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Articles from 2008 In March

USDA Report Called "Ugly"

If U.S. and Canadian hog producers needed any more cold water to shock them into full-scale contraction, Friday’s Quarterly Hogs & Pigs Report from USDA ought to do it. The numbers are huge and point to record slaughter in virtually every time period one wants to discuss in 2008. See Table 1 for the key inventory and farrowing numbers.

It will be critical for exports to continue to grow and for domestic pork consumption to remain high. Even at that, producers will now be looking at carcass-weight cash, negotiated prices no higher than the mid-$60s this summer, with quarterly averages barely reaching that level in the second and third quarters and falling near $60/cwt., carcass, in the fourth quarter.

The best descriptive term I can think of is “ugly.” My price forecasts as well as those of Iowa State University Ag Economist John Lawrence and University of Missouri Agricultural Economists Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain appear in Table 2.

Consider some of the key numbers from the report:

  • The U.S. breeding herd was still growing as of March 1, but the pace has slowed. The March inventory of 6.138 million head was 0.5% larger than last year. That is the lowest year-on-year number since October 2005. This expansion has always been quite modest, with the largest annual increase being 1.8%. While not an actual reduction, this slower pace is welcome news – especially when combined with Canada’s 1.9% January reduction that most felt will be made larger when Canada’s April report is published.

  • The report passes my “reasonableness” tests with flying colors. The 180-lb. and over inventory, at 11.14 million head, is 7.8% larger than one year ago and agrees almost precisely with March slaughter of U.S.-sourced pigs (i.e. removing the increase in Canadian market hog imports). In addition, Dec.-Feb. farrowings (3.051 million litters or 5% more than last year), pig crop (28.094 million head or 6.4% larger than last year), and under 60-lb. inventory (+7.4% from 2007) all fit together nicely. The differences in the percentages are due to litter size growth and higher imports of Canadian feeder pigs and the numbers are very close.

  • Litter size grew at an exceptionally fast rate of 1.3% during the Dec.-Feb. quarter compared to one year ago. I have heard several claims of better performance from circovirus-vaccinated sow herds, but I’ve also heard that the vaccine hasn’t made much difference in some cases. This is the largest annual growth rate of Dec.-Feb. litter size since 1995-1997, when we were trading lower-productivity farms for higher-productivity farms at a rapid pace. That is not the case to any large degree at present, so this gain is mainly being accomplished on existing operations. It will be interesting to see if litter size growth remains high as we go through 2008. The increased incentive to cull less productive sows will only add to this and other productivity factors.

  • All of the market inventory weight classes show much larger numbers than one year ago. Part of that is due to increased imports of Canadian feeder pigs since last October. I expect that increase to continue, at least until Canada’s sow herd falls enough to restrict the available supply of pigs coming south. I think that will occur sometime this fall, but it depends on what Canada’s April Hog Statistics report says. I’m adding 1.5% to my weekly slaughter estimates from August through the first quarter of 2009 to account for the expected increase.
Figure 1 shows historical federally inspected (FI) weekly hog slaughter and the levels of weekly hog slaughter factoring in the inventory numbers from this report, with two adjustments. First, I adjusted March 1 through April 10 slaughter downward by 4% to account for the slaughter surge in March 2007 that I believe was caused by the first circovirus-vaccinated pigs hitting the market. Second, I added 1.5% to weekly slaughter totals from August through year-end to account for what I expect to be continued high levels of feeder pig imports from Canada. The exchange rate has created a big incentive to feed pigs in the United States. That incentive will be offset by lower sow numbers and, thus, lower pig numbers in Canada by year-end, plus the potential economic impacts of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL).

It now appears that producers who have not already priced a substantial number of pigs for 2008 will see rivers of red ink. It will take unprecedented demand, either from exports or domestic sales or, more likely, both to keep this from happening. I do not believe demand can be strong enough, quick enough. We are going to have to go through this and it will not be pleasant.

What is very troubling is that things could definitely get worse. Feed prices could get higher. Large beef supplies are in the offing and chicken and turkey production remains well above year-ago levels. Consequently, there will be substantial competition in the marketplace. Slowing economies may force consumers to trade down in their food choices, giving lower-priced poultry an advantage.

What can we do in the short run? Get those hogs to town as soon as they reach a weight that will not take a price discount. Feed prices are now high enough and hog prices low enough that those last few pounds are getting less and less profitable – to the point of, perhaps, losing money. The opportunity is still limited because we are still running near slaughter capacity each week, but some effort is warranted, given these levels of supply.

