Port congestion, economic headwinds slow meat exports

January exports of U.S. beef, pork and lamb were down sharply from a year ago, according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF. Shipping delays caused by the West Coast labor dispute combined with a number of economic factors to drive export volumes for beef and pork to four-year lows. However, USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng noted that the situations facing U.S. beef and pork are quite different. Global beef supplies are extremely tight again this year, while pork supplies are increasing and competition in major pork export markets continues to intensify.

“We expected January to be a difficult month, so these results are not especially surprising,” Seng said. “But I see the January slowdown as a wakeup call for the U.S. industry in terms of the fiercely competitive situation we face in key markets. Conditions are now improving in the West Coast ports, but the damage caused by that impasse is still not finished, and it is clear that competitors capitalized on our inability to move product in a timely fashion.… Continue reading

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HB 61 passes Ohio House and moves manure application limits forward for the Lake Erie Watershed

On March 10, the Ohio House unanimously approved House Bill 61 that addresses the ongoing water quality debate and limits fertilizer and manure application in the Lake Erie Watershed.

HB 61 will restrict the application of nutrients on frozen, snow-covered or saturated ground in the Western Lake Erie Basin while allowing farmers the necessary time to come into compliance and setting realistic standards for how farmers can operate under certain weather conditions. In addition, resources will be provided to help farmers comply with the bill’s provisions. The legislation addresses non-agricultural concerns including publicly owned water treatment facilities and dredging issues.

The bill earned the support of the Ohio Farm Bureau for these and other measures included, but it is already drawing criticism from opponents.

“Both chambers of the legislature did exactly what the factory farming industry wanted them to do, and nothing that citizens and environmental groups asked. So essentially, this legislature allowed the very industry that created the problem to determine policy based on what they were willing to do,” said Alison Auciello, Ohio organizer for Food & Water Watch.… Continue reading

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Animal ID requirements impact farms, markets and livestock exhibitors

The Federal Government’s animal disease traceability law went into effect in March of 2013. Since the passage of the federal law, states have been determining how to best implement it and educate stakeholders about what it requires.

“The primary goal is animal disease traceability. If we find a disease we want to be able to trace it back to the farm of origin,” said Tony Forshey, Ohio’s State Veterinarian. “We have done about a year of education outreach and education with sale barns and auction barns and commodity groups. Any time any animal crosses a state line, it is involved in interstate commerce and therefore it applies to the animal disease traceability law. If you’re going to sell animals across the state line, they have to have an official ID. The other side of that is the documentation, either with a certificate of vet inspection and an official ID. There are many forms of official IDs and they can be found on the USDA or ODA web sites.”… Continue reading

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Strong opportunities for more meat exports to Japan

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Market Expo, a market education program that allows producers and other USMEF members to observe international market development activities for U.S. pork and beef, concluded earlier this month in Tokyo. The delegation also traveled to Shanghai, China.

The Tokyo segment was highlighted by a visit to FoodEx — Asia’s largest food exhibition. FoodEx attracts nearly 3,000 exhibitors from 80 countries, and more than 77,000 attendees over four days. The USMEF delegation came away impressed with the strong presence of U.S. pork and beef at FoodEx and the enthusiastic manner in which U.S. products are received by buyers in attendance.

“Being here at FoodEx really drives home for me of just how badly all of these suppliers want to be in the Japanese market,” said Jennifer Houston, a cattle producer from Sweetwater, Tennessee, who serves as chair of the Federation of State Beef Councils. “Japan is extremely important for them, just as it is for the U.S.… Continue reading

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U.S. meat markets struggling

A myriad of factors are joining forces to create significant challenges for beef, pork and poultry markets so far in 2015. These include supply and demand factors, domestic and international factors, and short and long term factors. Many of the factors are affecting all meat markets while others are specific to individual meats.

International demand for U.S. meat is being dampened by the strong dollar, which makes U.S. product more expensive in global markets. This is particularly challenging for beef, which is already high relatively to other meats due to limited supplies. In the case of pork, falling U.S. prices due to increased production are offset to some extent in international markets by the strong dollar. Meat exports are being further disrupted by the backlog at west coast ports. The inability to move perishable product out of the ports has resulted in reduced export demand and diversion of meat back into domestic markets.… Continue reading

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FDA analysis demonstrates U.S. milk supply is safe from drug residues

A new report released by the Food and Drug Administration underscores the safety of the nation’s milk supply, and demonstrates that the regulations to keep drug residues out of milk are effective in protecting the public health, the National Milk Producers Federation said today in reaction to the FDA survey.

