A herd of dairy cows from the University of Waterloo might be the first of the bovine species to use Twitter. The cows brag about milk production, RFID transponder glitches, eating habits, technical issues with the “Mr. Terminator” milking machines and the specific nuances of which teats perform best.
The tweets are actually a project from the University’s Critical Media Lab. Members Ron Broglio, Marcel O’Gorman and Pouya Emami have teamed up with dairy farmer Chris Vandenberg and a dozen of his favorite milk cows on Buttermine Farms in Brant, Ontario.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made it official Wednesday: The Senate will consider a climate change and energy bill before an immigration bill.
“I am going to move forward on energy first,” Reid said. However, the Senate’s top Democrat said he is committed to passing immigration reform this year.
Meanwhile, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) have sent a draft of their new climate change bill to the Environmental Protection Agency for an economic analysis, a sign that the senators are continuing to prepare for possible floor debate even though the bill has stalled on Capitol Hill and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key supporter of the legislation has withdrawn his support . The EPA analysis is expected to take roughly five weeks and will yield forecasts of effects such as predicted household costs.
The Agriculture Department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service released a major report Tuesday that illustrates how agricultural productivity has increased while farming’s impact on the environment has shrunk.
USDA released the 2007 National Resources Inventory (NRI) for Non-Federal Lands at an event marking the 75th Anniversary of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The report is science-based and relies on actual farm surveys.
On Tuesday, USDA released to Congress a comprehensive report on agricultural transportation in the United States, the first ever of this magnitude. The report, “Study of Rural Transportation Issues,” was mandated by the 2008 farm bill and covers the four major modes of transportation commonly used by agriculture in the United States—truck, rail, barge and ocean vessel.
“Agriculture is the largest user of freight transportation in the United States, with 31 percent of all ton-miles recorded in 2007 being used in the movement of agricultural products,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This report provides vital information needed to make strategic policy decisions to meet rural America’s transportation needs, now and in the future.”
The report examines some of the major issues facing agricultural transportation, including: the dramatic effect of deregulation on the rail industry, a growing gap for funding the inland waterways and highway systems, availability of containers and ocean vessel capacity, and the infrastructure that may be needed to support a projected increase in biofuel transportation.
Supreme Court justices on Tuesday sharply questioned a lower court’s decision that has prohibited Monsanto Co. from selling biotech alfalfa seeds, possibly paving the way for the company to distribute the seeds for the first time since 2007.
Several justices appeared skeptical that the lower court had the authority to fully ban the sale of the product because of a pending environmental review. Chief Justice John Roberts questioned why the court issued the injunction instead of simply sending the matter back to USDA.
Justice Antonin Scalia appeared even more wary, questioning the idea that genetically modified crops could contaminate other crops. “This isn’t the contamination of the New York City water supply,” he said. “This isn’t the end of the world, it really isn’t.”
Monsanto argues that the ban was too broad and was based on the assumption that their products were harmful. Opponents of the use of genetically engineered seeds say they can contaminate conventional crops, but Monsanto says such cross-pollination is unlikely.
Senate Concurrent Resolution – 003 (“Ballot Initiatives to Amend Constitution”) was recently brought forward to the legislature by Sens. Tapia and White and Rep. Court.
The measure is being coined as the “Son of Referendum O” (from the 2008 General Election), which was a measure to reform the ballot initiative process. Colorado Farm Bureau actively worked in support of Ref. O, which was defeated on the ballot. With much work over the past two years, many voices have come together to make a second attempt on the ballot to change the initiative process for citizen backed consitutional amendments.
This legislation proposes to implement the initiative reforms recommended by over 90% of the 1,200 civic leaders who convened statewide. It makes the following changes related to a proposed constitutional initiative:
- Requiring that 5% of the signatures gathered to place the initiative on the ballot come from each Congressional District
- Requiring a 60% super-majority voter approval on the ballot for future amendments to the constitution
- Allowing anything that is already in the constitution to be amended out with the same simple-majority by which it got in prior to 2011
- Requiring a super majority vote of the people to repeal future constitutional amendments passed after 2011
Spring is here and with it come longer work days for those in Agriculture. Getting back into shape after winter and dealing with longer days is made more difficult with an increased chore list and workload. So it’s not surprising that many will brush fatigue aside to get the job done.
