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Articles from 2020 In January

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Jan. 31, 2020

One of the biggest ag gatherings of the year is next week, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, at San Antonio.

K.C. Wolf is the longest performing mascott in the NFL. Dan Meers is the man behind the mask, and has been doing it for 30 years.

Cooperation key in event of an FAD break

National Hog Farmer The worst thing that can happen is a hog farm taking a hit on a disease outbreak such as porcine epidemic diarrhea virus at a time when it is mild enough that it has no market impact Steve Meyer says In 2014 the market impact outweighed the cost of the disease outbreak From a market strategy standpoint it will be advantageous to take all measures to avoid a disease outbreak on the farm this winterReevaluating the farmrsquos biosecurity plan should be a normal routine A complete assessment o

It's been nearly five months since the nation's top 14 pork-producing states test drove their crisis response plans to see if they could effectively respond to and mitigate an African swine fever outbreak. Thankfully the industry has not had to put practice to play since then, but the drill has put pork producers on their toes and continuing to ask questions.

"When you think about what it would mean if we had 30 operations and it was for real, how quickly people's resolve to do good, basic stuff, basically every single day, how quickly that's going to change," says Heidi Vittetoe, co-owner of JWV Pork, based in Washington County, Iowa. "The other thing was we did the exercise in September and in September, it's really nice out and it's not hard to do good biosecurity in September. On the other hand, if you got a foot of snow or you have your barns froze shut and every other thing, it will be very hard to do biosecurity right."

Months prior to the exercise led by the USDA, JWV Pork began amplifying their own biosecurity efforts, establishing better clean/dirty lines, securing ports of entry into barns and cleaning and disinfecting trailers between loads. However, Vittetoe says even those initiatives were challenging at times.

"These are simple things, but I did not anticipate how hard it would be, especially with a fear factor going up, like ASF is a real deal," Vittetoe says. "Why wouldn't people do the stuff we were asking them to?"

The pork production team ran into issues such as contract growers bringing kids and dogs into barns to do chores and getting in and out of trucks, tracking manure from one building into another. Some didn't think they had room in the barn to put in a clean/dirty line, while others didn't know where the farm boundaries should be for a line of separation from off-farm traffic. If barns are locked, where do you keep the keys to enter barns?

Those are just some of the questions Vittetoe's team addressed before the four-day exercise this past fall, however the pressing question she has received since the drill from her contract growers has been if something happens, will we get paid?

"The only way that people get paid in the pig industry in general, forget ASF, is when the person who owns the pigs has revenue from the pigs that they can use to pay, so it would seem evident that good biosecurity, maintaining your barn orders is a really key way to assure that we don't have the disease and so you can maintain a stream of payments that everyone is concerned about," Vittetoe says.

However, she cautions producers to be mindful of the segmentation of the industry as contract growers may not see themselves as part of the risk for introducing a foreign animal disease in the chain of production.

"To mitigate that risk, the best thing that you can do is cooperate with the biosecurity protocols," Vittetoe says. "Cooperate with keeping your barns locked and those sorts of things because there isn't a 'we' and 'they' in the swine industry. If we get ASF, we're all 'we.'"

Bigger doesn't mean all biosecurity addressed
Before the four-day drill, Ian Levis, Operations and Vet Services manager for Seaboard Foods of Iowa, thought his team had a good handle on keeping track of movements on/off site. It wasn't until the exercise that they started to consider some of the equipment that is used on-site, including grounds maintenance. For example, Levis soon realized that the same contractor who mows for the site in the exercise, mows at six or seven other sites within Seaboard's organization, in addition to their feed mill and potentially other producers' sites.

"I think it's one of the areas that we as producers have to hold ourselves accountable for and hold our toll mills, our suppliers accountable for," Levis says. "There are a lot of touches on the farm that no one thinks about, even when you're in a system that you think is pretty biosecure."

Levis says all of those touches need to be addressed, because that information will be needed for the epidemiological investigation during an outbreak. The ability to produce that information will be directly tied to how quickly state animal health officials can potentially clear your site or other sites.

Another question that came up during the exercise was if you are cleaning a site after an FAD, how do you dispose of manure and clean the pit? Are there chemicals that can be applied to pits that will inactivate virus in the manure? These questions came up in addition to what each state allows for depopulation and disposal methods.