The milk survey was released by the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, which sampled the raw milk from nearly 2,000 dairy farms in 2012, and conducted extensive laboratory testing on each milk sample for 31 different pharmaceutical compounds. It found that more than 99% of the samples were free of residues, “underscoring the safety of the milk supply,” according to the FDA.

“This report proves that America’s dairy farmers are delivering on our commitment to providing safe and wholesome milk to consumers, while working closely with state and federal regulators to continually improve the safety of our products,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF President and CEO. … Continue reading

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Ohio Pork Council hosts virtual field trips to farms

Utilizing Google Hangouts’ live video-sharing technology and supplemental educational materials, the Ohio Pork Council is providing a fun and scholastic opportunity for students; turning the classroom into a virtual pig farm.
“Farmers consistently receive requests for tours of their farms,” said Jennifer Keller, Ohio Pork Council Director of Marketing and Education. “Innovative technology, like the Google Hangout video-chat platform, allows us to work with farmers to host virtual field trips and provide classes the opportunity to see inside real Ohio pig barns.”
An Ohio Pork Council representative, Ohio pig farmers and the occasional swine veterinarian will lead students through this one-of-a-kind learning experienced focused on pigs and farming. In addition to engaging students through technology, the Hangouts and corresponding lessons can be customized to reach many of Ohio’s educational standards for 4th and 5th grade students.

“Virtual Field Trip to the Farm” Google Hangouts are scheduled during Ohio Agriculture Week, March 16 – 20th
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The equation for improving water quality

In just one short presentation at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada, Newell Kitchen provided a great example that illustrates the complexities of the vexing water quality issues in Ohio agriculture.

Kitchen is with the USDA-ARS Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit. Over the last two decades he has worked to address a challenge that has torn down civilizations for thousands of years — soil erosion.

“Civilizations didn’t so much collapse as they consumed themselves,” he said. “How do we get away from treating soils as consumable? When erosion consumes 1.5 inches of topsoil it takes 300 to 400 years to replace that soil if it is under grass. Erosion is still unfortunately a very active process on the agricultural landscape and it needs to be addressed. Sometimes we think a little erosion is not going to matter in the long run, but it does matter.”

To make matters worse, soil erosion also contributes significantly to problems with water quality.… Continue reading

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Chile agrees to eliminate trichinae testing requirement

Chile has agreed to eliminate trichinae testing requirements on chilled U.S. pork based on a USDA certification that the pork originates from PQA Plus farms. (PQA Plus is an education and training program run by the National Pork Board that certifies that hog operations are meeting their commitments related to animal well-being, food safety, worker safety and environmental protection.)

The National Pork Producers Council worked closely with U.S. and Chilean officials for many years to eliminate the testing, which artificially raises the cost of selling chilled pork. The risk of getting trichinae from consuming U.S. pork is less than 1 in 300,000,000. Chile is one of the fastest growing markets in the world for U.S. pork exports since implementation of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2004. U.S. pork sales to Chile have surged from 41 metric tons in 2003, the year before the FTA went into effect, to 19,109 metric tons valued at more than $49 million in 2014, making it the second largest South American market after Colombia.… Continue reading

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2015 Ohio Beef Expo instant results at

The Ohio Beef Expo, the premier event of Ohio’s beef industry, will take place March 20-22 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus. This annual event, coordinated by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, includes breed sales, shows and displays, trade show and a highly competitive junior show. Attendees will also be able to take part in a silent auction and social hour on Friday and Saturday, in the trade show.

There are several new and exciting events scheduled to take place at this year’s Expo. On Friday, March 20 at 10:00 a.m. New Holland Agriculture will present a Forage Seminar. The seminar will be held in the Voinovich building and will feature discussions by Dr. Francis Fluharty, Research Professor in the OSU Department of Animal Sciences, and Robert Hendrix, New Holland hay and forage product specialist. Seminar attendees will receive discount incentives good toward the purchase of New Holland Agriculture hay and forage equipment.… Continue reading

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Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School application deadline April 1

The 2015 Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School will be held June 21-24 in Denver, CO. Because the school will be in June, instead of July, the cut-off date for applications has been changed to April 1.

