2014 New Castle County Soil Conservation District Award Winners

Norman and Gwen Pierce the owners of Union Ridge Farms are the 2014 award recipients of the 2014 NCC Soil Conservation District Award Winners.  The breed and sell Boer goats, rabbits and quail.  They not only been great producers but also great stewards of the land and have been a mentor to me in the Boer goat industry.

001 002 005 012

Thank you and Congratulations.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Bird Health

From Delmarva’s Morning Ag Clips:

Maryland’s agricultural officials are taking their fight against bird flu to festival grounds across the state.

The state Department of Agriculture announced Monday that any poultry, whether from the state or elsewhere, must be tested for the flu at least 10 days before entry in any Maryland fair or show. The only exception are birds that originate in a National Poultry Improvement Plan clean or monitored flock.

In addition, all waterfowl are banned from entry.

The current strain of H5N2 avian influenza isn’t suspected of posing a threat to humans. The Midwest-centered outbreak has spread to more than 30 million poultry since last December.

It has not been detected in Maryland, Delaware or Virginia

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

SCC staying at 750 and Delaware did not attend

An article by Dairy Herd Management.

Two proposals related to somatic cell count limit changes were brought before the 51 potential delegates at this year’s biennial National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS), held in Portland, Ore., April 24-29.

Again a proposal to lower the somatic cell count to 400,000, already required for any products to be exported to Europe, and therefore required by most processors/cooperatives as a geometric mean. But, again, it was defeated, reported the National Mastitis Council. This year’s vote was 18 yes to 32 no (Delaware did not attend) from the delegates representing 49 states and Puerto Rico. Thus, the national somatic cell count limit will remain at 750,000.

The proposal to lower the somatic cell count was sponsored by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and supported by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) whom submitted a similar proposal in 2013.

This year, two proposals related to somatic cell count were brought forward. Proposals are first heard in smaller “councils” before being brought to the assembly of delegates. The IDFA proposal first failed in Council 1, before being amended and being brought to the floor for the failed vote.

In 2013, the NMPF proposal first failed 22-28, then was reconsidered but failed 26-25. In 2011, a proposal also failed 26-25.

This is the ninth time a proposal to lower somatic cell counts to 400,000 was defeated at the every-other year meeting. The proposal would have moved the limits to 600,000 on January 1, 2016, and 400,000 on January 1, 2017. It also would have limited sheep, water buffalo, and camel milk to 750,000, while goat milk remained at 1,500,000.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

MPP deadline

A note about MPP from Dairy Herd Management:

While there was lots of publicity surrounding a request by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for USDA to change the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) premium payment system, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is moving ahead based on current program requirements. That gives any dairy operations selecting buy-up coverage until June 1, 2015 to pay outstanding premiums.

Premium payment reminder letters will be mailed to affected dairy operations beginning May 1, according to a notice issued to state FSA offices. The letters will include the amount of outstanding premium due by June 1.

Under MPP-Dairy, dairy operations could pay 25% of margin insurance coverage premiums for calendar year 2015 last February, with the balance due June 1. According to USDA analysis, 13,860 dairy operations selected buy-up coverage, about 56% of all operations enrolling in MPP-Dairy.

 

Penalties severe

If premiums are not paid by June 1, those dairy farmers will remain legally obligated for the amount due. Their buy-up coverage will be lost, with 2015 coverage dropping to the catastrophic level ($4.00/cwt.) until the balance is paid in full.

If the outstanding premium is not paid by Sept. 1, 2015, the dairy operation will not be eligible for any coverage in the subsequent calendar year, and will not be able to receive the annual national production history upward adjustment. The operation remains legally obligated for the premium payment, and the annual $100 administrative fee for the duration of the five-year MPP-Dairy program.

After coverage is reduced to the catastrophic level, the original buy-up margin trigger level can only be regained when the premium is paid in full prior to Nov. 1, 2015, and only applies to remaining two-month payment periods in the calendar year. There will be no retroactive payments for pay periods already passed.

 

2016 enrollment

In addition to the premium payment letters, dairy farmers will also be receiving calendar year 2016 MPP-Dairy coverage selection letters by June 1. Dairy operations can select 2016 coverage levels and percentage of milk history to be covered, submitting that information to FSA between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2015.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Government Surprise

From Dairy Herd Management

Dairy farmers who qualified for a small Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) payment will get a little something extra – a civics lesson. That’s because when USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the payments for the January-February 2015 period, it included a reminder those payments are subject to budget sequestration, or a reduction of 7.3%.

