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Missouri Farmers Care Raise Funds to Preserve Farming Rights

A farming coalition in Missouri has raised funds to help secure farmer’s rights in the state.

Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of more than 40 agriculture organizations in the state, announced Thursday that they raised $197,119 in the final three months of 2013. These funds will be used to help pass Constitutional Amendment 1, the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment, in 2014.

Farmers, ranchers, and agriculture supporters from across the state helped raise $134,619 prior to in the final quarter of 2013. In total, 562 supporters contributed to Missouri Farmers Care during this time period. Finally, Missouri Farmers Care member organizations contributed another $62,500 at the end of the year with more member organizations pledging funds in 2014.

“We have really seen the agricultural community rally around the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment,” Missouri Farmers Care Chairman Don Nikodim says. “We have always been fortunate to receive the generous support of many farmers and ranchers but people really stepped up to meet the challenge of passing this important amendment. Their generosity has Missouri Farmers Care and the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment in a great position for 2014.”

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Constitutional Amendment 1 was referred to the voters by the Missouri General Assembly in 2013. HJR 7&11 was passed with large bipartisan majorities, 132 to 25 in the State House, and 28 to 6 in the State Senate.

“Missouri's agriculture community is committed to reaching out to voters to explain the need for the Farming Rights Amendment,” Nikodim says. “Agriculture is Missouri's top industry and the lifeblood of our rural communities and we look forward to making our case to all voters in the state.”

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Nutrient Research Center Website Unveiled

Iowa State University’s Iowa Nutrient Research Center has unveiled a website that provides information on research projects underway to improve nutrient management practices on Iowa farms.

The website,, is part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy website, A link on the website,, provides summaries of the center’s 10 funded projects, including research on bioreactors, cover crops, new technology to more accurately predict movement of nutrients and decision-support tools for farmers.

The first set of 10 projects, led by teams of scientists at Iowa State, the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa, address critical needs or gaps in nitrogen and phosphorus research identified in the science assessment that was part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Center was established by the Iowa Board of Regents in response to legislation passed last spring by the Iowa Legislature and signed by Gov. Terry Branstad. The center received $1.5 million for 2013-2014 from the legislature for research in areas that include evaluating the performance of current and emerging nutrient management practices, providing recommendations on implementing the practices and developing new practices.

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science and technology-based approach to assess and reduce nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.

The center’s director is John Lawrence, the associate dean for Extension and Outreach in Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of ISU’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach.




Holding EPA Accountable

Aerial photo of farm

A Nebraska senator has continued his campaign for accountability regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) use of aerial surveillance to spy on agricultural operations.

On Wednesday, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) announced that the EPA will finally have to reveal details about its aerial surveillance program. He applauded the inclusion of a provision he pushed in the omnibus appropriations package requiring EPA give a full account, including where the flyovers took place, how much they cost and how many were conducted.

Johanns first asked questions about EPA’s use of aerial surveillance to monitor agriculture operations in a letter to the agency’s former administrator in 2012 and has since resubmitted nearly a half dozen requests, most recently during a committee hearing last year.

“For an administration that publicly pats itself on the back for transparency, EPA has done nothing but try to keep these flyovers in the shadows,” Johanns says. “It’s unfortunate that Congress had to step in for EPA to simply reveal when, where, and how they are using taxpayer dollars to snoop on Americans. They were given numerous opportunities to be upfront, but instead chose to give flippant, snarky answers even going as far as to deny the existence of flyover records.”

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The omnibus clarifying report language requires EPA to, “submit a report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations within 180 days of enactment of this act that identifies by fiscal year: the amount of funding spent to contract for aerial over-flights, the contractor performing the work, the number of flights performed, geographical areas (county and state) that the contracted flights surveyed, and data that identifies by fiscal year the number of enforcement actions where aerial survey information was utilized as contributing evidence, and the outcome of each action. The report shall include data from fiscal year 2003 to fiscal year 2013.”