But that’s when injuries can sneak in. Non-stop activity, long work hours and stress can increase chances of fatigue and injuries, and as levels of fatigue increase, regard for caution and personal safety take a backseat. Fatigue can cause slower reaction times, reduced concentration, or even falling asleep on the job and can lead to injuries.
Injuries can include equipment pinches, entanglement, burns, tractor rollovers and livestock related accidents.
Tips to avoid fatigue:
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid thinking about work once you have finished for the day. Engage in an activity that will get your mind off of the tasks ahead.
- Pace yourself and plan out your activities.
- Eat healthy and maintain a normal eating schedule.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Dehydration can cause fatigue.
- Take short breaks throughout the day.
- Get some exercise after sitting over long periods of time. Stretching or even a short walk will get your body moving and re-energized.
- To reduce stress, take a minute to watch wildlife or enjoy nature to help take your mind off of work.
- Take advantage of a rainy day to rest and re-energize.
USDA reports that as of Sunday, U.S. farmers had planted half of this year’s corn crop.
That’s up 31% from the previous week, 30% more than this time last year and 28% above the five year average thanks to excellent weather in many areas of the Corn Belt.
In Colorado, farmers continued to make a little progress in planting corn last week reaching 9% complete compared with 12% last year and 14% for the 5-year average.
Pasture and range feed conditions were rated mostly good to excellent across the State with 86% of cows have calved since January 1st while 84% of the ewes have lambed during the same time frame.
Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference dinner in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has withdrawn his support of a new climate change bill, which means the legislation won’t be unveiled today, as originally planned. Graham withdrew his support because of what he said was a “cynical political decision” by Democrats to advance immigration legislation first.
Graham said he has become convinced that Democrats have decided to push for an immigration overhaul in an effort to mobilize Hispanic voters, a key political bloc, and that only a focused effort on a climate and energy bill could ensure its passage. He said he did not see how the Senate could pass a climate and energy bill this year if Senate Democratic leaders and President Barack Obama push for immigration reform.
Investors Business Daily had a lead editorial last week highlighting Rep. James Oberstar’s new rewrite of the Clean Water Act and calling it an “existential threat to farms” across the country.
Fox News also picked up the Earth Day story with the report below.
Rafting Bill Still Alive
The Colorado House of Representatives voted today to send the controversial right-to-trespass bill, HB 1188, to conference committee. Representative Kathleen Curry, the House sponsor of the measure, did not support the Senate version of the bill which directed the Colorado Water Congress to facilitate a study regarding the issue and to report back to the legislature in November.
Rep. Curry asked for permission to have a conference committee established, which will be made up of 3 members from the House of Representatives and 3 members from the Senate. The committee will then be charged with trying to draft a compromise between the two versions of the bill. Colorado Farm Bureau has been very active in the discussions about this controversial bill, and supports the issue being taken off the table this legislative session and being further discussed in a study this summer.
CFB is asking the Colorado Senate to not agree to go to conference committee and to stand by their version of the bill.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Tuesday involving a federal judge’s temporary ban on Roundup Ready Alfalfa, setting the stage for the court’s first-ever ruling on biotech crops.
Legal experts do not expect a blockbuster decision on the merits of regulating biotech crops, but the case, Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, has drawn widespread interest because the justices could issue a ruling that would raise or lower the threshold for challenges under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Monsanto appealed to the Supreme Court last year after the 9th Circuit Court upheld the ban for the second time. The American Farm Bureau Federation disagreed with the ruling by the 9th Circuit, arguing with its conclusion that the mere fact that a product is genetically engineered constitutes harm to the environment. AFBF believes this is contrary to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence.
A study lays the blame for the unusually high ozone levels in California’s San Joaquin Valley not on dairy cow emissions that took the blame for years, but on millions of tons of fermenting cattle feed. The study was conducted by U.C. Davis researchers and funded by the USDA, California Air Resources Board and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The research initially was intended to measure the impact of animal manure, urine and flatulence on ozone levels.
