Meat export overview

March exports of U.S. beef were down in volume from a year ago but edged slightly higher in value, while pork exports slumped on lower results in several mainstay markets. According to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), March beef export volume of 83,612 metric tons (mt) was down 7% from a year ago but export value ($440.7 million) was slightly higher. Beef exports finished the first quarter 4% lower in volume (256,587 mt) but 5% ahead of last year’s record pace in value ($1.3 billion).

March pork exports declined 18% from a year ago in both volume (163,004 mt) and value ($469.5 million), hampered by a beta agonist-related market closure in Russia, larger domestic supplies in China and South Korea and weakened demand in top markets Japan and Mexico. For the first quarter, pork exports fell 12% below last year’s record pace in volume (528,195 mt) and 11% in value ($1.49 billion).… Continue reading

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EPA continues to release private information

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) expressed frustration after learning that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to illegally release information on cattle operations to the activist groups Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council. In this latest action, the agency again admitted it had released too much information on livestock producers, specifically producers from Montana and Nebraska. This action happened less a month after the agency found it had released too much information on livestock producers in 10 states.

NCBA Past President J.D. Alexander, a cattle feeder from Pilger, Neb., and whose information was released to the activists groups in the initial EPA action, said it is clear “someone at EPA is either completely incompetent or intentionally violating federal law. Either way, this action shows EPA cannot be trusted with sensitive information and should not have the authority to procure or disseminate it. NCBA is calling for an investigation by the Office of Inspector General into this matter.”… Continue reading

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Low cattle prices have time to rebound

Although finished-cattle prices that were expected to increase this year for producers remained low in the first quarter, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt said increases could be on the horizon.

Hurt said he earlier had thought that beef production would decline by 3% for the first half of the year and that cattle prices would be in the $130s by now, but that hasn’t happened.

“So far this year, beef supplies have been down close to 1%,” he said. “That means more beef than we expected, and more beef is certainly one of the contributors to lower cattle prices.”

More supply isn’t the only component of the lower-than-expected beef prices. Additional contributors include a weaker U.S. economy, reduced pork and chicken exports and high retail beef prices.

“The weak U.S. economy has many consumers shopping for value and beef has had higher retail price increases as compared with competitive animal proteins,” Hurt said.… Continue reading

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Livestock groups comment on RFS

Seven livestock and poultry groups submitted comments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the negative effects the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has had on agriculture, including the high cost of feed facing livestock and poultry producers. The comments answer several questions posed by the committee on the impact of the RFS.

“The RFS has been the major driver in increasing corn use for ethanol production, and causing corn stocks to decline to crisis levels,” the comments state. “In a market-driven world, ethanol would be priced competitively with gasoline. That has never been true in the entire history of the industry.”

Additionally, the groups submitted a study to support their comments titled “The RFS, Fuel and Food Prices, and the Need for Reform” completed by Dr. Tom Elam of FarmEcon. The study examined the extensive impact the RFS has had on food and fuel prices.

The groups appreciate the work of the committee in seeking input from our producers and look forward to working with the committee on reforming the RFS.… Continue reading

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Dairy Margin Insurance programs offer pros and cons

The two competing margin insurance programs being debated as part of the dairy subtitle of the 2013 Farm Bill both offer pros and cons for dairy farmers, based on the individual farm characteristics, according to a pair of Ohio State University agricultural economists.

In a new report, Cameron Thraen, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics (AEDE) in Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and doctoral student John Newton, discuss the two programs to provide clarification and insight into both without taking a side on either.

The report takes an in-depth look at the Dairy Security Act, with its margin insurance paired with a dairy market stabilization program, and the Goodlatte-Scott Amendment, which offers a margin insurance program without the dairy market stabilization program.

The report takes into consideration a number of factors, including a dairy farm’s anticipated growth pattern and expected market prices for milk and feed.… Continue reading

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Future bright for livestock production

More efficient land use, a stalled demand for corn ethanol and increased demand for meat in developing countries should help boost the livestock industry in coming years, according to a Purdue University agricultural economist.