Finally, Levis says the exercise was the first time 14 states, producers and industry allies had to play together.

"There had not necessarily been a lot of interaction in the past with all parties at the same time. We got through the fourth day and every state had a different set of testing requirements, different set of samples, different number of samples they wanted collected on a week out from movement. Some states said three days," Levis says. "It's not just large companies, there are a lot of people moving pigs from state to state."

Missing connection points
Pete Thomas, director of health services for Iowa Select Farms, started preparing his team for the exercise the Sunday night before with a conference call, which he says helped visualize the drill more realistically.

"I think it really kind of gave everybody in our system, you know, people who thought they probably had nothing to do with this, whether it's IT or maybe a sow farm completely unrelated, it gave them an opportunity to be involved," Thomas says.

Wrapping your head around everything that goes on during a week, much less a 72-hour minimum hold was challenging, Thomas says, but something that needed to be done.

"I think that one of the most critical pieces, regarding if we have an African swine fever break, is the ability to do accurate and timely epidemiology investigations within your own system," Thomas says. "There are two reasons why it's absolutely critical. No 1, if we have it in a site, how long is it going to take to spread to other sites? If it has spread to one or two other sites before we realized it, we still have an opportunity to shut it down — if we realize where all the dangerous contacts are that had touched that site — the quicker we can identify those and not let something go that we didn't recognize, the more opportunity we have to minimize the spread in our system or other systems and the better chance we have to actually shut this disease down rather than live with it and spread to other portions, like China has."

Developing an epidemiology plan not only identifies all the people/processes that touch your farm, but also prioritizes high-risk, medium-risk and low-risk touches. The load crew may be a low risk, but Thomas encourages producers to ask who is all on that crew and where else have they been?

"There's always these things you don't realize and some of those connections are probably the most critical connections because they're not our sites with our managers that are more than likely doing things the right way," Thomas says. "These are the things that people have not had training on or biosecurity process protocol, so thinking through all those things, but some of those missing connection points might be even more dangerous than we realize."

The Iowa Select team is now looking at bonus or incentive programs for those load crews, drivers and independent contractors who keep strict biosecurity protocols. They're also examining ways to keep more records automated such as entry and exit of live animals, entry of animal products, collection of mortalities, entry of regular employees and history of any international travel. They are also testing out GPS and geofencing for tracking movement as well as an app on phones to register employees automatically.

"If we sit here and expect the state or the USDA is just going to do my epidemiological investigation for me, you're wrong," Thomas says. "They're expecting you to give them the information, but they're going to be overwhelmed within a matter of an hour. You've got all the information they're going to have to try to extract the heck out of you. I think everybody's got to take that responsibility serious and be prepared to take that on, if they do break."

Trump signs USMCA; Canada up next

Getty Images/iStockphoto Illustration of USMCA with U.S. Capitol in the background

President Trump, at a White House ceremony this week, signed H.R. 5430, ratifying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. The administration estimates U.S. agricultural exports will increase $2.2 billion under USMCA.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a statement says, "This agreement shows the rest of the world the United States is open for business. USMCA is critical for America's farmers and ranchers, who will now have even more market access to our neighbors to the north and the south."

Canada and Mexico are the first and second largest export markets for U.S. food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion food and agricultural exports in 2018.

Canada is the last country that needs to ratify the USMCA before it can go into effect. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked the Canadian Parliament to move forward on ratification. Legislation was introduced in Canada's House of Commons on Wednesday to implement the USMCA. It is expected the agreement will pass early this spring.

USMCA will go into effect 90 days after Canada ratifies the agreement.

USDA Outlook Conference set for February
"The Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture" is the theme of USDA's 2020 Outlook Conference that will be held Feb. 20-21 in Arlington, Va.

Perdue and John Hartnett, founder and CEO of SVG Ventures, will discuss the future of agriculture, challenges facing the sector and emerging solutions during the opening session on Feb. 20. Also, Robert Johansson, USDA chief economist, will present USDA's outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade in 2020.

A panel that day will discuss "Innovation as a solution for farmers." Panelists are Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner for Food Policy and Response at the Food and Drug Administration; Jeff Broin, founder of POET; and Shari Rogge-Fidler, president of Farm Foundation.

