Countries ban California chicken on fears of avian flu

Russian and Taiwanese governments are banning imports of chicken from California after a poultry flock in that state was found to have low pathogenic avian influenza.

According to Meatingplace.com, USDA spokesman Ed Curlett says the flock as been quarantined and USDA is currently appraising the flock in question for indemnity.

The ban from Taiwan affects California poultry products loaded on or after April 19, Russia’s ban affects products loaded on or after April 21.

Planting is off to a good start for Poseyville farmer

Planting is underway for Poseyville, Indiana farmer Mark Seib.  He says the corn is going into the ground really well.  “We are ahead of last year’s rate of planting,” Seib says.  “We were planting corn in June last year.  We are ahead of schedule right now – although there is rain in the forecast for Thursday, and then Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.”

He tells Brownfield he’s very pleased with the condition of the soil.  “The temperature has come up to the right temp for us to start planting,” Seib says.  “We have adequate moisture in the ground right now.  Things are going really well for us – and I hate to say that without knocking on wood – but things are really starting to align.”

He says they normally try to start planting corn in mid-April – so he’d call them slightly behind their preferred pace – but says at this point – he’s not too worried.

AUDIO: Mark Seib, Poseyville (3:00mp3)

Applications open for Certified Livestock Producer program

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the Certified Livestock Producer Program.

Kimmi Devaney, ISDA livestock program manager says the program recognizes outstanding livestock producers for their farm management practices.  “That includes following environmental regulations to taking good care of our animals,” she says.  “It also means having a sound biosecurity plan and being a good neighbor to the community.”

The Certified Livestock Producer Program provides training and other resources to help Hoosier livestock producers.  “Most farmers do the right thing, take care of their animals, and follow environmental regulations,” she says.  “This just fine tunes everything a little more, especially as far as biosecurity.  Farmers also have to have an emergency plan.  With the emergency planning section they have it verified with their local fire department.”

Applications are due May 30.  Indiana livestock producers interested in participating in the program should contact ISDA Livestock Program Manager Kimmi Devaney at KDevaney@isda.in.gov.

To apply, please send applications to ISDA C/O Certified Livestock Producer Program, One North Capitol, Suite 600, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

BOAH rolls out new online pre-permitting

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health is making permitting cattle and/or swine coming into Indiana easier with its new online pre-entry form.  Pre-entry permits and a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection are required for all cattle and swine brought into the state of Indiana, even for exhibitions.

Information may now be submitted via BOAH’s website.  After the form is completed, the user will be issued on-screen instructions for nothing the import permit number.  That number must then appear on the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection.

Animals moving directly to a slaughter facility or approved livestock market are exempt, as are animals passing through the state without off-loading.

A link to the website can be found HERE.

Outlook for ag improving

The outlook for grain farmers has changed significantly in recent months.  Purdue ag economist Chris Hurt says new crop prices for both corn and soybeans have moved closer to the cost of production. “I think it’s an overall improvement from where we were, but we were at pretty low levels,” he says.  “I think if we compare that to 2013 – we’re certainly looking for tighter margins, reduced incomes, which will likely pull the total US farm income down somewhat.”

Hurt tells Brownfield there is not a lot farmers can do at this point to reduce their costs to help their bottom line, but there are some changes that can be made.  “Maybe some of the applications we have looked at in the past, where producers were trying to protect the bushels that are out there from any kind of pests will be evaluated a little closer this spring and summer,” he says.

With the high prices in recent years, he says producers were more inclined to spend those extra dollars on inputs to increase yield potential.

But, with lower prices and tighter margins, Hurt anticipates farmers will evaluate those expenditures more closely.

AUDIO: Chris Hurt, Ag Outlook (3:30mp3)

Managing winter annuals

For farmers wanting to make spring burndown herbicide applications, now is the time to start scouting fields.

Purdue Extension weed scientist Travis Legleiter says the warm weather this month gave those winter annuals a chance to green-up.  “Even though we’re not quite to planting yet, the winter annuals are definitely growing,” he says. “Certainly those fields that did not receive a fall burndown, that’s when the winter annuals will more than likely grow the most in those no-till acres.”

