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Adams, Brown and Highland Grazing School

The Adams, Brown and Highland County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio Forage and Grassland Council and NRCS  will be hosting a Pasture Management Workshop/ Grazing School/ Pasture for Profit Program at the Southern State Community College.  The College is located on at 12681 US Highway 62, Sardinia, OH  45171. The Grazing School will be Tuesday April 23, and Thursday April 25, 2013 6 to 9 p.m. concluding Saturday April 27, 2013 starting at 9 a.m. and ending at noon.  Saturday will be an outside pasture walk.

The sessions will cover setting your goals and objectives, evaluating your resources, understanding plant growth, grazing economics, forage species selection, developing contingency plans for drought, mud and deep snow, soil pasture fertility, and fencing and livestock watering systems.

Producers need to register by April 21, 2013, by contacting the Brown SWCD office at 937-378-4424, or at their office; 706 South Main St. Georgetown, OH 45121. 

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Dry matter important when buying (or selling) feeds

By Bill Weiss, Ohio State University professor and Extension Dairy Specialist

If your cows are stranded in the middle of a desert, water may indeed be priceless; however, in most of the U.S., the water contained in feed has essentially no economic value, even though water is the most critical nutrient for milk production. We formulate diets on a dry matter (DM) basis because we assume cows can consume all the drinking water they need; we do not have to feed it. The economic value of feeds is derived from the amount of energy, protein, fiber, etc. in the feed. When pricing feeds, water is considered a diluent of nutrients and the higher the moisture concentration, the less you should pay for a particular feed on an as-fed basis.

Two silages with identical nutrient composition on a DM basis have different dollar values on an as-fed basis if their DM concentrations differ.

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ODA and Ohio FFA announce grant program

Local FFA chapters can now apply for their chance to receive grants to help fund community development projects through the 2013 Agricultural and Rural Community Outreach Program. The program, jointly administered by the Ohio FFA Foundation, Ohio FFA Association and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, will award grants to chapters with top-ranking projects.

“FFA not only helps shape future agricultural leaders, but it also generates a qualified workforce to fill jobs created by the state’s top industry — food and agriculture,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David T. Daniels. “The Ohio Department of Agriculture is proud to partner with the Ohio FFA Foundation and Association to help youth improve their local communities and to keep agriculture strong in Ohio.”

Local FFA chapters can submit project proposals until May 15 to the Ohio FFA Foundation. A committee will then select projects to receive grant funds ranging from $750 to $2,500. Grant winners will be notified by May 30.

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Bee tour in Ohio

Honey bees play a vital role in the world’s agricultural system and food supply. Bayer CropScience’s has launched initiative to promote bee health – Bayer’s Bee Care Tour. This mobile tour will travel to university agriculture schools and farm communities throughout the Midwest over the next three months providing bee health educational events and discussion including:

 

  • Bee Expert Presentations – Each stop will feature stewardship workshops and expert speakers to foster collaboration and discussion between growers, beekeepers and university representatives around issues impacting bee health.
  • Interactive Bee Health Exhibit – The tour exhibit offers hands-on bee health experiences to educate and display the daily impact pollinators make on U.S. agriculture and consumers.

 

The event will be a great opportunity for beekeepers and growers to interact, and we invite you to join us at the upcoming stop in Ohio State University’s Wooster campus during the Power of Pollinators event. For free admission to the event, please click here and use the code “bayer314.”

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Feeding beef cows in winter

By Mark Landefeld, Agricultural Educator, Monroe County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Feeding beef cattle during the winter can be a challenging experience if being profitable is also one of your goals. Proper nutrition is a key component for a successful cow/calf operation. Cows go through many physiological changes during a year. The winter/early spring feeding period is one of the most critical times to provide adequate nutrition for the cow because of her needs at calving time.

Feed usually accounts for the single largest input cost associated with beef cattle. The winter feeding period generally becomes the largest portion of this cost. Stored feeds such as hay normally cost producers three to five times as much as grazing a summer pasture or stockpiled feed in a paddock, when cost is calculated. It’s therefore critical to keep the amount of stored feed fed to an acceptable minimum so costs are kept under control, but you must still feed enough hay to meet the nutritional needs of the cow.

