USDA to oversee gene-edited livestock

In an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, the Trump administration announced its intention for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to have primary oversight over gene-edited livestock.

The decision applauded by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). Gene editing is a promising new technology that can help farmers breed healthier, more resilient animals. NPPC was the leading advocate for USDA regulatory oversight over the last two years when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was claiming jurisdiction.

Gene editing is used to make specific changes within an animal’s own genome. Gene editing will allow U.S. farmers to produce animals that are more disease-resistant, require fewer antibiotics and have a reduced environmental footprint. Many changes made through gene editing could be achieved through conventional breeding. However, the cost and timeframe for approval of these type of edits is prohibitive under the FDA. Notwithstanding its significant promise, U.S. agriculture had been in a holding pattern, as USDA and the FDA were locked in a regulatory tug of war over authority on gene editing in livestock.… Continue reading

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CDC agrees: Frontline meat and poultry workers
high priority for COVID-19 vaccination

Frontline meat and poultry workers should be amongst the first to be vaccinated after health care workers and those in long-term care facilities, according to federal guidance approved today by the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Priority (ACIP).

Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts applauded ACIP’s guidance and urged state governments to follow CDC’s decision.

“Priority access to vaccines is a critical step for the long-term safety of the selfless frontline meat and poultry workers who have kept America’s refrigerators full and our farm economy working,” Potts said. “Meat Institute members stand ready to support vaccination for our diverse workforce, which will also deliver wide-ranging health benefits in rural and high-risk communities. Meat and poultry leaders may also be able to aid vaccination for all Americans, for example by offering state-of-the-art cold storage for these precious vaccines.”

The 1.5 billion in COVID-19 preventions and supports implemented since the earliest days of the pandemic have reversed COVID-19’s impact on meat and poultry workers.… Continue reading

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Ohio Sheep and Wool Program proposal funding approved for FY 2020-21

By Roger A. High, executive director, Ohio Sheep and Wool Program

The Ohio Sheep and Wool Program, which is Ohio’s sheep and wool check-off program (OSWP), is investing over $49,000 into sheep and wool promotion, education, research, and producer and youth programs in fiscal year 2020-21. OSWP received 13 requests for proposals with 11 of these proposals approved for full or partial funding by the board during its October meeting.

These programs are primarily collaborative efforts that will increase visibility of the Ohio sheep and wool industry to the consumer as well as improve the knowledge and research base of our sheep, lamb and wool producers. The OSWP Board of Directors is committed to assuring every segment of the industry is represented in the funding since every segment of the sheep, lamb and wool industry contributes to the program.

OSWP assesses one-half of one percent based on the value on any sheep or lamb sold by an Ohio producer and $0.01 per pound of wool produced by an Ohio producer.… Continue reading

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Dairy Labor Certificate Course sponsored by Ohio State University Extension

By Chris Zoller, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Tuscarawas County, The Ohio State University

Dairy farm labor is one of the major costs of production, and farm labor is regularly described as an area of concern by dairy farmers. Ohio State University is providing a certificate course to assist dairy farm owners and managers with labor management on farms. This course provides opportunities for participants to examine labor costs, define labor needs, examine hiring processes, promote relationships among farm workers, increase retention, and identify ways to promote employee well-being.


This five-week course will be held weekly on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2:00 pm in January and February 2021.

All attendees will be registered with ScarletCanvas, an online platform by The Ohio State University. Materials relative to each topic will be posted there for use by attendees. Because of its virtual format, you do not have to travel to participate and learn very important topics by experts in the dairy and associated industries.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension Beef Team to host winter meetings

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

What a year 2020 has been. Are you looking to improve herd efficiency and profitability to weather the storm? Look no further than the slate of winter programming to be offered by the OSU Extension Beef Team. Programs planned for early 2021 are designed to provide valuable information for all segments of Ohio’s beef industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge to the beef industry to say the least, and the effects will continue to linger for some time. One thing we have learned this year is there continues to be need for gained efficiency and improved management within all segments of our beef cattle industry. This winter’s Ohio State Extension Beef School series will focus on both of those topics. Given current university policies regarding COVID-19, this years Beef Schools will be offered as a virtual series of programs.

What was originally planned as two on-farm face-to-face Cow-Calf Management Schools has now been redesigned as a series of 6 consecutive two hour webinar programs.… Continue reading

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Dean Foods and dairy producers

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

It’s always about the money. Always.