Johanns sent multiple letters requesting information, which EPA, in response, refused to provide a national account of the program. Johanns also offered an amendment during the Senate’s farm bill debate requiring EPA to stop the program. The amendment earned the support of 56 senators, including 10 Democrats, sending a strong message that EPA must be accountable to Americans.

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Eyeing Pork Purchases

Eyeing Pork Purchases

The Pork Checkoff’s recent eye-tracking retail study provides some eye-opening results: retailers have just seconds to grab shoppers’ attention at the meat case.

The upside? The Pork Checkoff has pinpointed what consumers look at and for how long, and which images and messages resonate the most and inspire shoppers to purchase pork.

“Major consumer companies, such as Procter & Gamble, routinely use eye-tracking studies to better market their products,” said Patrick Fleming, director of retail marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “The Pork Checkoff, though, is the first meat industry organization to use this type of research.”

Eye-tracking studies provide more useful information than shop-along studies, where a researcher accompanies consumers through the grocery store. Shoppers are more comfortable with the eye-tracking technology because they don’t feel like their actions are being judged, Fleming said.

Small Window to Win Sales
The Pork Checkoff teamed with GFK User Centric to study shoppers at an upscale food market and at a conventional supermarket. Participants wore glasses with video recording devices to record what they viewed and how long they looked at items. A laptop computer in the child seat of each shopper’s grocery cart remotely captured the results.

“The findings showed that consumers gaze only two-tenths of a second at point-of-sale materials at the meat case,” Fleming said.

To find more about what grabs shoppers’ attention, researchers studied people’s responses to specific point-of-sale materials. Participants looked at pork meat case signs interspersed with signs advertising non-meat products. Their recorded eye movements offer the following tips to better engage consumers:

• Mouth-watering photos work. One large shot featuring a delicious pork dish catches consumers’ attention better than multiple images, Fleming noted.

• Simple is best. An uncluttered layout with one key point is more effective than a complex design with multiple messages.

• Food trumps other images. People prefer to see finished dishes rather than photos that explain various raw cuts of pork.

• Choose words carefully. Shoppers are in a buying mode rather than a learning mode, so call-to-action messages, such as “Dinner Tonight” or “Great on the Grill,” are more effective.

These insights are helping the Pork Checkoff develop targeted point-of-sales materials. “Making smarter decisions and staying on point with our messages are helping inspire consumers to put pork in their carts,” Fleming said.






AMI Testifies on Benefits of Meat in Diet

Balsamic pork chops

The American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) on Tuesday responded to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In oral testimony delivered to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, AMI Foundation (AMIF) Vice President of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren emphasized the important role of fresh and ready-to-eat meat and poultry products as part of a balanced diet.

Booren noted that while a common trend amongst food manufacturers today is products with added protein, meat and poultry products provide Americans a simple, direct, and balanced dietary source of complete proteins with all essential amino acids and are rich sources of micronutrients such as iron, selenium, Vitamins A, B12 and folic acid.

“Foods from animals, including meat & poultry, are THE natural source of Vitamin B12, which is important for normal metabolism and mental clarity. Up to 16% of U.S. adults and more than 20% over 60 years old are marginally depleted in vitamin B12. Deficiency increases with age, with about 6% of those over 70 years old being deficient in vitamin B12. Meat & poultry are rich in nutrients your body can use, and help people derive more nutrients from vegetables and grains when consumed in combination. Iron and zinc in beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and fish are more “bioavailable,” meaning they are more easily absorbed and utilized by the body, than these minerals from grains or vegetables,” Booren said.


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Booren also discussed the benefits of convenience meat products, like marinated roasts, fully cooked home-style favorites like meatloaf or turkey breast and luncheon meats. These are offered in a variety of different formulations that fit Americans’ lifestyle and nutrition needs including low fat, low sodium, gluten free and more. Convenience meats also offer an exemplary safety record, are affordable and are important for sub-groups of the population who have limited options and are currently making less nutrient-dense choices.