Click to view graphs.

Steve R. Meyer, Ph.D.
Paragon Economics, Inc.
e-mail: [email protected]

Look for Analysis of USDA Report

Watch your inbox Monday for our Hogs and Pigs Report Review. The report will be released at 2 p.m. CDT on Friday and promises to be one of the most watched and analyzed USDA reports in quite some time. USDA obviously missed the Dec. 1 market hog inventories badly, and it will be interesting to see how they have adjusted to account for the impact of circovirus vaccines, potentially higher productivity, etc.

Of particular note will be whether any of the 2007 breeding herd estimates are revised. Some analysts believe that circovirus vaccines alone cannot explain the increase of market hog supplies and, therefore, that past sow herds must have been underestimated. I can understand that feeling, but I’m not in that camp completely. My take from many conversations over the past year is that the vaccines were indeed that effective, and that the slow erosion of pig survival and performance that took place over the past 3-4 years got reversed in a big hurry.

With that said, the magnitude of the numbers over the past six months has been astounding. It now appears that we will slaughter just fewer than 29.3 million head under federal inspection in the first quarter of 2008 alone. That will be far and away the largest first quarter slaughter total, and will not be far behind last fall’s record total of 30.094 million head.

Calculating Canadian Imports
Analysts have long relied on two sources of data regarding livestock imports from Canada. One is the monthly import data published by USDA’s Economic Research Service, based on data generated by the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Customs Service. These data are believed to be accurate but they take over a month to get published. January 2008 data were published in mid-March, for instance.

The other shortcoming in the monthly data is that it contains no breakouts of the type of animals being imported if they weigh over 50 kg. or 110 lb. The “feeder pig” weights (i.e. under 110 lb.) are broken into three groups: under 7 kg. (15.4 lb.), 7 to 23 kg. (15.4 to 50.6 lb.) and 23 to 50 kg. (50.6 lb. to 110 lb.). But everything that weighs over 110 lb. is lumped together in just one category.

The monthly data series is useful to document history and has served as the basis of much of our monitoring system for imports and exports. Annual totals for pig imports from Canada (simply the sum of the monthly data each year) appear in Figure 1, and clearly show that imports of feeder pigs and heavier hogs both set records in 2007 with 6.72 million feeder pigs and 3.28 million market hogs coming to the United States.

But data that are six weeks old when they are published are not terribly useful for monitoring current market conditions or animal flows, especially when economic forces are causing some major adjustments in either the Canadian or U.S. sectors. Weekly data published by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service have long been relied upon for this more “up-to-the-minute” analysis. USDA veterinarians that inspect documents and animals at the border generate this data. I think these people do a good job of inspection, but providing accurate data is not a big part of their job description and, as it turns out, the data they provided may not have been very accurate.

On Thursday, USDA released revised weekly import data for 2007 and year-to-date 2008. It is based on the same papers and reports that were used to generate the original data, but instead of visually classifying the animals, the market animals are classified according to their destination. That is, a load headed for Newburn, TN, (the location of the Jimmy Dean sow slaughter plant) is classified as cull sows. A load headed for Worthington, MN, (the location of a JBS-Swift butcher hog plant) is classified as market hogs.

The different approach resulted in some major changes, which are shown in Figure 2. The numbers of market hogs were generally decreased in each month, while the number of cull sows and boars was increased pretty dramatically in virtually every month.

The table in Figure 3 shows the comparisons of the old and revised data for 2007. There wasn’t much problem with feeder pigs as they were clearly smaller than the other animals. In addition, the totals for both series are quite close. But the numbers for market hogs and cull sows and boars are sharply different. And that difference is possibly important.

Many analysts (including me) have wondered for some time how we could see so few Canadian cull-breeding animals coming south, and yet hear of massive liquidation in Canada. The old data say that cull sow and boar imports are only 8.4% higher year-to-date in 2008. The new data say that number is 13.3%. The new data tell us that nearly 49,000 more sows and boars (an average of over 4,400/week) have been shipped to the United States since Jan. 1. That number represents 3% of the Jan. 1 Canadian breeding herd! The difference is important indeed.

