Beef, pork exports set new records in 2012

U.S. beef and pork exports set new value records in 2012, topping highs set in 2011, according to end-of-year statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

The achievement was more significant in light of challenging export conditions that included non-science-based trade barriers in several key markets and an anemic economy in certain regions.

“The export markets are a critical profit center for the industry at a time when the industry is challenged by high input costs and, on the beef side, a historically low herd size,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “2012 saw record highs for per-head export values for both pork and beef at a time when those returns were sorely needed by producers.”

Pork exports set both volume and value records last year, reaching 2.26 million metric tons (mt)— up a fraction from the record set in 2011 — valued at $6.3 billion, a 3.5% increase over the prior year’s record.… Continue reading

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U.S. risk classification for BSE upgraded to negligible risk

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has received notification from the Scientific Commission for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recommending that the United States’ risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) be upgraded to negligible risk.

“This announcement by OIE’s Scientific Commission is great news for U.S. cattle producers. The U.S. beef industry has worked with government officials and scientists to implement multiple interlocking safeguards to prevent BSE from taking hold in our country,” said Bob McCan, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President-Elect, a cattleman from Victoria, Texas. “The most important of these safeguards is the removal of specified risk materials — or the parts of an animal that could contain the BSE agent should an animal have the disease — from all animals presented for slaughter in the United States. Being classified as negligible risk for BSE by the OIE is proof that these safeguards are working and protecting the public and animal health against BSE.… Continue reading

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Have water quality regulations gone too far?

By Matt Reese

Thus far, lawmakers in Ohio are making a concerted effort to prioritize reality, and not political perception, in the regulatory debate about water quality. This has often not been the case, particularly in watersheds in Florida and in the Chesapeake Bay that have received the most federal attention. There has been speculation that the Chesapeake Bay, in particular, could serve as a national standard for regulation across the country, and that Lake Erie is next on the list of federal regulators. Despite the national spotlight, Josh McGrath, associate professor and soil and fertility and nutrient management specialist at the University of Maryland, said the Chesapeake Bay nutrient management strategies are far from ideal because they too often favor the politics over the reality of the situation.

“Maryland is probably the most highly regulated state in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which is probably the most highly regulated watershed for agriculture in the country,” McGrath said.… Continue reading

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Sequestration may lead to meat inspector furloughs

Across-the-board federal budget cuts could force the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to furlough up to 6,000 meat inspectors for up to two weeks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a recent speech.

The sequestration, an across-the-board cut in government spending, is set to go into effect on March 1 if Congress does not act.

“As soon as you take an inspector off the floor, that plant shuts down,” Vilsack added, noting that removing inspectors even for a short period would affect several hundred thousand workers and would affect the supply of meat and eventually consumer prices as well as the turmoil it would cause livestock producers.

The U.S. government has a statutory obligation to provide meat and poultry inspection services, American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle told President Obama in a letter sent to The White House. Without inspection, meat and poultry processing plants are prohibited by law from operating.… Continue reading

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Communication is crucial in water quality debate

By Matt Reese

As Ohio faces mounting water quality concerns with agriculture as culprit on the “to blame” list, there will be an inevitable debate over the balance of political perceptions and actual edge-of-field reality in terms of how to address the problem.

The green, toxic scum in Lake Erie and other Ohio bodies of water puts the interests of potential sources of excess phosphorus (which includes agriculture) against the multi-billion dollar recreation/drinking water value of the state’s lakes and streams. Something must be done about the problem, but there is still much work required to determine exactly what that something should be.

An important step for agriculture took place last November with the release of the Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Practice Standard for Nutrient Management.

“In Ohio we’ve had 26 water bodies affected by the toxic algae. Last year there were three states that had cattle die from drinking water with these toxins.… Continue reading

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EPA releases producer information to activist groups

This week the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) was notified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the agency had been collecting information from states on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). This information was requested by extremist groups, including Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and granted to them.

