Ohioan wins CME Beef Industry scholarship

Ten top-notch college students, who are pursuing careers in the beef industry, have been chosen for the 2016 – 2017 $1,500 CME Beef Industry Scholarships, including Sierra Jepsen, Ohio State University, from Amanda, Ohio.

The scholarship is sponsored by the CME Group and administered by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF).
“NCF has been a critical partner in advancing education to future beef industry leaders through these scholarships,” said Tim Andriesen, CME Group Managing Director of Agricultural Products. “We’re pleased to partner with NCF once again this year to invest in students who represent the next generation of our nation’s food producers.”

The CME Beef Industry Scholarship was introduced in 1989 in partnership with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Today this scholarship tradition remains strong by recognizing and encouraging talented college students who will one day be industry leaders.  

“We cannot emphasize enough how grateful we are for the continuous support from CME for Beef Industry Scholarships to provide financial assistance for future beef leaders,” said John Lacey, Chair NCF Board of Trustees.… Continue reading

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Cattle producers getting a market rally for Christmas

You might have seen a picture floating around the internet with a cattle producer asking Santa for market prices to make a comeback this year and it looks as though jolly old St. Nick might have come through.

According to USDA’s cattle-on-feed numbers last week, there was an 11% drop on cattle placement numbers compared to a year ago. That has provided some support in the cattle markets this week but the reason for the decline may make the new numbers deceiving.

“These figures may imply that some cattle may have simply stayed out of feedlots and remained on grass or winter wheat pastures,” said Shayle Shagam, USDA livestock analyst. “Those cattle may be coming in to feedlots later which will put the pressure back on the more distance contracts.”

The livestock markets have been put through the wringer lately and fed steers have recently averaged about $116 per hundredweight.

“That, of course, causes very significant losses for cattle feeders,” Shagam said.… Continue reading

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Is 2016 the year of the marketer and risk manager?

A year ago I suggested that 2015 might just turn out to be “The year of the grass manager?!” For those who had grass to manage, and converted it to lean muscle in the form of beef or perhaps lamb, indeed it has been a profitable year . . . especially for cattlemen who sold early! Will 2016 become the year of the marketer and risk manager?

Despite the plunge in prices during the past few months, margins, particularly for those who utilize grass as the basis of their feeding program, remain good. Consider the comments offered by University of Tennessee economist Dr. Andrew P. Griffith in his weekly comments:

. . . Prices are still higher than they were the first week of December 2013! Making that statement may seem like a stretch to some producers, but in the fall of 2013 producers considered calf and feeder cattle prices to be extremely strong.Continue reading

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Animal ag issues take center stage at Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium

Ohio sheep producers recently came together in Wooster for the 2015 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium. Attendees came away from the meeting with industry updates on state and national issues.

“We had an excellent day and had a lot of very positive comments about it. We had over 200 sheep producers here that got to hear a variety of topics,” said Roger High, executive director of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, the organization in charge of the event. “It was just a very diverse day and I think everybody enjoyed it.

“Not only have I said over the years that these type of programs are good from an education standpoint, but they’re good from the social aspect of the industry for sheep producers to get together and visit and learn from one another. They not only learn from the speakers that we have, but also learn from what other people are doing on their farms — what’s successful not successful — and it’s one of the largest sheep social events in the state as well.”… Continue reading

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Poultry show ban lifted

With no confirmed cases in Ohio and no immediate threat of a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (avian flu) outbreak, Ohio Agriculture Director David T. Daniels and State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey today rescinded the order prohibiting bird shows in Ohio. Officials urge poultry and bird owners, however, to remain vigilant and cautious in order to protect the health of their flocks during migration seasons. Please see the department’s fact sheet on precautions that can be done to prevent the spread of avian flu.

The order, issued on June 2, 2015, was originally intended to remain in place until April 2016. The ban included county and independent fairs, the Ohio State Fair, and all other gatherings of birds for show or for sale, including auctions and swap meets. Throughout the nationwide outbreak, the department worked closely with Ohio’s poultry producers and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to provide training and to closely monitor the health of poultry in the state.… Continue reading

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An off-farm perspective brings on-farm success for 2015 Master Shepherd

It isn’t very often that a successful farm story begins off of the farm, but for the 2015 Charles Boyles Master Shepherd of the Year, it does.

