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Agriculture News

Large animal vets are sparse but serve vital role in economic vibrancy of rural America

West Fargo Pioneer | Posted on December 7, 2017

North Dakota has 521 licensed veterinarians, about 270 who live in the state, Boyce said. That number hasn't changed much in the last 10 years, he added."The new licensees have pretty much replaced those who move away, die or otherwise do not renew their license," he said.The University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine, the closest to Grand Forks, has 104 openings each year, and between 800 and 900 people apply, said Laura Molgaard, academic and student affairs associate dean for the college.The rarity of large animal vets in rural areas is an issue ranchers have faced for years, she said. In one snapshot that she said was representative of other years, 60 percent of graduates from the college go into small animal care. About 14 percent go into food animal care — cattle, hogs, sheep and other animals used for consumption.States and the federal government have tried to encourage vets to come to rural areas with loan repayment programs. North Dakota selects at least three vets each year who will receive up to $80,000 if they work in the state, though a preference is placed on doctors who move to rural areas, said Dr. Beth Carlson, deputy state veterinarian for the ag department. Minnesota has a similar program for vets who go to rural areas whose work involves at least 50 percent with the care of food animals, Molgaard said.

Tapeworm could jump to humans with potentially deadly consequences, veterinarian warns

The Star Phoenix | Posted on December 7, 2017

Saskatoon veterinarian says "there's a very good chance" Saskatchewan could see human cases of a potentially lethal tapeworm in the foreseeable future. About one-quarter of wild dogs in North America are infected with Echinococcus multilocularis. Pet dogs exposed to infected coyote feces can become infected and possibly infect their owners as well.Humans can inadvertently consume tapeworm eggs if they handle the excrement of infected dogs and then touch their own food, or if they eat things — such as berries, mushrooms or herbs — that are contaminated by infected dog or cat droppings.If that happens, tapeworm cysts can spread throughout the person’s liver and other organs like a tumour.Emily Jenkins, a professor of veterinary parasitology and public health at the University of Saskatchewan, said unless the disease is identified and treated quickly, the mortality rate is between 50 and 75 per cent. Treatment involves surgery to remove the cysts and years of drug therapy.

AVMA leads broad coalition supporting Public Service Loan Forgiveness

AVMA | Posted on December 7, 2017

More than 110 national and state animal health organizations have joined forces with the AVMA to urge Congress to preserve an important program that provides debt relief to veterinarians and others working in the nonprofit and public sectors. This broad animal health coalition, representing nearly all major veterinary groups, is mobilizing in response to efforts by some lawmakers to reduce or eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.Led by the AVMA, and with key support from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), the coalition sent a letter Monday to the chairpersons and ranking members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce. 

AVMA to Supreme Court: Level the playing field between veterinarians and online retailers

AVMA | Posted on December 7, 2017

The AVMA has joined an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to level the playing field between online retailers and veterinarians by requiring online retailers to collect sales taxes.The brief, filed in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, notes the impact of the case on veterinarians and asks the court to require online businesses to collect sales tax.Online retailers without an on-the-ground presence don’t currently have to collect sales tax because of a 1992 Supreme Court decision, Quill v. North Dakota. Instead of sales tax being collected and remitted by retailers, individuals are supposed to remit the sales taxes they owe for online purchases themselves. This system does not work as intended.The South Dakota state legislature passed a state law in opposition to this ruling, requiring companies that do more than $100,000 worth of business in online sales in the state to collect sales taxes. Wayfair, an American company that sells home goods online, challenged the state law. The case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where its outcome will decide whether online retailers can be required to collect sales tax.

Book review: This Blessed Earth

Daily Yonder | Posted on December 7, 2017

Journalist Ted Genoways is an award-winning author who has received prestigious fellowships from both the NEA and Guggenheim Foundation. Ted lives in Nebraska, where he grew up on his father’s farm. He is also author of This Blessed Earth, a real life tale of a year in the life of a Nebraska family farm.Family farms have changed with successive generations, with diversification of many raw food enterprises shrinking into less variety and more dependence on industrial grain and livestock—raw materials refined by corporate-owned factories where grains and oilseeds are processed into exports, ethanol, feed, protein, and fat.It hasn’t been long since corn and cattle were synonymous on family farms—one hand washing the other into a beefy end product. Not much of that has changed in the minds of farmers like Rick Hammond, his daughter Meghan, and her fiancé Kyle Galloway, but the processes taking place on farms today merely resemble a past when farm work truly covered the bases all the way from field to table.