There will be 30 sessions during the conference for attendees to choose from concerning innovations in agriculture, global trade trends, food loss and waste, frontiers in conservation and the science of food safety.

For additional information visit the Agricultural Outlook Forum website.

Trillion-dollar deficits projected
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its "2020 Budget and Economic Outlook" projecting the return of trillion-dollar deficits and higher and rising debt and deficits over the next 10 years.

The CBO estimates the federal deficit for 2020 will be $1.02 trillion and the deficit will increase to $1.7 trillion in 2030 under current law. This year's deficit will be first trillion-dollar deficit in history not caused by the Great Recession. The increase in the deficit is from tax cuts and projected increased spending, especially health care, Social Security and interest on the national debt.

The deficit was higher after the 2008-09 financial crisis. However, economists are concerned the difference between taxes and spending has remained high during a time of low unemployment and a growing economy.

CBO Director Phillip Swagel says, "Not since World War II has the country seen deficits during times of low unemployment that are as large as those that we project."

All eyes are on Iowa
Next Monday the Iowa caucus kicks-off the presidential primary and caucus season which will run through June 7. Real Clear Politics polls show the leading candidates in Iowa are Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. Next up is the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

African swine fever continues to creep through European Union

Plum Island Animal Disease Center APHIS has approved 11 National Animal Health Laboratory Network laboratories to test for ASF.

The European Food Safety Authority has published its latest annual update on the presence of African swine fever in the European Union. During the period covered by the report – November 2018 to October 2019 – Czechia became officially ASF-free. The disease was, however, confirmed as present in Slovakia, meaning there continues to be nine affected countries in the EU.

In 2019, the area of the EU affected by ASF expanded progressively, moving mainly in a southwestern direction.

The report shows that all phases of the epidemic are now represented in the EU: areas recently affected following either an isolated introduction or geographic expansion from affected areas; affected areas that are expanding; areas where ASF infection has been present for some time, including areas where ASF seems to be fading out; and non-affected areas.

The situation varies substantially between Member States, due to multiple influences including the structure of domestic pig production (in particular, the proportion of backyard holdings), geographical conditions, and the characteristics of the wild boar population.

Backyard (non-commercial) farms present particular challenges for an ASF eradication program, such as uncontrolled movements of pigs and people, poor biosecurity and the identification of holdings.

For this year's report, a case study was conducted in Romania to identify the particular factors that contribute to the spread of the disease in these non-commercial holdings.

The report also:

  • Describes seasonal fluctuations in the detection of ASF-positive samples since the disease was first detected in the EU
  • Reviews the measures applied by the affected Member States for controlling the spread of ASF in wild boar
  • Assesses the effectiveness of artificial or natural boundaries in controlling spread, with a particular focus on the combination of control measures that have been applied in Belgium (see graphic)
  • Assesses measures, based on the latest science and epidemiological data, for managing wild boar populations in different geographical areas of the EU
  • Gives an epidemiological analyses of ASF in the European Union (November 2018 to October 2019)
Source: European Food Safety Authority, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

MORNING Midwest Digest, Jan. 31, 2020

There've been comparisons drawn between coronavirus and SARS. But, the world is very different now. 

Some social justice groups are calling for Amy Klobuchar to drop out of the race due to a case she was on in the early 2000s.

Soybean futures prices could be due for an upward correction, say some grain market analysts.

Max caught up with a funeral procession, and wondered, because there was something different about it. It was for a Vietnam veteran who had no family, but 100s showed up to the visitation and funeral.

Going ractopamine-free not so simple

National Pork Board nhf-npb-feeder..jpg

This past October, several U.S. pork processors announced they planned to go "ractopamine-free" to capitalize on China's pork shortage due to African swine fever. China, the world's largest pork consumer, banned the feed additive used to promote lean meat growth in food animals in December 2011.

But as Chris Rademacher, associate director at Iowa Pork Industry Center, points out that saying your farm is going ractopamine-free and doing it are two different things.

"The main issue is that the ractopamine molecule is very big and easy to detect with conventional testing methods at very low levels, therefore it's not as simple as not feeding it because for people that have gone through that program, some things that they've gone through is the contamination, even in the feed mills," Rademacher says.