Cynthia Koonce of Blue Heron Farm in Lisbon began with a small flock in Maryland with no agriculture background to speak of and eventually moved her operation of 35 sheep to the rugged terrain in the northeast part of the Buckeye State in Columbiana County.

“We bought this place 25 years ago,” Koonce said. “It was my dream farm with 225 acres on a lake.”

Blue Heron Farm now has 350 ewes, including replacements and the farm is mainly used for lamb production.

“I pride myself on my lamb,” Koonce said. “I think we produce the best carcass in the state.”

Getting to that level of production didn’t just happen. Koonce has taken many opportunities to educate herself on the industry trends and is always willing to learn something new to make her farm better.… Continue reading

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Preparing for winter with pastured poultry

Producers who raise pastured poultry and want to maintain egg production this winter should keep their birds as warm and dry as possible, according to experts from the Purdue University College of Agriculture.

A good first step is to provide indoor accommodations for the flock.

“Producers should insulate housing, provide heat, make sure water is kept unfrozen and keep hens inside on extremely cold days to avoid frostbitten combs and wattles,” said Patricia Hester, professor of animal sciences.

Providing shelter has a number of benefits, said Delaware County Extension educator Michael O’Donnell, a pastured poultry producer.

“The most important thing for laying birds when it’s cold out is to have an area where the birds can get out of the elements so they can get to dry bedding, be able to roost up and not have a draft running through their area,” he said.

A small coop, shed or barn are housing options that allow birds to get out of the elements and provide space for them to move around, Hester said.… Continue reading

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PRRS resistance discovered in hogs

Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus was first detected in the U.S. in 1987. Pigs that contract the disease have extreme difficulty reproducing, don’t gain weight and have a high mortality rate. To date, no vaccine has been effective, and the disease costs North American farmers more than $660 million annually. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Missouri, Kansas State University, and Genus plc have bred pigs that are not harmed by the disease.

“Once inside the pigs, PRRS needs some help to spread; it gets that help from a protein called CD163,” said Randall Prather, distinguished professor of animal sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “We were able to breed a litter of pigs that do not produce this protein, and as a result, the virus doesn’t spread. When we exposed the pigs to PRRS, they did not get sick and continued to gain weight normally.”… Continue reading

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COOL dispute continues

In response to a World Trade Organization (WTO) decision announcing that Canada and Mexico are authorized to apply a total of over $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs to U.S. exports, dairy producers and exporters renewed their call for Congress to take swift action to eliminate the threat to dairy exports.

“The WTO decision makes it crystal clear that Congress must act immediately to prevent retaliation against the U.S. dairy industry and others whose products could be targeted by Canada and Mexico,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “At a time of overall softening in the U.S. farm economy due to a drop-off in export demand, we cannot afford further erosion in income resulting from the unnecessary loss of markets that would result from the WTO sanctions.”

The WTO decision establishes the level of retaliation tariffs that Canada and Mexico will shortly be given final authorization to levy against a wide range of U.S.… Continue reading

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Beef 509 workshop

Understanding what consumers value and look for when purchasing meat can help livestock producers increase their profit potential and become more competitive in the cattle industry.

“The average livestock producer rarely follows the animals through harvest to the finished product,” said John Grimes, beef coordinator for Ohio State University Extension and a member of the OSU Extension Beef Team.

“Understanding how prime, choice and select cuts are determined and what goes into establishing value can help producers make more informed choices in their day-to-day management on their farm operations,” Grimes said.

To help bridge the knowledge gap, beef experts with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences are offering a two-part Beef 509 series Feb. 20 and 27, designed to help producers take advantage of increasing consumer demand for high-quality beef products as well as position themselves for continued long-term success, he said.

“This workshop can offer producers a view beyond the farm gate to the consumer’s plate,” he said.… Continue reading

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Use care with silage to maintain quality and safety

Livestock producers need to take extra care when creating and maintaining stored silage piles to not only ensure they produce quality animal feed but also to lessen the risk of injury or even death from suffocation caused by an accidental silage avalanche.

Creating safe and nutritional silage piles starts with making sure the height is never higher than what your loading or unloading equipment can safely reach, which is typically 12 to14 feet above the silage floor, said Rory Lewandowski, an Ohio State University Extension agriculture and natural resources educator.