“We agree that a variety of protein foods should be consumed,” Booren said. “However we also have shown that convenience meats can fit into a healthy eating pattern and is an appropriate option for a healthy lifestyle. The meat and poultry industry also provides a variety of processed meats that include historical American favorites as well as whole muscle items, and many lower sodium, and leaner options.”

Booren’s full comments to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee are available here. AMIF will also submit more detailed written comments for the committee’s consideration.

To learn more about the guidelines, visit

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Gratien Theriault joins Choice Genetics USA as Business Development Manager, Latin America

Gratien Theriault has been hired as business development manager for Latin America at Choice Genetics USA. Choice Genetics is a Groupe Grimaud company and one of the world's leading pig genetics companies.

Gratien has numerous years of experience in the industry, including his most recent position with Génétiporc Mexico, where he served as country manager and CEO.

"Choice Genetics USA is excited to have Gratien on board. He
brings great sales, management and international experience to our group," says Brent Mitchell, COO of Choice Genetics USA.

"I'm very enthusiastic to be joining the Choice Genetics team and continuing to develop the Latin America market. These are very exciting times for Choice Genetics with the addition of the CT scanning, new female lines and their selection for disease tolerance. I am looking forward to many successes," Theriault says.

Gratien received his education from the Quebec Agriculture Depertment and the Agriculture Institute of La Pocatière. He will be based out of Canada. 

PEDV Lateral Spread Study Results Released

PEDV Lateral Spread Study Results Released

The University of Minnesota has released preliminary findings for its lateral spread study on porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV). Researchers emphasize that the results will change as more data are available and analyzed.

Data from the first 24 company, capacity, and production type matched pairs of case sites and negative control sites (48 total analyzed) from 123 questionnaires were summarized.

  • There were veterinary visits in four positive sites prior to infection compared to none in negative sites.
  • There was approximately double the number of company service visitors visiting positive sites compared to negative sites.
  • There was approximately 60% higher frequency of trucks visiting to remove pigs of any age from positive sites compared to negative sites.
  • There was approximately 2.5 times the frequency of trash pickups from positive sites compared to negative sites.
  • Approximately double the percentage of positive sites had dead haul vehicles visit the site in the two weeks preceding infection.
  • Approximately 10 times the number of positive sites reported pig additions from another site in the operation compared to negative sites.
  • Approximately 3.5 times the number of positive sites reported borrowing equipment from another site compared to negative sites.
  • Approximately double the number of positive sites reported seeing wildlife in the buildings compared to negative sites.
  • Approximately 2.5 times the number of positive sites reported seeing a moderate to severe problem with birds near the site compared to negative farms.
  • Approximately 20% more negative sites used disinfectant on the chute floor in between every loading or unloading of pigs compared to positive sites.

Data from the first nine distance-matched pairs of case sites and negative control sites (18 total analyzed) from 123 questionnaires were summarized.

  • No significant trends were discovered with this group of data
  • Site capacity was not significantly different between positive and negative

Groups of 4,824 average capacity in the negative controls or 4,953 average capacity in the case farms.

The negative sites in this preliminary analysis are now the identified controls for the specific positive sites.

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Weathering the Weather: Grain Farmers Respond