How accurate are the new data? We don’t know yet and only time will tell. But here is one encouraging measure. The old import data and Canadian sow slaughter implied an annual cull slaughter rate of only 35% in Canada in 2007. That is very low when compared to U.S. slaughter of U.S. sows that amounted to 47.6% of the December breeding herd inventory. The new Canadian import data imply a Canadian cull slaughter rate of just over 50% -- much more reasonable. The inclusion of boars confounds these data a bit, but it appears to me that the new data are very likely an improvement. Let’s hope they remain so.

Click to view graphs.

Steve R. Meyer, Ph.D.
Paragon Economics, Inc.
e-mail: [email protected]

Bubble Bursting or Just a Leak?

Was that the sound of a bubble bursting – or was it just the sound of a leak? Regardless, the price moves of the past two weeks have provided some hope for cost-challenged livestock producers.

By all accounts, the driver of this sell-off is the failure last week of Bear Stearns and the losses being faced by many investment funds in mortgage-backed securities. Some of those same funds also had positions in commodities futures and apparently most of those were long positions. Liquidation of those long positions is, according to the trade, the major driver of the downturn in prices. The fickleness of the Dow Jones Industrial Average this week is evidence of both uncertainty and the extreme measures that are being tried in an attempt to allay it.

In addition to the uncertainty in the broader market, it appears that the news from South America points more and more to good crops. The potential fly in that ointment is wet conditions in many parts of Brazil. The harvest there was delayed by late planting, so it does not appear that the conditions are of much concern, yet. USDA has pegged Brazil’s crop at a record 61 million metric tons (MMT). When combined with Argentina’s projected 47 MMT crop, this will leave the South American supply of 108 MMT, 0.5 MMT larger than last year.

Finally, the drought in Southeastern states has lessened in both area and severity in recent weeks. To see this change, go to the Drought Monitor homepage and click on 12-week animation.

Corn, Soybean Futures
Figure 1 shows the break in December Corn futures. The chart is representative of all of the other months. Corn futures dropped 60-70 cents/bu. across the board and broke an up trending support line in the December chart that dates back to the passage of the energy bill back in December. That bill raised the mandate for corn-based ethanol to 15 billion gallons in 2015. Many feel that it is the impetus for the latest run-up in both corn and soybean prices.

Figure 2 shows a similar chart for December soybean meal. It, too, looks like all of the other current meal futures chart. This one shows that the up trending support line dating to December was actually broken on Feb. 29. This week’s sell-off added further credence to the reversal by covering a gap at $307.50 and breaking through support at the bottom of that gap. The next technical objectives for this chart would be the top and bottom of last fall’s trading channel at about $268/ton and $249/ton.

Figure 3 puts these price declines into a feed price perspective. The declines of futures prices this week have knocked $20-25/ton off the cost of corn and soybean meal to make a 16% crude protein diet. Assuming that is representative of all of the feed fed to a finished pig (and I think it is), this would reduce feed costs by $7.50 to $9.40/head. That’s the equivalent of a $3.75 to $4.70/cwt. carcass rally in Lean Hogs Futures.

What’s the Plan?
So, what should you be doing? Remember my past admonition to play defense this year. When an opportunity arises to take a substantial amount off the cost of a finished pig – and $7-9/head appears to me to be substantial – you should take action.

Is now the time to cover your needs in futures? Perhaps. But this week’s break is at least a sign that you and your banker should be ready to pull the trigger on feed needs for this summer and, perhaps, next year. I do not know if prices have fallen as far as they are going to fall, but any sign of a bottom would, to me, be a sign to cover some feed needs. And, if you are wrong, you are still far better off than you would have been just one week ago!

The better strategy may be to buy out of the money call options. The strike price that you can secure for a given premium has declined along with the futures market, so you can put a cost ceiling at a much lower level ($7-9/head) than you could just one week ago. The beauty of calls is that they leave the bottom side open and do not require margin – a feature that might be particularly appealing given the tight liquidity position that many producers face. The devil of calls, of course, is that they are a straight cash outlay and, in the case of deferred contracts, not an insignificant outlay due to the time value of the call option.

Regardless of how the markets have treated you lately, take some time this weekend to enjoy the Easter holiday with family and friends. May I suggest a nice Easter ham to celebrate? Tradition, great flavor and an assist in decreasing cold storage stocks – that’s a nice trifecta, I think.

Click to view graphs.

Steve R. Meyer, Ph.D.
Paragon Economics, Inc.
e-mail: [email protected]

Exports Lone Bright Spot in Pork Picture

U.S. pork exports continue to shine in the face of record hog slaughter that is perpetuating depressed live hog prices, according to University of Missouri agricultural economists Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain.

