In a major court victory for AFBF and other farm organizations, a unanimous federal court of appeals has ruled that EPA cannot require livestock farmers to apply for Clean Water Act permits unless their farms actually discharge manure into U.S. waters.
The ruling was welcomed by Farm Bureau, the National Pork Producers Council and several other agriculture groups that filed suit against EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
“For the second time, a U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that EPA’s authority is limited by the Clean Water Act to jurisdiction over only actual discharges to navigable waters, not potential discharges,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “We are pleased that the federal courts have again reined in EPA’s unlawful regulation of livestock operations under the Clean Water Act. The court has affirmed that EPA, like other federal agencies, can only regulate where it has been authorized by Congress to do so.”
In the ruling issued Tuesday, the 5th Circuit concluded: “The CWA provides a comprehensive liability scheme and the EPA’s attempt to supplement this scheme is in excess of its statutory authority.”
Egg producers in Washington are working to prempt HSUS and its planned ballot measure to limit the food choice of citizens in the state. Two bills which carry bipartisan support are working their way through the Washington legislature would establish minimum standards for egg laying hen farms.
The bills would codify the United Egg Producer production and housing standards into Washington law. The program addresses such issues as hen space requirements, air quality, handling standards, hen treatment and facility requirements.
Kiasa Kuykendall, of Stiebrs Farms in Yelm, Wash., told the senators the HSUS asked her farm to go 100 percent cage-free. About 5 percent of her farm’s eggs are from cage-free hens.
“The proposed ban (on cages) would go against the customers. We would not survive,” she said.
A workshop entitled “CORRALing a Foreign Animal Disease” will help inform cattlemen on the implications of a foreign animal disease outbreak and what the response efforts by state and local authorities might look like. The workshop is also intended to help better prepare cattlemen for responding to and preventing a disease or other emergency incident.
The workshop is sponsored by the El Paso County Farm Bureau and CSU Extension along with Calhan Veterinary Clinic and El Paso Soil Conservation. Speakers will include officials from the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Rapid Response for Agriculture and Livestock (CORRAL) system.
The event will take place on February 5th at 10:00 am at the El Paso County Fairgrounds. Please RSVP to the Calhan Vet Clinic by Feb. 3rd. Call 719-347-2702.
Jason and his wife Rachel farm south of Limon where they raise wheat, sunflowers, proso, sorghum feed, grass hay, cattle and show pigs.
Jason Vermillion, Vice President of the Lincoln County Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors, has been appointed to the AFBF Swine Commodity Advisory Committee by AFBF President Bob Stallman. Vermillion, a fifth generation farmer, will represent the interests of hog producers in the western region of the United States throughout his two year term.
He and his wife, Rachel, recently won the Excellence in Agriculture award and will travel to the AFBF Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in January to represent Colorado Farm Bureau in the national Excellence in Agriculture competition.
Vermillion is the second Colorado Farm Bureau YF&R members to be appointed to an AFBF Committee. Nathan Weathers was appointed to the AFBF YF&R Committee earlier this month.
Scientists with the Agriculture Department’s Agriculture Research Service have identified the primary site where the virus that causes foot-and-mouth disease begins infection in cattle.
The discovery could lead to development of new vaccines to control and potentially eradicate FMD, a highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals that is considered the most economically devastating livestock disease in the world.
The discovery was made by scientists at the ARS Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center at Orient Point, N.Y. Researchers found that after just six hours of exposure to the FMD virus through the cow’s nasal passages, the virus selectively infects epithelial cells in the nasopharynx, a specific region of the back of the throat.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told poultry and meat industry representatives on Monday that USDA will conduct a more thorough cost benefit analysis of new livestock marketing rules proposed by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).
Vilsack declined to speculate how long the review process would take, but said the rule as published June 22 was a draft and could be extensively changed before being finalized.
Industry groups weighed in extensively with their concerns about the proposals during an extended comment period which ended Nov. 22, including criticizing the lack of an adequate economic analysis in the proposed rule.
“A serious and robust analysis of the economic impact of the proposed GIPSA rule is long overdue,” said NCC Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Bill Roenigk. “The rule will have a profound, far-reaching and costly impact on the poultry and livestock industries, and it should not have been put forth without an appropriate analysis of its impact on farmers and ranchers, industry, and consumers.”
The governor of Nebraska is sending a strong message to the Humane Society of the United States—if the animal rights group goes after the state’s livestock industry, it’s in for a fight.
