Iowa State Studies Energy Production from Agriculture

A $275,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant will fund research at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University to evaluate the impact of increased energy production from agriculture.

“This research is critical for national leaders who are making decisions about investments in renewable fuels,” reports Bruce Babcock, director of CARD and professor of economics. “Right now people are asking how high the price of corn is going to go, and what higher corn prices mean for the competitiveness of U.S. livestock producers and our ability to meet export demand. This research will help to provide answers to these questions.” CARD researchers will calculate the breakeven prices of feedstocks, and then use these prices to determine the amount of feedstock that will be produced in the long run.

The project also assesses how shifts of agricultural commodities to energy sources might affect trade, and the impact of financial investment in ethanol and biodiesel facilities on income and employment in rural America.

OSHA Inspections Uncover Some Swine Farm Failures

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is taking a closer look at worker safety in the swine industry and those inspections have revealed some surprising lapses.

Speaking at a recent Pork Checkoff-sponsored Worker Safety Roundtable in Memphis, TN, OSHA Area Director Ron McGill says federal OSHA officials performed 18 hog farm inspections between October 2004 and May 2006. Eleven operations inspected were found to be non-compliant and financial penalties were assessed.

“The first step toward a safer work environment is developing awareness to potential hazards through training, and the Pork Checkoff’s safety materials can help,” says Liz Wagstrom, DVM, assistant vice president of science and technology for the National Pork Board.

Pork Production Safety System (PPSS) guides producers on safety and regulatory issues. The set includes materials for trainers, including an instructor CD and a DVD with video clips to customize any production safety presentation.

PPSS’s Employer Resources CD assists in developing a safety manual for the farm, and offers an emergency action plan, fire prevention and protection, electrical safety, respiratory health and safety, animal handling and other plans.

“We’re also putting together hazard assessments for different jobs around the farm to give producers a new tool on how to assess which personal protection equipment should be used,” adds Wagstrom.

The Pork Production Safety System kit is free to pork producers and is also available in Spanish. Order by clicking on the Pork Store link.

ID Standards to Track Animal Health

A multi-state partnership aims to establish a new standard for tracking animal health investigations, premises identification numbers and track regulatory events in the United States.

The Animal Health Information Management Consortium was formed during the recent U.S. Animal Health Association annual convention in Minneapolis.

Officials from Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana met to discuss ways to promote the use of USAHERDS, a database system developed by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Animal Health. Kentucky and Indiana recently adopted the program.

“Our goal, as a formal committee, is to establish an electronic standard for tracking information and data in the world of regulatory animal health,” says Paul Knepley, DVM, Pennsylvania state veterinarian.

More information is available by contacting Sean Crager, chief information officer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, at (717) 705-8897 or

Animal Health Firms Meet Added Antibiotic Demands

U.S. animal health companies met increased demand for medicine to treat and control animal disease in 2005, according to a survey of member companies of the Animal Health Institute (AHI).

The survey also showed that the amount of antibiotics produced to maintain animal health and promote growth dropped again. Total production for use in animals rose 12.3%.

“With many examples in recent years of the connection between animal health and human health, animal health companies play a vital role in protecting human health by keeping animals healthy,” says AHI President and CEO Alexander S. Mathews.

The Institute of Food Technologists issued a report recently describing the key role antibiotics play in food safety. “Some evidence is accumulating, especially in the poultry industry, that there are significant human health benefits from antibiotic use to prevent or control food animal disease,” the report says.

Two classes of compounds account for the increase in use of antibiotics. Ionophores are compounds not used in human medicine. Tetracyclines are undergoing a review by the Food and Drug Administration under Guidance 152, a qualitative risk assessment for proposed and currently approved antibiotics.

In 2005, 24.4 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for use in farm and companion animals, compared to 21.7 million pounds sold in 2004. The amount used to maintain animal health and enhance growth dropped from 5.4% the previous year to 4.5% in 2005.

“It appears that we are observing the same trend in the United States that we have seen in Europe,” says Mathews. “As the amount used for growth declines, the amount of antibiotics used to treat sick animals increases.”

Swine Veterinarians Schedule Annual Meeting in Florida

Learning what it takes to advance to the next level of performance will be the theme of the 38th annual meeting of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), March 3-6, 2007 in Orlando, FL.

“AASV: From Good to Great,” follows best-selling author Jim Collins’ book, “Good to Great,” in offering a program that challenges and attempts to answer the major questions facing swine veterinarians today.

Leading off discussion of that theme at the Howard Dunne Memorial Lecture March 5 will be Tom Burkgren, DVM, executive director of the AASV for the past nine years.

