Economic impact of avian influenza

Since December 2014, the USDA has confirmed several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways (or migratory bird paths). The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human cases of these HPAI H5 viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally.

Nearly 170 Influenza findings have been reported since December, a majority of which have been turkeys and most recently layers. The HPAI H5N2 virus strain has been confirmed in several states along three of the four North American Flyways: Pacific, Central and Mississippi. The latest findings can be found at

The novel HPAI H5N1 virus is not the same virus as the H5N1 virus found in Asia, Europe and Africa that has caused some human illness.… Continue reading

Read More »

Push to repeal COOL following WTO ruling

The National Pork Producers Council is urging swift passage of H.R. 2393, legislation to repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and poultry, following yesterday’s World Trade Organization (WTO) decision that the requirements violate international trade rules.

This week the WTO rejected an appeal by the United States of the international trade body’s October 2014 ruling that the U.S. Country-Of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law discriminates against Canadian cattle and pigs and Mexican cattle. COOL requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. Canada and Mexico send livestock to the United States to be fed out and processed. The WTO decision paves the way for those countries to place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports.

The bill introduced by House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and cosponsored by 56 members would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to repeal the meat labeling provisions.… Continue reading

Read More »

WTO rules against COOL

The Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its decision ruling against Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).

“The World Trade Organization dispute panel has ruled that U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations for meats are not in compliance with previous WTO decisions. That means we need further effort to craft an acceptable COOL program,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau. “Farm Bureau will carefully review the decision and then determine recommended actions. We will work with Congress, USDA and USTR to reach the goal of an effective COOL program that conforms to international trade rules.”

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said while this is a set back for COOL, there is still ample opportunity for the administration, Mexico and Canada to negotiate an acceptable path forward.

“As we have seen in other disputes, once decisions are handed down, WTO members often work together to find a solution that will work for them,” Johnson said. … Continue reading

Read More »

Raising sheep and teaching the flock

As the OSU State Sheep Extension Program specialist, the Executive Director the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Sheep and Wool Program, Livestock Director for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, OSU Animal Sciences small ruminant and pseudo-ruminant Instructor, sheep shearer, and livestock judge, Roger High has built his career around sheep.

His job has taken him to sheep farms around Ohio, across the United States and around the world, but though his duties occasionally require a suit and tie in an office setting, he is still most comfortable in the barn wearing his work boots. Running his sheep operation on his home Indian Summer Farm in Union County with his wife, Holly, and their son, Adam, is where his passion lies and serves as the driving force behind the extensive work he has done in Ohio’s sheep industry.

Managing his own flock of sheep keeps him grounded in the basics and innovating for the future of lamb production in Ohio.… Continue reading

Read More »

First H5N8 avian influenza found in Indiana

On May 11, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) has been notified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory that poultry from a backyard (hobby) flock in Whitley County tested positive for highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza.

Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk; poultry and eggs are safe to eat. The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk of illness to humans to be very low.

BOAH veterinarians collected samples from the flock, after the owner reported several chickens became ill and died. The hobby flock contained 77 birds of various species, including ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys. In a rapid response effort, all of the birds were removed from the site, to ensure no ongoing risk of disease spread. BOAH is reaching out to poultry owners in the Whitley County area to raise awareness and determine if the disease has spread.

Initial response to this finding has been swift and focused, with coordination among BOAH, USDA, Indiana State Poultry Association and the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.… Continue reading

Read More »

Big Ohio Sheep Sale champion and reserve champion results

sheepsale15Over 750 head of sheep were shown and auctioned off at the Big Ohio Sheep Sale on May 7-9, 2015 at the Preble County Fairgrounds in Eaton, Ohio. The annual show and sale is one of the nation’s largest and attracts sellers and buyers from coast-to-coast. Eleven breeds were represented and it was the National Sale for Corriedale, Shropshire, Natural Colored, and Southdown breeds. It was also the Eastern Regional Hampshire sale.