“The Humane Society of the United States is anti-agriculture and they’re out to destroy animal agriculture—and if they want to come to Nebraska, we’re going to fight them and we’re going to beat them,” Heineman says. “Agriculture is the number one industry in this state. It’s what makes our economy so strong. I’m going to stand tall and this is a fight we won’t shy away from.”
In an interview with Brownfield after his speech to the Nebraska Cattlemen’s group in Kearney, Heineman made it clear that compromise is not an option.
“In Nebraska, no deal, no compromise—we’re going to stand up, we’re going to beat them,” he says. “They’d be better off going somewhere else because they’re going to lose if they stay in Nebraska.”
HSUS has recently become more active in Nebraska, hiring a state director and holding a town hall meeting in Lincoln.
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.
One thing is certain, dairy farmers throughout the nation hope folks drink a lot of eggnog and eat a lot of cheese balls this holiday season, otherwise they may have very little to celebrate in the new year. John Anderson, American Farm Bureau Federation livestock economist, said skyrocketing feed costs is the big problem.
“Dairy producers certainly are looking at a pretty rough ending to 2010. We’ve kind of got our dairy industry in a classic squeeze for the last month or two of the year with escalating production costs and declining product prices,” Anderson said.
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.
The state is planning to test up to 3,000 cattle in northern Wyoming for brucellosis. The testing began Wednesday after preliminary tests indicated the disease was found in three cows in a Park County herd. State Veterinarian Jim Logan says Thursday the three cows were being offered for sale at a livestock market when they were found possibly to have brucellosis. Additional lab work is being done to confirm the initial results.
Logan says the herd the cattle came from shares a large grazing allotment with up to nine other herds. The presence of the disease within the herd — if confirmed through further testing — could result in additional testing requirements for Wyoming livestock producers and strict adherence to quarantine procedures to keep the state from losing its federal brucellosis-free status.
Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can cause pregnant bison, cattle and elk to abort their fetuses.
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.
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.
From the blog Animal Wrongs…Debunking the Animal Rights Campaign of Misinformation
Check out this interesting and informative lecture given at a TED talk. Christien Meindertsma, author of “Pig 05049″ looks at the astonishing afterlife of the ordinary pig, parts of which make their way into at least 187 non-pork products, from bullets to artificial hearts.
New research from the Center for Food Integrity shows most consumers are twice as likely to believe the Humane Society of the United States and People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals over farm organizations when it comes to humane treatment of farm animals.
The research was released Wednesday at the CFI’s Food Summit, held in Chicago. The Web-based survey was completed by 2,002 respondents selected to reflect the overall composition of the population.
After HSUS and PETA, farm animal veterinarians, the Agriculture Department and university experts ranked next, followed by state and national farm organizations and small livestock farmers. Large-scale livestock farmers ranked last in animal welfare credibility.
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.
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.
You know when you’re driving along a desolate western highway, and you see one of those resilient plants, uprooted by the wind and blown between counties, come to rest in the embrace of a rusty old barbed wire fence? That’s Yuri Chicovsky. A tumbleweed. Who is, until the next big storm, stuck happily between a sagebrush and a strange place. He’s an artist and a teacher and now he’s making his first film.
The upcoming film, “Fortification” gets its name from Fortification Valley near Craig, CO and documents the lives of Northwestern Colorado sheepmen . Yuri describes the documentary film as the movie that will “Change the way you look at sheep, men with moustaches, and guts.” When asked, he also says the movie is about “the smell of sagebrush.” The film also features long time CFB member Albert Villard.
To get the project off the ground Yuri needs your help. His film needs to raise $11,000 in short order. You can help make sure this documentary film about a unique aspect of Colorado agriculture is completed by helping to fund the project. Go to the film’s fundraising site on Kickstarter.com to contribute today!
The Colorado Horse Development Authority is bringing together industry experts in a two-day event. The Colorado Horseman’s Convention will take place October 29-30, 2010 at the National Western Complex in Denver, Colo. The event will be educational and bring opportunities of networking to the horse industry.
Speakers will talk about horseman’s concerns dealing with ownership, participation in the horse industry and tough economic times. For more information, please go to www.ColoradoHorseCouncil.com.
The Colorado Farm Bureau, along with 11 other state Farm Bureaus in AFBF’s Western Region, today petitioned the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to intervene in defending two agencies against a lawsuit over grazing fees on federal land. Two environmental groups, the Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity are the named plaintiffs in the suit.
The case, filed against the BLM and US. Forest Service seeks a court order to require agencies to reconsider how grazing fees are calculated and to perform environmental impact analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, (NEPA) prior to issuing grazing permits each year. Attempts have been made to use Congress to change the permit fee in the past but those efforts have ultimately failed.
