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A diversified grazing plan works best for when Mother Nature is not cooperating

By Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

I’ve heard several people mentioning lately that they are glad that this season is about over. This is especially true with corn and soybean producers. It certainly has been a very unusual year.

None of us need a reminder of the spring, but most areas of Indiana started out and remained wet for a very extended period which delayed or prevented row crop planting and created lots of challenges for pasture and hay.

Some areas just kept wet enough to keep you out of the fields while others remained saturated from excessive amounts of rain. I’ve now exceeded my 2018 rainfall of 61 inches and the year is not over yet.

Surprisingly, even with all the rain, there was still a droughty period from late August until early October, which varied slightly depending on location. This dry period created issues with fall-planted annuals and stockpiled forages.… Continue reading

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Congressional request for avian predator management flexibility

A letter signed by 15 U.S. Senators and 23 Members of Congress, was sent to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Margaret Everson this week. The letter requested that the Service promulgate new rules to increase flexibility in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) permitting process to empower livestock producers to protect their livelihoods. The bipartisan, bicameral letter was led by Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA-2).

“Whether it is black vultures, ravens, or cormorants, MBTA-protected avian predators pose a significant risk to newborn calves and livestock operations across the country,” said Ethan Lane, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association vice president of government affairs. “Despite populations of each species numbered in the millions, current regulations place arbitrary caps on permitted take and incur heavy restrictions on preventative measures necessary to protect farming and ranching operations. We appreciate the leadership of Sen. Boozman and Rep. Bishop and look forward to engaging with the U.S.… Continue reading

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Livestock issues and legal action

By Ellen Essman and Peggy Hall, Ohio Law Blog, Agricultural & Resource Law Program at The Ohio State University

Livestock issues have been the subject of various legal action around the the nation in recent weeks.

In August, Oregon passed a new law that would require egg-laying chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, or guinea fowl to be kept in a “cage-free housing system.” This law will apply to all commercial farms with more than 3,000 laying hens. A cage-free housing system must have both indoor and outdoor areas, allow the hens to roam unrestricted, and must have enrichments such as scratch areas, perches, nest boxes and dust bathing areas. As of Jan. 1, 2024, all eggs sold in the state of Oregon will have to follow these requirements for hens. The law does allow hens to be confined in certain situations, like for veterinary purposes or when they are part of a state or county fair exhibition.… Continue reading

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American Sheep Industry now accepting award nominations

Once again, it’s time to submit nominations for ASI Awards, which will be presented during the 2020 ASI Annual Convention on Jan. 22-25 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The deadline for all award nominations is Nov. 15.

There are five awards open for nominations: The McClure Silver Ram Award, the Camptender Award, the Distinguished Producer Award, the Industry Innovation Award and the Shepherd’s Voice Award.

The McClure Silver Ram Award is dedicated to volunteer commitment and service and is presented to a sheep producer who has made substantial contributions to the sheep industry and its organizations in his/her state, region or nation. The award may recognize a lifetime of achievement or may recognize a noteworthy, shorter-term commitment and service to the industry.

The Camptender Award recognizes industry contributions from a professional in a position or field related to sheep production. Nominees should show a strong commitment and a significant contribution to the sheep industry, its organizations and its producers above and beyond what is called for in his/her professional capacity.… Continue reading

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Modern dairy production efficiencies reducing environmental impact

A new Journal of Animal Science study shows U.S dairy farmers have excelled in production efficiency — so much so that the environmental footprint to produce a gallon of milk has shrunk significantly since 1944 — using 90% less land, 65% less water, 63% smaller carbon footprint per gallon of milk.

More importantly, the trend on production efficiencies and reduced environmental impacts has actually accelerated in the last 10 years, based on a recently updated analysis of the original 2007 study, which concluded that Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to produce a gallon of milk dropped nearly 20% over the 10-year period from 2007 to 2017.

Laura Campbell, manager of Michigan Farm Bureau’s Ag Ecology Department, said the recently updated study confirms what most farmers already know first-hand.

“Ongoing scientific research and improvements in genetics, animal nutrition, herd health management and ongoing advancements in crop production efficiencies have allowed dairy farmers to produce more with less,” Campbell said.… Continue reading

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Livestock Risk Management and Education Act introduced

The Livestock Risk Management and Education Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) to provide risk management tools for livestock operations.

