Archive for News

Vegan activists suspected of targeting one of South Australia’s biggest dairy farms

Mike Borema says he believes his dairy farm was the target of animal activists.Image: 7NEWS

The operators of one of South Australia’s biggest dairy farms fear they are being targeted by animal liberationists after a shed was torched on the property.

Nearby residents say they heard a series of loud explosions coming from the shed just before the fire started early on Friday morning.

The property’s owners awoke to burnt ruins of a shed, tractor and tonne of feed at the Minko North dairy farm.

Neighbours say a car was heard speeding away from the scene just moments after the flames broke out.

Police and the farm’s owner, Mike Borema, say they have no doubt the attack was the work of an arsonist.

Farm on ‘attack map’

The farm, near Two Wells, has been identified on animal rights charity Aussie Farm’s ‘attack map’.

The map has been described on the group’s website as a “comprehensive list of all factory farms, slaughterhouses and other animal exploitation facilities across Australia”.

At other properties on the list, activists have trespassed and stolen livestock.

John Elferink from the South Australian Dairy Farmers Association said people should be “able to go about their business without being unfairly targeted”.

The arson attack at the Minko North dairy farm is not the first time the farm has been targeted.

About six weeks ago someone opened the farm’s gates, releasing hundreds of cows.

Borema has since put locks on gates and will soon install security cameras.

Source: 7News

Methane from livestock ‘not to blame’ for climate change

Frank Mitloehner, professor of animal science at UC Davis in California, warned claims livestock production is causing global warming ignored the true impact of methane on the environment.

Speaking at the Alltech ONE conference in Lexington, Kentucky (May 20), Professor Mitloehner said while livestock was not blameless in the world’s environmental challenges, the impact of the methane they produce had been massively overstated.

“For those who say cows contribute the most GHG emissions, that is simply not true,” he told delegates.

Controversial data calculations in major reports, including by the United Nations, had deflected focus from the real culprit – the use of fossil fuels, particularly linked to transport, he said.

Source: FGinsight

USDA Dairy Margin Coverage program and new visa provisions welcomed

The USDA announced the signup period of the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program, considered a ‘dairy safety net’ that was authorized by the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. It is meant to help dairy producers “manage the volatility of milk and feed prices.”

Farmers can begin signing up for coverage under the DMC June 17. It replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), and allows those who participated in MPP-Dairy from 2014-2017 to receive a repayment or credit for premiums paid into the program.

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “With an environment of low milk prices, high economic stress, and a new safety net program with higher coverage levels and lower premiums, it is the right time for dairy producers to seriously consider enrolling when signup opens.”

“For many smaller dairies, the choice is probably a no-brainer as the retroactive coverage through January has already assured them that the 2019 payments will exceed the required premiums.”

Dairy-friendly, accurate margins 

All dairy operations in the US with qualifying production history are eligible for the program, and producers can choose higher coverage levels for a premium, according to the USDA. If they choose to lock in coverage levels until 2023, producers will receive a 25% discount.

USDA is offering a DMC decision support tool on its website in partnership with the University of Wisconsin. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) called it a ‘dairy-friendly’ initiative and ‘long-awaited.’

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the NMPF, said, “The DMC provides a stronger safety net for America’s dairy producers, one sorely needed as low prices, trade disturbances and chaotic weather patterns combine to create hardships.”

“We have advocated for months that margin calculations must consider the higher feed costs dairy producers pay to properly nourish their livestock.”

The FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative also applauded the news, pointing to the program’s calculation that reflects a more accurate hay price for feed applications.

Jeff Lyon, general manager for FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, said, “This is great news and is something that has been a FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative policy for quite some time. We are happy to see it being implemented into the DMC program. This adjustment to the calculation will more closely align with dairy farmer costs and provide a more accurate margin payment.”

Addressing labor woes

Also last week, the Cellar-Newhouse Amendment passed the House Appropriations Committee to allow dairy employees greater access to the H-2A visa program. It amends the fiscal year 2020 homeland security spending bill.

This will upgrade the H-2A program for year-round workers from the current provisions that only accommodate temporary or seasonal farm jobs. It was introduced by Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA).

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) said it will help alleviate labor problems in dairy, and said, “Without a tool to provide our nation’s dairy farmers with a reliable workforce, farms struggle to grow or sustain their businesses with confidence.”

Laurie Fischer, CEO of ADC, said “Dairy owners are constantly seeing their ‘Help Wanted’ ads go unanswered. Our domestic workforce is not filling agricultural jobs that are necessary to keep it running.”

The NMPF said, “The current H-2A program simply isn’t an option for a commodity that ‘harvests’ its product multiple times a day, every day.”

“Creating an additional legal pathway for workers to connect with farm employers deserves bipartisan support, and the history of this legislation shows such support is readily available. It is critical that the government creates a system that provides secure, legal employment.”

Source: dairyreporter.com

‘Chemical taste’: Urgent milk recall in Australia

Eight varieties of milk sold in Victoria and southern NSW have been recalled amid fears they may contain cleaning solution.

Dairy company Lactalis Australia recalled the one-litre Coles, Pauls, REV and PhysiCAL branded milk on Thursday, saying they may contain “an amount of food grade dairy cleaning solution”.

Available for sale in Coles, Woolworths, IGA and other retailers, the bad batch has best before dates from June 25 to June 28 and the milk may have yellow colouring and/or a chemical taste, the company said.

In its own statement, Coles said it had sold the milk in across Victoria and southern parts of NSW including Albury, Deniliquin, Lavington and Tocumwal.

Anyone concerned about their health should seek medical advice.

RECALLED MILKS:

• Coles Full Cream Milk 1L Bottle (use by date: 25 and 26 June 2019)

• Coles Low Fat Milk 1L Bottle (use by date: 25 and 26 June 2019)

• Coles Skim Milk 1L Bottle (use by date: 25 June 2019

• Pauls Full Cream Milk 1L Bottle (use by date: 26 and 27 June 2019)

• Pauls Smarter White Milk 1L Bottle (use by date: 25, 26 and 27 June 2019)

• REV 1L Bottle (use by date: 28 June 2019)

• PhysiCAL Low Fat 1L Bottle (use by date: 26 June 2019)

• PhysiCAL Skim 1L Bottle (use by date: 27 June 2019)

Source: Lactalis Australia

REFUND ADVICE

Customers can return the product or proof of purchase to any Coles supermarket for a full refund.

Anyone seeking more information can also contact Customer Care on 1800 061 562.

Source: news.com.au

Holstein Canada Announces 2019-2020 Committees

Holstein Canada is pleased to reveal the 2019-2020 Committees, ensuring the Board of Directors continues to receive input from its grassroots membership and industry partners.

This year, Holstein Canada has made nine new additions from six different provinces, standing by our commitment to add young members from across the Holstein community to provide new perspectives. The new members are: Mike Flaman and Lars Iversen on the Young Leader Advisory Committee; Jean-Claude Fleury on the Breed Advisory Committee; Tyler Howard and Cindy Wikkerink on the Classification Advisory Committee; Hugh Hunter and Pier-Olivier Lehoux on the Cow of the Year Committee; Kenton Lindenbach to the Show and Judging Committee; and Dr. Matt Walker on the Breed Advisory and Classification Advisory Committees.

Mike Flaman (Vibank, Saskatchewan) milks 67 cows under the CHRIS-ADIE prefix. He plans to take over the management and ownership of the family business from his parents with his younger brother. Mike has had the opportunity to judge a few shows in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and he sits on the 2020 National Holstein Convention Committee. Mike was also an active Western Canadian Classic participant.

Jean-Claude Fleury (Victoriaville, Quebec) won a second Master Breeder Shield for the FLEURY prefix in 2018. The herd of 250 includes 19 EX, 61 VG, and 29 GP, and the farm is based on deep cow families with numerous EX and VG animals in their lineage. Jean-Claude is a graduate of the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire in Saint-Hyacinthe, and he is an official judge. His extensive knowledge of breeding makes him a major asset for the Breed Advisory Committee.

Tyler Howard (Breadalbane, P.E.I.) co-manages the family herd of 240 of the HOWARDVALE prefix, yet finds time to be very engaged in the industry. He is currently a Board member of the Dairy Farmers of PEI and recently stepped down as President of the Holstein PEI Branch.

Hugh Hunter (Smiths Falls, Ontario) is a three-time Master Breeder of the well-known prefix MAPLE-AIN, which he purchased with his wife from his father Gerald in 2003. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph. He has judged many regional, county, and 4-H Achievement shows across Ontario and Quebec, as well as multiple Breeders’ Cup shows.

Lars Iversen (Olds, Alberta) of the prefix INNISLAKE is currently completing his degree in Agribusiness at the University of Saskatchewan. Growing up firmly in the dairy community, Lars was the Vice-President of the Mountain View 4-H Dairy Club and an active participant at many Western Canadian Classics.

Pier-Olivier Lehoux (Saint-Elzéar, Quebec) of the prefix LEHOUX works with a herd of 70 cows. He is passionate about cow families, making him a great asset for the Cow of the Year Committee. A recent graduate of Université Laval, he is very engaged in the dairy industry and had a very active 4-H career.

Kenton Lindenbach (Balgonie, Saskatchewan) represents the third generation ROBELLA Holsteins, which he runs with his wife, Alicia, and his parents. He has just finished his last year on the Young Leader Advisory Committee, where he has helped evolve the program since 2015. He is active in marketing commercial cattle and enjoys judging, and he has judged provincial and 4-H shows in B.C., Alberta, and at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

Dr. Matt Walker (Ingersoll, Ontario) is a veterinarian and partner at Oxford Bovine Veterinary Services in Woodstock, Ontario, which services southwestern Ontario. He is a graduate from the Atlantic Veterinary College. As a dairy farm consultant, Matt has traveled to China, Russia, Mexico, the United States, and throughout Canada. He is also a strong supporter of the 4-H program.

Cindy Wikkerink (Cobble Hill, British Columbia) is a two-time Master Breeder under the WILLSWIKK prefix and a third-generation milk producer, raising 60 EX, 115 VG, 25 G+, 2 EX cows at 95pts. She served as Director and Secretary at Vancouver Island Holstein Club, and was a past participant in 4-H and WCC. In 2018, the cow Willswikk Outside Della became the first British Columbian-bred finalist for Cow of the Year. For the last 5 years, Cindy has had her own prefix, WIKKSHAVEN.

Holstein Canada thanks all committee members for their time, effort and dedication to the Association. Special thanks to outgoing committee members Markus Hehli, Jocelyn Nault, Tom Hawman, Kenton Lindenbach, Mike Barnum, Mathieu Lemire, and DR Vandraager.

Committee members represent all regions across Canada and are selected for their respective expertise relating to a committee’s area of concern. These individuals are selected by the Holstein Canada President, with consultation from the Board of Directors and Provincial Branches.

Each year, the newly elected Board reviews and updates the committees. Terms range from one to three years, with members eligible to be reappointed for second and third terms, depending on the committee. Board Directors serve on each committee and every committee is also supported by Management Advisors from Holstein Canada’s team. Ideas, comments and suggestions from all Holstein Canada members are always welcomed by committee members. One of the key roles of Committees is to provide recommendations to the Board of Directors on the follow up to the member resolutions presented at recent Holstein Canada AGMs. They also do the “leg work” to ensure Holstein Canada programs and services remain current in a rapidly changing industry.

Holstein Canada hosts ten committees. The 2019-2020 committees list and contact information can be found at the Holstein Canada website under: About Us > Governance > Committees.

 

Lin-Crest Farm Post Tornado Progress

The Leach Dairy Farm in Linwood took a direct hit in the massive tornado on May 28. They lost 10 barns and all six ponds on their property will have to be drained because they’re full of metal.

But Tuesday night, two weeks after that tornado tore through, the community continues to come together to help the victims.

“It just seems like we’ve been going around the clock ever since the tornado hit,” Rob Leach, lost dairy farm in storm, said.

And yet Rob and Lisa Leach are grateful they still have a home. The family had 25 minutes to grab their shoes, dogs and get to the basement.

“It was really loud and windy, kind of like a jet plane and then what we thought was hail, was bricks from our chimney hitting the roof,” Leach said.

Their house is still standing but they did lose an awful lot, not just their barns, but several award-winning dairy cows. A clock was in one of those barns stopped at the moment the storm hit.

Some of their belongings were found on the tarmac of KCI some 46 miles away. The farm has been in the Leach family since 1964.

KCTV5 News introduced you to Leach’s sister Chris, last week. She lost everything including her home ripped right off its foundation.

Leach said the most amazing thing has been all the help. On some days he said hundreds have shown up asking what they can do.

People in Linwood even started a Facebook page trying to return scattered mementos to the families that have lost so much.

One woman just posted a sonogram picture from 1984 and another found an old family film she captured images from.

Everywhere you look, whether on line or in person, people are looking out for others and doing what they can to ease the burden.

For these families, it means the world.

“We really don’t feel sorry for ourselves, we’re not that sad, we just, I feel for all the people that have worked so hard to help us. I just can’t say it enough how grateful we are,” Leach said.

The one thing everyone remembers Tuesday is that despite all the horrific damage, not one person in this town was seriously hurt.

They said that’s really all that matters.

CLICK HERE for local news video on the Lin-Crest Farm cleanup
 
If you would like to donate Lin-Crest Farm, please send your donation directly to:
Rob & Lisa Leach
12950 198th St.
Linwood, KS 66052
or
Brian & Chris Hahn
12950 198th St.
Linwood, KS 66052 

 

Second undercover video shows workers hitting cows at Fair Oaks farm

“On a nearly daily basis, the investigator witnessed employees punching, kicking, and stabbing cows, sometimes hitting their udders with the milking claws or shoving them with metal tubes and broomsticks,” the Florida-based nonprofit said in a statement Wednesday.

Last week’s video shows workers kicking, punching, burning and force-feeding calves, among several other brutal images. The organization, known as ARM, said the footage was secretly recorded by an investigator who was embedded at a Fair Oaks farm for several months last year. That site, some 80 miles south of Chicago, is a popular destination for tourists.

Meanwhile, three suspects have been charged with animal cruelty and a California man has filed a lawsuit against Fair Oaks and Fairlife for falsely promoting “extraordinary care and comfort” of their cows on milk labels, according to local news reports.

“On a daily basis, cows with infected eyes, broken bleeding tails, infected udders, and afterbirth placentas hanging out from their bodies were seen being forced on the rotary system,” the group said Wednesday. “The investigator did not witness any of the cows at this Fair Oaks Farms Fairlife dairy receiving medical attention, but did witness multiple downer cows and many cows falling while on the rotary system from poor health, untreated injuries, inability to walk and overall weakness.”

Source: nydailynews.com

How America’s food giants swallowed the family farms

When the vast expanse of rural Iowa was carved up for settlers in the 19th century, it was often divided into 160-acre lots. Four farms made a square mile, with a crisscross of dead-straight roads marking the boundaries like a sprawling chess board.

Within each square, generations of families tended pigs and cattle, grew oats and raised children, with the sons most likely to take over the farm. That is how Barb Kalbach saw the future when she left her family’s land to marry and begin farming with her new husband, Jim, 47 years ago.