The finding further skewers the notion that lagoon emissions and cow farts lead to diminished air quality. Last week, a professor at U.C. Davis published a study challenging livestock’s contribution to global warming.
The previously unrecognized source of fermenting cattle feed is likely the reason why ozone levels have not dropped even as the region has implemented rules for emission control programs, scientists said. When the rules were made several years ago, many experts considered the region’s 2 million cows and their manure as the primary source of these gases. Under the rules the industry spent millions of dollars cleaning up barns, corrals and manure storage areas in the nation’s most productive dairy region. Now those improvements may not have needed to be made.
“What bothers me is the rush to regulate w/o having the full facts or data,” said Ray Prock, a Denair CA dairyman.
These days, everyone from celebrities to journalists to politicians has an opinion about the “right” way to raise food. Often, their criticism of farmers and ranchers relates to the environment – people say they aren’t doing their part to protect the planet.
With the 40th anniversary of Earth Day coming up, I’d like to offer some food for thought. While these naysayers talk about minimizing impact on the environment, America’s cattle farmers and ranchers get up every day and do it. They care for the land because it’s their job.
The Obama administration wants to add $408 million to a global fund to boost food production and encourage good farming practices in the developing world, the Treasury Department announced on Thursday.
The fund, created after the Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh last year, will begin with contributions from the governments of Canada ($230 million), Spain ($95 million) and South Korea ($50 million) and from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($30 million). It is meant to provide money to poorer countries, particularly in Africa, that invest in local farming programs and agricultural development that is meant to increase crop yields, administration officials said.
Mr. Gates and Secretary Geithner have made their case for this new initiative in the pages of today’s Wall Street Journal.
Bill Gates is an advocate of biotech seeds and crops and supports their use to help alleviate global hunger.
One can always count on a holiday like Earth Day to drudge up some interesting commentary. We trolled the internet and compiled a few news items and opinion columns we thought might get your dander up.
Paul Rubin – Wall Street Journal
While people have worshipped many things, we may be the first to build shrines to garbage.
Vice President Joe Biden – Huffington Post
We’ve been celebrating Earth Day for 40 years and we’re now poised to make significantly greater strides than ever before because of the unprecedented investment contained in the Recovery Act and the leadership of the President and the Secretary of Energy.
J. Bradford DeLong – LA Times
New NASA data show just how quickly the climate is changing. What can we do now? It is about time to panic.
David Martosko – The Daily Caller
It’s Earth Day again, which means that it’s another time to unite environmental activists to rally around the green flag and blame seemingly everything technological and productive—from efficient farming to genetically modified crops—for allegedly causing ecological devastation.
Earth Day celebrations consistently ignore the contributions of the Ag industry.
Earth Day was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 and is now celebrated in springtime in 175 countries around the globe. Some countries have Earth Week and focus largely on environmental issues and activities.
Taking a day or a week out of the year to focus on the earth and our natural surroundings is a good thing, especially for those whose feet and tires don’t usually touch the dirt. However, reflecting on nature and environmentalism does nothing for the planet if one ignores the major contributions made by America’s farmers and ranchers for whom every day is Earth Day.
Protecting and preserving the environment is something America’s farmers and ranchers do every day. These families manage rotational grazing systems that make the best use of available forage, while improving the soil and the root structure of plants. They manage their land to provide wildlife habitat. They recycle nutrients, converting sunshine, rain and forage into beef and recycling the nutrients found in manure as fertilizers.
Today’s farming and ranching families are producing more pounds of beef and more bushels of grain, with fewer resources than at any time in history. Being good environmental stewards is not a new concept for us. It is, and has been for generations, an absolute necessity for our survival as a nation and as a world.
By Shawn Martini, Communications Director for Colorado Farm Bureau
Farm Bureau opposes “America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act,” introduced Wednesday by Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), due to concerns that the measure would regulate all waters in the United States, not just real “navigable” waters, as Congress clearly intended when it passed the Clean Water Act in 1972.
