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Pork Checkoff seeks 2019 #RealPigFarming
student social forces team

The National Pork Board is seeking applicants for the 2019 student social forces team. The applications are open now through July 8 at Pork.org/SocialForces.

The social forces team will advocate for pig farming through social media usage. Selected applicants who successfully complete all outlined milestones will be eligible for a $500 scholarship.

“Last year, the team generated over 670 positive posts about pig farming in a five-month period,” said Claire Masker, director of sustainability communications for the National Pork Board. “This year, we anticipate more discussion about pig farming while the students expand their professional network.”

The Checkoff’s #RealPigFarming social media campaign gives pig farmers, academics, youth, veterinarians and allied industry members an opportunity to discuss today’s pork production across social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Applications are open to students, age 18 to 23, who are involved in the swine industry and who are pursuing a post-secondary degree.

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Cultivating customers by building a brand

By Matt Reese

Visitors to Carroll Creek Farms are first greeted by a just-rustic-enough farm sign at the end of the long, tree-lined gravel drive bordered by green, flowing springtime pastures. Cattle and sheep chew contentedly on their forage as vehicles turn in the drive.

Visitors are typically welcomed by a couple of friendly dogs, and maybe a free-roaming sheep, as their cars pull to a stop. Atop the gentle rise from the road sits a most pleasant farmhouse and charming shop coined the “Meat Retreat” where customers can peruse the farm’s offerings that include a full array of cuts from their homegrown livestock raised in the surrounding fields. The production methods, scale and farm story at Adam and Jess Campbell’s Warren County farm check all the buzzwords off the wish lists of urban customers looking for a connection to a farm and their food.

“The production methods we use allow us quench our customers thirst for full transparency around the meat they consume,” Jess Campbell said.

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EPA finalizes farm exemption from EPCRA reporting requirements

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler recently finalized a rule exempting livestock producers from unnecessary reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Created in 1986, EPCRA was created to help communities plan for chemical emergencies. It requires industry to report on the storage, use and releases of hazardous substances to federal, state, and local governments to help prepare for potential risks. In March of 2018, Congress addressed this issue with the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act exempting livestock operations from reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. The recent action from the EPA was the implementation of this measure.

“Farmers, ranchers, and emergency response officials all agree: routine emissions from agricultural operations are not a threat to local communities. Congress made a common-sense decision to exempt livestock producers from frivolous reporting requirements at the federal level with its passage of the FARM Act, and we are glad to see EPA fully implement the law by providing relief from burdensome state and local reporting requirements,” said Jennifer Houston, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

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$65 hay bales a sign of the times

By Joel Penhorwood

Because it has been such a bad year for row crop farmers, it can be easy to overlook the terrible hay baling conditions much of the state has experienced so far with extremely short windows of dry weather. That truth came to a fever pitch at the most recent LaRue Horse and Tack Sale.

“We usually have an average of 300 to 500 bales a month that people bring in,” said Janeen Heilman, sale organizer. “In April, of this year, we had 439 bales of hay of all different kinds and cuttings. The average per bale for April was $5.64. In May, we only had 195 bales for sale. The average for those was $6.91 per bale.”

The situation, which has slowly been increasing in desperation, hit its peak on Saturday, June 1.

“This month, we only had 15 bales and we had two people hurting for hay.

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Dairy facts for dairy month

The National Milk Producers Federation is pointing out some key facts about U.S. dairy in observance of National Dairy Month in June.

 

The state of the industry

  • Total domestic consumption of milk has risen four of the past five years and reached a record in 2018.
  • While per-capita milk U.S. consumption has declined, consumption of non-fluid dairy products such as cheese have increased, with butter last year at its highest per-capita consumption in more than 50 years.
  • U.S. dairy export volumes reached a record in 2018, increasing 9% over the prior year despite stiff trade winds. The value of U.S. exports was $5.59 billion, 2% more than the prior year, despite trade disturbances that to date have cost farmers at least $2.3 billion in revenues.