Farzad Taheripour, a research assistant professor of agricultural economics, used Food and Agriculture Organization and U.S. Department of Agriculture data, paired with Purdue’s Global Trade Analysis Project model, to guide analysis of global economic issues.

“Due to consumer taste preferences, global growth in income and population, the livestock industry will grow, particularly toward poultry and pork,” Taheripour said. “The demand for poultry and pork will increase significantly.”

Taheripour said less land is being used for feed crops these days, but increased efficiency makes each acre more productive. More feed from those acres should help livestock producers manage their production costs.

Corn ethanol demand has also hit a wall. Over the past decade, diverting grains from food and feed to fuel has increased feed prices for livestock producers, Taheripour said, but the ethanol industry in the United States has now reached the Renewable Fuel Standard mandated level.… Continue reading

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Distillery is a surprising source of cattle feed

By Matt Reese

Along with being a potential new market for farms, the increasing number of microbreweries and microdistillers popping up around Ohio can also be a source for meeting feed needs in livestock operations.

The Watershed Distillery in Columbus, for example, has grown to be among the largest microdistilleries in Ohio after just starting three years ago. They currently use 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of grain a week that is mostly corn, but also includes wheat, rye and spelt. The spent grain has been a great source of feed for John Thiel who raises cattle near Mechanicsburg.

“Our cattle do great on it,” he said. “It is cost effective and they can digest it better than straight feed. The intake is so much better and it adds moisture to the dry diets. The spent grain actually raises the protein content from 9% in what we normally would have to 28% in our last batch.… Continue reading

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Ohio agriculture groups respond to new HSUS council

By Ty Higgins & Heather Hetterick

On April 24th at the conclusion of their lobby day at the statehouse, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced the creation of the Ohio Agriculture Council.

“As an Ohio cattle farmer, I believe small and mid-size family farmers have much common ground with the HSUS and Ohio consumers when it comes to the treatment of animals,” Mardy Townsend, a beef producer from Windsor who is a founding member of the HSUS council.

Not all of Ohio’s agriculture industry is excited about the new council, though.

“Our disappointment in what was announced by HSUS Wednesday is that this council not being inclusive,” said Mike Bumgarner, Vice President of the Center for Food and Animal Issues with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.… Continue reading

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Research seeks ways to improve pig sperm survival

Although U.S. cattle genetics are exported all over the world in the form of frozen semen, the same is not true for pigs because boar semen does not freeze well. In an attempt to improve semen storage and pig reproduction, animal scientists at the University of Illinois are looking at how sperm survives in the sow oviduct.

“Many mammals and birds will store sperm for some period of time,” said associate professor of animal sciences David Miller. “Pigs will store sperm for 24 to 48 hours.” Sperm must be stored in species in which mating and ovulation are poorly synchronized.

Miller and his team wanted to understand the adhesion system that retains the sperm. Previous research indicated that sugars in the oviduct were an important part of the process, but it was not clear which ones.

They screened hundreds of sugars, using an array on a microscope slide to which they added fluorescently labeled boar semen.… Continue reading

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Are profits on the horizon for pork producers?

Hog producers should return to profitability this spring because of lower feed prices, although delayed planting could still change that, a Purdue Extension agricultural economist said.

Chris Hurt said the animal industries got an unexpected boost from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s grain stocks report at the end of March.

“Inventories of both corn and soybeans were much higher than anticipated, and that seemingly indicates that greater supplies of both corn and soybean meal are going to be available for the rest of this marketing year,” he said. “A dramatic downward movement in feed prices had not been expected until mid- to late summer.”

Corn prices dropped nearly $1 per bushel and soybean meal prices about $15 per ton.

Hurt had earlier predicted that hog production could return to profitability this spring, but that was based on an expected spring hog price rally, not lower feed costs.

“Estimated costs for farrow-to-finish production had been around $70 per live hundredweight in the first and second quarter of this year,” he said.… Continue reading

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HSUS forms ‘Ohio Agriculture Council’

Via Humane Society of the United States press release:

To advance humane and sustainable agricultural practices in Ohio, The Humane Society of the United States has formed an agriculture council made up of farmers and producers. The announcement was made at The HSUS’ Humane Lobby Day, a day when residents from across Ohio meet with legislators at the capital to advocate for stronger animal protection laws.