         Here’s a current example. In March of 2018, Dean Foods notified over 100 dairy farmers across 8 states that they were terminating their contracts, effective end of May, 2018. Dean Foods blamed an oversupply of raw milk, a decrease in fluid milk consumption and Walmart’s new 250,000-square-foot milk processing facility in Indiana. Sadly, some of these dairy farms went out of business when they were unable to locate a new processor.

         In what seemed like karma, Dean Foods filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 on Nov. 12, 2019. When they sought bankruptcy protection, Dean Foods was the largest milk processor in the US. Dean Foods explained they intended to use the Chapter 11 proceedings to keep running the business and address debt and unfunded debt obligations as it sought to sell the company.… Continue reading

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2020 OSIA LEAD Council Banquet and Annual Awards Ceremony

By Roger A. High, executive director, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association

Even with the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, the OSIA LEAD Council created another successful year. Although 2020 certainly was NOT normal, the memories will always stay with us. Thanks to all the sponsors, directors, adults and of course youth that made 2020 such a tremendous success.

Both market lamb and breeding sheep youth were recognized at the OSIA LEAD Council Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony with an even larger presence than in years past. This year, the OSIA LEAD Council Awards and Banquet committee decided to create a fun experience for the LEAD youth and held the OSIA LEAD Council Banquet and Awards Program at the Kalahari Resort facility in Sandusky. Many families took advantage of this opportunity to enjoy a water filled evening prior to the program. 

There were approximately 185 parents, LEAD directors, sponsors and youth in attendance at the 2020 OSIA LEAD Council Banquet and Awards Ceremony.… Continue reading

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Strong October for pork and beef muscle cut exports

U.S. pork exports posted broad-based gains in October, solidifying 2020’s record pace, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef muscle cut exports were also higher than a year ago in October, though lower variety meat volumes pushed total beef exports slightly below last year.

October pork exports were up 8% year-over-year to 242,536 metric tons (mt), with value also increasing 8% to $641.1 million. Exports to Mexico, Japan, China/Hong Kong, Canada and the Philippines were substantially higher than a year ago while shipments to Central and South America were the largest since March. Through the first 10 months of the year, pork exports were 15% ahead of last year’s record pace at 2.46 million mt, with value up 16% to $6.33 billion. With Mexico as the top volume destination, October muscle cut exports posted double digits gains at 201,723 mt (up 11%), with value up 10% to $551.8 million.… Continue reading

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Ohio students Zoom to success in virtual livestock events

While 2020 has had no shortage of disappointments, Ohio State University staff and students have been making the best of the situation with a variety of virtual contests to stay involved with their various niches of the livestock industry.

“As the powerhouse cow shows of the United States fell like dominoes, so did our opportunities for dairy judging contests. Without contests, some could assume that we would give in to the 2020 trauma. I am pleased to let you know that we did sustain dairy judging. As a small group and outside at farms, we made provisions to practice and learn,” said Bonnie Ayars, dairy program specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University. “Since July, some of us coaches kept discussing an online contest using classes at Was it perfect and like real cows? Absolutely not, but we did come together to offer a secondary approach to students who have been waiting and planning for their opportunity.… Continue reading

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Working lands for wildlife

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for a program that focuses on establishing productive warm season forages to improve livestock production and provide large areas of prime habitat for ground nesting birds and other wildlife.

Ohio’s Northern Bobwhite in Grasslands project is part of a national Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) partnership, a collaborative approach to conserving habitat for declining species on farms and working forests. NRCS works with partners and private landowners to focus voluntary conservation efforts on working landscapes.

The Northern Bobwhite in Grasslands project is designed to help bring back the quail that were once an integral part of Ohio’s farming way of life. Leading researchers have documented the wildlife benefits of managed grazing on native summer forages, concluding that this approach enhances the habitat for the ground nesting birds while improving livestock weight gains.

NRCS utilizes the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to offer technical and financial assistance to eligible livestock producers to implement conservation practices to address habitat loss without taking their land out of production.… Continue reading

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The goal: Feed less, graze more

By Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

I often talk about upcoming grazing conferences this time of year. Right now, meetings in person are scarce and perhaps rightly so. I still encourage you to continue learning whether it’s from watching YouTube videos, reading books or articles, or attending a virtual meeting or conference.

