UNL EXTENSION AGENT ELECTED REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
Larry Howard, Extension Educator with University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension was recently elected North Central Region Director of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) during NACAA’s 96th Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference, held in Overland Park, Kansas, August 7-11, 2011, according to Scott Hawbaker, NACAA Executive Director.
Howard will serve as North Central Region Director encompassing 12 states for the next two years. He was one of over 1200 Cooperative Extension Service agricultural agents and their families who attended the week-long professional improvement program.
Professional improvement programming developed by the Kansas Association of County Agricultural Agents for all NACAA members was abundant at the Annual Meeting.
“NACAA delegates meet each year to consider business for the organization and to provide training for agents to help them conduct better educational programs, said Hawbaker. “We provide our members professional training and support. Agents honor their peers and give special recognition to selected agents who have reached distinguished milestones in their careers."
In addition to Howard’s election, some of the program highlights included "educational presentations by peers, exhibits and displays to promote new educational programs, discussions on current issues facing farming and agri-business, leadership development seminars, professional speakers and much more,” said Hawbaker.
More than 20 tours to take delegates to agricultural points of interest were available. Exhibitors also provided sessions on innovative products and services of value to professional agricultural workers and their clients.
Howard received two degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a BS in Agricultural Education and Animal Science in 1980 and a MS – Agricultural Education, in 1984. He currently oversees Livestock, livestock environmental issues and youth/4-H programming in Cuming County, NE. Howard resides in West Point, NE with his wife Mary and has three grown children – Christopher, Marisa and Bryce.
JOHANNS, GRASSLEY SEEK EPA SUPPORT OF FARM DUST BILL
U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today asked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to provide certainty and put action behind her words of support for farmers and ranchers concerned about the potential regulation of farm dust. Johanns has introduced, and Grassley has co-sponsored, a bill that would prohibit EPA farm dust regulation. In a letter to Jackson, the senators outlined conflicting statements made by EPA and requested her support for the bill as a way to provide clarity to the agency's position.
"EPA won't hesitate to tell farmers not to worry about farm dust regulations, but when pressed further, all we hear are intentionally vague statements and mixed signals," Johanns said. "Their claims that they have no plans to regulate farm dust conflict with their statements that they're not able to distinguish farm dust from other regulated dust. If regulation of farm dust truly is a myth, as Administrator Jackson has suggested, she should debunk that myth once and for all by supporting my bill. Farmers and ranchers would applaud her for providing this certainty."
"The EPA has been giving conflicting answers and having it both ways on the dust issue for long enough. It's time for Administrator Jackson to set the record straight and put the word out to the employees of the EPA that agriculture dust is off the table," Grassley said. "When soybeans are at the right moisture level, they need to be combined, and if God determined that the wind is going to blow that day, there’s absolutely nothing a farmer can do. Dust happens."
EPA's April 2011 Policy Assessment for the Review of the Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards recommends doubling the severity of dust regulation. Despite this, Administrator Jackson has been reported as telling farmers any contention that EPA plans to regulate farm dust is a "myth."
However, EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy stated in an April letter that EPA's air quality standards are "not focused on any specific category of sources or any particular activity (including activities related to agriculture or rural roads)."
The Johanns-Grassley bill would thus enable EPA to consider the source of particulate matter and prohibit the agency from regulating farm dust.
Fortenberry Joins Effort to Reform Missouri River Flood Control Practices
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry today joined Rep. Steve King of Iowa and other House colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation to require the Army Corps of Engineers to change the way it seeks to control flooding along the Missouri River.
“Families and communities along the Missouri River have been devastated by this year’s unprecedented flooding,” Fortenberry said. “The 2011 flood and its extraordinary impacts necessitate a re-evaluation of river management. This bill requires the Army Corps of Engineers to manage upstream reservoirs for the purpose of preventing catastrophic flooding events that negatively impact all Missouri River users.”
The House legislation, H.R. 2942, would direct the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to revise the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System Master Water Control Manual to ensure greater storage capacity to prevent serious downstream flooding. Upstream reservoirs would be required to remain low enough to accommodate high levels of runoff and prevent devastating downstream floods.
Fortenberry is a member of the House Missouri River Flood Working Group, which was created to examine the causes of the 2011 floods and prevent future significant flooding.