“When we very first were married, we had cattle and calves,” she says. “We raised hogs from farrow to finish, and we had corn, beans, hay and oats. So did everyone around us.”

Half a century later, Kalbach surveys the destruction within the section of chessboard she shared with other farms near Dexter in southwestern Iowa. Barb and Jim are the last family still working the land, after their neighbours were picked off by waves of collapsing commodity prices and the rise of factory farming. With that came a vast transfer in wealth as farm profits funnelled into corporations or the diminishing number of families that own an increasing share of the land. Rural communities have been hollowed out.

And while the Kalbachs have hung on to their farm, they long ago abandoned livestock and mixed arable farming for the only thing they can make money at any more – growing corn and soya beans to sell to corporate buyers as feed for animals crammed by the thousands into the huge semi-automated sheds that now dominate farming, and the landscape, in large parts of Iowa.

Kalbach comes from five generations of farmers and suspects she may be the last. As she drives the roads around her farmhouse, she ticks off the disappearances.

Barb Kalbach in snowy field with silos
Barb Kalbach on the land she and her husband farm. Photograph: Scott Morgan/The Observer

“That’s the Shoesmiths’ place,” she said. “Two years ago, it had cattle, pigs and pasture.”

Now the land is rented out and is all given over to corn. A little further along, the Watts family’s farmhouse stands empty, its roof falling in. There are a few relics of the old farm at the place that used to be owned by the Williamses – an abandoned hen house and a bit of machinery – but the land is all corn and soya beans. The Denning house, on Walnut Avenue, was bulldozed after the land was sold and rolled into a bigger operation.

It’s a story replicated across America’s midwest, with the rapid expansion of farming methods at the heart of the row over US attempts to erode Britain’s food standards and lever open access to the UK market as part of a post-Brexit trade deal. Last weekend, the US ambassador to Britain, Woody Johnson, appealed to the UK to embrace US farming, arguing that those who warned against practices such as washing chicken in chlorine had been “deployed” to cast it “in the worst possible light”.

His message was greeted with anger by campaigners. Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now warned: “It is really an animal welfare issue here. If UK farmers want to compete against American imports, they will have to lower their standards or go out of business.” His words would come as no surprise to Rosemary Partridge, who farms in Sac County, western Iowa. She grew up on an Iowa family farm and then moved with her husband in the late 1970s to raise pigs and grow crops.

“In the past 20 years, where I am, independent hog farming just silently disappeared as the corporates came in,” says Partridge. “I live on a hilltop. I can see seven farm families, people my kids went to school with. They’re all gone now. My county has 11 small towns, and it’s almost like I could look back in slow motion and just see the businesses change and disappear. We’ve become poorer. Our communities are basically shattered and in more than just an economic way – in a social way too.”

An abandoned farm house with graffiti on the front
Across the state, farmhouses where generations grew up lie abandoned. Photograph: Scott Morgan/The Observer

This collapse has in good part been driven by the rise of concentrated animal feeding operations, or Cafos. In these industrial farming units, pigs, cows and chickens are crammed by the thousand into rows of barns. Many units are semi-automated, with feeding run by computer and the animals watched by video, with periodic visits by workers who drive between several operations.

“That’s how I end up with 40,000 hogs around me,” says Partridge.

Cafos account for only a small proportion of America’s 2 million farms, but they dominate animal production and have an outsize influence on crop growing, particularly in the midwest.

By one calculation, the US has around 250,000 factory farms of one kind or another. They have their roots in the 1930s, with the mechanisation of pig slaughterhouses. By the 1950s, chickens were routinely packed into huge sheds, in appalling conditions.

In the early 1970s, US agriculture secretary Earl Butz pushed the idea of large-scale farming with the mantra “get big or get out”. He wanted to see farmers embrace what he regarded as a more efficient strategy of growing commodity crops, such as corn and soya beans. Some farmers invested heavily in buying land and new machinery to increase production – taking on large amounts of debt to do so.

A decade later, the farm crisis hit as overproduction, the US grain embargo against the Soviet Union and high interest rates dramatically drove up costs and debt for family farms. Land prices collapsed and foreclosures escalated.“Every blow to independent farming made it more of an opportunity for large corporations to come in,” said Partridge.

In 1990, small and medium-sized farms accounted for nearly half of all agricultural production in the US. Now it is less than a quarter.

As the medium-sized family farms retreated, the businesses they helped support disappeared. Local seed and equipment suppliers shut up shop because corporations went straight to wholesalers or manufacturers. Demand for local vets collapsed. As those businesses packed up and left, communities shrank. Shops, restaurants and doctors’ surgeries closed. People found they had to drive for an hour or more for medical treatment. Towns and counties began to share ambulances.

Drug store on snowy street
Rural Iowa communities such as Williams are seeing business and services close down. Photograph: Scott Morgan/The Observer

Corporate agriculture evolved to take control of the entire production line from “farm to fork”, from the genetics of breeding to wholesalers in the US or far east. As factory farms spread, their demands dictated the workings of slaughterhouses. Smaller abattoirs, which offered choice and competitive prices to family farmers, disappeared, to be replaced by huge operations that were further away and imposed lower prices on small-scale breeders such as the Kalbachs.

“By the time you paid to transport them the extra distance, and they were paying you less than they paid the corporations because you weren’t bringing the big numbers, there was really no money in it,” says Kalbach.

The buying power of the Cafos also helps drive farmers’ decisions on which crops to grow. With no livestock, the Kalbachs were forced into gowing corn and soya beans to sell to factory farms as animal feed or to corporations for ethanol.

Iowa is not alone. Missouri, to the south, had 23,000 independent pig farmers in 1985. Today it has just over 2,000. The number of independent cattle farms has fallen by 40% over the same period.

Tim Gibbons of Missouri Rural Crisis Center, a support group for family farmers set up during the 1980s farm crisis, says the cycle of economic shocks has blended with government policies to create a “monopolisation of the livestock industry, where a few multinational corporations control a vast majority of the livestock”.

Gibbons explains: “They are vertically integrated, from animal genetics to grocery store. What they charge isn’t based upon what it costs to produce, and it’s not based on supply and demand, because they know what they need to make a profit. What they have done, through government support and taxpayer support, is to intentionally overproduce so that the price stays low, sometimes below the cost of production. That kicks their competition out of the market. Then they become the only player in town.

“Over time, it has extracted wealth and power from communities. We can see how that has impacted rural main streets. You can see the boarded-up storefronts. You can see the lack of economic opportunity.”

Gibbons says that corporations game the system by obtaining low-interest, federally guaranteed loans to build Cafos that then overproduce. But they know the government will buy up the surplus to stabilise prices.

Activist Nick Schutt in Williams, Iowa.
Activist Nick Schutt in Williams, Iowa. Photograph: Scott Morgan/The Observer

“The system has been set up for the benefit of the factory farm corporations and their shareholders at the expense of family farmers, the real people, our environment, our food system,” he adds.

“The thing that is really pervasive about it is that they control the rules of the game because they control the democratic process. It’s a blueprint. We’re paying for our own demise.

“It would be a different argument if it was just based upon inevitability or based on competition. But it’s not based upon competition: it’s based upon squelching competition.”

There are about 70 million pigs in the US at any time, most of them destined for the dinner plate. But one in 10 are breeding sows, and the majority of those are in Cafos. The biggest pig farmer in the country is Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, which has nearly a million sows in the US (and more in Mexico and eastern Europe). Iowa Select Farms has one of the fastest-growing Cafo operations in the country, with 800 farms spread through half of the counties in Iowa.

Yet few of the economic benefits spill down to the communities around them. Workers are often poorly paid; many are bussed in. That they often include immigrants has sharpened the criticism from men like Nick Schutt, who used to work at Iowa Select, driving pigs in livestock trucks and handling sows. He says he earned $23,000 a year for 12-hour days and no overtime.

“These companies claim they’re creating all these jobs, but who’s coming? Not people with families who create communities.”

Schutt lives in Williams, a small town in central Iowa, which is surrounded by Cafos and currently fighting to keep a big new one out, saying factory farms pollute the environment and depress property values. When the wind blows in the wrong direction, the stench from huge lakes of pig manure wafts across the town.

The high school Nick Schutt attended has closed. His daughter was in the last class to graduate. As Williams declined, the only doctor shut his clinic and left town. Schutt’s mother used to own a restaurant: that closed along with the town’s three grocery stores.

In Blairsburg, seven miles away, pretty much every shop except the post office is gone. The neighbouring hamlet of Wilke now consists of three animal sheds on land where dwellings were bulldozed from existence. Two-thirds of the counties in Iowa, almost all of them rural, have seen their populations decline since 2010, according to the US census.

North of Williams is a Cafo whose name, Quality Egg, has come to represent the worst of factory farming. In 1988, New York temporarily banned the sale of its eggs after salmonella killed 11 people. In 2017, its former owner, Jack DeCoster, went to prison, along with his son Peter, over a 2010 salmonella outbreak that made tens of thousands sick, left some with permanent injuries and prompted the recall of more than half a billion eggs shipped from Iowa factory farms. Quality Egg pleaded guilty to selling eggs with false expiry dates and to bribing an agriculture department inspector to approve the sale.

Farmer Jon Shelley moves bales of hay to feed cows in front of an abandoned school house.
Farmer Jon Shelley moves bales of hay to feed cows in front of an abandoned school house. Photograph: Scott Morgan/The Observer

DeCoster is an extreme case, but around Iowa he’s seen as emblematic of how the industry uses its money and influence to impose its will, including changing planning and environmental regulations.

Much of this is the result of agricultural corporations pouring millions into lobbying state governments. But Gibbons says Washington also bears some responsibility. He accuses President Barack Obama’s administration of failing to deliver on promised reforms that would have benefited smaller farmers. It is this, he says, that damaged Obama’s standing among farmers and drove up their support for Donald Trump.

Barb Kalbach is not optimistic about the future. Her son will not be taking over the farm. She hopes the land will stay in the family for at least another generation, but expects it to be rented out and subsumed into some larger operation.

But Kalbach fears something bigger than the loss of her own farm. Farmers are ageing and their children either have little interest in working the land or cannot afford the sophisticated equipment needed to compete with corporations.

“Investors buy the land, and they have tractors and combines that you can run by computer,” she said. “They’ll hire somebody to sit in a little office somewhere and run that stuff off the computer and farm the land that way. Now what you’ve done is you have lost the innate knowledge of how to grow food and raise animals. You’ve lost a whole generation of it, probably two. Now we are going to rely on a few corporations to decide who is going to eat and who isn’t. We’re one generation away from that picture right now.”

In Williams, Schutt says he’s seeing a community of owners becoming workers: “It’s going to be like Russia with serfs. If you want to work on a farm, you’ll have to work for them. We’ll give you a job, but you’re going to be working on our terms. We control everything. Small farms can’t survive.”

Kalbach agrees. “I think they’re done,” she said.

Source: theguardian.com

Farm bill benefits wealthiest farmers, adds hurdles for new, young farmers

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for a sweeping farm bill Wednesday that will fund key safety net programs for farmers for the next five years without making significant changes to the county’s food stamp program.

The legislation has already passed the Senate and is now headed to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.

U.S. Sen Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was one of 14 Republican senators who voted against the $867 billion farm bill Tuesday, saying it failed to include reforms to limit federal subsidies to the wealthiest farmers and many non-farmers. 

The bill maintains current limits on subsidies, but includes a provision to expand the definition of family to include first cousins, nieces and nephews, making them eligible for payments under the program.

“At its core, farm policy should be a limited safety net that helps farmers weather the storm of natural disasters, unpredictable commodity markets and other unforeseen challenges,” Grassley said in a statement. “This bill goes well beyond that.”

Grassley said expanding the “loophole” for family farms  allows large farmers to “manipulate the system” while creating “even larger hurdles” for young and beginning farmers. 

“For years, the top 10 percent of farmers have received over 70 percent of the subsidies from the government,” Grassley’s statement said. “That’s only one of the many reasons it’s so hard for young and beginning farmers to get started.”

U.S. Sen Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a member of the conference committee that came to agreement on the final text, voted in favor the bill, saying it strengthens conservation programs while providing “critical mental health support” for farmers.

Iowa Congressmen Rod Blum, David Loebsack, Steve King and David Young all voted in favor of the farm bill.

The vote came two days after the House and Senate reached an agreement on the final text that removed House provisions calling for tighter work requirements for food stamp recipients.

The House bill would have raised the age of recipients subject to work requirements from 49 to 59 and required parents with children older than 6 years to work or participate in job training. It also sought to limit circumstances under which families who qualify for other poverty programs would automatically be eligible for SNAP.

By contrast, the Senate bill offered modest adjustments to existing farm programs and made no changes to SNAP.

Throughout the negotiation process Trump made his support for work requirements clear, tweeting about the issue multiple times. But negotiators ultimately rejected the most controversial House measures related to SNAP, making no significant changes to the program.

Source: desmoinesregister.com

 

Separating Cows and Calves: The Real Story

Animal agriculture has become one of the most controversial topics when it comes to food. Misinformation spreads like wildfire, and some may find it difficult to make peace with eating animal products without all of the facts.

dairy calves enjoy the perks of growing up with dairy farmers to care for their every need
Dairy calves enjoy the perks of growing up with dairy farmers to care for their every need.

I am a student at one of the most “vegan friendly” campuses in the United States, according to the Princeton Review. Ironically, my school also has one of the top animal agriculture programs in the world. As a student studying animal agriculture and science at such a diverse university, I have found that one dairy question takes prevalence over all others: “Why do dairy farmers take the baby calves away from their mothers?”

Cows are different than people

There are two main reasons why newborn dairy calves don’t stay with their mothers: for their safety and their health.

To answer this question, I’d like to remind you of the very real and often forgotten fact that cows and people are very different. Cows do not exist in a family unit like most people do. They are herd animals, meaning that they are most comfortable with other cows their age and their size – their herd-mates.

Cow instincts

When a cow has a baby, her herd instinct doesn’t just disappear so that she can fulfill the joys of motherhood. For the first hour or two after the calf is born, there is a clear connection between mom and baby. At my family’s dairy farm, we keep the calf with its mother for this part. The mother licks off her baby, which aids in stimulation and getting the calf up and moving.

However, after this initial period, the cow becomes increasingly anxious. She wants to be with her herd mates. Cows are not big fans of change, and I think that we can all agree that giving birth is a pretty big change.

This anxiety puts the calf in severe danger. The cow often forgets about her calf. She walks or runs around, searching for her herd-mates and becomes extremely stressed. This can lead to the calf getting stepped, sat on, or injured in a variety of ways.

Big mama, big problems

The average adult dairy cow weighs about 1,500 pounds, while calves are born weighing between 60-90 pounds. Speaking from my own experience, once a calf has been crushed or stepped on by her exponentially larger mother there is not much we as dairy farmers or even veterinarians can do. It is heart wrenching and terrible to see this happen, and far too regular when calves are left with their mothers for too long.

