Featured News

Livestock industry wins Supreme Court appeal

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that bans the processing of all non-ambulatory animals, including hogs. NPPC hailed the ruling.

The California Legislature approved the law in 2008 after a video was released by animal activists, showing non-ambulatory, or “downed,” cows at a California beef packing plant being dragged and prodded to enter the processing line. The statute prohibited the buying, selling, or receiving of non-ambulatory animals, the processing, butchering or selling of meat or products from non-ambulatory animals for human consumption and the holding of non-ambulatory animals without taking immediate action to humanely euthanize them.

The National Meat Association (NMA) challenged the law, and a federal district court judge in California blocked it. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco in 2010 overturned the lower court ruling. NMA appealed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) pre-empts the California law.… Continue reading

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Soy Checkoff Encourages Fairs to Use the Soybean to “Go Green”

Soy can be found in many products we might use every day.  The United Soybean Board (USB) and the soybean checkoff want more fairgoers to see the wide variety of soy-based products put to good use this year.

The national soy checkoff plans to deliver this message though its Green Ribbon Fairs reimbursement program, aimed at encouraging fairs across the country to promote and use soy-based products.

Through the annual program, now in its second year, town, county, state and regional fairs compete to be reimbursed for using and promoting soy-based products on their fairgrounds year-round, as well as during the fairs. Soy-based products that could be used include paints, insulation, ink, biodiesel, hand sanitizers, cleaning and maintenance products, dust suppressants and more.

“Partnering with other groups helps us to tell a new audience about the sustainability of soy products,” says Geno Lowe, a soybean farmer from Hebron, Md., and USB farmer-director.… Continue reading

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USDA seeks to modernize U.S. poultry inspection

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a modernization of young chicken and turkey slaughter inspection in the United States by focusing FSIS inspection resources on the areas of the poultry production system that pose the greatest risk to food safety.

“The modernization plan will protect public health, improve the efficiency of U.S. poultry inspections and reduce spending,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The new inspection system will reduce the risk of foodborne illness by focusing FSIS inspection activities on those tasks that advance our core mission of food safety. By revising current procedures and removing outdated regulatory requirements that do not help combat foodborne illness, the result will be a more efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars.”

Currently, some FSIS employees in poultry establishments perform several activities that are unrelated to food safety, such as identifying visual defects like bruising, while others conduct the critical inspection activities.… Continue reading

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USDA invites applications for renewable energy projects

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to complete a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill).

“Renewable energy development presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” said Vilsack. “This funding will assist rural farmers, ranchers and business owners to build renewable energy projects, providing opportunities for new technologies, create green jobs and help America become more energy self-sufficient.”

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the Nation’s critical energy needs.  For 2012, USDA has approximately $25.4 million budget authority available to fund REAP activities, which will support at least $12.5 million in grant and approximately $48.5 million in guaranteed loan program level awards. … Continue reading

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USDA announces greater flexibility and additional tools for beginning farmers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Bruce Nelson announced a new rule that expands loan opportunities for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, while also establishing a new Land Contract Guarantee Program. The rule provides additional flexibility allowing FSA loan officers to consider all prior farming experience, including on-the-job training and formal education, when determining eligibility for FSA for farm operating and ownership loans. It also expands a previous pilot program, the Land Contract Guarantee Program, from six states to all 50 states. This program is designed to encourage farmers and ranchers to sell their property to beginning and socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmers and ranchers through the use of seller financing.

“USDA continues to find ways to improve our services for farmers and ranchers by streamlining processes, accelerating delivery, and using innovative solutions to 21st century agricultural challenges,” said Nelson. “These improvements demonstrate FSA’s commitment to helping the next generation of America’s farmers and ranchers participate in our nation’s agricultural economy.… Continue reading

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Invasive hemlock pest discovered in southern Ohio

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced the discovery of a hemlock-killing pest in southeast Ohio. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) is a small, aphid-like insect native to Asia that threatens the health and sustainability of eastern hemlock and Carolina hemlock in the eastern United States.