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Where have all the beef cows gone?

By Chris Hurt, Extension Economist, Purdue University

Cattle numbers are down again, to their lowest level since 1952, according to USDA’s recent inventory count. Beef cow numbers are at their lowest level since 1962 as the devastating impacts of the 2012 drought continues the longer-term decline. Beef cow numbers were down 3% in 2012 and 11% since 2007. The drivers have been high feed and forage prices, persistent drought in the Southern Plains, and of course the widespread Midwestern drought of 2012.

The 2012 drought was the primary driver of the decrease last year as it destroyed pastures and forage supplies and catapulted corn, sorghum, and soybean meal prices. The impacts were largest for producers in the Southern Plains where beef cow numbers dropped by 9% last year and in the Central Plains were numbers were down 6%. These two regions had a decrease of 860,000 cows. Likely some of those cows moved to the Northern Plains where rain was more abundant and cow numbers expanded by four percent, totaling about 170,000 cows.

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Organic Animal Health Symposium

Experts from Dean Foods, Organic Valley and Aurora Organic Dairy will be among the speakers when Ohio State University hosts an Organic Animal Health Symposium on March 18 in Columbus.

The event’s focus will be on the health of livestock in organic farming systems. Included will be discussions of practices and of future research and education needs.

The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Blackwell Inn and Conference Center, 2110 Tuttle Park Place, on Ohio State’s campus in Columbus.

Admission is free and open to anyone interested in organic farming and livestock health, including scientists, Extension professionals, veterinary practitioners, farmers and consumers. Lunch is included. Advance registration is required by March 11 due to limited space.

Participants should register at http://go.osu.edu/RdJ.

The speakers are:

* Jennifer Walker, director of stewardship, Dean Foods.

* Pam Ruegg, professor, Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

* Juan Velez, senior vice president of farm operations, Aurora Organic Dairy.

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Beef, pork exports set new records in 2012

U.S. beef and pork exports set new value records in 2012, topping highs set in 2011, according to end-of-year statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

The achievement was more significant in light of challenging export conditions that included non-science-based trade barriers in several key markets and an anemic economy in certain regions.

“The export markets are a critical profit center for the industry at a time when the industry is challenged by high input costs and, on the beef side, a historically low herd size,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “2012 saw record highs for per-head export values for both pork and beef at a time when those returns were sorely needed by producers.”

Pork exports set both volume and value records last year, reaching 2.26 million metric tons (mt)— up a fraction from the record set in 2011 — valued at $6.3 billion, a 3.5% increase over the prior year’s record.

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U.S. risk classification for BSE upgraded to negligible risk

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has received notification from the Scientific Commission for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recommending that the United States’ risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) be upgraded to negligible risk.

“This announcement by OIE’s Scientific Commission is great news for U.S. cattle producers. The U.S. beef industry has worked with government officials and scientists to implement multiple interlocking safeguards to prevent BSE from taking hold in our country,” said Bob McCan, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President-Elect, a cattleman from Victoria, Texas. “The most important of these safeguards is the removal of specified risk materials — or the parts of an animal that could contain the BSE agent should an animal have the disease — from all animals presented for slaughter in the United States. Being classified as negligible risk for BSE by the OIE is proof that these safeguards are working and protecting the public and animal health against BSE.

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Have water quality regulations gone too far?

By Matt Reese

Thus far, lawmakers in Ohio are making a concerted effort to prioritize reality, and not political perception, in the regulatory debate about water quality. This has often not been the case, particularly in watersheds in Florida and in the Chesapeake Bay that have received the most federal attention. There has been speculation that the Chesapeake Bay, in particular, could serve as a national standard for regulation across the country, and that Lake Erie is next on the list of federal regulators. Despite the national spotlight, Josh McGrath, associate professor and soil and fertility and nutrient management specialist at the University of Maryland, said the Chesapeake Bay nutrient management strategies are far from ideal because they too often favor the politics over the reality of the situation.

