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2019 Ohio Beef Expo recap

In another incredible event focused on the beef industry, the 2019 Ohio Beef Expo drew more than 30,000 participants to Columbus from March 14 to 17.

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) hosts the annual event that provides opportunities for beef producers to learn and enhance their operations through a multi-day trade show, cattle sales, youth events and quality assurance sessions.

The event this year was accompanied by some positive signs for the beef industry.

“Today’s cattle industry is good despite the mud. The markets are looking good. The grass is starting to come and feeder cattle are trending up, fat cattle are trending up and so are cull cattle,” said Sasha Rittenhouse, OCA president. “The Ohio Beef Expo is the largest event for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association. It was huge this year.”

One highlight for Youth Day on Friday — sponsored by the Gallia County Cattlemen’s Association and the Fayette County Cattle Feeders — was the judging contest, where over 560 youth tested their ability to evaluate cattle.

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U.S. Customs seizes illegal Chinese pork shipment

On March 15, 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it intercepted a large shipment of illegal pork products from China before it could enter the United States. The contraband shipment, which will be safely and securely destroyed in accordance with U.S. government policy, reportedly contained products derived from pork, such as flavorings in ramen noodles, and did not include fresh meat.

It is illegal to import pork products from countries, like China, that are positive for African swine fever (ASF), a disease that only affects pigs and that poses no human health or food safety risks, to the United States.

“Preventing the spread of African swine fever to the United States is our top priority. We are thankful to CBP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their increased vigilance and the expanded resources they have put in place to prevent ASF’s spread to the United States, a development that would threaten animal health and immediately close our export markets at a time when we are already facing serious trade headwinds,” said the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in a statement. 

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A letter from Ohio agriculture to Ohio agriculture regarding LEBOR and water quality

Dear Friend,

The seriousness of the water quality issue as it pertains to Ohio agriculture has never been greater than it is right now.

With the recent passage of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR), Lake Erie has now been granted the same legal rights normally reserved for a person. That means that any Toledoan who believes a business in the watershed is doing something they deem as detrimental to the lake could sue on the lake’s behalf.

It was no secret that if LEBOR passed, agriculture would have the biggest target on its back. Farmers statewide need to be aware of its possible implications.

Wood County farmer Mark Drewes has taken the lead in challenging LEBOR in court. And this letter from every major agriculture group in the state is to let you know we fully support him.

Drewes acted quickly and took a strong approach when he bravely stood up for his family farm and all farms in Ohio by taking legal action to prevent senseless lawsuits stemming from LEBOR.

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Dairy a growing competitor for beef genetics

By Joel Penhorwood

The Ohio Beef Expo is a time when beef breeders come together to talk the latest in genetics and issues hitting the cattle industry.

Bruce Smith of COBA/Select Sires pointed out an increasing change in where beef breeding materials are heading, showing a slight shift in Ohio’s cattle production mindset.

“We have a huge new competitor in our beef market for the semen quantity, and that’s the dairy cows,” said Smith. “A significant number of dairy cows are being bred to beef semen and they’re using sexed semen to make their female replacements and the rest are getting bred to beef.”

Hard dairy prices as of late have caused the dairy producers to be more precise in their herd continuation, including setting the lower milking cows to a new career path. Smith said this has proven to be financially appealing for some farmers.

“They’re getting a premium at some level on those beef cross calves compared to a purebred Holstein cow,” he said.

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A first-generation farm’s success

By Kayla Hawthorne, OCJ field reporter

In 2012 Brad and Mindy Thornburg bought 11 Angus-Simmental cross cows “sight unseen” through a deal with a friend. Thornburg Cattle was an adventure from the start of the first-generation farm near Barnesville in Belmont County, but they expected nothing less. They have battled through numerous challenges since then and their resulting success was highlighted in January when Brad was named the Young Cattleman of the Year by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association.

