Jepsen named 2014 National Beef Ambassador

The National Beef Ambassador Competition recently took place with one of Ohio’s own receiving a top honor and being selected to represent the beef industry for the coming year.

Sierra Jepsen, of Amanda, was named to the 2014 National Beef Ambassador Team at the National Beef Ambassador Competition held in Springdale, Arkansas the last weekend of September.

“We have the privilege and the honor of traveling the nation and visiting with different youth events, whether that be schools or promotion events, going to state fairs or state sponsored events and just really being able to represent the beef industry in a positive light,” Jepsen said. “We explain a little about the misconceptions that others hear about the beef industry and ultimately getting people to love beef as much as we do.”

The contest brings together youth beef representatives from all around the country to compete in friendly competition. The top five are selected  to serve as the beef industry’s youth representatives.… Continue reading

Read More »

OSU Dairy Judging Team takes top spot in Pa.

The Ohio State Dairy Judging Team was the winning team at the Pennsylvania All American Dairy Judging Contest in Harrisburg. The OSU team was the top finisher over second place Michigan State by 14 points. High individuals for OSU were Robin Alden, with second place, Jared Smith, third place, and Lara Staples, seventh place overall.

Ohio State was second in Reasons, with Staples finishing third individually. In addition, OSU was second in the Holstein, Brown Swiss, Guernsey and Jersey competitions, and fifth in Ayrshire.… Continue reading

Read More »

CME contracts may see impact from government shutdown

With every minute that goes by of the U.S. government shutdown, the impacts are becoming more widespread. That is the case for Chicago’s CME Group, who announced Tuesday that a prolonged government shutdown could cause a change in the way that Livestock and Dairy contracts are settled.

According to a CME letter to its customers, A prolonged shutdown of the federal government and furloughing of USDA staff could result in interruptions or gaps in reporting key agricultural pricing information from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). As a result, we wanted you to be aware that settlement prices for certain CME dairy and livestock contracts, which are cash settled based on USDA data, could be impacted in the event of a prolonged shutdown of the agency and may require the exchange to modify the current settlement procedures of the following products.

Here is a list of CME dairy and livestock contracts that may be impacted:

Dairy – September 2013 Class III Milk, Class IV Milk, Butter, Whey, Cheese and Non-Fat Dry
Milk futures and options

Livestock – October 2013 Lean Hogs, Live Cattle and Feeder Cattle futures and options

CME groups says they will continue to closely monitor this situation and will keep customers apprised of any potential changes to the settlement procedures for CME dairy and livestock contracts.… Continue reading

Read More »

Sheep offering options for Ohio’s Amish

A few years ago, an Amish community near Calais nestled in the rugged terrain at the corners of Monroe, Noble and Belmont counties was looking for a new source of income. They had been loggers for generations, but changes in and enforcement of environmental regulations forced them to look for a new way to make a living from their land.

“They had all of this land but they weren’t really farmers. When it was farmed with horses a lot of the topsoil went down to the delta,” said Daryl Clark, a retired Ohio State University Extension agent and president of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. “This is land for livestock. This is mountains, steep grades and erosive red clay. It is even tough to do much with beef cattle there. They didn’t want to do dairy because of all of the regulations. One of the fellows had started with sheep and they kind of liked what was going on there and they contacted me.… Continue reading

Read More »

Signatures gathered by Ohio cattlemen for checkoff referendum

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association has collected the 1,000 signatures required to undergo a referendum on the Ohio Beef Checkoff, which will ask producers to increase the state checkoff from $1 per head to $2 per head to support market research, promotion and education that aim to increase consumer demand for beef. The Ohio Department of Agriculture will oversee the referendum process, which will lead to a vote in the first half of 2014.

“Currently, 50 cents of every dollar invested stays in Ohio, and the rest goes to support national beef checkoff programs, such as the ‘Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner’ campaign,” said Bill Sexten, Ohio Beef Council Chairman, which oversees programs funded by the checkoff. “With the increase, 100% of the second dollar will stay in Ohio, so 75% of the total checkoff will benefit Ohio producers.”