In an Information Letter Series posted on the Dairy Markets and Policy website this week, Andrew M. Novakovic, University of Cornell dairy economist (a.k.a. civics teacher), reminded everyone of the origin of across-the-board sequestration that took effect Oct. 1, 2014. The letter, “Sequestration of USDA Expenditures in Fiscal Year 2015,” explains the process, and why it is in place now.

First, the numbers: Looking at the January-February 2015 MPP-Dairy pay period, any producer who insured a margin of $8.00/cwt. will receive a payment of $0.004456/cwt. on the portion of their milk production history they elected to cover. That’s not 45¢ per hundredweight, or 4.5¢ per hundredweight, but 0.4456¢ (45 hundredths of 1¢) – less than half of Abe Lincoln’s copper head per hundredweight.

According to USDA analysis, 261 dairy producers insured about 58% of their 1 billion lbs. of milk at the $8/cwt. level. Under the MPP-Dairy program, the eligible milk production history for these producers (about 1 billion lbs. X 58% = 583 million lbs.) is divided equally over six 2-month pay periods, making 97.2 million lbs. (972,000 hundredweights) eligible for the 0.4456¢/cwt. payment for the January-February pay period. That adds up to about $4,330 in total payments – divided by 261 producers nationally – for this pay period.

Novakovic estimated a dairy farmer insuring 4 million lbs. of milk annually at the $8.00/cwt. margin level would have received $29.73 this pay period. With the largely forgotten budget reduction maneuver – sequestration – the payment is reduced $2.17, to $27.56.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

MPP Payments

An article in Dairy Herd Management.

A small number of U.S. dairy operations could receive Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy)payments beginning this week, according to the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).

MPP-Dairy payments are triggered when the national average margin, the difference between the price of milk and the cost of feed, falls below a producer-selected margin trigger, ranging from $4 to $8/cwt., for a specified consecutive 2-month period. Final USDA prices for milk and feed components required to determine the national average margin for the January-February 2015 period were released on March 30.

January 2015 margin calculations:

  • Corn: $3.81/bushel
  • Soybean meal: $380.02/ton
  • Alfalfa hay: $174/ton
  • Final feed costs: $9.26/cwt.
  • All-milk price: $17.60/cwt.
  • Milk margin minus feed costs: $8.3356/cwt.

February 2015 margin calculations:

  • Corn: $3.79/bushel
  • Soybean meal: $370.38/ton
  • Alfalfa hay: $172/ton
  • Final feed costs: $9.14/cwt.
  • All-milk price: $16.80/cwt.
  • Milk margin minus feed costs: $7.655395/cwt.

Combined, the January-February MPP-Dairy pay period margin is $7.99554/cwt., resulting in an MPP payment rate of $0.004456/cwt. (just over four-tenths of 1¢/cwt.) for dairy operations selecting an $8/cwt. margin trigger coverage level for 2015.

According to data released by USDA on April 9, of nearly 24,748 dairy operations selecting MPP-Dairy coverage, just 261 selected the $8.00/cwt. margin coverage level for 2015, with a total maximum annual milk production history of just over 1 billion pounds. Production history was based on the highest annual production over a three-year period, 2011-2013.

Based on analysis by Marin Bozic, Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Economics with the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 26% of expected 2015 milk production has MPP-Dairy coverage at $4.50/cwt. or higher, but only 10.3% has a coverage at $6.50/cwt. or higher.

In addition to margins, producers selected the percentage – between 25% and 90% – of their annual milk production history to be covered. Nationally, at the $8/cwt. coverage level, those dairy operators elected to cover about 58% of their annual milk production.

Under the MPP-Dairy program, the eligible milk production history for these producers (about 1 billion pounds X 58% = 583 million pounds) is divided equally over six 2-month pay periods, making 97.2 million pounds (972,000 hundredweights) eligible for the 0.45¢/cwt. payment for the January-February pay period. That adds up to about $43,300 in total payments.

Not only will MPP-Dairy payments be small, but they are also subject to federal budget sequestration, reduced by 7.3%, according to the FSA notice.

Qualifying producers paying the full margin insurance premium in-full will receive a payment based on the amount of covered production history elected by the dairy operation. If the premium has not been paid in-full, payments will apply to the outstanding premium balance remaining for buy-up coverage, thus reducing the premium needed to pay by June 1.

USDA issued payment processing instructions to state and county FSA offices on April 10. Those offices were to begin processing payments to eligible producers on April 13.

Of the 261 selecting the $8/cwt. margin coverage, about two-thirds (171) are in just five states: Wisconsin (69); Minnesota (35); New York (28); Pennsylvania (20); and Michigan (19).

Based on current projections, there’s a chance dairy producers covered at the $8/cwt. margin level may also see a small payment for the March-April payment period

However, while those electing the $8/cwt. margin level will be seeing small payments in 2015, the added protection appears costly. In addition to a $100 administration fee paid by all dairy operations participating in MPP-Dairy, buying any coverage above $4/cwt. included additional premium payments.