 

Sustainability and animal welfare

  • The U.S. dairy industry contributes approximately two percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — the lowest average GHG intensity of milk production worldwide.
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Dairy farms continue through challenging times

By Matt Reese

Just milking twice a day, every day, for four hours each time, can take its toll. Then in between the milking bookends of the day, dairy farmers feed calves, care for the cows, grow crops, bale hay, maintain the farm, and manage the land as a part of their duties. And, despite the relentless work schedule and long hours, many dairy farmers have surely suffered some sleepless nights in recent years as they eek by on the thinnest of margins as milk prices have dropped and stayed low.

Four at a time, Devin Cain milks 61 Holstein cows with his father Larry in Belmont County and the budget has been tight on the dairy farm.

“Ever since 2014, it has been tough with milk prices. I think we saw around $23 milk in 2014. Last year it was down in the $14s and averaged in the $16 range.

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2019 Dairy Margin Coverage Program signup coming soon

By Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension Field Specialist

The Farm Service Agency plans to open the sign-up period on June 17 for the newly renovated Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program, re-named and re-configured in the 2018 Farm Bill. The changes you will see in the DMC Program attempt to fix some of the problems that rendered the Dairy Margin Protection Program largely ineffective until initial adjustments were implemented early in 2018.

Two of the biggest changes that will positively impact farms of all sizes include 1) adding 3 new margins ($8.50, $9.00 and $9.50) at reasonable premiums, and 2) allowing farms with base production of more than 5 million pounds to make a second margin election for pounds over the first 5 million.

There are also opportunities to recover program participation net losses from 2014, 2015, 2016 or 2017. Repayment can be received either as cash (50% of the net loss), or by applying it to premiums for participation in the new program (75% of the net loss).

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China facing huge losses from African swine fever

With China’s international gateway city of Hong Kong now officially positive for African swine fever (ASF), the country is nearly 100% ASF-positive. Aside from this near totality in geographic spread of ASF, the disease’s toll on China’s swine herd is reaching epic proportions. Some estimates peg current and future losses related to ASF at more than 200 million pigs. Even more dire than this is the seeming inability of the country’s pig farmers and veterinarians to successfully repopulate farms and keep them from breaking with ASF again even after they have been depopulated, cleaned, disinfected and left idle for months. This has led to pork shortages and reports of some outlets having to switch to alternative proteins, such as chicken or seafood.

In late April, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs released a communication regarding a 100-day action plan to manage the transition to the ASF self-testing system during the slaughter process and the official veterinarian stationing system at pig slaughterhouses.

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National Pork Board uncovers what diners crave

The National Pork Board released its latest findings from the comprehensive Insight to Action research, this time examining trends in consumer behavior related to dining out. With a shifting dining out landscape and multicultural cuisine trends on the rise in the U.S., the Pork Board set out to understand the needs, considerations and motivations that impact out-of-home dining decisions.

The Pork Board’s All About Dining Out: What’s on Trend report uncovers why consumers decide to eat the proteins they do and explores tactics so that foodservice operators can meet those needs, such as exploring new flavors, dishes and menu formats. Similar to the Pork Board’s findings from the previous report, Dinner at Home in America, there is an overarching high level of consumer satisfaction with dishes that feature pork, pointing to opportunity for incorporating pork in new ways on menus.

“With rapidly changing innovations, technology and competition, foodservice providers who truly understand what diners want — and deliver on it — will stand the test of time,” said Steve Rommereim, president of the National Pork Board’s board of directors.

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USDA announces full access for U.S. beef in Japan

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that Japan has agreed to eliminate longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef exports, including the 30-month cattle age limit for the first time since 2003.

“This is great news for American ranchers and exporters who now have full access to the Japanese market for their high-quality, safe, wholesome, and delicious U.S. beef,” Secretary Perdue said. “We are hopeful that Japan’s decision will help lead other markets around the world toward science-based policies.”

At the G-20 Agriculture Ministerial Meeting in Niigata, Japan, Secretary Perdue met with Japanese government officials and affirmed the importance of science-based trade rules. The new terms, which take effect immediately, allow U.S. products from all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that this expanded access could increase U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan by up to $200 million annually.