“Maryland is probably the most highly regulated state in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which is probably the most highly regulated watershed for agriculture in the country,” McGrath said.

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Sequestration may lead to meat inspector furloughs

Across-the-board federal budget cuts could force the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to furlough up to 6,000 meat inspectors for up to two weeks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a recent speech.

The sequestration, an across-the-board cut in government spending, is set to go into effect on March 1 if Congress does not act.

“As soon as you take an inspector off the floor, that plant shuts down,” Vilsack added, noting that removing inspectors even for a short period would affect several hundred thousand workers and would affect the supply of meat and eventually consumer prices as well as the turmoil it would cause livestock producers.

The U.S. government has a statutory obligation to provide meat and poultry inspection services, American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle told President Obama in a letter sent to The White House. Without inspection, meat and poultry processing plants are prohibited by law from operating.

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Communication is crucial in water quality debate

By Matt Reese

As Ohio faces mounting water quality concerns with agriculture as culprit on the “to blame” list, there will be an inevitable debate over the balance of political perceptions and actual edge-of-field reality in terms of how to address the problem.

The green, toxic scum in Lake Erie and other Ohio bodies of water puts the interests of potential sources of excess phosphorus (which includes agriculture) against the multi-billion dollar recreation/drinking water value of the state’s lakes and streams. Something must be done about the problem, but there is still much work required to determine exactly what that something should be.

An important step for agriculture took place last November with the release of the Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Practice Standard for Nutrient Management.

“In Ohio we’ve had 26 water bodies affected by the toxic algae. Last year there were three states that had cattle die from drinking water with these toxins.

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EPA releases producer information to activist groups

This week the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) was notified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the agency had been collecting information from states on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). This information was requested by extremist groups, including Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and granted to them.

“When we reviewed the information submitted by the states and released by EPA, we were alarmed at the detail of the information provided on hard working family farmers and ranchers, family operations including my own,” said NCBA Past President J.D. Alexander, a cattle feeder from Pilger, Neb. “It is beyond comprehension to me that with threats to my family from harassment atop bio-security concerns, that EPA would gather this information only to release it to these groups. This information details my family’s home address and geographic coordinates; the only thing it doesn’t do is chauffeur these extremists to my house.

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Fortkamp’s pullet starter house saves heating cost with AgriThane SPF Insulation

Experienced pullet farmers know the first three days is the most critical time in a chicken’s life. And in colder winter climates the right insulation of the pullet starter house can make all the difference in the profitability of raising healthy chickens. Greg Fortkamp, a third-generation poultry farmer in Fort Recovery, OH, (avg. Jan. low 15 degrees F/avg. high 32 degrees F) used AgriThane high performance spray foam insulation (SPF) by U.S. company, NCFI Polyurethanes on his 48 ft. x 305 ft., metal, cage-free pullet house to ensure more of his 30,000 pullets survive and get the best possible start to life.

“Baby chicks are unable to thermoregulate their body temperature,” says Fortkamp, whose pullets come in at a fragile one-day old. “They need a well-regulated and consistent thermal comfort zone. The temperature must be maintained between ambient temperatures of 88 degrees F to 92 degree F, and humidity levels of 60 percent or higher.

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Leadership roles lead Vincents to Industry Excellence

By Connie Lechleitner, OCJ field reporter

Kris and Becky Vincent’s philosophy is that leaders should lead. When they see a void in leadership, they’re usually quick to step in — and so they have at the local, regional, state and national levels of the Ohio and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

As a result, the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association recently recognized the East Canton couple as the Industry Excellence award winners.

“This award is nominated by your peers, so we had no idea,” Kris Vincent said. “We were totally shocked.”

The Vincents, 13 years ago, found that Stark County did not have a Cattlemen’s organization. They, along with 10 other area cattlemen, set out to change that.

“We were told that it had been tried before and failed,” Vincent said. “I knew there was a need for education and resources to help our industry improve, and that we could better reach out to consumers too.”

