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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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Ohio Pork Council Recognized by American Association of Political Consultants and Ohio Poultry Association

For the second year in a row, the Ohio Pork Council received top honors at the American Association of Political Consultants Pollie Award Conference, held on April 2-4, 2019, in Napa Valley, Ca.

OPC’s Bacon Vending Machine took top honors in the Best New and Unusual Tactic category of the Pollie Awards — the most prized and sought-after awards in the political communications and public affairs industries. The Bacon Vending Machine was designed to create a unique way to promote pork products, while emphasizing farmers’ mission to give back to the community. Additionally, the Bacon Vending Machine served as a fundraiser for The Ohio State University’s meat science program. The vending machine was launched on Ohio State’s campus last December, and received media attention from local, national and international news outlets.

As an allied industry member, OPC works alongside Ohio’s commodity groups on various agricultural fronts. As a token of appreciation, the Ohio Poultry Association awarded OPC with the Industry Partner Award during their recent Industry Celebration Banquet – a fundraiser for Ohio Poultry Association charities.

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Ohioans win national pork industry scholarships

The Pork Checkoff has awarded 20 scholarships to college students around the United States as part of its strategy to develop the pork industry’s future human capital. A National Pork Board committee judged the pool of 48 applicants based on scholastic merit, leadership activities, involvement in the pork production industry and the applicants’ plans for a career in pork production. Ohio has four 2019 scholarship recipients.

“The Pork Checkoff is proud to support these young people who are showing a real interest in the pork industry as a career choice,” said Steve Rommereim, president of the National Pork Board and a producer from Alcester, South Dakota. “As our industry continues to evolve, we know we will need more qualified young people to take on the various roles in the pork chain. We must support this effort to help ensure the next generation of talent for our dynamic industry.”

The 20 student recipients hail from 10 states and 11 universities across the U.S.

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Time for some “defensive driving” with cattle production

By John Grimes, Ohio State University Extension Beef Coordinator

The term “defensive driving” may seem like an odd choice of words to start an article about beef cattle. Stay with me on this one. When I think about defensive driving, I think about watching out for factors such as the surrounding traffic, weather conditions, time of day, driver fatigue, etc. and how they may affect your ability to travel safely from point A to point B. How does this concept relate to beef cattle production?

As we are in the midst of changing both weather and production seasons, now is the time to be analyzing your animals and the environmental conditions around them to make important management decisions that can impact your operation for the short- and long-term. Most of you are painfully aware that the beef herd has faced many challenges through the winter of 2018-2019. As we move into spring with green grass and warmer temperatures, do not get lulled into a false sense of security that any problems we have been experiencing are going to magically disappear.

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Why do we import so much beef?

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

One question that I receive on a regular basis is “Why do we import so much beef?”

First, the top four import sources of beef include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico and the majority of imported beef is used as processing beef, which means it is ground and not marketed as a muscle cut. In 2018, the U.S. exported about 150 million more pounds of beef than it imported. It is actually more common for the U.S. to import more beef than it exports.

Back to the question at hand, “Why do we import so much beef?” The answer is rather simple. If a person has a product that can achieve a goal and it is worth $5 per pound and they could purchase a similar product for $3 per pound that would achieve the same goal then the person would sell their product for $5 and purchase the similar product for $3 which would leave them with $2 per pound assuming no transaction costs.

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Charities benefit from the 2019 Poultry Prom

By Matt Reese

Each year, the Ohio Poultry Association Annual Industry Celebration Banquet has a theme and the 34th installment of the event was no exception. This year, guests were asked to don formal dress as if they were back in their high school days and attending the prom. Guests dressed in their finest (or in many cases their formerly formal finest from yesteryear).

The 2019 Poultry Prom featured a court of volunteers vying for the title of prom king and queen by collecting the most in cash donations from attendees. One of those volunteers — dressed in a tuxedo and looking the part of Prom King — was Ohio Poultry Association president Josh Moore.

“We are raising funds for any of our Ohio Poultry Association charities we work with. We do a lot of work with charities here in Ohio. We try to find areas where we can help the community and work on the development of young leaders through programs like 4-H and FFA.

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Pork producers set national legislative priorities

The National Pork Producers Council wrapped up its Spring Legislative Action Conference. More than 100 pork producers from across the United States gathered in Washington this week to meet with their representatives in Congress to discuss solutions for trade, animal disease preparedness and agriculture’s labor shortage.

“Lifting metal tariffs on Mexico and restoring zero-tariff access for U.S. pork in our largest export market is our number one priority,” said David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina and president of the National Pork Producers Council. “Restricted access to Mexico has placed a severe financial strain on our farmers for more than a year. We asked our representatives to do all they can to push for an end to this and other trade disputes, including China, that are hurting our export-dependent farmers.”