Instead, several integrated systems have opted to designate certain feed mills within their system as ractopamine-free.

Feed mills aren't the only ones though that have to get on board with ractopamine-free protocols and procedures.

"When you go ractopamine-free, it's not like the whole processing plant can just run pigs on Monday that are ractopamine-free and then the rest of the week starts normal production," Rademacher says.

However, Rademacher says even when feed mills and packing plants opt to only produce and process ractopamine-free products, cross-contamination can still happen. For example, a trailer used to ship pigs fed ractopamine can expose pigs that were not fed ractopamine through fecal matter, if not properly cleaned out between loads.

Since the company announcements to go ractopamine-free, the folks at the Iowa Pork Industry Center have fielded several questions from feed manufacturers, veterinarians, independent producers and swine exhibition participants.

Rademacher, along with Locke Karriker, director of Iowa State University's Swine Medicine Education Center, have developed an FAQ document in an effort to summarize the relevant scientific data about ractopamine in the pig, producer experiences and anecdotal information to guide producers adjusting to the new requirements. Questions include:

  • If I need my pigs to be ractopamine-free, what do I need to do in terms of cleaning my feeding equipment/barn at home?
  • Is there a test which would allow checking pigs at a county fair with results before pigs are shipped?
  • If liver is the marker tissue for the Food and Drug Administration and USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service compliance, is liver the tissue that will be used by processor-driven testing to confirm that a pig has never ever been fed ractopamine?

The document will continue to be updated as new questions arise, but in the meantime hats off to Rademacher and Karriker for putting together this much-need resource.

Farm Progress America, January 31, 2020

Using scrapers on the farm isn't all that new, but the addition of GPS takes it to another level. The technology has come quickly over the last five years, Dave Benson, Ashland Industries, says it has been coming into use at a good time as farmers need to remediate fields from flooding last year. Precision maps and GPS help control, turning the job into a one-man operation.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: JJ Gouin/iStock/Getty Images

Pork Management Conference set for April 20-23

Boonyachoat/GettyImages nhf-boonyachoat-gettyImages-calendar-.jpg

The National Pork Board will host its annual Pork Management Conference, April 20-23 in Destin, Fla. The annual conference will feature a diverse set of experts from across the U.S. to address current business trends and challenges facing the pork industry. Through presentations, breakout sessions and networking, attendees will gain important insight into the pork industry while learning critical management practices to improve the performance and efficiency of pig farming.

"The Pork Management Conference is a must-attend event for pork producers," says David Newman, president of the National Pork Board and a producer representing Arkansas. "It provides an opportunity for interactions among pork producers and those working in the industry to learn more about the different sectors, ask questions and take new information back to their farms."

In addition to the general sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, two concurrent afternoon sessions are planned for Wednesday. Topics will include benchmarking, producer response plans, risk management, blockchain, crisis management, finding and keeping talented workers, accounting and tax updates.

Registration is $425 per person through March 20 and $475 after that. No refunds will be made after March 20.   

Source: National Pork Board, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Jan. 30, 2020

There's an update for a recall from GM, in 2019 Chevy and GM pickups for electronic brake failure. 

The American Farm Bureau is calling for expanded and clear hemp rules, from testing to transportation.

Les Wexner is stepping down as CEO of L Brands.

Proposed legislation in Illinois will stop carnivals from awarding live animals, like goldfish.

Tryptophan can partially overcome negative effects of leucine in pig diets

National Pork Board Feeder pigs in a pen

Tryptophan is an indispensable amino acid that is often limiting for growth in pigs fed corn-soybean meal-based diets. Tryptophan may act as a regulator of feed intake by enhancing serotonin signaling in the brain, because tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin. High tryptophan intake increases feed intake, and this is partly attributed to increased serotonin synthesis. Availability of dietary tryptophan in the brain is considered the rate-limiting step in hypothalamic serotonin synthesis.

However, to be transported into the brain, tryptophan competes with other large neutral amino acids such as valine, leucine, isoleucine, tyrosine and phenylalanine for a common transporter (L-type amino acid transporter 1) to cross the blood-brain barrier.

