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Lawsuit over prison menu has been settled

An Ohio judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Muslim inmate who sued the prison system last year for serving pork, a food forbidden by his faith. In an order filed last week, U.S. District Court Michael H. Watson dismissed the case after hearing from the involved attorneys that the matter has been settled.

“Details of the settlement announced Wednesday weren’t released. The inmate’s lawyer would not comment,” said Dick Isler, executive director of the Ohio Pork Producers Council. “JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said no policy changes have been made regarding food preparation. Both sides anticipated making the settlement final in about 45 days.”

The suit was filed last fall by Abdul-Hamead Awkal because the prison didn’t offer him halal food options, noting that the system offered Jewish prisoners kosher items. Ohio’s prison system responded by removing pork.… Continue reading

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Livestock industry wins Supreme Court appeal

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that bans the processing of all non-ambulatory animals, including hogs. NPPC hailed the ruling.

The California Legislature approved the law in 2008 after a video was released by animal activists, showing non-ambulatory, or “downed,” cows at a California beef packing plant being dragged and prodded to enter the processing line. The statute prohibited the buying, selling, or receiving of non-ambulatory animals, the processing, butchering or selling of meat or products from non-ambulatory animals for human consumption and the holding of non-ambulatory animals without taking immediate action to humanely euthanize them.

The National Meat Association (NMA) challenged the law, and a federal district court judge in California blocked it. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco in 2010 overturned the lower court ruling. NMA appealed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) pre-empts the California law.… Continue reading

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USDA seeks to modernize U.S. poultry inspection

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a modernization of young chicken and turkey slaughter inspection in the United States by focusing FSIS inspection resources on the areas of the poultry production system that pose the greatest risk to food safety.

“The modernization plan will protect public health, improve the efficiency of U.S. poultry inspections and reduce spending,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The new inspection system will reduce the risk of foodborne illness by focusing FSIS inspection activities on those tasks that advance our core mission of food safety. By revising current procedures and removing outdated regulatory requirements that do not help combat foodborne illness, the result will be a more efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars.”

Currently, some FSIS employees in poultry establishments perform several activities that are unrelated to food safety, such as identifying visual defects like bruising, while others conduct the critical inspection activities.… Continue reading

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Soil sampling key in controlling phosphorus loss

By Matt Reese

Improving water quality starts with getting an accurate soil sample. This is a crucial step in avoiding costly over application of phosphorus and environmental challenges in the coming years. This was an important part of the discussion surrounding the improvement of water quality in Lake Erie at the Soil and Water Conservation Society this week at the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

“If phosphorus is surface applied, chances are that phosphorus levels are much higher than indicated in an 8-inch soil sample,” said Kevin Elder, with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “The surface may test very differently than the typical 8-inch sample. When you’re soil sampling, you should do a surface test too.”

Having the proper information is vital for the implementation of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program that will be increasingly important for farmers in the future. Elder outlined the 4R concept that promotes using the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, with the right placement.… Continue reading

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No-till is a solution and a problem for phosphorus loss

By Matt Reese

It seems that, with regard to the phosphorus problems in Lake Erie and other bodies of water, no-till is part of the solution and part of the problem.

Lake Erie was once known around the world for its pollution and water quality problems, but in the 1970s, farmers and industry teamed up to clean up the Lake. This was done by dramatically reducing the total amount phosphorus, much of it attached to soil particles. For farmers, conservation tillage and no-till were an important part of the solution. No-till reduces soil erosion, which reduces the amount of phosphorus attached to soil particles that are leaving the field.

The improvements in Lake Erie were amazing, but, unfortunately the problem is back, and this time it is the more vexing form of dissolved phosphorus. To complicate matters, no-till actually may facilitate the loss of dissolved phosphorus.

“There is no easy answer for this,” said Andrew Sharpley, a leading expert on phosphorus from the University of Arkansas.… Continue reading

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Professional Pork Producers Symposium at 2012 Ohio Pork Congress

The annual Professional Pork Producers Symposium will be held during the 2012 Ohio Pork Congress on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Crowne Plaza North in Columbus. The symposium will address many issues that Ohio’s pork producers face today.

