Monthly Archives: November 2006

Farmers leave fields to study agricultural issues

Farmers leave fields to study agricultural issues

By Chris Knape

The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS — Immigration reform, privacy issues and renewable energy issues lead the agenda.

But this isn’t Washington, D.C. This is DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. And this agenda wasn’t being set by lawmakers, although a few will be attending.

It was set by more than 1,000 members of the Michigan Farm Bureau — men and women who grow corn, raise hogs and milk cows, among other products, as part of the state’s $60 billion agricultural industry.


Labels can be misleading

Labels can be misleading

Home News Tribune



The label “natural” doesn’t mean “all natural.”

The label implies food as close to nature as possible.

But, according to government regulations, “natural” for meat, poultry and dairy means that the food does not contain ingredients, colors or preservatives considered artificial and not natural to the product. It has nothing to do with how the animal was raised or what it ate.

“Organic” is the only label certified by U.S. inspectors, and certified products must carry a United States Department of Agriculture organic seal.

Other common food labels — “all natural,” “cage free,” “range free” — are simply unregulated guidelines. That said, experts recommend consumers pay close attention to labels before buying.

Here are a few of the most confusing label categories:


Organic food rising in popularity

Organic food rising in popularity

MSU part of the trend, experiment station studies apple crops


The State News

A $50,000 grant was awarded to the Michigan Apple Committee in October to fund organic research, which will be used to determine whether growing organic apples is economically feasible.

The grant highlights a trend in the increasingly popular organic market, which has grown 28 percent since 2003 and pulled in $14 billion in 2005. Organic food sales now account for 2.5 percent of all food sales in the nation.

The Clarksville Horticultural Experimental Station, run by the MSU Agricultural Experiment Station, is an agriculture research facility that focuses partially on organic crop research.


Minnesota livestock producers often hurt by high corn prices

Minnesota livestock producers often hurt by high corn prices

By The Associated Press /


WORTHINGTON, Minn. — Minnesota livestock producers say the ethanol-fueled rise in the price of corn could drive their businesses into the red, and force them to find other foods with which to feed their cattle and swine.

“How long corn prices will stay at $3 will be a determining factor of when livestock producers will return to profitability,” said University of Minnesota Extension Educator Dave Bau. “The longer they are unprofitable, the less time they can exist.”


National ID Is Dead

National ID Is Dead

Beef Stocker Trends

USDA effectively and quietly knocked the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) in the head last Wednesday. It did so with the unheralded publication of the “NAIS User Guide,” which replaces all former NAIS draft documents. This document, for the first time, emphasizes NAIS as a voluntary program rather than as a steppingstone to a mandatory one.

In fact, at the very beginning, the guide explains, “USDA is not requiring participation in the program. NAIS can help producers protect the health and marketability of their animals — but the choice to participate is theirs.”

Late last month at a community outreach event in Kansas City, Chuck Conner, USDA Deputy Secretary, and Bruce Knight, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, paved the way for the agency’s back-pedaling.


EPDs Can be Useful in Hitting Production Targets

EPDs Can be Useful in Hitting Production Targets

by: Dr. Joe Paschal

Texas Cooperative Extension, Livestock Specialist

Cattle Today

Ever walked into a pen of purebred bulls or replacement heifers that look pretty much the same in terms of quality and wonder how in the world you are going to accurately pick the best genetics?

You might have a copy of their weights, adjusted weights, ratios and maybe some other records that tell you exactly what the animals weighed on a certain day, what they would have weighed if they were adjusted to a common age, sex of calf, age of dam or which were the highest in their trait.

Now suppose you go to a second breeder and a third and they all have the same records and pretty much the same high quality cattle. How do you decide what head to buy?

In the early 1970s a group of progressive cattle breeders and their breed associations pushed for the development of a new method of evaluating the performance of their purebred cattle. They wanted this method to take into account differences due to ranches and environments to improve and increase the ease of genetic selection.


Dormant Planting Grasses & Legumes

Dormant Planting Grasses & Legumes

Dormant season or winter planting of grasses and legumes can be nearly as successful as planting during the more conventional time of early spring. Dormant plantings succeed as long as your soil is relatively dry and soil temperature is too cold for seeds to germinate. That’s the key — too cold to germinate. When these conditions exist, seed just lies in the soil until favorable conditions for germination occur next spring. Then seeds begin to grow as if they had just been planted. Warm-season grasses, like those used in CRP and range plantings, are especially well-suited to dormant planting. They won’t germinate until soil temperature exceeds 45 degrees. Since soils generally remain colder than this for most of the winter, dormant plantings of these grasses can be made anytime between late November and March. In addition, the alternate warming and cooling of the soil in spring stimulates a natural process in these seeds to improve their germination.