Federal Guidelines Call for More Beef

 

Beef Producers Asked To Submit Public Comments

By Rick Worthington with AgInfo.net

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) announced the launch of a nationwide campaign on July 22 to encourage cattle producers to submit public comments supporting beef’s role in updated federal dietary guidelines.

Americans have until Aug. 13 to submit official comments as the USDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) work to finalize the 2020-2025 guidelines.

“Study after study shows that beef plays an important role in a balanced, healthy diet across the lifespan,” said Marty Smith, president of NCBA. “NCBA has made it a priority to protect the scientific credibility of Dietary Guidelines and promote accurate information about the nutritional advantages of beef as part of a balanced diet.”

Along with making comments, NCBA plans to reach out to cattle producers via e-mail, text messages, social media and traditional media outlets between now and the deadline. It will also start the Twitter campaign of #BenefitsofBeef.

2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00August 6th, 2020|

GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH INTO WORKING LANDSCAPES

Protecting California rangeland provides $1 billion in ecosystem services annually, according to new study

(SACRAMENTO) – Working lands conservation by California’s largest land trust annually provides between $900 million to $1.44 billion in environmental benefits — including habitat, carbon sequestration, food and watersheds, according to a new study released today.

The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s conservation easements across the state to explore both the environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s open spaces.

“This study demonstrates the importance of caring for and stewarding California’s land, so that it can serve our communities in return,” said California Rangeland Trust CEO Michael Delbar. “Conserving the state’s open spaces and rangelands isn’t just about ranching. It’s about investing in environmental services that will benefit Californians now and into the future.”

Employing a comprehensive literature review of ecosystem services and a global average of the monetary value of environmental services per acre, the study reports conservation easements—an agreement between a landowner and a qualified land trust regarding the future uses of private property—return up to $3.47 for every dollar invested under current zoning requirements, further emphasizing the long-term benefits of land conservation.

“Our research found there is immense economic value in ecosystem services provided to society through rangeland conservation,” said Lynn Huntsinger, professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley. “The study further underscores how protecting California’s working landscapes provides us with food, clean water, fire protection and many more vital benefits.”

Since 1984, more than 1.4 million acres of land in California have been converted from agricultural to other uses—78 percent of which has been lost to urban development.

The study’s findings estimate that conservation efforts by California Rangeland Trust provide ecosystem services valued at more than $236 million in food and $13.9 million in water annually. Similarly, California Rangeland Trust’s conservation supports $250.6 million in the maintenance of biodiversity, nearly $100 million in habitat lifecycle production, and $28.5 million in recreation opportunities annually to the state.

“The data is clear – conserving rangeland is a smart investment as Californians look for ways to protect our environment,” said Delbar.

Using conservation easements as a tool, the California Rangeland Trust seeks to balance against the demands of urban and land use planning and ensure local food, water, and habitat security in communities across the state.

The California Rangeland Trust is an organization by and for ranchers committed to preserving California’s open spaces and supporting cleaner, healthier communities for Californians. The Trust has permanently protected more than 340,000 acres of land in California since 1998 through conservation easements.

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The California Rangeland Trust, a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, was created to conserve the open space, natural habitat and stewardship provided by California’s ranches. To date, the Rangeland Trust has protected more than 342,815 Acres of productive grazing lands across the state through the use of conservation easements. For more information, visit www.rangelandtrust.org.

2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00August 4th, 2020|

UCCE advisor’s Breadth of Experience and Education Support Ranchers’ Economic Viability

By Jeannette Warnert, UCANR Communications Specialist

Livestock and natural resources advisor Dan Macon came to UC Cooperative Extension three years ago with much more than a formal education in integrated resource management and agricultural and managerial economics.

He had years of hands-on experience running a successful foothill sheep operation, toiling long days and often into the night tending animals, irrigating pastures, training livestock guardian dogs and managing forage.

“I came to this position mid-career,” said Macon, who also accumulated skills working for a family auction company and in various capacities for the California Cattlemen’s Association, the California Rangeland Trust and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The love of a rural lifestyle prompted his family to purchase a small ranch in Auburn to raise sheep 15 years ago. Natural communication skills led Macon to become respected local blogger at Foothill Agrarian and, eventually, a social media influencer with nearly 2,000 followers on Instagram @flyingmule.

