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Red meat exports boom

Beef exports continued their surge in December, surpassing year-ago totals by nearly 13% in volume and 20% in value led by growth in sales to Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong and Central/South America. Totals for 2013 were up 3% in volume to 1.17 million metric tons (mt) and 12% in value ($6.157 billion) – breaking the 2012 value record.

The new milestone for U.S. beef export value also meant new records for the average export value per head: an annual record of $244.96 per head of fed slaughter, up $28.23 from 2012 and a new monthly record in December at $279.16, up $36.52 from December 2012.

U.S. beef exports in 2013 equated to 13.2% of total beef production (muscle cuts plus variety meat) and 10.4% of muscle cuts alone, up from 12.7 and 9.8% last year. The totals trended up in December, reaching 14.5% and 12%, respectively.

Beef sales to Japan closed the year up 54% in volume (234,615 mt) and 35% in value ($1.389 billion), pushed by a strong December showing that was more than 75% ahead of last year’s volume totals and 45% higher in value.… Continue reading

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Russian markets could re-open for U.S. pork

Russia has indicated that it plans to end the ban on imports of U.S. pork products by mid-March and possibly as soon as the end of February, according to Sergei Dankvert, head of Russia’s Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service (VPSS).

Last year, Russia implemented a ban on imports of U.S. pork and beef that are produced with beta-agonists. Russia began requiring pork imports from the United States to show documentation that the pork does not contain ractopamine residues. The country also restricted U.S. pork imports through unscientific standards for tetracyclines and pathogens on raw product, standards that no country in the world can meet. The U.S. government, with NPPC and meat industry input, has been working to develop a commercial option for U.S. exporters to ensure beta-agonist-free pork for Russia. NPPC continues to work closely with other industry partners and the U.S. government to ensure Russia abides by World Trade Organization rules and reopens its market to U.S.… Continue reading

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RMA announces changes to organic insurance program

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) recently announced changes to the organics program under the Federal crop insurance program. These changes are effective for the 2014 crop year.

The organic practice is offered for all insurable crops in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

Changes to the organic price used to establish insurance coverage will provide a crop insurance guarantee more reflective of organic crop values. Last year, RMA revised the organic price for corn, soybeans and processing tomatoes. For 2014, this list was expanded to include oats and mint. Also, most organic producers can now choose to use either their contract price or the established crop insurance price for coverage.

Organic transitional yields (t-yields), used by producers who do not have enough organic production history to establish insurance coverage, have been revised and separated from non-organic t-yields. Additionally, the 5% premium surcharge has been removed.

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents.… Continue reading

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Obama signs farm bill

President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 today. The farm bill passed the House on January 29 and the Senate on February 4.

“This new five-year farm bill means certainty and stability for farmers. It means food on the table for hungry families. And it means taxpayers will save money,” said Martin Barbre, National Corn Growers Association president . “We thank President Obama for signing this important legislation and we stand ready to work with the Administration and communicate the value of this new law for our growers and those they help feed and fuel. Because of its very topic — food and the farms that provide it — this is one of the most important pieces of legislation Congress has passed in some time.”

Among its specific provisions, the bill:

– Eliminates controversial direct payments while maintaining decoupled farm support programs that will minimize the possibility of planting and production distortions that could trigger new World Trade Organization challenges.… Continue reading

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New OSA members can enter to win 50 Hours with Challenger Tractor

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) is partnering with Ohio Ag Equipment this year to offer new OSA members the chance to win 50 hours on an MT600 Series Challenger tractor. This promotion is only good until March 1, 2014.

To win, sign up at as a first time member by March 1 and that’s it.