Immune system health

Here, we circle back to the fact that humans and cows are different, especially when it comes down to biology. Human mothers have a different type of placenta–the sac around the fetus– than bovines. And all of the complicated biology of different placenta types boils down to this: when a human baby is born, it already has an immune system with a semi developed immune response. It may be immature, but it’s there. When calves are born, they do not have an immune response to fight off infection.

This causes them to be at a much greater risk for just about everything found outside of their mother’s uterus. Their mother, however, will produce a special milk called colostrum that will (ideally) contain everything the calf needs to start it’s immune system. But, if the calf tries to nurse off of the cow it can be put at risk.

First, cows can sometimes not be the cleanest animals. As dairy farmers we can give them clean beds to lay in, clean their barns two to three times a day and the list goes on and on. The bottom line is, if they want to lay in the dirtiest part of the barn, they can and they will, and they often do. And if the baby calf nurses on a dirty teat before it’s fed colostrum, it could get very sick.

Second, if the calf is suckling, we have no way of knowing if the calf is actually getting quality colostrum, or any colostrum at all. Sometimes cows get sick after giving birth, and that could effect the quality of her colostrum.

Misconceptions

Calve are fed by dairy farmers
Calves are fed by dairy farmers so that they get the right amounts of nutritious milk!

Finally, I want to address one of the most common misconceptions I hear about why the cow and calf don’t stay together: “if they don’t separate them the calf will drink all of the milk and there won’t be any for them to sell.”

Calves get fed milk or milk-replacer. Milk-replacer is the equivalent of feeding your baby formula instead of breast milk – it’s a personal choice. Cows naturally make more milk than a calf will drink on its own, so the choice to feed replacer versus milk is one made by each individual farm.

The best of both worlds

The bottom line is, things can and often do go wrong when the calf is left with the cow. But dairy farmers are trained to be good care takers to their animals, including the babies. That means that we feed them from a bottle or bucket to make sure they drink their milk and that it comes from a clean place. We are also able to monitor them very closely until their immune system develops, and continue to do so as they get older.

The primary job of dairy farmers is to keep their cows healthy and well cared for. Cows that are not taken care of don’t produce quality milk, so it really is in our best interest to have the cow’s best interest in mind. Calves are the future of every dairy farmer’s herd. So the same concept applies. Healthy calves grow up to be healthy cows. Caring for the calves ourselves prevents them from being injured by their mothers, and enables us to care for them in a controlled environment.

Calves and cows are separated because it is best for both their health and safety. It allows the cow to return to her happy place – her herd – and gives the calf an opportunity to begin life its with its best hoof forward! We, the farmers, can make sure the calf gets clean and nutritious milk. Farmers can tell if the calf gets sick and give it the best care possible. We can do all this while providing a high quality, all natural, nearly perfect food.

Happy Dairy Month!

Happy Dairy Month
Don’t forget to celebrate Dairy Month with all your favorite dairy products!
Source: animalagengage.com

In farm children, I see virtues that one sees too rarely these days

Along with the rise of women and the expansion of civil rights, the most important social transformation of America’s first quarter-millennium has been the triumph of modern agriculture over famine and the ceaseless, backbreaking effort simply to feed one’s self that had been the dominant fact of human life throughout history. Most of those who preceded us lived their entire lives on the farm. A little more than a century ago, a third of all Americans were farmers.

Successive revolutions in mechanization, horticulture and biotechnology have been an enormous blessing, enabling a tiny percentage of Americans — today fewer than 2 percent — to feed the rest of us and much of the world. Incalculable human talent has been liberated to invent all the other miracles we enjoy. We spend less of our income on food than any society ever.

But this blessing, like most, is not an unmixed one. Other valuable talents, and much precious social capital, have diminished with the share of Americans living and working on the land.

During a decade in elected office in Indiana, I made it my practice while traveling the state to stay overnight in Hoosier homes rather than hotels. Because of geography and, candidly, personal choice, probably a third of those 125 overnights were with farm families. There I witnessed virtues that one sees too rarely these days — hard work, practical manual skill, a communitarian ethic — woven tightly into the fabric of everyday life.

I saw teenagers and even younger siblings rising at 5 a.m. to feed animals or do other chores before cleaning up and heading to school. It was fun to return home and tell those stories to four suburban daughters whose idea of a tough assignment was clearing the table and washing the dishes.

At county fairs, I would always ask that the 4-H officers be the ones to take me around. Every one of those young people had raised animals for competition, and they showed me projects — artistic, scientific or community service — with the special pride that comes from creative, arduous individual effort.

After shooting the breeze with some Future Farmers of America members in their northwest Indiana town, I was musing to a local friend about what fine characters and purposeful attitudes farm kids seem to have. “Absolutely,” she said. “Our circuit judge has been on the bench here for 20-plus years. Once I asked him, in all that time, how many FFA or 4-H members have come before you?  He said ‘Uh, none I can remember.’ ”

At the Gerber family’s farmhouse near Boston, Ind. (population 130), I learned about the year that Doug, the father, was hit and nearly killed by a train while trying to clear storm debris off a railroad crossing. He said that when he returned home after weeks in a coma, the first thing he saw was his neighbors sowing his crops and feeding his livestock so that his family would have income that year. “They wouldn’t even let me pay for the diesel fuel,” he recalled.

At the Indiana State Fair, held on grounds now surrounded by inner-city Indianapolis neighborhoods, urban kids can witness, in person, the birth of pigs and calves. Once I asked a boy who had arrived at the fair on a school bus from across town, “Do you know where milk comes from?” He said, “Sure. The grocery store.” A couple of hours later, he knew better and just maybe had a little sense of awe and gratitude for the work and skill it takes to fill that grocery store.

Thomas Jefferson believed that democracy could work only in a society of agrarian yeomen, living in small political units, who would be invested in their society and resolute in defending their liberty against the encroachments of government. We’d better hope he was wrong or, to the extent that he was on to something, that we can recognize and preserve the characteristics that make yeomen (and women) such good citizens.

The cultural fiber that an agricultural upbringing once brought to society will of course not return through numbers. But there are ways other than state fairs to expose modern young people to its value and its virtues. One-third of today’s 4-H members now live in urban areas. Summer jobs detasseling corn or baling hay are still occasionally available as an alternative to “Fortnite” practice or soccer camp. In their constant quest for diversity, universities should not overlook the benefits that rural students can bring to their big-city and suburban classmates.

The distance that has opened between the producers of our food and the beneficiaries of their hard work, and between rural and urban Americans in general, has been sadly apparent in our politics and popular culture. More than tolerance is in order. Some true appreciation, and even some emulation, would be helpful right now. There’s a lot to learn down on the farm.

Mitch Daniels, a Post contributing columnist, is president of Purdue University and a former governor of Indiana.

Source: washingtonpost.com

Corn Weather Woes May Be Passed on to U.S. Livestock Farmers

The prospect of tighter American corn supply is bad news for livestock and poultry farmers who feed the yellow grain to their animals.

Chicago hog futures dipped to a three-month low on Tuesday while cattle prices eased after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said historically rainy weather would lead to a smaller corn crop than previously thought.

Higher corn prices — futures rose more than 3% on Tuesday — may prompt farmers to send animals to slaughter rather than fattening them up, which will increase supplies in the short term, said Brian Hoops, senior analyst at Midwest Market Solutions in Springfield, Missouri.

“Production growth for livestock and poultry is expected to be slower as producers respond to higher feed costs,” the USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board said in a report. “Pork production is lowered from last month primarily as the pace of slaughter to date has been slower than expected.”

The USDA outlook contributed to the drop in hog futures, after prices surged on Monday, according to Craig VanDyke, risk management consultant at Top Third Ag Marketing. “They are not going to be willing to pay up both for feeder pigs and feeder calves” because the cost grains will be an even bigger problem, he said by phone.

One beneficiary in the tightening corn outlook is wheat. The government said more wheat would be used as animal feed, which might help draw down U.S. stocks.

 

Source: Bloomberg

Swiss Expo is moving….

Land O’Lakes CEO: Farmers Are in Crisis—and America Isn’t Paying Attention

Imagine, if you can, a computer virus that cut the productivity of Apple, Google, and Facebook in half. Or try to imagine Wall Street’s investment bankers seeing a season’s worth of deals washed away. Such calamities would dominate our nation’s news and drive swift political action. Yet that is precisely what America’s farmers face right now. And, as a country, we aren’t paying nearly enough attention.

Farmers are generally too proud and humble to speak out, but the truth is we are living through an extremely difficult period of market turmoil and natural disasters. Due largely to sustained low commodity prices, average farm income in 2017 was $43,000, while the median farm income for 2018 was negative $1,500. In 2018, Chapter 12 bankruptcies in the farm states across the Midwest that are responsible for nearly half of all sales of U.S farm products rose to the highest level in a decade.

And then the floods came to the Midwest. Farmers have been significantly delayed in their planting this year due to rain and soggy ground, and as the planting window closes, some will have to make a decision about whether to plant a crop this year at all. As of June 9, just 60% of America’s soybean acres had been planted in our highest-producing states, compared with nearly 90% typically planted by this time of year. And just 83% of the corn crop is in the ground in the most productive states, a number that should be pushing 100%.

These disasters would be catastrophic at the best of times. But the fact is the rural communities in which our farmers operate are also struggling because local businesses’ revenue and incomes are tied to farmers’ incomes and livelihoods. Farmers and rural families want the same things for their communities that we all do: access to quality education, health care, and technology, and strong local communities. There are challenges in these areas, as well.

Roughly one in three rural Americans, and one in four farmers, are without broadband access, cutting them off from services like telemedicine and educational tools. Many parents have to drive to the local McDonald’s so their kids can get Internet access to finish homework. Rural America faces a shortage of doctors—more than 100 rural hospitals have closed since 2010—even as they endure the regular dangers of farm life and the rolling tragedy of an opioid crisis. “Three in four farmers and farm workers (74%) are or have been directly impacted by opioid abuse, either by knowing someone, having a family member addicted, having taken an illegal opioid or having dealt with addiction themselves,” according to a survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

As the CEO of Land O’Lakes, one of the country’s largest farmer- and retail-member-owned cooperatives, I see these realities all the time. It is the privilege of my life to work with these families who in the face of such hardship demonstrate endless resilience, optimism, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Ninety-six percent of farms are family-owned. These are people who understand the cyclical nature of the industry and don’t give up in the face of setbacks. They protect and care for the land they want to pass on to their children.

But it’s not enough to count on farmers to tough it out. America needs to start listening to the voices of the heartland. It’s not just about feeling empathy for flood-ravaged communities. It is about recognizing our shared destiny. It is about remembering that agriculture is the bedrock of our economy and security. The products of urban America are essential. But without a thriving rural and farm economy producing abundant, affordable food for a growing planet, a foundational pillar of our strength as a country will collapse.

We need to look for ways to drive more investment and job creation in rural areas. For example, because trade is a cornerstone of a strong agricultural economy, Land O’Lakes continues to urge Congress to approve the USMCA trade agreement, while calling on the Trump administration to expand exports with existing trade partners. Policy is critical to help farmers at a time of crisis, a fact reflected in a strong bipartisan 2018 farm bill that improved the safety net for dairy producers and created new mental health assistance programs for farmers.

Policy must also be a catalyst for innovation. That’s why Land O’Lakes and other agricultural companies have supported public and private efforts to expand high-speed broadband access in rural America. And it’s why we’ve striven to deploy cutting-edge ag tech such as digital sustainability platforms to help farmers better safeguard and utilize their natural resources.

Fewer than one in five Americans live in rural areas, but they represent 44% of those serving in our military. When we need them, they stand up. Now it’s our turn to get on our feet.

Written by Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Source: fortune.com

Don’t believe everything you see: the truth about undercover videos

Years ago, whenever I saw one of the undercover videos that animals rights groups release, I was sure I was watching torture to farm animals. My heart would beat like I had just finished a marathon and my eyes would sting with fury as I watched the poor animals endure so much pain. How was this kind of cruelty taking place on American farms!? I wanted an answer and I told myself I would eat a salad instead of a burger every chance I got.  At least that’s what my naive self thought before I became interested in agriculture and learned the truth.

Undercover videos are one of the most powerful tactics that animal rights groups use in an attempt to portray animal abuse on farms. The thing is, the tactic is a lot more unethical than you probably think.

Farmers make sure everyone stays warm in the winter! Photo credit: Carrie Mess

As part of my job I am responsible for researching animal rights groups and their campaigns. I was recently researching exactly how many undercover videos the Alliance has on file that resulted in convictions. As I was going through all 82 cases* and reading the background information on what allegedly happened in each facility, I couldn’t help but question how much abuse actually happens in agriculture. What the videos claimed to be describing would make any human squirm in their seat.

What’s really going on?

Then I reminded myself that these activist groups have a specific agenda and don’t care that they are spreading lies to get what they want. Out of all 82 videos only six cases resulted in convictions*. This one fact makes the point that what undercover videos capture is not always animal abuse. It may not always be pretty to the eye of someone outside of agriculture, but it is not abuse.

Slaughterhouses are a perfect example. When the animal reaches the slaughterhouse they are not meant to live through the process, as I’m sure we all can agree on.

Piglets stay safe while they eat breakfast! Photo credit: Chris Chinn
Piglets stay safe while they eat breakfast! Photo credit: Chris Chinn

Although they are meant to end up in grocery stores, farmers, scientists and industry experts are continuously working to ensure the animal is treated as humanely as possible.

Just last month Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group, posted an undercover video from a chicken processing facility in which they claimed showed “horrific animal abuse.” An expert panel comprised of a veterinarian, an animal scientist and an ethicist reviewed the video and said that there was no animal abuse.

“If people want to eat meat, we must kill animals,” Dr. Chuck Hofacre, the veterinarian on the panel, said. “Some of the process isn’t camera friendly – it’s not pretty. There are systems and processes in place to make sure it’s carried out in a humane manner.”

Why go undercover when you can jump on Twitter?! Photo credit: Will Gilmer
Why go undercover when you can jump on Twitter?! Photo credit: Will Gilmer

The different protein groups (poultry, beef, dairy, pork, goat, sheep) have programs in place addressing animal care. The National Dairy FARM Program and the Beef Quality Assurance program are two examples.

As this thought came to mind, I realized that if I work in the agriculture industry and am a true advocate for it, what would the average person who doesn’t have the background knowledge to remind themselves of all this think?

Unfortunately, media and consumers often take the videos at face value. They don’t ask questions and the activist groups have won their donation and support.

So what all contributes to the making of an undercover video?

Piglets staying warm and cozy under their heat lamp! Photo credit: Chris Chinn
Piglets staying warm and cozy under their heat lamp! Photo credit: Chris Chinn

Animal rights groups get people to apply for a job at a farm or processing facility and act as if they are genuinely interested in the job, but in reality are plotting how they can hurt the company by filming what they see as animal abuse.

These workers who are hired to do a specific task on the farm choose to be negligent and film what they think is abuse instead. Sometimes the consequences of them not doing the job they were hired to do leads to things not getting done properly and animals get hurt, all in the name of animal rights.

Why do we never hear from the undercover investigators who “worked” at the farm? It’s because they find an excuse to disappear months before the video surfaces. Wonder why?