When Macon bought his ranch, he needed help dealing with invasive Himalayan blackberries. He called Roger Ingram, the UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor in Placer and Nevada counties from 1997 to 2017.

“Roger helped me take care of the problem,” Macon said. “Following his recommendation, I bought goats and they grazed the blackberries into submission. Now the grass can out-compete the invasive plants. We’ve turned the area into grassland.”

Macon began volunteering for UC Cooperative Extension by teaching fellow ranchers about his experiences raising sheep, managing rangeland and raising and training livestock guardian dogs. Macon was a presenter at Ingram’s annual California Multi-Species Browsing Academy.

“I finally recognized that the parts of my earlier jobs that I most enjoyed involved things I’d be doing on a daily basis as a farm advisor – teaching and research,” Macon said. He earned a master’s degree from Colorado State University and applied to succeed Ingram after his retirement. Macon also took on the role in Sutter and Yuba counties, succeeding Glenn Nader.

Livestock production in the Sierra Nevada foothills ranks among the top five agricultural commodities. Economic viability is a major issue. Macon’s research and extension program is focused on ranch economics and business management, drought resilience, predator-livestock coexistence and irrigated pasture management.

At the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center in Browns Valley, Macon is conducting research that will help ranchers make decisions about maintaining a cattle herd when faced with impending drought. Even when the weather forecast is dry and forage isn’t growing at a sufficient pace, ranchers can be reluctant to sell off their cattle.

“Science tells us you shouldn’t try to feed your way out of a drought,” Macon said. “Ranchers want everything to stay the same. They want to maintain their genetic potential and keep cows that are familiar with the area.”

The research will compare cows weaned on a traditional weaning schedule with others that are weaned early.

“The cattle will be out on the range from March to early September under different parameters,” Macon said. “We’re also tying in economics, the value of genetic potential and the value of having cows who know the landscape.”

Macon is securing funding to conduct research on livestock guardian dogs in different production settings. Using low-cost GPS technology developed at New Mexico State University, Macon plans to study the relationship between dogs, predators and livestock in terms of space and time.

“One unknown is whether they displace predators or disrupt predatory behavior,” Macon said.

Macon uses livestock guardian dogs on his ranch and will be able to draw on his own experiences in designing the study. He recently wrote a fact sheet on guardian dog selection with UCCE human-wildlife interaction advisor Carolyn Whitesell.

“We’ve had great success with our guardian dogs,” he said. “But not everyone has that level of success. Using scientific tools like remote sensing and GPS technology will give us more details about wildlife-guardian dog-livestock interactions.”

During this year’s shelter-in-place, Macon has become more creative in reaching out with scientific ranching information. He and large-scale sheep producer Ryan Mahoney of Rio Vista created a weekly podcast, “Sheep Stuff Ewe Should Know.” Early episodes cover such topics as risk management, the effects of COVID-19 on the sheep industry and livestock guardian dogs. The podcast is available on Spotify and other mobile podcast apps.

Macon developed a new bi-weekly webinar series, “Working Rangeland Wednesday,” with UCCE specialist Leslie Roche and UC Davis graduate student Grace Woodmansee. Recordings are posted on YouTube.

Traditional, one-on-one farm calls are also a part of Macon’s extension program. He conducts five or six a month. Even so, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Macon to begin remote advising. Soon after Gov. Newsom’s shelter-in-place order was issued, Macon got a call from a woman whose ewes had recently given birth.

“She thought the lambs weren’t doing well and wondered what she could do,” Macon said. “We both had Facetime, so I asked her to show me what the sheep looked like. I was able to assure her that things were normal and suggested bottle feeding. I talked to her several times over the next couple of days, and she was able to save the lambs.”

Most queries from local ranchers center on pasture or grass management, species composition, fencing, paddock design and animal husbandry. Last year, ranchers called with blue oaks suddenly and inexplicably dying on their land.

“The trees had no visible injuries. Ranchers were wondering if it was a lingering effect of drought or due to habitat fragmentation,” Macon said.

