Antibiotics in livestock farming — Telling the right story

By David White, executive director, Ohio Livestock Coalition

Trend watchers and agriculture experts alike agree on one thing: the use of antibiotics in livestock farming is likely the next big issue. What does “big” mean?  By some accounts, the antibiotics issue could be BIG — think lean finely textured beef (or “pink slime”) big  — or as big as the issue of housing pregnant sows.

It’s important to remember that we have a good story to tell on how antibiotics are used on farms. We are doing the right thing for our animals, for food safety and for our farms. Unfortunately, that’s a story we’ve not always told in the best manner.

The farm community is good at leading with science and data. When discussing antibiotics, we make this argument:  “Science tells us we can.”  “The animals are my livelihood.” “FDA/USDA says what we do on our farms with antibiotics is okay.”… Continue reading

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Livestock, poultry and the farm bill in 2013

By Matt Reese

With good reason, much of the discussion of the farm bill (and the farm bill extension) has been focused on crop and dairy related programs. There has been some mention of the programs targeting small-scale agriculture as well.

But what about beef, pork and poultry producers? There are small programs here and there for these groups of agricultural producers, but the big-ticket items (particularly in the farm bill extension) all but excluded them. Disaster assistance for livestock producers and some conservation program funding was not part of the farm bill extension, which further eroded already limited farm bill benefits for the livestock sector. So, do livestock and poultry producers hope to get anything out of the 2013 farm bill?

The state’s robust egg production industry continues to wish for farm bill inclusion of something along the lines of HR 3798 — the “egg bill.” The 2012 proposed bill would phase in federally mandated standards for laying hen housing, including enriched cages with perches, scratching pads, nesting boxes, and other features that allow the hens to express natural behaviors in a group colony setting.… Continue reading

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Meat export outlook for 2013

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

After a year of challenges – highlighted by the worst drought in more than a half-century – the U.S. red meat (beef, pork and lamb) industry is focusing on 2013 as a year of great opportunities to increase the value those agricultural exports bring to exporters, processors, producers and the broad American agricultural industry that supports them.

The impact of the 2012 drought — which continues into 2013 — cannot be minimized. An estimated 80% of U.S. agricultural land was affected, according to USDA reports. Corn production dipped nearly 13% below the 2011-12 crop year and was the smallest since 2003-04 with the lowest yields since 1995-96. Soybean production was down 2.5% with yields down 6%. A shortage of livestock feed and the high cost of what was available contributed to herd culling and reduced product availability.

With that dismal scenario as a backdrop, the international markets carried their weight in 2012 in terms of returning value to the red meat production chain.… Continue reading

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Profits for pork on the horizon

Pork producers could be on the verge of turning profits after suffering several months of losses caused by drought-decimated feed resources, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt said.

Widespread struggles began in the spring of 2012 and have continued into this winter. But with feed prices reaching their peak last summer, Hurt said there is now light at the end of the tunnel.

“Feed prices reached a summit in the third quarter of 2012 with the peak of the drought,” he said. “Estimated total hog production costs shot up $10 per live hundredweight, reaching an estimated $72. Costs last fall and this winter dropped about $4 per hundredweight and are expected to moderate an additional $8 with normal 2013 crop production.

“By next fall, that could put estimated costs of production around $60 per hundredweight.”

Reduced beef supplies and strong pork export markets also are expected to drive higher hog prices.… Continue reading

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Beef Cattle Schools coming soon

Cattle producers interested in learning more about increasing profits can participate in a discussion of the issues by experts from Ohio State University Extension and nationwide, during a Beef Cattle School Jan. 29, Feb. 26 and March 19 at several locations statewide.

Beef Cattle School kicks off Jan. 29 with presentations from two nationally known cattle experts who will discuss how crossbreeding can boost profits for producers and how genetic selection tools have contributed to the de-emphasis on heterosis by some commercial cow-calf producers, said John Grimes, beef coordinator for OSU Extension and a member of the OSU Extension Beef Team.

