The PEDv impact

Rabobank recently released its quarterly hog report and the numbers show just how big of an impact the PED virus is having.  Will Sawyer is Vice President; Animal Protein, Food and Agribusiness Research for Rabobank, he says we have not yet seen the bottom.

AUDIO: Sawyer talks about the impact 3:27 mp3

New USTR ag negotiator Vetter discusses trade issue

vetter-darci-usgc 7-14Nebraska native Darci Vetter, the new chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, spoke at the recent U.S. Grains Council summer meeting in Omaha.  In a news conference with reporters Vetter touched on several topics, including TPP, T-TIP, COOL, China and other trade issues.  Here are some excerpts from that news conference.

AUDIO: Darci Vetter (11:16 MP3)

The cost of herbicide resistant weeds

Herbicide resistant weeds are an increasing problem for farmers in the Corn Belt.  Purdue University weed scientist Dr. Bryan Young says if the weeds aren’t controlled they can rob yield and reduce profitability.

But just how costly are those herbicide resistant weeds?

AUDIO: Bryan Young, Purdue University (3:00mp3)

Six ways to save on beef at the store

Looking to save on beef at the grocery store?  Red meat prices have gone up this summer along with pork.  The Beef Chcekoff offers six ways to save on beef at the store.  The first one is to consider the price per serving —  If a pound of beef is $4.56 that works out to just $1.15 per serving.

HEALTHY LIVING PROGRAM – Six ways to save on beef (1:30 mp3)

Making Farm Bill decisions

The decisions farmers will be making when sign-up begins for programs in the new Farm Bill will be important decisions. So where should a farmer be in the process right now? Dr. Carl Zulauf in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at Ohio State University says thinking about base acres and base yields will be a good place to begin.

Audio: Dr. Carl Zulauf, Professor, AEDE, Ohio State University (2:50 mp3)

As harvest nears, rail concerns continue

One of the speakers at the summer meeting of the U.S. Grains Council in Omaha was Hasan Hyder, assistant vice president for grain and grain products with Union Pacific Railroad.  Hyder says UP is ramping up in preparation for another big grain harvest this fall.  By the end of the year, he says, the railroad will have over 1,500 additional covered hopper cars to handle the grain products business, compared to last year.  But Hyder still anticipates demand to be greater than their car capacity.

Here is an excerpt from comments Hyder made to news media in Omaha.

AUDIO: Hasan Hyder (2:04 MP3)

Is technology the key to better nutrition?

What does the future of human nutrition look like and will it make a difference?  The difference says futurist Tom Frey is we will have more technology on top of the new technology we already have to help us know what our bodies need from a nutritional standpoint.  But will we apply that to our daily diets?

HEALTHY LIVING PROGRAM – Future of nutrition (1:30 mp3)

Overlapping residual herbicides

The best way to prevent weeds such as waterhemp is to overlap residual weed control compounds.  That’s according to Bruce Bishop, regional chemistry account manager for Monsanto, who spoke to farmers and retailers during the Monsanto-sponsored agAcademy in Missouri.

Bishop’s recommendations focus not on any one brand of weed control system, but how the system is managed.

“No matter which system we go with, we can be effective and be good stewards of weed management no matter where we are,” he said, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News.

He makes a case for overlapping residual control to catch the nastiest weeds.

“The best way to control waterhemp is to never let it come out of the ground.”

AUDIO: Bruce Bishop (3 min. MP3)

Young horse trainer learns from own injuries

A young horse trainer shares his story about coming back from life-threatening injuries with appreciation for what he loves and is still able to do.  I’m Julie Harker with Hoofbeat on Brownfield.  Meet Zane Volkmannn of New Franklin, Missouri, a sophomore majoring in Equine Ranch Management at Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College.

HOOFBEAT – Horse trainer Zane Volkmann (3:00 mp3)

Gently, Mr. Ryan; security first, rural citizen

A musing and a warning this week, unrelated to one another, but still important.