“This legislation will provide boots-on-the-ground cattle producers with critical resources and opportunities to increase their understanding and engagement with risk management tools. This bill speaks directly to our core values as an industry – arming producers with the latest farm management resources and tools in order to help them navigate ever-changing and dynamic market conditions,” said Todd Wilkinson, South Dakota cattle producer and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Policy Division vice chair. “In a market environment that continues to challenge even the most experienced multi-generational operations, NCBA believes that it is critical for producers to understand their options for managing risk. The Livestock Risk Management and Education Act policy will provide the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture the authority and flexibility to collaborate with industry to ensure that cattle farmers and ranchers have access to those options and the knowledge base to determine which ones are right for their operations.… Continue reading

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Surface application of manure to newly planted wheat fields

By Glen Arnold, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

Several livestock producers have inquired about applying liquid dairy or swine manure to newly planted wheat fields using a drag hose. The thought process is that the fields are firm (dry), there is very little rain in the nearby forecast, and the moisture in the manure could help with wheat germination and emergence.

The manure nutrients could easily replace the commercial fertilizer normally applied in advance of planting wheat. The application of fall-applied livestock manure to newly planted or growing crop can reduce nutrient losses compared to fall-applied manure without a growing crop.

Both swine and dairy manure can be used to add moisture to newly planted wheat. It’s important that the wheat seeds were properly covered with soil when planted to keep a barrier between the salt and nitrogen in the manure and the germinating wheat seed. It’s also important that livestock producers know their soil phosphorus levels, and the phosphorus in the manure being applied, so we don’t grow soil phosphorus levels beyond what is acceptable.… Continue reading

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Applications open for National Pork Checkoff Board of Directors

The Pork Checkoff’s board of directors is accepting applications through Nov. 1 to fill five three-year terms. State pork producer associations, farm organizations or individuals who pay the Pork Checkoff, including pig farmers and pork importers, may submit an application.

“Serving on the National Pork Board is a great opportunity for producers to support the pork industry while helping to plan for a successful future,” said Alcester, South Dakota, producer Steve Rommereim, who is the past National Pork Board president and chair of the Nominating Committee. “Not only have I been able to serve producers, I also have learned from so many in our pork industry.”

During the National Pork Industry Forum, Pork Act Delegates must rank a minimum of 10 candidates to send to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for approval. The board consists of 15 members, each serving a maximum of two three-year terms. The Pork Act requires that no fewer than 12 states be represented.… Continue reading

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Low-cost treatment of meat processing wastewater protects the environment

By Karen Mancl

In 2000, a small, family owned meat processor was facing closure. They were under orders from Ohio EPA to change the way they handled their wastewater. Abandoning the smelly lagoon system they were permitted to use for years to connect to the city treatment plant was too expensive.

Through industry, university and government cooperation, a new way to treat their wastewater was developed and it saved the company. The Ohio EPA agreed to allow the company to work with Ohio State University to study using sand bioreactors to treat the high-strength, high-fat content wastewater. After a 2-year lab study in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at OSU using the meat processing wastewater, the simple technology was tested in a small pilot plant built by the meat processor.

The pilot plant success led to obtaining a permit to construct a full-scale sand bioreactor treatment plant in 2010.… Continue reading

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Are robotic milkers failing to live up to promises?

robotic-milker-on-cow

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

In a likely attempt to reach every dairy farmer in the U.S. who purchased robotic milkers, plaintiffs lawyers have been mailing information to every dairy farmer in the nation. The first post card arrived at my house several months ago from usfarmlaw.com, the website for Cullenberg & Tensen, a New Hampshire law firm. Attorney Arend Tensen looks more like the beef farmer he also is in his website pictures. There is more farm equipment pictured on his website than legal resources. Obviously, Tensen’s perceived strength is his agricultural background and current investments.