Pork exports for January 2008 jumped 26.6% from a year earlier and were a record high for a single month.

Net pork exports represented 13% of U.S. hog production, up 19.3% from a year earlier. This boost in net pork exports supported the robust demand for live hogs.

Pork exports in January to Japan were down 10.4% and also dropped by 7.1% to Mexico.

But shipments rose by 37.6% to Canada, to Russia by 128.7%, and to mainland China and Hong Kong by an incredible 249.3%.

Taiwan bought 14.8% less U.S. pork in January, Australia 15.8% less, but other countries bought 84.1% more.

U.S. pork imports rose a paltry 0.1%.

However, total live hog imports from Canada shot up 40.3% in the first month of 2008, according to the Missouri economists. Feeder pig imports in January climbed 39.3% over the same period in 2007, while non-feeder pig imports (all live swine that weigh more than 110 lb.) from Canada rose by 42.2%.

Live hog prices have been in a tailspin, down 14.2% in January and February, compared to the same period a year ago.

But hog prices would have been much lower, with the 12% increase in slaughter, were it not for the growth in pork and live hog demand.

Pork Profit Spring Seminar Series Slated for Late April

The Missouri Pork Association (MPA) is sponsoring three sessions of the Pork Profit Seminar Spring 2008 Series across the state in late April.

The program will be April 21 at Kurzweil’s Country Meats at Harrisonville, MO; April 28 at the MFA Research Farm in Marshall, MO; and April 30 at Lake Lenore Hall in Mexico, MO.

The program runs from 3 to 8:30 p.m. and is free to pre-registered attendees; walk-ins will be charged $10.

Leading off the program is a talk on Summer Building Tune-Ups with Joe Zulovich, agriculture structures engineer, University of Missouri.

Managing Feed Systems is the topic of a talk by Marcia Shannon, state swine nutrition specialist, University of Missouri.

John Lory, nutrient management specialist, University of Missouri, will discuss The Value of Manure and Application Tips to Maximize that Value.

Following a question-and-answer session and dinner, Shannon will give a presentation on Pork Quality Assurance-Plus Certification.

For more information, contact the MPA’s Diane Slater at (573) 445-8375 or [email protected]

Special Report from the 39th Swine Veterinarians Meeting

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) held its 39th annual meeting in San Diego, CA, in early March. Following are some of the activities which took place.

Research Funding Raises Concerns
The American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) is calling on the federal government to reevaluate its funding allocations for research projects to address swine diseases.

In a statement, the AASV indicated that federal funding for basic and applied research for swine diseases is inadequate to address foreign, emerging and reemerging diseases to protect the industry and promote domestic and international markets.

“Over the last few years, the budgets associated with programs at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agriculture Research Service and the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service have all either declined or been held basically flat at existing levels.

“This has frequently necessitated a reduction in the capability to conduct needed research, the loss of scientific resources, or the inability to adequately fund research facilities,” the AASV said in a March 19 news release.

The AASV said it would work with the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council to obtain an accounting of current federal research budgets and determine industry needs relative to swine disease research.

Officers Named
Kerry Keffaber, DVM, North Manchester, IN, was installed as the president of the AASV.

Keffaber succeeds Daryl Olsen, DVM, Audubon, IA, who now serves as immediate past president. Keffaber is a swine technical services consultant at Elanco Animal Health. Prior to joining Elanco, Kefabber was in private practice in Indiana for 21 years.

Rodney “Butch” Baker, DVM, Ames, IA, becomes president-elect. Baker serves as a senior clinician in the Food Supply Veterinary Services Unit at Iowa State University.

The newly elected vice president is Paul Ruen, DVM, who practices at the Fairmont Veterinary Clinic in Fairmont, MN.

Awards Presented
The 2008 Heritage Award, which recognizes individuals for lifetime achievements in swine veterinary medicine, was presented to Roy Schultz, DVM, Avoca, IA.

Schultz has been a leader in swine medicine for nearly half a century. He was one of the charter members of the American Association of Swine Practitioners (now AASV) and is a past president of the AASV, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the U.S. Animal Health Association.

He was honored in 2007 as one of 10 Masters of the Pork Industry by National Hog Farmer magazine.

In 1998, Schultz turned over his veterinary practice to his son, Gary, and partner, Jim Hoffmann, and became a swine consultant serving U.S. and international clients.