It is also the time of year when I start thinking more about finding a comfortable chair, a warm blanket and some good reading material — especially when the snow flurries start. Winter is a great time for me to catch up on reading after checking on livestock in the cold, as long as I don’t get too warm and nod off. But, that said, winter chores still must be done! I’m never mentally prepared for winter, but that won’t stop it from happening. What’s a perfect winter to me? It includes stockpiled forages lasting for as long as possible, dry or frozen ground and as little hay needed to be fed.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s BEST Program set to kick off season

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) is excited to kick off the 2020-21 BEST (Beef Exhibitor Show Total) show season with the following sponsoring partners: AgPro Companies and John Deere, Bob Evans Farms, Farm Credit Mid-America, Frazier Farms, M.H. Eby, Inc., Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, D&E Electric – the Young Family, Weaver Leather Livestock, Dickinson Cattle Company, The Folks Printing, Jones Show Cattle and RD Jones Excavating.

BEST is a youth development program of OCA that recognizes Ohio’s junior beef exhibitors for participation and placings through a series of sanctioned cattle shows that include showmanship competitions, educational contests and leadership opportunities.

Juniors who participate in these sanctioned shows earn points for their placings. Points are tabulated for cattle, showmanship, registered Bred & Owned animals and first or second year BEST participants in a separate Novice division for market animals, heifers and showmanship.

Additionally, there is a separate points division for cattle bred, born and raised in Ohio – the Buckeye Breeders Series (BBS).… Continue reading

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DMC signups running behind with Dec. 11 deadline

By Matt Reese

With the growing potential for milk prices to fall in 2021 and a slow sign-up so far, those in the know are strongly encouraging dairy farms to sign up Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) for the 2021 program year. Dairy producers have until Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, to enroll in DMC through their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices.  

“The local staff are going to be the experts helping you walk through the sign-up process,” said Richard Fordyce, Farm Service Agency administrator. “As of Monday (Nov. 30) we had 7,840 enrolled and that is way off the pace of 2019 and 2020.”

Fordyce pointed to a successful track record of the DMC as a risk management tool.

“DMC has proved to be a worthwhile risk management tool, providing dairy producers with much- needed financial support when markets are most volatile,” he said.

This was also emphasized by Marin Bozic, assistant professor in Dairy Foods Marketing Economics in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. … Continue reading

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Dairy farms being targeted by Dean Foods

The American Farm Bureau Federation is weighing in on hundreds of dairy farmers being targeted by predatory lawyers representing the estate of Dean Foods, which is currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. Almost 500 dairy farmers who once sold milk to Dean Foods received letters threatening legal action unless they refund money legitimately earned prior to the bankruptcy filing.

“Shame on these predatory lawyers for bullying dairy farmers at a time when many are struggling to keep their farms running,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “It’s ludicrous to suggest the meager profits from regularly scheduled and routine milk sales — sales that are heavily watched and regulated by the federal government — were outside the regular course of business. Someone needs to have the farmers’ backs and I’m proud to say AFBF is stepping-in to do just that.”

AFBF sent a letter to the law firm managing the Dean Foods estate calling for an immediate reversal of their “predatory shakedown” and threatening potential legal action if the firm fails to withdraw the letters sent to farmers.… Continue reading

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USDA updates FMD plan

USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) recently updated its Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) response plan.

The “USDA APHIS FMD Response Plan: The Red Book October 2020” incorporates comments received from previous versions, lessons learned from animal disease response exercises and reflects updates to foreign animal disease preparedness and response plan materials. Among revisions, there is explicit recognition of policy that an FMD vaccine is the likely response tool if there is an outbreak and guidance on managing a national movement standstill prepared for the Agriculture Response Management and Resources 2018 functional exercise.

The National Pork Producers Council was instrumental in advocating for establishment of an FMD vaccine bank as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Earlier this year, USDA announced its first significant vaccine purchase and NPPC will continue to work closely with the agency to ensure its FMD vaccine bank remains well stocked. To view the updated FMD response plan, visit here.… Continue reading

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2021 Pasture for Profit Schools

By Mark Sulc, Professor, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, and Ms. Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, The Ohio State University

Pasture for Profit schools will be offered between January and March in 2021. Members of the OSU Forage Team, educators from the former Buckeye Hills EERA and beyond, and board members of the Ohio Forage and Grassland Council will offer the Pasture for Profit curriculum as a virtual course. One live webinar will be offered per month pairing “work at your own pace” videos and exercises with each webinar. The schedule is shown below.