Sometimes a friend can make your life difficult.  Such is the case with Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI), unsuccessful vice presidential candidate, a talked-about 2016 GOP presidential hopeful, and the outgoing chair of the House Budget Committee.  Ryan is the man both sides of the aisle credit with being budget thoughtful, and certainly he does not lack the fortitude to put forward strong budget resolutions, then sit at a table with his Senate counterpart, Sen. Patty Murray (D, WA), and hammer out what at least looks like a compromise.

So when Ryan this week unveiled his plan to take most federal welfare programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan (SNAP) – you remember it as the food stamp program, proposed cuts to which almost killed the 2014 Farm Bill – and roll them into a new state block grant program, it was less the concept than the details that made me nervous.

Capitol Hill reaction to the plan was as expected; Dems generally scoffed, mid-range Dems and GOPers scratched their heads, and the Tea Party folks did a serious happy dance.  I looked to see how Ryan proposed pay for the cost of this grand transition.

As he did three and four years ago, Ryan looked to the ag budget as one of the deep wells of “unnecessary or outmoded” federal spending into which he could dip to find the money to pay for his scheme.  He would rejigger a number of authorized unrelated as well as ag programs, kill off the Market Access Program (MAP) – a major success story, a program that returns $35 in export sales for every $1 invested by the federal government – and not look back.

I do not pretend to understand the ins and outs of the various federal welfare, food assistance and similar programs, nor do I know what the impact on the states would be, so I can’t comment on the specifics or wisdom of Ryan’s proposal.  But as a Wisconsin Representative with at least a few of rural communities in his district, Ryan would do well to better understand ag spending, and do whatever Treasury raid he contemplates surgically, as with a scalpel, and not ham-handedly, as with a hatchet.


Most of you likely aren’t aware that in the state of Washington over the last few months, there have been four reported cases of vandalism to mobile slaughter trucks.  Not just silly spray-painted slogans, but the addition of bleach and acid to the vehicles’ fuel tanks with all of the expected results those “fuel additives” bring.

These vehicle attacks are part of the self-proclaimed “Freedom Summer 2014,” a strategy of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).  It is the ALF which ignores both law and human safety in pursuit of “liberating animals,” seeking to end all animal use in all endeavors.  The group has sent emails taking credit for the temporary out-of-commission status of the trucks, the property of two different companies.  One anonymous grasp at headlines said, “Until the last slaughterhouse truck is idled and the last butcher’s blade is snapped.”  The ALF has always enjoyed drama.

Both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are involved as these acts are violations of the federal criminal code under both agencies’ domestic terrorism law enforcement authority.  This is thanks to the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AETA) enacted in 2003, and its precursor, the Animal Facility Protection Act (AFPA) signed into law in 1991.  Both sets of protection were developed, lobbied and pushed over the finish line by a coalition of animal interests led by the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition, and the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR).  Attacks on food and medicine may have been the impetus for the law, but the federal protections extend to all legitimate users of animals.

Most importantly, these attacks give lie to the belief by many in production ag that if you live in or around a small town – “in the middle of nowhere,” as one farmer described his location to me this week – you’re magically protected or immune from such attacks.  The trucks in question are owned by companies in Castle Rock and Battle Ground, Washington.  Castle Rock is about half way between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle.  Battle Ground is a small town a far bit north of Seattle.

All operations which make money off the raising, slaughtering, processing and retailing of meat, dairy and poultry should be vigilant.  Walk your operation or review your corporate security plans to ensure you know where the weaknesses are and how to strengthen them.  Talk to your employees, families and local law enforcement about the threat, no matter how remote, so vigilance is high.   Take note of strangers around your facilities. At the very least, install fencing, lights and other security measures. Make sure your hiring practices include thorough and deep background checks on every single employee you hire no matter the status or whether they’re permanent or day labor.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best and you likely won’t become a victim.