NPPC members also urged members of Congress to advocate for the quick completion of a trade deal with Japan at a time when new trade agreements Japan has formed with other countries are threatening U.S.

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Ohio Pork Council to host Pork-a-Palooza

The Ohio Pork Council is pleased to host Pork-a-Palooza for the second year in a row. The event will be featuring bacon, BBQ and beer at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on May 18, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Throughout the event, attendees will have the opportunity to dine on pork-centric food items from Central Ohio’s finest restaurants and food trucks, listen to live music, and take part in numerous kids activities, giveaways and educational experiences.

“Pork-a-Palooza is a wonderful opportunity for the Delaware community to learn more about pork and how it’s raised in Ohio while enjoying an afternoon outside with friends and family,” said Ken Garee, Delaware County resident and Ohio Pork Council’s Director at Large.

Price of admission is $6 per person, while children 12 and under are granted free admission. Tickets can be purchased online at pork-a-palooza.com or on the day of the event. Those who purchase their tickets online will be presented with an exclusive Pork-a-Palooza punch card on the day of the event.

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Hog farmers host chef competition at Annual Taste of Elegance

Chef Aaron Braun, Meadowlark Restaurant, took top honors at the Ohio Pork Council’s Taste of Elegance Chef Competition and Legislative Reception, earning the coveted Chef Par Excellence award. Braun was also awarded the People’s Choice award for the second consecutive year.

Chef Broc Baltes, Mercy Health, was named Superior Chef, while Chef Tom Tiner, AVI Foodsystems, was selected as Premier Chef.

This year, each of the three chefs prepared an appetizer and entrée featuring pork. Judging the event were Connie Surber, past OPC Board Member and longtime supporter of Ohio’s pork industry; Chef Todd McDunn, Resident Director of Food Services, Scotts Miracle-Gro Campus and five-time Taste of Elegance winner; and Greg Lestini, Attorney, Bricker and Eckler.

A signature tradition of Taste of Elegance, guests received white gloves and a bone-in pork chop to begin the evening. After sampling assorted flavors of bacon, cheeses and appetizers, they were invited to taste samples from each of the chefs’ menus.

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APHIS announces updates to scrapie regulations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is updating its scrapie regulations and program standards. These updates include several major changes, which are needed to continue the fight to eradicate scrapie from American sheep flocks and goat herds. Scrapie is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy disease that affects the central nervous system in sheep and goats, and is eventually fatal.

The changes APHIS is making to update the program are supported by the sheep and goat industry and incorporate the latest science to provide APHIS with increased flexibility.

Scientific studies show that sheep with certain genotypes are resistant to or less susceptible to classical scrapie and are unlikely to get the disease. Because of this, APHIS is changing the definition of a scrapie high-risk animal so that it no longer includes most genetically-resistant and genetically-less susceptible sheep. These animals pose a minimal risk of developing or transmitting scrapie, and by no longer considering them high-risk, they will no longer need to be depopulated or permanently restricted to their home farm.

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Dairy Producers Previously enrolled in the Livestock Gross Margin Program now eligible for 2018 MPP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program (LGM-Dairy) now have the opportunity to participate in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) for 2018 coverage. Sign-up will take place March 25 through May 10, 2019.

Producers enrolled in 2018 LGM-Dairy, administered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), previously were determined by the 2014 Farm Bill to be ineligible for coverage under MPP-Dairy, a safety net program available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

“The 2018 Farm Bill included substantial changes to USDA dairy programs,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “This includes the ability for producers with LGM coverage to retroactively enroll in MPP-Dairy for 2018. It also integrated recent improvements to the MPP-Dairy in the new Dairy Margin Coverage program, beginning with the 2019 calendar year.”

The MPP-Dairy program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost — the margin — falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producers in a dairy operation.

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Veterinary drug residue survey yields impressive results for pork

In a basic survey of more than a thousand pork kidney samples, almost no veterinary drug residues were found and none at levels that even approached U. S. regulatory limits, according to a study just published by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist.

These findings signal that U.S. pork producers are using veterinary compounds properly, and indicate that veterinary drug residues in pork are not posing a health concern to U.S. consumers, according to ARS research chemist Weilin Shelver. Shelver is with the ARS Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research Unit in Fargo, North Dakota.

A total of 1,040 pork kidneys were purchased from four grocery stores in the Midwest and tested for residues of five commonly used veterinary drugs and feed additives: flunixin, penicillin G, ractopamine, sulfamethazine and tetracycline. Pork kidneys are commonly used as an indicator meat as they are readily accessible and tend to concentrate drug residues compared to more commonly consumed muscle meats.

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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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