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Record year for meat exports boosts feed demand

These little piggies went to market — international markets, that is, and in record numbers. Despite challenging issues, such as the struggling global economy and trade barriers, U.S. poultry and livestock farmers enjoyed a record year for meat exports, which helps keep domestic demand for U.S. soy strong.

U.S. poultry, egg and pork shipments exceeded previous highs for value and volume set in 2011. International beef sales dipped slightly in volume but broke the previous value record.

Growing U.S. meat and poultry exports reinforce demand for U.S. soy since soy meal constitutes a significant portion of animal feeds. Domestic animal agriculture uses about 98% of the domestic supply of U.S. soy meal, making it the U.S. soy industry’s No. 1 customer.

“Exporting meat and poultry is a big issue for U.S. soybean farmers,” said John Butler, a farmer-leader from Dyersburg, Tenn. “If we can feed animals soybeans here and sell them abroad, we’re creating a value-added product.… Continue reading

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OFU lauds Hite, Senate for Indemnity Fund update

In a vote of 33-0, the Ohio Senate today passed a bill, SB 66, which will upgrade Ohio’s grain indemnity and handling law.

Updating the law, first passed in 1983, has been a priority of the Ohio Farmers Union for the past two years. Along with setting some rules for Ohio grain elevator operators, the law established the Ohio Indemnity Fund, which is a farmer-funded account set aside to protect farmers in the event of an elevator failure.

There are two primary changes in SB 66. First, the indemnity fund, currently capped at $10 million will be raised to $15 million. This is the first increase in the cap since 2004. Over the past few years, corn and soybean prices have significantly increased which has led to OFU and others to request a larger fund.

“There are fewer elevators holding more grain today in Ohio than in 1983 or 2004. The relative effect of an elevator going bust today is a potentially greater economic event for many farming communities and for the producers doing business with that facility,” said Roger Wise, OFU president.… Continue reading

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Grandin featured at Animals For Life Foundation Summit

The Animals For Life Foundation Summit was held yesterday to generate healthy discussion about the many facets of the human-animal bond both inside and outside of agriculture. Summit discussions highlighted aspects of human-animal relationships that include the associations between human health and pet ownership and the special relationships that form between service dogs and owners.

The keynote speaker at the event was world renowned animal handling pioneer Dr. Temple Grandin, a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University. Grandin is a specialist in livestock handling and animal facility design. Half the cattle in the United States and Canada are handled in facilities designed by Grandin, and she has offered animal welfare consultation to

companies such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King. She has also overcome autism to become an industry leader and public speaker. She talked to the crowd about bridging the communication gap with regard to animal welfare, the general public and agriculture.… Continue reading

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Waterways act important for agriculture

The recently introduced Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency and Environment Act of 2013 (WAVE 4) will address the critical needs of the inland waterways system, create American jobs, foster growth in U.S. exports and continue to encourage the economic benefits that the nation’s waterways generate, according to Farm Bureau.

“Construction, dredging and repairs to our locks and dams will help ensure the reliability of the most affordable, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable mode of transporting agricultural products,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.

Forty-one states, including all states east of the Mississippi River and 16 state capitols, are served by commercially navigable waterways. Further, more than 60% of America’s grain exports and many other important commodities such as fuel, coal and agricultural inputs also move through the U.S. inland waterway system.

Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) are original sponsors of the bill.… Continue reading

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USDA encouraging farmers to complete Census

With spring and planting season on the horizon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is alerting farmers and ranchers of their final chance to sow a seed for their future by being counted in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

“We’ve received more than 1.8 million completed Census forms, and we want to recognize the dedication and effort of the many farmers, ranchers and growers who have responded,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I urge those who have not yet responded to seize this opportunity. There is still time to be counted if you respond today.”

The Census of Agriculture, conducted only once every five years, is the only source of consistent and comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation. It looks at farms, value of land, market value of agricultural production, farm practices, expenditures, and other factors that affect the way farmers and ranchers do business. The information is used by town planners, policy makers, agribusinesses and others to help make important growth-generating decisions.… Continue reading

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Ohio farmers commit $1 million to phosphorus research

While many factors and sources affect water quality, Ohio corn, soybean and wheat farmers want to be part of the solution and do their part to maintain and improve the health of Ohio’s waterways. Ohio farmers share the same environmental priorities as their fellow citizens and are committed to doing the right thing for their farms, their families and all Ohioans.

