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MORNING Midwest Digest, March 27, 2019

There have been four recent passenger train crashes. It's a reminder that any time is train time.

Grain traders have little interest in taking positions before the USDA reports this Friday. The flooding may have an impact.

A man driving a truck lost a whole bunch of corn while driving down the road in Iowa.

An Ohio man is giving up everything except beer for Lent.


Photo: tbradford/Getty Images

Farm Progress America, March 27, 2019

Max Armstrong shares news of a scholarship competition for young people interested in agriculture; and the growing list of programs to tap into. He shares a wide range of the programs available to support students that want to focus on agriculture.

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: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, March 26, 2019

Two ag officials are touring flood damage in their home states of Nebraska and Iowa. Officials in both states are projecting losses of more than $1 billion.

A North Carolina farmer reached out to Max with advice about the flooding tragedy. 

Dress codes are being relaxed. Is a relaxed attire impacting the quality of work?

Photo: GeorgeBurba/Getty Images

Chinese researchers isolate African swine fever virus

Getty When the provinces with outbreaks and neighboring provinces completely banned feeding swill to pigs, the epidemic was greatly reduced.

Researchers at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences say they have successfully isolated the first African swine fever virus from a field outbreak sample in China. Pig/Heilongjiang/2018 was isolated in a spleen sample from a pig at an ASF outbreak farm in Jiamusi city, Heilongjiang province, on Sept. 2, 2018 and was characterized by use of the haemadsorption assay, electron microscopic observation and Western blotting and immunofluorescence assays. 

The study was published this week in the international journal Emerging Microbes and Infections.

The Pig/HLJ/18 virus belongs to Genotype II and is genetically close to ASF viruses prevalent in Eastern Europe. The scientists say the virus replicates systemically in pigs, is highly virulent in pigs and is efficiently transmissible among pigs.

During the study, pigs were inoculated with different dosages of Pig/HLJ/18 and started to show early disease signs by three to five days post inoculation. All of the animals died between six to nine days p.i. Two contact pigs showed the onset of early disease signs on day nine post contact, and died on days 13 and 14 p.c., respectively, indicating that the Pig/HLJ/18 virus causes very acute disease in specific-pathogen-free pigs; its incubation period was three to five days in virus-inoculated pigs and about nine days in the contact pigs. Of note, the researchers say the disease signs and necropsy changes caused by ASF virus are similar with those caused by other pig acute diseases, such as classical swine fever and highly pathogenic porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome.

It is still not known if a single virus invaded China and caused all of the outbreaks or if different ASF viruses are responsible. The researchers say more viruses will need to be isolated and analyzed to fully understand the spread of the disease and to develop an effective control strategy.

As of March 22, there have been 114 ASF outbreaks detected in 28 Chinese provinces. More than 950,000 pigs have been culled in an effort to halt further spread.

Source: Emerging Microbes and Infections, 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.

Delegation sees increased meat consumption, trade in Philippines

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation and a delegation of Iowa meat, livestock and grain industry representatives recently returned from touring one of the world’s fastest-growing red meat import markets. Joel Haggard,USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, who led the market visit to the Philippines, says the wide range of red meat products is driving record U.S. exports to the Southeast Asian nation.

“The overall market trend consists of increased meat consumption and trade,” Haggard says. “On a tonnage basis the country is already the sixth largest meat and poultry import market and last year’s total imports surged to approximately 850,000 tons, nearly 20% above 2017.”

Last year was a record-breaking year for U.S. exports to the Philippines, with pork exports of nearly 48,000 metric tons, up 23% from 2017, valued at $116.1 million (up 19%). Beef exports were nearly 18,000 mt valued at $87 million - up 39% and 42%, respectively.          

“The portfolio of cuts ranges from very high-end steaks to very inexpensive items such as pork ear base, pork livers and other lower cost variety meats,” Haggard says.

However, Haggard says rapid economic growth is helping generate demand for higher-end products.

“The country on one hand is very sensitive to international prices. The Philippines remains poor with a fifth of its population below the Philippines’ definition of a poverty line and the majority of protein imports are further processed into low cost items such as hot dogs, canned meats and formed ham products,” Haggard says. “But overall economic growth is also creating a consumption upgrade effect which is seeing more demand for more premium items.”

Evidence of economic growth was everywhere on the delegation’s recent trip to Manilla, especially with new restaurant and retail concepts, Haggard says.

He notes that USMEF has increased its presence and the level of promotional activities in the Philippines in recent years, and this trend will likely continue as new growth opportunities emerge.

