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NLPA News Brief
May 20, 2015
Livestock and Ag Credit News

Defending Animal Agriculture: Saving the Family Farm

By Mike Wilson, Farm Futures, 05/18/15—The Broshears, from Seymour, Ind., never asked for this. These young farmers were both raised with 4–H projects and FFA on livestock farms. They wanted to continue that legacy for their two young children, so they planned to put up a swine finishing barn in a remote location on Leah's family farm where they could give their kids chores, responsibilities, and other values farm families hold dear.

So, in August 2014 the Broshears began working with specialists at Indiana Farm Bureau to create a fact sheet about their project, to share with neighbors. They applied for a permit to build a 4,000–head swine finishing barn, which was unanimously approved last September.

What came next left their heads spinning. They opened their mail to find they were being sued. Not only the Broshears, but the county and every single individual on the Board of Zoning Appeals. "We couldn't believe that a group of people would be so against us raising pigs in a secluded part of Jackson County that is zoned for agriculture, that they would go as far as hiring attorneys to kill our project before it ever started," says Leah. To hear the Broshears tell their story, watch the 8–minute video here.

GIPSA NEWS: 05/13/15

Livestock and Ag Credit News

Cattlemen, Community Initiate Sustainable School Lunch Program

Hebron Journal Register, 05/19/15—The tides of nutrition advice are constantly swirling as dietary guidelines have shifted focus and favor to sustainable food production methods while reevaluating the role red meat plays in a healthy dietary pattern. However, the term 'sustainable' is as fluid as the nutrition premise it is intended to describe. To elucidate this issue, one group of Nebraska producers and community members have worked together to create a program that exemplifies sustainable practices by merging animal agriculture with school nutrition.

The Titan Beef Boosters Program of Thayer Central Community Schools was an idea conceived by Rob Marsh, local cattle producer in the area. Through commitments and donations by local cattlemen and community supporters, the school will provide students with an increased weekly supply of local, nutritious beef offerings. The program was initiated through a series of sustainable concepts to ensure implementation for multiple years, which in turn, delivers a far–reaching impact on local school nutrition.

There are multiple avenues for program involvement. Producers can sign a commitment letter to donate a quality animal within a three–year period and monetary donations can also be made through a Community Foundation to help cover the processing costs for the donated animals. No individuals are asked to donate more than once every three years, and the program currently has verbal commitments from over 100 cattlemen, businesses, and individuals in the local community. "We have a huge group of positive people that are pitching in to make this happen," said Marsh. "Everyone works hard and they want to be part of an idea that could really help all the children in our school district."

Dogs Help Protect Livestock Against Predators

By Travis Kocurek, APHIS BLOG, 05/19/15—USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is helping to provide livestock producers in the western United States with livestock guard dogs that offer greater protection against predators. Generally large and white with shaggy hair, livestock protection dogs are trained to respond aggressively to predators such as wolves, bears, and coyotes.

Guard dogs are often used in the sheep industry as a method of non–lethal predator management because of their perceived effectiveness and low cost to producers. According to a 2010 American Sheep Industry survey, guard dog use is only second to shed lambing at effectively reducing depredation. Shed lambing, that is, raising lambs exclusively indoors, however is more than 9 times the annual cost of using a dog for lamb protection. Owing to the low cost of using livestock protection dogs, they are extremely valuable to the sheep industry. According to Michael Marlow, resource management specialist for APHIS' Wildlife Services program, many producers are certain they'd be out of business without them.

Recruitment Necessary to Fill Agricultural Career Opportunities

By Amanda Radke, BEEF Daily, 05/18/15—According to a study by the USDA, there are 60,000 available jobs in agriculture but only 35,000 graduates each year to fill them. If we want to continue to feed the world, we need to recruit the best and encourage smart, hard–working young people to consider careers in agriculture.

In a recent news release, USDA cited an employee outlook report conducted by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Purdue University, that showed the growing demand for college graduates who have degrees in agricultural programs.

Given the diversity that is inherent in agriculture, which fields have the most opportunities? According to the report, "Half of the job opportunities will be in management and business. Another 27% will be in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas. Jobs in food and biomaterials production will make up 15%, and 12% of the openings will be in education, communication, and governmental services.

High Forage Quality Important for Beef Cattle's Nutrition

By Clint Thompson, Drovers CattleNetwork, 05/18/15—High quality forage is essential to beef cattle's nutrition and beef producers' bottom lines, said University of Georgia Extension forage specialist Dennis Hancock. Focusing on forage quality helps farmers keep overall costs low, he said.

"That means two things. First, it doesn't cost as much for us to supplement and provide enough energy and nutrition to the animals that we're trying to feed. Secondly, and more importantly, it ensures those animals are getting all of their nutritional demands met, so we have high reproductive efficiency," Hancock said. Growing high quality forage requires proper management on the beef producer's part. Timely harvest is crucial, as the maturity of the crop is the primary factor affecting the forage's fiber content and digestibility.

A New Normal For Antibiotics in Livestock Production

By Gary Truitt, Hoosier Ag Today, 05/17/15—Consumer resistance and government regulations are forcing livestock producers to change the way they use antibiotics. FDA regulations set to go into effect in 2016 will limit what antibiotics livestock producers will be able to use. In addition, major retail chains have already announced they are changing their requirements on the use of these drugs in meat production.

