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A household effort in the barn

With the Ohio State Fair just days away, it is crunch time for many young men and women preparing livestock projects for the show ring. At the end of a long day in the show ring the ribbons may be awarded to an individual, but in the case Curtis Harsh from Delaware County, the final result is a culmination of the family’s hard work.

Harsh is one of those getting set to haul his animals to Columbus, but that certainly isn’t the only thing on his schedule over the summer.

“The farm chores take a good chunk of my time, especially bailing hay this time of year,” Harsh said. “I am also playing baseball this summer, so my time in the barn is limited.”

Harsh works with his lambs, steers and heifers as much as he can be and his projects are coming along.… Continue reading

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Ohio representatives promoting pork in Japan

To advance worldwide interest in Ohio corn and pork, representatives of the Ohio Corn Marketing Program (OCMP) and Ohio Pork Producers Council (OPPC) will participate in the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s (USMEF) Red Meat Symposium in Tokyo, Japan, from July 7-13, 2013.

“It’s important for Ohio’s pork and corn industries that we continue to build on our share of the Japanese pork market. Educating buyers and consumers in Japan about our country’s high-quality, pork is a significant step in this process,” said John Linder, OCMP board member and Morrow County grain farmer who is going on the trip.

Linder, in addition to Kyle Brown, OPPC Director and Wyandot County hog farmer, will network with 400 pork buyers in Japan to promote U.S. pork and the high-quality corn fed to U.S. hogs.

Linder and Brown, along with several other U.S. corn, soybean, pork and beef producers from across the country, will participate in government briefings, educational events with key buyers, and retail and consumer promotional activities.… Continue reading

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New school food rules good for dairy

New U.S. Department of Agriculture rules affecting foods sold in schools will ensure that nutrient–rich dairy products will continue to be offered to the nation’s students in a variety of forms and settings, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.

The USDA released its “Smart Snacks in Schools” nutrition standards, affecting the calorie, fat, sodium and sugar content of foods that are offered apart from the school lunch line. These “competitive” foods may be offered in vending machines or other a la carte settings. The snack regulations are similar to overall nutritional rules applied last year to school lunches and breakfasts by the adoption of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

“The nutrients in dairy foods are an important answer to the question of how we can improve the diets and health of young people. The rules released today will ensure that milk, cheese and yogurt are offered beyond the school lunch line in places where they can contribute to healthy eating,” said Jim Mulhern, Chief Operating Officer of NMPF.… Continue reading

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Ohio Beef Council launches redesigned website

The Ohio Beef Council’s website, www.ohiobeef.org, has a new look and functionality to continue to help educate consumers on all things beef.

With a more contemporary appearance, the new website offers featured recipes, nutritional information and educational materials for teachers and youth. The newly added “events” section keeps consumers updated on current promotions and upcoming events.

Retail and foodservice entities now have a place to stay updated on current consumer trends and resources available, and sign up for newsletters.

Also included in the redesign is a place just for beef producers that provides information on checkoff compliance, how dollars are used by the Ohio Beef Council to build beef demand and industry educational opportunities. Farmers can sign up for the “Producer’s Post,” a bi-weekly e-newsletter that details current checkoff-funded programs.

The responsively designed website will adjust its size according to the device used (e.g. laptop, tablet or cell phone) increasing ease of user experience.… Continue reading

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Ohio Young Cattlemen’s Conference Aug. 22 to 24

The Ohio Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC) and Tour will be held Aug. 22 to 24, 2013, in Columbus and the central Ohio areas. Coordinated by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation and Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, the purpose of the Ohio YCC Tour is to offer emerging Ohio beef industry leaders and young producers the opportunity to build their own leadership skills as they network with beef industry leaders, government officials, businesses and the media.

The three-day event will involve 25-30 young cattle producers from across the state. Designed to broaden their perspective by taking cattlemen beyond their individual beef operations, YCC focuses on the latest information from the financial, processing, and marketing segments of the beef industry as it exposes the participants to promotion, research, and public relations issues.

Any current OCA members over the age of 20, active in the cattle industry, and possessing leadership potential are encouraged to attend. The cost is $100 per participant and can be paid by either their county cattlemen’s association or the participant.… Continue reading

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FAMACHA can help address internal parasite challenges

The perennial problem of pasture dwelling parasites in grazing sheep and goats is a significant obstacle during the summer months that can transform otherwise healthy animals into sickly patients in a short amount of time.

