Spending measure puts ‘GIPSA Rule’ on hold

Livestock and poultry organizations praised House lawmakers for approving an agriculture funding bill that prevents the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from finalizing its proposed regulation on livestock and poultry marketing contracts.

The House voted 217-203 to pass legislation that funds USDA, the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies for fiscal 2012, which begins Oct. 1, but denies money for USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to promulgate the livestock and poultry marketing regulation.

Known as the GIPSA rule, the regulation was prompted by the 2008 Farm Bill. But, as 147 House members recently pointed out in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the proposed rule goes well beyond the intent of Congress and includes provisions specifically rejected during debate on the Farm Bill. Lawmakers also criticized USDA’s failure to conduct an in-depth economic impact study of the proposal before it was published.

The livestock and poultry groups expressed strong support for the House action:

“The National Pork Producers Council is grateful that the House is requiring USDA to take a timeout on the GIPSA rule, which as proposed is bad for farmers and ranchers, bad for consumers and bad for rural America,” said NPPC President Doug Wolf.… Continue reading

Read More »

Bill to close a permitting loophole

By Matt Reese

Ohio Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) recently introduced a bill (229) to close a loophole used by local governments to block the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) permitting process for a poultry facility.

“We recently denied a permit for the Hi-Q egg facility permit. The current law says there has to be a meeting between the local government jurisdiction, township or county, and the company to discuss issues like traffic and roadways,” said Rocky Black, ODA deputy director. “In this case, the township refused to send the letter back to the company after that meeting. Effectively, they pocket vetoed the facility.”

The inaction from the township forced the State to deny the permit.

“Following a thorough review of the hearing officer’s report and recommendations regarding the Hi-Q permits, I’ve concluded that the Department of Agriculture has no other viable option but to deny the West Mansfield permits due to an incomplete application,” said Jim Zehringer, ODA Director.… Continue reading

Read More »

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO in hot water

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO, Tom Ramey, was recently reprimanded by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board Executive Committee for secretly listening in on National Cattlemen’s Beef Association conference calls.

Though he has not be asked to resign, Ramey is required to provide a written apology and has a 6-month employment probation period.

“Mr. Ramey has assured the CBB Executive Committee that he recognizes that his actions were improper and a breach of ethical standards and has promised to never do it again,” attorney Richard Rossier wrote in a letter to NCBA President Bill Donald in response to a number of allegations NCBA made against Ramey and other CBB officials.… Continue reading

Read More »

Fish farm tour June 15

Freshwater Farms of Ohio, the state’s largest indoor fish hatchery, will host a free public tour June 15 as part of the 2011 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

Freshwater Farms raises up to 100,000 pounds of fish a year, including such species as rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill and channel catfish, though may be best known for its sturgeon “petting pool” and annual Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival.

“Freshwater Farms is a unique business. They’re very diversified and support four generations of family members,” said one of the tour’s organizers, Laura Tiu, an aquaculture specialist with Ohio State University.

“They not only produce fish but they process and market their product in on-site facilities. They’ve developed several innovative value-added products using their fish. They also conduct quite a bit of business stocking recreational ponds and supplying equipment to the industry,” Tiu said.

“It’s that type of diversification that makes many small farm operations viable.”… Continue reading

Read More »

State of Ohio investigating outbreak of infections caused by Salmonella

State officials report that eight separate Salmonella illnesses in Ohio are part of a multistate outbreak associated with chicks and/or ducklings purchased this year at agricultural supply stores sourced from an Ohio hatchery. These birds were sold at numerous agricultural outlets across the state and with these confirmed reports of Salmonella infections health officials are encouraging any purchaser of baby chicks this year to use caution in their handling and care.

The eight ill individuals range in age from 3 months to 76 years and live in Ashtabula, Columbiana, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Licking, Medina and Wood counties. Specimens obtained from chicks belonging to one of the Ohio cases yielded the outbreak strain of Salmonella Altona.

“I encourage anyone who purchases baby chickens or ducklings to use caution when handling the birds and to always thoroughly wash their hands after touching them, “said ODH Director Ted Wymyslo, M.D.

The Ohio Departments of Health and Agriculture are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S.… Continue reading

Read More »

Dairy industry receives $1.1 million to help producers benchmark and demonstrate their environmental stewardship practices

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a $1.1 million Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to the Dairy Research Institute (formerly known as Dairy Science Institute, Inc.), an affiliate of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. The funding will support the development of a Dairy Farm Stewardship Toolkit for dairy producers to evaluate their production techniques and identify potential improvements in management practices. These improvements could increase profitability or reduce costs on the farm.

“This grant will help take the industry’s heritage of dairy stewardship to a new business level,” said Bob Foster, owner, Foster Brothers Farm in Middlebury, Vt. “As dairy producers, we know that consumers want products that are not only nutritious and good-tasting, but also environmentally friendly. We have long been committed to stewardship, but have not had a science-based tool to identify and measure practices that reduce costs and environmental impact.”

