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Articles from 2013 In July

Practice Strict Transport Biosecurity on PEDV


Having strict transportation biosecurity is one of the best ways to help stop the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus, according to the latest edition. Talking with your veterinarian about developing transport biosecurity recommendations specifically for your operation is always the best course of action. Here are some general transportation biosecurity points to consider: 

  • When going to another site or packing plant, wear coveralls and boots when outside of the truck to prevent contamination in the cab of the trailer
  • Establish a clean and dirty zone for farm and transport workers to follow during load-in and load-out
  • Completely clean, disinfect and dry trailers after use; this is especially important when going to commingled sites like cull depots, packing plants or buying stations
  • Cleaning and disinfection involves:
    • Removal of dirty shavings, manure and other debris from the trailer
    • The use of a detergent soap can help to break down dried manure and speed up the wash process
    • After cleaning the trailer, use a disinfectant according to label directions to kill the virus
  • Make sure to wash and clean coveralls, boots and other equipment after transporting pigs and before contact with other pigs
  • Clean and disinfect the interior of the tractor cab before contact with other pigs


Once the tractor and trailer are clean, park in a secure, clean location to dry away from other vehicle

Former Florida Hog Farmer Awarded $505,000 over Constitutional Amendment

Former Florida Hog Farmer Awarded $505,000 over Constitutional Amendment

Florida passed the first constitutional amendment in 2002, prohibited the housing of pregnant sows in gestation crates. And now, Florida is marking up another first, with an appellate court decision affirming a ruling that awarded a producer $505,000 plus interest for improvements to his property that were made useless by the amendment. 

Plaintiff Stephen Basford was one of two Florida farmers who used gestation crates at the time the amendment was passed.  A year later, according to the evidence offered at trial, he shut down his operation, “unable to afford an estimated $600,000 in costs needed to stop using gestation stalls; other buildings and equipment on his farm were also unable to be used due to the functionally integrated nature of his business.”

In 2010, Basford filed an “inverse condemnation" lawsuit.  In the lawsuit, he did not seek compensation for any loss in value of the land itself, but instead for the loss of the improvements he had made (including a “breeding barn, a gestation barn where the gestation crates that were banned by the amendment were used, a farrowing barn with farrowing crates, two finishing barns, a feedmill and shelter equipped for storing and mixing feed, a lab/office with equipment for artificial insemination, four water wells with pumps to serve the barns and feedmill, clay lagoons for waste disposal, and a metal chute with hydraulic cylinders for lifting pigs into trailers for transport to market”).

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Last week, the First District Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 decision, upheld Jackson County Circuit Judge John Fishel’s ruling in Basford’s favor.  That opinion said Basford's operation “depended on raising a high volume of pigs for market, and his improvements were designed for that purpose.”

Further, the court relied on the trial judge’s acceptance of “Basford’s “testimony that his barns could not be used for any purpose other than raising pigs and that the wells and feedmill had no other practical purpose or use. The state offered no evidence below to refute (Basford's) testimony on alternative uses of the improvements. Nor has it argued on appeal that the improvements had any other purpose or that Basford could have converted to another type of pig-raising operation.”

However, dissenting judge Phil Padovano argued that “Basford didn't deserve compensation because his hog farm consisted of just four acres on a 318-acre farm.  ‘We are obligated to evaluate the plaintiff's claim based on the effect this new constitutional provision had on the entire parcel of land, not just one structure on the land, or several acres of the land,’ Padovano wrote.”

The award of $505,000 plus interest was calculated based on the inability to use the improvements after November 2008, when the 2002 amendment took effect.  A spokeswoman for the state attorney said that they are reviewing the ruling. 

To read the appellate court opinion, click here.

For questions or for more information on laws affecting farm animal confinement, contact University of Arkansas staff attorney Elizabeth Rumley at

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Smithfield Foods Produces Group Housing Video

Smithfield Foods Produces Group Housing Video

In 2007, Smithfield Foods, Inc. announced a goal of phasing out individual gestation stalls in favor of group housing for pregnant sows at all company-owned sow farms by 2017.

Smithfield Foods is on track to complete this goal and has created a video, which not only reaffirms Smithfield's commitment to group housing systems on their company-owned farms, but also takes a specific look at what sows’ lives are like in Smithfield group housing.

“We think this is both an entertaining and informative look at how we are caring for pregnant sows, with actual footage from our sow farms that helps to explain how the group housing system ensures the safety, comfort and health of the sows during the gestation process,” says Dennis H. Treacy, Smithfield's executive vice president and chief sustainability officer.

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In 2007 Smithfield Foods made a business decision to convert to group housing for pregnant sows on all company-owned U.S. farms based on input from its customers. When completed in 2017, it is estimated that the U.S. conversion will have cost about $300 million. In addition, Smithfield's international hog production operations also will complete their conversions to group housing on company-owned farms by 2022.

For more information, visit and

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Pass Immigration Reform Legislation

In a letter sent today to the House of Representatives, the American Farm Bureau Federation and more than 400 leading U.S. businesses and advocacy organizations urged enactment of immigration reform legislation. The letter was signed by a broad cross section of industries that includes agriculture, housing, retail, tourism, hospitality, technology, engineering, manufacturing, finance, venture capital, consumer electronics and others with a combined presence in every state in the United States.

The letter and all the groups signing on can be found at:

Following is the text of the letter that was sent to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

“The undersigned organizations urge the United States Congress to enact legislation that would bring meaningful reforms to critical components of our nation’s immigration system. Reform of an outdated, broken immigration system is essential if we are to achieve a fully revitalized economy that provides rewarding and lasting jobs and opportunities for all Americans.

