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NLPA News Brief
February 25, 2015
Livestock and Ag Credit News

New Video Challenges Myth About Water Use In Beef Production

Perishable News, 02/11/15—The newest video in the Meat Mythcrusher series addresses one of the most commonly seen myths in the media: how much water it takes to produce a pound of beef. While one often cited statistic suggested it could take as much as 2,400 gallons of water, sustainability researcher Jude Capper, Ph.D., explains that the real data shows the amount is much smaller, it requires 441 gallons to make a pound of boneless beef – a fraction of what is often claimed and far less than many other popular consumer products.

"While higher numbers cited may have been accurate 30 to 40 years ago," Capper says, "the modern beef industry is so efficient in the way it feeds, breeds and cares for the animals that it is able to use far fewer resources today than ever before"

Capper notes that many common items take significantly more water to produce including cotton t–shirts which take more than 700 gallons of water to produce or a car which can take 39,000 gallons to produce. Capper says consumers who want to buy the most sustainable beef should focus on corn finished as opposed to grass finished beef. Watch 3-minute Video HERE.

GIPSA NEWS: 02/19/15

Livestock and Ag Credit News

'Megadrought' Likely in Southwest by End of Century

By Cornell University, via Drovers CattleNetwork, 02/16/15—The consequences of climate change paint a bleak picture for the Southwest and much of America's breadbasket, the Great Plains. A "megadrought" likely will occur late in this century, and it could last for three decades, according to a new report by Cornell University and NASA researchers in the journal Science Advances, published today.

"The results were striking. As a society, we've weighted the dice toward megadrought. Data clearly point to a high risk in the Southwest and Great Plains, as we continue to add carbon dioxide into our atmosphere," said Toby Ault, Cornell associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences. "However, if we manage to get serious about lowering greenhouse gases within the next 10 years, we could face a lower risk."

Pork Industry Faces Headwinds Early in 2015

PorkNetwork, 02/20/15—USDA increased its first–quarter pork production forecast to conform to higher than expected hog slaughter numbers in January and early February. The revised firstquarter pork production forecast is 6.13 billion pounds, about 6 percent above production in first–quarter 2014. While the year–over–year increase is magnified somewhat by its comparison to early 2014, a period when the industry was battling Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PEDv), large hog numbers in the first quarter is expected to pressure hog prices lower.

Map: Do you live in Sheeplandia or Goatopia?

By Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, 02/20/15—My fellow Americans, we are a nation divided. Democrats and Republicans. Rich and poor. But perhaps the biggest divide of all? Goats versus sheep. 2012 data from the USDA Agricultural Census trace the distinct geographies of American sheep and goat production, which you can see HERE. Goats rule the pink counties, sheep are plentiful in the green ones, and there are plenty of both in the pinkish–greenish places in between. Hover over a county to see the raw numbers. Looking at the map, the plains and mountain states are Sheeplandia, where sheep generally outnumber goats. The southeast, on the other hand, is a veritable Goatopia. The two animals live in harmony on the west coast, Southwest and Texas.

From the Ground Up – Turkeys Enhance Cattle Operation

KBTX, 02/19/15—There are cattle ranches that incorporate wildlife production and hunting into their business plans, but one Central Texas rancher has used his turkey operation to help enhance his beef production. Darrell Glaser and his family raise turkeys and cattle on their ranch outside of Rogers."What intrigued me about the turkeys was the litter, because we knew we could use the litter as fertilizer for our cattle operation which we felt would make that operation more efficient, and it's actually worked out over twenty years."

"We're big beef producers too, and that was the whole point of the putting the turkeys here was to help the beef side of the business, and it's unique that you have two competing products in the marketplace that absolutely function perfectly as a system on a farm. We now produce more grass which in turn is harvested by the cattle, so we've been able to increase our stocking rate."

Pork Stands Out in a Sea of Carbs

Pork Network, 02/18/15—Think dietitians are only interested in pork nutrition? They also want to know about pork production practices, sustainability and more. "The conversations around pork have changed," said Adria Sheil–Brown, manager of nutrition communications and research for the Pork Checkoff. "We were reminded of this when we recently attended the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference in Atlanta.

