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China announces cuts to U.S. tariffs

China announced in early February it would cut tariffs in half on $75 billion of U.S. imports. Beginning Feb. 14, the country plans to drop tariffs on some U.S. goods from 5% to 10%, while levies on some other items will be reduced to 2.5% from 5%. Punitive tariffs on U.S pork will be reduced by 5%, leaving the total duty at 63%.

The National Pork Producers Council continues to urge China to remove all punitive tariffs on U.S. pork to get to a level playing with international competitors that are at 8%. If all restrictions on exports to China were removed, in 10 years, U.S. pork would double sales, create 184,000 new American jobs and reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China by nearly 6%.

 … Continue reading

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Fighting the flu: how to protect yourself and your herd

While many choose to arm themselves against the flu virus with a vaccine, it is even more important for those who work around animals to protect themselves.

Influenza affects a wide range of animals, and flu among pigs poses a serious threat to people because flu in other livestock is not as transferable to people.

“The vast majority of influenza viruses circulating in pigs today has actually come from people,” said Andrew Bowman, associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM).

This is likely because producers or farmers sometimes go into the barn while they are feeling under the weather and are infected with the influenza virus, Bowman said.

Pork producers or people who deal with swine quite often are strongly advised to receive a flu vaccine. However, it is much more likely that people will pass the influenza virus to pigs rather than pigs infecting humans.… Continue reading

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House passes Ag Inspectors Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that authorizes funding for 740 new agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports to prevent African swine fever (ASF) and other foreign animal diseases (FAD) from entering the United States. In October 2019, the Senate approved an identical version of the bill (S. 2017), which the House approved. Providing additional agricultural inspectors represents a top priority for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

“For more than a year, NPPC has advocated for more agricultural inspectors at our borders,” said David Herring, NPPC President , a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection have done much to mitigate risk to animal disease, but we must remain vigilant. Today’s vote represents a tremendous victory for our farmers, consumers and the American economy. We thank Congressional leadership, led by Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) and Sens.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Country Journal & Ohio Ag Net Podcast |Ep. 140| The Ractopamine Saga Continues

Kolt and Dale open this weeks podcast with Melissa Bell from the Ohio Pork Council, as Ractopamine remains a hot topic. Matt talks to Dr. Steve Moller, who weighs in on the topic, and Kolt talks to Dr. Zach Rambo about what Ractopamine is and what it does. Matt sat down with the Young Cattleman of the Year, Luke Vollborn, and talked about his business and the cattle industry.… Continue reading

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Pork Checkoff commits $500,000 to develop highly trained industry professionals

The National Pork Board has opened the application period for a new series of swine research fellowships to provide a pipeline of highly skilled employees for the pork industry. The Pork Checkoff has committed a total of $500,000 for the fellowships, which will fund professional student education and training in critical areas of impact, including animal science, feed science and management, engineering and human resources, among many others.

“Labor supply is a critical issue across the entire pork industry,” said David Newman, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer representing Arkansas. “This fellowship program will develop highly trained professionals who possess skills and abilities with direct application to pork production now and in the future.”

According to Chris Hostetler, director of animal science for the National Pork Board, past Checkoff research funding supported graduate students based on specific research priorities.

“While results of swine-related research is not the desired outcome of these fellowships, the Pork Checkoff recognizes that research is a critical component of professional student training,” Hostetler said.… Continue reading

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Ohio State Fair announces ractopamine-free swine show for 2020

It has been announced that swine exhibited at the 2020 Ohio State Fair — and a growing number of county fairs — are required to be ractopamine-free.

Recently, ractopamine-free swine production became a market specification through much of the U.S. pork packing industry. Although ractopamine (sold under the trade names Paylean or Engain for swine) is an approved product used to increase lean growth rate, it has been banned in many international pork markets. In short, ractopamine-free means that a pig has never been fed or exposed to ractopamine from the time of birth to the time of market.

In response, the Ohio Pork Council, Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Ohio State Fair have collaborated to put a comprehensive plan in place for a ractopamine-free swine project.

  1. Understand the ractopamine-free status of any pigs purchased or raised and comply by not feeding or exposing the pigs to ractopamine.
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Ractopamine bans at fairs mean changes for many hog exhibitors

By Madi Kregel, OCJ field reporter

As more fairs ban ractopamine — the active ingredient in products like Paylean or Optaflexx — some people in the show pig and 4-H community have questions about changes they will need to make in 2020.

Monty Alexander is not one of them. She is entering her last year as a Wood County 4-H exhibitor and has been no stranger to success with her livestock. She has only shown 4-H pigs for a few years, but she knows the stock show world well. She has won multiple market hog classes and the lightweight market gilt division in past county fairs. She has also done well in showmanship. Alexander credits her success with multiple factors, but she has never fed ractopamine to her pigs. Alexander instead relies on good feeding, good genetics and a unique

advantage over most of her competitors in the flatlands of Wood County — a hill in her backyard — for her success.… Continue reading

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Will Walmart’s new beef packing facility influence cattle prices?

