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November 14, 2018
Livestock and Ag Credit News

California Proposition Shows Power Of Lobby Group Money… Animal Agriculture Under Constant Siege

By Will Verboven, The Bulletin, 11/13/18—On November 6th California voters passed Proposition 12 by a 60% majority vote. That proposition establishes minimum space requirements for laying hens, sows and calves raised for veal. It follows a similar California proposition passed 10 years which was determined not to be effective enough.

Proponents are a coalition of 33 lobby groups from mainstream animal welfare organizations. In that same light those against the proposition included not just mainstream livestock and poultry producer groups but such infamous, nasty groups like PETA – go figure.

The pro coalition spent over $20 million to convince gullible citizens to vote their way, while the against groups spent less than $2 million.

Livestock industry opponents claim the real intent of the Proposition is to provide better legal opportunities to sue confined livestock operators and to provide government funding to bureaucrat enforcers to harass farmers. That may be the more likely intent as that is a sure–fire way to drive operators out of business or to scare–off anyone wanting to invest in animal agriculture in California.

That is the hidden agenda of the coalition groups in favour of the Proposition. They are all opposed to what they call factory–farming and this is one way to achieve their goals. One provision in the successful Proposition is that by 2020 the new law would prohibit California businesses from selling eggs, pork and veal sourced from animals that do not meet California's strict standards – even if those food products came from out of state.


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Livestock and Ag Credit News

Eating Less Meat Won't Move Climate Change Needle

By Nevil Speer, Feedstuffs, 11/12/18—The Guardian's headline read like this: Huge reduction in meat–eating 'essential' to avoid climate breakdown. Their article goes on to explain that, "U.K. and U.S. citizens need to cut beef by 90% and milk by 60% while increasing beans and pulses between four and six times… Reducing meat consumption might be achieved by a mix of education, taxes, subsidies for plant–based foods and changes to school and workplace menus…"

Alternatively, The Hill's headline declared, "In order to 'feed the world' we must stop factory farming our animals." And then piles on by asserting: "Worldwide, animal agriculture is responsible for 90% of methane emissions and the U.S. habit of raising animals for food contributes more than half of our carbon footprint."

Stop right there –– "raising animals for food contributes more than half of our carbon footprint?" That's not even close to being right. The Environmental Protection Agency designates all of agriculture, collectively, as contributing only 9% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S. (versus 28% for both transportation and electricity, respectively). EPA further designates livestock as representing "almost one–third of the emissions from the agriculture economic sector." In other words, livestock are responsible for about 3% of total GHG emissions in the U.S. –– a long ways from half.

Antibiotic Stewardship: A Conscious Choice for U.S. Pig Farmers

Farm Journal's Pork, 11/12/18—America's 60,000 pig farmers remain committed to using antibiotics responsibly as they take steps each day on doing what's right for the health of people, pigs and the planet. In recognition of the 2018 U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week and World Antibiotic Awareness Week, Nov. 12–18, America's pig farmers want consumers to realize the continuous improvement and antibiotic stewardship efforts underway. Part of that commitment is participating in the global One Health initiative with organizations including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Using antibiotics responsibly, under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, is a part of daily life on pig farms and has been for many years," said National Pork Board President Steve Rommereim, a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. "When it comes to keeping our pigs healthy, we continue to use many management strategies on our farms, including biosecurity measures, vaccinations, housing management, and more, to maintain the health and well–being of the pigs in our care."

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, directed by the CDC, is an annual observance to raise the awareness of antibiotic resistance risks and the importance for all sectors – human and animal health and the environment – to responsibly use antibiotics.

Documentary Helps Consumers Understand Hog Farming

By Kylene Scott, High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, 11/11/18—Minnesota hog farmer Tim Schwartz had never been filmed before. He'd also never been a part of a documentary. But what Schwartz does know is raising pigs.

The Schwartzes have worked to get the good word out about hog farming in Minnesota, and are part of the 3,000 pig farms in the state. Minnesota ranks second in the United States with 16.4 million pigs marketed in 2017.

During October, the Minnesota Pork Board worked to promote its "Meat of the North" documentary. The goal of the documentary is to help consumers connect with where their food comes from. Schwartz was asked to represent the producer side of the industry in the film. "My part of it was to be the expert in pig production and to be the voice of pig farmers," Schwartz said. "I was happy to help them out on it."

The film connected a social media type person with a pork enthusiast and a pork producer. "We took them and showed them how they're raised and how production works," Schwartz said. "Then we also did the meat market visit, kind of explaining all the different cuts of pork and then as well as the cooking side of it."

Livestock Producers Urged to Watch for Mycotoxins

Feedstuffs, 11/09/18—Kansas State University veterinarian Steve Ensley is urging producers to be especially diligent about monitoring for mycotoxins in livestock feed this winter on the heels of weather conditions that promoted their growth this fall.