HWA was first reported in the eastern United States in 1951 near Richmond, Va. By 2005, it was established in portions of 16 states from Maine to Georgia, where infestations covered about half of the range of hemlock.

The relatively small infestation was discovered at Shade River State Forest in Meigs County as part of ODNR’s ongoing forest health survey program. At this time, five trees out of approximately 500 hemlock trees surveyed were infested. HWA is primarily transmitted by wind and birds. Officials believe the finding in Ohio is the result of natural spread from nearby areas where the pest is established.… Continue reading

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Meeting focuses on safe produce production

A program on preventing microbial contamination on fruit and vegetable farms takes place in northern Ohio on Feb. 20. Hours are 1-4 p.m. at the Homerville Auction, 9430 Spencer Road, in Homerville in Medina County.

Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPS, for fruit and vegetable production are the focus.

“The Food and Drug Administration will be releasing draft standards for safe production of fruits and vegetables later this year,” said Ashley Kulhanek of Ohio State University’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team, the program’s sponsor. “So it’s a good time to learn about GAPS.”

Participants will receive a resource workbook, paper handouts and certificate of participation. The program is tailored to members of the Amish and Mennonite communities but is open to the general public as well, whether or not they sell at the Homerville Auction.

Kulhanek said attendees won’t actually become “certified in GAPS” by taking the course. That certification comes only through a farm audit by the U.S.… Continue reading

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Foodborne illness a costly problem

The cost of foodborne illness in the United States is now estimated to be up to $77.7 billion a year, according to an analysis by Ohio State University researcher Robert Scharff.

Although the new estimate, published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Food Protection, is a significant reduction from the researcher’s initial estimates in 2010, “these numbers are still big,” said Scharff, an economist and researcher with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). “The decrease doesn’t necessarily reflect a decrease in foodborne illness. Primarily, it’s due to methodological changes by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in how the incidence of foodborne illness is measured. Both the CDC numbers and my new estimates of related costs are more accurate — that’s the important thing.”

In 2011, the CDC issued new figures for the incidence of foodborne illness, estimating that about 48 million people in the United States suffer from foodborne illnesses each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.… Continue reading

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Miscanthus x giganteus has potential as alternative energy source

Concerns about the worldwide energy supply and national, environmental and economic security have resulted in a search for alternative energy sources. A new University of Illinois study shows Miscanthus x giganteus (M. x giganteus) is a strong contender in the race to find the next source of ethanol if appropriate growing conditions are identified.

M. x giganteus is a bioenergy crop that can be grown to produce ethanol. The study investigated the establishment success, plant growth and dry biomass yield of the grass. Tom Voigt, lead scientist and associate professor in the U of I Department of Crop Sciences, said the overall goal is to promote biomass yield per acre for ethanol production using the fewest inputs with no environmental damage.

Researchers compared establishment and growth rates, and biomass yield at four locations over the past three years to identify regions best suited for the grass. Data was collected at sites in Urbana, Ill.;… Continue reading

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More on possible USDA office closures in Ohio

By Matt Reese

On January 9, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA would be restructuring the department to meet budget restrictions. Part of that plan calls for the consolidation and closure of offices across the country. In Ohio those offices include:

  • Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS, in Bowling Green, Wood County
  • Agriculture Research Service, ARS, Coschocton, Coshocton County
  • Farm Service Agency Offices (FSA)
  • Brookville, Montgomery County
  • Pomeroy, Meigs County
  • Springfield, Clark County
  • Somerset, Perry County
  • Carrollton, Carroll County
  • Food and Nutrition Service, FNS
    • Cincinnati, Hamilton County
    • Columbus, Franklin County

    Those in the affected communities have been quick to express their concerns. The Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) claims that the closure of their FSA office will result in decreased efficiency if merged with the neighboring Preble County FSA.