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USDA enhances African Swine Fever surveillance efforts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is furthering its overall African Swine Fever (ASF) preparedness efforts with the implementation of a surveillance plan. As part of this plan, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will work with the swine industry, the states, and veterinary diagnostic laboratories to test for ASF.

ASF is a highly contagious and deadly disease affecting both domestic and feral (wild) pigs. It does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans. ASF has never been detected in the United States.

“African Swine Fever is an area of high interest among the veterinary community and our swine industry, and we continue to take action to prepare for this deadly disease,” said Greg Ibach, Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “While we are confident that our overlapping safeguards will continue to keep ASF out of the United States, an enhanced surveillance program will serve as an early warning system, helping us find any potential disease much more quickly.

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Beef and pork exports down and lamb trending higher

For the first quarter of 2019, U.S. beef exports were slightly below last year’s record pace while pork exports continued to be slowed by trade barriers, according to March data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). U.S. lamb exports were a first quarter bright spot, trending significantly higher than a year ago.

March beef exports totaled 107,655 metric tons (mt), down 4% year-over-year, while value fell 2% to $678 million. For the first quarter, exports were down 3% at 307,306 mt valued at $1.9 billion (down 0.8%).

March beef exports were very strong on a per-head basis, with export value per head of fed slaughter averaging $335.81 — up 1% from a year ago and the highest since December. The first quarter average was $309.32 per head, down 2% from a year ago. March exports accounted for 13.6% of total U.S. beef production and 11% for muscle cuts only, which was fairly steady with last March.

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Cattle battle goes to federal court

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

David sued Goliath in federal court in Chicago on April 23, 2019, alleging violations of U.S. antitrust laws, the Packers & Stockyards Act and the Commodity Exchange Act. Actually David is R-CALF-USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America), a national non-profit organization that represents U.S. cattle and sheep producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. Plaintiffs also include four cattle feeding ranchers from Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Wyoming.

Goliath is the Big 4: Tyson, Cargill, JBS and National Beef. These four defendants collectively purchase and process more than 80% of the fed cattle in the U.S. annually.

David’s slingshot is a federal class action. The complaint describes two classes purportedly harmed by actions of the Big 4: cattle producers who sold fed cattle to any of the Big 4 from January 2015 to the present; and traders who transacted live cattle futures or options contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) from January 2015 to the present.

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Dairy goat numbers on the rise in Ohio and around the country

By Matt Reese

There is no doubt about it. Baby goats are cute. They are also very trendy.

Baby goats have exploded in popularity in recent years for their charming antics and apparent appeal to certain demographics when they are wearing little goat onesies online. Videos attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers feature baby goats tormenting other livestock, jumping about on playground equipment, wearing bizarre articles of clothing, sharing living quarters with humans, and even eating waffles. And, goat yoga? Yup, it really exists.

National dairy goat interest is clearly being driven to some degree by the cute baby goat obsession, but legitimate markets for dairy goat products continue to grow on their own merits. Goat cheese is an increasingly popular foodie trend and can be found in upscale restaurants everywhere and the lower lactose milk from goats is gaining favor in the United States as well.

The newly released 2017 Census of Agriculture data recently quantified this increasing dairy goat popularity.

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Diverse stakeholder group to benchmark nutrient management efforts and create farmer certification to improve water quality

A unique collaboration of stakeholders representing the agriculture, conservation, environmental, and research communities have joined forces to develop and deploy a statewide water quality initiative. This unprecedented partnership brings together diverse interests to establish a baseline understanding of current on-farm conservation and nutrient management efforts and to build farmer participation in a new certification program.

The Agriculture Conservation Working Group recently held a two-day retreat in Ostrander, Ohio, where sub-committees focusing on best management practices, education development, governance, data management, certification and public outreach engaged in robust dialogue around strategies for introduction and implementation of the program. Much of the conversation centered on identifying the path to healthy waterways in the state, and the complex approaches necessary to understand existing practices and successfully engage farmers in education and certification.

“A group with a farm-level focus and representation from across the environmental, academic and agricultural communities has never come together before with a commitment to the shared objective of improved water quality,” said Scott Higgins, CEO, Ohio Dairy Producers Association and co-chair of the working group.

