The High Plains Journal reported Colorado State University veterinarians’ recommendation to vaccinate livestock and horses against rabies due to an increased number of infected skunks in the state.
Increased infected wildlife is creating concern and imposing a need for precaution. Although bats have spread the disease for years, the increase in other wildlife infections is cause for preventative actions to be taken. The High Plains Journal reported the increased skunk infection has lead to additional livestock cases as well as a significantly increased risk rate.
CSU veterinarians recommend horses and livestock, particularly pet livestock such as llamas and alpacas, be vaccinated once a year, and also recommend vaccination of commercial production livestock in locations where there is high skunk activity. CSU veterinarians also strongly encourage all companion pet owners to vaccinate their cats and dogs. All warm-blooded animals, including humans, can be infected with rabies.
Agriculture awareness is becoming an ever critical component of our daily lives. Unfortunately, there some organizations are out to portray the most negative image of agriculture possible. The Humane Society of the United States released an undercover video today showing alleged animal abuse and food safety problems at Cal-Marine Foods, the nation’s largest egg producer.
For 28 days concluding this month, an HSUS undercover investigator was employed at one of Cal-Maine’s two egg farms in Waelder, Texas. The HSUS report details brutalities and conditions that would make anyone shudder. The Texas Farm Bureau commented, “the small number of producers who abuse the privilege of raising and caring for food animals give a black eye to those who do it right. There is no excuse for animal cruelty. Individual producers should adopt a zero tolerance policy and work to get those who abuse animals out of business.”
It is because of these blatant attempts to bully the agriculture industry that we as agriculturists must stand together and share our story. Sites like Conversation Care and Feedstuffs (to name a few) are taking a step in sharing the heartfelt stories of how we as agriculturists really care. Here at the Farm Bureau, we are dedicated to protecting and advocating agriculture. Now, we need you. Take a minute and write a letter to your editor, comment on a blog post or visit with someone at the gas station in town. Let’s stand together and share the real image of agriculture: an industry that cares and works hard for the consumer.
USDA has submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission to support development of the National Broadband Plan based on USDA’s considerable experience in financing broadband projects in rural areas. The FCC is implementing the plan to guide broadband deployment nationwide.
“Robust economic growth and job creation in rural America depend on the quality and reach of broadband networks, where distance and density restrain economic activity,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Broadband networks create economic opportunity and open unparalleled access to health care, educational, cultural and public safety services essential for over 50 million Americans who live in rural areas.”
Agriculture Resumes its Infighting
The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the American Meat Institute joined other groups in filing a lawsuit Tuesday against EPA to overturn the agency’s decision to allow a higher ethanol blend in gasoline. The groups said EPA overstepped its authority in allowing cars built in 2007 and later to burn E15 or gasoline with a blend of 15 percent ethanol.
In its filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals, the groups said EPA “clearly exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act” and “the agency has a legal obligation to adhere to the letter and spirit of the Clean Air Act and, in this case, has failed to do so.”
The American Farm Bureau is a proponent of the blend increase ruling. “Ethanol is a clean-burning, home-grown renewable fuel. Increasing the percentage of ethanol in the domestic gasoline supply moves our nation one step closer to greater energy independence,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “It also promotes job creation in rural America.”
The California Supreme Court could be requested to rule on the constitutionality of the state’s ballot initiative process. It’s highly unlikely, but if the court were to rule that the process is unconstitutional, all ballot initiatives adopted over the last 100 years could be declared invalid, including the 2008 ballot initiative on animal housing, Proposition 2, better known as “Prop 2.” Prop 2 requires that all farm animals in California, “for all or the majority of any day,” not be confined or tethered in a manner that prevents them from lying down, standing up, turning around or fully extending their limbs without touching another animal or an enclosure such as a cage or stall.
Farmers and ranchers would face burdensome federal regulatory control if provisions of a restrictive Senate water bill make it through the “lame duck” session of Congress, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
AFBF and a coalition of other groups are vowing to oppose any effort to attach the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act (S. 1816) to any bill that might be addressed during the lame duck session.