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

A couple of questions came in this week concerning Walmart opening a beef packing facility and how the new facility would influence cattle prices. The short answer is that the opening of this facility is not likely to change cattle prices much at all. The reason prices are not expected to change much is because it does not really change supply and demand of beef.

Walmart is partnering with a single seedstock operation, a specific feedlot, and a specific slaughter facility at which time the Walmart facility will take delivery and perform further processing and packaging for the Walmart brand. Thus, the processing facility will create competition with other processing facilities and at the retail level. However, it is not likely that this will shift demand or supply enough to really influence cattle prices at the calf and yearling stages of production.… Continue reading

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Hams Across America shares bounty of pork

The National Pork Board announced today more than 2 million servings of pork have been donated in the last two months by pig farmers working together to help fight food insecurity in their local communities. The donations — made through the national Hams Across America effort — showcase the pork industry’s commitment to the We Care ethical principles, including a focus on community.

“Giving back to our communities is an important part of who we are,” said David Newman, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer representing Arkansas. “Our Hams Across America program gives me and other pig farmers another way to live out the We Care ethical principles, but my favorite part is getting to share our love of the food we produce with neighbors in need.”

The Hams Across America program helps overcome food insecurity, especially in rural areas where pig farmers farm and live. In November, the Oklahoma Pork Council kicked off the #GiveAHam challenge, a grassroots effort that encourages farmers to pay it forward with pork donations to local food pantries and to challenge colleagues and others in their communities to do the same.… Continue reading

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Costume-clad Celebrity Showdown benefits charity, exhibitors

By Dave Russell and Matt Reese

There is no doubt that showing cattle can get pretty competitive as young exhibitors work their way through the BEST (Beef Exhibitor Show Total) program, a statewide series of sanctioned cattle shows that include showmanship competitions. The Clark County Cattle Battle (as its name would imply) is no exception, but before exhibitors showcase their skills and their cattle in the ring, the weekend kicks off in a unique way with the BEST Celebrity Showdown.

For the event, the exhibitors dress themselves and their cattle in (often outlandish) costumes with the hope of catching the eye of a celebrity judge who picks the costume contest winner. Each exhibitor must raise at least $100 in donations to participate, with proceeds going to a worthy charity. The 2020 event, in its eighth year, was held on Friday, Jan. 24 at the Champions Center in Springfield. This year’s event raised $16,370.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Country Journal & Ohio Ag Net Podcast | Ep. 137 | Paylean-Palooza

Paylean Palooza is underway as Matt, Dale and Kolt discuss what fairs are expecting for the future. Bart gets insight from Dr. Todd Price on the topic. Matt sits down with Kurt Theide about the new Navigable Water Protection rule. Dave talks to Dee Anders from the Ronald McDonald house at the Clark County Cattle Battle.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s fairs wrestling with ractopamine

From coast to coast, the U.S. commercial pork industry is excited about the tremendous potential for exporting to China. China, though, is not excited about ractopamine, the active ingredient in Paylean, Optaflexx and other products. China has a ban in place for imported pork from hogs that have been fed ractopamine.

The challenge is that ractopamine has U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval as a legal feed additive for pigs over 150 pounds and has been commonly used to provide some extra muscle for the show ring and commercial production. Pork from pigs fed ractopamine is safe for human consumption. But, like it or not, if China doesn’t want it, the packers who process the pigs are not going to want it. If packers do not want it, the already limited options for processing pigs fed ractopamine get much, much slimmer.

State Veterinarian Tony Forshey outlined the problems now facing fairs at the Ohio Fair Managers Convention in early January.… Continue reading

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China’s ASF problem remains bleak for 2020

Despite 2019 having been China’s official “Year of the Pig,” things could not have been much worse for the nation’s swine herd, its farmers or the country’s 1.4 billion consumers who have a strong preference for pork as a protein.

On a positive note, official reports of African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks in China were more of a trickle in the second half of last year compared with the prior nine or so months. However, many industry experts believe that the country has little hope to rebound its ability to produce more pork in 2020. The main reason? The breeding herd. Last year, every province officially became ASF-positive. This resulted in the country losing about half of its swine herd, which equates to roughly one-quarter of the world’s swine herd.

According to Dave Pyburn, the Pork Checkoff’s chief veterinarian, China’s ASF woes are many.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely here and hope that China will see some relief,” Pyburn said.… Continue reading

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People, product and protocol — Biosecurity and African swine fever

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

The world is watching African swine fever (ASF) and it is a top concern for the U.S. pork industry.