“Thought leaders from across the ideological spectrum agree that enacting immigration reform now will accelerate U.S. economic growth at a critical time when it has struggled to recover, and will help to enable sustained growth for decades to come. Done right, reform will also serve to protect and complement our U.S. workforce, generating greater productivity and economic activity that will lead to new innovations, products, businesses and jobs in communities across the United States.

“We deal with an immigration system that is now in its third decade and completely incapable of being responsive to an ever-changing national economy and hypercompetitive global marketplace. Today, the problems with our immigration system have grown and multiplied to become an emerging threat to the current and future productivity, ingenuity and competitiveness of key sectors of our economy, including agriculture, housing, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, tourism, engineering and technology.

“We are united in the belief that we can and must do better for our economy and country by modernizing our immigration system. We already have been engaged with many members of Congress—Republicans and Democrats—on numerous components of a modern immigration system, and we urge that you not let this momentum slip and progress vanish.

“Failure to act is not an option. We can’t afford to be content and watch a generation-old immigration system work more and more against our overall national interest.  Instead, we urge Congress to remain mindful of the clear benefits to our economy if we succeed, and work together and with us to achieve real, pro-growth immigration reform.”


Pig Adventure Sets Grand Opening

Pig Adventure Sets Grand Opening

The grand opening for Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, IN, is set for Aug. 5, 2013. Public tours of the facility will leave from the Fair Oaks Farms campus (just off I-65, Exit 220). Indiana dignitaries and government officials will be welcomed to the celebration at Fair Oaks Farms.

The Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms, which took about 15 months to construct, will employ about 25 people initially. The facility consists of approximately 120,000 sq. ft. for pig production and 22,000 sq. ft. for “edutainment.” The farm holds a maximum of 2,750 sows and will produce about 80,000 pigs annually.

The public touring destination is a joint venture between Fair Oaks Farms and Belstra Milling Company, DeMotte, IN.

The new pig center is designed to show visitors firsthand how a modern pig production facility operates and highlights the treatment and well-being of the pigs, the environment and how pork is a safe and nutritious food.

“Fair Oaks Farms is extremely excited to add an additional opportunity for visitors to view another example of 21st century agriculture,” says Gary Corbett, CEO of Fair Oaks Farms. “Fair Oaks Farms serves as an educational resource regarding current and future farming practices and a center for dialogue between the consumers of food products and the farmers who produce them.”

The public is invited to celebrate the grand opening with fun activities planned for the day. The Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. The last shuttle will leave for the pig farm at 4 p.m.

For more information about this event and about Fair Oaks Farms, go to


Crop Conditions Hold Steady

In the top 18 states for corn and soybean production, crop conditions are holding steady with solid advances being made in crop maturity, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) report for July 29.

Corn condition at 46% good and 17% excellent duplicated last week’s rating. However, in states like Kansas, only 29% of the crop was rated as good and just 4% was listed as excellent.

Corn silking advanced significantly, with a one-week increase in the top 18 states from 43% to 71%, but well behind last year’s 93% of the crop silked for this time period, the NASS report indicated.

Soybeans blooming for the week ending July 28 stood at 65% in the top 18 states vs. 46% a week earlier and behind the 2012 rating of 87%. Setting pods were at 20% vs 52% at this point last year in the top 18 states for soybean production.

For soybean condition, NASS reported 50% of the crop as being in good condition and 28% in fair condition, virtually identical to last week’s NASS report.



U.S. Canadian & Mexican Meat and Livestock Organizations Ask for Preliminary Injunction Against COOL

U.S., Canadian, and Mexican meat and livestock organizations have asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to grant a preliminary injunction against the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rule.  This follows the July 8 lawsuit filed by the organizations to block implementation of COOL. 

The plaintiffs assert that they “are very likely to succeed on the merits and the Final Rule will likely be vacated.  But if it is not enjoined in the meantime, the Final Rule will irreparably harm meat-industry participants.  Plaintiffs are trade organizations that represent regulated entities facing immediate and substantial burdens and costs under the Final Rule.” 

Plaintiffs include the American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association, Southwest Meat Association and Mexico’s National Confederation of Livestock Organizations.

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Still Waiting on Farm Bill

There has been little movement on moving forward with the 2013 farm bill.  The House Republican leadership continues to work on a nutrition (SNAP) only bill.  The House of Representatives will not consider that bill until September.  Don’t expect any movement on the farm bill until the House decides the nutrition issue. 

There are only nine legislative days in September before the farm bill expires on Sept. 30.  As the Sept. 30 deadline approaches, we can expect talk of an extension to take place.  Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) has said Congress needs to pass a farm bill not an extension.  Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, plans to name 12 Senate farm bill conferees.

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Two Days of RFS Hearings

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held two days of hearings on the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).  The witnesses included the biofuels industry and the end-users in which both sides continued to restate their strongly held positions.

The biofuels groups talked of the success of the RFS with ethanol keeping gasoline prices down and spurring investment in the next generation of biofuels, and no need for any legislative changes to the RFS.  The end-users testified that the RFS requirement raised the cost of fuel, increased feed costs, and should be repealed.

  Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) said it was time for the two sides to come together and resolve this issue.  He indicated there were not the votes to repeal the RFS, but there were strong feelings among congressional members that the RFS standard needed to be modified.  

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Ag Research Partnership between Universities and Private Entities

Legislation has been introduced that will help spur new agricultural research by leveraging private dollars to create charitable partnerships between universities and private entities.  The “Charitable Agricultural Research Act” amends the tax code to allow for the creation of new charitable, tax-exempt agricultural research organizations. 

This is similar to medical research organizations that have been successful in supporting innovation in medical sciences since the 1950s.  The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Thune (R-SD) in the Senate and Congressmen David Nunes (R-CA) and Ron Kind (D-WI) in the House of Representatives.