Here are a few things I found and some of the stories they’re reading at the National Farmers Union from this week:
Cincy meat company recalls ground beef
Two local residents were sent to the hospital after eating tainted beef.
The incident sparked a voluntary recall of 72,800 pounds of beef from the Cincinnati-based distributor J.B. Meats.
According to Mark Wordeman, owner of J. B. Meats, the product was sold to restaurants in the Cincinnati area. He said the 10 to 12 restaurants he supplies have been notified and are no longer using the meat. He also tells FOX19 the E. coli did not come from his business and most likely came from a slaughter house.
Wordeman asked all restaurants who have purchased ground beef and ground beef patties from them between August 18, 2010 and August 18, 2011 to stop serving the meat. The Ohio Department of Agriculture says some of the beef is possibly infected with E. coli. Each clear plastic bag and label have the establishment number “est. 1188” within the Department of Agriculture’s mark of inspection.
Brown announces new resource for clean energy
Two Darke County businesses are among 900 agricultural producers and rural small businesses across the country that have been awarded resources to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in their operations. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that 4-E, Inc. and DBA M&M Petrol & Pantry were awarded $13,850 in new federal resources to develop a flexible fuel pump in Darke County. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Rural Energy for America Program helps to increase the production and use of renewable energy sources in the United States to reduce America’s dependence on foreign energy sources.
“Agriculture and energy innovation are critical to Ohio’s long-term economic development,” Brown said. “Growing Ohio’s clean energy economy in small towns and rural areas like Ansonia help to create jobs while reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Developing clean energy will put Ohio communities at the forefront of the innovation and energy independence that America needs to out-compete the rest of the world.”
USDA announces ‘historic’ school nutrition improvements
US Department of Agriculture under secretary Kevin Concannon has hosted a conference call to highlight the historic school nutrition reforms and improvements that students and families will see in the new school year.
The reforms, delivered through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, are improving the nutritional quality of school meals and bolstering the entire school environment.
USDA inspectors to enforce humane treatment of animals
Meat inspectors at federally regulated plants that slaughter animals got new instructions for humane treatment of animals.
Announced by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the rules go into effect on Sept. 15.
The directive on enforcement of humane handling codifies changes made in the last few years to ensure that animals going to slaughter are treated properly.
The new version, which FSIS says is going to require additional training for meat inspectors, includes a definition for “egregious inhumane handling” of animals — “any act or condition that results in severe harm to animals, which includes the excessive beating or prodding of disabled livestock, stunning animals and allowing them to regain consciousness, or any treatment causing unnecessary pain and suffering.”
Congress looks for ways to help farmers
With a gallon of milk costing as much as or more than a gallon of gasoline this summer, a consumer scanning the supermarket shelves might think the situation is a cash cow for dairy farmers.
In reality, it isn’t. As the price of milk hovers around $4 a gallon, dairy farmers nationwide still are struggling with the aftermath of what’s dubbed the Great Dairy Recession.
“For a young guy starting out in dairy farming, it’s tough,” said Jim Heckman, a farmer in Walker Township, Pa., who sold his dairy herd in May. “I wish them the best of luck, but I don’t think they’ll make it.”
While milk prices have rebounded since 2009, feed prices have stayed high, and farmers now are just breaking even, though many of them remain heavily in debt.
MN Rep. Peterson questions federal biofuels plan
Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota’s senior congressman fears the Obama administration has fired a shot over the ethanol industry’s bow in seeking a home-grown fuel for the Navy.
“I think that is a big a problem,” said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, who serves most of western Minnesota. “It is just another competition for us in ethanol that we don’t need really.”
Peterson, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said in an interview that the plan administration officials announced this week probably will not work and threatens Minnesota’s 21 ethanol plants.
Corn belt ‘badly’ needs rain
The middle third of the Corn Belt, in an area running from the northwest to the southeast, is an area that remains badly in need of rainfall given that most of that region has seen very little rain so far this month…or longer.
As I have noted here on several occasions, one has to go back to June 27 to find the last time that much of central Illinois and nearby areas has seen a good soaking rain, and during that period (now 52 days in length) I note that rainfall totals at Indianapolis, Champaign, Decatur, Springfield, and Quincy are all under 25 percent of normal. Late June and the first half of July found good rains falling in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, but over the last 30 days that area has also turned very dry with rainfall in that period under 20 percent of normal at Rochester, Mason City, Spencer, and Redwood Falls.
Ethanol industry weighs new strategy
The ethanol industry is preparing itself for life after federal subsidies.
Key tax credits that pay blenders for using the renewable fuel are set to expire at the end of 2011. At a cost to taxpayers of about $6 billion a year, there seems to be no political will to extend them.
In fact, one proposal to extend some subsidies died last week when Congress left Washington without taking action.
That will likely mean higher prices at the pump for ethanol blends, which will prompt ethanol producers to consider new ways of marketing their fuel and to seek more politically palatable forms of government support.
Process quickly estimates ethanol yields
U.S. government researchers say they’ve developed an inexpensive way to grade the ethanol potential of perennial grasses right at a biorefinery’s loading dock.
Scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture say the process involves the first use of near-infrared sensing to measure 20 components in switchgrass biomass to determine its potential value to biorefiners, a USDA release said Thursday.
These measurements include cell wall sugars, soluble sugars and lignin, and can reveal 13 traits of the sampled material, including the efficiency of the conversion from sugars to ethanol.
Environmental groups want to strip Iowa DNR of water rules enforcement power
The Des Moines Register
Three environmental activist groups on Thursday began legal action they hope will strip the Iowa Department of Natural Resources of its power to enforce federal water quality rules.
The national nonprofit Environmental Integrity Group joined the Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement in filing a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Farm bill debate well underway
Cattle Drovers Network – Colin Woodall
2012 Farm Bill discussions are well underway. In fact, I suspect words will begin to appear in writing a lot sooner than most of us originally expected. We are hearing that congressional leaders may begin drafting a farm bill this fall. As policy makers work on crafting a farm bill that represents a whole host of interests, while also cutting spending, NCBA is working to ensure cattlemen get a fair shake.
A fair shake doesn’t mean taxpayer dollars. What I am talking about is common sense principles that don’t end up hurting cattlemen when all is said and done. As well intended as it may have been, the livestock title, which was added during the last farm bill, has certainly done more harm than good. In fact, it has basically opened the door for big government to set up shop on family farms and ranches. For good reasons, NCBA members have instructed us to do everything we can do to strike or reduce the livestock title in the 2012 Farm Bill. We are preparing to do just that.