year, as supplies for hay and traditional forage grasses are exceptionally low. Ohio’s hay supply is the lowest since the 2012 drought, and the fourth lowest in 70 years. This past spring was persistently wet, which hindered the growth and cutting of hay and other forage grasses.

“Nobody can control the weather, but we can somewhat control what we’re growing on the farm,” said Christine Gelley, an Ohio State University Extension educator in Noble County. “If we can become more flexible in terms of what we grow and how we move our animals around, that can increase our options for feeding them.”

Gelley hosted a talk on how to do that: “Forages for the Extremes — Drought and Flood Tolerant Options” on Sept.

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Viral disease limits All American Quarter Horse Congress participation

In an effort to protect horses and other livestock in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is not allowing the import of horses from counties within states with confirmed and suspected cases of Vesicular Stomatitis (VSV). This restriction includes the All American Quarter Horse Congress, which is scheduled to begin in Columbus on Oct. 1.

“VSV has not been detected in Ohio and we are taking every precaution possible to keep it that way,” said ODA State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey. “With the All American Quarter Horse Congress coming, we thought it was important to restrict further movement to prevent the disease’s potential spread.”

VSV is a viral disease that primarily affects horses, but can also infect cattle, swine, sheep, and goats. The disease causes blister-like lesions, which burst and leave open wounds. It is extremely painful to animals and can result in the inability to eat and drink and even lameness.

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Association launches Cattlemen’s Academy

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will launch a new producer education program in the fall of 2019, the OCA Cattlemen’s Academy. OCA recognizes the importance of serving individual members across the state, and the goal of the Cattlemen’s Academy is to offer informative, hands-on learning experiences as part of a current OCA membership. Each year, the program will focus on a different aspect of the cattle industry with a new meeting series that is important to producers in the state of Ohio.

As its first series, the Cattlemen’s Academy will host calving clinics at multiple locations throughout Ohio in conjunction with the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University. Producers will learn how to determine calf presentations and more about calving assistance techniques and calving facilities design. They will also be instructed on nutritional management of the prepartum cow and bull selection for calving ease. Various experts from Ohio State and the cattle industry will be on-hand to instruct attendees and answer questions throughout the clinics.

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Cattle markets and the Tyson fire

By Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

The market is down one large harvest facility and cattle feeders cannot feed the same animal for infinity and beyond. As a result, availability of feeder cattle will increase in the near term. Packers continue to put the squeeze on cattle feeders as they appear to be holding all of the leverage. It is difficult to identify any leverage point cattle feeders control in today’s market, but this situation will not last forever. Similar to leverage slipping into the abyss, live cattle basis may or may not be favorable to cattle feeders as regional differences are the story on this subject. The kindest way to summarize the cattle feeder’s situation is that better days have to be on the horizon, but it is difficult to tell how far off the horizon is.

Since the Tyson fire was reported on Aug.

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Attracting more farmers to participate in water quality efforts

Skepticism, more than anything else, is keeping farmers from changing how they apply fertilizer to their fields, according to a behavioral scientist at The Ohio State University.

Many farmers question whether the conservation measures they are being asked to do, such as applying fertilizer underground rather than on the surfaces of fields, will actually improve water quality in Lake Erie, said Robyn Wilson, a professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

And they also question whether they can carry out those measures on their farms, particularly small farms that typically have less equipment and fewer workers and financial resources than larger farms have, Wilson said.

So, offering farmers more evidence about the link between fertilizer runoff and the degraded water quality in Lake Erie — or even offering them funding to help pay for conservation measures — doesn’t necessary inspire more farmers to change their ways, Wilson said.

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Vending machine now providing bacon fix for Buckeye football fans

After grabbing international media headlines last winter, the Ohio Pork Council is pleased to launch their new-and-improved Bacon Vending Machine at Ohio Stadium just in time for football season. The Bacon Vending Machine was available for the first home game of the season for Buckeye fans to purchase ready-to-eat bacon, while supplies last, at Ohio Stadium all season long.

“The Ohio Pork Council is proud to support Ohio State Athletics and could not think of a more fitting location to launch our new Bacon Vending Machine than Ohio Stadium,” said Nathan Schroeder, District 1 Director, a pig farmer from Putnam County, Ohio. “Thanks to the Bacon Vending Machine, fans can cheer the Buckeyes on to victory with a classic game day favorite — bacon.”