Ensley, a toxicologist, said summer drought conditions in Kansas led to a heightened risk of aflatoxin in the state's grain crop, while wet conditions during the 2018 harvest also made that grain susceptible to fumonisin. Similar growing conditions occurred in other parts of the Midwest and Southeast, so producers in those areas should also be on alert.

"This year, we have already had some death losses associated with mycotoxins in pigs and horses [in Kansas], and so we've measured just a very few samples of corn and found very high concentrations of fumonisin and aflatoxin," Ensley said. "I'm very concerned that it may be a bigger health issue statewide than the localized cases we've seen so far."

Ag Bankers Sound Alarm on Rising Interest Rates for Farmers

By Dan Looker, Successful Farming, 11/12/18—Financial data from Midwest crop farms still looks better than you'd expect after more than five years of low grain prices, but lenders gathered at the National Agricultural Bankers Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, Sunday got seasoned advice on working with problem loans.

"I really feel we're in a renewal season on the brink," said one speaker who is a veteran of the farm debt crisis on the 1980s, Virginia Tech emeritus ag economist David Kohl. Kohl compares the current ag lending environment to the smoke that preceded the Mt. St. Helens eruption in Washington state. Some of the threats rumbling under the ag economy include continued uncertainty in international trade, the size of farm loans, rising interest rates, and the possibility of declining farmland values.

New Board Game Captures Excitement & Challenge of Cattle Breeding

By Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine, 11/11/18—It comes as no surprise that after a lifetime of educating others about the ins and outs of the beef cattle industry, this former meat science professor and current missionary businessman based out of Mexico has combined his two loves — cattle and games — into creating an exciting and fast–paced board game called, "Pedigree — The Animal Breeding Board Game."

"Some of my favorite memories from my childhood were spending time outside with the animals and playing board games with my family," says Wulf, who grew up on a cattle ranch near Morris, Minn. "I wanted to create something that brings people together for some wholesome fun without being plugged in."

Wulf pulled from his experiences of growing up on a ranch, receiving three degrees (BS, MS, PhD) in animal science, working as a professor at South Dakota State University for 14 years and raising Red LimFlex cattle in Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico to create Pedigree.

"My reasons for designing the game of Pedigree are to provide a great family fun board gaming experience for those who are passionate about animal breeding, and to bring the joy of animal breeding to those who enjoy family board games," said Wulf. "I have been quite intrigued how the mechanisms of genetic selection mesh so well with board game mechanics."

Global Livestock News

Mexican Official Eyes More Agricultural Exports to Asia

Xinhua, 11/12/18—A senior official from a leading farm state in Mexico said Sunday that the country should work to boost its agrifood exports to Asia.

Currently Mexico's agrifood exports to Asia account for just 5 percent of the total, said Hector Padilla, secretary of rural development for western Jalisco state, citing a recent report by the Chamber of Deputies' Study Center for Sustainable Rural Development and Food Sovereignty. Asian agricultural goods account for just 3 percent of Mexico's total food imports, leading to a surplus of 707 million U.S. dollars, said Padilla, also former president of the Mexican Association of Secretaries of Agricultural Development.

In recent months, there has been an uptick in sales abroad, mainly to Japan and South Korea, as well as Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, said Padilla.

Global Livestock News

AFBF Confident Farm Bill Gets Done in Lame Duck Session

By Eric Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today, 11/12/18—Will there be a new farm bill in this lame duck session? Last week we heard House Republican Jim Banks from Indiana's 3rd district say, "The worst thing that can happen is for a farm bill to be punted to the next Congress." Congressional Relations Director for the American Farm Bureau Federation Andrew Walmsley agrees. "Well that is the worst thing that could happen is to not get this done during the lame duck.

But I'm optimistic and pretty confident that we'll be able to wrap up this farm bill before the end of the year. The four principles, after the election, have all said that it's their intention. That's definitely the conversations we've had with staff is that they're putting a package together that's coming into a landing zone that's going to, I think, be beneficial for agriculture. The election had to take place. We had to get beyond that. That's behind us now. I think we definitely now have an opportunity to wrap this thing up."

With Democrats winning the majority in the House, significant concessions will likely have to be made on the part of Senate Republicans and President Trump as it relates to food stamp work requirements.

"I don't think there was ever the expectation that the final form was going to be exactly the Senate bill or exactly the House bill. There were issues that both chambers would have with that and that's what the conference process is all about. We've been working on this for three months. I think they've got pathways to get it across the finish line. The election maybe helped decide some of those issues for them."

Trump Administration Improving Rural Broadband Access

Farm Bureau, 10/30/18—Farmers and ranchers need quality connections to broadband internet, but those connections are hard to find in the countryside. To the delight of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Missouri Agriculture Director Chris Chinn, the Trump administration is working to improve broadband access in rural areas. Chinn met with President Trump recently and says the administration is working to make broadband more affordable, one of the biggest factors in rural America's weak connection.

Listen to Farm Bureau podcast on Rural Broadband HERE.

NLPA News Brief

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Prepared by Polly Welden

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