This year’s theme — Lamb Feeding & Marketing in the U.S. — will include presentations on various methods of marketing lambs, direct, electronic, ethnic differences, auctions and value-based marketing, tours of Superior Farms Denver plant, Nugget pelt grading facility, Harper Feedlot, and Double J Lamb Feeders. Other topics to be discussed include alternative grazing options, financial planning for livestock operations, and accessing USDA Market information.

With Ron Cole and his extensive background in all phases of livestock, grain and meat reporting at the local and national levels as the program coordinator, the 2015 school offers an exceptional opportunity to gain a new perspective on lamb marketing options. The school also offers the usual opportunities for networking and sharing information with a wide variety of producers from all parts of the country.… Continue reading

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These national champions wear wool

Just a few weeks after the OSU football team won the national championship, 29 juniors and 26 seniors from around the nation met up in Reno, Nevada at the American Sheep Industry Convention to vie for top honors in the National Make It With Wool contest. The competition is quite intense, these

contestants are all serious sewers and needle workers. There were lovely outfits of all colors and styles, a few raised their own sheep and worked all the steps in between to create a beautiful fabric or yarn to end up in a unique garment. During the Saturday style show the outfit garnering the largest applause was the young lady who topped her outfit with the pelt of a mountain lion her grandma shot — the ultimate revenge on a predator of sheep.

Prior to arriving at the site of Nationals, the top adult entries from each state are sent off for judging.… Continue reading

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OSIA elects officers and travels to ASI

During the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association Annual Meeting on Dec. 6, 2014, elections were held for 2015 and new officers and members of the Board of Trustees were elected. Officers elected include Shawn Ray, President (Noble County); Mark McCabe, First Vice-President (Marion County); Mike Stitzlein, Second Vice-President (Ashland County); and Daryl Clark, Past President (Guernsey County).

OSIA Board members re-elected to serve two-year terms include: Dusty Knapke (Auglaize County); and Kathy Bielek (Wayne County). Newly elected board members include: Denise Percival (Greene County); and Bob Hendershot (Pickaway County).

Retiring OSIA Board members include: Jerry Allison (Muskingum County); and Don Van Nostran (Athens County).

In addition, Ohio Sheep and Wool Program (OSWP) Board members have been named for the 2015 program year. Four three-year re-appointments for years 2015-2017 to the Board include: Roger Hunker (Huron County), Gary Wilson (Hancock County), Lori Shroyer (Logan County) and Don Hawk (Knox County). One new 3-year appointment for years 2015-2017 to the Board is Becky Sexten (Greene County).… Continue reading

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Cable Acres Farm finds that fighting the trend can pay off

Sometimes it pays to not do what everyone else is doing.

In recent decades there has been an undeniable shift away from livestock for many farms in Ohio. The Dagger family from Champaign County went a different direction.

“I have always told the boys we should be as diversified as we can be and not put all of our eggs in one basket,” said Larry Dagger, of Cable Acres Farms, the winner of this year’s Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Commercial Producer of the Year Award. “I think you can still make money by being diversified in agriculture. People have cut back on their cattle numbers while we went in the opposite direction. We can make more money on cattle now than on corn. And when corn gets high we can convert some of our hay ground to corn.”

As cattle prices have strengthened in recent months, the Dagger philosophy has really paid off for Larry and his two grown sons, Justin and Jason, and their families.… Continue reading

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Ohio Club Lamb Association dissolves to create the OSIA LEAD Council

As many of you already know, the Ohio Club Lamb Association has been legally dissolved. This legal dissolution was voted on and approved by the 2014 Ohio Club Lamb Association membership at the OCLA Annual Meeting on Sunday, October 12, 2014.

After the dissolution paperwork is finalized, the Ohio Club Lamb Association will no longer exist, with those who are current and future members with an interest in the exhibition of sheep and lambs becoming members of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. We are very hopeful for a very smooth transition period and with all of your help, we can make it a successful transition period.

The current Ohio Club Lamb Association members will become members of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association with programs and activities coming under the OSIA LEAD Council, a name that was approved by the 2014 OCLA Board of Directors on Monday, October 27, 2014.

Impact on former OCLA members

The OSIA LEAD Council will be offering the same opportunities for youth as the OCLA has developed and implemented in the past several years.… Continue reading

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Ohio Sheep and Wool Program proposal funding approved

The Ohio Sheep and Wool Program (OSWP), Ohio’s Sheep and Wool check-off program, will invest up to $34,112 into sheep and wool promotion, education, research, industry information, producer and youth programs in fiscal year 2014-2015. OSWP received eleven Requests for Proposals for fiscal year 2014-15, with ten of these proposals approved for full or partial funding by the Board during their October board meeting.

