USDA requires PEDv reporting

The USDA is now requiring the reporting of PEDv cases.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said the agency is taking the action to further enhance the biosecurity and health of the U.S. swine herd while maintaining movement of pigs in the U.S.

In addition to requiring reporting of the PED virus, USDA will also require tracking movements of pigs, vehicles, and other equipment leaving affected premises.  However, Vilsack stressed that movements would still be allowed.

Vilsack also announced that USDA’s Farm Loan Programs is working with producers to provide credit options, including restructuring loans.  He says it will be similar to how the Farm Service Agency successfully worked with livestock producers affected by the blizzard in South Dakota.

Link to PDF detailing USDA’s plan

Wheat damaged? Get it appraised

Farmers walking their wheat fields assessing any damage to the crop from the latest round of cold temperatures are being reminded that before doing anything it would be a good idea to call their crop insurance agent.

“They must have an appraisal done on the wheat crop before any chopping, any mowing of the wheat, or any tillage work, or tillage pass must be appraised for yield purposes,” said Ryan Fennig with Fennig-Homan Agribusiness at Coldwater, Ohio. “If there is a potential claim that’s how we figure their claim payment, is off that appraisal.”

Audio: Ryan Fennig, Fennig-Homan Agribusiness (1:30 mp3)

Ed Lentz, Extension educator in Hancock County (Northwest Ohio) recommends giving the crop a chance before making that final decision on what to do with the crop.

“I think we’re really jumping the gun if we’re trying to assess what we anticipate from spring tiller growth and other things,” Lentz said. “We just haven’t had the heat units to have a good evaluation.”

Lentz is not expecting any serious damage to wheat from the latest cold temperatures.

Audio: Ed Lentz, Extension educator, Hancock Co. Ohio (3:45 mp3)

Beef exports hit marketing year high

USDA reports corn, soybean, soybean product, and wheat export sales for the week ending April 10 were within pre-report estimates. Physical shipments of corn and soybeans were more than what’s needed weekly to meet USDA projections for the 2013/14 marketing year, but wheat fell short of its mark.

Wheat came out at 438,000 tons (16.1 million bushels), up sharply from the week ending April 3 and 48% higher than the four week average. Brazil picked up 85,000 tons and Peru bought 64,600 tons, while Nigeria canceled on 50,000 tons. For the 2013/14 marketing year to date, wheat sales are 1.129 billion bushels, compared to 964.1 million in 2012/13. Sales of 359,900 tons (13.2 million bushels) for 2014/15 delivery were mainly to unknown destinations (211,600 tons).

Corn was reported at 601,900 tons (23.7 million bushels), down 9% from the previous week and 36% lower than the four week average. Japan purchased 161,000 tons and Israel picked up 120,000 tons, while unknown destinations canceled on 268,400 tons and China canceled on 168,000 tons. So far this marketing year, corn sales are 1.676 billion bushels, compared to 634.1 million this time last year. Sales of 192,600 tons (7.6 million bushels) were to Japan (141,800 tons) and unknown destinations (50,800 tons).

Soybeans were pegged at 19,200 tons (700,000 bushels), 76% less than the week before and 79% under the four week average. Indonesia bought 58,000 tons and Japan purchased 34,900 tons, but unknown destinations canceled on 68,200 tons and China canceled on 54,700 tons. At this point in the marketing year, soybean sales are 1.639 billion bushels, compared to 1.345 billion a year ago. Sales of 400,700 tons (14.7 million bushels) for 2014/15 delivery were primarily to unknown destinations (330,000 tons) and China (60,000 tons).

Soybean meal came out at 36,600 tons, 80% below the prior week and down 84% from the four week average. Venezuela picked up 40,000 tons and Mexico bought 23,300 tons, while unknown destinations canceled on 84,500 tons. Cumulative soybean meal sales for the current marketing year are 8,727,400 tons, compared to 8,388,900 last year. Sales of 84,000 tons for 2014/15 delivery were to unknown destinations (80,000 tons) and Mexico (4,000 tons).

Soybean oil was reported at 5,500 tons, 63% more than the previous week and 40% above the four week average. Mexico purchased 4,400 tons and Venezuela picked up 1,500 tons. 2013/14 soybean oil sales are 577,700 tons, compared to 829,000 in 2012/13.