The seminar will feature speakers from across the nation, and cover topics from pork industry challenges and opportunities to management and housing. Registration will begin at 7:00 a.m. on Feb. 8. The symposium will begin at 9:00 a.m. and last until 4:00 p.m. Topics and guest speakers will be as follows:

• Pen Gestation: Finding the Option That’s Right for You — Thomas Parsons, VMD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

• Herd Management Factors That Influence Whole Herd Feed Efficiency — Dr. Omarh Mendoza, The Maschhoffs, Carlyle, Illinois

• What Does the Future Hold For Ohio Pork Producers? — Dr. Chris Hurt, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University

• Packer Audits – Will Your Farm Pass?… Continue reading

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Pork commercials airing in Cleveland

Beginning this month, the Ohio Pork Producers Council is featuring new television commercials, featuring the “bacon, ham and pork chop farmers” will start to air. This TV buy encompasses the Cleveland area market. The commercials will run the week of 1/16 and 1/23, be off one week and then back on for two weeks, 2/6 and 2/13.

The new commercials are designed to bridge the gap between farmer and consumer by drawing a direct line from farmer to product. Viewers can also log on to www.OhioPork.org and view the recipes featured in each commercial.… Continue reading

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Research takes broad look at Lake Erie Watershed

A new research project at Ohio State University integrates biological, physical and social sciences to develop a complete picture of what drives decision-making processes and environmental conditions in the Maumee River watershed. The four-year, $1.5 million project, funded by the National Science Foundation, will combine decision-making models with hydrological modeling and future climate change scenarios to examine how people’s actions in the watershed affect water quality in Lake Erie.

Researchers from six different departments at two universities – Ohio State and Case Western Reserve University – are working together to examine how watershed management practices like the application of agricultural fertilizers impact water quality in Lake Erie, how public perception of the health of the lake may influence those practices, and how these relationships are likely to change under climate change scenarios.

“Not many people have looked at different populations within a watershed and what drives some of their decisions about land use,” says Jay Martin, scientist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and associate professor of Ecological Engineering in Ohio State’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.… Continue reading

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Livestock supply will likely remain tight

Consumers should expect little relief in the price of a T-bone steak as cattle producers continue to decrease their herds because of soaring feed prices and a weak economy. James Mintert, professor of Ag Economics and assistant director of Extension at Purdue University, spoke today at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 93rd Annual Meeting.

High demand for ethanol has forced the price of corn to nearly double in the past few years, driving livestock production costs up and putting cattle producers in the red. They’ve responded by raising fewer cattle, according to Mintert.

“Beef producers are recouping production costs by putting less meat on consumers’ plates,” Mintert said. “Fewer pounds of meat mean higher prices throughout the system.”

From 1925 to 1975 the beef industry was relatively healthy, Mintert explained, as demand and production grew with the population and income growth. The span from1975 to 2011 looks a lot different, as the number of cattle dropped from 132 million head to 90 million in 2011.… Continue reading

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Jersey production sets records in 2011

The American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) announced that new records for production by Registered Jersey cows were established in 2011.

The official Jersey lactation average increased to 18,633 lbs. milk, 889 lbs. fat, and 676 lbs. protein. On a Cheddar cheese equivalent basis, average yield was 2,294 pounds. All are new category records.

A record 91,028 lactations were processed by the AJCA, an increase of 51.4% in 10 years.

The lactation average is calculated on a standardized 305-day, twice daily, mature equivalent (m.e.) basis.

These records for Jersey production come on the heels of a study published in the January, 2012 issue of Journal of Dairy Sciencethat documents lower production inputs and reduced environmental impacts of Jersey milk production because of higher component levels and small body mass to be maintained.

Using Jersey and Holstein data from the Dairy Records Management System (DRMS) database in 2009, researchers Jude Capper and Roger Cady determined that Jersey cows required 20% less total feedstuffs by weight and 32% less water to produce the same amount of milkfat and protein as Holstein cows.… Continue reading

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North Central Ohio Dairy Grazing Conference

North Central Ohio Dairy Grazing Conference will be January 26 and 27, 2012 at the Buckeye Event Center in Dalton, Ohio. Jason Karszes will be sharing “Working the Numbers” and moderating a panel on “Farm Financials with the Money Folks” featuring local bankers.