Lee Leachman of the Leachman Cattle Company of Colorado will discuss practical methods to adopt a crossbreeding program and making right-sized cows, Grimes said. Nevil Speer, a professor of animal science at Western Kentucky University, will discuss heterosis and how advanced genetic selection tools, an evolving genetic base, and the growth of quality-driven markets have contributed to this phenomenon, he said.… Continue reading

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Livestock producers get income tax relief after drought

Some Midwestern livestock producers might find themselves facing higher income tax bills if the drought forced them to cull and sell more animals than normal in 2012 — but help is available, two Purdue Extension agricultural economists said.

The lack of forages and the high cost of feed led many producers who might normally have carried livestock through the winter to instead sell them at weaning. More sales at weaning usually would mean more taxable income in 2012.

But there is help in the form of income deferment and averaging.

“Federal income tax law may allow farmers affected by weather-related conditions to defer reporting of this income, in some cases, to even out incomes and avoid potentially higher taxes,” said Michael Langemeier, who also is associate director for Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture. “Farm income averaging, which was enacted after the weather-related provisions, is another alternative that could result in lower income taxes for producers in some situations.… Continue reading

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The Ohio State Fair will be featured in new movie

When Academy Award winning director Taylor Hackford’s latest action thriller, “Parker,” opens next Friday, moviegoers throughout the nation will become familiar with the Ohio State Fair.

In the months leading up to the 2011 Ohio State Fair, a representative from the film reached out to administrators of the Ohio Expo Center, making plans for a small crew to come and film atmospheric footage during the Fair to blend with scenes shot in professional studios in New Orleans. However, as discussions continued, the project expanded in scope and the director, producer and several of the stars traveled to Ohio to film scenes while the Fair was underway.

That August, as fairgoers enjoyed lemon shake-ups and rides down the Giant Slide, a film crew and prominent actors including Jason Statham descended upon the Ohio State Fair, spending two days shooting a variety of scenes which now make up the movie’s opening segment.… Continue reading

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Pork Checkoff offers tools to help producers facing a crisis

The Pork Checkoff recently introduced two new tools to help pork producers in the event of a crisis or emergency on their farm. The Farm-level Crisis Response Plan template and Emergency Action Plan, provide customizable, step-by-step guides to help producers be prepared and stay on track in their commitment to providing a safe, quality product.

“Whether you have a large or small farm, you can never be too prepared for a crisis or emergency,” said Derrick Sleezer, a pork producer from Cherokee, Iowa, and member of the National Pork Board. “The two new Checkoff-funded tools allow producers to fill in the blanks and tailor each plan to his or her operation, providing a clear plan of action in an otherwise challenging time.”

The Farm-Level Crisis Response Plan template provides a framework for evaluating the risk of on-farm crisis situations, identifying prevention measures and responding effectively should a crisis occur. The electronic planning tool outlines five crisis response steps, as well as how to assess the intensity level of a crisis.… Continue reading

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Robotic milking boosts production while cutting labor cost

By Heather Hetterick and Matt Reese

Doug Horst got to take his family on a Disney trip away from the dairy farm this year, but chances are that they did not encounter anything much more magical then what they have at home. Doug’s newfound flexibility to travel somewhere other than the milking parlor on his family’s Legend Dairy, Ltd. in Wayne County is a result of the addition of two Lely Astronaut milking robots in September of 2011, which are pretty magical in their own right.

The cost of labor continues to rise and, even with a higher pay grade, finding the right person for the job on a dairy farm is challenging, particularly for small to mid-sized farms. Though they cost around $200,000, robots can make economic sense when looking at the labor savings and increased milk production they offer.

“Three or four years ago we went to the Farm Science Review and saw robotic milkers down there and it sparked an interest.… Continue reading

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Ohio Forages and Grasslands Council Annual Meeting

The Ohio Forages and Grasslands Council Annual Meeting will be held Feb. 8, 2013 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg. The program focuses on “Adapting to our Changing Climate” featuring Dr. Chris Teutsch, the Forage and Livestock Specialist at Virginia Tech’s Southern Piedmont Research and Extension Center near Blackstone, Virginia. An Ohio native and an outstanding speaker, Dr. Teutsch has very practical advice on how to make pasture and forage systems more resilient to weather extremes.

Do you know how often we face water deficits for pasture production? Come and find out — the statistics may surprise you. Teutsch will discuss management that will improve pasture production by more than 33% while also increasing drought tolerance of pastures through a stronger plant root system.