    “What made a good sound-bite does not make good sense, or dollars!  In an effort to look as if they are doing something (anything) to help us taxpayers, the USDA will be severely harming a system that efficiently, effectively, frugally, and cooperatively serves the citizens of Montgomery County. … Continue reading

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    Soil sampling key in controlling phosphorus loss

    By Matt Reese

    Improving water quality starts with getting an accurate soil sample. This is a crucial step in avoiding costly over application of phosphorus and environmental challenges in the coming years. This was an important part of the discussion surrounding the improvement of water quality in Lake Erie at the Soil and Water Conservation Society this week at the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

    “If phosphorus is surface applied, chances are that phosphorus levels are much higher than indicated in an 8-inch soil sample,” said Kevin Elder, with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “The surface may test very differently than the typical 8-inch sample. When you’re soil sampling, you should do a surface test too.”

    Having the proper information is vital for the implementation of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program that will be increasingly important for farmers in the future. Elder outlined the 4R concept that promotes using the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, with the right placement.… Continue reading

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    Funding applications for wetlands accepted until Feb. 10

    USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Ohio State Conservationist Terry Cosby announced the availability of Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) funding to enter into agreements with eligible partners to carry out high priority wetland protection, restoration and enhancement activities on eligible lands.

    “Nationally, up to $17 million is available through General WREP for wetlands restoration and enhancements on a competitive basis,” Cosby said.  “Eligible partners are encouraged to submit WREP proposals to our state office by February 10, 2012.  The proposals will be evaluated by Ohio NRCS staff using a competitive process with recommended proposals being forwarded to the national NRCS office for review, ranking and final selection.”

    WREP is a voluntary conservation program that works through partnership agreements with states, nongovernmental organizations and tribes.  It is a component of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) through which NRCS enters into agreements with eligible partners to leverage resources to carry out high priority wetland protection and improve wildlife habitat.… Continue reading

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    ASA expresses concern with combining federal trade agencies

    President Barack Obama recently announced that he will ask Congress for the authority to merge federal agencies in the interest of streamlining government and reducing redundancies. First on the president’s proposed list of changes is a combining of six federal offices related to or in charge of trade and commerce: the Department of Commerce, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Trade and Development Agency and the Small Business Administration.

    The American Soybean Association released the following statement in response to the president’s announcement.

    “While the American Soybean Association (ASA) supports initiatives to improve government efficiency and eliminate redundancy, we have strong concerns about at least one aspect of the President’s proposal, and that is with the plan to merge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) with other trade agencies. We believe that USTR should remain an independent agency within the Executive Office of the President (EOP), focusing on trade negotiations, trade agreements and trade enforcement.… Continue reading

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    Cargill to award 350 scholarships

    Cargill will award $350,000 in scholarships to U.S. high-school seniors who live in communities where Cargill has operations and plan to enroll in post-secondary education next fall. National FFA has administered the Cargill Community Scholarship Program for more than 20 years. 

    Through the program, Cargill will award 350 national scholarships of $1,000 each. In addition, each recipient’s high school will receive a $200 grant from Cargill. National FFA will process the applications and select the scholarship recipients, although students do not need to be FFA members to be eligible for Cargill’s program. Students are chosen based on academic achievement and leadership in extracurricular and community activities.

    “We are pleased to join FFA in recognizing outstanding students and supporting their educational goals,” said Mark Murphy, assistant vice president of corporate affairs for Cargill. “We recognize that our continued success depends on the growth and health of our communities and partners, including our local schools and young people.”… Continue reading

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    New research finds higher octane level in ethanol

    As automakers retool engines to maximize gas mileage while minimizing emissions to meet future Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards, a new study reveals that ethanol provides the higher-octane these high-efficiency engines require while remaining both affordable and environmentally friendly.

    The study, conducted by AVL, a global leader in the development of powertrain engines with internal combustion systems, was funded in part by the National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Committee and Research and Business Development Action Team. The goal of this research was to explore the role corn ethanol could play in meeting the new CAFÉ standards enacted by the U.S. federal government.

    “The findings of this study further support our existing understanding of ethanol in that they demonstrate its inherent ability to meet our nation’s need for an affordable, sustainable domestically-produced fuel source,” said NCGA Ethanol Committee Chairman Chad Willis. “NCGA, together with the states that also contributed, funds studies such as this to add to the data on biofuel.… Continue reading

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    RMA extends cover crop termination deadlines

    The wet spring of 2011 did not only cause problems for getting crops planted, it also made it very challenging to terminate growing cover crops in a timely manner to meet crop insurance requirements. Changes from the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) have given farmers more time to terminate their cover crops this spring.