“It would be devastating for our industry. Our industry depends on exports,” said Dave Pyburn, Vice President of Science and Technology at the National Pork Board. “Immediately in the face of an outbreak of any of the big three foreign animal diseases, (classical swine fever, foot and mouth disease, and ASF), we would see all exports stop.”

ASF is not harmful to humans, but is fatal to pigs. This particular swine disease has a near 100% fatality rate according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The ASF virus originated in sub-Saharan Africa, though most of the ASF headlines have come from China. According to a Purdue Agricultural Economics report, the USDA estimates that hog slaughter and pork production are falling sharply in China as ASF continues to devastate the Chinese pork industry.… Continue reading

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USDA moving forward with vaccine bank

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced recent progress on implementing programs funded by the 2018 Farm Bill, including moving forward with developing a Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank.

Specifically, APHIS is awarding $10.2 million to support disease prevention and emergency response training. As part of this funding, APHIS is moving forward with developing the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank. The first priority of the bank is to increase the U.S. stockpile of FMD vaccines. Last year, APHIS’ 30-day sources sought notice for FMD vaccines closed, with seven responses reviewed by the agency.

APHIS is now issuing a request for proposals, and plans to have the initial FMD vaccine contracts in place by the end of the second quarter of FY2020. The agency’s goal is to invest between $15 million and $30 million on the vaccine by the end of this year. Currently, the USDA, which has prescribed vaccination for dealing with an FMD outbreak, does not have access to enough vaccine to avoid devastating economic consequences to the U.S.… Continue reading

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Develop a plan for the year ahead

By Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

I’m glad the days are starting to be a fraction longer, even though it’s not much more yet. While I wait for some daylight, I can usually be found reading early in the morning. I’m certainly a morning person, just ask my wife. There is no other good reason to be up at 4 a.m. this time of year, especially if I don’t have to be. I am though, trying to catch up on reading while it’s a bit easier to stay inside.

There is always something to be learned, reviewed, or perhaps occasionally unlearned. I like to take a second look at old ways of doing things and reading very old agriculture books. You would be surprised to learn that things that most would think are new ideas are sometimes over a century old.

As new ideas or innovations come to light, there is always somewhat of an incentive to evaluate and try them.… Continue reading

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Beef exports (again) a key factor to watch in 2020

By Josh Maples, Assistant Professor & Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

The latest Monthly Trade data for November 2019 was released by USDA Economic Research Service. The report continued the recent trend of lower monthly exports as compared to 2018. After three consecutive years of double-digit increases (2016-2018) in beef exports, current data show January-November 2019 exports to be down 4.6% compared to the same period in 2018. There are also new and hopeful trade deals to add to the mix with Japan, Canada, Mexico, and China. Needless to say, there are plenty of moving parts for 2020.

November 2019 beef exports were 8% below the same month of 2018 at just under 245 million pounds. For January-November 2019, exports to four of the top five destinations were lower (Japan, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong) with the exception of South Korea which is up 6.3%. Japan is still the top destination for U.S.… Continue reading

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Pig virus is easily transmitted among chickens and turkeys

Ohio State University researchers are taking a look at the potential for viral diseases to spread between livestock species, and potentially to humans. The first animal study of a pig virus’ potential to jump to another species shows that the virus, once introduced to a select group of birds, is easily transmitted to healthy chickens and turkeys.

The researchers who led this work were part of a team that previously found in a lab setting that the virus could infect cells from multiple species, including chickens and humans. In this study, birds that were given the virus developed diarrhea two days after infection. Healthy birds housed with infected chickens and turkeys also developed diarrhea two days after exposure.

That rapid spread of disease surprised the Ohio State University scientists.

“We weren’t even sure the virus would transmit from bird to bird. That’s a significant finding,” said senior author Scott Kenney, assistant professor of veterinary preventive medicine based in Ohio State’s Food Animal Health Research Program at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster.… Continue reading

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2020 Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council Conference

The Ohio Forages and Grasslands Council Annual Conference will be held Feb. 21, 2020 from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. The program theme is “Foraging for profit.” The Keynote speaker will be Jimmy Henning, Forage Professor, University of Kentucky, who will discuss “Making good round bale silage” based on extensive research and experience in Kentucky. Henning will also be speaking on a second topic, “The clover dilemma: Do I have enough to withhold N fertility.”

Another featured speaker to address new fencing technologies is Tony Parker, associate professor, Ohio State University Animal Science, speaking on “Current and future technologies for grazing animal management.”

Several producer talks will also be presented which includes beef producer Jonathan Berger from Wooster, Ohio, dairy producer, Jeff Miller from Winesburg, Ohio, stored forages producers, Miles and Caleb vonStein from Jenera, Ohio and sheep producer, Brady Campbell from Waterford, Ohio.… Continue reading

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