Net beef sales were a marketing year high at 21,900 tons; that’s up 18% from the week before and 42% higher than the four week average. The listed buyers were Japan (7,800 tons), Mexico (3,800 tons), South Korea (3,500 tons), Hong Kong (2,400 tons), and Canada (1,500 tons).

Net pork sales totaled 8,600 tons. That’s larger than the prior week and 15% more than the four week average. The reported purchasers were South Korea (2,300 tons), Canada (1,800 tons), Japan (1,500 tons), Mexico (1,100 tons), and the Philippines (500 tons).

Mandatory reporting of PEDv considered

The executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians says his organization does not have a position on mandatory reporting of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in pigs but believes it could help. PEDv is currently not a reportable animal disease but Tom Burkgren tells Brownfield Ag News the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working on a plan to require it. He says the association may support a plan, depending on its details, “If mandatory reporting comes in and it’s a useful tool then, I think, as an industry we will support that. Just as well as we would support anything that would help us get a handle on the virus and getting rid of the virus.”

Burkgren says the association is giving the USDA input and prefers a system that protects farmers’ data, “We certainly don’t want a data collection that’s going to put any more stress on producers or veterinarians that there already is from PED.”

Pork industry groups have been urging producers to volunteer their premise identification in the event PED affects their farms. Burkgren says “the devil’s in the details” but mandatory reporting could help with PEDv eradication and control. It is known to be present in 29 states.

Interview with Tom Burkgren (12:00 mp3)

Pork Network

GMO labeling bill advances in Vermont



A GMO-labeling bill is working its way through the state legislature in Vermont. The House passed a bill late last year which would require products containing genetically modified ingredients to state-so on the label. The Vermont State Senate passed a similar bill this week. That bill will now be reconciled with the House version, once that is completed the bill will go to the governor for his signature.David Zuckerman is vice-chair of the State Senate Agriculture Committee, he says Vermont has been quite aggressive in dealing with GMOs in the past including the requirement that seed companies annually report how much GM seed they sell in the state each year.

He says up until a few years ago, they would not have considered a labeling law for fear of legal challenges but given recent court rulings around the country, they decided to move forward. The bill passed by the State Senate would require that if a product may or does contain genetically modified ingredients it be indicated in the list of ingredients on the package. It also prohibits the use of terms like “natural” on products containing GMOs. Zuckerman says the whole premise is to give consumers the information and let them decide: “it’s a disclosure, nothing says they have to change anything that they do.” The specific rules will be written by the Vermont Attorney General.

Meat and milk products would not require labeling, Zuckerman says meat labeling is highly regulated at the federal level and “there’s not much evidence showing secondary consumption as having any real risk.” He says the bigger question is with direct consumption of GMO products.

The Senator says while opponents say the law would be in violation of free speech or compelled speech laws, supporters contend consumers have the right to know what is in a product. As for inhibiting interstate commerce, Zuckerman says suppliers can easily and at little cost, put a sticker on the labels of products going into Vermont or choose to not sell the product in the state. The bill does create a fund to help with the legal defense of the law.

Unlike states where ballot initiatives have been attempted, Zuckerman says there has not been a lot of pressure on the legislators from outside sources. “I think the people who are opposed to the bill look at Vermont as a lost-cause from their perspective and decided to save their resources.”

Implementation is targeted for July, 2016.

AUDIO:Zuckerman talks about the bill 13:40 mp3


Nutritional needs still important

After a challenging winter, now is not the time to forget about the nutritional needs of beef cows.

And while it might be tempting to put cows on grass, John Grimes, Extension beef coordinator at Ohio State University says it may not provide what the cow needs.

“Across the country the number one month to calve is March and second is April,” said Grimes so depending on the age of the cow, you’ve got maybe 2-year old cows or young cows that are coming through the winter in less than ideal body condition, they’ve calved, they’re starting to lactate and hopefully we can get them in shape to get them bred really quick and then we’re probably not giving them everything they need if we’re just depending on grass.”

Grimes says that hopefully producers have done a good job of managing their hay and still have some good quality hay to feed.