The card that arrived last week came from Steuve. Siegel. Hanson, LLP, trial lawyers and no one in their website wears anything but power clothes, and I do not mean winter weight Carharts or hunting gear camo. This was one of the firms front and center in the Syngenta class action, so they are used to slaying Goliath, even if they look a little Goliathy to me.… Continue reading

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Balancing the risks and benefits of animals in agritourism

By Matt Reese

With crisp fall weather, ripening apples, plump orange pumpkins, and autumn breezes rustling through dried corn leaves, it is the peak of Ohio’s agritourism season. There are numerous unique farm attractions around the state that entertain, educate and help connect consumers with agriculture in creative ways. Many include livestock, which can be a valuable component of the operation, but also a significant source of legal liability.

“Farm animals can be a valuable attraction for an agritourism operation, but having people and animals on the farm creates liability risks,” said Peggy Hall, associate professor for Ohio State University’s Agricultural & Resource Law Program. “Whether feeding, riding, petting, observing, or just being near farm animals, visitors could be harmed and agritourism operators could be liable for that harm.”

Hall is most concerned with the potential for transmission of zoonotic diseases from the animals to humans visiting the farm who may have little to no other exposure to farm livestock.… Continue reading

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Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Dec. 13-14

The Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium takes place at the Shisler Conference Center in Wooster, including the youth program, on Dec. 13 and 14. A celebration of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association’s 70th Anniversary also will take place.

Friday speakers at the event will include Sandi Brock, Commercial sheep producer and face of “Sheepishly Me- Adventures in Sheep Farming” on social media and YouTube, of Shepherd Creek Farms in Ontario, Canada; Cameron Lauwers — a first generation sheep producer and fourth generation farmer from Capac, Michigan who runs 600 ewes in a mostly housed accelerated lambing system; and Dr. Luciana da Costa, DVM of the OSU Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicines, who will be sharing her expertise on mammary health and mastitis.

On Saturday additional speakers including John Foltz, Ohio State Animal Sciences chair and Lee Fitzsimmons, from Wayne Savings Community Bank. Discussion topics will include progressive accelerated housed management, getting started in a housed system, using social media in agriculture, an overview of OSU sheep research, nutrient and manure management, working with ag lenders, and more.… Continue reading

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WTO announces tariffs for EU

The World Trade Organization announced substantial retaliatory tariffs on European Union (EU) goods the U.S. may levy in response to illegal EU subsidies to Airbus. These tariffs may continue until the EU brings its policies into compliance with WTO rules.

The National Milk Producers Federation supported the measures.

“Subsidies and barriers that handicap U.S. businesses in the global marketplace by violating international trade commitments shouldn’t be tolerated. We strongly support the World Trade Organization’s imposition of $7.5 billion in retaliatory duties on European products, including dairy foods, to prod the EU to uphold its World Trade Organization commitments and reinforce the importance of two-way trade,” NMPF said in a statement. “The U.S. is running a $1.6 billion dairy trade deficit with Europe because of unfair EU trade practices that block our access to their market while they enjoy broad access to ours.

“Trade authorities should also address one particularly egregious example of EU trade practices: the EU’s abusing the use of geographical indications to limit competition from cheese exporters in the U.S.… Continue reading

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Manure separation shows promise for better nutrient management

By Dusty Sonnenberg, Ohio Field Leader

For every 1,000 gallons of manure produced on Dwayne Stateler’s Hancock County hog operation, there are 50 pounds of nitrogen, 28 pounds of potassium, 20 pounds of phosphorus, and 5 pounds of sulfur available to benefit crops produced on the farm.

Duane and Anthony Stateler grow corn, soybeans and wheat on approximately 600 acres in Hancock County and also operate a 7,200-head wean to finish swine operation. The Stateler farm is one of three operations in the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network — a joint partnership between U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Services and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. The Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network is a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project designed to showcase and demonstrate leading edge conservation practices to improve Great Lakes water quality. The Statelers have committed 243 acres to the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network and they are always looking to improve the efficiency of nutrient management in their operation.… Continue reading

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Dairy Margin Coverage payments top $300 million as signups

The Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program signed up more than 22,000 dairy farmers  —more than participated in the last year of the Margin Protection Program (MPP) that it replaced — and paid out more than $302 million in its first year. That’s $302 million more than what farmers would have received under the MPP, which would have actually cost farmers money in 2019, according to an analysis of USDA data done by NMPF.