As a result, farmers and other agricultural organizations are investing over $1 million to commission a study to investigate phosphorus use in farming. This three-year project, led by The Ohio State University (OSU), OSU Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS), will determine how phosphorus is used in agriculture, how it leaves farm fields and how much of it is actually entering Ohio waterways.

How phosphorus moves from fields to waterways has never before been explored in such detail in Ohio.

“Farmers have answered the call to address water quality challenges in the past and they are committed to do so again,” said Terry McClure, Ohio farmer from Paulding County.Continue reading

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Corn stover collection can have environmental impacts

Removing corn stover from agricultural fields to produce cellulosic ethanol requires careful management to avoid adding greenhouse gas emissions and soil erosion to the environment, say Purdue University researchers.

Environmental impacts from stover removal can be reduced by switching to no-till corn or adding winter cover crops, but these practices likely would increase production costs, researchers reported in a study.

“Some crop rotation and tillage combinations are more environmentally benign than others,” said Ben Gramig, a Purdue agricultural economist and the study’s lead researcher. “But there are water quality and greenhouse gas tradeoffs when collecting stover.”

Stover is the parts of a corn plant that remain after grain harvest. Greenhouse gases from cropfields are released into the atmosphere when carbon escapes disturbed soils during stover removal. Emissions also occur when nitrogen fertilizer is applied to the land or crop residues decompose. Plowing fields loosens soil and, when combined with removing stover, causes increased soil erosion.… Continue reading

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Chronic Wasting Disease not detected in Ohio deer

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced today that testing of Ohio’s deer herd found no evidence of chronic wasting disease (CWD). CWD is a degenerative brain disease that affects elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer.

According to the ODNR Division of Wildlife, state and federal agriculture and wildlife officials collected 519 samples in 2012. For the 11th consecutive year, all samples were negative for CWD. Since CWD was first discovered in the late 1960s in the western United States, there has been no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans.

Since 2002, the ODNR Division of Wildlife, in conjunction with the ODA Division of Animal Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife and Veterinary Services, has conducted surveillance throughout the state for CWD. While CWD has never been found in Ohio’s deer herd, it had been diagnosed in wild and captive deer, moose, or elk in 22 states and two Canadian provinces.… Continue reading

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Draft 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Standard available for review and comment

The 4R Advisory Committee for the Western Lake Erie Basin is seeking comments on the DRAFT 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Standard for Nutrient Service Providers. The 4R Advisory Committee welcomes comments on the draft as part of the process of creating a rigorous standard for Nutrient Service Providers working in the Western Lake Erie Basin. This Draft Standard will be available for comment for a review period of 30 days, ending April 7, 2013.

The Standard is intended to encourage the adoption of 4R nutrient stewardship by specifying best practices for nutrient recommendations and nutrient application. The Standard also includes an education component to ensure that new practices related to nutrient stewardship are adopted by Nutrient Service Providers and shared with their growers/customers.

The 4Rs of nutrient stewardship refer to using the Right Source of nutrients at the Right Rate and Right Time in the Right Place. 4R nutrient stewardship provides a science-based framework for plant nutrition management while also considering site-specific needs of a particular farm.… Continue reading

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Borton honored by NFU

During National Farmers Union’s (NFU) 111th Anniversary Convention, Mel Borton was presented with the Award for Meritorious Service to Farmers Union and American Agriculture.

Meritorious Service Awards honor those who have made particularly noteworthy contributions to agriculture, humanity and Farmers Union. This honor is the highest award the NFU Board of Directors can bestow upon an individual.

“Mel Borton has dedicated six decades of his life to Farmers Union,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “His passion for the organization has made him a true leader in membership growth and advocacy for U.S. family farmers, and for that we are grateful.”