Five AASV members were honored for their contributions to the association:

Jason Kelly, DVM, received the newly established Young Swine Veterinarian of the Year award. Kelly is a managing partner at Suidae Health and Production, a swine-exclusive practice of six veterinarians based in Algona, IA.

Robert Desrosiers, DVM, was honored as the Technical Services/Allied Industry Veterinarian of the Year, an award also established this year. He is a technical services veterinarian for Boehringer Ingelheim Canada. In 2006 and 2007, he was selected to serve on a task force charged with developing a five-year plan to improve the health of Quebec’s swine herds.

Sandy Amass, DVM, received the Meritorious Service Award. She is a professor at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

Greg Stevenson, DVM, was awarded the Howard Dunne Memorial Award. The swine diagnostician served as head of pathology at the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University from 2002 until 2007, when he retired from the university to pursue a second career in Christian ministry with Collegiate Impact Ministeries.

Lisa Tokach, DVM, was named Swine Practitioner of the Year. Tokach works in a mixed-animal practice focusing primarily on swine at the Abilene Animal Hospital in Abilene, KS. She serves as personnel director at the clinic that employs six veterinarians and 10 other fulltime staffers. Since 1996, Tokach has served as president of the Kansas Swine Alliance, Inc., a management company that promotes interdependence among smaller Kansas producers. She is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Christa Irwin, DVM, Ames, IA, was selected the 2008 winner of the AASV Foundation’s Hogg Scholarship, named after the late Alex Hogg, DVM, who worked in a mixed-animal practice and at the University of Nebraska for many years. The $12,000 scholarship is presented annually to an AASV member who has been accepted into a qualified graduate program to further education after years as a swine practitioner.

Irwin is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State University. She is pursuing a master’s degree in veterinary preventive medicine, focusing on epidemiology. She worked for six years as a staff veterinarian at Murphy-Brown, LLC, managing the farrow-to-feeder pig and multiplication operations in Missouri.

Boehringer Ingelheim Announces PRRS Research Award Recipients
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc (BIVI) has announced the recipients of its 2008 Advancement in PRRS Research Awards.

Each year BIVI awards $75,000 to support three separate studies by independent swine researchers and veterinary practitioners to investigate new ways to diagnose, control and eradicate this costly swine disease. This is the sixth year that BIVI has sponsored the PRRS research awards.

The 2008 recipients, announced at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) annual meeting, include:

Jim Lowe, DVM, Carthage Veterinary Service, Carthage, IL: Reduction in economic losses due to lateral infection with PRRS virus in growing pigs in swine-dense areas through infection with attenuated PRRS virus at placement.

Paul Yeske, DVM, Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, MN: Does finishing barn ventilation type (curtain-sided vs. tunnel) result in a greater risk factor for naïve herds to break with PRRS virus in the finishing phase?

Scott Dee, DVM, University of Minnesota: An evaluation of PRRS virus aerosol biosecurity programs for warm weather.

New AASV President-Elect Kerry Keffaber, DVM, and PRRS Research Review Board member, says, “PRRS continues to be a very costly and frustrating disease for producers. Through sponsored research programs, we can find ways to improve current management programs and take the necessary steps toward eradicating this disease.”

Entry proposals for the 2009 Advancement in PRRS Research Awards are due Jan. 1, 2009. For more information, visit

Processing Downers Could Bring Fine, Plant Shutdown

Three senators have co-sponsored legislation that would fine and close livestock slaughter plants that repeatedly process downed animals.

The bill, which was introduced March 13 by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), is co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK); and Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI).

The bill would feature graduated penalties for offending packing plants that slaughter and process non-ambulatory animals, those that cannot stand or walk without assistance.

First-time offenders would be fined a percentage of the facility’s gross income.

USDA inspection services would be halted for one year following a second violation.

Third-time offenders would face permanent shutdown of their slaughterhouse.

The bill would also require the USDA to release the names of establishments that have received recalled products. Two years ago, USDA proposed such a rule, but it was never approved.

Pork Management Conference Scheduled for May in Florida

The pork checkoff is sponsoring the 2008 Pork Management Conference, Your Pork Industry Investment, May 7-9 at the Hilton Sandestin in Destin, FL.

“The pork checkoff provides this conference for pork producers, including anyone involved in the management, accounting or finances of an operation, as well as consultants and lenders,” states Ron Schoo, chairman of the pork checkoff’s Producer Services Committee and a pork producer from New Ulm, MN. “This checkoff-funded conference offers the most up-to-date financial information that affects the pork industry today.”