A new report on farmer perspectives on climate and agriculture, gathered in a 2012 survey of nearly 5,000 farmers from 11 Corn Belt states, presents survey results by watershed.
“Farmer Perspectives on Agriculture and Weather Variability in the Corn Belt:  A Statistical Atlas” is a new publication of the Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project (CSCAP), based at Iowa State University, and is available online at The “statistical atlas” includes maps and tables that make it easy for readers to gauge farmer perspectives within one or more of 22 major river basins in the Corn Belt. Topics covered in the atlas include beliefs about climate change, attitudes toward actions in response to increased weather variability, risk perceptions and farmer experiences with weather extremes.
“Many of the impacts of increased weather variability are hydrological. And biophysical science research is increasingly conducted using watershed boundaries, so we decided to use a watershed approach in our socioeconomic research design,” says J. Arbuckle, professor of sociology at Iowa State and one of the principal investigators for the survey.
The watersheds that were surveyed account for more than half of all U.S. corn and soybean production. Farmers selected for the survey were those who grew corn and who had more than $100,000 in gross farm income in 2011; these larger-scale farmers cultivate approximately 80% of the farmland in the region.
The CSCAP, a USDA-funded project, seeks to increase resilience and adaptability of Midwest agriculture to more volatile weather patterns by identifying farmer practices and policies that increase sustainability while meeting crop demand. The survey was conducted in partnership with another USDA-funded project called Useful to Usable.
“In order to help farmers adapt their cropping systems to more variable weather, it is important to understand their perspectives,” Arbuckle says. “Are they concerned about potential increases in weather, pest and disease impacts? Do they feel prepared? The survey focused on many such questions.”
The report contains tables that present the data and maps that show the geographical distribution of survey results across the Corn Belt. CSCAP intends the maps and tables to be resources that Extension educators, agricultural advisors and other agricultural stakeholders across the region can use to help them understand farmer perspectives in their local areas.
“We have a team of 18 Extension educators across the Corn Belt who will be incorporating the maps and tables into their work with farmers and other stakeholders,” says Jamie Benning, Iowa State extension specialist and climate educator, who directs CSCAP Extension activities. “Many Extension educators and agricultural advisers will be talking about weather variability in workshops and meetings with farmers. They can easily incorporate maps from this atlas in their presentations.”
Weather maps also are included in the report and were developed using data from National Weather Service Cooperative Observer weather stations from across the region. The maps, developed by Jon Hobbs, a doctoral student at Iowa State and CSCAP team member, show differences in extreme precipitation, drought and heat stress by watershed.  
“We hope Extension, government agencies and private sector agricultural stakeholders across the region will find this report to be useful,” says Lois Wright Morton, CSCAP director and sociology professor at Iowa State. “A better understanding of what farmers are thinking about weather extremes and their related experiences and concerns, can help those of us who work with farmers do our jobs more effectively.”
The report is available for download from the CSCAP website,
CSCAP, also known as the Sustainable Corn Project, convenes teams from 10 land grant universities and two USDA Agricultural Research Service laboratories across nine midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin). The teams are comprised of 90 biophysical and social scientists including soil scientists and agronomists, sociologists, economists, agricultural engineers, modelers and climatologists as well as educators and Extension field specialists. One hundred and sixty five farmers within the region also participate on the project.

The project’s scientists are gathering and studying data from 35 field sites and thousands of midwestern farmers, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems that:

·      Retain and enhance soil organic matter and nutrient and carbon stocks,
·      Reduce off-field nitrogen losses that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution,
·      Better withstand droughts and floods and
·      Ensure productivity under different climatic conditions.


NAFTA Turns 20 Years Old

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade deal among the United States, Mexico and Canada, according to a news release from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

It remains to this day one of the most important free trade agreements (FTAs) the United States has negotiated and has been especially beneficial for the U.S. pork industry. Much of the U.S. pork industry’s early export success came in large part from the increased access to Mexico and Canada gained through NAFTA.

Once an inconsequential market for U.S. pork, Mexico now ranks as the second-largest value market for U.S. pork exports, valued at $1.13 billion in 2012, and the largest volume market, with more than 600,000 metric tons (MT) exported, a rate increase of 530% since implementation. Mexico alone now accounts for more than 20% of total U.S. pork exports and approximately 4% of U.S. pork production.

U.S. pork exports to Canada, as part of NAFTA and previously under the U.S.-Canada FTA, have grown to more than 230,000 MT from just under 7,000 MT in 1989, placing Canada among the top five foreign markets for U.S. pork.