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Forage shortage: Considering early weaning

By Garth Ruff, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension, Henry County

Low hay inventory this past winter combined with poor pasture stands due to excessive moisture have led to a greater proportion of thin beef cows both across the countryside and on the cull market. As we evaluate the toll that this past winter took on forage stands, especially alfalfa, hay is projected to be in short supply as we proceed into next winter as well.

For a beef cow to be efficient and profitable, we must meet her nutritional requirements for maintenance in addition to those for reproduction and lactation. As a reminder, the hierarchy of nutrient use is as follows: maintenance, development, growth, lactation, reproduction, and fattening. This applies to all nutrient categories, not just to energy alone. As we conclude calving season, we are entering the most challenging time in production cycle when it comes to providing adequate nutrition.

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Planned trade relief package getting NPPC support

The Trump administration indicated it is planning a trade relief package in response to the U.S. trade dispute with China. President Donald Trump tweeted that he would use money raised from the recently increased tariffs on China to purchase $15 billion in agricultural products for humanitarian aid to help the ailing farm sector.

“U.S. pork has suffered from a disproportionate share of retaliation due to trade disputes with Mexico and China. This retaliation turned last year — which analysts had forecast to be profitable — into a very unprofitable time for U.S. pork producers. The financial pain continues; the 20% punitive tariff on pork exported to Mexico alone amounts to a whopping $12 loss per animal,” said David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council. “While there is no substitute for resolving these trade disputes and getting back to normal trade, NPPC welcomes the offer of assistance from President Trump.

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OSU testing eShepherd in beef and dairy industries

Agersens and The Ohio State University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that paves the way for the two organizations to implement research trials to determine the efficacy and economics of the eShepherd system for local conditions.

eShepherd is a smart collar system for livestock, enabling cattle producers to create “virtual fences” and use their smart device to remotely fence, move and monitor their livestock around the clock from anywhere in the world.

Ian Reilly, CEO of Australia-based Agersens, said the team at The Ohio State University had the expertise and knowledge the company needed to better understand local cattle and dairy markets and determine how virtual fencing technology can help Ohio farmers get the most out of their land and livestock.

“eShepherd is set to revolutionize livestock management by unlocking value from the digital transformation of the American beef and dairy industries and will make farming more efficient, more manageable and less labor intensive,” Reilly said.

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OCA BEST Program celebrates 20th year and a successful season

The 2018-2019 Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) BEST (Beef Exhibitor Show Total) Program came to an end on May 4 with its annual awards banquet held at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus. This season celebrated the 20th year of the BEST Program.

“This year celebrates the 20th anniversary of the BEST program,” said Stephanie Sindel, OCA Director of Youth Programs. “Throughout the years, the committee’s focus has been to keep a progressive, family engaged program while utilizing cattle as a tool to help educate and raise the next generation of leaders. The BEST program boasts numerous successful professionals that have walked through the ring at BEST shows.”

Several representatives from program sponsors were on hand to help present awards, totaling more than $60,000 in belt buckles, luggage, show materials and other awards. The BEST Sponsoring Partners for 2018-2019 were Ag-Pro — John Deere, Bob Evans Farms, M.H. EBY, Frazier Farms, Farm Credit Mid–America, Garwood Cattle Co.

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A few final thoughts…

By John Grimes, Ohio State University Extension Beef Coordinator, retired

I have had the pleasure of writing articles regularly since 2011. Over the years, I have written about several wide-ranging beef management topics and timely industry issues including a few “editorials” along the way. I hope you have found them worth the time it took you to read them and gained some useful information along the way. Since I retired yesterday from over 33 years of employment with OSU Extension, I want to thank you for allowing me to work with you through many OSU Extension and Ohio Cattlemen’s Association programs over the years.

I have tried to think of an appropriate way to wrap up this column. I really could not think of a single topic that I thought would make a fitting conclusion. Rather than focusing on a single topic, I thought I would touch on a few of the subjects that I admit that I am passionate about relating to beef industry.

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