“There are 24,000 soybean farmers in Ohio and we would like every single one of them to be a member of OSA,” said Jerry Bambauer, OSA president and Auglaize County soybean farmer.  “OSA provides leadership for Ohio soybean farmers on legislative issues like the farm bill, water quality, estate tax and so much more. But the work that we do is not possible without the support we have from our members. If you are not a member, take the time to learn more about our organization and sign up so your voice is heard both here in Columbus and in Washington, D.C.”… Continue reading

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Panama Canal expansion hits a bump

The project to expand the Panama Canal was in doubt this week after talks between the canal administrator and a Spanish-led building consortium fell apart and work ground to a halt.

Group United for the Canal (GUPC), a conglomerate led by Spanish builder Sacyr, is requesting the Panama Canal Authority pay an additional $1.6 billion in cost overruns. Originally slated to cost roughly $5.25 billion, new projections place the actual cost at nearly $7 billion.

Disputes over the expansion of the Canal began soon after GUPC won the bid in 2009. Officials and diplomats expressed concerns over the consortium’s ability to complete the project because its bid was $1 billion lower than the nearest competitor.

“The Panama Canal Authority has taken a firm stance that GUPC must honor its contract,” said Kurt Shultz, U.S. Grains Council regional director of the Americas. “The U.S. grain industry has high expectations for an expanded Panama Canal; we urge both parties to quickly agree on a resolution and move forward.”… Continue reading

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Wilhelmy new partner at Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham & Eselgroth

The law firm of Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham & Eselgroth (BECE) is pleased to announce that Kristi Kress Wilhelmy has become a partner in the firm. Kristi has worked as an associate attorney at BECE since July 2011. She will continue to handle a variety of matters for the firm including counseling clients on agribusiness issues, litigation and resolution of contract and general business disputes, administrative law such as OSHA, employment matters, real estate, and oil and gas litigation.

Prior to joining BECE, Kristi worked at the law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, for three years. Prior to that, she was employed as an attorney at Bryan Cave in Kansas City, Missouri. She also clerked for Judge Mary Beck Briscoe (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Lawrence, Kansas) and Judge James G. Carr (U.S. District Court – Northern District of Ohio).

Kristi is a member of the American and Ohio State Bar Associations, and is admitted to practice in the states of Kansas, Ohio and Missouri (inactive), and in various federal courts.… Continue reading

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Bright future for cattle business

Cattlemen and women gathered at the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show to hear CattleFax market analysts’ projections for the year ahead. Creighton University Professor Emeritus Art Douglas told the audience he expects improved moisture conditions in the majority of the United States, including improvements of the drought-affected areas of the west coast.

As precipitation returns back to more normal levels for the 2014 growing season, CattleFax predicts farmers in the U.S. should grow an adequate corn crop to build the carry over supply. The improved corn supplies should assure lower corn/input costs over the next 12-24 months, according to CattleFax Grain Market Analyst Mike Murphy.

“The lower input cost will have a direct correlation to improved feeder cattle and calf values in 2014 and with continued  help from Mother Nature, we will be in better shape with regard to hay supply and prices moving forward,” Murphy said.… Continue reading

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Cold weather a concern for fruit growers

The polar vortex and subsequent arctic cold temperatures throughout the region this winter have left many small fruit growers seeing varying degrees of winter injury in their plants, according to a small fruit crops expert with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The sub-zero arctic temperatures have taken a significant toll on small fruit crops this year, said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops at Ohio State University’s South Centers in Piketon.

For example, wine grape growers are likely to find significant damage to their grape vines. The Vinifera or European grape varieties have probably sustained 90 to 100% injury to their primary buds, he said. These challenges and others will be a topic of discussion at the Ohio Commercial Berry Production School in Piketon next month.

“Many of the plants have sustained substantial damage from these cold temperatures, and growers need to understand how to assess winter injury to their plants,” Gao said.… Continue reading

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Equipment Survey: Easier maintenance is tops for livestock producers, crop producers respect resale value

When it comes to farm equipment purchases, livestock producers think more about the ease of maintenance, while crop producers think more about the predictability of it, according to a 2014 survey of 800 livestock and crop producers across North America.Producers in the study, sponsored by Case IH, who reported a significant portion of their income as generated from livestock operations say they look for low maintenance and easy-to- service equipment from an innovative manufacturer. Those who reported a significant portion of their income as generated from crop operations also rank innovation near the top of their list, but reliability and resale value rate even higher.