A study by the University of Florida estimates that for every $1 invested in beef checkoff programs, more than $5 is returned to producers in enhanced market opportunity and value.… Continue reading

Read More »

Farm bill dairy compromise could make all parties happy

As the current farm bill extension deadline draws near (next Monday), few groups more anxiously await a finalized farm bill than U.S. dairy producers.

Dairy groups have been battling for years now to get a reasonably effective dairy safety net in the farm bill. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill have significant dairy reforms, though the National Milk Producers Federation was less than thrilled with the House version of the bill.

“The farm bill passed by the House of Representatives is seriously flawed, in that it contains the Goodlatte-Scott dairy amendment, as well as a repeal of permanent agricultural law. Neither of these measures serves the best long-term interests of dairy farmers,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF. “The Senate, by contrast, overwhelmingly passed the complete Dairy Security Act, which the National Milk Producers Federation and nearly all dairy farmers enthusiastically supported.”

While dairy producers generally support the Dairy Security Act (DSA) and the Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP) in the Senate farm bill, these measures are generally opposed by some dairy cooperatives, restaurant and food marketers, consumer groups, dairy food manufacturers, and their trade associations.… Continue reading

Read More »

HSUS pork lawsuit dismissed

After spending significant amounts of donor dollars, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was dealt a significant loss in U.S. District Court. In what was considered to be a futile legal challenge and a very personal attack on U.S. pork producers, a U.S. district judge Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by HSUS over the National Pork Board’s purchase of the “Pork, The Other White Meat” trademark from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

HSUS, which was joined in the suit by a lone Iowa pork producer and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — and Secretary Tom Vilsack — over approval of the trademark purchase and the Pork Board’s annual payments to NPPC. HSUS argued that the sale and payments were unlawful since the Pork Board is prohibited from using checkoff dollars to influence legislation. The court dismissed the HSUS case, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that no one had suffered any injury from the Agriculture Secretary’s actions.… Continue reading

Read More »

Smithfield sale gets shareholder approval

Shareholders have approved the sale of Smithfield Foods Inc. to Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd.
“It is a sad day for family farmers and consumers when the largest pork processing company in the United States is sold to a Chinese interest,” said  National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. “Putting ownership of our food system in the hands of other countries does not bode well for the future of our agricultural marketplace. Congress should revisit the official approval process for such transactions with an eye toward assuring that our food systems are more stable, safe and secure, and are based on a model of family farmers and ranchers.”
Continue reading

Read More »

Seeking final industry input on the industry roadmap study

The industry advisory committee that has been guiding the Industry Roadmap Study held their final meeting in Denver, Co., August 28-29 to discuss strategies to strengthen the U.S. lamb industry and increase its competitive advantage. The committee, which is made up of representatives from all sectors of the lamb industry, worked to nail down the key objectives and action steps that support the four high-level goals the group developed in its previous meeting.

Those goals are:

  • Product characteristics — Reduce the fat content and improve the consistency of American Lamb products.
  • Demand creation — Achieve a significant increase in demand for American Lamb meat.
  • Productivity Improvement — Achieve a significant increase in industry productivity.
  • Industry Collaboration — Work toward a common industry goal of meeting consumer desires rather than short-term self-interest.

The presentation that describes the goals in more detail, along with the plan’s objectives and action steps, is available now at lambcheckoff.comContinue reading

Read More »

Checkoff’s Quaker Oats’ partnership drives fluid milk sales

A program designed by the dairy checkoff and The Quaker Oats Company to increase consumption of oatmeal using milk resulted in a 5% increase in fluid milk sales in retail stores participating during the test period.

Quaker, in its first year of partnership with the dairy checkoff, unveiled the “Make It With Milk” program in approximately 1,350 Safeway grocery stores in April. The program’s goal is to encourage consumers to make oatmeal with nutrient-rich milk instead of water.

“This effort shows how dairy producers can work with industry partners to influence consumer behavior in order to address our fluid milk crisis,” said Paul Broering, Ohio dairy producer and chair of the American Dairy Association Mideast Board of Directors.

In addition to retail promotions, the partnership includes a checkoff-employed dairy scientist working on site with Quaker to deliver dairy-based product innovation and retail programs. Registered dietitians with the producer-created National Dairy Council also provide nutrition counsel.… Continue reading

Read More »

Block to COOL implementation denied

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction that, if granted, would have blocked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from implementing and enforcing its revised Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations until a lawsuit filed July 8 is concluded.