One thing I bet you didn’t realize is that in the case that actual animal abuse does occur, the undercover investigators don’t report the incident immediately. Nope. They continue to film the abuse for weeks and sometimes even months at a time just to provide the animal rights groups with a PR campaign to further their vegan agenda.

If someone really believes they are witnessing animal abuse, they need to report it to authorities right away rather than sitting on the footage for a few weeks to produce a catchy video.

Farmers love welcoming new farm babies into the world! Photo credit: Carrie Mess
Farmers love welcoming new farm babies into the world! Photo credit: Carrie Mess

How do undercover videos affect the farmer?

Animal activists commonly single out corporations that the farm supplies to in order to get as much attention as possible, which causes a misrepresentation of the agriculture industry to spread. The videos are just a tactic that pressures farmers and corporations to cave into activist demands in order to make the negative attention disappear, even if what is being demanded isn’t what science says is best for the animals’ health.

You may see free-range as hens roaming in big, green pastures, but agriculturalists see it as a threat to the birds’ safety. An open pasture means open for everyone including predators and diseases, making the birds look like free prey.

Now don’t get me wrong, in the case that animal abuse actually does happen, it is horrible and the animal agriculture industry does not condone it by any means.

The emotional toll farmers take from the impact the videos have is crucial. It takes a strong connection to animals for farmers to devote their life to them 24/7/356 year after year. Despite how passionate farmers are about their work, there is a reluctance to even respond to the videos that do show abuse. The industry as a whole doesn’t want to give credibility where credibility isn’t due. If we give them credibility, then videos that capture humane, industry standard practices will seem more credible to someone who thinks a cow or chicken is just like their cat or dog.

Farmers don't just talk to their cows! They want to talk with you too! Photo credit: Will Gilmer
Farmers don’t just talk to their cows! They want to talk with you too! Photo credit: Will Gilmer

What should you do?

These videos are not a representative sample of what actually does happen on farms across the United States. So what should people do when another undercover video surfaces? Don’t judge a book by its cover, or rather a farm by its undercover video. Be realistic and ask yourself if what you’re viewing is actual abuse or a humane process that just doesn’t look like a bouquet of roses.

If you have questions or concerns with what’s happening on farms, ask a farmer. I’ll have a future blog post providing guidance on ways you can easily get in contact with someone who would be glad to answer your questions!

*Statistics included is this post are as of April 10, 2015.

Source: animalagengage.com

World Forage Analysis Superbowl to Award Record $26,000 in Cash Prizes

The World Forage Analysis Superbowl is now accepting entries for its 36th annual competition, where more than $26,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the best samples. Top forage producers from across the country will be recognized at the annual Mycogen Seeds Forage Superbowl Luncheon on October 2 during World Dairy Expo at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

The contest evaluates lab and visual components in eight forage categories and awards $1,500 to the top individual in each division, with additional cash prizes awarded to second through fifth place. The contest divisions and corresponding sponsors include: Standard Corn Silage, sponsored by Enogen Feed; Brown Midrib Corn Silage, sponsored by Mycogen Seeds; Baleage, sponsored by Agri-King; Commercial Hay, sponsored by NEXGROW Alfalfa; Dairy Hay, sponsored by W-L Research; Alfalfa Haylage, sponsored by Ag-Bag; Mixed Grass Haylage; and Grass Hay.

Awards are also presented to four additional outstanding forage samples. Kemin Animal Nutrition & Health is providing a $2,500 cash award to the Grand Champion Forage Producer, while the Grand Champion First-Time Entrant will receive a $2,000 award from sponsor Kuhn North America, Inc. CROPLAN By WinField and Scherer Inc. support prizes of the Quality Counts Awards for Hay/Haylage and Corn Silage, respectively. The World Forage Analysis Superbowl is also made possible by its General Sponsors: Dairyland Seed, National Hay Association, Passion Ag, Inc., and Scherer Inc., its Dairy Forage Seminar Broadcast Sponsor, Protexia, and its Platinum Sponsor, Mycogen Seeds.

The deadline to submit corn silage samples is July 12; all other entries must be submitted by August 29. Entry forms are available by calling 920-336-4521 or visiting foragesuperbowl.org. Participants receive a detailed laboratory analysis of the entered sample with the $35 entry fee and may submit multiple entries in the contest.

The World Forage Analysis Superbowl is organized in partnership between Dairyland Laboratories, Inc., Hay & Forage Grower, US Dairy Forage Research Center, University of Wisconsin and World Dairy Expo. To learn more, visit foragesuperbowl.org.

Calgary dairy producer has licence suspended by Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has suspended the licence of a Calgary milk producer.

The Safe Food for Canadians licence of Mother Dairy, located on 47th Street N.E., was suspended May 21 for failing to identify hazards, having a lack of appropriate equipment and failing to implement a preventive control plan and document a food complaint process, according to a release.

There is no food recall associated with the suspension.

According to its website, some of the products the company produces include paneer (Indian cottage cheese), desi ghee (clarified butter), whipped butter, plain yogurt (Punjabi dahi), and lassi (sweet and salted).

The suspension can be lifted if CFIA believes corrective measures have been taken. If corrective measures are not taken within 90 days, the licence can be cancelled.

Source: calgary.ctvnews.ca

Fonterra seeking a level playing field

Fonterra says the Government has missed an opportunity to create a level playing field for competition in the dairy industry.

The co-op is willing to continue supplying raw milk to Goodman Fielder for the domestic market but strongly opposes the requirement to supply competitors, who use the subsidised milk to compete with the co-op in global markets.

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan says he could not see how changes announced last week to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA) would benefit New Zealand.

“We are happy to supply raw milk to Goodman Fielder for domestic consumption.

“However, with significant increase in competition I can’t see how supplying our raw milk effectively at cost price to our competitors will benefit us and NZ.”

The Government has agreed to remove the requirement for Fonterra to supply regulated milk to independent processors that have their own supply of 30 million litres or more in a single season.

Monaghan says the playing field is still tipped against NZ dairy farmers.

“Our farmer owned cooperative wants an industry that promotes investment across regional NZ and where profits are kept in NZ.  We stand for an industry where NZ farmers are paid well for their milk and where the unique attributes of our environment are protected and enhanced.

“Given the significant increase in competition within the NZ dairy industry, we’re disappointed the Government did not recommend removing altogether the requirement for us to supply our farmers’ milk to large, export focused businesses.”

The co-op is also disappointed that its third preference on the contentious open entry provisions of the dairy industry regulations was accepted by the Government. Monaghan says Fonterra preferred the open entry provisions were removed from the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA).

However, Monaghan welcomed the decision to give Fonterra the right to refuse membership to non-compliant farmers and new dairy conversions. 

“These changes will support our co-op’s ability to meet our customers’ demands and continue leading the industry toward a sustainable future for our farmers and the rural communities in which they live and farm.”

Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman Duncan Coull says farmers were “feeling ignored and frustrated” by the changes.

“This was an opportunity to focus on the wider industry, not just Fonterra, and to optimise value creation for NZ from the dairy sector,” he says. 

“We are concerned that the opportunity to shift DIRA’s purpose to the future and to enable the highest value creation from our milk hasn’t been fully taken up.

“The proposed changes to open entry and exit, whilst helpful, do little to address the concerns of our farmers.”

Federated Farmers described the DIRA changes as “useful changes and a missed opportunity”.

“We’re disappointed that open entry provisions won’t be changed, other than relating to new conversions,” Feds dairy industry group chair Chris Lewis says.

“It’s nearly 20 years since this legislation was passed to ensure that with the formation of Fonterra, competition for farmer milk supply and dairy product choice for consumers were preserved.

“The market is now mature enough, and competition among a host of processing companies robust enough, for Fonterra to be given some discretion over who it is required to pick up milk from.”

Need for transparency

Fonterra says it will ask the Government to clarify its proposal to appoint a representative on the milk price panel.

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan says the milk price panel membership wasn’t part of the DIRA review and he noted the proposal with interest.

He says Fonterra encourages the Government to extend this transparency by requiring all processors to publish the average price they pay to farmers, the key parameters of their milk price and examples showing the payout that would be received given different parameters.

“All efforts to bring greater pricing transparency into the dairy industry should be encouraged.  There’s no downside in farmers having clear, consistent information by which to compare processors.”

Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman Duncan Coull says changes to the milk price regime are of deep concern.

“The Government having the right to nominate a member to the milk price panel is a step too far and gives rise to a direct conflict with the independent oversight of the regime by the Commerce Commission.”

 

Source: Rural News Group

Breaking News: Charges filed in Fair Oaks Farms animal cruelty case

A screenshot from an undercover video capturing employees abusing animals at Fair Oaks Farms.

The Newton County Sheriff’s office announced Monday that criminal charges have been filed against three people in connection with the undercover video at Fair Oaks Farms that showed animal cruelty and abuse.

The sheriff’s office said three people were charged with beating of a vertebrate animal, a Class A misdemeanor, and the agency plans to release the names within 24 hours.

They are still conducting interviews with other persons of interest, according to the sheriff’s office.

Indiana State Police, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and the Newtown County Prosecutor’s Office were all involved in the investigation.

The Animal Recovery Mission conducted its investigation at Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana between August and November 2018, but the group did not release its undercover footage until June 4.

The Florida based group that calls itself a “vanguard animal welfare organization” released a new statement Friday addressing criticism that it did not report animal abuse or put a stop to it sooner.

“As the reason for why we waited so long for this release was because the Animal Recovery Mission had the obligation to investigate where the male calves were going to,” read the statement. “After our extensive investigation our teams uncovered Fair Oaks Farms delivering calves to Midwest veal mere weeks ago, in a clear contradiction to McCloskey’s statement on his calves being sold to the veal industry.”

Fair Oaks Farms Founder, Mike McCloskey, had previously said the farm was not sending calves to the veal industry, but in a Facebook comment this week he blamed miscommunication.

“In regards to my comment on not sending our calves to veal — it was not our practice in the past, but due to a lack of communication between the general manager in charge of livestock sales and myself, I was unaware that we were selling our calves to the veal industry and apologize for the unintended false claim made previously,” McCloskey’s statement read. “Our bull calves will no longer go to veal.”

RTV6 broke the story on June 4 regarding the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM)’s undercover investigation at Fair Oaks Farm in northwest Indiana that showed employees abusing calves.

Undercover video captured employees throwing calves in and out of their huts, calves kicked and slammed to the ground, a worker sitting on top of a calf.

McCloskey said four employees were terminated as a result of the undercover footage.

PREVIOUS | Fair Oaks Farm founder releases video statement

The Animal Recovery Mission has also faced accusations that employees seen abusing animals actually worked for ARM. The group denied participating in the abuse.

“We were not fired and felt as though we had enough data for our case at that location, so we pulled our investigator out,” read the ARM statement released Friday. “The ARM investigator at no time took part in any of the abuse nor did we stage any of the employees to conduct abusive crimes of the animals.”

ARM also said it reported all instances of abuse to top management, who not only saw the abuse themselves but took no disciplinary action against the employees who did.

The group released an hour and a half of footage Friday to address allegations that the 4-minute video previously was unfairly edited.

“The purpose of this hour and a half long video detailing the extreme violence at Fair Oaks Farms, is to give the greater public an in-depth insight into the sheer gravity of animal abuse that takes place in the dairy industry,” read a Facebook post from ARM. “The extended video also shines a light into the drug use, as well as giving a detailed look into top management’s knowledge of the brutality on the calves and zero action taken upon the abusers and/or aiding in the neglect of the baby animals.”

ARM has also made headlines in Florida for accusing numerous operations of animal abuse, including the Black Cloud farm.

PREVIOUS | Undercover investigation of alleged slaughter farms

The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office in Florida looked into Black Cloud farm and, “it was determined that no probable cause exists for animal cruelty under the state statute.”

Fair Oaks produces dairy products for the Fairlife milk brand, based in Chicago.

Fairlife released a statement saying it has taken immediate action to address the situation and protect animals.

Meanwhile, several retailers have pulled the products from their shelves including Family Express.

“In light of the events that have recently been uncovered at Fair Oaks Farms, Family Express has decided to discontinue all products sold by fairlife, LLC (a partnership between Coca-Cola and Select Milk Producers Inc.) from our stores,” read Family Express’ statement. “The exposé of animal abuse in the Fair Oaks Farm network is chilling. A factor in our decision was the public response by Fair Oaks, asserting the notion that this was an isolated incident. This is hardly the response you would expect from an organization that gets it.”

Walmart and Target have not responded to RTV6’s requests for comment.

Kroger is still selling Fairlife products.

“We have suspended sourcing to our dairies from the locations in question, pending the result of Fair Oaks Farms’ investigation and implementation of action plans,” read a statement from Kroger. “The management team at Fair Oaks Farms have been outstanding leaders in animal welfare and sustainable farm practices for many years and we know they are taking the situation very seriously.”

McCloskey says the farm will install cameras to prevent any future animal cruelty and they will create an “animal welfare” section at the farm to show the public more information about how animals are treated.

The farm is a popular tourist attraction off of I-65 between Indianapolis and Chicago, and offers tours of their dairy operations to visitors and student field trips.

McCloskey said they have partnered with an animal welfare group to have frequent audits every two to four weeks with “total access” to the auditors.

The farm will also hire an employee who will have a role of ensuring animal welfare on the farm on a daily basis.

Coca-Cola released this statement regarding the videos.

Source: theindychannel.com

Mexico Did Not Agree to Agricultural Deal Touted by President Trump, Officials Say

President Donald Trump doubled down on his boast of “large” agricultural sales to Mexico as part of a deal on border security and illegal immigration that averted the threat of U.S. tariffs. But the deal as released had none, and three Mexican officials said they’re not aware of any side accord.

Trump told his 61 million Twitter followers in an all-caps message on Saturday that Mexico had agreed to “immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product from our great patriot farmers.” He repeated the tweet shortly after midnight Sunday in Washington.

But the communique issued late Friday by the State Department — the U.S.-Mexico Joint Declaration — made no mention of agricultural trade as part of the agreement.

The State Department didn’t respond to an inquiry made through its press department. The White House declined to comment or offer proof to back up Trump’s tweet. The Mexican foreign ministry’s press office declined to comment.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at a rally in Tijuana near the U.S. border that Mexico should celebrate the “important deal” with the U.S. that removed the threat of tariffs as it was preparing to retaliate. He didn’t mention agriculture in his speech attended by leading political figures in the country.

If tariffs “had been applied it would’ve caused significant damage to both economies,” he said. “We were being put in a very difficult and uncomfortable position to have to apply the same measures that were going to be placed on Mexican exports.”

Mexico is already a large buyer of U.S. farm goods, including corn, soybeans, pork and dairy products. It had given no indication of attempting to find alternative suppliers during the one-week standoff over Trump’s proposed steep tariffs on Mexican goods.

Increasing Mexico’s purchases from the U.S. wasn’t discussed during the three days of talks in Washington that led up to Friday’s agreement, said the three people with knowledge of the deliberations who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Mexico has no state-owned agricultural conglomerate to buy food products or handle distribution, or a government program that could buy farm equipment for delivery to producers.