“Farm Bureau has always supported the Clean Water Act as a vital tool for protecting our nation’s valuable water resources,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The bill unveiled yesterday, however, goes farther by removing the word ‘navigable’ from the Clean Water Act. If the word ‘navigable’ is deleted from the law, any farm pond or ditch would be at the mercy of federal regulations. This vague and overreaching amendment to the Clean Water Act is unacceptable to America’s farm and ranch families.”
The Colorado College State of the Rockies Project has released its 2010 Agriculture in the Rockies ‘report card.’ Each section of the 2010 Report Card is dedicated to agriculture in the Rockies.
The report purports to provide statistical overview of the region’s industry, but also delve deep into agricultural history, land and water use, demographics, production, finance, organization, and a “foodprint” of Rockies’ agriculture.
You can draw your own conclusions as to why Colorado College might seek to publish such a report. We will leave you with two observations:
1) The cover of the report features a herd of buffalo (and contains other very odd photos for a report on ag).
2) Colorado College does not have a college of agriculture or even an agriculture department.
An anti-meat posting on the EPA’s official blog is getting blasted in social media and on the blogosphere. In the posting, Nicole Reising, an intern in EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection, blames meat production for its negative impact on the environment.
“Another issue that the EPA is specifically interested in is the pollution that feedlots and animal wastes are causing in waterways. The runoff from feedlots and animal feces-covered fields is causing some of our waters, such as areas in the Chesapeake Bay, to become unhealthy,” Reising wrote in her posting. “Regulations can be made to help prevent the effects of meat production, but the easiest way to lessen the environmental impacts is to become a vegetarian or vegan.”
AFBF President Bob Stallman urged EPA to do a better job of controlling its blog space.
“Interns, like all Americans, are entitled to their own opinion on subjects being discussed in public forums. But they, like all government employees, should have an understanding that they are not just representing themselves, they are representing the particular government agency—in this case the EPA,” said Stallman. “While this is a position taken by an intern of the agency, EPA should control its blog space. What is written on its blog comes across as its official position toward farmers and ranchers that it regulates and shows a terrible disregard for them and the agriculture industry.”
It was another successful year for the Senior Field Studies program. Students traveled across the state this year to learn about agriculture and rural life directly from those who live it on a daily basis.
Thank You to all the host families for this years program. We hope you will consider it again next year!
Japan has temporarily halted beef exports after a possible case of Foot & Mouth Disease was found in southern Japan. The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry says three cows are suspected of being infected with the virus and “the government will take every measure to prevent the disease from spreading further.” The three cows are part of a herd of 16 all of which will be destroyed if the disease is confirmed and a safety zone will be set up to monitor cattle and control their movement in the area.
If confirmed, it would be the first cases of FMD in Japan since 2000.
Here it comes. The long-awaited compromise bill to reduce U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other GHG’s will be unveiled by a group of senators on April 26.
The legislation is being drafted by Democratic Senator John Kerry, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman. It is expected to face stiff opposition from lawmakers in states with economies heavily dependent on oil and coal. But backers of the legislation are optimistic that a vote on the measure could come as early as June or July.
It is still unclear what the final language will look like. An independent source told Reuters last week that the measure would prohibit the EPA from regulating CO2 emissions under the clean air act. EPA’s move to control greenhouse gases is a major concern for many Ag organizations.
It is also widely held that the measure will not include a cap and trade system like that of the House climate bill.
Last week, corn planting had barely started in the Corn Belt.
Now, almost a fifth of the crop is in the ground overall, and with a warm, dry forecast for the majority of this week, farmers expect making even greater strides toward completion.
As of Sunday, 19% of the corn crop was planted, compared to 3% a week ago. Major strides were made in the heart of the Corn Belt: In Illinois, 34% of the crop is in the ground this week compared to 1% a week ago. Similar progress was made in Iowa, Missouri and Indiana. Still, states like Ohio and Nebraska remain in the single-digits, progress-wise.
In Colorado, drier conditions gave farmers 5 days in the field. Despite higher temps and average moisture little progress was made in planting corn. Last week planting reached 3 percent complete compared with 7 percent last year and 6 percent for the 5-year average. Growers made progress planting sugarbeets last week with 21 percent in the ground by the end of the week.