Borton was born and raised on a farm in northwestern Ohio. He started farming on his own in 1948 as a sharecropper and joined Ohio Farmers Union that same year. He has held several leadership roles in Farmers Union and on other national committees. He continues to lobby on the state and national level on behalf of family farmers.… Continue reading

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Japan joining Trans-Pacific Partnership talks

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that his country will request to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

The TPP is a regional trade negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for a combined 30 percent of global gross domestic product. Japan already has free trade agreements with seven of the 11 TPP countries — Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

As a major U.S. trading partner, Japan would bolster the reach of the TPP for U.S. agriculture.

“As the fourth-largest U.S. agricultural export market, with nearly $14 billion in purchases in 2012, Japan is crucial to America’s farmers and ranchers. Both the United States and Japan will benefit from Japan being a TPP partner, and by sharing in improved sanitary and phytosanitary standards for agricultural trade and expanded market access with TPP nations,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American farm Bureau Association.… Continue reading

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USDA proposes rule to modify COOL

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued a proposed rule to modify the labeling provisions for muscle cut commodities covered under the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program.

Under the proposed rule, origin designations for muscle-cut covered commodities derived from animals slaughtered in the United States would be required to specify the production steps of born, raised and slaughtered of the animal from which the meat is derived that took place in each country listed on the origin designation, the proposal says. In addition, this proposed rule would eliminate the allowance for any commingling of muscle cut covered commodities of different origins. These changes will provide consumers with more specific information about muscle cut covered commodities, AMS said.

“The proposed changes will increase the discrimination against exports of cattle and hogs from Canada and increase damages to the Canadian industry,” Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said. “Our government will consider all options, including retaliatory measures, should the United States not achieve compliance by May 23, as mandated by the WTO.”… Continue reading

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Ag degrees in demand

By New Year’s Day this year, graduating senior Linsey Howell already had five job offers.

Although the 21-year-old double major in agribusiness and applied economics in Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) won’t receive her degree until graduation day May 5, Howell already has a start date for her new job working in grain merchandising for The Andersons: June 3.

“Thanks to the degrees I’m earning from Ohio State and the internships I’ve had, I was able to take the time to really consider the job offers and decide which one would be the best fit for me and what I want to do in my professional career,” the Danville, Ohio native said. “There are a lot of companies looking to hire agriculture graduates.

“The opportunities are nationwide and worldwide, if you are open to them. A lot of students in the college (CFAES) have job offers at the end of their junior year and a lot of students had jobs by the first career fair, and the ones who aren’t looking for jobs have already been accepted into graduate school.”… Continue reading

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Soy protein levels suffered in drought

Big yields in soybeans are important, but, in recent years, protein levels have been slipping nationally.

“We have seen protein levels decrease with breeding for yield and planting earlier. In terms of quality, that is an issue,” said Shawn Conley, Extension soybean specialist from the University of Wisconsin. “As we have been breeding for less protein, we have been getting more oil. What are growers interested in? Yield? What are breeders working toward increasing? Yield. What do you get paid on? Yield. But if you are looking for higher protein, plant later and select the right varieties.”

U.S. soy protein levels could be increasingly important in the coming years as the world market for soybeans becomes more competitive.

“Who is your competition? It is not your neighbor. It is South America. We need to keep that bigger picture in mind,” Conley said. “You get paid on yield, but ultimately your competition is South America and your customer is China.… Continue reading

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Bioenergy workshop

Opportunities for growing bioenergy crops in Ohio, energy policies and potential markets for biomass will be the focus of an April 8 workshop at Ohio State University’s South Centers at Piketon.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Registration is $10 and includes breakfast and hot lunch. To register, call 740-289-2071 (ext. 132) or 800-297-2072 (ext. 132), or e-mail The workshop is limited to the first 125 registrants.

“The workshop will review a bioenergy case study from Ashtabula County, provide insight on bioenergy crop opportunities from researchers at Ohio State University and Michigan State University, and offer a walking tour of bioenergy crops on the OSU South Centers campus,” said Eric Romich, an Ohio State University Extension field specialist in energy development and co-leader of OSU Extension’s Energize Ohio signature program.

Some of the bioenergy crops that are being researched in Ohio include a perennial warm-season grass known as miscanthus, said Rafiq Islam, soil, water and bioenergy specialist with OSU South Centers at Piketon.… Continue reading

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Is it time to try something different in the cow herd?