The Stark County Cattlemen’s Association is now a successful organization that provides educational programs for county members and also hosts Young Farmer programs and funds scholarships, the Beef 509 program, the BEST program and youth beef programs throughout the county.

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Communicating food messages across four generations

By David White, Ohio Livestock Coalition

For the first time in history, four generations of grown consumers are working and communicating side-by-side — Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y — and they all have different preferences when it comes to food and farming issues. Each group has their own set of values, expectations, perspectives and communication styles.

This presents a major challenge for Ohio agriculture. The first challenge is that we are facing an unprecedented number of individuals who are three to four generations removed from the farm and do not understand what farmers do and where their food comes from. The second challenge is that this is the first time we’ve had to develop and communicate our messages across such a wide generational gap to share our stories and educate them about farming. Acknowledging that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work, it is critical to understand who these generational groups are, what they value, and the best communication medium to reach them.

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Association youth raise $13,000 and counting to benefit Make-A-Wish

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association BEST Program for youth ages 8-21 years, along with generous donors, raised more than $13,000, surpassing the $8,000 goal, to benefit local youth through Make-A-Wish. Fifty youth led their decorated show calves before a panel of judges at the BEST Celebrity Showdown at the Clark County Cattle Battle on February 8, 2013, in Springfield.

The showdown kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Honorary Wish Child Alexis. Judging the show were NFL players and Ohio natives Justin Boren, offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos; Jim Cordle, offensive lineman for the New York Giants; and former OSU Buckeye linebacker, Zach Boren. Participants were encouraged to dress up their calves for the judges who had never attended a cattle show. The winner was awarded a special Seth Rogers Memorial Trophy, in memory of a local young man who was granted a wish and enjoyed working with cattle alongside his family.

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Grazing Improvement Act of 2013 introduced in Senate

The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) strongly support the Grazing Improvement Act of 2013, introduced in the U.S. Senate. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), along with cosponsors Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Iadho), introduced the bill, which seeks to improve the livestock grazing permitting processes on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The bill was debated during the last session of Congress in both the Senate and House of Representatives; it passed the House with bipartisan support as part of the Conservation and Economic Growth Act (H.R. 2578).

PLC President Brice Lee, a Colorado rancher, asserted that the uncertainty surrounding grazing permit renewals is threatening ranchers’ ability to stay in business.

“Those of us who utilize grazing on public lands face grave threats to our way of life due to today’s cumbersome and inefficient permit renewal process.

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Ohio Pork Producers unveil new animated video

Today at the Ohio Pork Congress, the Ohio Pork Producers Council (OPPC) unveiled “Where’d you get that pork on your fork?” — a new promotional video.

“We wanted to try and tell the story from fork to farm. The approach is centered around the food purchaser, so we started with the fork,” said  Jennifer Keller, OPPC director of marketing and education. “We have had the idea for a year and we worked on developing the video since we applied for funding in July from the Iowa Pork Producers Association. We’re trying to address the various components of the food chain, which we understand is a very delicate topic. We want to be honest and respectful and we hope that this video helps accomplish those goals.”

It took a couple of weeks to do the rough cut of the song in the video and the animation took much longer. OPPC worked with AdFarm on the video who subcontracted with Bic Media based in Kansas City.

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For the love of pigs

By Matt Reese

At the Ohio Pork Congress there were a number of individuals recognized for their involvement with the swine industry in Ohio, including Blanche and Roger Lange from Seneca County. Anyone who has spent much time around Blanche and Roger knows that they love pigs, which is why the Ohio Pork Producers Council selected them as this year’s Pork Industry Excellence Award winners.

“You don’t get days off on the farm,” Blanche said. “You have to have a special place in your heart for animals when you’re dealing with livestock.”

The siblings grew up four years apart on their family’s farm that has been in the Lange family and a home to pigs for more than a century. Blanche and Roger gained their affinity for raising livestock through hours of laboring alongside their parents while growing up.

“Mom did the books and drove a tractor wearing a dress when she needed to,” Blanche said.

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