Daily Archives: February 20, 2006

Johanns: no farm bill extension

Johanns: no farm bill extension

Feb 17, 2006 8:37 AM

By Forrest Laws, Delta Farm Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns says he strongly opposes any effort to extend the current farm bill beyond 2007, saying it might send a signal to the WTO that “we are waiting for them to write our farm bill.”

Keeping the farm bill in place for another year or two — a move that appears to appeal to many row crop farmers, particularly in the South — would also be a waste of an opportunity to provide new direction to American agriculture, the secretary said.

“I have said many, many times that the 2002 farm bill was the right policy for its time, but times have changed, which brings me to the question some have raised about extending the farm bill,” he said. “I firmly submit to you that such an extension might be the wrong course for rural America.”

His remarks came during the opening session of USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. A record 1,600 persons registered for the conference.

Johanns said his comments should not be interpreted as any sign of declining enthusiasm on his part for completing the current round of WTO negotiations, which began in Doha, Qatar, in 2001.

“It’s quite the opposite,” he noted. “I want to be very clear about my commitment to bringing the Doha Development Round to a successful conclusion. It’s right for the world, it’s right for the United States and it’s right for American agriculture and for rural America.”

At a press conference following his speech, Johanns said he believes USDA is “well-positioned” to discuss the future of farm policy after conducting 52 farm bill listening forums in 2005. Johanns personally moderated 20 of the sessions.

He noted that the House Agriculture Committee has now held two field hearings and that Sen. Saxby Chambliss, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has said it will hold hearings after the first of the year.

“So I feel very strong that any idea that we simply re-package the farm bill and extend it for a year or two works against all the good effort that is out there and the ideas that have been brought forth,” said Johanns.

A one-year extension of the current law also raises questions about how determined the United States is to bring the Doha Development Round to a conclusion, he said. “I feel very strongly we should stay the course and concentrate on good farm policy.”

Johanns made his first expression of opposition to a one-year extension in response to a question posed by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., at a House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee hearing Feb. 15, the day before the Outlook Forum.

Emerson said many of her farmer constituents favor such an extension because they want to make sure the U.S. government “doesn’t unilaterally disarm” its farm programs before the Doha Round is completed.

She said there’s a suspicion in the farm community that some government officials think the priorities of the European Union and the WTO process “are more important than they are.”


2006 Meat AMI Conference

2006 Meat AMI Conference

March 12-14, Dallas, Texas

The American Meat Institute (AMI) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) will host the 2006 Meat Conference at the Gaylord Texas Resort and Conference Center in Dallas.

The conference, meant to bring together meat and poultry retailers and suppliers, will highlight leadership skills, how to determine consumer needs and future purchasing trends.

For a complete schedule of events, registration details and additional information, visit www.meatconference.com.

Kentucky Alfalfa Conference

Kentucky Alfalfa Conference

Feb. 23, Lexington

The 26th Kentucky Alfalfa Conference moves to Lexington this year, at the Fayette County office of the University of Kentucky (UK) Cooperative Extension Service.

The daylong program will feature alfalfa variety selection, quality and persistence, advances in alfalfa seed coating, successful establishment practices, fertilizing, alfalfa as a grazing crop, storage as round bale silage, moisture management in hay making and storing, and forage quality testing. A panel discussion is also scheduled.

Registration, at $15 per person or $5 per student, includes lunch and conference proceedings. Certified crop advisor (CCA) credits are also available. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the conference starts at 8:45 a.m.

The conference is sponsored by the UK College of Agriculture, UK Cooperative Extension Service, and the Kentucky Forage and Grasslands Council.

For more information contact Garry Lacefield at (270) 365-7541, Ext. 202, or Christi Forsythe at (207) 365-7541, Ext. 221. Visit http://www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage for more information.

Ag Trade Ended 2005 With $3.7 Billion Surplus

Ag Trade Ended 2005 With $3.7 Billion Surplus

P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent, NCBA

Even though the U.S. ended up with a record trade deficit in 2005, ag ended the year with a $3.7-billion trade surplus. USDA says exports totaled $63 billion, about $1.6 billion more than 2004. Imports were $59.3 billion, which was $5.3 billion higher. Export values for fruits, nuts, red meat and poultry meat increased. Meanwhile wheat, corn, cotton and soybeans experienced value declines. The increases in imports were from coffee, malt beverages juices, wine, fruits, nuts and dairy products.