When it comes to spring burndown, Legleiter says you have to consider both the weather AND weed size.  “You want to get the weeds the smaller the better,” he says.  “But, we need to make sure the weeds are actively growing.  The rule of thumb we use for that is if we’ve had several nights above 45 degrees, plus a forecast of several nights above those temperatures – that can assure us those weeds are actively growing.”

Which, he says, means the herbicide will work.

Eli Lilly to acquire Novartis

With the goal of strengthening and diversifying Eli Lilly & Company’s animal health business, Elanco, the company will purchase Novartis Animal Health.  In an announcement this morning, Jeff Simmons, senior vice president of Eli Lilly and president of Elanco said animal health continues to be a growth opportunity for Lilly.

The acquisition will expand and complement Elanco’s product portfolio, R&D, and manufacturing capabilities.  Simmons says, “Combining these two great companies will enable us to provide more diversified brands, reach more market segments, expand our global footprint, and strengthen our pipeline, capabilities and expertise.”

Upon the completion of the all-cash $5.4 billion deal, Elanco will be the second-largest animal health company in terms of global revenue, solidify its number two ranking in the US, and improve its position in Europe.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2015, subject to clearance of all antitrust regulations both in the US and other countries.

USDA fund to seek private funds for rural business

The USDA has begun a new $150 Million investment fund to grow small businesses in rural areas and create more jobs using public AND private funding.   Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) – involves pledges from eight Farm Credit institutions* and will be managed by Advantage Capital Partners, “The bottom line here is about a new way to do business for government where we facilitate and bridge and leverage as opposed to solely relying on government financing to do it all.”

Vilsack says the fund will allow investments and job growth in rural businesses such as advanced energy production, food systems, bio-manufacturing and more by engaging private equity firms.

AUDIO: Radio Iowa’s Kay Henderson with Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack (3:00 mp3)

EPA proposals jeopardize affordable power supplies

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations for new coal-fired power plants that could put reliable and affordable electric supplies in jeopardy.

Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association says these proposals would essentially take coal-fired electricity generation out of the mix of options available to the electric grid.  “The EPA’s regulations would Number 1 – require the building of any new coal-fired power plants to utilize technology that doesn’t exist commercially today,” she says.  “In essence it says no more coal-fired power plants.”

That, is just EPA’s first proposal.  Emerson tells Brownfield they’re expecting another proposal in early June that would target coal-fired plants already in existence.  All of us will be subject to these new targets,” she says.  “It will be done on a state-by-state basis.  For coal-fired power plants that exist today, it could be that it is too expensive to retrofit them to meet the targets set for them by the EPA.  If that is the case, the utility may decide to close that power plant down.”

Which, could put added pressure on Rural America.  “The communities that we serve in Rural America are generally poorer,” she says.  “They are around 11 percent poorer than the national average.  We have a lot of senior citizens living on fixed incomes and we represent all of the persistent poverty counties in the United States.”

If the proposed regulations are allowed, she says it is expected electric bills could rise by around 20 percent to as much as 50 percent in areas (like Indiana and Missouri) that are more dependent coal-fired electricity.

Indiana Farm Bureau PAC announces endorsements

Indiana Farm Bureau’s political action committee, IFB ELECT will endorse candidates Susan Brooks, Todd Young, and Larry Bucshon in the upcoming primary election.

Representative Susan Brooks represents Indiana’s 5th Congressional District.  IFB director of public policy director Megan Ritter says the primary endorsement of Brooks is recognition of her support of policy priorities for agriculture, farm families, and rural Indiana.

Representative Todd Young represents Indiana’s 9th Congressional District.  Ritter says the Congressman understands agriculture’s role in improving the economy, creating jobs, and producing a safe, diverse, and affordable food supply.

IFB president Don Villwock says he’s proud of the work Congressman Bucschon has done on behalf of farmers and rural residents in Indiana’s 8th Congressional District.  He adds that Bucschon understands the need to support agriculture and rural communities for the entire district to be successful.

With the ELECT endorsement, candidates have made it through the multi-step process to gain the organization’s support.