Macon contacted UC Cooperative Extension plant pathology specialist Matteo Garbelotto, a UC Berkeley-based tree disease expert. The scientists collected scorched leaves, wood samples and soil near the trunks of the dead or dying trees. They found evidence of fungi Botryosphaeria corticola and B. dothidea in wood chips collected at breast height. However, blue oak is not an official host for the two pathogens in the USDA fungus-host database.

The researchers believe that recent droughts and climate change may be causing an increased and widespread susceptibility of blue oaks or that an unknown pathogen may be increasing the susceptibility of blue oak to the canker disease. The progress made in solving these mysterious blue oak deaths was published in the most recent California Agriculture journal and will be the subject of continuing investigations in the future by Macon and his colleagues.

 

2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00July 30th, 2020|

A Decisive Victory for Small Dairy Farms in California

“This ruling ends a cynical back door attempt to illegally take assets from dairy farmers.” – Niall McCarthy, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy 

SACRAMENTO CA—A decisive victory for small family dairy farms was won this week in what has been called a civil war in the California dairy industry.  In a proceeding before The California Department of Food and Agriculture, Administrative Law Judge Timothy J. Aspinwall issued a much-awaited decision on a petition that could have put hundreds of California family dairy farms out of business.  Fortunately for those farms, the administrative law judge ruled that the petition, which sought to eliminate California’s milk quota system was “not legally valid” and recommends that Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross deny the petition in its entirety.

 
The petition sought to terminate the 50-year-old California milk quota system—a huge asset for the California dairy industry that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and owned by most of the state’s dairy farms, especially smaller family-run farms.  The decision is a huge win for California dairy farms that have invested their revenue to purchase quota, and whose survival hung in the balance.  As dozens of farmers testified at the hearing in June, terminating quota would have robbed them of their and their families’ decades of hard work seized one of their most valuable assets without paying them any compensation, forced them out of business, resulting in huge lay-offs, and thrown the state’s dairy industry into financial chaos.  Examples of the testimony are:
 
Terminating quota would be “financially catastrophic” and is a “matter of life or death for our dairy.”  Maia Cipponeri, a fourth-generation dairy farmer from Merced County
 
“If quota were suddenly terminated, I would be immediately plunged into severe debt that I could not pay . . . . In addition to financial ruin, this would ruin my son’s dream of continuing the family of California dairymen.” – Frank Borges, a third-generation dairy farmer from San Joaquin County
 
A group of farmers who successfully opposed the petition throughout these proceedings were represented by the law firm of Cotchett, Pitre, and McCarthy, LLP.
 
“This ruling ends a cynical back door attempt to illegally take assets from dairy farmers.” – Niall McCarthy, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy
 
Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy engages exclusively in litigation and trials and has earned a national reputation for its dedication to prosecuting or defending socially just actions. To learn more about the firm, visit www.cpmlegal.com.
2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00July 29th, 2020|

Genomic Testing for Healthier Dairy Herds

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

Dairy health is of the utmost importance to the long term profitability of producers like Simon Vander Woude of Vander Woude Dairy in Merced.

Vander Woude… “I’m a huge believer in DWP, I mean, we were one of the early adopters of that.”

The Dairy Wellness Profit Index® (DWP) is based on traits that affect health, performance and profit in both cows and calves to achieve more of their full potential. Vander Woude uses genomic testing to ensure the healthiest herd possible.

Vander Woude… “It makes a big difference in the bottom line. We’re not producing for trophies. I’m not producing to have the highest producing herd. The overall health of the herd is what really feeds into bottom line profitability when the day is over. A healthier herd is going to be more profitable. A low that low somatics, it goes through the entire value of that cow from breeding to conversions to her milking longevity and all those sorts of things. They all kind of tie together.”

Vander Woude and other dairy producers are excited about the future of producing more milk with healthier cows through genomic testing.

2021-05-12T11:17:07-07:00July 10th, 2020|

UCANR’s Deanne Meyer Honored

Meyer receives Bradford-Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach

Deanne Meyer, UC Cooperative Extension Livestock Waste Management Specialist, is this year’s recipient of the Eric Bradford & Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award, given by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis. 