“Because if you’ve got lesser quality hay now I would be very concerned about that meeting the needs of the average cow out there,” said the Extension beef coordinator. “So we may have to do some supplementation whether through grain, by-products or keeping them more confined and making them eat some hay just to meet their needs.”

Grimes says the overall goal is for cows to have a Body Condition Score of 5 to 6 during critical production times.

Audio: John Grimes, Extension beef coordinator, Ohio State University (3:45 mp3)

3% of U.S. corn planted

USDA reports corn planting is underway.

As of Sunday, 3% of the crop is planted, compared to 2% a year ago and the five year average of 6%. Winter like conditions during the early part of this week will delay fieldwork in some areas, but the precipitation is helping recharge soil moisture levels.

Winter wheat ratings dipped over the past week with large portions of the Southern Plains remaining much drier than normal. 34% of the crop is called good to excellent, with 34% rated fair and 32% in poor to very poor shape. 5% of winter wheat has headed, compared to 4% this time last year.

6% of spring wheat is planted, compared to 5% a year ago.

Cattle leader says deal undermines U.S. beef

A member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association board of directors from Missouri says the Japan/Australia trade deal seeks to undermine U.S. trade in the Trans Pacific Partnership which is under negotiation.

Chuck Massengill of Missouri says the U.S. is looking for ZERO tariffs for beef trade with Japan, “We’re looking for zero. We’re not looking for kind of close to zero or something less painful than we have now.”

The deal with Japan will reduce the current 38-and-a-half percent tariff on Australian beef to 19-and-a-half percent in 18 years.  Chilled beef from Australia going into Japan will be levied at 23.5 percent.

The agreement with Australia set a precedent for Japan to negotiate with the U.S. on sensitive items like beef, according to Kent Bacus, with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“I hope that our negotiators are a little more successful, because deal that was struck with Australia is not even close to anything that would be acceptable to us,” said Bacus on Friday, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News.

But, Massengill tells Brownfield, Australian beef does not come close to what U.S. beef offers to consumers, “Australian grass-fed, or short fed beef, does not anywhere compare to the U.S. grain fed beef (which is) just a standard of quality all over the world. So, we certainly we don’t want to be brought in and held to the same standards as what the Australians trade for.”

Massengill and his wife raise cattle in central Missouri’s Moniteau County. He is the immediate past president of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.

Interview with Chuck Massengill (6:00 mp3) 

Voluntary GMO labeling bill introduced in House

A number of agricultural organizations praising legislation introduced in Congress establishing federal standards for the safety and voluntary labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. The measure is designed to head-off a number of mandatory GMO-labeling bills which have been introduced in some two-dozen states.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, introduced by Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) would have the Food and Drug Administration set standards for companies that wish to label their products as containing or not containing GMOs. In addition, FDA is required to conduct a safety review of all new genetically modified traits and could mandate labeling if there is a health, safety or nutrition issue with a particular ingredient. Pompeo tells Reuters he expects hearings on the bill sometime this summer. The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

National Milk Producers Federation president Jim Mulhern said the legislation is a viable alternative to a patchwork of state policies and it clarifies “how companies can voluntarily label their products in a way that reduces confusion at the consumer level. Mulhern says up to 80 percent of the food available in the U.S. contains genetically modified ingredients.

The bill also would require the FDA to define the term “natural” when used on food labels.

AUDIO: Chuck Conner, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (5:40mp3)


USDA lowers corn, soybean ending stocks

USDA has lowered its corn and soybean ending stocks projections.

USDA estimates corn ending stocks for the 2013/14 marketing year at 1.331 billion bushels on expectations for strong export demand. Before the report, estimates ranged from 1.306 billion to 1.478 billion bushels, with an average of 1.403 billion bushels.

Soybeans are seen at 135 million bushels with a bigger export guess cancelling out a larger import figure. Analysts were expecting beans to be around 139 million bushels, with a range of 131 million to 147 million bushels.

Wheat ending stocks came out at 583 million bushels with a decreased feed demand estimate. Pre-report expectations ranged from 550 million to 625 million bushels, for an average of 581 million bushels.

For the 2012/13 marketing year, corn ending stocks were 821 million bushels, soybean ending stocks were 141 million, and wheat ending stocks were 718 million bushels.

The next set of supply and demand numbers is out May 9.

Breakdown of selected supply and demand tables:

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