“When we reviewed the information submitted by the states and released by EPA, we were alarmed at the detail of the information provided on hard working family farmers and ranchers, family operations including my own,” said NCBA Past President J.D. Alexander, a cattle feeder from Pilger, Neb. “It is beyond comprehension to me that with threats to my family from harassment atop bio-security concerns, that EPA would gather this information only to release it to these groups. This information details my family’s home address and geographic coordinates; the only thing it doesn’t do is chauffeur these extremists to my house.… Continue reading

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Fortkamp’s pullet starter house saves heating cost with AgriThane SPF Insulation

Experienced pullet farmers know the first three days is the most critical time in a chicken’s life. And in colder winter climates the right insulation of the pullet starter house can make all the difference in the profitability of raising healthy chickens. Greg Fortkamp, a third-generation poultry farmer in Fort Recovery, OH, (avg. Jan. low 15 degrees F/avg. high 32 degrees F) used AgriThane high performance spray foam insulation (SPF) by U.S. company, NCFI Polyurethanes on his 48 ft. x 305 ft., metal, cage-free pullet house to ensure more of his 30,000 pullets survive and get the best possible start to life.

“Baby chicks are unable to thermoregulate their body temperature,” says Fortkamp, whose pullets come in at a fragile one-day old. “They need a well-regulated and consistent thermal comfort zone. The temperature must be maintained between ambient temperatures of 88 degrees F to 92 degree F, and humidity levels of 60 percent or higher.… Continue reading

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Leadership roles lead Vincents to Industry Excellence

By Connie Lechleitner, OCJ field reporter

Kris and Becky Vincent’s philosophy is that leaders should lead. When they see a void in leadership, they’re usually quick to step in — and so they have at the local, regional, state and national levels of the Ohio and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

As a result, the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association recently recognized the East Canton couple as the Industry Excellence award winners.

“This award is nominated by your peers, so we had no idea,” Kris Vincent said. “We were totally shocked.”

The Vincents, 13 years ago, found that Stark County did not have a Cattlemen’s organization. They, along with 10 other area cattlemen, set out to change that.

“We were told that it had been tried before and failed,” Vincent said. “I knew there was a need for education and resources to help our industry improve, and that we could better reach out to consumers too.”… Continue reading

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Communicating food messages across four generations

By David White, Ohio Livestock Coalition

For the first time in history, four generations of grown consumers are working and communicating side-by-side — Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y — and they all have different preferences when it comes to food and farming issues. Each group has their own set of values, expectations, perspectives and communication styles.

This presents a major challenge for Ohio agriculture. The first challenge is that we are facing an unprecedented number of individuals who are three to four generations removed from the farm and do not understand what farmers do and where their food comes from. The second challenge is that this is the first time we’ve had to develop and communicate our messages across such a wide generational gap to share our stories and educate them about farming. Acknowledging that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work, it is critical to understand who these generational groups are, what they value, and the best communication medium to reach them.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Association youth raise $13,000 and counting to benefit Make-A-Wish

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association BEST Program for youth ages 8-21 years, along with generous donors, raised more than $13,000, surpassing the $8,000 goal, to benefit local youth through Make-A-Wish. Fifty youth led their decorated show calves before a panel of judges at the BEST Celebrity Showdown at the Clark County Cattle Battle on February 8, 2013, in Springfield.

The showdown kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Honorary Wish Child Alexis. Judging the show were NFL players and Ohio natives Justin Boren, offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos; Jim Cordle, offensive lineman for the New York Giants; and former OSU Buckeye linebacker, Zach Boren. Participants were encouraged to dress up their calves for the judges who had never attended a cattle show. The winner was awarded a special Seth Rogers Memorial Trophy, in memory of a local young man who was granted a wish and enjoyed working with cattle alongside his family.… Continue reading

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Grazing Improvement Act of 2013 introduced in Senate

The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) strongly support the Grazing Improvement Act of 2013, introduced in the U.S. Senate. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), along with cosponsors Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Iadho), introduced the bill, which seeks to improve the livestock grazing permitting processes on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The bill was debated during the last session of Congress in both the Senate and House of Representatives; it passed the House with bipartisan support as part of the Conservation and Economic Growth Act (H.R. 2578).