The Young Cattleman of the Year Award is presented to individuals or couples, typically under 40 years of age, who have demonstrated the initial stages of a successful beef operation and exhibited leadership potential. The recipient is also the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s automatic nominee to participate in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Young Cattlemen’s Conference held in early February.

The Thornburgs have worked hard to make their own way in the cattle business, but have relied heavily on the insight and expertise from others in the industry.

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U.S. pork exports remain steady in 2018 despite challenges

Despite numerous challenges for most of 2018, sales of U.S. pork abroad remained relatively steady compared with 2017. For the year, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 5.37 billion pounds, unchanged from 2017, and were valued at $6.392 billion, which was down 1% from 2017.

“Without a doubt, 2018 was a difficult year for U.S. pork exports,” said Bill Luckey, chair of the Pork Checkoff International Marketing committee. “Market-access challenges were the main reason.”

Pork exports accounted for 25.7% of total 2018 U.S. pork and pork variety meat production. Export value per head averaged $51.37, down 3.9% from 2017.

Despite market access challenges for many markets, 2018 export growth was strong in a few countries, including tremendous growth in South Korea and Colombia. Pork and pork variety meat exports to Korea were up 40% in volume and 41% in value, while exports to Colombia were up 39% in volume and 32% in value.

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FDA moves genetically engineered salmon forward

Last week, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) decided to allow AquaBounty Technologies, an American company, to commercialize its genetically engineered AquAdvantage Salmon in the U.S. market.

The AquAdvantage Salmon was developed by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies. It is genetically engineered to reach its market weight in half the time of conventionally raised salmon while using 25% less food and contributing to more sustainable aquaculture systems.

“We are taking another important step by deactivating a 2016 import alert that prevented GE salmon from entering the U.S. The FDA’s approval of the application related to AquAdvantage Salmon followed a comprehensive analysis of the scientific evidence, which determined that the GE Atlantic salmon met the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. However, in 2016, Congress directed the FDA not to allow into commerce any food that contains GE salmon until it issued final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of the GE salmon content in the food.

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USDA announces January margin triggers first 2019 dairy safety net payment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that the January 2019 income over feed cost margin was $7.99 per hundredweight, triggering the first payment for eligible dairy producers who purchase the appropriate level of coverage under the new but yet-to-be established Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, is a voluntary risk management program for dairy producers that was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. DMC offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that sign up for DMC will open by mid-June of this year. At the time of sign up, producers who elect a DMC coverage level between $8.00 and $9.50 would be eligible for a payment for January 2019.

For example, a dairy operation with an established production history of 3 million pounds (30,000 cwt.) that elects the $9.50 coverage level for 50% of its production could potentially be eligible to receive $1,887.50 for January.

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Farm groups file brief in N.C. nuisance lawsuit

The National Pork Producers Council, the American Farm Bureau, North Carolina Farm Bureau, and North Carolina Pork Producers Council last week weighed in on an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to overturn the $50 million verdict awarded in the first of three trials earlier this year against the North Carolina hog industry.

These runaway punitive damages awards against producers engaged in common and highly regulated farm activities threaten rural economies. Amongst other issues raised, the appeal noted that The North Carolina Right to Farm Act, which recognizes that normal farming practices do not constitute a nuisance, prohibits these types of lawsuits. The brief also cautioned that the damage from the ruling would likely lead to unwarranted and costly litigation against farms across the United States if the verdict was allowed to stand.

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Topdressing wheat with liquid swine manure

By Glen Arnold, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

Wheat fields will begin to firm up in Ohio and the topdressing with nitrogen fertilizer will soon start. There is usually a window of time, typically around the last week of March or the first week of April, when wheat fields are firm enough to support manure application equipment. By this date, wheat fields have broken dormancy and are actively pulling moisture and nutrients from the soil. With the limited fall and winter opportunities to apply manure to fields, many livestock farms have more manure than usual for this time of year.