Frustration Growing In U.S. Cattle Industry Over Japan

Frustration Growing In U.S. Cattle Industry Over Japan


KANSAS CITY (Dow Jones)–The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s mea-culpa Friday over mistakes that were made in the shipment of veal to Japan that contained banned spinal column bone irritated a growing frustration within the U.S. cattle industry over the whole issue of getting the market reopened to U.S. beef.

The market was closed Dec. 23, 2003, when the U.S. announced the discovery of its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease, in an imported Washington cow. It was reopened almost two years later in December 2005 but was put on hold when the veal was shipped in January this year.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention in early February that the shipment should not have taken place because those bones were expressly banned in the trade agreement that partially reopened the Japanese market to U.S. beef. It did not matter that the veal was ordered with the bone on, he said.

The growing frustration with Japan’s extra inspections, safety requirements and testing before allowing U.S. beef products into a country that has had 22 cases of its own, along with a 2001 ban on meat and bone meal in cattle feed that falls far short of the U.S.’ 1997 ban was evident among conventioneers.

Many convention attendees expressed a desire to move on and focus U.S. efforts on expanding other export markets. Some even talked of some form of retaliation.

Such conversations resurfaced in the wake of Friday’s USDA release of the report on its investigation into the veal incident.

John Nalivka, president of Sterling Marketing in Vale, Ore., said: “When does the cost (of jumping through Japan’s hoops) excede the benefit? I think we passed it a long time ago.”
Nalivka also warned the U.S. beef industry to refocus its attention on serving up a “quality product” to its largest customer, the U.S. consumer, which consumes 90% or more of its production. He feared that the industry lost its focus on genetics and other production measures that will produce a better eating experience over the last few years.

Artificial demand boosters like low carbohydrate diets combined with a declining herd created profitable conditions for producers, and many may have lost sight of the need to service their customers. This need is becoming increasingly evident with rising pork and chicken production, offering consumers a ready alternative if they aren’t satisfied with the beef they’re getting, he said.

If beef loses its customer base, it could be hard to get them back, Nalivka said.

“It costs more to get a new customer than to maintain the one you’ve got,” he said.

Source: Lester Aldrich, Dow Jones Newswires; 913-322-5179; lester.aldrich@dowjones.com

Re-warming Methods For Cold-stressed Newborn Calves

Re-warming Methods For Cold-stressed Newborn Calves


Recently an Oklahoma rancher called to tell of the success he had noticed in using a warm water bath to revive new born calves that had been severely cold stressed. A quick check of the scientific data on that subject bears out his observation. Canadian animal scientists compared methods of reviving hypothermic or cold stressed baby calves.

Heat production and rectal temperature were measured in 19 newborn calves during hypothermia (cold stress) and recovery when four different means of assistance were provided. Calves suffering from severe hypothermia (86o F rectal temperature) were used to test re-warming methods. Calves were re-warmed in a 68 to 77o F air environment where thermal assistance was provided by added thermal insulation or by supplemental heat from infrared lamps. Other calves were re-warmed by immersion in warm water (100oF), with or without a 40cc drench of 20% ethanol in water. Normal rectal temperatures before cold stress were 103 oF.

The time required to regain normal body temperature from a rectal temperature of 86oF was longer for calves with added insulation and those exposed to heat lamps than for the calves in the warm water and warm water plus ethanol treatments (90 minutes and 92 minutes vs 59 minutes and 63 minutes, respectively). During recovery, the calves re-warmed with the added insulation and heat lamps expended more heat metabolically than the calves re-warmed in warm water.