PLC President Brice Lee, a Colorado rancher, asserted that the uncertainty surrounding grazing permit renewals is threatening ranchers’ ability to stay in business.

“Those of us who utilize grazing on public lands face grave threats to our way of life due to today’s cumbersome and inefficient permit renewal process.… Continue reading

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Ohio Pork Producers unveil new animated video

Today at the Ohio Pork Congress, the Ohio Pork Producers Council (OPPC) unveiled “Where’d you get that pork on your fork?” — a new promotional video.

“We wanted to try and tell the story from fork to farm. The approach is centered around the food purchaser, so we started with the fork,” said  Jennifer Keller, OPPC director of marketing and education. “We have had the idea for a year and we worked on developing the video since we applied for funding in July from the Iowa Pork Producers Association. We’re trying to address the various components of the food chain, which we understand is a very delicate topic. We want to be honest and respectful and we hope that this video helps accomplish those goals.”

It took a couple of weeks to do the rough cut of the song in the video and the animation took much longer. OPPC worked with AdFarm on the video who subcontracted with Bic Media based in Kansas City.… Continue reading

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For the love of pigs

By Matt Reese

At the Ohio Pork Congress there were a number of individuals recognized for their involvement with the swine industry in Ohio, including Blanche and Roger Lange from Seneca County. Anyone who has spent much time around Blanche and Roger knows that they love pigs, which is why the Ohio Pork Producers Council selected them as this year’s Pork Industry Excellence Award winners.

“You don’t get days off on the farm,” Blanche said. “You have to have a special place in your heart for animals when you’re dealing with livestock.”

The siblings grew up four years apart on their family’s farm that has been in the Lange family and a home to pigs for more than a century. Blanche and Roger gained their affinity for raising livestock through hours of laboring alongside their parents while growing up.

“Mom did the books and drove a tractor wearing a dress when she needed to,” Blanche said.… Continue reading

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Incoming NCBA president talks goals, challenges

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president-elect Scott George will soon take the reins of the organization. As President, George says he is looking forward to the opportunity to travel around the country and visit with cattle producers in their home states.

“We have such a diversity across this country of segments that people are involved in and also the terrain that they live in and the environment that they work in, and it is really educational to get a chance to look at operations of all types,” George said.

After all, he will represent cattle producers from coast to coast during his year as NCBA president. He says there are a number of issues of importance to the industry, including keeping an eye on the EPA.

“We are really concerned about the agency’s attempt to take over the waters of the United States,” said George, who also said trade opportunities as a hot topic.… Continue reading

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BEST Celebrity Showdown at the Clark County Cattle Battle

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association BEST Program for youth ages 8-21 years will host the BEST Celebrity Showdown at the Clark County Cattle Battle to benefit Make-A-Wish.

The event will be held today at the Champions Center Expo.

The showdown will kickoff with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Honorary Wish Child Alexis. More than 75 children are registered to participate in this year’s battle.

A panel of celebrity judges will determine the winners. Judges include NFL players and Ohio natives Justin Boren, offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos and Jim Cordle. 

Through donations from family, friends, the community and members of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, youth participating in the Celebrity Showdown hope to raise $8,000 to help grant the wishes of local children battling life-threatening medical conditions.

“We are excited to partner with the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association and are honored to be chosen as the charitable recipient this year for the BEST program,” said Development Officer Cathy DeLuca.… Continue reading

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Beef sustainability assessed

Participants at the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention gathered today to hear the results of the first-ever Beef Industry Sustainability Assessment. The assessment, which was funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, marks the first time any industry has ever measured the sustainability of its entire supply chain. This important work positions the beef industry to lead the conversations about industry sustainability.