In the livestock sector, USDA estimates that 81% of Colorado cows were calved out, and 71% of ewes have lambed in the last week. Pasture and range conditions were rated mostly good to fair across the state.
Formal debate on the 2012 farm bill begins Wednesday when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appears before the House Agriculture Committee. Momentum will continue to build from there with academics and economists set to testify next week.
In May, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) takes the show on the road, with hearings planned for Des Moines, Iowa; Boise, Idaho; Fresno, Calif.; and Cheyenne, Wyo. Farm Bureau and other farm groups are expected to testify before the ag panel in June or July.
Peterson has made it clear that he expects finding financial resources for farm programs will be tougher for the 2012 farm bill as Congress wrestles with ways to cut a ballooning federal deficit.
On Friday, Peterson said he is starting the process early “to get people thinking ahead of time on where we should be going in the future.”
Peterson said he wants the next farm bill to continue to offer a safety net for commercial farmers who produce most of the nation’s food. He is asking farm groups if there is a more productive way of providing a safety net.
Mark Schumacher (left) is the rafter behind HB 1188. Lee Spann, a rancher, fears the consequences of the measure to property rights and fishing interests.
Until recently, an uneasy truce existed between rafters and landowners. But that truce quickly disintegrated this year over a bill introduced in the legislature that would bolster rafters’ rights to float through private property.
Women’s “Ag-Vocates” for Agriculture
Lowell Family Farm, Castle Rock/Centennial
April 30-May 1, 2010
Wine Country Inn, Palisade
May 7-8, 2010
Would you like to become an Ag-Vocate for Agriculture? We need people to support the ag industry! This fun conference will help you build skills to promote agriculture in a variety of ways — from Facebook and Twitter to building verbal communication skills.
Join us in one of two locations, for a low registration price of $40.00. Whether you are in the ag industry or not, you can help support farmers and ranchers and the Colorado Way of Life! Conferences are two half days.
- Making Change Easier to Digest – a fun workshop developed around celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver.
- You Tube and Twitter and Facebook, Oh My! – learn the fundamentals and ways to support agriculture through social media.
- Building Ag-Vocates for Agriculture – Trainers from the American Farm Bureau will help you build communication skills, utilizing techniques and creating opportunities to share our story. Have fun while learning about other’s ag operations.
- Federal Programs Benefitting Women in Ag.
- What can a Women’s Committee Accomplish?
- Farm Safety Demonstrations – Protecting the Ones We Love the Most!
For registration information, contact Patty Kenny, email@example.com, 303-749-7506
Maurine Rettig, firstname.lastname@example.org, 970-434-4128
Susan Leach, email@example.com, 719-768-3266
Or your local county farm bureau representative.
U.S. beef exports in 2010 have been bolstered by a sharp increase in sales to Russia.
U.S. Meat Export Federation vice president Thad Lively says beef exports to Russia are at levels not seen since mid-2008, a year in which exports to Russia reached a record 95 million dollars. Lively says one factor is a continuing recovery in the Russian economy.
Russia is normally a mainstay market for beef liver and other variety meats. But Lively says the real difference recently has the increase in muscle cut demand.
“What was different in 2008—and what we see, at least for the first quarter of 2010,” he says, “is that we’ve got significant cuts from the hind quarter—mainly round cuts—moving into Russia.”
Growth Energy’s new television ads for ethanol received positive reviews at a “commercial premiere” event in Denver this week.
CFB’s Crystal Korrey attended the event and is excited about the ad campaign.
“This is the first ever national TV ad campaign for the ethanol industry. With simple encouraging messaging Growth Energy is helping to show the nation the need for this sensible fuel,” she said.
The campaign is entitled “America’s Fuel”. Six different 15-second commercials focus on ethanol’s benefits, including job creation, cleaner air and the strengthening of America’s national and economic security.
Growth Energy is spending two-point-five million dollars on the six month campaign, which includes major cable networks such as Fox News, CNN, HLN and MSNBC.
You can also view all the ads on You Tube.