You will also learn how to plan ahead for filling in the cool season grass summer slump and other periods of forage deficit with alternative forages.… Continue reading

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Pork Congress coming soon

The 2013 Ohio Pork Congress will be held on Feb. 12-13 in Columbus at the Crowne Plaza North. Those involved in the pork industry across the state will want to attend the Ohio Pork Congress to view and learn about the latest pork industry technologies.

On Feb. 13, pork producers are invited to attend the Professional Pork Producers Symposium, a set of educational seminars featuring experts from around the U.S. The Ohio Pork Congress trade show will offer the latest information from agribusinesses throughout the nation. The trade show will be open on Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

“We encourage all pork producers to attend the Ohio Pork Congress and the Professional Pork Producers Symposium this year. Congress will be very educational, presenting valuable information for all of those involved in the industry,” said Dick Isler, OPPC executive vice president.

On Wednesday, the pork industry will recognize and honor leaders and outstanding pork producers at the OPPC Awards Luncheon at 12:00 p.m.… Continue reading

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OLC sets direction for 2013

The Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC) Board of Directors (Board) recently elected new officers and identified three key focus areas to guide its direction for 2013. Dick Isler, executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Producers Council, will serve as president of OLC. He will lead the organization as it addresses its priority issues, including antibiotics in food producing animals, nutrient management and water quality issues, and maximizing resources available from national farm organizations working on similar issues.

“The use of antibiotics in livestock and environmental management at farms are important issues for farmers and all Ohioans,” said David White, OLC executive director. “The Board prioritized these focus areas that will advance our ability to engage in public dialogue and support our mission to assist Ohio’s livestock farm community in expanding its positive contributions to the state by advancing environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable farming. ”

The focus areas were approved at the December 19, 2012, Board of Directors meeting.… Continue reading

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Kicking the milk jug down the road

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

For the dairy industry, 2013 will be the same old, same old as far as policies from last year. The farm bill has been extended through September and the dairy price support program is now good through the end of December.

For groups like the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) that were hoping for a fresh five-year farm bill including the Dairy Security Act, the actions made by Congress to avoid the Fiscal Cliff were not even close to what the dairy industry needs moving forward.

“The real issue for dairy farmers is that we don’t have a meaningful safety net as we start 2013,” said Chris Galen, Senior Vice President of Communications for NMPF. “Yes, Congress extended the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, but that really doesn’t help as many people as we would like in the way that we would like.”

Congress also extended the price support program, not at the 1949 level but at the existing level, which is much lower.… Continue reading

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Sorting facts, half-truths and fiction of antibiotics

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Antibiotic resistance continues to be a major topic of discussion in the press. Unfortunately, accurate information is hard to come by, thanks to do-gooder activists who cloud the issue with their agenda. Here, I offer you my take on antibiotic resistance and the implications of antibiotic use for livestock.

First, please understand that there are two major categories of antibiotics for food animals: therapeutic antibiotics and sub-therapeutic antibiotics.

Therapeutic antibiotics

Used to treat sick animals, some of these drugs also are used to treat humans. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates withdrawal times to help prevent therapeutic antibiotics from entering the food chain. The U.S. has one of the most regulated food systems in the world. Milk and meat from treated animals must be tested multiple times to ensure no residue is present when these food products enter the market. The FDA also tightly regulates the classes of antibiotics designated to fight major diseases in humans.… Continue reading

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ADM Alliance Nutrition Recalling MoorMan’s® ShowTec® 18 Elite Lamb Feed

ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. (“Alliance Nutrition”) is recalling 50-pound bags of MoorMan’s® ShowTec® 18 Elite Lamb DC, product number 80939MPS, because the product has high levels of copper. There are three lot numbers involved in this recall: BF23512, BF27812, and BF29312. These were distributed between Aug. 24, 2012, and Nov. 21, 2012. The product could have been purchased directly from Alliance Nutrition or through distributors.

Copper toxicity in sheep may lead to lethargy, anemia, constant teeth grinding, extreme thirst, jaundice, dark brown or red urine, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, weakness, recumbency and/or death.

The recalled sheep feed was shipped to distributors and customers in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The high copper levels were discovered as a result of an investigation stemming from a report of two sheep deaths. The lot number, BF23512, BF27812, or BF29312, can be found at the bottom of the label. Customers who have purchased the recalled feed may return it to their distributor or directly to Alliance Nutrition for a full refund.

