Rejecting scientific advancements in agriculture may be in fashion, but this fad poses great dangers to the affordability and accessibility of food domestically and worldwide. In three weeks, the second-smallest state by population is set to create chaos in the U.S. food supply chain. Vermont’s mandatory labeling law for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) takes effect on July 1, with Maine and Connecticut planning to follow suit. If states move forward with their own labeling laws using varying standards and definitions, this legal patchwork will force farmers to implement costly new procedures and equipment. Retailers will have to alter ingredients and distribution chains or face financial penalties.
These costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers, with the biggest burdens falling to those who can afford them least. As our global population grows, we should be celebrating producers’ ability to make safe, affordable foods available to more people while preserving our finite resources. Laws such as Vermont’s seek to vilify the very technology making these advancements possible.
Lectures at the 2016 World Mycotoxin Forum (WMF) addressed aspects of the event’s theme, “Mycotoxins in a changing world”; however, the consensus among many speakers touched on the undeniable impact climate change has had – and will increasingly have – on mycotoxin contamination in the global food and feed supply. In coming years, agriculture will need to deal with a varied group of issues related to climate change and its residual effects: Grain producers may need to adjust how they plant, what they plant and when. Warmer weather will usher in more insect and fungi infestations, which, in turn, will result in increased use of pesticides and fungicides. And, as the representatives from European stakeholder agencies reported, climate change is likely to increase the prevalence of mycotoxins – affecting animal and human health, feed and food quality, and global trade.
Fair Oaks Farms demonstrates that American consumers can accept large-scale agriculture if they can see it for themselves.
Remember the happy cows in California advertisments with individual Holsteins on lush green hillsides? This imagery created an unreal expectation in the minds of consumers about how these animals were raised. What animal agriculture really needs to share with consumers are the real stories of how cows, pigs and poultry are raised on modern, large-scale farms. Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana has chosen to tackle the biosecurity and public relations challenges of welcoming a half-million visitors each year to tour its 37,000-cow dairy, 3,000-sow farrow-to-wean farm and, coming in 2017, half-million cage-free laying hen farm.
Seven outbreaks of salmonella linked to backyard poultry flocks have caused 324 cases of illnesses in 35 states since January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One death has been reported, and 66 people have been hospitalized. Results from investigations with local health, veterinary and agriculture officials, as well as USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, found the culprit to be human contact with live poultry such as chicks and ducklings from multiple hatcheries.
The death of meaningful U.S. immigration reform, done in by Washington partisanship and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s incendiary comments on foreigners, is leaving crops withering in the field and the farm lobby with nowhere to turn as a labor shortage intensifies. Carlos Castaneda watched one-quarter of his Napa cabbages rot in three of his California fields this spring as 37 immigrant laborers scheduled to arrive March 13 under a farmworker visa program were delayed by bureaucratic paperwork. He said he’d like to see fixes to an immigration system that causes his crops to rot unharvested. But he has little hope that will happen in this political climate.
The Institute for Feed Education & Research is pleased to announce its support of the recently released Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle: Eighth Revised Edition (Beef NRC) publication. IFEEDER largely funded the revision, donating $75,000 to the National Academies of Sciences. The Beef NRC, originally published in 1944, serves as a reference to animal nutritionists, professors, and the cattle and feed industries in the development and implementation of nutritional and feeding programs for beef cattle. Since the revision of the seventh edition in 2000, the industry has undergone tremendous change, initiating the need for an eighth edition.
Cook learned skills for his startup from an entrepreneur development course at Fond du Lac's Emergent Technology Center. The 12-week session aims to help people bring their business ideas to fruition. Wisconsin often tracks near or at the bottom of state-by-state start-up rankings, but the center is working to change that. Cook learned to develop back-end business planning steps to launch BoviSync. The software was largely completed when he enrolled in the course, but there are always more steps to starting a business than developing a good product, Cook said. He and his team had worked years on the software, so getting constructive feedback before launching was helpful, he said. "It's like building QuickBooks from scratch," Cook said. "You're not going to do it overnight." Sitting at his kitchen table, Cook pulled up the BoviSync site on a Microsoft tablet. Through an array of graphs, he can see how much milk each cow produces over an extended period. The software allows nearby dairy farms to share their statistics (neighbor farms are rarely in direct competition) to compare if a production drop is isolated or a seasonal trend.
Leonard Peterson wants farmers to know that if they're wrongly accused of a Swampbuster, a national law prohibiting farm program payments if farmers drain wetlands to plant crops, they might be able to win in court. Peterson was accused of violating the law in 2009, and after two unsuccessful national administrative appeals, he took the case to federal court.
In the end, the court ruled U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service had improperly denied him benefits for converting a wetland. Judge Ralph Erickson, in Fargo said there was "insufficient evidence from which a fact-finder could conclude" that Peterson's scraping of field drains led to an increase in production of crops or "had the effect of making the production of an agricultural commodity possible."
Company will invest $24 million in expansion that will add more than 155 jobs to area. Pilgrim's has received state approval for a $24 million expansion project at its poultry processing complex in Mayfield, Kentucky.
Higher feed prices are once again the main story reducing prospects for profitability in pork production. In the first quarter of 2016, corn prices received by U.S. farmers averaged $3.60 per bushel and high protein meal at Decatur Illinois averaged $276 per ton. Today, those prices are closer to $4.00 per bushel for corn and nearby meal futures are above $400 per ton. Will higher feed prices erase hog profits? Fortunately, lean hog futures have also received a recent boost due to prospects for additional pork exports to China. In 2014, Chinese pork producers reduced herds due to poor margins. Now there is a shortage of pork, resulting in record high retail prices. China's pork imports have been growing and China will likely displace Japan as the world's top pork importer this year. This is no small feat since Japan has been the largest pork importer since 1989.
USDA analysts have forecast total U.S. pork exports to grow by five percent this year to 5.2 billion pounds. However, weekly export data this year points to even larger growth. Total export commitments for 2016 are 17 percent higher than last year at this point. Export commitments include the amount already shipped this year plus undelivered sales. With the prospects for Chinese imports to expand this summer, total export growth may be stronger than the current five percent USDA forecast.
Pork producer margins are currently caught between the good news of potentially higher pork prices from growing exports and the bad news of higher feed prices from reduced South American corn and soybean production and weather concerns for 2016 U.S. crops. Both pork prices and feed prices seemingly are in a period of upward dynamics right now. How these two issues ultimately work out will have a great deal to do with margins for the remainder of 2016 and 2017. Hog price prospects have improved somewhat. Prices in 2016 are now expected to be near $52 per live hundredweight, compared to an average of about $50 last year. Prices are expected to be in the mid-to-upper $50s in the second and third quarters and then seasonally drop to the higher $40's in the fourth quarter this year and first quarter of 2017. While hog prices for 2016 are expected to be about $2 higher, the cost of production is also expected to rise by nearly $2 per live hundredweight with current feed price estimates based on futures markets for the rest of the year..