Farm Bureau Commends Senate Passage of Immigration Bill

“The Senate’s passage today of a balanced immigration reform bill that includes a fair and workable farm labor provision is welcomed by America’s farmers and ranchers,” says Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “A comprehensive agricultural labor plan that works for all sectors of agriculture and across all regions of our nation is long overdue. We commend the Senate for addressing this very important issue, which will help ensure the continued success of agriculture in our nation.

“America’s farmers and ranchers depend on the workers who show up every day to tend crops and raise livestock. The Senate-passed bill will help ensure an adequate supply of farm labor. It also provides increased surveillance of high-risk areas along our borders. One of the best ways to improve border security is to create a legal, workable way for farm workers to enter our country. With less time and resources wasted locking up lettuce harvesters, the focus can shift to where it properly belongs—keeping those with criminal intentions out of our country.

“The passing of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 is the first step in reforming our broken immigration system and ensuring agriculture has access to a stable and legal workforce. We look forward to working with members in the House of Representatives to pass responsible immigration reform legislation that includes an earned adjustment for experienced undocumented agricultural workers and a new, flexible guest-worker program. It is critical that both chambers pass legislation that can be reconciled in conference and signed into law,” Stallman concludes.

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Bureau Commends Senate Passage of Immigration Bill

“The Senate’s passage today of a balanced immigration reform bill that includes a fair and workable farm labor provision is welcomed by America’s farmers and ranchers,” says Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “A comprehensive agricultural labor plan that works for all sectors of agriculture and across all regions of our nation is long overdue. We commend the Senate for addressing this very important issue, which will help ensure the continued success of agriculture in our nation.

“America’s farmers and ranchers depend on the workers who show up every day to tend crops and raise livestock. The Senate-passed bill will help ensure an adequate supply of farm labor. It also provides increased surveillance of high-risk areas along our borders. One of the best ways to improve border security is to create a legal, workable way for farm workers to enter our country. With less time and resources wasted locking up lettuce harvesters, the focus can shift to where it properly belongs—keeping those with criminal intentions out of our country.

“The passing of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 is the first step in reforming our broken immigration system and ensuring agriculture has access to a stable and legal workforce. We look forward to working with members in the House of Representatives to pass responsible immigration reform legislation that includes an earned adjustment for experienced undocumented agricultural workers and a new, flexible guest-worker program. It is critical that both chambers pass legislation that can be reconciled in conference and signed into law,” Stallman concludes.

 

 

 

 

Pseudorabies Still Found in Feral Swine

Pseudorabies is widespread in feral swine populations

Scientists, in the July 2013 Journal of Wildlife Diseases, reporting on a three-year study of pseudorabies in feral swine, found that the disease appears to be widespread in the wild, according to a newsletter report by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

Pseudorabies can afflict a wide range of mammals and avian hosts. But swine are the only natural hosts of the virus.

The commercial swine herd in the United States attained pseudorabies-free status in 2004, which was important due to the economic value of domestic production and its significance in maintaining U.S. pork trade.

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However, feral swine remain competent hosts of pseudorabies and represent a constant threat for reintroducing the virus into the commercial industry, according to the authors.

In order to better assess feral swine infection status across the United States, the team of scientists collected 8,498 serum samples from feral swine between Oct. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2012.

Their findings revealed that 18% of the wild pigs had positive antibodies for pseudorabies in 25 of 35 states where samples were collected. This indicated that transmission risk is widespread.  

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Phytobiotics Opens Office in North America

Pytobiotics Feed Additives, a global leader in research, development and sales of quality feed additives for livestock and pets, with an emphasis in swine and poultry, has established Phytobiotics North America LLC with headquarters in Wentzville, MO.

“We are now well established in many parts of the world and have moved from a footprint of five countries in 2000 to more than 70 countries in 2013,” says Hermann Roth, president and CEO of Phytobiotics. “As the regulatory process for our products in the United States is reaching the final approval stage, it was time to establish a business in North America.”

Bruce King, managing partner North America, will be responsible for building up the business and recruiting a team to serve the North American market. King grew up on a swine farm in northern Illinois, graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Illinois and has worked in the U.S. and global pork and poultry industries for more than 25 years.

Phtobiotics and its partners make up one of the fastest-growing companies in animal health globally and offer feed additives and consultative services focused on intestinal health, stress reduction and the increase of bioavailability of nutrients for animals.

Phytobiotics also serves the bioenergy industry with technology and fermentation stimulants both at the farm and industry level in Europe and Asia.