Trump earlier on Friday suggested the talks were covering trade in agriculture, and not just border security issues as members of his administration had said — and that the State Department communique listed. If a deal was made, Trump said at the time, “they will begin purchasing Farm & Agricultural products at very high levels.”

Trump on Saturday was fund-raising on the back of the Mexican agreement. His campaign sent out a “donate now” email that read in part, “Art of the Deal! Mexico has agreed to help END ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. Promises Made. Promises Kept.”

Farm states, among the strongest of Trump’s supporters, have been hit hard by the president’s trade war against China, and the threat of additional action against Mexico had some farm-state senators up in arms. The president is expected to travel to the heartland to hold a private fund-raiser in West Des Moines on Tuesday.

Source:  time.com

Cyberbullying by animal rights activists is harming farmers’ mental health. Should it be criminalized?

Farmers hoping to share their work on social media have to make a decision: are they willing to take the risk that, by posting a photo of their barn or their animals, a furious animal-rights activist might track them down?

“It’s a growing problem,” says Andrew Campbell a dairy and grain farmer outside of London, Ont. “We started getting into people threatening to come to the farm.” Indeed, the flood of online criticism and outright cyberbullying directed towards farmers is taking a toll on their mental health.

Campbell was among the farmers whose testimony before a parliamentary committee informed a recent report that made suggestions to improve mental health among farmers in Canada. While the report addresses several issues, such as the distance many farmers have to travel to access treatment, historical stressors such as inclement weather and the burden of paperwork, it also finds that zealous activists are contributing to the health problems facing the country’s farmers. Among the solutions the committee has proposed: for the government to “consider including any form of intimidation or cyberbullying targeted at any group of Canadians based on their occupation or place of residence” as an offence under the Criminal Code.

Liz White, the head of the Animal Alliance of Canada, said while she would “totally oppose” online bullying, making this a criminal offence seems like a “significant overreaction.”

I’ve been told online that I’m a murderer. My wife has been asked why she would ever be with someone who rapes animals

“People just seem to think that they can say whatever they feel on social media, that there are no barriers. I think we all need to treat each other with respect,” she said.

But, while she said she “understand(s) that farmers have a lot to deal with,” animal rights and the treatment of farm animals is a subject of increasing discussion and farmers need to accept that they’re going to have to engage with it.

Campbell is among the farmers who’ve begun dialling back their online presence to avoid the barrage of criticism over their work that sometimes veers into more threatening territory.

“I’ve been told online that I’m a murderer. My wife has been asked why she would ever be with someone who rapes animals,” Campbell told the committee last year.

Stewart Skinner, a pig farmer for Imani Farms in Ontario, also spoke about the difficulty of facing harassment from activists. “Our ancestors only had to worry about weather and prices. Today, we farmers have the added worry of being a target of an extreme activist, something that takes a serious toll on me mentally,” Skinner told MPs.

A report found zealous activists are contributing to the health problems facing the country’s farmers.NORBERTO DUARTE/AFP/Getty Images

Pierrette Desrosiers, an occupational psychologist, argued in front of the committee in October 2018 that animal rights activists are a “growing threat.”

“Producers, artificial inseminators, those who ship animals, veterinarians too, packing plant staff, butchers, everyone in the agri-food business, that is, are affected by the animal rights people,” Desrosiers said. “The consequence is that our producers are increasingly subject to psychological violence, harassment and online bullying.”

Pat Finnigan, a Liberal member of Parliament from New Brunswick and chair of the standing committee on agriculture and agri-food, told the National Post the change to the Criminal Code is at this point just an idea, and would obviously need to be balanced against any charter implications. The reality, he said, is there are groups posting photos of maltreated animals and they sometimes tar an entire industry with their campaigns — and that affects farmers.

“It is a form of bullying and, you know, putting the whole sector down,” Finnigan said. “We don’t tolerate bullying in school, we don’t tolerate it in society anymore.”

Earl Dreeshen, an Alberta Conservative MP, agreed, saying agriculture is an industry that faces heavy outside criticism, similar to the campaigns against the seal hunt. “There are consequences to that type of thing,” Dreeshen said. “Canadian farmers and ranchers have the highest standards in the world … (it) should be something the government should be championing.”

Cara Zwibel, director of the fundamental freedoms program with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, found the Criminal Code recommendation strange given the mostly anecdotal nature of the evidence. As well, she said, it is a broad proposal that could pose particular problems as it might apply to professions — policing, say, or politics — wherein criticism comes with the public’s need to hold authorities to account.

“It’s a strange approach and we think that it’s quite proper that the criminal code doesn’t deal with cyberbullying,” Zwibel said. “That line of, when is it bullying and when is it just criticism with a public interest purpose, is not easy to draw.”

Campbell said criticism is one thing, but “threatening territory” is different, and that it could, in theory, apply to those such as police or energy workers whose industries come under heavy criticism. “My belief is that maybe that line to be found a little bit further from straight death threat into territory where you’re still giving very direct threats that are obviously having an impact on (their) well-being.”

Source: nationalpost.com

Chinese warships load up Australian baby formula

Chinese military personnel were spotted unloading boxes of highly sought after Australian baby formula onto their warship the day before leaving Sydney Harbour.

The photograph, taken Thursday, shows military staff unloading boxes of baby formula from a van, along with boxes of whitening sheet face masks and Devondale brand long life milk.

Australian brand baby formula has become a highly sought after product in China over the last ten years, after a mass milk poisoning in the region led to the injury and deaths of many babies.

Three Chinese warships quietly entered Sydney Harbour on Monday morning, where they landed at the Garden Island naval base. The arrival surprised many Australians, including the premier of NSW Gladys Berejiklian, who wasn’t aware the city would be playing host to the vessels and their 700 crew.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was on a trip to the Solomon Islands when the ships arrived, downplayed public reaction and assured reporters their arrive was not a “surprise” visit.

“It may have been a surprise to others, but it certainly wasn’t a surprise to the Government,” he said.

“They were returning after a counter drug trafficking operation in the Middle East.”

The extraordinary photo of personnel loading the formula and other products, including boxes of face masks and long life milk, was taken on Thursday ahead of the warships exit from the harbour on Friday afternoon.

In 2008 milk and infant formula became contaminated in China, leading to an estimated 300,000 victims in the region. 54,000 babies were hospitalised, and six infants died.

In the years since the scandal, consumer trust in Chinese milk products has eroded, and clandestine black market baby formula vendors, or daigous, have sprung up selling baby formula from Australia and European nations at a highly inflated price, for profit.

Police have made a number of raids and arrests in the past over theft syndicates and hoarding by individuals and groups.

Major Australian retailers implemented tin limits to control sales of baby formula, preventing unfairness, but reports of shoppers flouting the system continue to surface. Accounts from shoppers last year included people taking multiple tins of the formula before they’d been placed on shelves, and shoppers stripping shelves in groups of up to eight people.

In April of this year, police charged eight people for allegedly stealing $1 million worth of baby formula and vitamins and helping to ship it overseas. Four of those charged were from the same family.

In August 2018, police raided two homes in Carlingford and uncovered 4000 tins of baby formula, large quantities of vitamins and Manuka honey. Police alleged all of these items had been stolen.

Security analysts called the arrival of the three warships on Monday, which wasn’t announced to the public “aggressive”.

“That raised a lot of hackles,” John Blaxland, a professor of international security and intelligence studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, told the ABC.

“The ships arrived off Darling Point and other famous places in Sydney’s harbour without people knowing in advance … and with armed soldiers and sailors on the decks of the ships looking fairly aggressive.”

The warships exited the harbour early Friday afternoon.

Source: news.com.au

Trump Says He’ll Drop Mexico Tariff as Deal Reached on Migrants

  • President had been threatening to impose 5% levy on Monday
  • Deal marks dramatic turn after Trump’s criticism of Mexico

President Donald Trump said he would drop plans for tariffs on Mexico that he’d been threatening to impose for the past week after the country promised new steps to stem an influx of illegal migration into the U.S.

“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico,” Trump said in a tweet Friday night. “The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended.”

Under the deal, Mexico will expand deployment of its national guard throughout the country, “giving priority to its southern border,” according to a joint statement from the two countries. Asylum seekers who cross into the U.S. will be quickly returned to Mexico where they’ll wait for their claims to be resolved; the U.S. agreed to accelerate adjudication.

Trump’s decision marked a dramatic turnaround after he persistently criticized Mexico for failing to prevent Central American migrants from traversing the country to get to the U.S. The decision marks a victory for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose administration had been pressing Trump to drop the tariff threat.

The deal preempts Trump’s planned 5% tariff on all Mexican imports to the U.S. that the president said could increase to 25% by October.

The decision was welcomed by Republicans and others who warned the tariffs would damage the American economy, hurt job growth and delay or altogether scuttle a trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, known as the USMCA, which still needs lawmaker ratification. Mexico is the second-biggest source of U.S. imports.

“Mexico came through,” said Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican opposed to the tariffs, in a tweet soon after Trump’s announcement.

“I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues in the House and Senate to pass USMCA without delay so that American companies and workers can reap the benefits of this updated and modernized agreement,” Representative Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, said in a statement.

Sarcastic Response

The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, tweeted a sarcastic reaction to the deal to Trump: “Now that the problem is solved I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”

Mexico said the deal was reached after several days of talks, including 12 hours of discussions on Friday.

The U.S. originally demanded that Central American migrants apply for asylum in Mexico instead of the U.S. Mexico beat back that demand, but formally agreed to host the asylum seekers until the U.S. processes their claims.

Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said the resolution was fair. “We reached some middle point,” Ebrard said.

The joint statement released Friday said both sides would work together to “implement a durable solution.” Discussions will continue, they said.

The two countries said they’ll work to “to build a more prosperous and secure Central America to address the underlying causes of migration, so that citizens of the region can build better lives for themselves and their families at home.” The statement didn’t elaborate on how that would be accomplished.

‘Heavy Price’

Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, said Mexico avoided tariffs but “will pay a heavy price.”

“Potentially tens of thousands of refugee claimants will have to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed,” he said. “Mexico will have to house, employ, educate and provide health care for them. This is a huge commitment.”

The tariff threat has rattled markets and prompted economists to forecast an increased risk of recession in the U.S., the world’s largest economy, because trade between the U.S. and Mexico is so integrated. An all-out trade war would lower global gross domestic product by 0.8% or $800 billion by mid-2021, according to Bloomberg Economics.

The uncertainty and the subsequent negotiations in recent days caused significant movements in the peso, Latin America’s most-traded currency. But by the time the deal was reached, trading had ended. It will resume on Sunday afternoon.

The number of apprehensions and people denied entry along the U.S.-Mexico border has been rising steadily. More than 144,000 people were apprehended after illegally crossing the southern border in May or were refused entry to the U.S., Customs and Border Protection announced on Wednesday. That’s the the most in a single month in at least five years; the number has grown every month since January.

Trump threatened the tariffs on May 30 — the same day the administration sent a notice to Congress to try and kick-start passage of the USMCA, which Trump negotiated to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Vice President Mike Pence also spent that day stumping for the deal’s passage in Canada.

 

Source: Bloomberg

Holstein Ontario Hires New Field Rep

The Ontario Holstein Branch is thrilled to welcome Jenna Hedden to the team effective Monday, June 10. Jenna will be based in Eastern Ontario and will be handling the following territory: Glengarry, Stormont, Dundas, Prescott, Carleton
Russell, Leeds & Grenville, Lanark, Renfrew, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, Hastings and Prince Edward, as well as New Liskeard and area in the Northern Territory (not including Thunder Bay and area).

Jenna hails from Renfrew County and her language skills in both English and French will serve her well in the area she is
covering. She graduated from Algonquin College in 2016 with a diploma in Business and is currently specializing in Marketing Management. No stranger to the agricultural sector, Jenna’s experience includes working at EastGen, the Cobden Agricultural Society, Greenlark Farms and Vicki Fletcher Photography. With EastGen, Jenna worked on planning many events and spent time on the road speaking with producers about their operations. She was also very involved in 4-H and competed in shows both regionally and provincially.

We are thrilled to be welcoming Jenna on board! Her knowledge, organization skills, language abilities and previous work
experience will make her a tremendous asset to the team and we look forward to working with her going forward. Jenna can be contacted by email at jhedden@ontario.holstein.ca or by phone at 613-888-9250.

Wisconsin Holstein Association announces summer intern

Wisconsin Holstein Association (WHA) is excited to announce Kenni Bores of Auburndale, Wis. as the 2019 Communications and Events Intern. Bores will be based out of the office in Baraboo, Wis. with internship duties that started on May 20, 2019.

This summer, Bores will serve in a public relations and communications role. Her main project will be planning and organizing the 2019 WHA All-Breeds Futurity in West Allis. In addition to this, she will assist in the planning of district shows, Wisconsin State Fair, Wisconsin Championship Show and help prepare for the National Holstein Convention.

Bores has been involved in the dairy industry her whole life, growing up on her family’s dairy farm. Her passion for the industry started when she was young, through her participation in 4-H. This involvement has led her to exhibit dairy at the local, state and national level.

Bores will be a junior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where she is majoring in agriculture marketing communications. On campus, she is involved in dairy club and is currently serving as the Block and Bridle Ambassador. After graduation her goal is to find a career in agriculture marketing.

Outside of school, Bores enjoys shopping, spending time with friends and family, and eating ice cream for breakfast.

About The Organizations

Wisconsin Holstein Association is a not-for-profit membership organization with the purpose of promoting the Wisconsin Registered Holstein breed, its breeders and owners. Established in 1890, it has grown its junior and adult membership to become the second largest state Holstein association in the nation. For more information visit the WHA website at www.wisholsteins.com.

 

Fair Oaks Farms owner apologizes for abuse video, promises changes

Recently, a suspected animal abuse video was released by Animal Recovery Mission about the dairy operation at Fair Oaks Farms.  The company, called the “Disneyland of agricultural tourism” in Food & Wine magazine, is being accused of “daily mistreatment of the resident farm animals” by ARM. The public on both sides of the controversial video were passionate about what they saw. Farmers and ranchers realize animal care should be the upmost importance of any operation.

Late Wednesday night, Fair Oaks Farms released this nearly seven-minute-long video from their founder, Dr. Mike McCloskey. Watch for yourself as he explains their side of the story and the many steps they are taking to correct the actions of their employees, from the past and for the future. 

According to Mike McCloskey, an owner of Fair Oaks, five individuals were involved in the abuse activity. Of the five, four were employees and one was a contract truck driver. Even prior to the video being released, McCloskey says three of the employees were released due to abuse allegations. The employment of a fourth employee was terminated once the video was released, and the company employing the contract driver was told that the person was not allowed on Fair Oaks Farms again.

“It is a shock and an eye-opener for us to discover that under our watch, we had employees who showed disregard for our animals, our processes and for the rule of law,” McCloskey said in a statement following the video’s release. “The video shines a light on an area that, despite our thorough training, employee onboarding procedures and overall commitment to animal welfare, needs improvement.”

“As hard as you try, you can always end up with bad people in your organization,” he said.

Regardless of the outcome, McCloskey said he takes full responsibility for the actions depicted in the footage.

