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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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A letter from Ohio agriculture to Ohio agriculture regarding LEBOR and water quality

Dear Friend,

The seriousness of the water quality issue as it pertains to Ohio agriculture has never been greater than it is right now.

With the recent passage of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR), Lake Erie has now been granted the same legal rights normally reserved for a person. That means that any Toledoan who believes a business in the watershed is doing something they deem as detrimental to the lake could sue on the lake’s behalf.

It was no secret that if LEBOR passed, agriculture would have the biggest target on its back. Farmers statewide need to be aware of its possible implications.

Wood County farmer Mark Drewes has taken the lead in challenging LEBOR in court. And this letter from every major agriculture group in the state is to let you know we fully support him.

Drewes acted quickly and took a strong approach when he bravely stood up for his family farm and all farms in Ohio by taking legal action to prevent senseless lawsuits stemming from LEBOR.

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Dairy a growing competitor for beef genetics

By Joel Penhorwood

The Ohio Beef Expo is a time when beef breeders come together to talk the latest in genetics and issues hitting the cattle industry.

Bruce Smith of COBA/Select Sires pointed out an increasing change in where beef breeding materials are heading, showing a slight shift in Ohio’s cattle production mindset.

“We have a huge new competitor in our beef market for the semen quantity, and that’s the dairy cows,” said Smith. “A significant number of dairy cows are being bred to beef semen and they’re using sexed semen to make their female replacements and the rest are getting bred to beef.”

Hard dairy prices as of late have caused the dairy producers to be more precise in their herd continuation, including setting the lower milking cows to a new career path. Smith said this has proven to be financially appealing for some farmers.

“They’re getting a premium at some level on those beef cross calves compared to a purebred Holstein cow,” he said.

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A first-generation farm’s success

By Kayla Hawthorne, OCJ field reporter

In 2012 Brad and Mindy Thornburg bought 11 Angus-Simmental cross cows “sight unseen” through a deal with a friend. Thornburg Cattle was an adventure from the start of the first-generation farm near Barnesville in Belmont County, but they expected nothing less. They have battled through numerous challenges since then and their resulting success was highlighted in January when Brad was named the Young Cattleman of the Year by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association.

The Young Cattleman of the Year Award is presented to individuals or couples, typically under 40 years of age, who have demonstrated the initial stages of a successful beef operation and exhibited leadership potential. The recipient is also the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s automatic nominee to participate in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Young Cattlemen’s Conference held in early February.

The Thornburgs have worked hard to make their own way in the cattle business, but have relied heavily on the insight and expertise from others in the industry.

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U.S. pork exports remain steady in 2018 despite challenges

Despite numerous challenges for most of 2018, sales of U.S. pork abroad remained relatively steady compared with 2017. For the year, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 5.37 billion pounds, unchanged from 2017, and were valued at $6.392 billion, which was down 1% from 2017.

“Without a doubt, 2018 was a difficult year for U.S. pork exports,” said Bill Luckey, chair of the Pork Checkoff International Marketing committee. “Market-access challenges were the main reason.”

Pork exports accounted for 25.7% of total 2018 U.S. pork and pork variety meat production. Export value per head averaged $51.37, down 3.9% from 2017.

Despite market access challenges for many markets, 2018 export growth was strong in a few countries, including tremendous growth in South Korea and Colombia. Pork and pork variety meat exports to Korea were up 40% in volume and 41% in value, while exports to Colombia were up 39% in volume and 32% in value.

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FDA moves genetically engineered salmon forward

Last week, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) decided to allow AquaBounty Technologies, an American company, to commercialize its genetically engineered AquAdvantage Salmon in the U.S. market.

The AquAdvantage Salmon was developed by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies. It is genetically engineered to reach its market weight in half the time of conventionally raised salmon while using 25% less food and contributing to more sustainable aquaculture systems.

“We are taking another important step by deactivating a 2016 import alert that prevented GE salmon from entering the U.S. The FDA’s approval of the application related to AquAdvantage Salmon followed a comprehensive analysis of the scientific evidence, which determined that the GE Atlantic salmon met the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. However, in 2016, Congress directed the FDA not to allow into commerce any food that contains GE salmon until it issued final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of the GE salmon content in the food.

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