 

July, August and September are traditionally months of heavy Haemonchus contortus (also called the barber’s pole worm) infections for sheep and goats in Ohio. To deal with the problem of these internal parasites, many sheep and goat producers around the state are learning the benefits of the FAMACHA system.

 

The FAMACHA system is an eyelid scorecard that can help a farmer make a decision to treat or not to treat the animal with a chemical dewormer that is important for minimizing parasite resistance to chemical dewormers. It was developed in South Africa.

 

“The FAMACHA system is not a cure-all, or a silver bullet for dealing with internal parasites. It is one tool that can be a part of an overall parasite control strategy.Continue reading

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Meat export highlights from early 2013

Spring exports of U.S. beef and pork edged up but still lagged behind a year ago, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

While the overall trend for exports remains sluggish, driven by market access issues and oversupply of domestic product in key markets, several leading trading partners showed positive signs in April. Beef exports to Japan were up sharply as the island nation regained its ranking as the No. 1 market for U.S. beef for the first time since 2003. At the same time, Hong Kong maintained its rapid growth pace and Taiwan continued its rebound from beta agonist-related issues that slowed exports last year.

While the boost in exports to Japan is encouraging — up 49% in volume and 44% in value versus the first four months of 2012 — USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng cautioned that Japan has a safeguard in place that will increase tariffs if beef import volumes rise too quickly.… Continue reading

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Avian influenza has market consequences for the U.S.

The 2012 outbreak of avian influenza in Mexico is creating a number of issues in international markets and the agricultural neighbors to the north will be sure to feel the effects of the ongoing problem.

Mexico’s poultry industry has become one of the most important and strongest animal agricultural sectors in the country and is a significant driving force for feed grain demand, particularly U.S. sorghum and distiller’s dried grains with solubles. Poultry in Mexico is by far the largest feed grain consumer, demanding more than 10 million metric tons annually. Compared to other livestock industries, poultry represents 63% of the country’s total livestock output.

In a normal year, Mexico is the fourth-largest poultry producer in the world. However, due to the outbreak of the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI) during the second half of 2012 and its continued spread in 2013, the Mexican poultry market has suffered a considerable loss in production.… Continue reading

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Meat demand strong in growing economies

Do societies that have a strong economy tend to purchase more meat? Well, it might not be true in all cases, but take a look at Peru, it seems that there is a clear correlation between a growing economy and a continued demand for beef, pork and poultry.

The country’s gross domestic product grew by nearly seven percent in 2012, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), making it an ideal target for more U.S. meat imports. A robust economy typically translates into increased food demand for protein-rich diets.

But it’s more than a Peruvian desire for meat.

“The U.S. label is well received in Peru,” said Joel Thorsrud, United Soybean Board (USB) Domestic Opportunities target area coordinator and a soybean, corn and wheat farmer from Hillsboro, N.D. “U.S. meat has a very good reputation in South America for being good quality and a safe product.”

It is proudly marketed in restaurants and supermarkets, and many consumers want to buy these U.S.… Continue reading

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A new niche for dairy farmers: Make mine a black cow!

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New niches are being developed in the dairy business. As I tell my vet students, these niches are needed. The economics of dairy farming just don’t add up, no matter what math you’re using.

A few months ago I calculated for my vet students the economic reality of being a commercial dairy farmer. At the time, it was costing dairymen who purchased all their feed 38 cents to produce a quart of milk for which they’d be paid 32 cents.

Organic milk is a niche that offers slightly better economics, but can be a catch-22. Touted as being more healthful, organic milk is produced under the same milk quality standards as traditional milk. The difference is that organic dairy farmers, while commanding a premium price for their milk, aren’t permitted to treat sick cows with antibiotics or to use hormones to help their cows become pregnant. Organic-certified cows that become ill may be administered only herbs or other alternative treatments (not approved by the FDA) — but positively no antibiotics — to restore their health.… Continue reading

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Hog operations should hold off on expanding

Although hog production has returned to break-even levels, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt advises producers to forego expansion for now because of delayed planting and uncertainty about this fall’s corn harvest.