Webinar One- Core Grazing Education: 90 minutes, Wed., Jan.13 at 7 p.m.

• Evaluating Resources and Goal Setting (30 minutes)

• Getting Started Grazing (30 minutes)

• Soil Fertility (30 minutes)

Webinar Two- The Science of Grazing: 90 minutes , Wed., Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.

• Understanding Plant Growth (30 minutes)

• Fencing and Water Systems (30 minutes)

• Meeting Animal Requirements on Pasture (30 minutes)

Webinar Three- Meeting Grazing Goals: 90 minutes, Wed.,… Continue reading

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Winter grazing go-time!

By Matt Reese

Weeks, months, and, in some cases, many years have gone into preparing for right now in Ohio’s pastures. This is crunch time for extending the grazing season where mistakes are magnified and the right decision may not be apparent for months.

“There is never a right or wrong answer. Sometimes it is a matter of which wrong is the most right,” said Chris Penrose, Ohio State University Extension Educator in Morgan County and president-elect of the American Forage and Grassland Council. “When we are looking at extending the grazing season, probably our No. 1 objective is to see how far through the winter we can get. Typically people rotate pastures on a 14- to maybe 60-day rotation during the growing season, but the greatest challenge is the 150- to 180-day rotation we have when the growing season stops to when the growing season starts again. We have seen a lot of people get close and a few people manage to do it.… Continue reading

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Grouping the cowherd for winter feeding

By Steve Boyles, Ohio State University Beef Extension specialist

Young-bred heifers and young cows that have just weaned their first calf should be fed separately from the mature cows in the herd. The young animals are smaller, still growing, and are replacing their temporary teeth. They may be pushed away from feed by cows in their prime and settle for what hay is left and is likely of lower higher quality. The results of feeding young stock with the main cowherd is thin heifers and maybe overfed cows.

Older cows that are kept for being exceptional producers (or are just special to the cattle producer) merit some special attention. Consider feeding them with the younger heifers and cows. Keep a close eye on this group because they may be missing some teeth and decline in body condition.

Grouping the herd according to fall body condition could allow for thinner cows to catch up with cows are already in adequate condition.… Continue reading

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Dairy cattle welfare webinar series

By Gustavo M. Schuenemann, Professor and Dairy Extension Specialist and Jeff D. Workman, Extension Program Coordinator, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University

Consumers today have a strong interest in where their food comes from, including how food animals are raised and handled. To help build consumer trust in dairy products, the Dairy Cattle Welfare Council (DCWC) is pleased to offer a webinar series. The webinars feature top-rated topics from previous DCWC Annual Symposiums, as well as other pertinent subject areas.

The live educational sessions are available at no cost to attendees from around the world, but you must register. Visit the following link and click on the blue icon “Register Here.” 

There are several recorded webinars, but past recordings are only available to active members of the DCWC (annual membership dues are $50, see membership information). All recorded presentations have the closed caption feature with CC capable in Spanish, French, etc. Continuing Education Credit is awarded on an hour-per-hour basis.… Continue reading

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U.S. pork producers “Give-a-Ham”

The National Pork Producers Council launched the “Give-a-Ham” challenge, a national social media campaign encouraging hog farmers and those involved in the industry to donate pork to organizations serving the food insecure, and challenging others to follow suit. The “Give-a-Ham” challenge began Nov. 23 and runs through the end of the year.

“With so many Americans struggling with COVID-related financial challenges, this year’s ‘Give-a-Ham’ challenge takes on special meaning,” said Howard “AV” Roth, NPPC president. “Giving back to our communities is a core value of hog farmers nationwide; it’s gratifying to come together as an industry this time of year to serve those in need.”

Throughout the COVID pandemic, U.S. hog farmers and numerous state associations that represent them have donated to local food banks, providing a collective 15.7 million pounds — or 222.8 million servings — of pork through Oct. 31.

“I’m proud to be part of an industry that has already made significant contributions this year to help those less fortunate and look forward to participating in the ‘Give-a-Ham’ challenge, paying it forward with pork,” Roth said.… Continue reading

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