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April meat exports held strong for beef and pork

April proved to be a solid month for U.S. beef and pork exports despite COVID-19 related interruptions in production and declining purchasing power of some key trading partners, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports were below last April’s large totals but still topped $600 million in value. Pork exports remained well above year-ago levels but slowed from the record pace established in the first quarter.

“Considering all the challenges the U.S. red meat industry faced in April, export results were encouraging,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF President and CEO. “Exporters lost several days of slaughter and processing due to COVID-19, and shipments to Mexico and some other Latin American markets declined due to slumping currencies and the imposition of stay-at-home orders. But despite these significant headwinds, global demand for U.S. beef and pork remained strong.”

While May export results will likely reflect similar obstacles, Halstrom noted that red meat production continues to recover, setting the stage for a strong second half of 2020.… Continue reading

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USDA clarifies CFAP provisions for livestock

USDA issued a Federal Register notice clarifying a handful of provisions in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which provides direct payments to farmers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and was issued last month.

Among the changes, USDA clarified CFAP payment calculations for livestock, including the calculations based on unpriced livestock sales from Jan. 15 to April 15, 2020, and those based on livestock inventory owned between April 16 to May 14, 2020. Under the change, the swine provisions now read as: “Payments for hogs and pigs will be equal to the sum of the results of the following two calculations: (1) Unpriced hogs and pigs sold between Jan. 15-April 15, 2020, multiplied by the CARES Act payment rate in paragraph (h) of this section; and (2) Hog and pig inventory owned between April 16-May 14, 2020, multiplied by the CCC payment rate in paragraph (h) of this section.”

Read the Federal Register notice here.… Continue reading

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American Lamb Resource Center website

The American Lamb Resource Center website (www.LambResourceCenter.com) is officially relaunched. This is an industry website that is a great place for sheep producers, feeders, direct marketers, educators and processors to start their search for information. It pulls together a variety of resources from American Lamb organizations, USDA and more.

The site is a service of the American Lamb Board (ALB), your checkoff organization. With a totally new design, updated content and simplified navigation, we hope you find this site even more useful. The Home page features current news and resources of particular interest. The most popular section is likely to be Resources, which has access to everything from publications, funding opportunities from a variety of sources, the American Lamb Summit, pricing calculator (also known as the Direct Marketing Lamb Business Management Tool), to market reports courtesy of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI).

The Lamb Board section explains what the mandatory checkoff program does, how it works, and how to pay.… Continue reading

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USDA updates ASF response plan

In late May, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) updated its African swine fever (ASF) strategic plan and expanded it into a full response as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen response capabilities in the event of an outbreak. The USDA APHIS USDA Response Plan: The Red Book May 2020 elevates preparedness activities in the United States should ASF enter the country. ASF is an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks. Among provisions, the response plan provides: a comprehensive feral swine response, an outline of USDA authorities and APHIS guidance specific to an ASF response, specific response actions that will be taken if ASF is detected, updated USDA APHIS National Stop Movement Guidance, and changes to surveillance guidance.

To view the Red Book, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/fadprep. The agency anticipates there will be updates to the ASF Response Plan as new capabilities and processes become available.… Continue reading

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Pastures already short? Then stocking rate is too high!

By Victor Shelton, Natural Resource Conservation Service State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Generally, by the first of June, most cool-season forages have peaked their growth and quite often have reached about two thirds of their production for the year. Clippings taken support that theory. Unfortunately, there just haven’t been enough warm sunny days for this to occur this spring until just recently.

With this being a major pivoting point for the growing season, it is usually a decent gage of stocking rate and grazing efficiency. If you are short of forage at this time of year, then the stocking rate is too high, unless you happen to be in a drought area. I don’t know of anywhere where that is an issue right now.

Think about this for a moment. If you are short on forages at the peak of the cool-season forage season, then where will you be when it turns hot and dry?… Continue reading

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Meat processing laws in Ohio and the U.S.