Developed in collaboration with Innovative Vending Solutions, the custom machine features a variety of ready-to-eat bacon for fans to enjoy at an affordable price. The modern machine also features a touch screen interface with educational videos and facts about Ohio’s pig farming community on display — enabling consumers to learn more about responsibly raised pork.

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Trade agreement in place with Japan

U.S. agriculture celebrated a U.S. trade agreement with Japan that, once implemented, will place it back on a level playing field with international competitors in one of its most important export markets. The agreement was announced at the G7 summit in France during a press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“We thank the Trump administration for negotiating a trade agreement with Japan, a market that represented 25 percent of total U.S. pork exports last year,” said David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C. and president of the National Pork Producers Council. “We look forward to rapid implementation of the agreement as international competitors are currently taking U.S. pork market share through more favorable access.”

Dr. Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State University, estimates exports to Japan will grow from $1.6 billion in 2018 to more than $2.2 billion over the next 15 years as a result of the United States pork industry getting market access in Japan as favorable as its competitors.

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NPPC wins HSUS case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in its appeal to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The court rejected HSUS’s attempt to advance an anti-meat activist agenda through an unwarranted suit designed to hurt 60,000 U.S. pork producers and undermine a farm sector critical to rural communities and that employs hundreds of thousands of Americans.

The court rejected HSUS’ attempted challenge to the National Pork Board’s 2006 federally approved purchase from NPPC of trademarks associated with the organization’s “Pork: The Other White Meat” campaign and payments associated with the agreement. While HSUS claimed it and others were injured because proceeds from the transaction were misappropriated by the National Pork Board, the pork “checkoff,” the D.C. Circuit found that HSUS and its fellow plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that they had suffered harm from the transaction, including the associated payments.

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West Coast goes cage free

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural and Resource Law Program

States continue to battle over whether eggs should come from cage-free hens or caged hens. When we last discussed the topic HERE in May, the governor of the state of Washington had just signed his state’s cage-free requirement into law.

Iowa, the nation’s leading egg producing state, has gone the other way in trying to limit cage-free egg production.  Now, Oregon is set to ban the purchase or sale of eggs and egg products from caged hens starting in 2024.  However, Oregon’s law exempts eggs and egg products from caged hens if the sale occurs at a federally inspected plant under the Egg Products Inspection Act or if the caged hens were at a commercial farm with a flock of fewer than 3,000 hens.  You can read the text of the bill HERE.

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Tough times encourage change

By Matt Reese

It is no secret that times have been tough for the dairy industry — so tough that change is inevitable. Some dairies have shut their doors. Others have grown larger or found a niche and specialized. MVP Dairy in Mercer County has reinvented the dairy supply chain.

The jaw-dropping facility right on U.S. 33 has garnered plenty of attention in the last few months. The new dairy is home to nearly 4,500 cows that live in 6 freestall barns built for optimum cow comfort. The cows are milked in a state-of-the-art carousel milking parlor that is open for the public to see, first-hand, the origins of their dairy products from the soil to the grocery store.

The impressive operation is a partnership between McCarty Family Farms and VanTilburg Farms and a close collaboration with the Danone facility in nearby Minster, the largest yogurt-making plant in the U.S., which produces leading brands such as Activia, Danimals, Dannon, Light & Fit and Oikos.

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Seven Asian countries now battling African swine fever

Continuing its march across the continent, African swine fever (ASF) now has claimed its seventh Asian country, Myanmar, which is west of most previous known cases. If you include the Asian portion of Russia in this count, there are eight Asian countries battling ASF. According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), two far eastern provinces (not far from the Chinese border) have recently reported new cases of the disease on farms. While ASF had been found in eastern Russia before, these provinces had not reported cases previously. This marks the first cases in Eastern Russia since late 2017.

 

Myanmar

In the recent United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, the ministry of agriculture, livestock and irrigation confirmed that the country’s first ASF outbreak occurred in a village in Mongla Township, Kengtung District, Shan State, on Aug. 1. This is in the northeast part of the country near the Chinese border. 

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Ohioan among finalists for America’s Pig Farmer of the Year

The National Pork Board recently announced the four finalists vying to be named America’s Pig Farmer of the Year, including Doug Dawson from Delaware, Ohio. The program honors a U.S. pig farmer each year who excels at raising pigs following the We Care ethical principles and who is committed to sharing their farming story with the American public.

“The finalists do what’s best on their farms every day for people, pigs and the planet,” said National Pork Board President David Newman, a pig farmer representing Arkansas. “The finalists also showcase how diverse family farming is today throughout the United States.”

