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Illinois Schedules Farm Economics Summit

The 2008 Illinois Farm Economics Summit will cover the profitability of the state’s crop and livestock producers.

Four sessions are planned: Dec. 16 at the Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon; Dec. 17 at the Interstate Center in Bloomington; Dec. 18 at the Best Western Prairie Inn in Galesburg; and Dec. 19 at the Center for Agriculture in Sycamore.

The registration fee for each session is $50, which includes all meeting materials, break refreshments and lunch. Registration will be $65 at the door.

Contact Sue Esposito at the University of Illinois for more information at 217-333-5506 (phone) or 217-333-2312 (fax).

California’s Proposition 2 Passes by Wide Majority

Despite more than 30 newspapers in opposition, California voters by an estimated margin of 63% to 37% approved Proposition 2, the proposed Standards for Confining Farm Animals.

The endorsement, according to the California Secretary of State does the following:

  • Requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs “be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely for the majority of the day.”
  • Provides exceptions for transportation, rodeos, fairs, 4-H programs, lawful slaughter, research and veterinary purposes.
  • Establishes misdemeanor penalties, including a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or imprisonment in jail for up to 180 days.

The law becomes effective in 2015.

Similar measures have been passed in other states this decade:
Nov. 5, 2002 – Florida passed Amendment 10, which bans the confinement of pregnant pigs in gestation crates.
Nov. 7, 2006 – Arizona approved Proposition 204, which prohibits the confinement of calves in veal crates and breeding sows in gestation crates.
June 28, 2007 – Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed into law a measure banning the confinement of pigs in gestation crates.
May 14, 2008 – Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law a bill that phases out gestation crates and veal crates.

There have also been defeats of similar actions. Two earlier attempts in California failed, as well as an effort in Nebraska in January 2008 to ban the use of gestation crates for hog farmers.

The latest California measure was supported by the Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club of California, California Veterinary Medical Association and more than 100 farmers.

Leading the group of opponents to Proposition 2 was Californians for Safe Food, which issued a statement saying proponents “led an emotionally manipulative, dishonest and often deceptive campaign.”

Numerous state animal health professionals and veterinary groups opposed the measure, including the Association of California Veterinarians, a group of veterinarians who split off from the state veterinary medical association over the issue.

COOL Causes Trade Friction Between U.S.-Canada Producers

Canadian livestock producers want their government to start trade actions against the United States over a new trade law that is already starting to curtail beef and pork trade to American markets.

Since mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) became effective on Oct. 1, a growing number of U.S. meat plants are denying Canadian cattle and hogs access for processing.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Canadian Pork Council want COOL challenged under the North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization rules, and they want a ruling before Dec. 1, 2008.

The request is being made now because Canadians fear the new U.S. administration could ramp up trade protectionism.

Under COOL, Canadian cattle and pigs must be segregated in U.S. feedlots and packing plants, prompting some firms to only handle U.S. livestock. Canadian animals are also required to have more documentation about their farm of origin, and cattle must carry tags that indicate they are free of mad cow disease.

Those measures have further pressured financially strapped Canadian producers.
Presidents of cattle and hog groups have written Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper about their plight.

The Canadian Pork Council (CPC) said U.S. hog processing companies, such as Smithfield Foods and Hormel Foods, have already indicated they will only buy U.S. hogs. Other U.S. processors have said they will only buy Canadian pigs on certain days at selected plants.

The CPC estimates losses will reach about $350 million annually if COOL remains in place.

Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says government officials will work to influence the final legislation prior to filing any trade action.

COOL passed on Oct. 1 is called an interim rule. The final rule is expected to be passed next year.

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