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

Meat sales have been subject to serious supply chain issues wrought by COVID-19, raising many questions here in Ohio about who can process meat and where meat can be sold. In my opinion, explaining meat processing laws is nearly as difficult as summarizing the Internal Revenue Code. But one easy answer to the meat processing questions we’ve been receiving relates to Ohio’s participation in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Program established by the 2008 Farm Bill. Ohio was the first state to participate in CIS and is the largest of the seven approved state CIS programs. CIS participation means that a small Ohio processor can apply to operate as a “federally inspected” plant and sell meat across state lines, including through online sales.

To become a “CIS establishment,” the processor must have fewer than 25 full-time employees and meet specific food safety and sanitation standards that are verified through an inspection and assessment process.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Country Journal & Ohio Ag Net Podcast |Ep. 157 | Send your county fair updates in

The Quarantine Chronicles go on another day. Kolt, Dale, and Dusty host the podcast this week and discuss a few topics as plant 2020 begins to come to a close. Matt features interviews with Tracy Dendinger with the Ohio Youth Livestock Expo, David Wilson from Bane Welker, and Patty Mann from Shelby County.… Continue reading

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There is still time to make up for lost hay

By Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Ag and Natural Resources, Morgan County

Some suggest hay yields are half of normal. Is that the result of late freezes, or more timely harvest this year?

I hope you are not having the hay season I am having. While the quality of my hay is good, my yields are extremely disappointing. With over half of my fields made, I am around 50% of a normal crop. The two late freezes killed back growing grass last month, and honestly, I am mowing hay earlier than most years. I am also doing it much faster with my youngest son not working this summer at the Wilmington College farm due to the virus and helping on the farm. Another thing I have noticed over the past few years is that some hay fields have less fescue and orchard grass, and more poor quality forages like cheat grass reducing quality and yields.… Continue reading

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Ohio Youth Livestock Expo moves forward with plans for 2020 junior shows

By Matt Reese

Many livestock shows have been canceled in 2020, including junior shows at the Ohio State Fair. In an effort to provide some opportunities for youth exhibitors to show their livestock in 2020, a group of volunteers teamed up to form the Ohio Youth Livestock Expo (OYLE).

“The Ohio Youth Livestock Expo was created to provide the show opportunity for Ohio’s junior livestock exhibitors during the timeframe when their intended show may have been canceled,” said Tracy Dendinger, livestock judge, breeder, agricultural educator, and OYLE volunteer. “It is not only the Ohio State Fair. There are other difficult decisions being made within our 88 counties in Ohio where shows may have canceled.”

With this in mind, OYLE is planning multiple shows later this summer.

“The OYLE is a lineup of junior market and breeding shows for beef cattle, sheep, Boer goats, and pigs,” Dendinger said. “We are looking for 4-H and FFA members who would be eligible for junior fair exhibition.… Continue reading

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OSIA LEAD Council update on sheep shows

For the 2020 show season, the OSIA LEAD Council is sponsoring two shows in order to bulk up the 2020 show season for our membership and Ohio 4-H and FFA members. In order for this to occur, sponsors are needed. Please go to this link to make a financial contribution via PayPal or print the donation form and send it to the OSIA office.  Thank you in advance.

Follow the OSIA LEAD Facebook page for the most updated OSIA LEAD Council Sanctioned Show Schedule. Currently these sanctioned shows are scheduled:

  • June 13, 2020 – Mid-Ohio Lamb Classic – Millersburg – Single Market Lamb Only Show
  • June 20, 2020 – OSIA LEAD Shows – Bucyrus –  Bratwurst Blowout/Crawford County Clash – Double Market Lamb/Single Breeding Sheep Show
  • June 27, 2020 – Buckeye Livestock Expo – Millersburg – Single Market Lamb Only
  • July 11, 2020 – OSIA LEAD Shows – Eaton – Border Bash – Market Lamb/Breeding Sheep

Those who plan to show at any of the OSIA LEAD Council Sanctioned shows should refer to the 2020 OSIA LEAD Council Exhibitor Rules.… Continue reading

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World Dairy Expo canceled

world-dairy-expo-show-ring

World Dairy Expo 2020 has been canceled.