“USMEF continues to place more and more resources in the market and placed permanent representation in Manilla in the spring of 2016,” Haggard says. “We look forward to spending more time and resources there in the future.”

Source: USMEF, 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 is U.S. pork industry’s ‘big bad wolf’

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In Disney’s 1933 cartoon, “The Three Little Pigs,” two little pigs sang, “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” For the people who raise pigs in the United States, that “big bad wolf” is a microscopic virus that can cause a devastating disease in pigs, called African swine fever.

While ASF does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans, the disease is spreading in China, Vietnam and Eastern Europe and can be spread by people through shoes, clothes and hands. It also can be in found in pork products.

Few consumers in the United States have heard of ASF, unless they are connected to raising pigs or pork production, because the disease has never shown up in the country. Under Secretary of Agriculture Greg Ibach says, “We want to keep it that way.”

If ASF entered the country, it would not only devastate the U.S. pork industry, not just from loss of animals, but also from other countries refusing to buy U.S. pork and could affect supplies and prices for U.S. consumers too.

The United States has banned pork product imports from countries that have ASF, including China, Vietnam, Belgium, Russia and other Eastern European nations.

“We are also ensuring more focused inspections of passengers and products arriving from infected countries,” Ibach says.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are also in the process of building a virtual “brick wall” around the United States against ASF. Ibach says expect to see additional dogs in the airport inspection area.

There are currently 119 special dog teams trained to sniff out pork products in cargo or luggage and the CBP is getting ready to add 60 more dog teams at key U.S. ports of entry.

“They will be checking travelers’ belongings for prohibited products that could carry ASF,” Ibach says.

For those traveling outside the United States, Ibach urges them to visit the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s new traveler website which provides updated information about potentially harmful pests and diseases that can hitchhike on food or other agricultural products. 

“Remember to declare food items in your luggage when you return to the United States,” Ibach says. “Travelers can face serious penalties for failing to declare these items.”

The USDA chief veterinary officer is also reminding pork producers and veterinarians to be vigilant for signs and symptoms of ASF:

  • High fever
  • Decreased appetite and weakness
  • Red/blotchy skin lesions
  • Diarrhea, vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing

“Please be vigilant,” says Jack Shere. “If your pigs are sick, report it immediately.”

USDA’s hotline to report foreign animal diseases is 1-866-536-7593.

Source: USDA, 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.

MORNING Midwest Digest, March 26, 2019

There's been some flood recovery progress, and Nebraska is down to less than 300 miles of roads closed, compared to 2,000 earlier.

Last year, Minnesota farmers had the lowest net farm income in 20 years.

After having 14 troopers hit while parked along roads, Illinois is upping the move over law.

McDonalds will soon have new tech to provide a personalized customer experience.


Photo: ChristinLola/Getty Images

Protecting you and your employees from zoonotic diseases

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By Neil Benjamin, DVM,  Carthage Veterinary Service LTD
People who work with pigs often overlook zoonotic diseases (diseases that can spread from animals to people) as a work place hazard. That may be because farming in general is a hazardous occupation (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics farming and ranching was the eighth most dangerous occupation in 2016) and zoonotic diseases in comparison seem like less of a risk.

The good news is that modern indoor production and disease control have mostly eliminated the risk of some diseases like trichinosis (the reason your grandmother cooked her pork well done), cysticercosis (cysts containing tapeworms) and brucellosis. Nonetheless, the risk of other zoonotic diseases remains present. While all people are potentially at risk, farmers and managers should take special care to prevent zoonotic diseases among immunocompromised people such as the elderly, young children, pregnant women and employees with medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS or cancer that attack the immune system.

On a macro level, influenza or flu is perhaps the most potentially dangerous zoonotic disease to infect swine. This is because flu viruses have segmented genomes, which can reassort to make new viruses, potentially creating a more pathogenic virus in people. The risk of this is happening in any given year is very low but over long periods of time it remains a concern. It is a lot harder to quantify the risks for individuals working with pigs. Infections are quite common in both people and pigs but viruses are typically species-specific. Transmission between species is much less common.

While the 2009 pandemic H1N1 flu was commonly called “swine flu,” that particular virus had genes from people, birds and swine and no one is certain how or where it first arose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all people working with swine be vaccinated with the annual flu shot. The CDC actually recommends that everyone aged six and over be vaccinated because the normally circulating strains of human influenza are estimated to kill more than 10,000 Americans per year. Additionally workers should avoid coming to work if they have signs of flu: fever, cough, aches, chills and fatigue. Anyone suspected of having flu should seek medical attention.