The National Farmers Union was pleased with the decision.

“The judge’s ruling to deny the injunction on COOL regulations continues to reinforce NFU’s positive position on COOL. We have long supported COOL and the consumer’s desire to know where their food comes from. We are pleased that the packer-producer organizations and foreign interests’ attempts to thwart COOL have been denied. We are committed to defending COOL and will continue to do so throughout this legal process,” said Roger Johnson, NFU president. “I am thankful for the support of other organizations, our members and others who have supported the U.S. COOL Defense Fund. This undertaking has not been taken lightly and we appreciate those who have helped provide funding to ensure that we are represented in the most effective manner.”… Continue reading

Read More »

CFIUS approves Smithfield purchase

China’s Shuanghui International was granted national-security clearance to take over Smithfield Foods, Inc., the world’s largest pork producer. This clears another hurdle for the $4.8 billion deal, which would be the largest acquisition of a U.S. company ever by a Chinese buyer.

The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) granted the approval to the transaction between Shuanghui International Holdings and Smithfield Foods. This decision is a concern for some consumer groups and the National Farmers Union. President Roger Johnson said the deal represents the sale of one-quarter of U.S. hog processing to a quasi-state owned Chinese enterprise which sets a dangerous precedent in terms of food security and market competition.

Johnson says NFU urges Congress, the Administration and other decision makers to oppose this sale and that NFU believes foreign-backed control will only make the situation worse. Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development Marisa Lago said CFIUS has only one purpose — to review the potential national security effects of transactions through which a foreign investor could obtain control of a U.S.… Continue reading

Read More »

Lefevre Farms a big family effort for environmental stewardship

When mention is made of turkeys and family traditions, most Americans may think of fall weather and Thanksgiving dinner. At Lefevre Farms in Fort Recovery, turkeys are a year-round tradition that runs generations deep. Current owners Tom and Lisa Lefevre are doing their best to make sure the farm remains a viable option for any of their seven children who choose to carry on the family business.

Tom is the third generation to farm the land at Lefevre Farms, which has included turkeys since the 1950s when they were raised on range. Since that time the farm has grown to include 12 poultry barns with a 66,000-bird capacity in addition to a cattle barn and a successful row crop operation.

“We raise turkeys for Cooper Farms. We raise them up to 21 weeks of age, close to 50 pounds, before they go out and we can run three flocks a year,” said Lefevre, whose forward thinking farming practices have earned his farm the Environmental Stewardship Award from the Ohio Poultry Association.… Continue reading

Read More »

Issues facing animal agriculture covered at symposium

The many factors that influence decision-making at the farm and throughout the food system related to animal welfare and responsible production practices were dominant themes at the 2013 Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC) Annual Meeting and Industry Symposium held in Columbus.

“Ohio’s farming community is committed to ongoing innovation and improvement, so understanding the needs of today’s consumers and customers, and tomorrow’s agricultural leaders, is vital to our continued success,” said David White, OLC executive director. “The annual meeting provides farm organization leaders and farmers from across Ohio with a venue to hear from state and national agriculture leaders on key issues, and provides an opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue and education that help us plan for the future.”

David Fikes, vice president of consumer/community affairs and communications for the Food Marketing Institute, discussed the role of the farm community in helping food industry stakeholders achieve their social responsibility goals to meet consumer expectations.… Continue reading

Read More »

Aesthetics are byproduct of stewardship

To tourists driving by on their way to area attractions, the sheep grazing on the grassy hills of Columbiana County look like they are just a natural part of the landscape. The idyllic scene certainly seems almost effortless to many casual passersby, but the reality is quite the opposite. It has taken years of effort and care to turn this former strip mine ground into an Ohio Environmental Steward Award recipient.

“We bought it in 1992. We came from Maryland and we had been small in sheep over there. We came here and I got my big farm,” said Cynthia Koonce. “I moved here with 35 ewes and one ram. There was not a fence on the place so we put the fence in during the winter of ‘92-’93.”