Following a meeting between World Dairy Expo’s officers and general manager, Alliant Energy Center leadership, and officials from Public Health Madison & Dane County, it has been determined, based on the national CDC guidelines and Dane County restrictions related to COVID-19, which include the Alliant Energy Center, a county owned facility, holding World Dairy Expo in 2020 is not feasible.

World Dairy Expo is issuing full refunds for all payments made for the 2020 show. Complete details regarding refunds will be forthcoming.

Other options were explored and considered by the World Dairy Expo Executive Committee and staff, but no feasible other option was found.

“Whether you are one of our 1,600 dairy cattle exhibitors, an employee of one of our 850 companies participating in Expo, one of our 400 dedicated volunteers, one of our 7,000 youth participants, or one of the 62,000 dairy enthusiasts who join us in Madison each fall as an attendee, you are the most important piece and what makes World Dairy Expo so special.

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Livestock farms should note the possibility of increased activist activity

The Animal Agriculture Alliance has contacted the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to raise concerns about recent animal rights activist activity. The effort involves an interactive map pinpointing specific farms and meat processing plants across the U.S.

Activists are being encouraged to use the map to locate farms and processors in their area and create a “paper trail” for them with photos and videos collected by going to those farms. This is a good reminder for all livestock farmers to remain vigilant and be mindful of farm security at all times.

Tips to prevent unexpected visitors:

  • Do the right thing. Above all else, make sure your farm is exceeding all expectations for animal care, cleanliness and environmental responsibility whether there is a camera on you or not.
  • Post “no trespassing” signs. Make it clear that unexpected visitors are not allowed on the property. Signs should appear professionally made to convey the seriousness. 
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Creamery business booms during COVID-19

By Matt Reese

Luke Jackson just finished up his sophomore year of high school at home and did not get to spend much of his spring on the baseball diamond with his teammates like usual. Not much has been usual, after all, in the spring of 2020.

Luke loves sports of all kinds and has missed the athletic activity, but the coronavirus that kept him off the athletic fields also helped double the demand for his family’s Indian Creek Creamery in Logan County. As their new business boomed in recent weeks, Ray and Colleen Jackson were glad to have some extra help on the more than 70-head dairy farm from their two sons (Luke and Samuel, a student at Calvin University in Grand Rapids) who were both home from school due to the pandemic.

Ray has been involved in the dairy industry most of his life

and milking on the Logan County farm since 1991 and, in recent years, saw a need to respond to the increasingly challenging market conditions for milk.… Continue reading

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Growing hope for dairy markets

robotic-milker-on-cow

By Alan Bjerga, National Milk Producers Federation

While no one can say with certainty that the slow re-openings across the U.S. mark the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s clear these attempts to return to a more normal existence mark the end of the beginning. The world is an experiment, both of science and of societies. Outcomes will remain uncertain for months.

But data can help draw a few conclusions. One from the consumer sector is that, in times of uncertainty, people turn to the bedrock items that they know will nourish themselves and their families. And dairy is an important choice.

Retail-sales as reported by consumer market researcher IRI over the past three months show that consumers have reacted to the coronavirus crisis first by stocking up on dairy, then by continuing to buy milk and other products at disproportionately high levels.

From March 8 to March 22, as stay-at-home orders and business closures proliferated nationwide, dairy products flew from store shelves.… Continue reading

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Share the love (and milk) in June Dairy Month

With schools closed and community meal services suspended amid the COVID-19 crisis, the need for reliable, nutritious food is even greater for thousands of families across the country.

In response, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) family farmer-owners have donated the equivalent of more than 625,000 gallons of milk to the many families faced with hunger who relied on these services over the past few months. Additionally, through the creation of the DFA Cares Farmers Feeding Families Fund, DFA and its farmer-owners are raising money to help provide essential support and deliver much-needed dairy products to community food banks across the country. To date, DFA has raised more than $500,000.