At the $8 level, insurance premiums were 47.5¢/cwt. on the first 4 million pounds of milk production per year; and $1.36/cwt. on any insured milk above 4 million pounds/year. Premiums were discounted 25% in 2014 and 2015 on covered annual farm production volumes up to 4 million pounds.

2015 MPP-Dairy, by coverage level

 

Selected

 Margin

 Coverage

Dairy

 Operations

 selecting level

Milk production

 history

Average milk

 Production

 covered

2015 milk

 production

 eligible

 ($/cwt.)

(Number)

(Million pounds)

(Percent)

(Million pounds)

$4.00

10,888

97,091.3

90.0%

87,382.1

$4.50

136

481.8

88.5%

426.4

$5.00

741

6,534.3

88.0%

5,747.4

$5.50

505

2,802.8

84.5%

2,367.9

$6.00

3,828

29,584.1

83.1%

24,591.1

$6.50

6,457

22,305.7

76.7%

17,119.3

$7.00

502

1,007.4

82.0%

825.9

$7.50

1,430

4,228.5

71.4%

3,019.6

$8.00

261

1,007.0

57.9%

583.3

Total

24,748

166,318.9

85.4%

142,063.1

Source: USDA

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

We don’t need labels on genetically modified foods

An article in the Washington Post

E IGHTY-EIGHT percent of scientists polled by the Pew Research Center in January said genetically modified food is generally safe to eat. Only 37 percent of the public shared that view. The movement to require genetically modified food products to be labeled both reflects and exploits this divergence between informed opinion and popular anxiety.

Mandated labeling would deter the purchase of genetically modified (GM) food when the evidence calls for no such caution. Congress is right to be moving toward a more sensible policy that allows companies to label products as free of GM ingredients but preempts states from requiring such labels.

Lawmakers and voters in some states have considered requiring GM labeling, but only a few have chosen to label, and none have yet started. That’s good: The GM-food debate is a classic example of activists overstating risk based on fear of what might be unknown and on a distrust of corporations. People have been inducing genetic mutations in crops all sorts of other ways for a long time — by, for example, bathing plants in chemicals or exposing them to radiation. There is also all sorts of genetic turbulence in traditional selective plant breeding and constant natural genetic variation.

Yet products that result from selective gene splicing — which get scrutinized before coming to market — are being singled out as high threats. If they were threatening, one would expect experts to have identified unique harms to human health in the past two decades of GM-crop consumption. They haven’t. Unsurprisingly, institutions such as the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization have concluded that GM food is no riskier than other food.

Promoters of compulsory GM food labeling claim that consumers nevertheless deserve transparency about what they’re eating. But given the facts, mandatory labeling would be extremely misleading to consumers — who, the Pew polling shows, exaggerate the worries about “Frankenfood” — implying a strong government safety concern where one does not exist. Instead of demanding that food companies add an unnecessary label, people who distrust the assurances that GM food is safe can buy food voluntarily labeled as organic or non-GM.

This isn’t just a matter of saving consumers from a little unnecessary expense or anxiety. If GM food becomes an economic nonstarter for growers and food companies, the world’s poorest will pay the highest price. GM crops that flourish in challenging environments without the aid of expensive pesticides or equipment can play an important role in alleviating hunger and food stress in the developing world — if researchers in developed countries are allowed to continue advancing the field.

A House bill introduced last week would facilitate a voluntary labeling system and prevent states and localities from going any further to indulge the GM labeling crowd. It would also empower the Food and Drug Administration to require labels on GM products that materially differ from their non-GM cousins in ways that can affect human health. Yes, food industry interests back the bill. That doesn’t make it wrong.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Avian Flu

WASHINGTON — While U.S. poultry producers enjoyed one of the most profitable years on record in 2014, averaging margins of 13 percent before interest and tax, concerns are mounting within the industry as Avian influenza (AI) continues to spread worldwide, including to a number of states in the U.S.

Though the current outbreak of AI in commercial flocks is unique to poultry producers, pork producers who have suffered problems related to porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus, and cattle raisers who have confronted a number of animal disease problems including Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), hoof and mouth disease and Texas cattle fever, are reminders of how deadly pathogens can become a game spoiler if producers let their guard down or fail to respond to a potential animal health crisis.

In the very least, animal health issues should remain a real concern for agricultural producers as research indicates certain credible biosecurity threats could be near the top of the list of potential vulnerabilities to national and International security, especially given the current global climate of terrorists threats and problems related to domestic insurgency.

— Logan Hawkes

Southwest Farm Press
Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page