Another commonly seen potentially zoonotic disease is erysipelas caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae which occasionally causes diamond-shaped skin lesions in infected swine. This pathogen causes erysipeloid in people and commonly presents as swelling and inflammation on affected body parts. Direct skin-to-skin contact between people and infected pigs can lead to infection, most frequently through a prior wound or break in the skin. Anyone handling infected swine should wear appropriate protection such as disposable gloves.

E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter and other bacterial diseases can cause intestinal discomfort and diarrhea in people occasionally leading to serious dehydration. E. coli 0157 can cause serious symptoms including kidney failure in people but is not normally found in swine. These diseases present a more serious risk to children. Good biosecurity procedures like showering in and out, wearing separate boots and clothing in barns and good handwashing practices prior to eating or smoking can help prevent transmission from pigs to people.

Farmers and veterinarians have eliminated many internal and external parasites on many farms in the United States. Nonetheless, roundworms remain ubiquitous. While human and pig roundworms have traditionally been thought of as species specific, pig round worms have been reported in people and vice versa. Cases of roundworms are rare in the United States but the total number may be underdiagnosed and human doctors may be unaware of contact with swine as a risk factor. Transmission is through ingestion of infected manure so workers should observe good hygiene to prevent transmission.

Ringworm is a fungal disease that can be contagious between animals including pigs. While clinical cases in modern swine barns are uncommonly diagnosed, rodents including mice can be carriers. A good rodent control program including mowing around buildings and baiting can help prevent this disease in both pigs and people.

Many other zoonotic diseases that a pig farmer might encounter are beyond the scope of this article from both pigs as well as wildlife and pests. Raccoon roundworms spread by raccoons and histoplasmosis from exposure to bird droppings are notable examples. Additionally, farmers working with outdoor pigs could potentially be exposed to other diseases. The good news is that the overall risk of contracting these diseases is low for most people with healthy immune systems. Common sense practices that also promote pig health such as good biosecurity and rodent control, wearing gloves and hand washing aid in prevention.  

Source: Neil Benjamin with Carthage Veterinary Service LTD, 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.

Farm Progress America, March 26, 2019

Max Armstrong looks at the Master Water Control Manual, which guides the Army Corps of Engineers in managing the Missouri River. A court ruling in 2018 found that the Corps focused on endangered species versus protecting property and lives, which may be exacerbating the 2019 floods. The farmer who filed the original lawsuit says that if flood prevention was the focus, versus the Master Water Control Manual, the problem wouldn’t be as bad.

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: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Can’t beat the real thing, but …

iStock/Getty Images Plus/philmillster juicy sliced pork loin

I enjoy a nice thick pork chop, but only if its properly cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F and allowed to rest for three minutes. A nice juicy steak has also been known to enter my gullet. Poultry and seafood have also found their way onto my plate from time to time, especially seafood during the Lenten season.

What I’m trying to say is: I like meat. Of course, holding my position with National Hog Farmer, I had better not come out and say that I am anti-meat. We have plenty of those people already.

Knowing my carnivorous ways, I am not a fan of Meatless Mondays or the alternative meat movement. If it doesn’t originate from something with feet, hooves, fins or wings, it cannot be called meat. Just like a liquid from something without udders (almond, soy, cashew) should not be called milk.

This alternative meat “industry” is real and it’s charging full-speed ahead. That doesn’t mean that I’m embracing it, but I am trying to take a logical look at it.

Though I would prefer that plant-based products to be masked as meat would not share a marketplace with good old pork and beef, I have heard arguments that merit that they exist. For one, there are some people with specific allergies who cannot physically consume meat. What a sad existence.

Then, there are those who simply may not have access to protein for their diet. This may be hard to believe, since we are continually trying to drive domestic demand for pork. Regardless the reason, let’s look at this aspect. Yes, we want people to eat pork, but shouldn’t we also be concerned about the health of our populace?

I do not think that meat alternatives are going to replace the real thing anytime soon. I do think that they can serve a need for those who are looking for adding protein to their diet. Let’s let them get their feet wet with the fake stuff, and then win them over with the real thing — a nice thick pork chop or a juicy pork loin.

Our pork marketing work may be a little tougher to win over this crowd, but it would be very rewarding. Rewarding for the pork industry, as well as rewarding for the recipient when that first flavorful bite of pork, real pork, hits their taste buds.