Results for Grand and Reserve Champions at the shows are as follows:


Grand Champion Ewe: Birschbach Hampshires

Reserve Champion Ewe: Jadewood Valley Farm

Grand Champion Ram: Jadewood Valley Farm

Reserve Champion Ram: Promise Kept Farm


Grand Champion Ewe: Pleasant Springs

Reserve Champion Ewe: E.S.Q. Southdowns

Grand Champion Ram: Forsee Southdowns

Reserve Champion Ram: Leininger Club Lambs


Grand Champion Ewe: Avery Shropshires

Reserve Champion Ewe: Calley Taylor

Grand Champion Ram: VIP Club Lambs

Reserve Champion Ram: Rife Shropshires


Grand Champion Ewe: MacCauley Suffolks

Reserve Champion Ewe: Mil-Sid Farm

Grand Champion Ram: MacCauley Suffolks

Reserve Champion Ram: Renn-Vue Farms

Natural Colored

Grand Champion Ewe: Pines End NCs

Reserve Champion Ewe: Wolf Brothers

Grand Champion Ram: Wolf Brothers

Reserve Champion Ram: Pines End NCs


Grand Champion Ewe: KF- Acres

Reserve Champion Ewe: Dover Genetics

Grand Champion Ram: Gerald Thoma

Reserve Champion Ram: Lobdell Oxfords and Dorpers


Grand Champion Ewe: Lobdell Oxfords and Dorpers

Reserve Champion Ewe: Willowcreek Farm


Grand Champion Ewe: Spilde Cheviots

Reserve Champion Ewe: Misty Acres

Grand Champion Ram:Spilde Cheviots

Reserve Champion Ram: J Susan Traglia Cheviots


Grand Champion Ewe: Wolf Bros.… Continue reading

Read More »

The law (and more) of manure management and water quality

A conversation with… Bill Knapke, Ohio Pork Council President

OCJ: First, could you outline some of the specifics of the recently passed Senate Bill 1 that pertain specifically to manure?

Bill: There are a number of parts to the bill that pertain to manure. To summarize, a person may not surface apply manure in the Western Lake Erie Basin under the following circumstances:

• On snow-covered or frozen soil;

* When the top two inches of soil are saturated from precipitation; or

* When the local weather forecast for the application area contains greater than a 50% chance of precipitation exceeding one-half inch in a 24-hour period, unless the manure is injected into the ground, incorporated within 24 hours of surface application, or applied onto a growing crop. As part of this law, there are exemptions based on operation size and for emergencies. For more information, please visit


OCJ: The law clearly includes more regulations for livestock producers, so why was the livestock industry as a whole so supportive of Senate Bill 1?… Continue reading

Read More »

March meat exports show positive momentum

Exports of U.S. pork and beef gained momentum in March after starting the year slowly, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Although pork exports were down from the large totals recorded in March 2014, export volume was the largest in 11 months at 191,041 metric tons (mt). This was 9% lower than a year ago, but a 10% increase from February. Export value of $495.3 million was down 18% year-over-year, but up 5% from February.

March beef exports totaled 86,774 mt, down 7% from a year ago but a 5% increase over February. Export value was $527.3 million, up 2% year-over-year but down slightly from February.

The March results reflect some degree of relief from the West Coast port congestion that plagued red meat exports in January and February. Port traffic began to improve after a tentative labor contract was reached in late February, though congestion lingered for several weeks at some major ports.… Continue reading

Read More »

Avian influenza turning into epidemic

After hearing the latest news of more devastating cases of poultry losses in his state, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad called the current avian influenza (AI) outbreak an “epidemic.”

On May 1, Iowa declared a state of emergency due to the problem. The latest detections in Iowa involved three turkey farms and a chicken laying operation of about 1 million birds. Over 5.5 million birds have been lost in Iowa alone, the nation’s top egg producing state. Minnesota and Wisconsin had already declared emergency status in April. Nationwide total AI losses are more than 20 million birds.

“AI has been percolating relatively quietly in the poultry industry for most of the year. In early March, the first case of the highly-pathogenic H5N2 strain of AI in the Mississippi flyway was confirmed by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on a commercial turkey operation in Minnesota,” said John D. Anderson, Deputy Chief Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation.… Continue reading

Read More »

Pork Checkoff submits comments on 2015 Dietary Guidelines

The Pork Checkoff has submitted a second round of comments to the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture supporting the role of lean meat in a healthy diet. The comments include research not previously considered in an earlier report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). This group will recommend new dietary guidelines for the American public. The new guidelines, revised every five years, are scheduled to go into effect early next year.

“The National Pork Board supports the recommendations in the previous dietary guidelines for the consumption of lean meat and protein foods,” said Adria Sheil-Brown, manager of nutrition communication and research with the National Pork Board.