The Ohio Agriculture Council of The HSUS will work to connect livestock producers who manage their animals using higher animal welfare practices with consumers seeking higher welfare products, and will help other farmers transition to more humane animal management. The group will also showcase those farmers who are good stewards of their animals and the land and advocate for stronger rural communities. Additionally, the Ohio Agriculture Council will advise HSUS on issues affecting Ohio’s family farmers.

Mardy Townsend, a founding member of the new council, said: “As an Ohio cattle farmer, I believe small and mid-size family farmers have much common ground with The HSUS and Ohio consumers when it comes to the treatment of farm animals.… Continue reading

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Show Pig Health and Management Clinics

New to Ohio this year are a series of four “Show Pig Health and Management Clinics” made possible by the Ohio Pork Producers Council, National Pork Board, the Ohio Swine Health Committee, and The Ohio State University Extension. The clinics serve as an opportunity for junior exhibitors and their families to learn more about caring for their swine projects, in terms of health, nutrition and overall animal well-being.

Topics to be covered are:

– Managing the Health and Well-being of Your Pigs Around Exhibitions

– Feeding Your Show Pig for Exhibition and Breeding

– Care and Well-being / Addressing Pig Structure and Lameness

– Strategies to Address Influenza SIV in Pigs and People

– WeCare Initiative / Representing the Swine Industry in Exhibitions


May 28 – ATI Wooster – Campus location to TBD

May 29 – Hancock County Extension Office

May 30 – Clinton County Extension Office

June 3 – Ohio Department of Agriculture – Bromfield Building

Each seminar will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.… Continue reading

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NCBA files petition in Supreme Court against greenhouse gas regulations

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) along with the Coalition for Responsible Regulation filed a petition in the United States Supreme Court (Supreme Court) challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finding that greenhouse gases (GHG) endanger public health and welfare, its rule to limit GHG from passenger vehicles and its “timing” and “tailoring” rules that govern GHG permit applicability at stationary sources.

In December 2009, EPA issued a finding that GHGs are an “endangerment” to public health and the environment—providing EPA with a foundation from which to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act (CAA), from small and large sources throughout the economy, including farming and ranching operations. NCBA filed a petition with the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and EPA challenging the science behind EPA’s finding. The D.C. court dismissed the challenge in June of last year. The court also denied challenges to EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases and subsequent emissions standards for cars and light-duty trucks.… Continue reading

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Cattle body condition monitoring important for producers

Monitoring condition in gestational and lactating cows is extremely important for successful reproduction, Purdue Extension beef specialist Ron Lemenager said.

Cows with less-than-ideal body conditions can have longer postpartum intervals, calve later or just fail to breed at all.

“If producers with spring calving herds have thin cows now, they need to put those cows on a diet that allows them to gain weight,” Lemenager said. “That’s challenging because those cows are approaching peak lactation, but if you don’t make adjustments, fertility can suffer.”

The best ways to help animals gain weight is to feed high-quality forages. If forages are of low quality, they can be supplemented with dried distillers grains, soybean hulls, corn gluten feed or grain.

At this point in the season, producers with fall calving herds who have thin cows have more time to make nutritional adjustments before calving season. They also have time to decide whether to wean calves early or wait until calves are 7-8 months old.… Continue reading

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Highlights of the 2013 Ohio 4-H Dairy Judging Contest

It only happens once a year, but the impact of this experience can last a lifetime. It is said that the surest path to positive self esteem is one that must be earned and learned to achieve success. The Ohio 4-H Dairy Judging Contest affords youth the opportunity to be challenged in an arena of cows when confident decisions must be made in a short amount of time and then defended later before mentors. Coaches and volunteers are afforded “sneak peaks” at this process and can feel rewarded that their efforts have been recognized.

On March 30 during Spring Dairy Expo, an overwhelming crowd of aspiring judges stepped onto the tanbark to test their skills. The finest dairy animals that breeders and exhibitors could offer were on parade. Also registered for the contest were teams from three neighboring states who were welcome to participate in an open division.