Pork producers were among some of the hardest hit financially when the drought of 2012 decimated grain supplies and sent feed prices skyrocketing. But hog prices have rallied this spring, from the mid-$50s per hundredweight in March to the low-$70s, and feed prices have fallen somewhat on the heels of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s March Grain Stocks report that showed more grain than expected.

Even so, late spring planting has brought on some worries about hog production costs, Hurt said.

“Delayed planting has most recently sent corn and meal prices trending upward, raising concerns that hog production costs will not drop as much as some had anticipated,” he said.

Current production costs are about $67 per live hundredweight.… Continue reading

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Grim Dairy uses seasonal rotational grazing for big production gains and lower costs

It’s said that it takes $1,800 to get a dairy cow from birth to milking. Grim Dairy is working to lower that figure through management techniques that include lowering feed costs through intensive grazing.

“You can’t just turn a cow out to graze and hope for the best,” said Eric Grim.

Eric and his wife Barbara moved to their Lorain County farm in 1992, where they have raised five children. The Grims currently manage 76 dairy cows, consisting of mostly purebred Jersey and Guernsey stock, on 88 grazable acres. In fact, the herd carries genetics that go back to Barb’s family’s herd. The McConnells had the first registered Guernsey cattle in Ohio.

Today, their oldest son Ben is also involved full-time at the dairy. After trying conventional grazing and feeding their first three years on the farm, the Grims turned to their current grazing system.

“We were racking up lots of money in repairs,” Grim said.… Continue reading

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Grazing requires careful management going into summer

As the grazing season enters the potential for wild summer weather, experienced graziers have learned the importance of careful management and adaptability.

With the high winds this week, it is important to check pastures for plant material that should not be there.

“The rapidly wilting leaves of many trees common to Ohio are very toxic to livestock,” said Stan Smith, with Fairfield County Extension. “The most common ones we worry about are wild black cherry, choke cherry, or even peach. The seeds, twigs, bark, and leaves contain a glycoside that quickly breaks down from bruising or wilting. As they break down highly toxic prussic acid or cyanide is formed. Poisonings occur very quickly after wilting leaves are eaten and is characterized when the animals exhibit excitement, incoordination, convulsions, rapid and labored breathing, bloating, and eventually coma perhaps beginning only minutes after consumption. Death can occur in less than an hour due to internal asphyxiation.Continue reading

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Immigration reform progresses in Senate

After agreeing on a farm bill, the U.S. Senate moved right on tackling the massive issue of immigration reform. The progressed quickly on this important agricultural issue, which is a good sign for progress.

“We commend the Senate for deciding today to limit debate on its immigration reform measure, which demonstrates that they want to move forward and get a bill passed by July 4th.  America’s farmers need action on the immigration issue.  Thanks to the vote on cloture Tuesday, the chances are much better now that it will get resolved,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.

Previous attempts at creating a comprehensive solution have failed, but the Senate vote sends a strong signals that a critical mass of the Senate also believes that immigration reform is key national priority. The Senate bill contains an entirely new visa program for farm workers that has has the support of agricultural organizations.… Continue reading

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Dairy reform program reasonable compromise

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) said that a House Judiciary Committee vote requiring the Farm Bill’s dairy reform program to go through regular government rulemaking was a reasonable compromise to get the reform program approved.

“This is the latest attempt at compromise by Congressman Goodlatte on a program that has been approved twice by the House Agriculture Committee and that dairy farmers overwhelmingly support,” said NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak. “It’s time to end the divisiveness and approve reform of the federal dairy program. For that reason, we see today’s vote, which appears to accept that the Dairy Security Act  (DSA) will become law, as a good compromise.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) tried unsuccessfully to modify the DSA in the Agriculture Committee both this year and in 2012. That amendment would have eliminated the program’s market stabilization provisions, which give farmers the option of temporarily scaling back their milk production or contributing a portion of their milk check to purchase dairy products to feed the needy in order to bring supplies more in line with demand.… Continue reading

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Livestock producers should look out for poison hemlock

While poison hemlock isn’t likely to be as prominent a problem this year as it was in last year’s drought-stressed pastures, Purdue Extension specialists still encourage livestock producers to be on the lookout for the toxic plant.