Those recommendations are based on the published science and focused on the benefits of choosing a variety of nutrient-rich foods.

“Americans will enjoy better health through more frequent selection of naturally nutrient-rich foods, including lean meat,” she said.… Continue reading

Read More »

Beef demand strength update and implications

The combination of substantial price changes in cattle market prices since the start of this year coupled with the sheer amount of money at stake in each managerial and marketing decision continues to magnify producer interest in current information regarding supply and demand fundamentals. While a wealth of information is available on current (and upcoming) meat and livestock supplies (e.g. reports including Cattle Inventory, Cattle on Feed, and Cold Storage), there comparatively is much less information available regarding demand strength. Nonetheless, nearly all economists highlight it takes an understanding of both supply and demand to appreciate the current and possible future market situation.

One key source of retail beef demand information is provided by quarterly demand indices maintained at Kansas State University. While more details are available online, the KSU demand indices can best be succinctly described as comparing expected beef prices with realized prices to identify if demand has strengthened or weakened.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ohio sheep industry poised for a larger national role

The nation’s sheep industry is facing some significant political challenges in the coming years, according to Roger High, with the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association.

“We have the potential to lose 50% of our national sheep flock due to H-2A and the environmentalists in coming years,” High said. “Politics will play a huge role in the livestock industry in the next few years.”

The Department of Labor is in process of proposing massive changes to procedures for H-2A Foreign Labor Certification program. The politics surrounding the H-2A, farm labor and immigration could mean significant and detrimental changes to western livestock operations that account for a majority of the nation’s sheep.

Those same ranches also face a tremendous set of challenges from the always-changing political whims of the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that controls a vast amount of the grazing lands in the West.

“You can’t do anything else productive on that BLM land out there,” High said.… Continue reading

Read More »

Cover crops for grazing

Producers who want to use the cover crops they planted last fall as supplemental feed for their livestock may want to harvest these crops quickly before the plants get too mature and the feed quality declines, says a forage expert from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Although cover crops are typically planted to control erosion and improve soil structure and health, they can also be a good option as supplemental forage for livestock, said Rory Lewandowski, agriculture and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension.

“There are a number of dairy farmers who take a cutting off of cover crops that are planted in the fall, like cereal rye and winter wheat, harvest it and use it as a wet forage, and then plant corn for silage,” Lewandowski said. “And warm-season cover crops including clovers, sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids or spring-planted radishes used to promote soil health can also be grazed by livestock or mechanically harvested and used as stored forage”

However, while cover crops such as cereal rye, triticale and winter wheat can also be used as supplemental forage for livestock, they need to be harvested in a timely fashion for optimal use, he said.… Continue reading

Read More »

May is egg month

May is National Egg Month and to celebrate, Ohio’s egg farmers for the first time are partnering with the Columbus Commons and 10 participating Columbus food trucks during a month-long event to feature the incredible egg. Every Thursday during May, the food trucks will introduce a new and creative menu item using wholesome, nutritious Ohio eggs to be featured at the Columbus Commons Food Truck Food Court, 160 S. High St., Columbus.

“We’re excited to partner with the Columbus Commons and participating food trucks during National Egg Month in May to educate consumers on the many health benefits of eggs and the creative ways consumers can use them,” said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association (OPA).

Chakeres said Ohio ranks second in the nation for egg production, producing more than 8 billion eggs each year. OPA representatives and Ohio egg famers will be available to answer questions about Ohio egg farming and how they ensure safe, wholesome egg products to the state’s consumers during Thursdays at the Columbus Commons.… Continue reading

Read More »

National Guernsey Convention coming to Ohio

The Ohio Guernsey Breeders’ Association invites their Guernsey friends to join the Guernsey Scene in 2015 as they host the National Guernsey Convention, June 16-20 in Walnut Creek, Ohio.

Located in the heart of the world’s largest Amish community, convention events will be split between the Wallhouse Hotel and Carlisle Inn. Registration for convention will be located in the Carlisle Inn.

Convention activities get underway on Tuesday, June 16 as Guernsey enthusiasts begin arriving in Ohio. Highlights include an open house at the American Guernsey Association headquarters and visit to Land of Living Farm, owned by John and Bonnie Ayars for lunch, a tour of the farm and discussion on topics including why Guernseys work in a mixed herd, finding markets and new adventures and why they love the life.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the Guernsey headquarters to view antiquities either before or after visiting the Ayars farm. (The Guernsey headquarters are not wheelchair accessible and the stairs may be hard to navigate.)… Continue reading

Read More »

New lamb industry studies

Two new studies that came out of the Lamb Industry Roadmap project have been completed and are now available.