According to Troy Bredenkamp, Executive Vice President of Colorado Farm Bureau, the effort seeks to increase the cost of permits and also slow down their approval process. “If the plaintiffs are successful, the Forest Service and the BLM would have to conduct an environmental impact study for every permit they issue, every year. This will raise costs to the governing agencies and also potentially cause delays in the permitting process. ”
HumaneWatch brought our attention this morning to a YouTube video which shows Dr. Ron DeHaven, the Executive Vice President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), speaking last August. Mr. DeHaven takes the Humane Society of the United States, and specifically HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle, to task for favoring scare tactics and emotionalism over science and real expertise in the horse processing debate:
“Tugging on peoples’ heartstrings to raise money is easy, finding real solutions to animal welfare concerns and the challenges that go with them, is not easy.”
The Food and Drug Administration is poised to issue its strongest guidelines ever on animal antibiotics as a means to reduce what it considers a clear risk to human health, the New York Timesreports today. The guidelines are expected to end the use of antibiotics for animal growth and call for tighter oversight by veterinarians.
“The agency’s final version is expected within months, and comes at a time when animal confinement methods, safety monitoring and other aspects of so-called factory farming are also under sharp attack. The federal proposal has struck a nerve among major livestock producers, who argue that a direct link between farms and human illness has not been proved. The producers are vigorously opposing it even as many medical and health experts call it too timid,” according to the Times article.
“There is no conclusive scientific evidence that antibiotics used in food animals have a significant impact on the effectiveness of antibiotics in people,” according to the National Pork Producers Council.
In a world where the importance of a high-protein diet is widely recognized, consumers value the meat they eat and recognize the role it plays in keeping them healthy and strong, according to Darrin Ihnen, president of the National Corn Growers Association, who said many people don’t understand the role of grain in livestock production.
“At National Corn Growers Association, many of our grower-leaders, myself included, have livestock feeding operations,” said Ihnen. “I see the value every say of using corn as a natural, healthy and nutritious feed for our animals. Likewise, as someone involved in the industry, I see a lot of the myths that are out there about grain feed.”
The Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues issued a study in 2007 that found that beef produced with grains produces 40 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and saves two-thirds more land for nature compared to organic grass-fed beef. When people are concerned about acreage and land use, that’s a good thing.
The annual Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Junior Livestock Sale at the Colorado State Fair is the largest event of its kind in Colorado and the championship event for the state’s 4-H and FFA youth. According to preliminary totals, the 2010 sale accumulated approximately $359,675 from the state’s most dedicated bidders.
DTN reports that the 2010 Iowa grand champion steer was a clone of the animal that won the same event in 2008. The crossbred steer was shown by Tyler Faber of Sioux Center, Iowa. According to the DTN report, Faber’s father, David Faber, is president of Trans Ova, a livestock production company in Sioux Center. The cloned steer was produced by Bovance, a joint venture between Trans Ova and the cloning firm ViaGen.
The winning steer at the 2010 Iowa State Fair 4-H Market Beef Show is a clone of the steer crowned champion at the Iowa State Fair in 2008
Iowa 4-H livestock superintendent Mike Anderson says show officials found out the animal was cloned on Friday, after the steer had won the grand champion award two days earlier. Anderson says 4-H has no rule preventing clones from being shown—and he doesn’t think 4-H would create a rule on cloning because there’s no way for them to determine whether an animal is a clone.
A very solid June performance allowed U.S. pork and beef exports to finish the first half of 2010 with strong momentum. According to statistics released by USDA and compiled by USMEF, pork exports of 361.6 million pounds were 24 percent higher than June 2009. Pork export value was $316.4 million, up 34 percent. June beef exports were 25 percent above year-ago volumes, totaling 212.9 million pounds while the value in June was up 37 percent to $377.6 million.
Beef export volume reached 1.09 billion pounds – up 14 percent over the first half of 2009. Export value has fared even better, rising 22 percent to $1.83 billion. Export value per steer and heifer slaughtered was $139, compared to less than $115 last year. The percentage of total production exported increased from 10 percent to 11 percent.
One drag on U.S. export markets in the first half of the year is Cuba. U.S. exports to Cuba dropped 28 percent for the first six months of 2010, to roughly $220 million, due to severe economic problems on the island nation, according to the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Economic Trade Council.
U.S. exports to Cuba dropped 28 percent for the first six months of 2010, to roughly $220 million, due to severe economic problems on the island nation, according to the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Economic Trade Council.
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.”
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.