Howard Straub from Michigan will be talking about “Keeping the Children Dairy Farmers” and “Grass and Robots: Do They Mix?” “Chores on the Farm” will have children of grazing dairy farmers on a panel moderated by Jerry D. Miller.  Leon Mast from Indiana and Robert Miller from Holmes County, Ohio will contrast their farms by looking at their differences and commonalities. “Maintaining Dairy Equipment: Key Ingredients” panel will look at common equipment issues.

Tony Rickard from Missouri will discuss “Strategy for Feeding Supplements on Grass” and “Evolving New Zealand/Missouri Grazing Model”. Mike Gessel from Wooster will talk about “The Gessel Family Farm 13 Years Transition”. This two day program is full of information and opportunity to network with dairy graziers across Ohio and the Midwest.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Association accepting bull consignments

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association is currently accepting bull consignments to the two Seedstock Improvement Sales held in April. The sales, held on Friday, March 30, at 7 p.m. at Muskingum Livestock in Zanesville, Ohio, and Saturday, April 16 at noon at Union Stock Yards Company in Hillsboro, Ohio, offer an affordable way to market bulls from multiple breeds in one location and on one day. Buyers have the assurance of buying bulls with known genetics, a completed vaccination regiment, and a breeding soundness exam.

The Seedstock Improvement Sales are open to consignments from all breeds of bulls. Consignors must be a current member of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association to participate. Bulls are required to be registered and to have expected progeny differences (EPDs). The bulls will be placed in sale order based on a within breed evaluation star system using EPDs for birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, and milk. Bulls consigned to the sales can be from one to five years of age.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen's Association accepting bull consignments

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association is currently accepting bull consignments to the two Seedstock Improvement Sales held in April. The sales, held on Friday, March 30, at 7 p.m. at Muskingum Livestock in Zanesville, Ohio, and Saturday, April 16 at noon at Union Stock Yards Company in Hillsboro, Ohio, offer an affordable way to market bulls from multiple breeds in one location and on one day. Buyers have the assurance of buying bulls with known genetics, a completed vaccination regiment, and a breeding soundness exam.

The Seedstock Improvement Sales are open to consignments from all breeds of bulls. Consignors must be a current member of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association to participate. Bulls are required to be registered and to have expected progeny differences (EPDs). The bulls will be placed in sale order based on a within breed evaluation star system using EPDs for birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, and milk. Bulls consigned to the sales can be from one to five years of age.… Continue reading

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Thank God for the FDA: A sour tale of lemon flavored milk

By Don “Doc” Sanders

While not perfect, the Food and Drug Administration does provide scientific oversight to regulate the safety of our food supply. In contrast, the European Union puts its finger in the air to determine which direction the wind is blowing before setting food safety policy. Then they put it up for a vote in parliament.

In another corner of the world the Chinese government puts little stock in monitoring food safety. And with the events of the past few weeks, the Chinese citizens are certainly mad about it, burning up Chinese cyberspace with Tweets and Facebook and MySpace postings.

China is now in its third major milk scandal in a decade. The first two were over melamine-contaminated milk. You may remember the story about 50,000 babies being hospitalized in intensive care after consuming the concoction. (It looked and tasted somewhat like milk and was marketed as milk, but made babies ill.)

In China, food safety is the responsibility of the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ).… Continue reading

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2012 beef prices will be demand driven

By Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist

Beef and cattle prices increased to new record levels in 2011 and are expected to push even higher in 2012. Several years of declining cattle inventories culminated in late 2011 with a projected 3% decrease in slaughter that combined with lighter carcass weights to result in a 3.8% less beef in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to a year earlier. For 2012, slaughter is forecast to drop another five plus percent and, even with an expected increase in carcass weights, will result in a nearly four percent drop in beef production for the year. Decreasing beef production ensures that wholesale and retail beef prices will be pushed even higher in 2012. Cattle supplies that are even tighter, on a relative basis, likewise ensure that fed and feeder prices will be pushed to the limit and maintain strong negative pressure on feedlot, packing and retail margins.… Continue reading

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Less bedding can benefit in-transit market pigs

In a new study, funded by the Pork Checkoff, researchers at Texas Tech and Iowa State universities found that the pork industry can generally use less bedding year-round that it currently does while improving overall animal well-being — a breakthrough finding that could save the industry an estimated $10.1 million per year.