A new feature of the March 5 general session is a lecture series in honor of the late Alex Hogg, DVM. A former president of the AASV, Hogg was known internationally for his expertise in swine disease. Abilene, KS, swine veterinarian Steve Henry will present the inaugural Alex Hogg Memorial Lecture, “Swine medicine: what we must do to have a seat on the bus.”

Four concurrent sessions are offered in the afternoon program on March 5, with discussions on finishing diseases, epidemiology of swine pandemics, economic opportunities or threats and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome.

The March 6 program focuses entirely on porcine circovirus-associated disease (PCVAD), with an introductory general session on the topic, followed by three concurrent sessions, each dealing with a different aspect of PCVAD.

Pre-conference seminars March 3 and 4 provide attendees with in-depth information on specific areas of interest.

A poster session – new this year ¬– begins at noon on March 4 and provides veterinary students and commercial companies another venue for sharing information.

The afternoon of March 4 also offers the popular student seminars, industrial partners and research topic sessions.

Registration materials will be mailed and online registration will be available in late December. To make hotel reservations, contact the Doubletree Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando at (407) 351-1000.

For more information, contact the AASV by phone (515) 465-5255; fax (515) 465-3832; e-mail or visit the Web site,

Farrowing Interest Group Formed in Iowa

Producers who farrow pigs are invited to participate in the Farrowing Caretaker Interest Group being formed in Iowa.

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension Swine Field Specialist Dave Stender says the program provides an efficient way for conventional farrowers to connect with peers over a large geographical area.

“Through this program, producers and employees receive information on CD-ROMS and participate in three, phone-based discussions,” says Stender. “You’ll need a computer with a CD player to see and hear the home study materials, and you’ll need access to a phone line for the teleconferences. A separate, high-speed Internet connection during the phone conference will be useful, but not essential to participate.”

Those producers with a high-speed Internet connection can ask questions, chat and view the speakers/slides online during the phone conference. For producers who don’t have an Internet connection, most county ISU Extension offices have a computer station that producers can reserve for use during the teleconferences.

“The group gatherings through the teleconferences are designed to address questions about the provided educational materials and specific farm issues,” says Stender. “Having the opportunity to establish a bond with others who share your interests and challenges at work is motivating.”

Cost is $20/person, which includes all materials and participation in the three teleconferences. Deadline for registration is Nov. 10. The 90-minute teleconferences are set for Nov. 17, Dec. 1 and Dec. 15.

Sponsoring the interest group are ISU Extension, Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

For registration, go to the IPIC Web For more information, contact Stender by phone (712) 225-6196 or e-mail

Other program leaders are University of Nebraska Extension Swine Specialist Duane Reese, ISU Extension Swine Specialist Mark Storlie and ISU Assistant Professor of Veterinary Medicine Locke Karriker, DVM.

Validus Receives Quality Certification

Validus, a third-party certification company that helps producers address environmental and production problems, has announced that its quality management system has received ISO 9001:2000 certification.

The certification represents an international standard of quality for quality management.

“At Validus, we are committed to working with our customers to ensure food is produced using socially responsible on-farm production practices,” observes Earl Dotson, president and CEO of Validus, based in Urbandale, IA. “The ISO 9001:2000 certification provides another level of assurance that our certification programs effectively evaluate and verify the production and processing standards of our clients.”

The quality designation assures consumers who see the Validus certification marks on food products that internal processes and systems are audited and certified by a third party, he says.

More information about Validus’ certification is available at

Animal Health Association Moves, Names Top Officer

The U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) is moving from its long-time home in Richmond, VA, to new offices in Kansas City, MO.

As part of the move, Benjamin Richey has been named the first executive director in the 109-year history of the organization.

As its top official, Richey faces the task of relocating the central office, expanding membership and coordinating the work and reports of some 33 committees.

In addition, he will also begin coordinating the program for the 2007 annual meeting in Reno, NV, which features an expanded trade show.

The 1,400-member USAHA has operated with just two staff members, relying on the volunteer efforts of individual members to organize and maintain committees, while holding down full-time jobs.

Richey is a graduate of Purdue University. Most recently, he worked at a Kansas City-based advertising agency. He was previously director of communications for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.

Pseudorabies Control Board Recesses

The Pseudorabies (PRV) Control Board has voted to recess activities, the group decided at its committee meeting during the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) annual meeting in Minneapolis.

The control board organized and interpreted program standards, which guided the producer-driven PRV eradication program. Eradication of PRV from the U.S. commercial swine herd was completed in 2004.

During its recent meeting, the control board learned that domestic swine remain free of PRV, but the disease is known to exist in feral swine. Future PRV-related activities will fall under the jurisdiction of USAHA’s Transmissible Diseases of Swine Committee and the National Institute of Animal Agriculture’s Swine Health Committee. The PRV Control Board retains its charge as an oversight committee for PRV eradication and will reconvene as is deemed necessary.