NDA TO FACILITATE USDA COST-SHARE PROGRAM FOR NEBRASKA’S CERTIFIED ORGANIC INDUSTRY
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) will receive funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist organic producers and processors with certification costs.
“The organic industry in Nebraska is continually growing,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “Through this cost-share program, we can assist the state’s organic producers with the cost of obtaining their organic certification.”
Authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, the National Organic Program’s (NOP) Cost-Share Program is designed to assist producers and handlers of agriculture products in obtaining certification under the NOP guidelines. Those guidelines require certification and compliance with national standards in order to sell, label, or represent agricultural products as organic. Producers and handlers can receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of the costs of obtaining certification, with a maximum payment of $750 per certificate held. The actual cost-share amount will be based on a percentage of the total the applicant paid for NOP certification. NDA has access to a total of $110,000.
Applicants must have been certified or renewed their certification between October 1, 2010, and September 30, 2011, in order to be eligible for cost-share reimbursement. The funds will be reimbursed in the order applications are received, until the monies are exhausted, or until the eligibility period ends. All applications for reimbursement must be postmarked by November 12, 2011.
Applications and additional information are available online at www.agr.ne.gov. Producers and handlers with questions can call NDA at (402) 471-4876.
Corn Growers Announce Harvest Weight Limit, Effective Today September 15
As combines start hitting the field this week throughout the state, Governor Branstad today signed into effect a proclamation granting a temporary weight limit exemption for trucks on Iowa roads. The proclamation specifically increases the weight allowable for shipment of corn, soybeans, hay, straw and stover, by 12.5% per axle (up to a maximum of 90,000 pounds) without the need for an oversize/overweight permit. The Branstad proclamation is an improvement over the past few proclamations, when the previous maximum per-axle limitation was the lesser of 10% or 88,000 pounds.
The 2011 proclamation again applies to loads transported on all highways within Iowa, excluding the interstate system. Trucks cannot exceed the truck’s regular maximum by more than 12.5% per axle and must obey the posted limits on all roads and bridges.
“We are proud to have the privilege of another weight limit exemption for the 2011 season. We understand that the harvest weight proclamation is not a right by law, but a petition to the Governor,” said Kevin Ross, a farmer from Minden and president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA). “ICGA requested the proclamation and provided the Governor with information on the estimated predictions of another bountiful Iowa crop. We sincerely thank the Governor for his action, especially in providing the improved overage of up to 12.5%.”
The proclamation directs the Iowa Department of Transportation to monitor the operation of the proclamation, assure the public’s safety and facilitate the movement of the trucks involved. Farmers who are transporting grain are also required to follow their vehicle safety standards on axle weights.
The exemption will be granted for 60 days beginning, today, September 15, 2011.
Hubbard Feeds and Bioverse Team Up to Provide Manure Pit Management Products
AgraSphere and Activator Plus are valuable solutions for swine producers
Hubbard Feeds and Bioverse Inc. are pleased to announce that Hubbard Feeds has become a distributor for Bioverse agricultural waste management products: the AgraSphere® and Activator Plus®. These products use naturally occurring, beneficial bacteria to reduce sludge build-up and prevent crusting. This reduction in crusting and solids in manure pits and waste systems is crucial for maximizing pit storage capacity and maintaining proper pit performance.
“Our customers are always looking for ways to reduce solids build-up, control insects, and reduce odors in their barns and pits,” says Ernie Hansen, swine group leader for Hubbard Feeds. “The all-natural, fast-acting Activator Plus combined with the 24/7 inoculation feature of the AgraSphere for continuous maintenance make an effective, affordable and easy solution for swine producers.”
Consumer Contest in Japan Highlights U.S. Pork Butt Recipes
To promote the use of U.S. pork butt for traditional Japanese cooking, the U.S. Meat Export Federation's (USMEF) Japan office recently conducted a U.S. pork recipe contest for consumers. Support for the contest was provided by the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).
In Japan, pork butt is more commonly used in home cooking than in restaurant dishes. So by encouraging everyday consumers to develop and showcase original pork butt recipes, this contest was aimed at building awareness of the pork butt and allowing homemakers to share fresh ideas with their fellow consumers. To raise the profile of the recipe contest, USMEF used advertorials in the Asahi newspaper and lifestyle magazine Orange Page, as well as online ads on the food and lifestyle website Bon Marche.