The key to applying the correct amount of manure to fertilize wheat is to know the manure’s nitrogen content. Most manure tests reveal total nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen and organic nitrogen amounts. The ammonia nitrogen portion is readily available for plant growth. The organic nitrogen portion takes considerably longer to mineralize and generally will not be available when wheat uptakes the majority of its nitrogen in the months of April and May.

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Oversight agreement announced on cell-cultured products derived from livestock or poultry

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a formal agreement to jointly oversee the production of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.

“The formal agreement announced today solidifies USDA’s lead oversight role in the production and labeling of lab-grown fake meat products. This is what National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has been asking for, and it is what consumers deserve. Under the terms of the agreement, USDA will be responsible for inspecting all facilities that harvest, process, package, or label cell-cultured products derived from livestock or poultry,” said Jennifer Houston, NCBA president. “All product labels will also be subject to USDA’s pre-approval and verification process. We look forward to working collaboratively with the USDA and FDA on next steps, including the development of a more detailed framework concerning the cell harvest stage.

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Fall and winter conditions offered significant challenges for manure application

By Matt Reese

There has been ample fodder for frustration this fall and winter for agriculture in general, but it surely could be argued that few have faced more challenges due to the persistent wet weather during this time frame than those trying to follow the letter of the law when applying livestock manure to farm fields.

Tim Wood is the sales manager for M&W Farm Supply, LLC that handles the manure from 14.75 million chickens at Trillium Farms locations around Marseilles, Mt. Victory and Croton. Conditions since last fall have been far from ideal for getting the poultry manure out of the barns and onto the fields.

“Our intention each fall is to spread roughly 100,000 tons on close to 50,000 acres. So, we are kind of in a hole. We cover an 11-county area and typically harvest starts earlier in the north than the south. Around the 20th of September we had only spread around 1,500 tons.

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Managing mud damaged pastures

By Mark Landefeld, Ohio State University Extension Agriculture Educator, Monroe County

Every livestock owner I have talked to the last few weeks has the same situation, more mud and more tracked-up fields than they can ever recall before.

Mud increases stress for the livestock and the farm manager. The way you manage, or don’t manage, muddy conditions affects your livestock’s performance and may have a big impact on damaging forage plants in your pastures.

So, what are we going to do with our pastures and areas, which have taken the hits this year? Options range from complete renovation of the area, to doing nothing and allowing nature to take its course. My guess is, that both options, and something in between may be practical on most farms this spring. Even within a paddock, different treatments will probably be necessary because zones closer the water source will likely have more damage than other areas of the paddock.

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Ohio Beef Expo kicks off March 15

The Ohio Beef Expo, the premier event of Ohio’s beef industry, will take place March 15 though 17 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio. This annual event, coordinated by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA), includes a kickoff social; breed sales, shows and displays; beef quality assurance sessions; a multi-day trade show and a highly competitive junior show.

OCA members and Expo exhibitors are invited to attend The Social, on Thursday evening, March 15, at the Expo headquarters hotel, the Hilton Columbus/Polaris. The kickoff event will auction items for OCA’s PAC fund such as two VIP parking spaces at the 2019 Ohio Beef Expo, an Ohio State fire ring and other great items.

For the first time in Expo history, the trade show will open on Thursday, March 14 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. This allows more time for attendees, especially those that exhibit cattle at the Expo, to visit with vendors and check out the booths that line the Voinovich building.

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Mortality composting in Ohio

By Mary H. Wicks and Harold M. Keener

Inspiration strikes at unexpected times. Returning from a road trip to Missouri, a team of Ohio State University (OSU) researchers and extension educators had the “aha moment” that would form the basis of OSU’s mortality composting certification program. But first, some background . . .

 

Investigation

In 1994, when the Ohio legislature approved composting as an on-farm option for disposing of dead animals, an OSU team, working with livestock producers, Ohio Department of Agriculture and USDA NRCS, was tasked with developing a certification course to ensure it was done correctly. Research and Extension faculty with expertise in livestock and poultry systems as well as composting scoured the literature, learning how other states were composting dead poultry and swine. A trip to the University of Missouri’s swine composting system provided more information.