“With job losses, food insecurity and the need for additional supplies at food banks at an all-time high, we’re grateful for our family farmers, employees, industry partners and friends in the community for all they are doing in the midst of this pandemic to get dairy from the farm to the tables of those in need,” said Monica Massey, DFA executive vice president and chief of staff.… Continue reading

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March margin triggers Dairy Margin Coverage Program payment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that the March 2020 income over feed cost margin was $9.15 per hundredweight (cwt.), triggering the first payment of 2020 for dairy producers who purchased the appropriate level of coverage under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. Current projections indicate that a DMC payment is likely to trigger every month for the remainder of 2020, a different expectation from last July when some market models had forecast no program payments for 18 months.

“This payment comes at a critical time for many dairy producers,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA Administrator. “It is the first triggered DMC payment for 2020, and the first payment to dairy producers in seven months.”

Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, DMC is a voluntary risk management program that offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.… Continue reading

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New alternatives for county fair auctions

Show and fair officials from across the country are looking at alternative options for their upcoming auctions amid uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

In response, Ohio – Breeders’ World Online Sales has introduced BW Final Drive Youth

Auctions as an alternative option to county fairs across the country to still hold auctions for their exhibitors. BW Final Drive Youth Auctions offers multiple options including premium sale online auctions, an “add on” option for buyers to add money to an exhibitor’s premium, and a terminal/market online auction.

“Being an auctioneer, 4-H advisor, county fair committee member and a 4-H parent, I am here to provide you with the best possible solutions for your auctions at a cost that reflects the youth are my top priority,” said Roger Hunker, owner of Breeders’ World Online Sales and BW Final Drive Youth Auctions.

BW Final Drive Youth Auctions works with each fair/show individually to meet their needs and guidelines.… Continue reading

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Gracee is my name

By Matt Reese

“So what’s your name? What county are you from?”

Gracee Workman, like anyone in a new role in agriculture, was asked these questions repeatedly during her first few days on the job selecting breeding gilts for Heimerl Farms and PIC.

“I got a lot of questions about my family’s name,” Gracee said. “They wanted to know where I came from and about my farm background. I didn’t have that.”

She did not have a family heritage in agriculture to share with those who asked. Her story had much different beginnings. Her parents divorced when she was very young and one of Gracee’s earliest memories was sleeping on the floor under a card table in her room surrounded by dog feces in a Columbus house that was mostly otherwise empty. Her mother had been selling everything she could find — rugs, furniture, appliances — to pay for her drug addiction.… Continue reading

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Food bloopers

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and nutritionist

bloop·er /ˈblo͞opər/ Noun; an embarrassing error.

Thursday mornings at my church, a class of primarily Japanese women meet to learn English. They are sponges for American culture, food and words. Classes are filled with laughter as words get mixed up, Americanisms are learned, and bonds are created. I had been planning a class about All-American foods when the pandemic hit. To get my mind off the germs, I took matters in my own hands and decided to make Tasty Tuesday All-American Favorites. Tasty Tuesday would feature a how-to video of a recipe. First up: Easy Crockpot Roast Beef (a.k.a. Pot Roast). I made cue cards of vocabulary words such as ground beef, ground sirloin, ground round and ground chuck. My husband Paul filmed as I began talking about cuts of beef using the great interactive resources on www.brobbq.com. First, the round and then “moving on to the chicken, I mean chuck!” I let out a howl of laughter, the camera bobbed as Paul snickered and we moved right along.… Continue reading

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Set yourself up for grazing success

By Rory Lewandowski, Ohio State University Extension Educator Wayne County

Like any resource, pastures respond to management. Grazing offers economic benefits as compared to producing and feeding stored forages as livestock harvest the forage directly. Capture the benefits of grazing and set yourself up for success by using the 4-Rs to manage pastures. We typically hear of the 4-Rs in relationship to water quality and fertilizer management, but pasture management has its own set of 4-Rs. Those 4-Rs stand for the grazing principles of Right beginning grazing height, Remove/Reduce seed heads, Residual leaf area and Rest period.

During the spring flush, the goal is to remove only the top couple of inches of the plant, and then quickly move on. Do not begin to graze pastures too soon. There is a positive correlation between pasture plant height, density, and livestock intake. Animal intake is directly correlated with animal performance. The goal is to make sure that grazing livestock get a full mouthful of forage with every bite they take.… Continue reading

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