Poison hemlock is often found along roadsides, edges of cultivated fields, stream banks and pasture fencerows. Its most defining characteristics are purple spots or blotches on the plant’s hairless, ridged stems. If eaten, all parts of the plant can be fatally toxic to cattle, horses, swine, sheep and goats.

“If there is adequate pasture growth, poison hemlock isn’t as big a deal because animals typically won’t eat it unless it’s all they have, but livestock producers still need to be on the lookout for it and think about how to control it,” said Ron Lemenager, Purdue Extension beef specialist. “They also need to be especially cautious when making hay.”

Control methods are most effective when applied at an early plant growth stage, said Travis Legleiter, Purdue Extension weed scientist.… Continue reading

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REAL Seal moving forward to promote dairy

In celebration of June Dairy Month, efforts by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) to revitalize the REAL Seal are taking a big leap forward this month. A new campaign is being launched that allows consumers to learn more about the benefits of real, American-made dairy products and foods made with them, using a new Facebook page, blogger outreach, and digital advertising.

The REAL Seal Facebook page (www.facebook.com/REALSealDairy) creates a new voice and visual feel to engage target audiences, especially moms and heads of households, encouraging them to buy dairy products and foods containing dairy products. The page’s content includes interactive updates, multimedia presentations, contests, polls, and quizzes. One of the elements of the launch later in the month will be a “Name the Character” contest for a new, animated REAL Seal cartoon character. It can be viewed on the REAL Seal website.

Reaching out to bloggers writing about the mom/parenting, food/cooking, health/wellness, and lifestyle topic areas will generate online conversation and awareness surrounding the REAL Seal campaign and lead consumers to official REAL Seal web pages.Continue reading

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Summer annuals offer grazing options

With hay stock levels at record lows in several Midwest states, including Ohio, beef producers looking to supplement their forage options could turn to summer annuals, according to a forage expert from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Summer annuals are known to thrive in summer heat, are drought tolerant, and can be grazed or stored as feed. Viable examples include sorghum, sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, millet, teff grass and corn, said Rory Lewandowski, an agriculture and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension.

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college.

These plants have the capacity to produce up to five tons of dry matter over summer months, and a majority of them can be grazed or cut two or three times starting as soon as 30 to 45 days after planting, he said, which makes them a good option for producers seeking other options amidst reports of declining hay supplies.Continue reading

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Smithfield’s deal and the future of pork

The nation’s largest pork producer may soon be part of the world’s largest pork company. Smithfield Foods and Shuanghui International Holdings Limited have announced they’ve entered into a definitive merger agreement valuing Smithfield at approximately 7.1-billion dollars. That includes the assumption of Smithfield’s net debt. Shanghuai International is China’s largest publicly traded meat products company as measured by market capitalization. Under the terms of the agreement, the Chinese company will acquire all of Smithfield’s outstanding shares for $34 per share.

“The combination of Shuanghui and Smithfield, which was unanimously approved by the board of directors of both companies, will create a leading vertically integrated global pork enterprise,” said Larry Pope, Smithfield Foods’ CEO, Executive Director and Executive Committee Member. “We will set the global industry standard in food safety, environmental stewardship and animal welfare. Our board is pleased with the outcome of the process leading to this transaction and unanimously believes it is in the best interest of Smithfield and its shareholders.”

If approved, the deal will be the largest takeover to date of an American firm by a Chinese one.… Continue reading

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Dairy outlook for farm bill and profitability

Senate debate resumed yesterday after receiving hundreds of amendments in the floor debate. The Senate considered and rejected cuts to supplemental nutrition assistance programs, but approved means testing for crop insurance and improvements to the Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) fraud detection effort.

 

The U.S. House of Representatives succeeded in getting a Farm Bill through committee with a three-quarter majority. The toughest battle lies ahead with a House floor debate expected in begin mid June.

 

Challenges on the U.S. House side include the lack of provisions tying conservation compliance to crop insurance benefits and a controversial supply-management style dairy market stabilization program. The safety net provisions of the dairy subtitle of the Farm Bill, when signed into law, will very likely be based on a margin insurance type program. This puts the focus on an income over feed cost (IOFC) margin.

 

An IOFC margin calculation based on U.S.Continue reading

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