“While carrying a title that suggests it is limited in scope, provisions of this bill would have drastic negative impacts on agriculture,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The bill makes sweeping changes to the Clean Water Act and sets adverse water policy precedents that would impact watersheds throughout the nation.”
According to Stallman, the bill strips state and local governments within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed of their authority under the Clean Water Act and grants it instead to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Bigger federal government and expanded federal authority is not in the best interest of our nation,” Stallman said. “By granting EPA the authority to issue what are called Total Maximum Daily Loads without allowing states the opportunity to address water issues, this bill would give EPA greater control over land-use decisions that should be made at the local level.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is expected to add up to 16 million more Medicaid enrollees and expand eligibility for families. Although the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of the newly eligible, newly enrolled populations and 95 percent of the costs through 2019, hidden costs will strain already tight state budgets.
Th Beef Board says consumers increasingly see modern agriculture and cattle production as “factory farming” and are looking for strategies to counter this perception.
One of the tools activists use to denigrate modern agriculture is the term “factory farming,” which British writer Ruth Harrison first used in 1964 in her book Animal Machines to describe her perceptions of modern farming practices in Great Britain.
In recent years, the reference to “factory farming” has been used with increasing frequency in both conventional and online/social media to signify anything and everything that activists see as bad in livestock and poultry production, including animal suffering, excessive use of antibiotics and hormones and environmental and food safety problems, according to an analysis by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.
In response, the board conducted a beef checkoff-funded study to determine the extent to which the term factory farming has infiltrated the public psyche. Noting that “it isn’t what people don’t know that causes problems; it’s what they do know that isn’t true,” the board explained that the objective of the study was to determine how linked the factory farming term is to beef production and how to counter negative associations.
From the USDA Agriculture Research Service: A group of agricultural scientists reported in today’s issue of the journal Science that corn that has been genetically engineered to produce insect-killing proteins isolated from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) provides significant economic benefits even to neighboring farmers who grow non-transgenic varieties of corn.
“Modern agricultural science is playing a critical role in addressing many of the toughest issues facing American agriculture today, including pest management and productivity,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This study provides important information about the benefits of biotechnology by directly examining how area-wide suppression of corn borers using Bt corn can improve yield and grain quality even of non-Bt varieties.”
USDA recently launched a school lunch recipe contest that excludes meat from the recipe categories. That move, along with the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendation to move to a plant-based diet, is sending the wrong message to consumers, says Kristina Butts, director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).
Butts encourages grassroots consumers and producers to submit recipes to USDA showcasing how lean beef compliments vegetables and fruits. “USDA never specified that they won’t accept meat recipes but failed to include a specific category for the protein,” she says. “We have plenty of well-balanced recipes that include beef, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. We encourage our members to step up and show beef working in a healthy diet.”
GIPSA, the federal agency responsible for issuing regulations that govern contracting, buying and selling of livestock and poultry has written new rules that- if finalized- would drastically change the way that producers, packers, dealers and contractors raise, buy, and sell livestock and poultry.
The National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas is hosting a series of workshops, including a webinar, for poultry and livestock producers. At these workshops, staff attorneys will provide an overview of GIPSA’s proposed rule changes for poultry and livestock, review the UDSA rule-making process, explain how to submit comments on the proposed rules, and include a question and answer session. The webinar will be hosted via eXtension for participants around the country. All workshops and Webinar are free and open to the public.
Date: Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010
Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (CST)
Additional information can be found at the National Agricultural Law Center homepage.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday that USDA will pay farmers and ranchers some $3.8 billion in final 2010 direct payments and $1.6 billion in annual Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) rental payments during October.
“October is an important production month because CRP rental payments, direct and counter-cyclical payments (DCP), and now Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) payments are paid during this first month of the federal fiscal year,” Vilsack explained. “These funds support the agricultural economy and responsible stewardship of America’s production acreage.”