By John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

The 2013 Ohio Beef Cattle School has examined important management issues impacting profit potential. Strategies for the use of genetics in the cow herd and efficient forage management practices have been the primary issues discussed in the school to this point. Producers are constantly searching for any new or proven methods to improve the bottom line. While there is always room for improvement in an existing enterprise, the producer must often think “outside of the box” and consider less traditional enterprises in order to improve total profitability.

Many cattlemen are conservative by nature and deliberate in their decision-making. Regardless, if the enterprise is cow-calf production, stocker cattle, or finishing cattle, any changes in an operation are usually slow and incremental. However, economic volatility and weather extremes will require the producer to analyze evolving opportunities and make unconventional decisions to carve out their niche in the beef industry.… Continue reading

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OFU pushing for issues at the Statehouse

Ohio Farmers Union members from around the state gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to discuss pertinent agriculture issues.

Along with meeting with legislators, Roger Wise, president of the Ohio Farmers Union, testified before a House subcommittee asking state lawmakers to alter the Kasich Administration severance tax plan. The subcommittee took testimony on tax-related provisions in the biennial budget, HB 59.

OFU wants some revenue from a proposed increased severance tax to remain in the counties where the tax is collected. OFU also wants a portion of the tax to be set aside for environmental mitigation related to the oil and gas industry.

“We believe these funds should be earmarked for public education and infrastructure improvements such as roads and bridges in shale counties which will receive potentially unprecedented industrial traffic due to drilling operations. We are opposed to using 100% of revenues for the purpose of reducing income taxes statewide,” Wise said in testimony to the House Subcommittee on Ways and Means.… Continue reading

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ASA changes policy on farm bill


In an effort to resolve longstanding differences on new farm legislation and address higher projected costs, the American Soybean Association (ASA) announced that it will support a 2013 Farm Bill which includes updating and extending the current Counter-Cyclical Program (CCP). ASA will continue to support the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) included in both the House and Senate versions of last year’s farm bills as a complement to federal crop insurance. ASA will also support offering a choice between “higher options” for these two programs, recognizing that producers in different growing regions have different priorities for protecting farm income.

“ASA strongly supported the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program in the Senate bill last year as an effective risk management tool designed to work with crop insurance,” said ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss. “Because of ARC’s higher cost and the need to find additional savings in the farm bill, we have decided to support updating and extending the CCP program included in current law.”… Continue reading

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Planting equipment for no-till

By Paul J. Jasa, Extension Engineer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

In the early days of no-till, producers had trouble using their conventional planting equipment without tillage to cut the residue and loosen the soil. Runners or small-diameter disk seed-furrow openers couldn’t cut the residue. Residue flow through some drills and air seeders was next to impossible. The lightweight planters and drills couldn’t penetrate untilled soil. Seeding depth wasn’t very uniform and seed-to-soil contact was often lacking. To reduce problems, producers usually put coulters in front of the planting units or on toolbars in front of their drills. While calling coulters a no-till attachment, they were overcoming the shortcomings by reverting back to tillage.



Cutting and Handling Residue

Planters and drills are now being built stronger and heavier with larger‑diameter disk seed‑furrow openers, making no-till easy. The newer disks are made of thicker gauge steel for better strength and longer wear.

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Crop insurance deadline coming soon

The deadline to enroll in crop insurance is Friday March 15 and some farmers are still waiting on the decision.

“Crop insurance can be a very effective tool in mitigating downside risk, often defined as the chance of having low returns, on crop farms,” said Michael Langemeier, associate director of Center for Commercial Agriculture, based at Purdue.

Langemeier wrote a report comparing crop insurance products and a second one illustrating crop insurance guarantees and potential insurance payments under several yield and price scenarios. The reports are available at

Crop insurance can ensure against production losses and revenue losses. Though Langemeier noted it is difficult to predict yields and prices, he said historical data and recent U.S. Department of Agriculture projections indicate that price declines are more likely this year for farmers than a decline in yields.

“This suggests that it is imperative to closely examine the revenue policies,” he wrote.… Continue reading

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