OSWP approved programs which will benefit every segment of the Ohio sheep industry. A major lamb promotional program approved is the Ohio Lamb Jam. Major educational programs funded include the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium and Ohio Sheep Day programs and activities.

Producer related programs include funding to support a Starter Flock/Mentoring Program for purebred, club lamb, and commercial flocks within Ohio, as well as a Young Entrepreneurs Educational Program, which includes providing funding for sheep producers to attend the Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School. The youth related program dubbed the No-Sho Lamb Show has also been added to the funded programs list.… Continue reading

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SB 1 passes Senate

Late last year there was a hard push to pass House Bill 490 to address water quality in Lake Erie. The Ohio Senate resumed work on this effort right out of the gate in 2015 with Senate Bill 1, which passed the Senate unanimously on Feb. 18.

“Legislators have included agriculture in discussions from the beginning and this bill represents a science-based approach to tackling some of the challenges we face in maintaining clean waterways for all Ohioans,” said Tommie Price, Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) president. “Ohio soybean farmers share their neighbors’ concern about water quality in Ohio and are committed to doing their part to find solutions that work. As water quality has been and will continue to be a priority for the OSA, our organization appreciates the due diligence that the Ohio Senate has done in drafting substitute Senate Bill 1.”

SB 1 would prohibit the spreading of manure or fertilizer in the Lake Erie Watershed when fields are frozen, snow-covered or saturated, or if there is a greater than 50% chance for at least an inch of rain in the next 12 hours.… Continue reading

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UPI to sponsor new feeder cattle sale at Beef Expo

The 2015 Ohio Beef Expo will feature a new feeder cattle internet board sale. The sale, sponsored by United Producers, Inc. (UPI) will be held Friday, March 20 at 1:30 p.m. in the Voinovich Building on the Ohio Expo Center grounds, in Columbus.

A board sale offers consignments of uniform packages of feeder cattle. The cattle are sold while on the farm with a specific pick up period defined in the sale catalog. Typical pick up times range from one week to four months after the sale. Lots are typically sold in 48,000 to 50,000 pound load lots. However, smaller groups are encouraged as well. These sales may include all types and breeds of feeder cattle. Uniform lots sold in groups that would average between 400 and 900 pound are common. Uniform groups of Holstein feeder cattle may range as low as 300 pounds.

Consignments will be accepted at any time prior to 12:00 noon Friday, March 13, 2015, and are open to Ohio and out-of-state producers.… Continue reading

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Ohio poultry owners advised to increase biosecurity as virus spreads in western U.S.

Three worrisome strains of avian flu have been detected in birds out West. These viruses can cause serious disease in birds, and their appearance has prompted poultry veterinarians at The Ohio State University to recommend that Ohio’s commercial producers and backyard chicken enthusiasts alike take precautions to protect their flocks.

The strains are related to a virus that circulated in Asia and Europe in 2014. In December 2014, they were detected in the Pacific Migratory Bird Flyway, in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Idaho and Nevada. These viruses are classified as highly pathogenic, meaning they are extremely infectious and fatal for birds.

Migratory birds appear to be playing a role in spreading the virus, said Mohamed El-Gazzar, poultry veterinarian for Ohio State University Extension. It’s important to note that these strains are not considered a human health concern, said El-Gazzar, who is also an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. … Continue reading

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Annual Ohio Dorset Sale March 21

Plans for the 39th Annual Ohio Dorset Sale have been set for March 20 and 21 at the Preble County Fairgrounds in Eaton, Ohio.  Billed as “the first, the biggest, the best” Dorset sale, it will feature both Horned and Polled Dorsets.

Established in 1977, the Ohio Dorset Sale has been a barometer used to gauge how the registered sheep industry is doing in the New Year.  Entered in the sale are 100 head of Polled Dorsets and 42 head of Horned Dorsets.

“The nation’s finest Dorset genetics from nine different states have been consigned to this year’s sale,” said Greg Deakin, sale manager. “The sale’s history is rich, dating back to 1977.  More breed National Champion Rams and Ewes have sold through the Ohio Dorset Sale than any other sale.”

Both Horned and Polled Dorset rams and ewes will be offered consisting of classes for yearling, fall and winter lambs. … Continue reading

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