John McGlone, a swine researcher at Texas Tech University and principal researcher for the study, along with Anna Butters-Johnson an Iowa State University researcher, looked at various rates of bedding in semi-trailers at different times of year and in different locations throughout the Midwest. This approach provided data representing cold, mild and hot weather.

Specifically, the research trials showed that groups of pigs headed to market can experience lower mortality rates in warm weather and overall improved well-being year-round when less bedding is used in transport trailers. According to McGlone, the current standard in the industry is to use four bales of bedding per semi-trailer.… Continue reading

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Hog producers follow prudent path

Hog production returned to profitability in 2011, but producers remain cautious about the future. This is evidenced by the modest expansion of the breeding herd as reported by USDA at the end of the year, said a Purdue University Extension economist.

“Limited expansion would seem to be the prudent path until more is known about 2012 crop yields and feed prices. This suggests no expansion of the breeding herd until mid-summer 2012,” said Chris Hurt.

Pork production is expected to rise by 2 to 2.5% in 2012, but most of that increase is due to more pigs per litter rather than from larger farrowings. Exports are expected to remain strong so that the per capita pork availability in the United States will only increase by about 1%, he said.

“Pork demand will also be supported by smaller per capita supplies of beef and poultry in 2012. As a result, hog prices are expected to be down only modestly from 2011 levels with similar costs.… Continue reading

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ODNR emergency manure plan responds to wet 2011

By Matt Reese

The wet weather has caused problems in nearly every aspect of Ohio agriculture last year. And while harvest is mostly wrapped up around the state, the wet weather continues to haunt livestock producers who had little, if any, opportunity to apply manure this fall due to the incessant rains.

“The record setting rains of 2011 have definitely been a challenge for Ohio farmers,” said Larry Antosch, senior director of policy development and environmental policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “I have heard some concerns from our field staff in northeast Ohio related to the difficulties of getting manure on the ground due to the record setting wet conditions.”

In response to the unique challenges in 2011, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Soil and Water Conservation has developed an Emergency Liquid Manure Plan based upon Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Standard 663.

“OFBF Policy support the farmers’ right to haul manure as long as they follow proper setbacks and guidelines in NRCS Standard 633.… Continue reading

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Winter preparations reduce headaches for beef producers

With La Niña’s arrival, the forecast is for another winter colder and wetter than normal, something a Purdue Extension beef specialist said livestock producers need to prepare for.

Taking simple steps to prepare equipment, facilities and feed supplies can help reduce headaches for cattle producers, Ron Lemenager said.

“When the blizzard hits or the wind chills are below zero, tempers might flare, but that won’t thaw water or get the tractor started to feed cows,” he said. “A little planning when the weather is mild could make things go a lot easier for both producers and the livestock.”

Part of that means taking the time to do simple things, such as winterizing water sources by insulating them and making sure heating elements are in working order. Lemenager also recommended checking tractor batteries to make sure they can handle cold weather and making sure diesel tractors needed to move feed or snow are plugged in and ready to go.… Continue reading

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Prepare for late gestation nutrition

By Rory Lewandowski, Extension educator, Athens County and Buckeye Hills EERA

Recently a first cutting hay test crossed my desk that had a crude protein value of 8% and a TDN level of 55%. This is similar to many first cutting hay quality results across the state. This hay will work for a mid-gestation cow under decent environmental conditions. It is certainly not going to meet the nutrient needs of a cow in late gestation. So, as a livestock manager, what is your plan to meet the late gestation nutritional needs? Now is the time to prepare for those nutritional requirements.

As I thought about this topic, I went back to the handout of Francis Fluharty’s presentation at last winter’s Ohio beef school that was titled “Late Gestation and Early Lactation: The Most Important Stages of Production.” One of the themes of this presentation was fetal programming. Essentially, late gestation nutrition sets up or programs to some extent how that developing calf will respond to its world after birth.… Continue reading

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