    In order for grain farmers to insure their main crop, they previously had to terminate cover crops by May 15 and before the crop headed or budded. In December, the RMA changed those rules so that producers now must terminate cover crops by June 5 and regardless of the growth stage.

    “Last year, with a very wet spring, the May 15 deadline was really problematic,” said Eileen Kladivko, Purdue University professor of agronomy. “There was a lot of effort on the parts of land-grant universities, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and partners like the National Wildlife Federation to get that changed because of the conservation benefits of cover crops.… Continue reading

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    Professional Pork Producers Symposium at 2012 Ohio Pork Congress

    The annual Professional Pork Producers Symposium will be held during the 2012 Ohio Pork Congress on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Crowne Plaza North in Columbus. The symposium will address many issues that Ohio’s pork producers face today.

    The seminar will feature speakers from across the nation, and cover topics from pork industry challenges and opportunities to management and housing. Registration will begin at 7:00 a.m. on Feb. 8. The symposium will begin at 9:00 a.m. and last until 4:00 p.m. Topics and guest speakers will be as follows:

    • Pen Gestation: Finding the Option That’s Right for You — Thomas Parsons, VMD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

    • Herd Management Factors That Influence Whole Herd Feed Efficiency — Dr. Omarh Mendoza, The Maschhoffs, Carlyle, Illinois

    • What Does the Future Hold For Ohio Pork Producers? — Dr. Chris Hurt, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University

    • Packer Audits – Will Your Farm Pass?… Continue reading

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    LG Seeds donates $1,000 to West Milton 4-H club

    LG Seeds donated $1,000 to the Newton Blue Ribbon Livestock 4-H Club in West Milton after farmers registered for a chance to win $1,000 to be donated to their local FFA or 4-H Club of choice at the 2011 Farm Science Review.

    Jan Strauser of Laura, Ohio was LG Seeds’ grand prize winner.  Strauser elected to donate the $1,000 to the Newton Blue Ribbon Livestock 4-H club, where his grandson, Jeffrey, is a member. LG Seeds Brand Supply Manager and Illinois 4-H Foundation Board Member, Eric Yoder, is thrilled that LG Seeds is giving back to the community, particularly ag-related organizations.

    “The 4-H Club is a strong group that provides learning and leadership opportunities to students across the country.  It is also not your average youth organization,” Yoder said. “It’s a great fit to give back to the 4-H Club because LG Seeds is also not your average seed company.  We truly value our farming community and are excited to give back to such a valuable ag-related cause.”… Continue reading

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    Soy checkoff partnering with clean city coalitions

    Americans from the mid-Atlantic to the Northwest will soon be hearing a lot more about why they should use soy biodiesel — if they aren’t already.

    The United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff have announced the participants in the 2012 biodiesel and Bioheat communications program, which helps cities across the United States spread the word about the only commercially available advanced biofuel.

    The soybean checkoff will partner with nine U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-affiliated “Clean Cities” coalitions to increase the availability and use of soy biodiesel and heating-oil-alternative Bioheat through promotion and education. The Clean Cities program serves as a government-industry partnership sponsored by DOE and has more than 90 local chapters across the United States. These chapters work in their local areas to reduce petroleum consumption.

    “Clean Cities coalitions are really great organizations,” said Mike Beard, USB director and soybean farmer from Frankfort, Ind. “This program helps them, and it helps us to get the word out about clean, efficient soy biodiesel.”… Continue reading

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    Pork commercials airing in Cleveland

    Beginning this month, the Ohio Pork Producers Council is featuring new television commercials, featuring the “bacon, ham and pork chop farmers” will start to air. This TV buy encompasses the Cleveland area market. The commercials will run the week of 1/16 and 1/23, be off one week and then back on for two weeks, 2/6 and 2/13.

    The new commercials are designed to bridge the gap between farmer and consumer by drawing a direct line from farmer to product. Viewers can also log on to www.OhioPork.org and view the recipes featured in each commercial.… Continue reading

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