Beginning Oct. 12, final direct payments for the DCP and ACRE programs will be made to more than 1.1 million producers enrolled in these programs. Participants in DCP or ACRE had the option of receiving a 22 percent advance direct payment when the farm was enrolled or delaying the direct payment until after the end of the fiscal year. ACRE revenue payments are scheduled to be made at a later time.
Animal welfare is a hot topic in agriculture news right now and Temple Grandin is on the forefront of animal behavior. After an award winning video release, Temple Grandin shares her thoughts on revolutionizing animal welfare in U.S. agriculture with Agri-Pulse. Her comments can be found at the Agri-Pulse.
Farmers can receive sizable tax write-offs under the small-business law that was signed by President Barack Obama on Monday. The new law raised the threshold on Section 179 expenses from the current limit of $250,000 to $500,000 for tax years beginning in 2010 and 2011. In the past, this deduction did not apply to purchases exceeding $800,000, but the new threshold was raised to $2 million.
With commodity prices rebounding and relatively high crop yields, some farmers are expected to take advantage of the tax benefit. “Now a lot of grain can be reported as farm equipment on the tax return,” said CPA Andy Biebl, a principal with Larson Allen in Minneapolis.
AFBF supported passage of the small-business law
No country has disrupted grain markets over the years more dramatically than Russia — perpetrator of the infamous “great grain robbery,” when the Soviet Union secretly bought up a quarter of U.S. wheat stocks after a poor harvest in 1971.
Even with the embargo, USDA estimates food prices will rise 15 percent in Russia over the next year. Clayton Yeutter, who served as secretary of agriculture in the first Bush administration, calls the embargo “singularly unhelpful” in a period of economic uncertainty.
Even as prices rise, China and India are sitting on very large wheat stocks — a reflection of policies heavily tilted toward protecting domestic consumers. India’s surplus stocks are twice the government’s desired level and China’s amount to 43 percent of its total yearly grain production, according to USDA estimates. China has discouraged exports since 2008 and imported some wheat this year. Indian exports are negligible because the government has been supporting the price of wheat paid to farmers at above the world price.
Yesterday, a group of US Representatives wrote a detailed letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opposing the July 2010 proposed Particulate Matter (PM) standards. Lawmakers state the proposed policy assessment, “lays the foundation for establishing the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation’s history. We urge the EPA to refrain from going down this path.” The letter goes on to read that scientific studies are “ambiguous” in support of the regulation tightening and thus can not be used as foundational support.
The letter represents additional push back from lawmakers. Last week members on the Senate Ag Committee questioned EPA Administrator Jackson about whether her agency “has it in” for American Ag.
Lawmakers respect efforts for clean and health environment, but do not support and find scientific evidence to not support the need for revising the dust standard. Tightening dust regulations will only hurt the rural communities, not benefit them. Some seventy-five US House members, including Colorado Representatives Betsy Markey and Mike Coffeman, signed the letter to Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA.
Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack believes antibiotics are being used appropriately. His views are strongly opposed by lead House of Representative proponent to Preservations of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), Rep. Louise Slaughter. Vilsack supports that antibiotics need to be used judiciously and already are being used judiciously by producers. “It doesn’t make sense,” he remarks about the PAMTA proposal.
We need the use of antibiotics in agriculture production. If we are to meet the needs of a growing and hungry population, we cannot limit the resources that are keeping food safe, wholesome and affordable to consumers.
Corn Prices hit a two year high at the close of markets on Friday. Estimates of the size of this year’s crop are being cut an pushing prices up even higher according to MeatingPlace.com. Prices closed in Fridays market at $5.12 to $5.32 a bushel according to data collected by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
The rising corn prices pushed protein stock prices down. As much as a 2.73% decrease in protein stocks has been seen with the increase in corn prices.
DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom reported that, “The United Fresh Produce Association is urging passage of a child nutrition bill by Sept. 30 that would increase purchases of fruits and vegetables for the child nutrition program, but the prospects are complicated by disagreements in the House of Representatives and among advocates over how to pay for the bill.