White Paper Outlines PED Virus Cleanup

White Paper Outlines PED Virus Cleanup

Jerome Geiger, DVM, PIC-China, and Joe Connor, DVM, Carthage (IL) Veterinary Service Ltd., have collaborated to produce a white paper outlining the appropriate procedures for the diagnosis and elimination of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus.

The paper, entitled Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea, Diagnosis, and Elimination, is based on their work with PED virus in China, where the disease has existed for decades. It contains a thorough description of a protocol for the herd-level elimination of the virus.

“Veterinary teams know how to eliminate TGE virus. I see no reason why we would not be successful in eliminating this virus from our herds in a similar manner,” Connor says.

Warm weather facilitates virus deactivation, so the summer months present a good time to launch a PED virus elimination plan.

Granted other countries have not had much success cleaning up PED virus. But in the United States, segregated production systems provide a level of separation that will facilitate elimination of the virus, Connor says.

However, cleanup of farrow-to-finish operations infected with PED virus will be more challenging. “We may have to develop a gap in production to protect susceptible populations to make that successful,” he says.  

 

FMD Expert Tapped to Help Shape Foreign Policy

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) might sound medieval, but the highly infectious livestock disease poses such a threat to modern global economies and food security that international agencies are on high alert for any sign of an outbreak.

Many livestock experts think FMD, which affects cattle, sheep and swine, is knocking at the door of the United States. Although the country has been free of the disease since 1929, experts are concerned about threat of an epidemic – like the one that struck the United Kingdom in 2001, forcing the slaughter of six million animals.

That’s where Mo Salman, a highly regarded Colorado State University (CSU) veterinary epidemiologist comes into the picture.

Salman is an expert in tracking infectious animal disease and recommending prevention and response measures. He has been tapped for policy advice by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Starting in August, Salman will serve a yearlong stint as a Jefferson Science Fellow in Washington, DC. He will provide science-based insights on infectious animal diseases with critical implications for international economies, trade, biosecurity, and human health and well-being.

“Dr. Salman’s selection to participate in the prestigious Jefferson Science Fellows Program is a wonderful validation of his scientific stature and personal interest in solving global issues,” says Daniel Bush, CSU vice provost for faculty affairs.

Salman is a professor in the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and is founding director of the CSU Animal Population Health Institute. He is the first veterinarian selected for the program that draws on some of the nation’s best minds in science, engineering and medicine to shape U.S. foreign policy on a wide range of complex issues.

Salman is a leader in understanding animal plagues, such as avian flu and FMD, that many U.S. residents might never consider. The pathogens that trigger these and other worrisome animal diseases often are more prevalent in developing countries, yet are important to the United States because of widespread impacts on people and economies.

Take foot-and-mouth disease. It does not infect people. But current livestock vaccines are problematic, so the disease remains a major concern in dozens of countries.

Outbreaks impact accessibility of animal protein and can be economically catastrophic, with reverberating effects on international trade, Salman notes.

When animals must be slaughtered to control disease, people in developing nations, especially, suffer from financial strain, hunger and other problems linked to food insecurity, he says.

“Animal protein is an essential part of our diets worldwide, whether it is in the form of dairy, eggs or meat,” Salman says. “In that context, we need to look at animal infectious disease as part of a comprehensive system that takes into account economic stability, human health, and the availability, accessibility and safety of our food supply.”

Salman says he is excited to provide a scientific perspective to federal policy discussions; he anticipates that his research and teaching will benefit from the experience when he returns to campus. He is among 13 academics in the 2013-14 class of Jefferson Science Fellows, who will report to the U.S. Secretary of State. The National Academies administers the prestigious program.

Inspired by President Thomas Jefferson, the program is meant to improve government policy by adding a healthy dose of scientific understanding. Salman is well-suited for the role, says Sue VandeWoude, associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“Dr. Salman is a leader in developing worldwide collaborations relating to livestock disease surveillance,” VandeWoude says. “His work has translated into policy and recommendations for disease control, and he is an effective trainer of veterinarians all over the globe. His selection as a Jefferson Science Fellow is a well-deserved honor.”

 

Understanding the Infection Chain Helps Reduce PRDC’s Impact

Veterinarians with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI) introduced a new concept of disease control at the recent World Pork Expo.

Dubbed the Infection Chain, the concept is designed to minimize the impact of porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC) in pigs and throughout the production system.

Brian Payne, DVM, swine technical manager for BIVI, explained how the production chain is very similar to the infection chain. “Often, the infection chain of swine pathogens are linked together.” He says it takes a systems approach to get to the root of the disease problem.