The grant, awarded through a nationwide competitive process, is made available through the U.S.… Continue reading

Read More »

Dairy cows and other livestock need to be monitored in extreme heat

With heat indexes soaring over 100 degrees this week, livestock need to be closely monitored to prevent health and production problems, said Ted Funk, University of Illinois Extension specialist in agricultural engineering.

“Dairy cows will especially be impacted by a hot week,” Funk said. “If producers don’t anticipate problems in hot weather, cows could go off feed, produce less milk and even experience reproductive failure.”

Funk said there are three priorities dairy producers should focus on: shade, air flow and water.

“Fortunately this week, despite the high air temperatures predicted in the mid-90s, the dew point is expected to remain around 68 or 69,” Funk said. “Dew point, or the measure of moisture in the air, doesn’t change very fast unless a weather front comes through. If you have a sustained period of stable weather like we should have this week, you can look at the morning dew point and determine if it’s going to be a dangerous or manageable day.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Fly control in confined livestock and poultry production operations

By Ralph E. Williams, entomologist, Purdue University

Fly Control in Confined Livestock Operations

Of flies occurring in livestock confinement operations, including feedlots, dairies, swine, and sheep, of most concern are stable flies, Stomoxys calcitrans, and house flies, Musca domestica.  Control of these two flies follows similar techniques.

Surveillance/Diagnosis:  Both stable flies and house flies can cause annoyance to livestock.  Stable flies feeding on livestock, especially on the legs, causes foot stomping, tail swishing, animal bunching, and nervousness.  Excessive house fly populations can also alter animal behavior.  Animals become reluctant to feed with high numbers of house flies present around feeders, and animals often bunch together to avoid fly activity.  Observing animal behavior can be an indication for the need for fly control.

Monitoring fly activity can be accomplished in several ways.  The use of light traps, baited fly traps, sticky ribbons, and spot (fly speck) cards are useful in monitoring fly activity, especially house flies inside buildings. … Continue reading

Read More »

Managing dairy costs

While rising feed prices and other production costs, are putting pressure on the dairy industry, a Purdue Extension dairy specialist says there may be ways for dairy farmers to reduce their on-farm input expenses.

“The three biggest input costs for dairies are feed, labor, and replacement heifers,” said Mike Schutz. “Two out of the three are influenced dramatically by corn prices.”

With rising energy and grain prices, Schutz said the economic model for dairies is shifting back to diversification. Producing feeds such as hay and grains allows farmers to better control their input costs.

“The dairy economic crisis of 2009 showed record low milk prices and high feed costs, and farms that were diverse were positioned to weather that crisis,” Schutz said. “During that year, the average dairy lost between $350 and $1,000 per cow, but losses were absorbed better by those raising their own feed.”

Since 2009, the milk price has increased; however, the margin between milk price and feed cost remains small.… Continue reading

Read More »

Livestock producers concerned with wet spring

Ohio has experienced its wettest April in more than 100 years of record keeping with a rainfall of 7.7 inches. The previous record was 6.37 inches set in April 1893. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Soil & Water Resources also noted that it was Ohio’s wettest February to April period on record.

“The rains have caused a tremendous hardship on farmers who are unable to get into the fields to plant or safely apply fertilizer and manure,” said Ted Lozier, chief of the Division of Soil & Water Resources.

Lozier said that as a result of the heavy rains some manure storage facilities are near capacity. Recognizing that an overflow could have an environmental impact on waterways, the division is offering limited financial assistance to qualifying operators.

A cost share of up to $500 is potentially available to assist qualifying livestock facility operators to haul and dispose of liquid manure in a manner approved by the program.… Continue reading

Read More »

Vilsack will not withdraw proposed rule on buying livestock

According to an update from the National Pork Producers Council, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said he will not withdraw a proposed rule on buying and selling livestock and poultry. The statement came following a letter the Secretary received from 147 House lawmakers asking that the proposed rule be withdrawn and that USDA propose a regulation — more consistent with the intent of Congress as outlined in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Under the farm bill, USDA is to promulgate new regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act to address five specific areas related to livestock and poultry contracts. The bi-partisan letter highlighted concerns about the process and cited this as the reason the USDA should withdraw and re-propose.

A recent analysis of the proposed regulation conducted by Informa Economics found that it would cost the U.S. pork industry nearly 400-million dollars annually, resulting in 2,000 direct pork related job losses. NPPC — like the 147 bi-partisan House members – has strongly urged USDA to be open and transparent in its regulatory dealings with the U.S.… Continue reading

Read More »

Preserve the quality of your tower silo

A drive around the countryside this time of the year will enable one to see farmers out working in their fields. According to the International Silo Association (ISA), this is also the time of year to focus on preventative maintenance on the tower silos that will store the harvest.

“Preventative maintenance on a tower silo helps ensure proper feed storage and is necessary for safety issues, as well as to preserve the quality of the tower silo,” said Leroy Shefchik, spokesperson for ISA. “If a common sense approach to silo maintenance is used, similar to how one cares for other equipment used on the farm, the result will be many years of trouble-free feed storage.”