Diets based on corn and corn co-products and sorghum and sorghum co-products often contain much more leucine than required by the pigs because of the high concentration of leucine in corn and sorghum protein. Because leucine is one of the amino acids that competes with tryptophan for transport into the brain, excess dietary leucine has been shown to reduce synthesis of serotonin and thereby reduce feed intake of pigs.

It is, however, possible that increased dietary tryptophan can overcome these effects. Therefore, an experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis that increased dietary tryptophan is needed in high-leucine diets for growing pigs to prevent drop in hypothalamic serotonin concentration and to maintain feed intake and growth performance of pigs.

A total of 144 growing pigs (initial body weight: 28.2 ± 1.9 kilograms) were assigned to nine dietary treatments with two pigs per pen and eight replicate pens per treatment. Three basal diets based on corn, soybean meal, wheat and barley were formulated to contain 100, 200 or 300% of the requirement for standardized ileal digestible leucine. These three diets were formulated to have a SID tryptophan:lysine ratio of 18%, which is assumed to be the requirement for growing pigs. Six additional diets were formulated by adding either 0.05% or 0.10% crystalline tryptophan to each of the three basal diets to provide diets with SID tryptophan:lysine ratios of 23% or 28%, respectively. Thus a total of nine diets were used.

Individual pig body weights were recorded at the conclusion of the 21-day experiment, and on the last day of the experiment, one pig per pen was sacrificed and the hypothalamus was collected to measure hypothalamic serotonin concentrations.

Results confirmed that average daily feed intake was negatively affected by excess dietary leucine in the diet (Figure 1), and this resulted in negative effects on average daily gain (Figure 2).

University of IllinoisFigure 1: Predicted values, based on the interaction between standardized ileal digestible tryptophan and SID leucine, for average daily feed intake in growing pigs.

Figure 1: Predicted values, based on the interaction between standardized ileal digestible tryptophan and SID leucine, for average daily feed intake in growing pigs fed diets containing from 18 to 28% SID Trp:Lys and from 100 to 300% SID Leu relative to the requirement.

University of IllinoisFigure 2: Predicted values, based on the interaction between standardized ileal digestible tryptophan and SID leucine, for average daily gain in growing pigs.

Figure 2: Predicted values, based on the interaction between standardized ileal digestible tryptophan and SID leucine, for average daily gain in growing pigs fed diets containing from 18 to 28% SID Trp:Lys and from 100 to 300% SID Leu relative to the requirement.


However, the negative effect of excess leucine on feed intake and gain was partially ameliorated by increasing dietary tryptophan. Hypothalamic serotonin was also negatively affected by dietary leucine indicating that excess leucine will restrict uptake of tryptophan in the brain (Figure 3). But with increased dietary tryptophan, the negative effect of excess leucine was partially overcome. These data confirm the negative effect of leucine on serotonin synthesis, which is likely because excess leucine reduces tryptophan uptake in the brain due to competition for the shared transporter from blood to brain.

University of IllinoisFigure 3: Predicted values, based on the interaction between standardized ileal digestible tryptophan and SID leucine, for hypothalamic serotonin concentrations in growing pigs.

Figure 3: Predicted values, based on the interaction between standardized ileal digestible tryptophan and SID leucine, for hypothalamic serotonin concentrations in growing pigs fed diets containing from 18 to 28% SID) Trp:lysine and from 100 to 300% SID Leu relative to the requirement.

It is, therefore, likely that the reduced feed intake of pigs fed excess leucine, with subsequent reductions in average daily gain, is partially a result of the reduced synthesis of serotonin in the brain. However, it is also clear that even with the greatest concentrations of tryptophan used in this experiment, it was not possible to fully restore growth performance for pigs fed a diet containing 300% of the leucine requirement to that of pigs fed the diet with 100% of the leucine requirement.

This observation indicates that the reduced synthesis of serotonin is not the only negative effect of excess leucine in the diets.

In summary, increased dietary leucine reduced synthesis of serotonin in the brain due to restricted uptake of tryptophan in the brain. Because of reduced synthesis of serotonin, feed intake was reduced which then resulted in reduced average daily gain. The implication of these results is that the negative effects of excess dietary leucine can be partially overcome by adding more tryptophan to the diet.

Sources: Woong B. Kwon and Hans H. Stein, who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.