As a result, the Farm Foundation has launched an initiative to encourage producers to voluntarily reduce or eliminate the use of certain antibiotics in their production systems. Farm Foundation President Neil Conklin told HAT the success of achieving this goal, for both public health and the economic health of animal agriculture, hinges on producers having access to the information they need to adjust production practices and on the capacity of veterinarians to provide the additional oversight needed.

"This is the new normal being driven by regulatory and market forces. The good news is that producers are adjusting," stated Conklin.

Agricultural UAS Research Expanding Across State

By Brandi Jewett, Grand Forks Herald, 05/15/15—Unmanned aircraft will soon be buzzing overhead at several agricultural research centers around North Dakota. North Dakota State University received approval Friday to expand its unmanned aircraft systems research program from the UND UAS Research and Compliance Committee, a group that vets research proposals.

Each research site will focus on one or more research projects aiming to investigate several objectives. These objectives include determining how UAS could enhance livestock and crop production along with agricultural services and how the energy industry is impacting crops and livestock, according to an application submitted to the UASRCC.

In addition to finding sick animals and counting animals, Nowatzki said there is a potential that UAS could be used to find specific animals by reading electronic signals from ear tags. The livestock seem unfazed by the presence of unmanned aircraft, UAS pilot Jakee Stoltz said, adding they just look up at the object flying overhead.

Grass Fed Lamb and Goat Report Available

ASI Weekly, 05/15/15—In a blog posted this week by Ed Avalos, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, the release of a new sheep and goat report – National Monthly Grass Fed Lamb and Goat Meat – was announced.

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, there are over five million head of sheep and lambs in the United States, and over 2.6 million head of goats. A growing trend is producing these animals using grass fed production systems, especially for small to mid–sized producers. In response to the changing and widening marketplace, this new report will be available on a monthly basis by clicking on 'Direct to Consumer' HERE.

Global Livestock News

U.S. Loses WTO Appeal in Meat Label Dispute with Canada, Mexico

Reuters, 05/18/15
—The United States has lost a battle with Canada and Mexico over meat labeling and will consult with Congress and the public over next steps, a U.S Trade Representative official said on Monday.

USTR Chief Counsel Tim Reif said he was disappointed the World Trade Organization confirmed an earlier ruling that country–of–origin labeling (COOL) rules illegally discriminate against imported livestock, rejecting a U.S. appeal. The move opens the door to trade sanctions against the United States although U.S. lawmakers have signaled they plan to repeal the laws, requiring retailers such as grocery stores to list the country of origin on meat.

NFU Says Despite Today's WTO Decision, There is Still a Path Forward for COOL; Notes Threats of Retaliation Only Relevant if Parties Fail to Find Agreement on Moving Forward

By Andrew Jerome, NFU News Release, 05/18/15—National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said while the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has issued its decision today, there is still ample opportunity for the administration, Mexico and Canada to negotiate an acceptable path forward.

"As we have seen in other disputes, once decisions are handed down, WTO members often work together to find a solution that will work for them," said Johnson. "In this case, such a solution must involve continuation of a meaningful country–of–origin labeling requirement."

Johnson pointed out that there have been various press reports in recent weeks indicating that the administration will work with Canada and Mexico on COOL. "We support that approach to the extent it results in a mutually agreed result that provides consumers meaningful information on the meat products they purchase, including the country where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. With the significant interest by consumers in knowing where their food comes from, any other result is not acceptable," he said.

Global Livestock News

USDA Invests $6.5 Million to Help Conserve Water, Improve Water Quality in Ogallala Aquifer Region

USDA News Release, 05/14/15
—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $6.5 million in the Ogallala Aquifer region this year to help farmers and ranchers conserve billions of gallons of water and improve water quality. Funding will be targeted to seven priority areas to support their primary water source and strengthen rural economies.

"This funding assists conservationists and agricultural producers in planning and implementing conservation practices that conserve water and improve water quality," said Vilsack. "This work not only expands the viability of the Ogallala Aquifer but also helps producers across the Great Plains strengthen their agricultural operations."

Underlying the Great Plains in eight states, the Ogallala supports nearly one–fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton and cattle produced in the United States. It has long been the main water supply for the High Plains' population and is being depleted at an unsustainable rate. The reservoir was created more than a million years ago through geologic action and covers about 174,000 square miles; mainly in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas (also known as the High Plains). The aquifer also covers part of South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

House Passes Act to Stop WOTUS Rule

By Rich Keller, Drovers CattleNetwork, 05/14/15—The House passed H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Act of 2015, by a vote of 261–155 yesterday. This bill would force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers to stop moving forward with the proposed "Waters of the United States" rule.

As soon as the vote was announced, agricultural groups began thanking House members who voted for the act. "Members of the House today sent a strong, bipartisan message that the flawed Waters of the U.S. Rule is unacceptable and should be scrapped. Furthermore, it was refreshing to see members of Congress order regulators back to the drawing board, with an admonition to listen to the very real concerns of people who would have their farm fields and ditches regulated in the same manner as navigable streams," said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation in a statement.

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