Eduardo Fano, DVM, swine technical manager at BIVI, focused on how the Infection Chain/Prevention Chain can prevent Mycoplasma pneumonia. There are three levels of production risks: level 1, replacement animals; level 2, sow herd; and level 3, wean-to-finish pigs.

The key factor is understanding the persistence of infection/shedding with mycoplasma. When there is sow herd instability, it can cause the production of more susceptible pigs, increasing the prevalence of the disease at weaning, he says.

“More sow-to-piglet disease transmission results in variability (in health status) between groups,” Fano says.

There is a connection between wean-to-finish prevalence and vertical transmission. “The higher the prevalence at weaning, the higher the clinical impact of Mycoplasma pneumonia is in finishing pigs,” Fano says.

In wean-to-finish pigs, prevalence at weaning translates into horizontal transmission downstream. “The industry has over-focused attention on the piglet vs the whole herd picture in understanding the prevalence picture for mycoplasma,” Fano says.

David Baumert, DVM, staff veterinarian at Cargill Pork, LLC, reviewed a case study of the PRDC Infection Chain in a production system. The study involved older herds that were mycoplasma positive but were very stable production flows.

Replacement gilts that had been moved into commercial sow herds turned up positive for mycoplasma, resulting in sow herd infection and respiratory disease instability, Baumert says.

Clinical disease occurred in the nursery, followed by significant economic losses in finishing that flowed through from the sow herd, he says. Multi-agent Infection Chain PRDC can result in an economic loss of $14-17/head.

It’s important to understand the pattern of circulation to understand the Infection Chain to target your intervention strategy, advises Reid Philips, DVM, PRRS technical manager at BIVI.

Baumert suggests introducing gilts early, 3-6 weeks of age, to avoid problems with mycoplasma and to deal with the issue of persistent infection in a herd.

“Pigs must be given a chance to develop immunity in order to give vaccine a chance to work,” he stresses.

 

 

 

 

Mexico Bans U.S. Pig Exports Due to PED Virus

Mexico has banned imports of US pigs due to PED virus

The outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus, which have afflicted a growing number of U.S. swine herds since spring, have resulted in an announcement Tuesday by Mexico that it is blocking imports of live pigs from the United States, according to today’s Daily Livestock Report.

Authors Steve Meyer and Len Steiner clarify that the move does not contain market significance for several reasons:

  • The ban does not include pork muscle cuts or pork variety meats as the viral disease does not spread through meat and therefore poses no human health risk.
  • The number of live pigs the United States exports to Mexico has declined greatly in recent years. Last year that number did climb to nearly 27,000 head. But that figure pales in comparison to the 120,000-plus per year that were shipped to Mexico from 2002 through 2007. In those years, a major portion of the hogs exported were slaughter hogs.
  • Through April, only 3,758 head were shipped, down 35% from the same period in 2012. And most of these animals were designated as breeding stock to be used in Mexican production facilities.

 

In 2012, the United States exported 55,059 head of live pigs. Mexico was by far the largest single destination, followed by China. U.S. live pig exports to Canada have ranged from 2,000 to 6,000 head per year in recent years, most going as breeding stock, the authors point out.

The report indicates exports of live pigs are important for U.S. breeding stock producers – but don’t play much of a role in the slaughter hog market, and therefore should have little or no impact on market hog prices.

Read more of Daily Livestock Report at www.dailylivestockreport.com.

 

 

 

 

NPPC Hails New York Support of Sow Stalls

NPPC Hails New York Support of Sow Stalls

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has joined the New York Pork Producers and America’s hog farmers in hailing the New York Legislature for its positive action in not banning individual maternity pens for pregnant sows.

NPPC says the measure could have had a devastating effect on local sustainable agriculture in New York by forcing farmers to abandon this humane animal housing system. It is the latest in a string of recent victories on the East Coast for America’s pork producers.  

Several small farmers in New York use individual maternity pens for pregnant sows, because they allow for individualized care and eliminate aggression from other sows. If passed, the measure would have forced local farmers to abandon such housing, resulting in financial damage and potentially ruining a safe and sustainable source of food for the state’s consumers.

The legislation was pushed by the activist lobbying group, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and other radical animal-rights groups even though, if approved, it would have prevented farmers from caring for their animals in a way approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. Both organizations recognize individual maternity pens as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy.

“This is about HSUS using New York to advance its national agenda, regardless of the negative impact it would have on the health and safety of the animals and the small independent farmers who care for them,” says New York pork producer John Lash.