Idaho housing shortage for H-2A workers

US News and World Report | Posted on December 7, 2017

Some housing authorities in southwestern Idaho are struggling to keep up with a rising demand for affordable housing that is the result of a large increase in farm businesses seeking temporary foreign guest workers under the H-2A visa program.Agricultural producers who use the program are required to provide housing for the workers.The Capital Press reports the Caldwell Housing Authority, which operates the Farmway Village public housing complex for domestic farm workers and low-income individuals, received its first request to house H-2A workers three years ago.Two years ago, the village housed 25 H-2A workers in eight units. The following year, that total grew to 80 people in 19 units. Next year, Farmway Village will house 214 H-2A workers in 35 units."We are scrambling to get all the units together for this next year," said CHA Executive Director Mike Dittenber.Local farmer Sid Freeman, a member of the CHA board of directors, warned the housing authority three years ago that the need for H-2A housing would soon become a tidal wave."I think we are at the (beginning) of that tidal wave," Dittenber said.

New, troubling ways activists are using social media as a megaphone

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on December 7, 2017

Social media is one of the sharpest double-edged swords in modern communication. On one hand, it allows farmers and ranchers to amplify their voices and share stories, videos and photos directly with consumers across the country. On the other, animal rights activists have used social media platforms to make a few outlier voices sound like a much bigger crowd and attempt to silence anyone with opinions that don’t align with theirs.As one example, a group of determined extremists have created a Facebook page where they refer to themselves as “hunters” and select certain farmers or ag businesses to target (referred to as “missions”). Followers will flock to the selected farm pages and bombard them with one-star reviews (despite never visiting or purchasing from the business), nasty comments and aggressive messages.Activist groups will also send scripts out via email and urge supporters to copy and paste them on company Facebook pages. 

Economic development in eastern South Dakota can be explained in a word: udders.

edairynews | Posted on December 7, 2017

The initiative to lure European dairy companies via cheap government loans started with former GOP Governor Mike Rounds. Since 2012, Governor Dennis Daugaard, also a Republican, has continued the practice, but with a twist. He’s been courting California milk producers, enticing them to relocate along the I-29 corridor with subsidies and user-friendly regulations. Numbers prove the strategy is working. South Dakota farmers sell almost $400 million worth of milk per year. But the stats also show it’s largely been factory dairies heeding the call. In 2005, the state’s average dairy farm had 250 cows. Today, it’s closer to 1,500 head. Michael Crinion proposed building a 4,000-head dairy. The Environmental Protection Agency says that many cows pump out as much excrement as 500,000 people per year. The project would include three manure pits, each holding 2.2 million cubic feet of excrement. Since the holding ponds wouldn’t be able to handle all the waste, Crinion said the dairy would ink agreements with farmers to the west, where manure would be pumped on fields as fertilizer.Crinion could not be reached for comment.From there, the townspeople looked at the topography. From the high ground where the dairy would be, the terrain bends and slopes west. Locals call it “billy goat territory.” The land’s final descent occurs at Oak Lake, a sparsely populated body inside South Dakota.People knew Oak Lake’s tributaries fed Lake Hendricks. That meant any breach of the manure pits would eventually end up in the lake.Jonathan Lengkeek, owner of a restaurant and a bakery in downtown Hendricks, says the lake’s import cannot be overstated. He points to the boaters, swimmers, and fishermen largely responsible for making a vital downtown.“All our storefronts are full,” he says. “Most little towns wouldn’t be able to support so many healthy businesses.”Lengkeek is worried the dairy could wreak havoc on the lake’s water quality. But he’s more fearful of the stink of dung carried by a steady breeze. That could be a bigger quality-of-life violation, he says.

Judge sets timetable for hog farm nuisance lawsuits in N.C.

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on December 7, 2017

Litigation against alleged pollution by the hog industry in eastern North Carolina will move forward with two test cases in April 2018, a federal judge ruled this week. U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt said the initial trial would involve up to 10 plaintiffs with similar accusations against the hog farms, which are accused of releasing noxious fumes, making disruptive noise and expelling liquid excrement into the surrounding areas, according to U.S. News and World Report. The original lawsuits involved more than 500 neighbors of hog farms and those accused include a subsidiary of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, now a division of China’s WH Group. North Carolina contributed an estimated $2.3 billion to the nation’s hog industry in 2015, according to USDA figures.

Fewer Veterinarians Available in Rural Areas

WNAX | Posted on December 7, 2017

Farmers and public health officials are growing increasingly concerned with a shortage of food animal veterinarians in Iowa and across the country. The number of farm animal vets is shrinking at a time when worries over potential disease outbreaks are on the rise.  In response to the vet shortage, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program provides selected food animal and public health veterinarians up to $75,000 in loan repayment in exchange for serving at least three years in designated shortage areas. Thomson says the program is working, but doesn’t receive enough funding to fill the demand. This challenge results in part from the fact that each award from the program is subject to a 39 percent withholding tax.