“There is a big difference between livestock and crop producers when it comes to equipment is usage,” says Ryan Drollette, Farm Management Specialist from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Livestock producers run their equipment every single day, while crop producers are running them for longer periods of time during select seasons.”

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Milk tanker crashes into home


A Provident, Ohio man and his nurse survived unscathed after a milk tanker truck carrying 35,000 pounds of milk crashed into his home on Wednesday morning.

James Mazgaz, 55, who is partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, awoke to the sounds of his nurse running down the hallway of the home alerting him of the crash. According to police, the driver of truck had just come form Mazgaz’s brother’s home where he loaded up with the milk. As the driver began to descend down a steep hill, the truck began to slide and the driver jumped out of the cab of the truck.

Mazgaz’s nurse said she saw the headlights coming toward the house as she sat at the kitchen table paying some bills. She immediately ran to warn Mazgaz.

There were no injuries, but Mazgaz and his nurse were transported to the hospital for a check-up.

See more pictures and video at WTRF.comContinue reading

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Farm bill process still has a long way to go

While Congress came to agreement Tuesday on a long-debated and much-anticipated farm bill, a Purdue Extension agricultural economist says the process of interpreting and finalizing the specifics of the law is far from complete.

The $956.4 billion bill immediately eliminates direct payments for all commodities except cotton and instead offers farmers an enhanced safety net that includes insurance revisions and higher base-price levels – or the crop price at which farmers could claim payment. A vast majority of the bill’s cost — about 75 percent — is in nutrition programs, while 15% goes to commodities and the rest divvied up amongst conservation programs, university research and risk management for specialty crops.

But while the bill will become law when the president signs it, there are still many specifics to work out. Roman Keeney, who specializes in agricultural policy, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be left to analyze and interpret what is included in the more than 900 pages of the bill.… Continue reading

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Damron named Ohio FFA Alumni Association Outstanding Member for 2013

Jason Damron of the Talawanda FFA Alumni Affiliate was awarded a clock trophy for being named the Outstanding Member of the Ohio FFA Alumni Association during the 42nd Ohio FFA Alumni Convention held in Columbus on Jan. 25, 2014. The FFA Alumni Association appreciates members that go the extra mile to support agricultural education programs and the FFA in Ohio.… Continue reading

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Senate passes farm bill that now awaits President’s signature

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the bipartisan Farm Bill  — the Federal Agriculture Act of 2014 — by a vote of 68-32. The bill represents rare bipartisan agreement on legislation that would boost a major sector of the U.S. economy and create jobs across the country.

“This day has been a long time coming as farmers from all corners of Ohio have spent years tirelessly advocating for a new farm bill to ensure a safety-net is in place for those years we are faced with circumstances far beyond our control. I join my fellow farmers in thanking Ohio’s congressional delegation who supported a bill to help protect one of Ohio’s greatest resources, our agriculture industry, which helps to maintain the most secure and affordable food supply in all of the world,” said Brent Hostetler, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association president. “Time and again Ohio’s farmers have told us that crop insurance is one of the most important tools they can use to help preserve their farm’s future.… Continue reading

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Refuge report shows increased compliance in 2013

In order to preserve technology, insect resistant crops have always required a refuge area.

The National Corn Growers Association enhanced Compliance Assurance Program (CAP) that has had strong success. The program, which includes on-farm refuge assessments, an online survey and IRM education and awareness, has documented an increase in both the overall number of growers planting proper corn refuge and use of integrated refuge products.

The CAP aims to improve compliance with Insect Resistance Management requirements. The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee (ABSTC), a consortium of Bt corn registrants, submits an annual CAP report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describing industry-coordinated compliance assurance efforts for Bt traits.