 

Insights

Connecting the dots between his compost research and what he had learned about controlled decomposition of dead animals, Harold Keener characterized the latter as “above ground burial in a biofilter.” As the team discussed this concept and what they wanted to achieve, they focused on developing guidelines that allowed for flexibility and the ingenuity of farmers.

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Citizens of Toledo approve the Lake Erie Bill of Rights

By Kolt Buchenroth and Matt Reese

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights was passed by the citizens of Toledo in a special election held on Tuesday, Feb. 26. According to the results from the Lucas County Board of elections, the measure was passed by a vote of 61.4% to 38.6% with only 8.9% of voters turning out to the polls.

There was a failed attempt to get this on the 2018 November ballot in Toledo. The effort to get LEBOR on the ballot was supported by out-of-state interests but it could have a very real in-state impact for a wide range of businesses. LEBOR opens up the possibility of thousands of lawsuits against any entity that could be doing harm to Lake Erie. This includes agricultural operations.

“Farm Bureau members are disappointed with the results of the LEBOR vote. Our concern remains that its passage means Ohio farmers, taxpayers and businesses now face the prospect of costly legal bills fighting over a measure that likely will be found unconstitutional and unenforceable,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

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ODA announces $23 million for programs in Western Lake Erie Basin

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Director Dorothy Pelanda announced new assistance programs for producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin funded by the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 299 last year.

The bill provides $23.5 million for the 24 soil and water conservation districts located in the Western Lake Erie Basin for nutrient management programs. ODA has already distributed $3.5 million to the Northwest Ohio districts.

“Water quality is a top priority of our administration,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “Roughly 3 million Ohioans rely on Lake Erie for their drinking water. These programs are a good step toward promoting better water quality and more will come.”

At the 2019 Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Annual Meeting, Director Pelanda announced plans for the remaining $20 million, to be spread across three new assistance programs set to begin in March.

“The budget that Governor DeWine plans to introduce will demonstrate his administration’s commitment to improving water quality,” Pelanda said. 

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43rd Annual Ohio Dorset Sale March 15 and 16

Plans for the 43rd annual Ohio Dorset Sale have been set for March 15 and 16 at the Preble County Fairgrounds in Eaton, Ohio. Billed as “the first, the biggest, the best” Dorset sale, it will feature both Horned and Polled Dorsets. Dorsets from South Dakota to Connecticut have been entered.

Established in 1977, the Ohio Dorset Sale has been a barometer used to gauge how the registered sheep industry is doing in the New Year. Entered in the sale are 100 head of Polled Dorsets and 30 head of Horned Dorsets.

“The nation’s finest Dorset genetics from ten different states have been consigned to this year’s sale,” said Greg Deakin, sale manager. “The sale’s history is rich, dating back to 1977. More national breed champion rams and ewes have sold through the Ohio Dorset Sale than any other sale.”

Both Horned and Polled Dorset rams and ewes will be offered consisting of classes for yearlings, fall and winter lambs.

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Gene editing oversight clarification needed

Development of an emerging technology promising major animal health and environmental benefits is currently stalled at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, prompting the National Pork Producers Council to renew its call for U.S. Department of Agriculture regulatory oversight of gene editing for livestock.

“The pace of FDA’s process to develop a regulatory framework for this important innovation only reinforces our belief that the USDA is best equipped to oversee gene editing for livestock production,” said Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio and president of the National Pork Producers Council. “U.S. agriculture is one our nation’s most successful export products; we can’t afford to cede leadership of gene editing to other countries.”

Gene editing accelerates genetic improvements that could be realized over long periods of time through breeding. It allows for simple changes in a pig’s native genetic structure without introducing genes from another species. Emerging applications include raising pigs resistant to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, a highly contagious swine disease that causes significant animal suffering and costs pork producers worldwide billions of dollars.

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