“It goes against everything that we stand for in regards to responsible cow care and comfort,” he said. “The employees featured in the video exercised a complete and total disregard for the documented training that all employees go through to ensure the comfort, safety and well-being of our animals.”

“As a veterinarian whose life and work is dedicated to the care, comfort and safety of all animals, this has affected me deeply,” McClosky said. “I am disappointed for not being aware of this kind of awful treatment occurring and I take full responsibility for what has happened. I also take full responsibility to correct and ensure that every employee understands, embraces and practices the core values on which our organization stands.”

McCloskey said, “I am focusing on putting cameras anywhere on the property where we have any animal and personal interaction. You would ask yourself ‘why didn’t I do that initially?’ Years ago when we set up our animal welfare program this was a big topic of discussion and I made the decision that as we were training our people and our values and training them about animal welfare, that I wanted to build a trust, that we trusted them to do this that we could drive our values and have them carry those values out for us, and I felt that if we used cameras we demonstrated a lack of trust in our people. That was a terrible judgment on my part.”

McCloskey says he will be adding an exhibit that will allow the public to see the video screens that show all the cameras. The new cameras will be monitored 24 hours a day and be viewable by anyone who visits the farm. Random audits will also be implemented, and the farm will hire someone to focus on continuing education on animal treatment. He says he also contacted an animal welfare organization to make frequent and unannounced visits at the farm. He says he also reached out to the county attorney to review the video and prosecute any animal abusers.

McCloskey said the organization may release more videos in the future, but he’s confident the changes they’re implementing will address any concerns those videos may produce.

He ended his video with a guarantee that this would not happen again at Fair Oaks Farms.

The activist group is calling for CocaCola to sever ties with Fair Oaks Farms. Together they produce fairlife milk. McClosky has reached out to ARM founder Richard Couto, but he has not heard back.

 

China May Be Culling Dairy Cows for Beef to Offset Pork Losses

With African swine fever carving a big chunk out of China’s hog herds, the world’s biggest meat consumer is turning to other types of locally produced and imported protein.

Hefty beef shipments from Australia signal that people in China are already switching away from pork to cattle meat, according to Alyssa Badger, director of global operations at HighGround Dairy in Chicago. And Ireland may increase beef exports to the country as well, she said.

Chinese beef imports surge amid African swine fever

Also see: The deadly African virus that’s killing Asia’s pigs: Quicktake

Chinese beef imports have surged, with the world’s largest pork market buying 128,920 tons in April, 75% more than a year earlier. Meanwhile, the price of beef has risen, with one kilogram of meat costing 60.23 yuan, 6% higher than in August when the country reported its first outbreak of the hog disease.

With the increasing cost of beef, people have been shifting to other protein-rich foods such as chicken and eggs. Wens Foodstuffs Group, the biggest pork breeder, has agreed to buy a majority stake in a local chicken producer on expectations that demand will expand given poultry’s relatively lower cost.

At the same time, China’s farmers may be starting to slaughter their own dairy cows for beef, Badger said, noting that the country’s fluid milk and cream imports reached a record high in April.

“With the lower availability of pork and rising chicken prices, culling domestic cows seems sensible,” she said.

Source: bloomberg.com

New Classes to Debut at All-American Jersey Show

The American Jersey Cattle Association is excited to announce two new first-of-their-kind championship classes and awards for cows and heifers based on Genomic Jersey Performance Index (GJPI). 

 The All American festivities, three days of all Jerseys, all the time, will be held in Louisville Ky. from November 9-11.

 “We are excited about the new opportunity for exhibitors at the All American Show with the acknowledgment of the high GJPI animals. With the increased use of genotyping, the association and open show committee feel this is a positive step to increase the number of participants and spectators,” stated Jonathan Merriam general chair of the All American Jersey events and AJCA president. “Over the years, we have worked diligently to increase the number of deep-pedigreed, high type consignments to the All American Sale and now we hope to highlight the high genomic, high type individuals in the All American Jersey Show. We sincerely appreciate Semex USA coming on board as a sponsor of this innovative recognition.”

 

The highest genomic GJPI individual in each class will be recognized. The selected animals will then compete for the titles of GJPI Junior Champion heifer and GJPI Grand Champion cow.

Semex USA, Madison, Wis., will sponsor and present a cash award of $50 to the owners of the highest GJPI heifer in each class. The GJPI Junior Champion will receive the Semex Elevate© Trophy and banner along with a cash award of $100. The same will happen in the cow classes with a cash award of $75 to be presented to the owners. The GJPI Grand Champion cow will also receive the Semex Elevate© Trophy and banner with a $150 cash prize.

Also new to this year’s show are awards for Premier Exhibitor and Premier Breeder of the Heifer Show of the All American Jersey Show. The Premier Breeder will be presented with the MB Lucky Lady and Borba Trophy by MB Lucky Lady Farms and Frank and Diane Borba, Escalon, Calif.

The Spring Valley & Heath Trophy will be presented to the Premier Exhibitor of the Heifer Show by Spring Valley Jerseys and Michael Heath, Westminster, Md.

 

Sponsorships for the All American are still available. To find out more about supporting the events in November, please contact All American Coordinator Kim Billman at 614.322.4451 or by email at info@usjersey.com.

 

The All American Jersey Show & Sale is an annual production of the American Jersey Cattle Association, Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Approximately 100 Jersey breeders from across the United States serve on the All American planning committees, which meet annually in March. For information on show entry fees, rules and deadline visit www.livestockexpo.org.

2018 Royal Winter Fair Grand Champion, Jacobs Windbrook Aimo, Passes

Judge Jamie Black selects Jacobs Windbrook Aimo EX95 as Grand Champion at the 2018 Royal Winter Fair

2018 Royal Winter Fair Supreme Champion, Jacobs Windbrook Aimo EX95 passed this past week due to complications at calving.  Aimo was a fan favorite around the world and was the modern style of cow with her extreme balance strength and dairy character.  

Her breeders and part owners ferme Jacobs shared the following comments:

Sometimes, the end arrives faster than expected but we have to find ourself blessed to be part of such a great story as Aimo made us live. We were blessed to have bred and owned that cow and show her to the world Holstein Family.

She left too quick…She should have been retired with the others like Valana, Britany & Lisamaree around the farm just being dry.

Unfortunately, her calving with complications and we have to thank our vet and the St-Hyacinthe Hospital as they did everything they could to save her life.

Thank you Aimo, You will stay a legend forever at Jacobs

Now we are looking forward to breeding another cow as exceptional as you were. Also, thank you to all of her fans around the world. She was a special cow for many people.

Fair Oaks Farms – An Open Dialogue – Complete Transparency

At Fair Oaks Farms, we pride ourselves on consumer transparency – not only when it comes to the dairy products we produce, but also regarding the cows, people and farming that are behind those products. It is with that philosophy in mind that we would like to inform our trusted consumers, visitors, and the public at large, that an animal activist organization infiltrated our farms. We believe they came to our farms not to share a fair and balanced view of animal welfare, but to specifically and misleadingly create animal cruelty videos. Although we strive for perfection, we are always on the lookout for flaws within our systems and we look forward to proactively reviewing these videos. With that said, we would like to reassure you of our core principles and commitments to animal welfare.

Our mission is to welcome ALL to the table to have conversations about how we are going to affordably feed the world through sustainable, humane, modern agriculture.—The Family Farmers of Fair Oaks Farms

 

The National Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM)

First, Fair Oaks Farms upholds the highest possible standards in animal care. We work hard to follow ALL of the protocols of the National Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program. We rigorously train and supervise all on-farm employees and managers. In fact, before employment commences, all incoming employees are trained on humane animal care practices on our dairies and contractually agree to a “See It, Say It” policy concerning animal abuse. We are aligned with animal rights activism groups everywhere when it comes to protecting animals from cruelty. Our organization was founded on the animal care principles and philosophies of our dairy veterinarian founder, Dr. Mike McCloskey.

WATCH MIKE AND SUE MCCLOSKEY’S RESPONSE

Although we have complete confidence in our employees and animal welfare programs, no one person or organization is without flaws. It’s only through the belief and practice of continuous improvement that we can guarantee to you – our guest and consumer – that when any faults are found we take immediate actions to correct and learn from them. Fair Oaks Farms is recognized as a leader of innovative advances in the agriculture industry. It’s who we are; it’s in our DNA. We will always continue to strive to be better: better stewards of our land and animals, better neighbors, and better trusted sources of great nutrition.

An Open Invitation to You and Your Family

When we opened our farms, we did so as an invitation to you and your family to have an open dialogue with farmers about where your food comes from. In having these conversations and receiving feedback, we’ve adopted better practices along the way. It is unfortunate that these types of activist organizations feel they are not welcome to join the conversation when in fact, the opposite is true. Our mission is to welcome ALL to the table to have conversations about how we are going to affordably feed the world through sustainable, humane, modern agriculture.

Taking Immediate and Corrective Action

If and when any videos that depict alleged animal cruelty are released, we will take immediate and corrective action towards any employee who may be found abusing animals. This action will include, employee retraining, probation or termination and, if appropriate, legal action. We will also take any action, including legal, towards those who knowingly facilitate any misrepresentation of appropriate practices or procedures.

When we found out about this undercover operation, we immediately and voluntarily called for a third-party review of our animal welfare practices to assure ourselves – and you – that our dairies are compliant with the FARM program. Once this review is finished, we will gladly share their findings.

The Importance of Animal Care and Safety

Transparency is fundamental to how we operate. As a family dairy farm organization, we have a 25-year legacy of responsible production and industry leadership. We deeply respect and appreciate our animals. Their care and safety are of the utmost importance to us and we will do everything in our power to never compromise that. At the same time, we hold dear the trust that you have placed in us and we will continue to advocate for transparency and continuous improvement on our farms and in our industry.

—The Family Farmers of Fair Oaks Farms

Retailers pull Fairlife dairy products after ‘chilling’ video shows calves being abused at farm

While authorities investigated a graphic video released by an animal rights group allegedly showing workers kicking and throwing young calves at an Indiana dairy farm, retailers began pulling the company’s products from their shelves.

The disturbing video (warning: the footage is graphic) was secretly recorded last year by an investigator for the Miami-based Animal Recovery Mission group. The group says the investigator worked for several months at Fair Oaks Farms, one of the largest dairy producers in the country and a popular destination for school field trips.

The video shows newborn calves being thrown in and out of their huts by employees, young calves being kicked in the head and the carcasses of dead calves piled together in the dirt. The footage also shows employees striking calves with their hands, feet and steel rods and calves being burnt with branding irons.

The group said that the undercover video shows the “daily mistreatment of the resident farm animals” at the farm’s dairies, located about 70 miles south of Chicago.

“Due to the many years Fair Oaks Farms has been in business, it is impossible to number the amount of calves and cows that have inhumanely died at the hands of this company,” said Rachel Taylor, a spokeswoman for Animal Recovery Mission.

Fair Oaks Farms is the flagship farm for Fairlife, a national brand of higher protein, higher calcium and lower fat milk. The brand is a joint venture between Fair Oaks Farms and The Coca-Cola Company.

At least three retailers – Strack & Van Til, Jewel-Osco and Family Express – began pulling Fairlife products from their shelves Wednesday in response to the video, according to The Northwest Indiana Times.

Family Express operates convenience stores across Indiana. The company said in a statement that it’s pulling Fairlife products. “The exposé of animal abuse in the Fair Oaks Farm network is chilling,” the statement said.

Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey said in a statement Tuesday that four employees seen in the video have been fired and actions have been taken to prevent further abuse. A fifth person shown in the video was a third-party truck driver who was transporting calves, he said.

“As a veterinarian whose life and work is dedicated to the care, comfort and safety of all animals, this has affected me deeply,” McCloskey said. “I am disappointed for not being aware of this kind of awful treatment occurring, and I take full responsibility for what has happened. I also take full responsibility to correct and ensure that every employee understands, embraces and practices the core values on which our organization stands.”

A portion of the video also showed what appeared to be an employee using cocaine in a work vehicle on site, while other footage showed plants resembling cannabis being grown on the property.

McCloskey described the plants in his statement as an invasive perennial species.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Wednesday that it’s requested the names of the now-fired workers and the person who shot the footage. The agency said it would work with the county prosecutor’s office to determine if any criminal charges will be filed.

“We acknowledge the need for humane treatment of animals and the need to hold individuals that have gone beyond an acceptable farm management practice accountable for their actions,” the department said in its statement.

Source: fox10phoenix.com

National Dairy Shrine Announces 2019 Scholarship Recipients

The National Dairy Shrine is pleased to announce the recipients of the NDS scholarships for 2019. National Dairy Shrine will provide 40 scholarships worth $47,000 to students at their annual scholarship & awards banquet on Thursday, October 3rd in Madison, Wisconsin. This announcement highlights the scholarship winners so their friends and family can plan ahead to attend the NDS Awards Banquet. More detailed news releases on scholarship recipients will be published this summer as student recipient photos become available.

Kildee Scholarships

Receiving a H.H. Kildee Graduate Studies $3,000 Scholarship is Laura Jensen of Comstock, Wisconsin. Laura attended the University of Minnesota and will be entering graduate school at the University of Florida in dairy cattle reproduction and genetics.

Alexandra Gambonini of Petaluma, California, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the H.H. Kildee Undergraduate Studies $1000 Scholarship. She attended California Polytechnic State University and majored in Dairy Science and Agricultural Business.

Senior Student Recognition Scholarships

The NDS Senior Student Recognition program recognizes graduating seniors planning a career related to the dairy industry who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, academic ability, and a sincere interest in dairy cattle. Each university is allowed to nominate up to two candidates for this recognition in any given year. The highest honoree receives a $2000 award, the second a $1500 award and the other honorees receive $1000 awards.

The top scholarship recipient of $2000 is Alexandra Gambonini of Petaluma, Californiawho majored in Dairy Science and Agricultural Business at California Polytechnic State University. The second award of $1500 goes to Brooke Roberts of Whitelaw, Wisconsin. She is graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Agricultural Communication and Marketing. The next $1000 recipient is Erica Helmer from Plymouth, Wisconsin, who received a Dairy Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Then Abigail Jantzi from Clymer, New York, who majored in Animal Science at Penn State University. Following is Elisabeth Regusci from Modesto, California, who majored in Dairy Science at Cal Poly. The final senior recognition honoree is Katelyn Allen from Jefferson, Maryland who was a major in Dairy Science at Virginia Tech.

NDS / DMI Milk Marketing & Dairy Products Scholarships

These generous scholarships are made possible by Dairy Management Inc. and NDS to encourage students to pursue careers in dairy product or milk marketing, dairy product development and/or quality control or similar roles in the dairy & food industries.

Emily Annexstad of St Peter, Minnesota has been awarded the NDS / DMI Milk & Dairy Products top scholarship of $1500. Emily is an Animal Science and Agricultural Communications & Marketing double major at the University of Minnesota.

Additionally, three other undergraduate students have been awarded $1000 scholarships.