“Sustainability is, in fact, a journey. This particular journey started two years ago when the Beef Promotion Operating Committee decided to fund the sustainability assessment project,” said Oklahoma cattleman and vice-chair of the checkoff’s Producer Communications Working Group, Richard Gebhart. “Raising cattle in a sustainable way has been important to the cattle industry for a long time, but this is the first opportunity we have had to use science to tell that story.”

The Beef Sustainability Assessment was conducted by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program.… Continue reading

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Top 2013 opportunities for U.S. meat exports

By Philip Seng, President and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)

There are a multitude of factors that go into an annual export projection. Here are what I would consider the top five markets of opportunity for this year.

No. 1: Increased beef access to Japan

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor & Welfare (MHLW) has finally approved expanded access for U.S. beef — from the current 20-month cutoff to 30 months. While the specific logistical details on resolving access issues must be addressed, this single change, expected to be finalized in the first half of 2013, will provide a major boost to U.S. beef exports.

In 2000, U.S. exports to Japan reached 524,224 metric tons (1.16 billion pounds) valued at $1.77 billion — accounting for 43% by volume and 50% of the value of all U.S. beef exports that year. At the same time, the U.S. was supplying 53% of Japan’s beef imports.… Continue reading

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MILC payments announced

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) recently announced that beginning Feb. 5, USDA will issue payments to dairy farmers enrolled in the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program for the September 2012 marketings. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the authorization of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) through 2013 for many programs administered by FSA, including MILC. The 2008 Farm Bill extension provides for a continuation of the MILC program through Sept. 30, 2013.

MILC payments are triggered when the Boston Class I milk price falls below $16.94 per hundredweight, after adjustment for the cost of dairy feed rations. MILC payments are calculated each month using the latest milk price and feed cost.

All dairy producers’ MILC contracts are automatically extended to Sept. 30, 2013. Eligible producers therefore do not need to re-enroll in MILC. MILC operations with approved contracts will continue to receive monthly payments, if available.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Association celebrates an outstanding year

More than 250 producers and leaders in the beef industry assembled at the Columbus Marriott Northwest in Dublin, Ohio on Jan. 26, 2013 for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s (OCA) annual meeting and awards banquet. The event featured policy development sessions, OCA’s annual meeting and the OCA’s award banquet. Annual meeting and banquet sponsors who contributed to the success of the event include COBA/Select Sires, CompManagement, Inc., Farm Credit Mid-America, United Producers, Inc., Stark County Cattlemen’s Association and Steve R. Rauch.

During the annual meeting, Ohio cattlemen welcomed Kent Bacus, Associate Director of Legislative Affairs in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Washington, DC office, who gave an update on NCBA activities and discussed many of the issues NCBA is working on for the beef industry. Bacus shared with Ohio’s cattlemen the status of trade agreements with Japan, the outlook on Congress following the election and the current tax situation.

Bruce McPheron, Dean and Vice President for Agricultural Administration in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, discussed the importance of new livestock facilities to student success and the university.… Continue reading

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American Sheep Industry Environmental Stewardship Award presented to Steffee Farms

At the 2013 American Sheep Industry Convention held in San Antonio, TX, Steffee Farms from Muskingum County was presented with the ASI Environmental Stewardship Award.

Steffee Farms has been an innovator in the area of environmental stewardship. The farm has been awarded the Muskingum County Resources Conservation award and the Steffee’s have been recognized for their work by the Ohio Livestock Coalition and the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. They have been able to successfully integrate many practices on their farm to help protect the soil, water, and air.

In addition, Charles Parker was presented with the ASI Camptender Award for his extensive work with the U.S. Sheep Industry. Parker has worked as an educator, scientist, industry leader, promoter, and visionary for the past 50 years. Parker focused his research at the Ohio Ag Research Station in intensive management systems and genetic selection for reproductive growth efficiencies, his work then continued as the director of research at the U.S.… Continue reading

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