"Having a pork producer there makes it more real for attendees," said Pedemonti, who helps bridge the disconnect between farmers and consumers. "People still imagine a farmer as a picturesque old man in overalls and don't realize that producers today are nutritionists, scientists, environmental stewards and so much more."

The Good Microbes

By John Maday, Drovers CattleNetwork, 02/18/15—Have you eaten your yogurt today? Has your doctor suggested you include a source of probiotics in your daily diet? If so, you certainly are not alone. Probiotics, also known as direct–fed microbials (DFMs), are sources of live, beneficial microorganisms, typically specific strains of bacteria or yeast. In human health and nutrition, professionals and consumers increasingly recognize the benefits of some probiotics for improving digestion, health of the gastro–intestinal tract and overall immunity. The same applies to cattle production where, while not new, probiotic use is gaining credibility and acceptance.

Farmers Disappointed by Restrictions in Proposed Drone Rules

By Karl Plume and P.J. Huffstutter, Reuters, 02/1/15— U.S. farmers hoping to use drones to locate lost livestock or monitor trouble spots in their fields were disappointed by what they say are overly restrictive commercial drone rules proposed Sunday by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Two of the long–awaited draft rules were singled out for particular criticism: a requirement that pilots remain in visual contact with their drones at all times and a height restriction that limits the crafts to flying no more than 500 feet above ground. These constraints, farmers and drone operators say, would limit a drone's range – and consequently its usefulness.

Global Livestock News

Got Beef?

By Mary Soukup, Drovers CattleNetwork, 02/18/15—No, the beef industry is not mimicking their dairy friends with a new advertising slogan. But recent reports indicate U.S. consumers want beef on their dinner plates, and they're demonstrating that desire with their wallets.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook included production estimates through January and projections for future trends. With regard to ground beef, the report states that beef imports to the U.S. were up 31 percent in 2014 compared to 2013, and that demand for imported processing beef rapidly rose in 2014 due to limited domestic supplies coupled with a stronger U.S. dollar and relatively cheaper prices for imported beef products. Beef imports totaled 2.947 billion pounds in 2014 and are projected to be 2.810 billion pounds this year.

Alberta's Climate–Change Fund Tackles Cattle and Crop Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Edmonton Journal, 02/20/15—Alberta's climate–change fund is supporting seven projects with $3.2 million aimed at curtailing greenhouse–gas emissions from biological sources like cattle. The Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp. (CCEMC) invests funds collected from carbon–emitting industries, such as power plants and oilsands facilities. If large industrial emitters don't reach emission–reduction targets, one option is to pay a levy of $15 per tonne into the CCEMC fund. Four of the seven projects tackle emissions in agriculture, including:

  • Measuring methane from beef cattle bred to eat low–residual feed;
  • Improving efficiency of open–range cattle production;
  • Developing "intelligent nanofertilizers" that improve nitrogen use by crops;
  • Developing best manure–management practices that include nitrogen inhibitors
Global Livestock News

Environmental Lawsuits Could Force Livestock Industry Changes

Topeka Capital–Journal, 02/21/15—A lawsuit to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate ammonia and other emissions from livestock operations could force major changes to the Kansas livestock industry, if it succeeds.

The Environmental Integrity Project; Humane Society of the United States; Center for Food Safety; Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment; Friends of the Earth; Sierra Club; and groups from Wisconsin, California and Iowa who claim nearby animal operations have caused them to have breathing problems filed two lawsuits against the EPA in late January.

USDA Announces More Than $160 Million Available in Funding for Food and Agriculture Research, Education, and Extension

USDA News Release, 02/20/15—The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of more than $160 million in funding for research, education, and extension projects that address key challenges affecting U.S. agriculture production. NIFA will fund the awards through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

"The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative was created to find innovative solutions to the challenges we face as a society, such as hunger and food security, health, climate, food safety, and bioenergy," said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. "We are now in AFRI's sixth year, and already the program has made strides in advancing agricultural science. I am extremely proud of the work NIFA has funded thus far, and excited to see what groundbreaking research, education, and extension projects will result from this year's funding. These projects provide funding for the critical research, training, and assistance that ultimately strengthens rural America and our economy."

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