These scholarship recipients are Kathryn Gardner of Fayetteville, Arkansas who is majoring in Agricultural Communications and Agribusiness Marketing at the University of Arkansas. Ashley Warren of Watkins, Minnesota who is attending the University of Minnesota majoring in Agricultural Communications & Marketing. Next is, Samantha Schuessler of Antigo, Wisconsin who is attending Cal Poly and majoring in Dairy Science with an agricultural communications minor.

NDS/DMI Education & Communication Scholarships

These generous scholarships are made possible by Dairy Management Inc. and NDS to encourage students to pursue education or communication careers in the dairy product industry or related food industries. Major areas include Marketing, Education, Food Science, Nutrition (Human), Public Relations, Promotion, Social Media and Communications.

Erika Franzen-Ackerman of Frederika, Iowa has been awarded the NDS / DMI Education & Communication top scholarship of $1500. Erika is a Dairy Manufacturing major at South Dakota State University.

Additionally, three other undergraduate students have been awarded $1000 scholarships.

These $1000 recipients are: Meikah Dado of Amery, Wisconsin a Dairy Science and Life Sciences Communication double major at University of Wisconsin- Madison, Rachel Coyne of Spring Valley, Wisconsin, who attends the University of Minnesota and is double majoring in Agricultural Communication & Marketing and Animal Science, and Katherine Gathje from Richmond, Minnesota, who attends the University of Minnesota and is majoring in Agricultural Communication & Marketing.

Merton Sowerby Junior Merit Scholarships

The Merton Sowerby Junior Merit Scholarships are designed to encourage qualified undergraduate students to pursue careers in the dairy industry or related occupations. This scholarship is named in honor of National Dairy Hall of Fame Pioneer and Klussendorf recipient Merton Sowerby.

Emily Annexstad of St Peter, Minnesota has been awarded the top scholarship of $1500. Emily is an Animal Science and Agricultural Communications & Marketing double major at the University of Minnesota.

Additionally, five other undergraduate students have been awarded $1000 scholarships.

They are: Shoshana Brody from Baltimore, Maryland a major in Animal Science at Penn State University, Sarah Thomas of Pittsboro, North Carolina who is attending Virginia Tech majoring in Dairy Science, Sanne deBruijn of Vicksburg, Michigan who is attending South Dakota State University double majoring in Dairy Production and Dairy Manufacturing, Madeline Meyer of Ionia, Michigan who is attending Michigan State University and majoring in Animal Science, Lauren Heberling of Carsonville, Michiganwho is attending Michigan State University majoring in Agribusiness and Food Industry Management.

Mike Lancaster Sophomore Merit Scholarships

The Mike Lancaster Sophomore Merit Scholarships are designed to encourage qualified undergraduate students to pursue careers in the dairy industry or related occupations. This scholarship is named in honor of Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder and Klussendorf recipient Mike Lancaster.

Summer Henschel of Plymouth, Wisconsin has been awarded the top scholarship of $1500. Summer is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Dairy Science with a Pre-Vet Emphasis.

Additionally, six other sophomore students have been awarded $1000 scholarships.

They are: Kathryn Bosley of Malone, New York, who is majoring in Animal Science at SUNY Cobleskill, Kathryn Gardner of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who is attending the University of Arkansas double majoring in Agricultural Communications and Agribusiness Marketing, Lora Wright of Verona, Missouri, who is an Agribusiness Pre-Law major at Oklahoma State University, Madeline Zutz of Valders, Wisconsin who is a student at the University of Minnesota majoring in Animal Science Pre-Veterinary emphasis, Jessica Mehre of Glenbeulah, Wisconsin, majoring in Dairy Science and Agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Lindsey Sarbacker of Edgerton, Wisconsin who is attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison double majoring in Dairy Science and Life Sciences Communication.

Maurice Core Scholarships

These $1000 scholarships are given in honor of Maurice Core, the long-time Executive Secretary of the American Jersey Cattle Association, and former Executive Director of the National Dairy Shrine. The funds for this award were donated by the friends of Maurice Core. The Core Scholarships are given to freshman status students working toward a degree in dairy/animal science or related majors.

Receiving Maurice Core $1000 Scholarships are Jessica Schmitt of Fort Atkinson, Iowa, who is a student at Iowa State University majoring in Dairy Science & Agricultural Communications. Next is Hayley Fernandes from Tulare, California who is majoring in Dairy Science at Cal Poly, then Lantz Adams of Laton, California who is attending Cal Poly majoring in Dairy Science, next is Marie Haase of Somerset, Wisconsin who is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls majoring in Dairy Science. Then Brianna McBride of Severance, Colorado who is attending Iowa State University majoring in Dairy Science and Food Science Industry, next is Sarah Lehner of Delaware, Ohio who is a student at the Ohio State University majoring in Animal Science and Agribusiness Economics. The final recipient is Matthias Annexstad of St Peter, Minnesota, who is majoring in Animal Science at the University of Minnesota. All of these college freshmen have been excellent students and already very active in campus activities.

Iager Scholarship

The Iager Scholarship for $1000 is awarded annually to students in a two year agricultural school pursuing a career in the dairy industry. It is based on academic standing, leadership ability, interest in the dairy industry and plans for the future. This scholarship was started with a generous donation from the Charles and Judy Iager family of Fulton, Maryland.

The recipients this year are; Brock Irwin of Belvidere, Illinois, who is attending Kaskaskia College majoring in Dairy Science and Mary McGehee from Okeechobee, Florida who is attending Kaskaskia College and majoring in Dairy Science.

Marshall McCullough Communication Scholarships

The Marshall E. McCullough Scholarships are given in memory of Marshall McCullough, the well-respected nutrition researcher and educator from Georgia. This scholarship is presented to two high school seniors planning to attend a four-year college or university to major in an agricultural communications field.

Receiving the $2,000 McCullough scholarship is Ashley Hagenow of Poynette, Wisconsin. She plans to use this scholarship as she continues her education at the University of Minnesota, where she will major in Agricultural Communications and Marketing and in Animal Science. Receiving the $1500 McCullough scholarship is Kendra Waldenberger of Spring Grove, Minnesota. She will be majoring in Animal Science and Agricultural Communication & Marketing at the University of Minnesota. Both recipients seek a future role in mass communications as Dr McCullough desired.

The annual National Dairy Shrine Scholarship & Awards Banquet will be held in Madison, Wisconsin, on Thursday October 3rd at 5:30 PM. For more information about the students being recognized by National Dairy Shrine or tickets for the Awards Banquet, contact the NDS office at info@dairyshrine.org. Additional information on National Dairy Shrine membership or other activities is also available at www.dairyshrine.org. Dairy enthusiasts are encouraged to become a part of the most important dairy organization helping to inspire future dairy leaders, honor current & past dairy leaders and preserve dairy history.

 

Undercover video shows animal cruelty at Fair Oaks Farms, founder admits

A Florida-based animal welfare group released disturbing footage Tuesday of animal abuse at Fair Oaks Farms, located in northwest Indiana.

The farm is a popular tourist attraction off of I-65 between Indianapolis and Chicago, and offers tours of their dairy operations to visitors and student field trips.

The Animal Recovery Mission conducted an undercover investigation between August and November 2018 after one of their investigators was hired as a calf care employee at the Fair Oaks Farms Prairies Edge North Barn.

Undercover video captured employees throwing calves in and out of their huts, calves kicked and slammed to the ground, a worker sitting on top of a calf.

The investigator also witnessed calves being stabbed and beaten with steel rebars, hit in the mouth and face with hard plastic milking bottles, and faces and bodies burned with hot branding irons, according to the Animal Recovery Mission.

Read the full ARM report here .

The undercover worker was instructed, according to the report, to transport dead calves using back roads to a hidden dump area.

“At no time shall a tourist or tour bus see the workers disposing of the dead,” read the report. “This would hurt the image of the company.”

The group also alleges employees used marijuana and cocaine while working on the farm.

The report also alleges employees shot sick and injured cows, but did not shoot properly, which led to hours of pain and suffering before dying.

In the video, calves appear to be struggling to breath without receiving proper medical treatment.

Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey provided the following statement to RTV6 Tuesday in which he called the employees’ actions “despicable.”

“This morning I was made aware of an animal abuse video that the group Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) produced and has released to the public and the press. Most of the footage for this video was captured on one of the dairies that belongs to Fair Oaks Farms. While we were made aware a couple months ago of the fact that ARM had gone undercover at Fair Oaks Farms, and had proactively made a statement (link ), we had no idea what kind of footage had been captured or what – if any – abuse had occurred.

It is with great disappointment to find, after closely reviewing the released ARM video, that there were five individuals committing multiple instances of animal cruelty and despicable judgement. Of the five, four were our employees and one was a 3rd party truck driver who was picking up calves. Of the four who were our employees, three had already been terminated prior to us being made aware months ago of the undercover ARM operation, as they were identified by their co-workers as being abusive of our animals and reported to management. So, in this instance our policy of cow care training – “see something, say something” – worked. After reviewing the video frame-by-frame, those three employees are responsible for the overwhelming majority of offenses seen in this video.

Unfortunately, the fourth employee’s animal abuse was not caught at that same time. Although he underwent another training session in animal care when we discovered there was an undercover ARM operation on our farm, after viewing the extent of his animal abuse, he is being terminated today.

As to the individual who worked for the transportation company, today, we will notify the company that he works for and he will not be allowed on our farms again. It is our position that any companies that come in contact with transportation of our animals, should be well-versed in and adhere to our industry’s animal welfare practices which can be found in FARM ( https://nationaldairyfarm.com [nationaldairyfarm.com] ).

Months ago, when I first learned of the undercover activity, I requested a 3rd party review and we went through a re-training process throughout the dairies. While the review came back favorable, I am not letting my guard down and will institute more thorough monitoring and training so that this abuse can never happen again. This video and any future videos will be immediately handed over to the authorities for review and potential prosecution.

Regardless, I am disgusted by and take full responsibility for the actions seen in the footage, as it goes against everything that we stand for in regards to responsible cow care and comfort. The employees featured in the video exercised a complete and total disregard for the documented training that all employees go through to ensure the comfort, safety and well-being of our animals.

It is a shock and an eye-opener for us to discover that under our watch, we had employees who showed disregard for our animals, our processes and for the rule of law. This ARM video shines a light on an area that – despite our thorough training, employee onboarding procedures and overall commitment to animal welfare – needs improvement. However, as I have stated before, the fact that ARM takes months before notifying owners or authorities regarding on-going animal abuse is concerning. I have personally reached out to ARM’s founder, Richard Kudo, to discuss a more symbiotic relationship but he has yet to reach back.
A full investigation of all aspects of the video is underway, during and after which disciplinary action will be taken, including termination and criminal prosecution, of any and all employees and managers who have violated either our animal care practices or the law or both.

The statement that we grow and sell drugs on our farms is false. The plants featured in the video are an invasive perennial species that is rampant on farms all over the midwest. With that said, I am disappointed to learn of potential drug use on our properties. Months ago, the individual seen smoking by the barn and doing drugs in a truck was turned in by his co-workers to one of our managers. That manager notified local law enforcement about the drug use and, accordingly, a police report is on file.

It is with a heavy heart that I prepare this statement today.As a veterinarian whose life and work is dedicated to the care, comfort and safety of all animals, this has affected me deeply. I am disappointed for not being aware of this kind of awful treatment occurring and I take full responsibility for what has happened. I also take full responsibility to correct and ensure that every employee understands, embraces and practices the core values on which our organization stands.

I am and will continue to be deeply involved in the resolution of this matter, down to every one of our employees, so that I can guarantee that these actions never again occur on any of our farms.”

The evidence and report were sent to the Newtown County Sheriff’s Office for review.

“We are asking Fair Oaks Farms to leave with the calves with their mothers moving forward,” said ARM founder Richard Couto told RTV6. “They’re dying from not eating and want their mother’s udders.”

Couto said he’s also asking the farm to not send calves to veal operations.

Fair Oaks produces dairy products for the Fairlife milk brand, based in Chicago.

Call 6 Investigates sent an email to Fairlife Tuesday asking about the undercover video.

Couto said Fair Oaks Farms should sever its ties with Fairlife and the farm should get out of the milk industry entirely.

Call 6 Investigates reached out to the United States Department of Agriculture, and a spokesperson said they’re looking into the matter.

Source: The Indy Channel

Consumers warned about Listeria in raw goat milk from dairy in New York

State officials shut down raw milk operations at a dairy and issued a public warning this afternoon urging people to avoid unpasteurized, raw goat milk from Side Hill Acres because samples collected by inspectors returned positive results for Listeria contamination.

Consumers in Toiga County, NY, should be extra careful because the implicated dairy operation is in Candor, NY. As of the posting of the public warning today state officials had not received any confirmed reports of Listeria infections, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture. However, it can take up to 70 days for listeriosis symptoms to develop.

“A sample of the milk, collected by an inspector from the department, was discovered to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes,” according to the warning. “On May 31 the producer was notified of a preliminary positive test result.

“Further laboratory testing, completed on June 4 confirmed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the raw milk sample. The producer is now prohibited from selling raw milk until subsequent sampling indicates that the product is free of harmful bacteria.”

Anyone who bought or has been given raw goat milk from Side Hill Acres should “immediately dispose of it,” the state warning says. It also says there is no reason to drink unpasteurized milk, which has repeatedly been shown to carry multiple pathogens, parasites and viruses.

“Pasteurization is a process that heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time. Pasteurization kills the bacteria responsible for numerous illnesses and diseases such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis. Pasteurization of milk is recognized internationally as an effective means of preventing outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, including listeriosis,” according to the public warning.

Information about listeriosis
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any of the raw milk and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has consumed any of the unpasteurized milk should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop. 

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses. 

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth.

Source: foodsafetynews.com

Why ‘glass half-full’ people live more fulfilling lives

Everyone knows seeing a glass as half-full is associated with having an optimistic worldview, but does it hold up to the test?

A new study of 2,000 Americans found that people who view a glass as half-full not only think more optimistically, but it may line up with even more personality traits including decisiveness, playfulness, and creativity.

When viewing an image of a glass containing an equal amount of liquid and empty space, 58 percent of Americans felt that the glass was half-full, while 16 percent felt that it was half-empty (the remaining respondents were indecisive).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Borden Dairy for their optimism-inspired campaign, the new survey found that glass half-full thinkers, while being more optimistic, also tended to be more patient, more creative, more competitive, more adaptable and more playful than glass half-empty thinkers.

On the other hand, glass half-empty thinkers tended to be more laid-back, more introverted, more serious and more proud than their half-full counterparts. Oddly enough, glass half-empty thinkers don’t always self-identify as pessimists. In fact, nearly half (48 percent) of glass half-empty types believe they’re more optimistic than pessimistic.

When faced with personal setbacks, glass half-full respondents have an easier time quickly finding the silver lining. Nearly half of all respondents (46 percent) report that they’re trying to be more positive day-to-day.

Glass half-full thinkers might be more optimistic because they allow more time for fun – respondents who think more positively reported having two more better than average days a month than those who see things as being half empty (11 days vs. 9 days). Glass half-full thinkers also report spending approximately seven more hours a week on their hobbies than glass half-empty respondents.

The survey results revealed they’re also more likely to drink milk, compared to their glass half-empty counterparts.