The other finalists are Chris Hoffman – McAlisterville, Pennsylvania, Josh Linde – Manilla, Iowa and Thomas Titus – Elkhart, Illinois. To help select the winner, the four finalists will meet with an expert panel of third-party judges in Chicago later this month. The judges will view videos produced at the finalists’ farms and will interview each of them.

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Stress task force offering help to struggling Ohio farmers

Dairy farmers grapple with slumps in milk prices while the cost of feeding their cows keeps rising. For crop farmers, prices for corn and soybeans remain low, and many growers couldn’t plant either crop this year.

The persistent spring rain created the state’s worst planting year on record and has contributed to a near-record low level of hay to feed livestock in Ohio and across the Midwest.

So much is out of a farmer’s control — weather, commodity and feed prices, a hike in international tariffs on American agricultural goods that has diminished demand for them.

When rain this past spring kept farmers from planting, among the comments that circulated on Facebook was one offering a phone number for a suicide hotline.

Now, perhaps more than ever, farmers might need help with how to keep their businesses afloat, how to find jobs off the farm, how to find clinicians to help deal with mounting frustration or despair that might come with running a business farming the land.

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Animal Agriculture Alliance releases report from 2019 Animal Rights National Conference

The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report detailing observations from the Animal Rights National Conference, held July 25 through July 28 in Alexandria, Va.

The event was organized by the Farm Animal Rights Movement and sponsored by Mercy for Animals, The Save Movement, Compassion Over Killing and The Humane League, along with other animal rights extremist groups.

“Animal rights extremists are becoming increasingly aggressive in their efforts to end animal agriculture,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “Releasing reports from major activist conferences enables everyone in animal agriculture to prepare for strategies and tactics targeting their livelihood.”

Similar to last year’s conference, speakers made it clear their vision is animal liberation, not promoting animal welfare.

“There is no such thing as humane slaughter and anyone who tells you differently is simply lying,” said Michael Budkie of Stop Animal Exploitation Now. Demetria Atkinson of Redefine Your Mind argued, “Animals are people too.” “We need to say that all animal agriculture is cruel and wrong,” said Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns.

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Dairy industry asks U.S. government to swiftly secure strong trade deal with Japan

In an effort organized by the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, 70 dairy companies, farmer-owned cooperatives, and associations today sent a letter to the United States Trade Representative and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture asking the U.S. government to capitalize on the conclusion of Japan’s national elections and quickly finalize a strong trade deal with Japan in order to secure critical market access for the dairy industry here at home.

“Given that Japan is an established market with a growing demand for dairy products, the successful negotiation of a robust trade agreement with Japan will bring a much-needed boost to the economic health of the U.S. dairy industry and set our industry up on a path to compete effectively there moving forward. Securing robust dairy export opportunities into this overseas market will be critical to restoring confidence for our dairy farmers and processors across the country,” they wrote.

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Disruption in fed beef slaughter

By Stephen R. Koontz, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics — Colorado State University

Tyson’s Finney County, Kansas, facility suffered a fire late Friday, Aug. 9. The good news is that there were no reports of injuries, a testament to the planning and operation of the facility and emergency responders. The bad news — for cattle markets – is that this plant will remain closed indefinitely. The fire is reported to have started in the box shop but major damage – as in a collapsed portion of the roof — was also reported. The Finney County facility is west of Holcomb and Garden City, Kansas, and is a major fed cattle slaughter and boxed beef fabrication plant. The plant slaughters approximately 6,000 head per day and between 27,000 and 30,000 head per week. This is 4.5% to 5% of the national fed cattle slaughter.

The impact of this event on fed cattle markets will be substantial.

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OCF Young Cattlemen’s Conference provides industry learning experience

The 2019 Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC) hosted 19 cattlemen and women for a three-day leadership development program in central Ohio, Aug. 8-10. The conference was made possible through the support of program sponsors, Farm Credit Mid-America, Ohio Beef Council, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Soybean Council and the Rick Malir & Bonnie Coley-Malir Beef Leadership Fund.

YCC kicked off Thursday evening at the Ronald McDonald House of Columbus where participants were able to tour the house and learn about its mission. Attendees also had the opportunity to network over a beef dinner with members of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s Board of Directors, program sponsor representatives and other industry professionals. Vice President of Wendy’s Protein Procurement and Innovation, Quality Supply Chain Co-op, Inc. (QSSC), Dr. Henry Zerby, served as the guest speaker for the evening and shared his thoughts on the future of the beef industry and some of the challenges it faces moving forward.

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