Total heat expended during recovery was nearly twice as great for the calves with added insulation, exposed to the heat lamps than for calves in warm water and in warm water plus an oral drench of ethanol, respectively. By immersion of hypothermic calves in warm (100 oF) water, normal body temperature was regained most rapidly and with minimal metabolic effort. No advantage was evident from oral administration of ethanol. When immersing these baby calves, do not forget to support the head above the water to avoid drowning the calf that you are trying to save. You also want to dry these calves before returning them to the cold air. Very important and valuable baby calves that are born in extreme cold weather can be saved if re-warmed in time. Source: Robinson and Young. Univ. of Alberta. J. Anim. Sci., 1988.

Source: Glenn Selk, OSU Extension Animal Reproduction Specialist

Feeding corn to beef cows

Feeding corn to beef cows

Farm and Ranch Guide
Thursday, February 16, 2006 11:47 AM CST

BROOKINGS, S.D. – A new publication from South Dakota State University discusses corn as an economic alternative to forages for wintering beef cows.

SDSU Extension Extra 2048, “Feeding corn to beef cows,” is available online at this link: http://agbiopubs.sdstate.edu/articles/ExEx2048.pdf Or inquire at your county Extension office.

SDSU Extension Beef Specialist Cody Wright wrote the four-page publication. Wright discusses corn in beef cow diets as a forage supplement, as well as corn as a forage substitute. The document pays special attention to limit-fed diets, delivery methods, and to the question of how much corn can be included in beef cow diets.

Wright cautioned that the high starch content of corn can reduce the cow’s ability to use forage by as much as 10 to 30 percent as the amount of corn in the diet increases.

A good rule of thumb, Wright said, is to supplement corn at no more than 0.25 percent of body weight. This equates to 2.5 pounds of corn for a 1,000-lb cow, 3 pounds for a 1,200-pound cow, and 3.5 pounds for a 1,400-pound cow. These recommendations are based on whole shelled corn.

Ear corn can be supplemented at slightly higher levels because of reduced energy concentration associated with the cob: 2.75, 3.25, and 3.75 pounds per day for 1,000-, 1,200-, and 1,400-pound cows, respectively. Depending on forage quality and the stage of production and body condition of the cows, supplemental protein may also be required.

Consult the publication or call your Extension livestock educator for more details about using corn as a supplement, or as a substitute for forage.

Watch for winter tetany when feeding drought stressed annual forages

Watch for winter tetany when feeding drought stressed annual forages

NDSU Ext. Beef Cattle Specialist, Animal and Range Sciences Dept.
Thursday, February 16, 2006 11:47 AM CST
Farm and Ranch Guide

Winter tetany is a condition which can develop when feeding a number of different forage types. The condition develops as a result of an imbalance between potassium and calcium and magnesium. This is referred to as the tetany ratio.

Specifically, when the tetany ratio exceeds 2.2, problems can be encountered.

Tetany Ratio = Potassium/(Calcium + Magnesium)

Potassium levels can average 2 to 2.5 percent in many forages but, under certain growing conditions, (e.g. lack of moisture) increase to greater than 4 percent. Magnesium levels in non-legume forages typically average 0.15 to 0.20 percent, but can be as low as 0.05 percent. These levels, coupled with low calcium levels, can predispose cattle to winter tetany. High potassium levels decrease the efficiency of magnesium absorption, predisposing the cow to tetany.

Winter tetany can be seen in cows in gestation or early lactation. Often producers will notice either dead cows or cows which are down with signs of struggling and paddling on the ground around the head and feet.

Cows which have not died may be excitable, uncoordinated, trembling, and staggering. Some cows may show signs similar to milk fever. Older cows tend to be more susceptible than younger cows since they tend to have lower magnesium stores, more difficulty mobilizing these stores, and lowered efficiency of magnesium absorption.

Contact your veterinarian immediately if these symptoms are seen. Treatment includes intravenous or subcutaneous administration of solutions containing magnesium and calcium salts.

If you have high potassium forages, ration changes are recommended. These changes include addition of limestone (a calcium source), addition of magnesium oxide or other sources of magnesium, and lowering the level of high potassium hay. Magnesium oxide is unpalatable and cows will be reluctant to consume high magnesium mineral mixes from a self feeder. In those cases, magnesium oxide needs to be blended with other dietary ingredients to increase palatability or fed as part of a mixed ration to ensure adequate consumption.