While that may sound intuitive, Lewandowski said, numerous silage avalanches have occurred nationwide in recent years that have resulted in several deaths, according to data compiled by Ruthie and Keith Bolsen, nationally known silage safety experts.

“The biggest concern is that we can have these silage avalanches where silage will break off the face of the pile that you are drawing feed from, burying anyone beneath it,” he said.… Continue reading

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Composting options considered for possible avian influenza losses

One of the main challenges posed by the avian flu outbreak that has impacted the U.S. poultry industry in the past year is how to safely and effectively dispose of potentially hundreds of thousands of birds killed as a result of infection and eradication efforts.

“The U.S. strategy is to quickly identify the infected premises, depopulate, properly dispose of carcasses and manure, clean and disinfect the premises, and have 21 days of down time after cleaning before re-population can take place,” said Mohamed El-Gazzar, Ohio State University Extension’s poultry veterinarian. “As you might imagine, the logistics of depopulation and disposal are very challenging, particularly with the large-scale layer complexes, some of which have a capacity of more than 5 million birds.”

In 2015, this strategy has resulted in the culling of 7.5 million turkeys and 42.1 million egg-layer and pullet chickens, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While the avian flu outbreak has not impacted Ohio poultry, experts with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University have been helping poultry producers learn about the disease, boost biosecurity measures on the farm, and prepare to minimize the flu’s impact if it were to reach the state.… Continue reading

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UPI adds staff

United Producers Inc. (UPI) has hired Donald “Bill” Tom as its Executive Vice President of Livestock Marketing.

Tom will provide operational management and coordination for the livestock business units and direct livestock ancillary services. He will work with the senior management team to oversee the implementation of the strategic vision for livestock marketing.

“Along with his leadership experience, understanding of cooperatives and background in agriculture, Bill brings a proven track record of obtaining positive results through teamwork and a dedication to customer success,” said Mike Bumgarner, Chief Operating Officer of United Producers Inc. “We are excited to have Bill join our team and help us continue to meet the needs of our member farmers throughout the Midwest.”

Most recently, Tom worked for Trupointe Cooperative as Vice President of Risk Management, Grain Origination, EH & S and Marketing Solutions. He also has leadership experience with Cargill, Inc. and experience in animal nutrient sales and reproduction and nutrition management.… Continue reading

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Concerns heighten as USDA stockpiles vaccines

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is creating a stockpile of avian influenza vaccines, but an expert suggests careful consideration of the strategy and cautions that the strain of the next outbreak is unknown.

Wild birds are typically the source of the introduction of the virus to backyard and commercial poultry flocks, which makes it very difficult to know the strain and understand the nature of the incoming virus until after the outbreak has occurred in poultry populations, said Suresh Mittal, a professor of comparative pathobiology in Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

In 2015, 15 U.S. states had bird flu outbreaks at poultry farms, which led to the loss of more than 48 million birds and $3 billion in revenue, as well as a pricier Thanksgiving dinner. The virus can infect chickens, turkeys, ducks, pheasants, quail, geese and guinea fowl, as well as wild birds, according to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and testimony at a special hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.… Continue reading

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Scholarship opportunity for students interested in the pork industry


The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and CME Group are pleased to announce the 2016 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship Program

  • Sponsored by CME Group
  • Managed and administered by the National Pork Producer Council

Write yourself a brighter future!

The scholarship program was introduced in 1990 by CME Group and NPPC to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the CME Live Hog futures.  The scholarship was renamed in 2006 to honor the passing of NPPC Board of Director Lois Britt. Britt, a lifetime supporter of agriculture, spent 34 years with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service finishing out her carrier for 15 years with Murphy-Brown LLC doing Public and Government Relations. She was inducted into the NPPC Pork Industry Hall of Fame, the N.C. Pork Council Hall of Fame, and awarded the N.C. 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award as some of her many achievements.

With the marking of the 50th anniversary of the Live Hog futures in 2015, the number of scholarships was raised from four to five awarded. … Continue reading

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Poultry donation highlights effort of Ohio youth exhibitors

Just prior to Thanksgiving, the Ohio Poultry Breeders Association donated a turkey, four chickens and a gift card to complete the holiday meal to one local Columbus family in need for their Thanksgiving feast.

These chickens and turkey represent the Thanksgiving dinner that was purchased during the Ohio State Fair’s Sale of Champions in August, which was in lieu of no poultry shows during this year’s fair due to the threat of avian influenza.