Lamb demand analysis: Understanding and measuring demand is key to the development of sound pricing strategies, which lead to profitability and to the development and targeting of effective advertising campaigns, promotional activities and educational efforts. Understanding demand also helps gauge the success and effectiveness of the Roadmap Demand Creation committee goals as well as lamb checkoff dollars invested. This study, conducted by Juniper Economic Consulting, Inc., should also help the industry better understand the elasticity of demand (consumer sensitivity to changes in price) and help the ALB and its industry partners tailor lamb promotions.

Lamb quality audit: Assessing Perceptions Regarding American Lamb Quality in Foodservice and Retail Markets. This study, conducted by Colorado State University and Ohio State University, was designed to quantify and benchmark perceptions regarding American Lamb quality at the retail and foodservice sectors.… Continue reading

Read More »

Managing spring cover crops for feed

Cover crops are planted for a variety of reasons — erosion control, to improve soil structure and health, to provide supplemental forage, as part of a nutrient management plan for manure application or for a combination of these reasons. Depending upon the species of cover crop planted, the crop will not be killed over the winter, but growth will resume in the spring and the grower must make some decisions regarding how to manage that crop in the spring. The management options depend upon the purpose of the cover crop. Here are some management options to consider when the goal is to utilize the crop as supplemental feed.


Cover crop management as a supplemental forage with mechanical harvest

The primary management consideration is harvest timing and harvest method. Cereal rye, triticale and winter wheat are primarily used if supplemental forage is the objective. Of these three, cereal rye quality declines the most rapidly as the plant enters the reproductive growth stage and it advances most rapidly from vegetative to reproductive growth compared to the other two forages.… Continue reading

Read More »

Good news and bad news for dairy prices

Has the nation’s dairy industry seen the bottom when it comes to milk prices?

Chris Galen, the Senior Vice President of Communications with the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), said that may be the case. That is, of course, good news for dairy farmers, but Galen said there are some negatives in 2015.

“I think that we have seen the worse of the downturn that we were all looking for and expecting to see as 2015 began and that’s the good news,” Galen said. “The not-so-good news is that there isn’t a lot of life in today’s markets and we are going to see tighter margins and lower prices for the foreseeable future. The good news is that the bad news isn’t as bad as we thought and the bad news is that we don’t have a lot of good news to compare it to.”

Galen said we could see the first payments in the new Dairy Margin Protection program this month as well.… Continue reading

Read More »

Hillsboro Seedstock Improvement Sale results

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association hosted their annual Seedstock Improvement Sale on April 11 at the Union Stock Yards sale facility in Hillsboro. A total of 29 yearling and two-year-old and older bulls were sold for a total of $93,600 to average $3,228 per head. This represents a nearly $600 per head increase over the previous year’s sale.

The high-selling bull was Lot 36, an Angus bull sired by S A V Momentum 9274 consigned by Dance Family Angus of Hillsboro. He sold for $4,750 to Kirby Fontaine of Amelia. The second high-selling bull was Lot 11, an Angus bull sired by B/R New Day 454 consigned by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections of Mansfield. He sold for $4,600 to Mark Seaman of Blue Creek. The third high-selling bull was Lot 15, an Angus bull sired by R B Barometer 9721 consigned by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections of Mansfield.… Continue reading

Read More »

Peru agrees to eliminate trichinae testing requirements

In a big victory for the U.S. pork industry, Peru has agreed to eliminate trichinae testing requirements on chilled U.S. pork based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture certification that the pork originated from Pork Quality Assurance 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.

NPPC worked closely with U.S. and Peruvian officials for many years to eliminate the testing, which artificially raises the cost of selling chilled pork in the South American country. The risk of getting trichinae from consuming U.S. pork is less than 1 in 300,000,000. Peru’s U.S. pork imports increased significantly after the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 2009, jumping from just $650,000 in 2008 to more than $6.7 million in 2014. Based on analysis conducted by Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, National Pork Producers Council expects pork exports to Peru to grow even more now that the trichinae testing requirement has been eliminated.… Continue reading

Read More »