Organics purify pastures

Organics purify pastures
Bay realizes benefits
By Joel Banner Baird/staff
Staunton, VA Daily News Leader

Niche marketing or not, the “organic” label is making money for local farmers. Steve Hord of McKinley, who operates Virginia’s only certified organic dairy herd, sells milk for $28 per hundred pounds — almost double the price of milk from standard dairies.

Hord’s enviable status landed on him after a rough patch. His pasture was certified because he couldn’t afford commercial fertilizers and pesticides for the requisite three years.

“I was living one month at a time,” he said. “I prayed a lot. Then I heard about a certified organic Ayrshire herd for sale up in Northern Virginia. I sold my herd and brought those down here. It all happened like I was watching a movie.”

Understandably, Hord’s a believer. He feeds his cattle hay from his own fields and keeps “imported” feed to a minimum.

“Not everyone can farm like this,” he said. “You’ve got to keep records and the labor is more intensive. But the day may have come that a small farmer can actually make a fair living once again.”

His emerging apple crop, his chickens, his eggs — all can fetch premium prices with organic certification.

The health benefits of organic food are both legendary and hotly disputed.

But the evidence is mounting that livestock farms — certified organic or not — benefit their downstream neighbors by improving local pasture forage crop management.

The year 2005 might go down in local history as a watershed year for farm and stream stewardship. In early spring, a widespread fish kill suggested that links between land use and aquatic life had been neglected.

In the months following, wildlife scientists and conservationists have mobilized throughout the Shenandoah River drainage area to assess stream health.

Dairy experts also have weighed in.

Charles Stallings, a Virginia Tech dairy scientist, outlined the economic and environmental advantages of forage grazing to local farmers at a seminar Thursday. A dairy cow’s intake of phosphorus, he said, relates directly to its potential to pollute surface water.

“Our thinking (on cattle nutrient requirements) has changed over the past five years,” he said. “If you’re trying to reduce phosphorus, forage is a good way. It’s a healthier situation for the cow, as opposed to a high-grain diet. It also means you have to have an excellent source of forage.”

Tina Horn, the Augusta County dairy extension agent, said that six more dairies in the area are working toward organic certification. The Horizon Organic dairy plant in Mount Crawford is actively encouraging the trend.

One spin-off seems to be a closer management of local pasture. In the winter, Hord’s cows rely mostly on hay from his own fields because certified organic grain or soybean meal is expensive.

The Valley’s legendary grassland could again prove to be the basis for high-end agricultural products, experts say.

“Pasture-fed organic is about the only way you can make it pencil out,” Horn said.

Originally published February 17, 2006

US claims cattle did not have mad cow disease

US claims cattle did not have mad cow disease

By Eiji Hirose
The Daily Yomiuri/Asian News Network
Publication Date : 2006-02-19

US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said 29 head of so-called downer cattle slaughtered for human consumption could not walk not because they had mad cow disease, but due to injury or other factors, it was learned Saturday (Feb 17).

According to a report released by the US Agriculture Department on Feb 2, at least 29 head of downer cattle were slaughtered for human consumption between June 2004 and April 2005. Such cattle are banned for consumption to safeguard consumers from contracting bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the scientific name for mad cow disease.

In his answers to written questions sent from Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Shoichi Nakagawa on sloppy supervision of US beef exports to Japan, Johanns said 29 was a very small figure when compared with the millions of cattle slaughtered in that period.

This kind of comment appears to show the US government does not take the issue seriously enough.

Though in the case of 20 of the 29 downers, their reasons for being unable to walk were not recorded, Johanns concluded that all the 29 cattle were healthy until they arrived at slaughterhouses, where they suddenly became unable to walk because of injury or other factors. But he gave no clear evidence for his conclusion.

Johanns refrained from replying directly to a question on whether nine meatpackers and slaughterhouses that could not provide documentary proof that they had eliminated specified risk materials (SRM) from their beef include exporters to Japan.

Johanns only said the US government had not found any proof that any SRM entered the food market from the nine facilities.

His statement might further fuel anger of Japanese government and consumers.