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North Central Ohio Grazing School

The first Grazing School of 2013 is scheduled for Saturday January 19, 2013. The Ohio Forage and Grassland Council will be hosting a Pasture Management Workshop/ Grazing School/ Pasture for Profit Program at the New London Grange Hall. The Grange Hall is located east of the square in New London on State Route 162, southeast Huron County. The workshop will start at 9:00 A.M. and conclude about 5:00 p.m.

The session will cover setting your goals and objectives, evaluating your resources, understanding plant growth, grazing economic, and forage species selection, developing contingency plans for drought, mud and deep snow, soil pasture fertility, fencing and livestock watering systems. Producers need to register by January15th, 2013, by contacting OFGC at bobhendershot2011@gmail or 740-477-1114 or Eric Grim 419-929-4304. A registration fee of $50 per farm will include materials, Pasture for Profit notebook, Pasture Stick, refreshments and Saturday’s lunch. A registration form and agenda is available on line at reading

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Ohio Sheep and Wool Program proposal funding approved

By Roger A. High, Executive Director, Ohio Sheep and Wool Program

The Ohio Sheep and Wool Program (OSWP), Ohio’s Sheep and Wool check-off program will invest up to $36,500 into sheep and wool promotion, education, industry information, and producer programs in FY 2012-2013. OSWP received seventeen Requests for Proposals for FY 2012-13, with 13 of these proposals approved for full or partial funding by the board. The funding plan was approved by the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program Board of Directors at their October board meeting.

The Ohio Sheep and Wool Program approved programs that would benefit every segment of the Ohio Sheep Industry. Lamb promotional programs approved included the Ohio Lamb Jam, Ohio Lamb Chef’s Day and Ohio Soybean Council Grocery Store Promotion. Educational programs include the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, Ohio Sheep Day, AGRI-Power Institute, Statewide Sheep Shearing Schools, Ohio Sheep Summit, Ohio Sheep Forage and Farm Tour, and a Fall Education Program.… Continue reading

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Pacelle withdraws attempt to gain seat on Tyson’s board of directors

In what was an unusual move, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), announced that he filed paperwork as a candidate for election to the board of directors of Tyson Foods last fall. Pacelle said he planned to urge the company to commit to a definite time frame to phase out the confinement of sows in gestation crates. That effort has been withdrawn.

Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman says their company backs farmers right to choose the best method for raising their hogs. Pacelle says HSUS will continue using public awareness efforts, litigation, investigations and corporate campaigns to pressure Tyson. This year close to 50 major food retailers have agreed to phase out purchases of pork from suppliers that rely on gestation crates.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Association to host annual meeting and banquet

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s (OCA) Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet are set for Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, at the Marriott Columbus Northwest in Columbus. All OCA members are encouraged to attend the day’s events which include policy development sessions, an update on OCA events and programs and OCA’s annual awards banquet.

The annual meeting will begin at 1 p.m. and will feature Kent Bacus, Associate Director of Legislative Affairs in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Washington, DC office. Kent specializes on trade issues for NCBA and also handles tax, transportation and appropriations issues. The membership will also hear reports from OCA committee chairmen and take part in the association’s policy development session. Following the meeting, a hospitality hour is scheduled for 5 p.m.

The OCA Awards Banquet starts at 6 p.m., an event recognizing outstanding contributors to Ohio’s beef industry. Awards include: Outstanding County Affiliates, Young Cattleman of the Year, Industry Service Award, Industry Excellence Award, Seedstock Producer of the Year, Commercial Producer of the Year and scholarship presentations.… Continue reading

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USDA announces final rule establishing traceability for livestock

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a final rule establishing general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate.

“With the final rule announced today, the United States now has a flexible, effective animal disease traceability system for livestock moving interstate, without undue burdens for ranchers and U.S. livestock businesses,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The final rule meets the diverse needs of the countryside where states and tribes can develop systems for tracking animals that work best for them and their producers, while addressing any gaps in our overall disease response efforts. Over the past several years, USDA has listened carefully to America’s farmers and ranchers, working collaboratively to establish a system of tools and safeguards that will help us target when and where animal diseases occur, and help us respond quickly.”

Under the final rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates.… Continue reading

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