Highlights of the survey indicate a strong adoption of integrated refuge products, which include Bt and refuge seed interspersed in a single bag or container.

“We are pleased to see that the number of growers planting integrated refuge products on their entire farming operation has more than tripled this year and the percent of those who planted at least one integrated product increased from 50% in 2012 to 75% in 2013,” said Mike Smith, ABSTC IRM subcommittee co-chairman.… Continue reading

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Groups pushing for immigration reform

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and more than 70 of the largest American agriculture groups joined with the Partnership for a New American Economy to launch #IFarmImmigration, an agriculture campaign to support renewed efforts to enact immigration reform this year.

The campaign will stress the agriculture sector’s critical need for immigration reform with activities online and on the ground, in Washington D.C. and in key districts. The month starts with a Capitol Hill Briefing on Wednesday, Feb. 5,where Congressional staff will hear from farmers and ranchers about the need for immigration reform. The campaign will also release new research on labor shortages and throughout the month, farmers and ranchers will be on the ground telling their stories through farm tours, social and traditional media, videos, and community events for members of Congress in their districts.

“Immigration reform is critical for the agricultural industry,” said Bob Stallman, AFBF President.… Continue reading

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New soy products

Various performance and environmental attributes have made U.S. soy increasingly popular among product manufacturers, which has helped boost industrial demand for soy.

Last year, the soy checkoff  partnered with manufacturers to commercialize 38 new soy-based products and ingredients.

The list of products developed with soy checkoff support in 2013 includes new additions to some popular soy-based product categories, such as coatings, adhesives and plastics. It also includes soy-based ingredients that could be used in countless new products.

“USB is helping discover other products that can be made from soy to add to farmers’ bottom lines,” said Dale Profit, a soy checkoff farmer-leader and soybean farmer from Van Wert.
 “These products are good for the farmer, the customer and all the people in between.”

Soybean meal’s primary use remains animal feed, while most soybean oil goes to human food, Profit said. But versatile soy can also help manufacturers replace petrochemicals and possible carcinogens in their products.… Continue reading

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What is soil health?

“Soil health” has become a popular term during the last few years. Some people even refer to soil as a “living organism.” Particles of sand or clay are not living organisms but the composite of soil particles, organic matter and all the living creatures like earth worms, nematodes, fungi, bacteria and viruses that make it their home constitute “soil” which is so important for growing crops.

• The health of the soil is the physical health, porosity, water retention qualities, drainage capacity plus the health of all the organisms that live in it. This may be compared with the health of a city with buildings, homes and factories, etc. When a city is not properly taken care of by its residents, it begins to suffer. The same thing can happen to a farm.

• I am glad to see that more farmers are becoming interested in improving the health of the soils on their farms.… Continue reading

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OCA celebrates a great year

Ohio beef producers and industry leaders met to develop policy, learn about consumer preferences and demand for beef and to celebrate the many achievements of cattlemen at the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet, Jan. 25, 2014, at the NorthPointe Conference Center in Lewis Center, Ohio. More than 250 attended the event in which an expanded format offered a county affiliate leaders’ meeting and two breakout sessions in addition to the annual meeting and evening banquet. Sponsors who contributed to the success of the event include COBA/Select Sires, CompManagement, Inc., Farm Credit Mid-America, United Producers, Inc. and Steve R. Rauch.

The day’s events began with a meeting hosted for county affiliate leaders to learn about opportunities available and to share with other county leaders. Following a luncheon, the first “Around the Water Tank” breakout session hosted a four-person panel. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Scott George; John Lundeen, NCBA Senior Executive Director of Market Research; Pam Haley, OCA Board of Directors member; and Bev Roe, Ohio Beef Council Operating Committee member, shared with attendees on the positive impact the beef checkoff has had on the beef industry.… Continue reading

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