Monthly milk price/feed cost margins so far in 2019 have been above the $8 per hundredweight coverage cutoff that existed under MPP, but below the new $9.50 per hundredweight coverage limit under DMC, the stronger dairy safety net enacted last year in the farm bill. Under the old MPP rules, the total paid out under the entire program so far this year would have been $75,000 — about $3 per farmer and a net loss for them after premium costs.… Continue reading

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Agriculture groups urge USDA to quickly establish Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank

Representatives of the National Pork Producers Council, the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Corn Growers Association and Iowa State University today called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to move as quickly as possible to establish a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank.

At a press conference, these groups recognized the steps USDA has taken to establish the bank, but called for expedient use of mandatory funding included in the 2018 Farm Bill to purchase the volume of vaccines required to effectively contain and eradicate an FMD outbreak. 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. economy, should an outbreak occur.

“If the U.S. had a large outbreak of FMD, it may be impossible to control without the rapid availability of adequate supplies of vaccine,” said Dr. James Roth, a professor in the department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventative Medicine at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. … Continue reading

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NPPC looking at more export opportunities

The U.S. pork industry ships more product to the 20 countries covered by free-trade agreements than we do the rest of the world combined. Therefore, expanding export opportunities through trade agreements remains a top priority for U.S. pork producers, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba said today at a Global Business Dialogue event in Washington, D.C.

One of NPPC’s most pressing priorities is rapid congressional ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement, securing long-term zero-duty access to two of its largest export markets, Zieba explained. Last year, more than 40% of U.S. pork exported went to Canada and Mexico. USMCA will strengthen the strong economic ties with our North American neighbors and ensure tariff-free trade with the two countries, Zieba explained.

Unfortunately, the trade situation with China remains frustrating, Zieba said. The trade dispute with China has cost U.S. pork producers $8 per animal, or $1 billion on an annualized basis.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation creates scholarship for large animal veterinary students

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation (OCF) has created a new scholarship fund to benefit large animal veterinary students attending The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. OCF has committed $25,000 over five years to the new scholarship fund. The first scholarships generated from this fund will be awarded for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation Scholarship Fund will provide two scholarships each year to third or fourth-year veterinary students who have demonstrated interest in practicing large animal (food/farm) medicine and plan to practice in the state of Ohio. Preference will be given to candidates whose work, research or community involvement demonstrates interest in the beef industry, or to those who are involved with the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association. The College of Veterinary Medicine, in consultation with Student Financial Aid, will oversee the scholarship fund, application process and will determine the scholarship recipients each year.

It is commonly understood within the agricultural industry that the educational costs and subsequent debt load associated with a veterinary degree inhibit potential students from pursuing a career in the field or have long-term financial burdens for those who do.… Continue reading

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West Nile Virus confirmed in Ohio horses

The Ohio Department of Agriculture confirmed the first two positive cases this year of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Ohio horses. A horse in Stark County confirmed with WNV was vaccinated once in the spring but did not receive a booster. The second horse’s county of origin and vaccination history are not yet known. The spread of WNV in horses is preventable with proper vaccination and horse owners are urged to ensure their animal’s vaccine and boosters are up to date.

West Nile Virus is transmitted to horses via bites from infected mosquitoes. Clinical signs for WNV include flulike symptoms, where the horse seems mildly anorexic and depressed. Changes in mentality, drowsiness, driving or pushing forward (often without control), and asymmetrical weakness may be observed. The mortality rate from WNV can be as high as 30% to 40% in horses. Infection with WNV does not always lead to signs of illness in people or animals.… Continue reading

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Dairy Margin Coverage program signup deadline extended

The National Milk Producers Federation is urging farmers to take advantage of a one-week extension in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program signup deadline to Sept. 27, announced by USDA.

“Dairy farmers have much to gain by signing up for this program, and another week to take advantage of this benefit can be nothing but helpful for them,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We urge producers to take advantage of this added opportunity to sign up.”

The USDA said more than 21,000 dairy farms have signed up for the new program, the main risk-protection tool for dairy farmers enacted in the 2018 Farm Bill, nearing the level that participated last year in the Margin Protection Program, which DMC replaced. DMC is guaranteed to pay all producers enrolled at the maximum $9.50/cwt. coverage level for every month of production through July, according to USDA data. DMC improvements from the MPP include:
• Affordable higher coverage levels that permit all dairy producers to insure margins up to $9.50/cwt.… Continue reading

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