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Emergency forages for planting early to mid-summer

By Mark Sulc, Extension Forage Specialist, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and Bill Weiss, Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Many dairy producers are facing a critical forage shortage to feed their herds. Forage stands were damaged across Ohio this past winter, and the wet spring has further deteriorated the few stands that initially appeared they might recover from winter damage. It is now too risky to try to establish new perennial forage stands, with the warmer summer weather coming on. We should wait until August to establish perennial stands. Meanwhile, what options can we consider for growing forage this year?

We are well past the time when cool-season species like oats, triticale, Italian ryegrass, and spring barley can be planted. Sudangrass, sorghum x sudangrass hybrids, pearl millet, and forage sorghum grow rapidly in summer and yield a total of 3.5 to 5 tons of DM with acceptable nutritive value.

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Fighting resistance with brains and brawn

By Don “Doc” Sanders

You can’t escape reading or hearing about disease-causing microorganisms — with exotic names like MRSA and E. coli OH:157 — that develop resistance to drugs. There are also plenty of reports about resistance to antibiotics in livestock and people or weeds’ resistance to crop chemicals.

There is another kind of resistance in cattle, swine, sheep and goats: internal worms that develop resistance to deworming agents. On this subject, I offer you this true story about a couple of cattlemen and their herd of 200 brood cows out on Cowpath Road.

Lowell was a retired local factory manager. His son, Jimmie, had returned home from Ohio State with a degree in animal science. I enjoyed talking with them and listening to their unconventional observations. And I was impressed by their astute management of their herd. They used frequent pasture rotations, a computerized heat detection system to determine when a cow was cycling, and artificial insemination, followed up with “natural cover” breeding with bulls for those cows that didn’t conceive and were back in heat.

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Plan now for the 2019 OCA Replacement Female Sale

By John F. Grimes, OCA Replacement Female Sale Manager

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) is announcing an event of potential interest for both the buyers and sellers of beef breeding cattle. On Friday evening, Nov. 29, the OCA will be hosting their seventh annual Replacement Female Sale. The sale will be held at the Muskingum Livestock facility in Zanesville and will begin at 6:00 p.m.

The 2019 Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Replacement Female Sale will provide an opportunity for both buyers and sellers to meet the need for quality replacements in the state. Consignments may include cow-calf pairs, bred cows and bred heifers. Females must be under the age of five as of Jan. 1, 2020 and may be of registered or commercial background. Bred females must be bred to a bull with known EPD’s and calves at side of cows must be sired by a bull with known EPD’s. Pregnancy status must be verified by an accredited veterinarian through traditional palpation, ultrasound or by blood testing through a professional laboratory.

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Feed prices rising for 2019

By Brenda Boetel, professor and Extension economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

With stalled planting progress in much of the U.S., the July, September and December 2019 CME corn futures market contracts have increased an average of $0.59 from May 1 to early June. The average May change over the last 5 years has been a decrease of $0.11. Given the significant decrease in plantings and the percentage of corn that has been planted late, corn price may continue to increase. While the trade concerns with Mexico are the bearish indicators the decrease in acres will likely have a greater impact.

Over the last 5 years Mexico has taken an average of 24% of our exports. 24% of the average 5 years of exports is 522 million bushels of corn. If one assumes corn planting will be down 6 million acres to 86.8 million acres and we see a decrease of two bushels per acre to 174.6 bushels per acre yield we would see a decrease in corn production of 554 million bushels.

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Meat industry lawsuits

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

A recent class-action lawsuit was filed in Illinois federal court by a number of cattle ranchers, including R-CALF, against the nation’s largest meatpacking companies. Now, another lawsuit has been filed in Minnesota federal court also alleging a price fixing conspiracy by the meatpackers. The second lawsuit is being brought by a cattle futures trader, rather than a rancher. After the second suit was filed, R-CALF voluntarily dismissed its case in Illinois to refile it in Minnesota. This refiling allows the lawsuits to be heard by the same court.

Tyson, which is named as a defendant in the class action suits, is a plaintiff in another case against the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The company alleges that a FSIS inspector falsified an inspection of 4,622 hogs, which were intermingled with another 8,000 carcasses, at one of its Iowa facilities in 2018.

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Pork Checkoff seeks 2019 #RealPigFarming
student social forces team

The National Pork Board is seeking applicants for the 2019 student social forces team. The applications are open now through July 8 at Pork.org/SocialForces.

The social forces team will advocate for pig farming through social media usage. Selected applicants who successfully complete all outlined milestones will be eligible for a $500 scholarship.

“Last year, the team generated over 670 positive posts about pig farming in a five-month period,” said Claire Masker, director of sustainability communications for the National Pork Board. “This year, we anticipate more discussion about pig farming while the students expand their professional network.”

The Checkoff’s #RealPigFarming social media campaign gives pig farmers, academics, youth, veterinarians and allied industry members an opportunity to discuss today’s pork production across social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Applications are open to students, age 18 to 23, who are involved in the swine industry and who are pursuing a post-secondary degree.

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Cultivating customers by building a brand

By Matt Reese

Visitors to Carroll Creek Farms are first greeted by a just-rustic-enough farm sign at the end of the long, tree-lined gravel drive bordered by green, flowing springtime pastures. Cattle and sheep chew contentedly on their forage as vehicles turn in the drive.