Many of the tower silos that owners are anticipating to use for their crop storage have been on the farm for many years. The tower silo may appear to be sturdy, strong and in good condition but with time and usage, maintenance is essential.… Continue reading

Read More »

New USDA guidelines lower pork cooking temperature

New cooking guidelines from the nation’s food-safety agency confirm Pork Checkoff research that shows pork can be consumed safely when cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest time. The guidelines were announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).

The new recommended temperature is a significant 15 degrees less than what was previously recommended and typically will yield a finished product that is pinker in color than most home cooks are accustomed to.

“Our consumer research has consistently shown that Americans have a tendency to overcook common cuts of pork, resulting in a less-than-optimal eating experience,” said Dianne Bettin, a pork producer from Truman, Minn., and chair of the Checkoff’s Domestic Marketing Committee. “The new guidelines will help consumers enjoy pork at its most flavorful, juicy – and safe – temperature.”

The revised recommendation applies to pork whole-muscle cuts, such as loin, chops and roasts.… Continue reading

Read More »

Looking ahead for dairy farms

Midwest dairy managers continue catching up economically after a disastrous 2009 and 2010 business year, said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois professor of animal sciences emeritus.

“Illinois milk producers need $17.00 per 100 pounds to cover feed, variable, fix, and labor costs with a modest return on assets,” Hutjens said. “Currently, milk prices have been favorable, but dairy managers need a full year of these margins to replace lost equity in 2009-2010.”

Several factors will be critical to maintain a successful 2011 dairy business model.

Hutjens said milk prices will depend on supply and demand with more than 13% of current U.S. milk solids being exported. World demand is important to keep supply and demand balanced, which may be impacted by the financial problems in some European countries and unrest in the Mideast.

“Corn price will also impact profit margin,” he said. “Late planting of corn in the Midwest, flooding along major rivers such as the Mississippi, and drought in the Southwest will impact corn and feed price.… Continue reading

Read More »

Livestock and streams

By Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

A stream crossing will control animal and vehicles crossing the stream. It can also be used to control access point for livestock watering. Pastures with streams have areas where the animals have chosen spots to cross the stream. These areas are usually the best locations to construct the stream crossing. The animals choose these areas because of stable footing and ease of crossing. Improving the existing crossing with the livestock’s needs in mind will encourage the livestock use. Livestock avoid soft, muddy, and rocky streambeds. They prefer a firm gravel bottom to walk on. They need to be able to see the bottom in order to use the area as a water source.

The primary component of a stream crossing is a heavy layer of gravel thick enough to support the animals. The size of the gravel affects how long the cattle spend in the crossing.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ohio Sheep Day to be held July 16, 2011 at Blue Heron Farm

By Roger A. High, State Sheep Extension Associate and Ohio State University, Executive Director, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Sheep and Wool Program

The 2011 Ohio Sheep Day is scheduled for Saturday, July 16, 2011.  It will be held at Blue Heron Farm, home farm of Cynthia Koonce, located outside of Lisbon, Ohio in beautiful Columbiana County. Blue Heron Farm, under the direction of shepherdess, Cynthia Koonce, is a commercial oriented sheep operation, concentrating on marketing a variety of types and sizes of commercial lambs.  Blue Heron Farms is located in the upper part of the Ohio Appalachian region where the terrain is rolling and hilly, making it an ideal location for sheep production.

The 2011 Ohio Sheep Day at the Blue Heron Farm operation will focus on programming that will increase and improve the profitability of sheep operations, Richard Ehrhardt, Small Ruminant Specialist at Michigan State University, will be the keynote speaker. … Continue reading

Read More »

Grazing management reminders

By Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator Athens County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Plenty of moisture and favorable temperatures is a combination for rapid grass growth. May is generally the month when graziers struggle to manage the spring flush and stay ahead of the growth and seed head development. Here are some management reminders and thoughts related to this early season period.

* Manage beginning and ending grass height. In beginning level grazing schools we say to start grazing when plants are around 8 inches in height. Follow the take half, leave half principle and remove livestock from a pasture paddock when grass height is about 4 inches.

* When grass is growing fast, rotate fast. Under the good growing conditions experienced in the spring of the year, a healthy grass plant will begin to re-grow within a couple of days of being grazed or cut off. This new growth should not be grazed again until the plant has recovered back to the target beginning grazing height.Continue reading

Read More »

The shorter the better

By John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

The title of this article could apply to many things in our everyday life if you think about it. Nobody likes a long wait at our favorite restaurant, a long visit at the doctor’s office, long lines while attending an amusement park, or the long number of days waiting on a potential tax-refund from the IRS. You get the idea. Something else that should fall in the “shorter the better” category for beef producers is the breeding season. Regardless of the size and scope of your operation or your preferred time of year to calve, there is little economic justification for a lengthy calving season. This topic has been addressed through countless articles in popular press and Extension meetings. The arrival of breeding season for many herds seems like an appropriate time to revisit this issue.

Regardless of whether you use a natural service sire or artificial insemination in your breeding program, there is little justification for a lengthy breeding season.… Continue reading

Read More »