Over the past 10 years, HSUS has lobbied other states to pass bans on individual maternity pens. While a few states have enacted bans through ballot initiatives, few state legislatures have approved such a prohibition because of the negative impacts it would have on local producers.  

“Decisions about animal well-being and housing should be determined by those who understand the animals and work with them every day,” Lash says.

In early June, the Connecticut Legislature turned back a bill to ban the use of gestation stalls for sows.

“The bill was a solution in search of a problem,” says NPPC President-Elect Howard Hill, DVM, an Iowa hog farmer. “This is about HSUS using Connecticut to advance its national vegan agenda, and we thank the Connecticut Legislature for not going along with it.

“This is the latest defeat for HSUS; momentum against these ill-advised measures is building,” Hill says. “Similar legislation was also recently defeated in New Hampshire and Vermont.

“Decisions about animal well-being and housing should be determined by those who understand the animals and work with them every day,” he says.

 

Producers, Packers Happy with Better Margins

Both packers and producers are happy with better margins

We finally have some good news on the hog price front. Last week’s Iowa-Minnesota direct, national base carcass and national net carcass prices all averaged over $100/cwt., carcass, with the net price nearing $103/cwt. 

USDA’s estimated cutout value rose over $3 to average $106.79/cwt  That improvement takes packers’ “meat margin” back to the positive side of the ledger and, assuming by-product values have remained near the last-reported level of roughly $21/head, puts packer margins back to their 2007-2011 average (Figure 1).  That’s very important since packers were not too enthusiastic about slaughtering pigs at gross margins below $15/head.  They will be considerably more interested in moving pigs through plants at $20-plus!

And the margin situation did not just improve for packers. Though some 2 to 2.5 million acres of intended corn acres will not be planted to corn this year, costs continue to slide downward for both the remainder of 2013 and for 2014.  My model, based on Iowa State’s Estimated Costs and Returns parameters, now says costs will average $94/cwt., carcass for calendar year 2013 and just under $83/cwt., carcass, for January-September 2014 (Figure 2); 2013 will still be a very negative year with average losses near $10/head, but forecast profits for next year are now above $10/head.

Much of the forward-looking strength for profits is attributable to the sharp rally in live hogs.  Cash hogs have risen nearly $10 since mid-May and have carried summer futures up by roughly that amount.  But they have also carried December futures up nearly $7/cwt. and June 2014 futures up by nearly $4/cwt.

 

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Combine those market price increases with lower costs and we now see some pretty good opportunities to lock in profits for the coming 12 months.  David Ward and Chip Whalen of CIH, LLC in Chicago told those attending the Pork Management Conference last week that the change in lean hog, corn and soybean meal futures has now pushed profit potentials for the next four quarters into roughly the 80th percentile of their historical distribution.  That means producers can right now lock in profits that would be as good as or better than the profits in 80% of the commensurate quarters in history.  One may not want to hedge them all at that level, but such prospects certainly deserve some consideration, especially given the fact that this year’s crop has not yet been “made.”

The cash hog rally is even more impressive when one considers that a) exports are still, by all reports, soft and b) frozen imports are large (Figure 3).   Friday’s Cold Storage report indicates that May 31 stocks of frozen pork were 4% larger than one year ago. Hams remain as the biggest “problems” (+21% from May 31, 2012 and +23% from one month ago) and “other” pork (+14% from last year).  The good news is that inventories declined by 6% during May and that both bellies and loin stocks are lower than last year.  In addition, stocks of frozen ribs, which had been burdensome since last summer, are finally being reduced, falling 24% in May to just 1% larger than last year. 

Market Drivers

I think the drivers of recent hog prices are two-fold.  First, hog supplies have been roughly equal to one year ago and 1-2% lower than I expected based on the March Hogs and Pigs report.  My forecasts involved adjustments for last summer’s heat that, as it now appears, may not have been correct.  Weights are creeping closer to last year’s heat-induced lower levels and producer-sold barrows and gilts will very likely be heavier this week than they were one year ago.  But production is still a bit lower than I had expected at this time.

The second factor, prices of competitor goods, is much larger, in my opinion.  Spot prices for boneless/skinless chicken have been near $2/lb.  The choice-grade beef cutout moved barely below $200/cwt. last week after spending the past six weeks above that level.  Wholesale prices of “middle meats,” such as loins and ribs, led the increase in the cutout value.  Higher priced loins and ribs mean pricey T-bones, porterhouses, strips and ribeyes.  It appears that the National Pork Board’s efforts to rename pork cuts after their beef corollaries could not have come at a better time.

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