The conference will focus on topics such as immigration law, changes in input costs, U.S. agriculture outlooks, global trade and more from several pork industry professionals.

Two concurrent sessions will cover surviving animal welfare, on-the-edge hedge accounting, waste management alternatives, internal controls, risks and rewards to year-end feed buying and revenue deferral, and opportunities in electronic banking.

Registration is $395/person and $435/person after April 25. The first 10 producers who have not attended in the past two years receive a $300 discount on registration courtesy of AgStar Financial Services.

A brochure with a registration form and a detailed list of events is available on a copy of the brochure be mailed to you by calling Sharlotte Peterson of the National Pork Board at (515) 223-2614.

NPPC Urges Approval Of Animal Drug Law

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is urging reauthorization of the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA), calling it a critical tool needed by pork producers and swine veterinarians.

The law passed in 2003 authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to collect user fees from the animal health industry for review and approval of new animal health products.

Legislation to reauthorize ADUFA is expected to be introduced in Congress after a public comment period that ends April 14. The law is set to expire on Sept. 30. It is similar to the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, which underwrites reviews of new drugs for humans.

“Our industry has faced a number of disease challenges since ADUFA was first signed into law,” says Barb Determan, a past NPPC president and pork producer from Early, IA. “ADUFA was able to get new, innovative technologies to the marketplace, which has helped our industry grow and prosper.” Determan spoke recently at a public hearing at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Since ADUFA was signed into law, three new swine health products have been approved for use by the pork industry, helping in the fight against swine respiratory diseases. According to NPPC officials, those include three antibiotics: Excede and Draxxin, both manufactured by Pfizer Animal Health, and Nuflor (feed-grade formulation), sold by Schering-Plough Animal Health. ADUFA does not affect vaccines, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and not the FDA, approves them.

The FDA review and approval process for animal health products is very rigorous. Approval requires that animal health companies demonstrate their products are effective and safe for animals and the environment. For products intended for use in food animals, meat from those animals must be proved safe for human consumption.

“We need new and innovative medicines to maintain the health of our pigs and to deliver safe, wholesome meat products to consumers around the world,” stresses Determan. “ As a pork producer, I have a responsibility to protect public health, animal health and food safety. Pork producers need new medicines and technologies to accomplish this.

“ADUFA ensures that animal health companies are able to provide products to treat and control the new diseases that our animals will face,” adds Determan. “The broader public interest is served when pork producers have the means necessary to keep their animals healthy. ADUFA is a critical tool needed by the pork industry and veterinarians.”

A coalition of 17 commodity groups including the NPPC, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council and National Milk Producers Federation have sent letters to lawmakers urging quick approval of reauthorization for ADUFA.

Their letter states: “The long-recognized threats of zoonotic diseases, such as foodborne bacteria that can cause illness in people, demonstrate that the need to protect public health by protecting animal health has never been more important.”

Reauthorization of ADUFA is supported by the Animal Health Institute, the group which represents animal health company manufacturers.

Conservation Security Program Sign-Up Period Announced

On March 19, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced a sign-up period for the Conservation Security Program (CSP) would start on April 18 for about 64,000 potentially eligible farms and ranches in 51 watersheds covering more than 23.7 million acres.

“As President Bush has said, those who depend on the land to make a living are the best stewards of the land,” says Schafer. “Since the first sign-up in 2004, CSP has offered payments for enhancing natural resources, rewarding those farmers and ranchers who are model conservationists, and providing incentives for other producers to achieve those same high standards of conservation in agriculture.”

The CSP sign-up period runs from April 18 to May 16. The sign-up announcement and specific program requirements are being published in the Federal Register.

CSP is a voluntary conservation program that supports ongoing stewardship of private farmland.

CSP payments can include three components:

  1. An annual stewardship component for the base level of conservation treatment;
  2. An annual component for maintenance of existing conservation practices; and
  3. An enhancement component for exceptional conservation effort.

To apply for CSP payments, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) asks potential participants to complete a CSP self-assessment workbook available on the Web or at local NRCS offices. The goal is to find out if their operation meets program requirements and qualifies for participation.

CSP is offered on a rotational basis in as many watersheds as funding allows. Additional information on CSP, eligible watersheds and a CSP self-assessment workbook is available at