“Breakfast is the top occasion for milk, and we wanted to see how taking the time to start your morning with breakfast may influence your outlook the rest of the day. It is delightful to confirm that milk drinkers are, indeed, more often glass half-full thinkers,” said Borden Chief Marketing Officer Joe DePetrillo. “This spirit is captured in Borden’s new marketing campaign and tagline – Glass Half-Full Since 1857 – which highlights the pure joy and optimism of Borden consumers.”

Whole milk and chocolate milk drinkers agree: A great morning includes drinking coffee, getting enough sleep and showering.

Glass half-full thinkers are 39 percent more likely to self-identify as a morning person, although the majority of both groups of respondents believe great days start with great mornings.

Both groups get about six hours of sleep, press snooze once, drink coffee (approximately 66 percent take it with milk), and prefer light breakfasts of cereal to heavier breakfasts.

“As we head into National Dairy Month, it’s good to remind both ‘glass half-full’ and ‘glass half-empty’ thinkers that drinking milk in the morning brings significant benefits,” said DePetrillo. “With a quick bowl of cereal and glass of milk, you get a kick start to the day with a great source of protein, Vitamin D, potassium and, of course, calcium – nutrients that many Americans are currently lacking.”

 

Source: NY Post

A new vision for genomics in animal agriculture

Iowa State University researchers are part of a team that designed a new vision for animal genomics research into the next decade. The blueprint they created could help scientists and farmers meet the needs of a growing global population while improving livestock welfare and production.

The blueprint, published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Genetics, drew on insight from personnel at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Iowa State and other institutions to identify areas of inquiry where USDA should direct research funds through 2027 concerning animal genomics, or the study of an organism’s full set of DNA. The research priorities outlined in the document have the potential to improve efficiency in animal agriculture, said James Reecy, ISU associate vice president for research and a professor of animal science.

Reecy, who co-authored the new blueprint, said the effort updates an earlier document that set the tone for genomics research during the previous decade. That effort also relied on ISU expertise.

The blueprint was developed during two Maryland workshops that drew leading animal genomics scientists from the U.S. and Canada. Their work product will guide how USDA funds research internally through its Agriculture Research Service, and externally through its National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Iowa State supported the workshops through a NIFA grant.

“In the grand scheme, what the group is advocating for are priorities that will move the livestock industry to meet the protein needs of the world going forward,” Reecy said.

Genomic technology took great strides in the last decade, but the blueprint calls for further progress that accounts for how other factors can work with genomics to improve production, he said. Future research should help livestock producers — particularly in the pork, beef, poultry and aquaculture industries — more accurately predict how their operations will perform based on a range of variables.

“We want to predict how environmental variation and management practices affect production as well,” he said. “We want to know how genotype, production and environment interact with one another. That’s the next step.”

The blueprint predicts genomic technologies will play an increasingly central role in global livestock production.

“Ultimately, animal genome technologies will become part of mainstream agricultural production strategies used to improve animal health, well-being, production efficiency and product quality in ways that meet the demands of growing global populations,” the document concludes.

ISU involvement

Iowa State’s role in guiding animal genomics research dates back to National Research Sponsored Program 8, an effort to coordinate genomic research that led to the first USDA blueprint from 2008 to 2017. Max Rothschild, a Distinguished Professor of animal science and Ensminger Endowed Chair of International Agriculture, was a founding coordinating member of National Research Sponsored Program 8.

ISU scientists from a range of disciplines have turned their attention to transferring some of the innovations made in crop genomics to livestock. The ISU Office of the Vice President for Research launched an initiative to bring together interdisciplinary researchers at Iowa State to address precision livestock farming, which will lean heavily on breakthroughs in animal genomics. Iowa State hosted a precision livestock farming workshop last December that gathered some of the world’s leading experts in the field.

Reecy said ISU scientists are studying innovative sensors and bioinformatics technology that could have new uses in animal agriculture, health and food science. All of this work points toward a new frontier for livestock producers. Advances will allow them to choose production methods that work in concert with animal genomics and environmental factors to improve productivity, animal welfare and reliability while also leading to better products for consumers.

“We want livestock production to become a truly predictive science,” Reecy said.

 

Source: Science Daily

Federal judge sides with dairy in human trafficking lawsuit

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by six Mexican veterinarians who say they were recruited to be animal scientists at an Idaho dairy but were instead forced to work as laborers.

U.S. District Judge David Nye said that while Funk Dairy Inc. managers used intimidating language in talking to the workers once they arrived in Murtaugh, Idaho, their actions didn’t rise to the level of forcing the veterinarians to work.

In the lawsuit, veterinarians Cesar Martinez-Rodriguez, Dalia Padilla-Lopez, Mayra Munoz-Lara, Brenda Gastelum-Sierra, Leslie Ortiz-Garcia and Ricardo Neri-Camacho claimed that their employers exploited their fear, inability to speak English, and unfamiliarity with the American legal system to force them to stay at the dairy from 2014 to 2015. They said they were denied meal breaks, were given substandard housing and spent 12-hour days shoveling manure and milking cows rather than overseeing animal health and reproduction programs as promised.

They also said they were threatened with deportation if they didn’t do their assigned work well.

But the judge said the comments made to the veterinarians about removal to Mexico weren’t threats but rather statements of law: If they stopped working for the dairy, the U.S. would have the right to revoke their work visa status and send them back to Mexico.

The attorney representing the veterinarians, Edgar Ivan Aquilasocho, could not be immediately reached for comment.

David Claiborne, the attorney representing Funk Dairy, owner David Funk and manager Curtis Giles, also could not be immediately reached by the Associated Press for comment. He told the Capital Press in Salem, Oregon, last week that the court’s dismissal of the lawsuit was a good outcome and that his clients always believed they’d done everything by the book, in accordance with state and federal law.

In court documents, Claiborne said the workers did do veterinary work in addition to some manual labor, and that while managers expected the employees to work hard, they were free to choose where they lived, where they traveled and whether they wanted to continue working at the dairy or not.

The judge agreed, saying there wasn’t evidence of force.

“This is most strikingly evidenced by two facts: first, that three of the Plaintiffs quit during their tenure with Funk Dairy because they were dissatisfied with their employment; and second, that Funk Dairy terminated the remaining three employees because they were dissatisfied with their work performance,” Nye wrote in the May 20 ruling. “If Funk Dairy was truly forcing Plaintiffs to perform labor, they would not have allowed three Plaintiffs to quit, nor terminated three Plaintiffs themselves.”

Nye also said the terms of the work agreement – including the scope of the jobs, amount of pay, option for bonuses, paid vacation, and assistance with travel and housing costs – were never put in writing.

“At the least, the issues raised are disagreements about job duties, employment obligations, or expectations, and at the most they are employment, contract, or discrimination claims, but none of the testimony rises to the level of federal trafficking or forced labor,” the judge wrote.

Source: spokesman.com

Plant-based products threaten Florida’s dairy farmers


Dairy farmer Dale McClellan has watched milk products evolve over the years.

His company, M&B Products sells cow’s milk to hospitals and schools across Florida.

“We sell from Leon County all the way to Dade County. We sell from Pinellas County over to Osceola County,” said McClellan.

But non-dairy competitors are increasingly popular.

“The industry is evolving and, in my opinion, some ways for the worst. We had 350 dairy farms in the state of Florida. We’re down to 79 now,” said McClellan.

Continue reading below

According to Nielsen research, sales of traditional cow’s milk declined 6% last year while sales of plant-based alternatives went up 9%. McClellan feels some of that is due to misinformation.

“We have a lot of ads out there telling people that a lot of plant-based products are better than milk and there’s nothing farther from the truth,” said McClellan.

“They’re trying to taste like milk and look like milk but they’re not,” added said Andrea McClellan, the general manager of M&B products.

Tampa General Hospital registered dietician Meghann Scholl says she thinks cow’s milk products will never disappear. She believes both products have positives.

“The plant-based milks will provide you lots of fiber, plant-based vitamins and minerals, plant-based protein, so it’s a good addition to someone’s diet for just general health and well-being. Your cow’s milk gives you a lot more nutrition bang-for-your-buck when you’re talking about the amount of nutrients and the quality of those nutrients,” explained Scholl.

Dale McClellan hopes the dairy industry rallies to fight for its future before the next Florida dairy farm disappears for good.

“We need to represent ourselves. We have a good product. It’s nature’s most perfect food and it needs to be said,” said McClellan.

Source: fox13news.com

Brazil reports atypical case of mad cow disease

The Brazilian government reported on Friday a case of atypical mad cow disease in an animal in Mato Grosso state, according to a statement from the country’s Agriculture Ministry.

The ministry said the case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was detected in a 17-year-old cow. It said it collected the necessary material for tests and incinerated all other parts of the cow.

“No part of the animal entered the food chain, there are no risks for the population,” the statement said.

The case was considered “atypical” as the animal contracted the BSE protein spontaneously, rather than through the feed supply. Classical cases of mad cow are caused when cattle are fed brain or spinal tissue of other ruminants, which is now forbidden in nearly all beef producing countries including Brazil.

Source: reuters.com

Trump’s tariffs: What are they? How do they work?

a worker stacks a box of freshly harvested Chiquita bananas to be exported, at a farm in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas state, Mexico. President Donald Trump plans to impose 5% tariffs on Mexican imports starting June 10 and to ratchet them up to 25% by Oct. 1 if the Mexicans don’t do more to stop the surge of Central American migrants across the southern U.S. border. (Marco Ugarte, File/Associated Press)

President Donald Trump has once again turned to tariffs to try to get his way with a U.S. trading partner.

This time, the target is Mexico: Trump plans to impose 5% tariffs on Mexican imports starting June 10 and to ratchet them up to 25% by Oct. 1 if the Mexicans don’t do more to stop the surge of Central American migrants across the southern U.S. border.

Tariffs have become one of Trump’s favorite policy tools. The president, who calls himself “a Tariff Man,” has slapped the levies on imported steel, aluminum, dishwashers and solar panels. He’s also imposed them on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods in a dispute over China’s aggressive campaign to challenge American technological dominance. And he’s planning to extend tariffs to the $300 billion worth of Chinese imports that he hasn’t already targeted.

Before Trump, tariffs had long been fading into history, a relic of the 19th and early 20th centuries when nations tended to focus on keeping imports out and exporting as much as they could.

More than any other modern president, Trump has embraced tariffs as a punitive tool — against Europe, Canada and other key trading partners but especially against China , the second-largest economy after the U.S.

Here’s a look at what tariffs are and how they work.

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Q: ARE WE IN A TRADE WAR?

Economists have no set definition of a trade war. But with the world’s two largest economies now slapping potentially punishing tariffs on each other, it looks as if a trade war has arrived. All told, Trump has threatened to hit as much as $550 billion worth of China’s exports to the U.S. with punitive tariffs. That’s more than the $506 billion in goods that China shipped to the United States last year.

It’s not uncommon for countries — even close allies — to fight over trade in specific products. The United States and Canada, for example, have squabbled for decades over softwood lumber.

But the U.S. and China are fighting over much broader issues, like China’s requirements that American companies share advanced technology to access China’s market, and the overall U.S. trade deficit with China. So far, neither side has shown any sign of bending.

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Q: SO WHAT ARE TARIFFS?

Tariffs are a tax on imports. They’re typically charged as a percentage of the transaction price that a buyer pays a foreign seller.

In the United States, tariffs — also called duties or levies — are collected by Customs and Border Protection agents at 328 ports of entry across the country. Proceeds go to the Treasury. The tariff rates are published by the U.S. International Trade Commission in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, which lists U.S. tariffs on everything from dried plantains (1.4 percent) to parachutes (3 percent).

Sometimes, the U.S. will impose additional duties on foreign imports that it determines are being sold at unfairly low prices or are being supported by foreign government subsidies.

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Q: DO OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE HIGHER TARIFFS THAN THE UNITED STATES?

Most key U.S. trading partners do not have significantly higher average tariffs. According to an analysis by Greg Daco at Oxford Economics, U.S. tariffs on imported goods, adjusted for trade volumes, average 2.4 percent, above Japan’s 2 percent and just below the 3 percent for the European Union and 3.1 percent for Canada.

The comparable figures for Mexico and China are higher: Both have higher duties that top 4 percent.

Trump has complained about the 270 percent duty that Canada imposes on dairy products. But the United States has its own ultra-high tariffs — 168 percent on peanuts and 350 percent on tobacco.

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Q: WHAT ARE TARIFFS SUPPOSED TO ACCOMPLISH?

Two things: Raise government revenue and protect domestic industries from foreign competition. Before the establishment of the federal income tax in 1913, tariffs were a big money raiser for the U.S. government. From 1790 to 1860, for example, they produced 90 percent of federal revenue, according to “Clashing Over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy” by Douglas Irwin, an economist at Dartmouth College. By contrast, last year tariffs accounted for only about 1 percent of federal revenue.

In the fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30, the U.S. government collected $34.6 billion in customs duties and fees. The White House Office of Management and Budget expects tariffs to fetch $40.4 billion this year.

Tariffs also are meant to increase the price of imports or to punish foreign countries for committing unfair trade practices, like subsidizing their exporters and dumping their products at unfairly low prices. Tariffs discourage imports by making them more expensive. They also reduce competitive pressure on domestic competitors and can allow them to raise prices.

Tariffs fell out of favor as global trade expanded after World War II.

The formation of the World Trade Organization and the advent of trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement among the U.S., Mexico and Canada reduced tariffs or eliminated them altogether.

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Q: WHY ARE TARIFFS MAKING A COMEBACK?

After years of trade agreements that bound the countries of the world more closely and erased restrictions on trade, a populist backlash has grown against globalization. This was evident in Trump’s 2016 election and the British vote that year to leave the European Union — both surprise setbacks for the free-trade establishment.

Critics note that big corporations in rich countries exploited looser rules to move factories to China and other low-wage countries, then shipped goods back to their wealthy home countries while paying low tariffs or none at all. Since China joined the WTO in 2001, the United States has shed 3.1 million factory jobs, though many economists attribute much of that loss not just to trade but to robots and other technologies that replace human workers.

Trump campaigned on a pledge to rewrite trade agreements and crack down on China, Mexico and other countries. He blames what he calls their abusive trade policies for America’s persistent trade deficits — $566 billion last year. Most economists, by contrast, say the deficit simply reflects the reality that the United States spends more than it saves. By imposing tariffs, he is beginning to turn his hard-line campaign rhetoric into action.

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Q: ARE TARIFFS A WISE POLICY?

Most economists — Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro is a notable exception — say no. The tariffs drive up the cost of imports. And by reducing competitive pressure, they give U.S. producers leeway to raise their prices, too. That’s good for those producers — but bad for almost everyone else.

Rising costs especially hurt consumers and companies that rely on imported components. Some U.S. companies that buy steel are complaining that Trump’s tariffs put them at a competitive disadvantage. Their foreign rivals can buy steel more cheaply and offer their products at lower prices.

More broadly, economists say trade restrictions make the economy less efficient. Facing less competition from abroad, domestic companies lose the incentive to increase efficiency or to focus on what they do best.

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Animated explainer on trade disputes:

Source: washingtonpost.com

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