NAFTA not only increased pork exports but also increased communication and cooperation among the three nations in the form of animal health capacity building, food safety, regulatory alignment and other issues of mutual interest.

NPPC continues to work closely with its counterparts in Mexico and Canada to strengthen the relationship and the North American swine herd.


Don’t Forget Water’s Value to Pig Performance

Don’t Forget Water’s Value to Pig Performance

Although water consumption is an important indicator of a swine herd's performance and health, water may be the most overlooked nutrient for a pig, according to Bob Thaler, SDSU Extension swine specialist.

“When thinking about the pig's nutrient requirements, it is easy to focus on common things like amino acids, metabolizable energy, vitamins and minerals. However, water is the nutrient that the pig consumes the most of during its life. It is probably the most mismanaged and unfortunately, it is also the nutrient that has the least amount of research done on it,” Thaler says.

What little research has been done is confounded, Thaler says, by the different types of watering devices used.

“Feed intake, and subsequently, growth performance are strongly correlated with water intake so anything that decreases or inhibits water intake will result in reduced pig performance,” he says.


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How much water does a pig need for normal growth? Daily water requirements depend on phase of production, and recommendations are as follows:

*        Newly weaned pigs - .5 gallons/pig/day

*        Grow-finish pigs -1.5 gallons/pig/day

*        Gestating sows and boars - 4 gallons/pig/day

*        Lactating sows - 6 gallons/pig/day

Thaler says it is very important to realize that these numbers represent how much water a pig needs to drink. They do not include the amount of water needed for cleaning, cooling, etc., which can account for approximately 28% of the water used in a facility.

Time of Day and Water Consumption

Research shows that pigs have a pattern in which they drink water throughout the day. When using nipple waterers, finishing pigs and gestating sows drink the most water between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. and have a smaller peak between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. Nursery pigs consume the most water between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and lactating sows consume water throughout the whole day since they are producing milk throughout the day as well.

“What makes this information important is hog producers need to have enough watering devices available at those peak times of water consumption so all pigs can drink all they want during those high-demand times,” Thaler says.

It is recommended to have two functional nipple waterers if there are greater than 10 nursery pigs in the pen, and greater than 15 finishing pigs in a pen. Nipples can become plugged with rust, sediment, minerals, etc. through time so Thaler says it is critical to check each nipple daily to make sure it is working properly.

Nipple waterers must also be placed at the proper height to maximize water intake. A general rule of thumb is to have nipple height adjusted to be equal in height to the pig’s shoulder.

“If the waterer is too low, the pig will still work to drink water, but it won't drink all it wants, so feed intake and performance will suffer. This is especially important for lactating sows,” he says.

Another critical factor to adequate water consumption that Thaler points out is the water flow rate as it leaves the waterer.

“Too little or too much water flow/pressure will decrease water intake so it is essential to adjust all waterers to provide the proper flow rate,” he says.

Recommendations for flow rates are: for nursery pigs to be 250-500 milliliter per minute or one to two cups per minute; for grow-finish hogs to be about 500-1000 milliliter per minute or two to four cups per minute; and for breeding animals flow needs to be 1,000 milliliter per minute or four cups per minute.     

“Water consumption not only affects growth performance, but it can also be an indicator of health status,” Thaler says.

For example, if a barn is showing three consecutive days of decreased water intake or a 30% decrease in water consumption in one day, that is a good sign of a potential health issue occurring in the barns. Thaler says barn personnel need to manage accordingly.

“Water is a critical nutrient that is often overlooked, and it has a dramatic impact on every phase of pork production. It needs to be provided in the proper amount and pressure, and in a way easily accessible to the pig,” he says.

By paying as much attention to water and water delivery devices as they do to feed and feeder, pork producers can help maintain a high level of performance of their animals.

For more information, contact Bob Thaler, SDSU Extension swine specialist, (605) 688-5435, or Ashley Gelderman, SDSU Extension swine field specialist, (605)782-3290.

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