“The House leadership is trying to figure out whether to bring the child nutrition bill to the floor before the child nutrition programs expire on Sept. 30, but House members and nutrition and anti-huger advocates disagree over whether to offset the cost of the bill by using a $4.5 billion cut in food stamps over 10 years that the Senate used to pass the same bill unanimously this summer. Under congressional budgetary rules, an increase in one program must be offset by a decrease in another program.”
Media attention to animal welfare issues corresponds to lower demands for meat both in that quarter and the following quarter, according to an economic analysis from Kansas State University.
The researchers created an index of stories about animal welfare presented in top U.S. newspapers and magazines from 1982 to 2008 for the analysis. All indices (pork, poultry and beef) have gone up in recent years. Media attention to pork and poultry welfare issues was linked to reduced pork and poultry demand in an economic model that included these indices.
Beef demand did not seem to be directly related to increased media attention, but the industry is not immune, the researchers wrote.
“In particular, this study found increased media attention caused a reallocation of expenditures to nonmeat food rather than reallocating expenditure across competing meat products,” the report says, adding that the pork, poultry and beef industries are at risk if consumers respond to increased media coverage by cutting back on their total meat purchases
The Senate today completed work on H.R. 5297, the Small Business Jobs Act. The bill passed 61 to 38.
During consideration the Senate defeated an amendment (41-58) offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to extend tax incentives for biodiesel and renewable biodiesel for one year, through 2010. Tax incentives for biodiesel expired at the end of 2009. Farm Bureau is on record in support of the extension of biodiesel tax incentives. The amendment needed a two thirds majority for passage.
The bill as passed includes:
- Increase of Section 179 Expensing;
- Extension of Bonus Depreciation;
- Deductibility of Health Insurance Against Self-Employment Tax;
- Improvements to Disaster Recovery to Include Aquaculture;
- Small Business Export Promotion;
- Enhanced Small Business Trade Opportunities; and
- Increased Deduction for Start-up Expenditures.
The last two years have been nothing but hard hits on the national image of agriculture. Michael Pollan’s string of best-sellers and emotionally captivating movies like Food, Inc., and King Corn are feeding consumers with false negative images of modern agriculture and agriculturists have had enough! Farm and public relation groups are taking an initiative to put truth into the consumer’s image of modern agriculture.
Billboards and magazine advertisements were spotted with “milk mustaches” not very long ago. The successful campaign significantly promoted the dairy image. “Milk Mustache” mastermind Tip Tipton is on board to try and bring similar positive campaigning to the entire agriculture industry.
Although agricultural commodities have been on the rise this summer, the United States Department of Agriculture expects an unusually tame food-price inflation.
The consumer-price index for food is expected to rise only 0.5% to 1.5% this year; the smallest increase since 1992. Comparatively, wheat, corn and soybean prices have seen increases over the summer months.
Although generally it takes several months for commodity prices to reach super markets, it appears that the USDA is not forecasting these commodity increases to significantly affect supper market prices. The inability of the U.S. economy to pick up steam prompted the USDA to lower its forecast by one percentage point from the range of 1.5% to 2.5% it calculated a month ago.
Texas AgriLife Research scientists have discovered a resistance gene to one of the most plaguing wheat viruses today. Studying a Colorado wheat variety, scientists identified the gene providing resistance to wheat streak mosaic virus.
The virus is one of the most common wheat viruses found in the 75 million acres of wheat in the US. Wheat curl mite is the vector of this plaguing virus; no chemicals are labeled to control the mite, making gene resistance to the virus a significant discovery.
The research included study of Kansas wheat variety RonL, Nebraska variety Mace as well as TAM 11 and TAM 112. Dr. Jackie Rudd, wheat breeder of the AgriLife Research team, said wheat has 21 pairs of chromosomes and one of those has potential resistant to wheat streak mosaic virus. The Wsm2 gene as it will now be called, offers scientists the potential to develop resistant wheat varieties much quicker through accelerated breeding and increased resistance levels.