Visitors are typically welcomed by a couple of friendly dogs, and maybe a free-roaming sheep, as their cars pull to a stop. Atop the gentle rise from the road sits a most pleasant farmhouse and charming shop coined the “Meat Retreat” where customers can peruse the farm’s offerings that include a full array of cuts from their homegrown livestock raised in the surrounding fields. The production methods, scale and farm story at Adam and Jess Campbell’s Warren County farm check all the buzzwords off the wish lists of urban customers looking for a connection to a farm and their food.

“The production methods we use allow us quench our customers thirst for full transparency around the meat they consume,” Jess Campbell said.

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EPA finalizes farm exemption from EPCRA reporting requirements

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler recently finalized a rule exempting livestock producers from unnecessary reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Created in 1986, EPCRA was created to help communities plan for chemical emergencies. It requires industry to report on the storage, use and releases of hazardous substances to federal, state, and local governments to help prepare for potential risks. In March of 2018, Congress addressed this issue with the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act exempting livestock operations from reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. The recent action from the EPA was the implementation of this measure.

“Farmers, ranchers, and emergency response officials all agree: routine emissions from agricultural operations are not a threat to local communities. Congress made a common-sense decision to exempt livestock producers from frivolous reporting requirements at the federal level with its passage of the FARM Act, and we are glad to see EPA fully implement the law by providing relief from burdensome state and local reporting requirements,” said Jennifer Houston, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

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$65 hay bales a sign of the times

By Joel Penhorwood

Because it has been such a bad year for row crop farmers, it can be easy to overlook the terrible hay baling conditions much of the state has experienced so far with extremely short windows of dry weather. That truth came to a fever pitch at the most recent LaRue Horse and Tack Sale.

“We usually have an average of 300 to 500 bales a month that people bring in,” said Janeen Heilman, sale organizer. “In April, of this year, we had 439 bales of hay of all different kinds and cuttings. The average per bale for April was $5.64. In May, we only had 195 bales for sale. The average for those was $6.91 per bale.”

The situation, which has slowly been increasing in desperation, hit its peak on Saturday, June 1.

“This month, we only had 15 bales and we had two people hurting for hay.

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Dairy facts for dairy month

The National Milk Producers Federation is pointing out some key facts about U.S. dairy in observance of National Dairy Month in June.

 

The state of the industry

  • Total domestic consumption of milk has risen four of the past five years and reached a record in 2018.
  • While per-capita milk U.S. consumption has declined, consumption of non-fluid dairy products such as cheese have increased, with butter last year at its highest per-capita consumption in more than 50 years.
  • U.S. dairy export volumes reached a record in 2018, increasing 9% over the prior year despite stiff trade winds. The value of U.S. exports was $5.59 billion, 2% more than the prior year, despite trade disturbances that to date have cost farmers at least $2.3 billion in revenues.

 

Sustainability and animal welfare

  • The U.S. dairy industry contributes approximately two percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — the lowest average GHG intensity of milk production worldwide.
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Dairy farms continue through challenging times

By Matt Reese

Just milking twice a day, every day, for four hours each time, can take its toll. Then in between the milking bookends of the day, dairy farmers feed calves, care for the cows, grow crops, bale hay, maintain the farm, and manage the land as a part of their duties. And, despite the relentless work schedule and long hours, many dairy farmers have surely suffered some sleepless nights in recent years as they eek by on the thinnest of margins as milk prices have dropped and stayed low.

Four at a time, Devin Cain milks 61 Holstein cows with his father Larry in Belmont County and the budget has been tight on the dairy farm.

“Ever since 2014, it has been tough with milk prices. I think we saw around $23 milk in 2014. Last year it was down in the $14s and averaged in the $16 range.

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2019 Dairy Margin Coverage Program signup coming soon

By Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension Field Specialist

The Farm Service Agency plans to open the sign-up period on June 17 for the newly renovated Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program, re-named and re-configured in the 2018 Farm Bill. The changes you will see in the DMC Program attempt to fix some of the problems that rendered the Dairy Margin Protection Program largely ineffective until initial adjustments were implemented early in 2018.

Two of the biggest changes that will positively impact farms of all sizes include 1) adding 3 new margins ($8.50, $9.00 and $9.50) at reasonable premiums, and 2) allowing farms with base production of more than 5 million pounds to make a second margin election for pounds over the first 5 million.

There are also opportunities to recover program participation net losses from 2014, 2015, 2016 or 2017. Repayment can be received either as cash (50% of the net loss), or by applying it to premiums for participation in the new program (75% of the net loss).

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China facing huge losses from African swine fever

With China’s international gateway city of Hong Kong now officially positive for African swine fever (ASF), the country is nearly 100% ASF-positive. Aside from this near totality in geographic spread of ASF, the disease’s toll on China’s swine herd is reaching epic proportions. Some estimates peg current and future losses related to ASF at more than 200 million pigs. Even more dire than this is the seeming inability of the country’s pig farmers and veterinarians to successfully repopulate farms and keep them from breaking with ASF again even after they have been depopulated, cleaned, disinfected and left idle for months. This has led to pork shortages and reports of some outlets having to switch to alternative proteins, such as chicken or seafood.

In late April, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs released a communication regarding a 100-day action plan to manage the transition to the ASF self-testing system during the slaughter process and the official veterinarian stationing system at pig slaughterhouses.

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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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