Initially, four miles of perimeter 8-strand high-tensile fence enclosed the roughly 140 acres with one major division. Since then, more fence has been added that further divided the pastures into seven different areas.… Continue reading

Read More »

Paint Creek Cattle focuses on improving the pasture, waterways

The timing was perfect. Laid off from his construction job in 2008, J.L. Draganic decided to visit a new farm 200 miles away that a family member had just bought. He returned to Lake County with more than fond memories. He had a new job that combined his passion for agriculture, made use of his construction skills and eventually allowed him to start his own cow-calf operation.

“I came down to visit and wound up making a career out of it. My background in heavy equipment allowed me to quickly adapt to running the big tractors,” J.L. said. “I’ve had a love of cattle all my life and this became the perfect job for me.”

J.L. prides himself in taking whatever he has, whether it’s his skills or land, and making the most of it. He works full time for Ricketts Farm Inc., and he and his wife, Jessica, own Paint Creek Cattle, an Angus-based cow-calf operation in South Solon.… Continue reading

Read More »

Sharp family making an impact both on and off the farm

There is little doubt that the Sharp family of Fairfield County has made a tremendous impact in Ohio agriculture off of the farm.

Don influenced the lives of countless young people as a 4-H Extension agent for 11 years, coach, and school board member. His sons Scott, Adam and Kyle have also been very involved in serving Ohio agriculture. Kyle was formerly the editor of “Ohio’s Country Journal” and teaches agricultural and writing courses at Ohio State University and Ohio Christian University. Adam serves as the Ohio Farm Bureau vice president for public policy and Scott is an area ag-ed teacher. While these men clearly have a passion for serving agriculture in many ways off of the farm, they also work together to carry on the family tradition of producing food from the land on their Fairfield County grass-based organic dairy farm that is this year’s Ohio Dairy Producers Association Environmental Steward Award winner.… Continue reading

Read More »

2013 Northeast Ohio Dairy Survey– cows coming or going in the future?

Milk and cheese production have been major agricultural businesses in northeast Ohio for many years. During the past decade, there has been great contraction in the number of dairy farms in the region. Looking to the future, there are many difficult issues facing continued and expanded milk production. These include generational transition, federal milk pricing, input costs, workforce, waste management, and state regulations.

In effort to understand better how these issues are playing out in northeast Ohio, a group of organizations worked together to develop a survey for dairy farms. These organizations included: OSU Extension, Geauga Growth Partnership, TeamNEO, Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, Portage Development Board and the Youngstown-Warren Chamber of Commerce. The goal of the survey was to learn more about the concerns and attitudes of dairy farmers in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage and Trumbull counties. It is a given that milk and feed prices are a concern of all dairy farms, so this survey attempted to look beyond the scope of these two issues.… Continue reading

Read More »

Researchers determine digestibility of blood products as feed in weanling pigs

Because weanling pigs do not tolerate great quantities of soybean meal in the diet, alternative sources of protein must be used. Blood products, such as blood meal and plasma protein, are common ingredients in weanling pig diets and are considered high-quality sources of amino acids. Researchers at the University of Illinois have determined the amino acid digestibility of five blood products produced in the U.S. to provide swine producers with guidance for the use of these products in formulating diets.

“Blood meal usually is considered a good source of amino acids, but we don’t know how the different blood products compare, and we don’t know how the drying procedures influence digestibility,” said Hans H. Stein, a U of I professor in animal sciences. “So that was what we wanted to determine.”

To determine amino acid digestibility values, Stein and his team fed weanling pigs diets containing one of five different blood products.… Continue reading

Read More »

Environmental stewardship in balance with productivity

There is no doubt that environmental stewardship on farms is important, but at the same time, working to provide people with the food they need is important as well. The Shoup family in Wayne County is working to find the ideal balance between productivity and environmental care on the crop and farrow-to-finish hog farm that is this year’s Ohio Pork Industry Environmental Steward Award winner.

“Our families find church and the many activities associated with membership to be a primary focus. In the past year our farm has had family members complete mission work in Palestine, Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia. Future plans for visits in 2013 include Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, India and Nepal. Over the years our family members have attended short-term mission trips in parts of the world to understand more fully the needs of the many, help provide for those needs and learn just how blessed we are in this country with the abundant food supply which is available,” said Dave Shoup, with Shoup Brothers Farm Ltd.… Continue reading

Read More »