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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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Legislation aimed to help livestock haulers

The U.S. Senate introduced legislation aimed at reforming federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules in a way that ensures animal welfare, highway safety, and the well-being of livestock haulers. S. 1255, the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act, was introduced by Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) with a bipartisan group of original cosponsors, including Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jim Risch (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Doug Jones (D-AL), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mike Braun (R-IN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and James Lankford (R-OK).

“The current Hours of Service rules for livestock haulers present major challenges for our industry and can often jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock,” said Colin Woodall, NCBA’s senior vice president of government affairs. “Hauling livestock is inherently different than hauling typical consumer goods, like paper towels or bottles of water.

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USDA announces new decision tool for new Dairy Margin Coverage Program

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the availability of a new web-based tool — developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin — to help dairy producers evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized DMC, a voluntary risk management program that offers financial 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. It replaces the program previously known as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy. Sign up for this USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) program opens on June 17.

“With sign-up for the DMC program just weeks away, we encourage producers to use this new support tool to help make decisions on participation in the program,” Secretary Perdue said.  “Dairy producers have faced tough challenges over the years, but the DMC program should help producers better weather the ups and downs in the industry.”

The University of Wisconsin launched the decision support tool in cooperation with FSA and funded through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Office of the Chief Economist.

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Exports below 2018 levels for U.S. pork, beef

February exports of U.S. pork and beef fell below last year’s levels while lamb exports trended higher, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork export volume was down 9% from a year ago in February to 186,745 metric tons (mt), while export value dropped 17% to $455.9 million — the lowest monthly value total since February 2016. For January through February, pork exports were 5% below last year’s pace in volume (388,580 mt) and 13% lower in value ($950 million).

Pork export value averaged $45.12 per head slaughtered in February, up slightly from January but 21% lower year-over-year. The January-February average was $44.93, down 16%. Exports accounted for 24% of total February pork production and 21% for muscle cuts only, down from 27.8% and 24%, respectively, a year ago. For January-February, the ratio of total production exported was 23.8% (down from 26.1% a year ago) and 20.6% for muscle cuts only (down from 22.7%).

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Multiple injured in Fayette County swine farm blaze – same site as 2018 fire

A Fayette County hog farm, which had a major loss of livestock in a 2018 fire, was again the site of a blaze Tuesday afternoon, according to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.

Reported by WBNS 10TV, a call came in at about 3:30 alerting authorities of a fire on Old U.S. 35 near Boyd.

Click here to read the full story from WBNS.

Construction was taking place at the barn and three workers were reportedly injured. The Sheriff’s Office reports the barn is a total loss. It is the same location as the June 2018 fire in which 5,000 pigs perished. The Straathoff Swine Farm is located in southeast Fayette County in Wayne Township.

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U.S. Special 301 Report criticizes Europe’s targeting of U.S. dairy exports

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office recently denounced Europe’s anti-trade agenda against common-name food products and pursuing avenues to preserve U.S. export access rights.

The U.S. Special 301 Report, issued last week by USTR, categorically rejects EU policies that seek to intentionally disadvantage U.S. suppliers in global markets by blocking their ability to use common names such as fontina, gorgonzola, asiago and feta cheeses.

“The EU pressures trading partners to prevent all producers, other than in certain EU regions, from using certain product names,” said the report. “This is despite the fact that these terms are the common names for products and produced in countries around the world.”

Europe’s actions infringe on the rights of U.S. producers and imposes unwarranted market barriers to U.S. goods, according to the USTR.

“Europe has disadvantaged the U.S. dairy industry for too long by abusing geographical indications (GI) policies,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S.

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OPC provides pork to Greater Cleveland Food Bank

As members of the Ohio Pork Council (OPC), Ohio pork farmers are pleased to support the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. This year, Ohio pork farmers are donating 1,400 hams to benefit the Cleveland community. The protein-packed donation from the Ohio Pork Council will provide over 5,600 meals to those in need in the Greater Cleveland area.

“Ohio’s pork farmers are extremely dedicated to their communities and the well-being of the people within them, which is why OPC strives to make a difference in the community each year through the Pork Power program,” said Dave Shoup, Ohio Pork Council President. “In a state that is so agriculturally-dependent, it is important that farmers like me are willing to give the fruit of our labor to those in need.”

During spring 2019, Ohio pork farmers donated nearly 5,600 meals to Cleveland families through OPC’s annual Pork Power program. Since the program’s inception, more than 1.6 million fresh, wholesome meals have been donated to local foodbanks in Ohio.

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Dealing with winter injured forage stands

By Mark Sulc, Ohio State University Extension

I’ve been hearing more reports from around the state of winter injured forage stands, especially in alfalfa. The saturated soil during much of the winter took its toll, with winter heaving being quite severe in many areas of the state. So, what should be done in these injured stands?

The first step is to assess how extensive and serious is the damage. Review the CORN issue of the week of April 2, https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2019-07/assessing-winter-damage-and-evaluating-alfalfa-stand-health).

If the damage is extensive and throughout the entire field, it usually is best to destroy the stand, rotate out, and plant an emergency forage. In these cases, corn silage is the number one choice for an annual forage in terms of yield and nutritive value. But corn silage won’t be an option in some situations. Forage might be needed before corn silage can be ready, or the equipment and storage infrastructure is not available.

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Stickel Farms pieces together the puzzle

By Matt Reese

Being an environmental steward on a farm is all about carefully arranging the pieces of a complex puzzle in the hope of ending up with a profitable business and a minimal environmental footprint to leave the land better for the future.

Through trial (and some admitted errors) the Stickel family is working to accomplish these goals on their Wood County farm. They have been recognized as the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association 2019 Environmental Steward Award winners for their efforts.

“We are very appreciative of the recognition. In the Lake Erie watershed environmental stewardship and water quality are some of our top priorities of what we are doing on the farm,” Andy Stickel said. “We want to continue to be good stewards of the land.”

Andy and Brian Stickel, though still in their 30s, have been working to piece together their farm puzzle since they started with cattle in junior high through 4-H.

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