From more than 1000 applications, USMEF selected one grand prize winner to receive a one-year supply of U.S. pork. The winning recipe was American pork butt with plum wine and Japanese herbs.
“Plum wine is quite popular in Japan, and my mother used to make it herself,” said grand prize winner Yukari Harada. “I still clearly remember the taste of my mother’s plum wine, which was given by a small one-bite cup as a medicine when I had a stomach ache, and I really loved it. My mother also used her plum wine for cooking, which inspired me to develop my own plum wine recipe using U.S. pork butt.”
An American Pork Ambassador Prize was also awarded, with the winner receiving an invitation to participate in the U.S. pork butt cooking demonstration at the USMEF Strategic Planning Conference in November.
The winning recipe for the American Pork Ambassador Prize was for hitsu-mabushi – a dish traditionally made with grilled eel, rice and Japanese herbs.
“Hitsu-mabushi is a very popular item in my home area of Aichi prefecture,” said prize winner Kaori Ishibashi. “My husband likes hitsu-mabushi very much, but eel is expensive and too high in cholesterol for his health. So I always prepare hitsu-mabushi with American pork butt, and serve it to my family about once a week.”
The chief judge of the contest was Tenkichi-Kachan, one of Japan’s most famous and influential cooking bloggers with a following of about 120,000 readers per day. Tenkichi-Kachan often features U.S. pork recipes on her blog and discusses the positive attributes of U.S. pork products.
The prize-winners, along with nine other recipes selected from the contest entries, will be featured in newspaper and magazine ads in October to further promote creative uses of U.S. pork butt for Japanese home cooking.
Beginning late last year, USMEF launched a global initiative aimed at expanding marketing opportunities and increasing consumer awareness of the pork butt – a cut that grades very well in terms of tenderness, juiciness and flavor, but is often underutilized and under-represented in the retail meat case.
“This recipe contest is an excellent way of raising consumer interest in the pork butt,” said USMEF Senior Marketing Director Takemichi Yamashoji. “It is especially gratifying to see our contest winners tout U.S. pork butt as a healthy and affordable alternative for traditional Japanese cooking.”
Japan is perennially the leading value market for U.S. pork exports, and 2011 is shaping up to be another outstanding year. Exports to Japan in 2011 (including variety meat) have already broken the $1 billion mark for the seventh consecutive year and are on pace to exceed last year’s export value record of $1.65 billion. Through July, exports totaled 287,466 metric tons (633.8 million pounds) valued at $1.1 billion – an increase of 11 percent in volume and 14 percent in value over last year.
Drought Leads to Smaller Herds
About 84% of Texas cattle ranchers reduced the size of their herds as a result of the severe drought in the state, according to a survey by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
Cattle ranchers across the southern plains are facing drought conditions that many observers compare to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. As pasture lands and water supplies have dried up, many have had little choice but to sell off cattle.
The Texas trade group surveyed its membership of more than 15,000 cattle producers, ranching families and livestock businesses. Of them, about 92% said they hope to start rebuilding their herds next year, assuming drought conditions ease. The remaining 8% said they planned to hold no cattle next year before acting to rebuild their herds.
The group's surveys also point to the historically high rate of herd reduction that's taken place in states like Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, which together represent a major source of cattle for the U.S. beef industry.
Of the ranchers who've reduced their holdings, the average reduced his or her herd by 38%. Some of those reductions represent animals that have changed hands, such as weaned calves being sold to feedlots, where animals are fattened before they're slaughtered.
USDA Approves Bovine TB-Free Status for 57 Michigan Counties
Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) Director Keith Creagh Wednesday announced 57 counties in the Lower Peninsula have been designated as Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) Free in an interim rule published in the Federal Register. Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved shrinking the state's Bovine TB Modified Accredited Zone (MAZ) even further by removing Presque Isle County. Only Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Oscoda counties in the easternmost area of the northern Lower Peninsula remain in the MAZ.
Bovine TB is a contagious bacterial disease of cattle that can affect other mammals, including humans. In 1994, a unique strain of bovine TB was identified in Michigan's free-ranging deer. USDA has worked with Michigan's farmers, veterinarians, Michigan State University Extension agents, Michigan's Departments of Natural Resources and Community Health, and MDARD on statewide disease surveillance testing, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging of 1.2 million Michigan beef and dairy animals representing $9.17 billion in net worth.