Agriculture producers will have the opportunity to get up-to-date on dry bean developments during the Colorado Dry Bean Field Day. Colorado State University and the Colorado Dry Bean Administrative Committee will hold a Dry Bean Field Day at three sites in eastern Colorado on Aug. 24.
The program starts at 8:30 a.m. on a farm near Lucerne. This site features one of the two Colorado dry bean trials featuring 36 different pinto bean varieties and experimental lines from the western United States. The varieties are from Colorado State University, University of Idaho, North Dakota State University and four private seed companies.
Participants will see the newest dry bean varieties, tour research plots and hear the most recent information on agronomic, disease and pest control practices for dry bean production in Colorado.
Last week a group of bipartisan senators requested information from the EPA about why E15 has not been approved. Some answers are finally filtering through. After a meeting with EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and a Department of Energy (DOE) official on Monday a few answers were revealed.
The EPA’s request for additional testing of the engine effects from fuel with 15% ethanol was prompted, according to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) because the EPA expects to be sued by opponents of E15. Environmentalists have teamed up with small engine manufacturers and the oil industry and are expected to sue the EPA. The collection of additional data is to ensure E15 can remain in the market once it is opened.
Senators were also encouraged to hear evaluation of E20 is also being conducted by the DOE. Such evaluations could provide the EPA with the basis to approve E20 and E15. However, it will take some time and higher blends will likely not be available to consumers until sometime in 2011.
Bacon lovers in the U.S. are feeling the results of herd reduction and market decreases. Wholesale pork bellies are up 72 percent in the past year to $1.43 a pound, the highest price since at least 1998. Warehouse stockpiles, monitored by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, tumbled 73 percent in the last year.
Prices usually climb in August, when tomatoes are ready for harvest in the Midwest and more people eat bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, said Altin Kalo, a commodity analyst for Steiner Consulting Group. While pork bellies will probably fall later this year as demand slows, the costs will be records for each month through year-end because of tight supplies, he said.
“What you have with bacon is what economists call inelastic demand, meaning it doesn’t vary much,” said Chris Hurt, a livestock economist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. “If a person wants a BLT sandwich and likes that in summer when their patio tomatoes come on, then it doesn’t make a difference if bacon is $2 a pound or $6 a pound. They’re going to go out and buy it. When it’s in short supply and a lot of people want it, they’ll pay a higher price.”
Wheat farmers are smiling all the way to the elevator this year. Good crops and higher prices wrap up this season’s harvest. Instead of storing wheat, farmers are taking advantage of a higher price.
Wheat prices are sitting at a 22-month high. As wheat harvest began, farmers groaned at the mere $3.50 per bushel wheat price. Now, farmers are pleased to sell their harvested crop at the high $5.30 per bushel price.
Drought conditions in overseas areas have pushed the substantial price rise in US markets. In ths case, one man’s misfortune is the other’s gain. Nearly one fifth of Russia’s crop is destroyed as a result of drastic drought conditions. According to 9 News, Russia is expected to cut wheat exports by at least 30 percent which means good prices for US farmers.
The Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service introduced an enhanced system of electronic reporting for cattle pricing last month, as mandated by the 2008 farm bill. AMS developed the “Cattle Dashboard” to add an improved user interface, including tools for data visualization, to its primary Internet-based portal. The Cattle Dashboard feature is available on the AMS website, by clicking here.
The Cattle Dashboard allows users to see weekly volume and price information presented in graphs and tables that can be customized for viewing and downloaded for use in reports and presentations. It provides a user-friendly format that can be readily understood by producers, packers and other market participants.
The Cattle Dashboard concept will be expanded to other species as resources allow.
After twenty three years of rising costs, farmers finally get a taste of relief. Farm production expenditures decreased by nearly $20 billion last year according to the Farm Production Expenditures 2009 summary released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). After expenses set a record high in 2008, the decline is a welcomed change by farmers.