The sponsor of the Thanksgiving dinner was the Ohio Poultry Breeders Association and several buyers participated, including Gerber Poultry, Cooper Farms, Weaver Brothers, Case Farms, Hertzfeld Farms, Trillium Farms, Prairie Star Farms, Hemmelgarn and Sons, Cal Maine Foods, Sauder Amish Eggs, Hillandale Farms, Stoller Farms, Kalmbach Feeds, Wendel Poultry Service, Nature Pure, New Day Farms, Mercer Landmark and Kroger Co.

The Ohio Poultry Association also donated $1,000 to the Ohio Agricultural Clearance Program, a program of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, which directly benefits Ohio’s farmers and provides fresh, Ohio-grown fruits and vegetables and shelf-stable, protein-packed foods (including eggs) to more than 2 million Ohioans who struggle to afford food on their own.… Continue reading

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What is the share for Ohio’s farmers of the cost of Thanksgiving dinner?

The Ohio Farmers Union released a Thanksgiving version of the organization’s popular Farmer’s Share graphic which shows farmers and ranchers receive only about 19 cents of every dollar spent by consumers on their Thanksgiving dinners.

Click Here for Farmer’s Share Graphic or PDF

“We want to remind Ohioans to be thankful for farmers and remind them that 80 percent of what they pay for food at the grocery are costs added after grain, meat and produce leaves the family farm,” said Joe Logan, OFU President.

Logan said these costs include processing, marketing, wholesaling, distribution and retailing according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

“These added costs take a bite out of all of our family budgets — consumers and farmers alike — at Thanksgiving and throughout the year,” Logan said. “As our American food system has gotten more reliant on industrial agriculture and a relative few huge companies dominating grain and meat markets, family farmers are as squeezed as many American consumers by the cost of what’s on our dinner plates.”… Continue reading

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Turkey prices up due to avian influenza

It might be more costly thanks to an extensive avian flu outbreak earlier this year, but there should be no shortage of turkey for Thanksgiving this year.

Still, other segments of the poultry industry are taking longer to rebound, said a poultry specialist with The Ohio State University.

“The good news is the avian flu hit early enough in the year, and since most whole turkeys you buy at Thanksgiving are hens, there was sufficient time for a lot of the farms to be repopulated,” said Mike Lilburn, professor of animal sciences with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Lilburn is also unit supervisor with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s Poultry Research Center and is a poultry specialist with Ohio State University Extension.

Female turkeys generally take 16 to 18 weeks to grow to 22 to 25 pounds, when they are normally harvested to provide an 18 to 20 pound bird at retail.… Continue reading

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NPB explains steps for antibiotic use

The National Pork Board reiterated the proactive steps the U.S. pork industry has taken to ensure responsible antibiotic use on pig farms. Pork industry leaders say calls by various organizations to end antibiotic use on farms are misguided and would have a negative impact on food safety.

“We understand people are confused about the role of antibiotics in meat production and, unfortunately, recently released reports only add to that confusion,” said Dr. Jennifer Koeman, Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine and Director of Producer and Public Health at National Pork Board. “It’s simple — when you produce healthy livestock, you get safe food. The meat you eat is safe due to Food and Drug Administration rules on antibiotics and U.S. Department of Agriculture testing of meat.”

The National Pork Board is implementing a three-point plan of action focused on five research priorities:


  • Establishing a blue ribbon panel on antibiotics, an outcome of the Pork Checkoff’s stewardship plan announced this past June.
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Quest for the best steer

An ideal beef steer is one you can profitably produce again and again, to earn premiums on a value-based grid. That’s the premise Paul Dykstra used in presenting “How to build the perfect steer” at the Angus Means Business National Convention and Trade Show.

Dykstra has worked with feedlots as Beef Cattle Specialist for the Certified Angus Beefbrand for the past 13 years, managed the USDA Meat Animal Research Center’s feedlot before that, and has a current interest in a commercial cowherd in western Nebraska.

People may differ on ideal production strategies for that ideal steer, Dykstra said. Some insist that focus on the feedlot can only come from terminal breeding programs, while others insist the steer must come from a system that also produces replacement heifers.

“We’ll cross back and forth over that line as we look less at how, and more at what we need for a mainstream target like the Certified Angus Beef brand,” he said.… Continue reading

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