"Congratulations to our producers. This announcement marks a turning point in the bovine TB program. Through hard work by beef and dairy farmers, effective surveillance testing, RFID, and movement certification requirements, we are able to protect and now open up new market opportunities for our combined beef and dairy industries," said Creagh. "It has been a long haul for our 13,000 beef and dairy producers since we started addressing this issue 17 years ago."
"This is a great accomplishment," said Dr. John Clifford, USDA APHIS Chief Veterinary Medical Officer. "Tuberculosis is a serious disease, and the State of Michigan has worked diligently with us to contain it."
Since disease testing began, 52 Michigan cattle farms and four privately owned cervid operations have been affected by bovine TB. Most of these TB positive farms have been in the MAZ, and were depopulated.
As USDA grants Michigan counties TB Free Status, MDARD simultaneously updates the state's zoning rules to match the federal requirements.
Case IH Robo-Sharpener: The world’s first field service robot for sharpening Standard & Wavy tillage blades
It’s an age-old problem in agriculture: ground-engaging tools – disks, coulters and wavy blades that penetrate soil and cut crop residues – eventually go dull. Until now, there was no way to realistically sharpen a wavy-bladed implement with dull blades. "It is with great excitement that Case IH announces the Robo-SharpenerTM," says Rob Zemenchik, Sales and Marketing Manager, Case IH Tillage Products. “It’s the world’s first manually supervised ‘field-service robot’ for sharpening wavy or regular tillage blades on the Case IH True-Tandem 330 Turbo.”
“We introduced the 330 Turbo vertical tillage tool in 2007, with its patented low-concavity wavy blades,” Zemenchik adds. “Case IH field specialists soon recognized that we could further extend customer value if we could provide a sharpener for its wavy blades. We couldn’t find a sharpener anywhere in the world, so we invented our own.”
The patent-pending Robo-Sharpener system sharpens a Case IH Turbo blade in just a few minutes. The sharpener is equipped with a trolley system, allowing it to roll along a rail from blade to blade while the operator watches. “This provides easy repeatability in sharpening,” Zemenchik says. “And because it’s mounted to the implement, there’s no need to worry about finding level ground. Sharpening can occur in the field, the farm yard or the service bay.”
Not only does the Case IH Robo-Sharpener sharpen wavy blades, it also sharpens standard concavity disk blades. After using the Robo-Sharpener, the blades will have a restored cutting edge that can slice through tough residue and penetrate hard soil.
The key breakthrough in developing the Robo-Sharpener was exploiting the principle of the pendulum, first studied by Galileo in 1602. With the appropriate leverage provided by the sharpener’s own weight mounted to the pendulum, the sharpening wheel tracks the undulations of the wavy blades. A gang driver rotates the blades at the ideal speed while being sharpened. This balance also keeps heat away from the target blade so blade steel integrity is not compromised. "A gleaming, fresh edge emerges within seconds, giving the blade the full cutting capability it had when new,” says Zemenchik. “We were surprised with how sharp and uniform the blades got. The toughest corn stalks will be no match for a freshly sharpened True-Tandem 330 Turbo.”
The economics are attractive, too. While sharpening labor and applicable travel costs vary by area, utilizing the Robo-Sharpener from your local Case IH dealer can save you up to 85 percent of the cost to re-blade an implement. “This offers tremendous savings for Case IH customers who want top performance from their vertical tillage tools or disks, because you no longer have to prematurely re-blade machines,” Zemenchik explains. “Re-sharpening multiple times for multiple savings is now feasible.” Additional value is gained from having sharp implement blades. “Sharp blades enhance nutrient cycling of phosphorus and potassium in crop residues,” adds Zemenchik. “And, tire damage is reduced because sharp blades help manage root crowns from stiff corn stalks.”
"We appreciate the efforts of Case IH dealers to provide and support the best machines possible for our customers. Any opportunity a dealer has to extend value beyond the original equipment purchase is terrific," Zemenchik concludes. The Case IH Robo-Sharpener will soon be available to Case IH dealers and later available to Case IH customers.