Literally, more than 100 volunteers were on hand to manage the event with efficiency.… Continue reading

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New act would ensure vets can continue to care for animals on farms

By Heather Hetterick

As it currently stands, the Controlled Substance Act makes it illegal for veterinarians to take and use controlled substances to treat animals outside of the location where they are registered, which would be their office. This affects large animal veterinarians who treat animals on-site.

“The Controlled Substances Act was actually passed by Congress back in 1970,” said Jack Advent, Executive Director of  the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association. “About a year ago at a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in California someone said, ‘I’m not sure that vets, in the way the law is currently written, are really in a position to be transporting controlled substances outside of the area where they are licensed.'”

That led to conversations between the DEA and veterinary medicine. To make sure that it was clear and that veterinarians can continue to treat animals and carry drugs in their vehicle, the law needed to be changed.… Continue reading

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Maximize pastures with careful management

By Matt Reese

Allan Robison rotationally grazes 100 Simmental-Angus cows in 10-acre paddocks over around 70 acres in the summer on his Champaign County farm. Careful pasture management will be vital this growing season to maintain profitability and rebound from the grazing challenges of the recent past. Part of this challenge will be managing weeds.

“We had moisture last fall but the only thing that grew were weeds that put out roots and seeds,” Robison said. “We’ll have to see how the weed pressure develops this year.”

Moving forward, he will be paying careful attention to the details of rotational grazing that can make the difference between success and failure.

“We move the cows once a week, but we let the grass tell us when to move them,” he said. “We are really careful and plan our grazing ahead of time, but we need to be flexible to change within that plan.… Continue reading

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Meat export trends continue from late 2012

February continued the trend set at the end of 2012 for U.S. beef and pork exports with higher values on lower volumes for beef and a continued slight decline for pork, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports managed a 5% increase in value ($430 million) over February 2012 despite a slight decline in volume (86,367 mt). February pork exports slipped 5% in volume (178,510 mt) and 6% in value ($494.6 million) compared to a year ago.

“The good news is that the long-awaited change in beef access to Japan came through in February,” said Philip Seng, USMEF President and CEO. “Conversely, trade barriers and other obstacles seem to be emerging at a rather alarming rate in 2013. Sluggish economic conditions in certain markets also create a challenge, but this is why we have made such a strong effort to diversify our destinations for red meat exports over the years.… Continue reading

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Antibiotic data distorted to place blame on farmers

Just days after the release of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report showing that medical doctors annually are prescribing enough antibiotics to give them to 80% of Americans, a group is issuing its own report, claiming that antibiotics use in food animals is the main cause for people developing antibiotic-resistant diseases.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is using selective and incomplete 2011 government data on retail meat samples to blame America’s livestock and poultry farmers for the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant illnesses in people.

In fact, 2000 to 2010 data from the federal National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System show a very low incidence of pathogenic bacteria on meat and stable to declining rates of those bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

The EWG report was set to be released ahead of congressional action on reauthorizing the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA). Many groups who support legislation to ban the use in food animals of antibiotics that prevent or control diseases and of ones that improve nutritional efficiency are weighing in on ADUFA, urging Congress to limit the animal health products available to livestock producers.… Continue reading

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Slow start to spring adds to grazing woes

By Matt Reese

The last year has not exactly been ideal for grazing livestock. The devastating drought was followed by a semi-soggy up and down temperature winter offering ample mud. Then, to worsen matters, the spring has been very slow to warm up and, by mid-April, Allan Robison in Champaign County is still feeding hay to his beef cows — an expensive but important way to buy time for the struggling grass in his pastures.

“We’ve had adequate moisture up until this point but we haven’t had good moisture and heat together at the same time. Grass is growing but we are maybe two or three weeks behind where we normally would be,” he said. “As warm and breezy as it has gotten, things dried up in a hurry. It will be scary if the water shuts off. I still don’t think we’re very far ahead on moisture. I am basically sacrificing one pasture so my others can

recover from the dry weather last year.… Continue reading

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