Meyer is being honored for her leadership in substantially improving the sustainability of California’s dairy industry through her research and outreach.

The Bradford-Rominger award recognizes and honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist. 

Meyer has directed the environmental stewardship efforts of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP)—a voluntary partnership between the dairy industry, government and academia—since the program’s inception in 1996. 

Meyer’s dedication to build a bridge between industry and regulatory agencies has paid dividends for California’s air and water quality. With Meyer’s leadership, more than 700 dairy farms have completed an on-site, third-party evaluation of their facility’s manure management. The program has been so successful that it received California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, in 2007. 

Reflecting on Meyer’s work, Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said, “Serving as chair of California’s Water Quality Task Force in the mid-1990s, I had a front row seat to the challenges Deanne faced as she organized CDQAP and brought many unlikely allies to the table. The many successes of that program is a testament to her skills as both a scientist and a diplomat.”

Beyond Meyer’s work with CDQAP, her research in groundwater salinity has provided farmers, agency staff and other concerned stakeholders with unbiased information presented with an understanding of agricultural realities.

“Her efforts, leadership, and dedication are so valued by all the diverse sectors she works across,” said Anita Oberbauer, professor and dean for Agricultural Sciences at UC Davis. “By working closely with regulatory agencies and farmers, she ensures our state’s livestock and dairy producers have the tools that they need to meet the environmental challenges.” 

Learn more about the Bradford-Rominger award on the Agricultural Sustainability Institute website at https://asi.ucdavis.edu/about/awards-and-scholarships/bradford-rominger-award

Past winners of the Bradford-Rominger award include UC Cooperative Extension advisors Rachael Long, Rachel Surls and David Lewis, Sustainable Conservation’s Director of Resources Daniel Mountjoy, UCCE advisor Rose Hayden-Smith, UCCE specialist Ken Tate, UCCE advisor Mary Bianchi, natural resource conservation consultant Kelly Garbach and UC Davis lecturer emeritus Isao Fujimoto. 

2021-05-12T11:17:07-07:00June 15th, 2020|

Ranchers Face Slowdown in Moving Market Ready Food

Ranchers Need Processing Capacity as Pastures Dry

 

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network of the West

Each week during the pandemic, we have been sharing a few updates on how the agriculture industry is being affected around the state.

This would typically be a prime marketing time for California cattle ranchers, but pandemic-related slowdowns at meat processing plants have created a bottleneck in the beef market. Ranchers say the situation is forcing them into tough decisions about their market-ready animals. One rancher describes the situation as a waiting game, as ranchers monitor cattle markets and the status of grass on drying pastures.

People who need food assistance during the pandemic have started receiving California-grown food through a new federal program. The Farmers to Families Food Box program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture buys fresh produce, meats, and dairy products to be delivered to food banks and other nonprofits. The program intends to help both people in need and some of the farmers, ranchers, and food distributors who lost business due to stay-at-home protocols.

Rural sections of the University of California, Davis, campus are attracting more visitors, as people look for new outdoor recreation spots during the pandemic. But the university says the additional foot and vehicle traffic threatens to harm habitat and agricultural research. Officials say increased dog walking or jogger activity could unknowingly disrupt sensitive research projects and harm farm animals housed on the Davis campus.

2021-05-12T11:17:07-07:00June 11th, 2020|

Bridging the Gap from Farm to Table

 

FFA Reporter Hopes to Bridge the Gap from Farm to Table

 

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network of the West

Taylor Sollecito is California FFA’s State Reporter elected about a month ago. She’s from Salinas FFA, but her love of agriculture stems from her time at a family farm in Fresno County.

“My grandfather and my mom’s whole family has a family farming operation in Fresno County. So I really derived a lot of my passion for agriculture and my connection to it from my grandfather and that side of the family. Even just getting to see their hard work and dedication on the operation, just when I would go visit them in the winter and the summer. truly just inspired me and sparked that interest in my mind,” said Sollecito.

And then coming to high school, I really entered with the mindset of, I just want to raise and show livestock and that’s all I’m ever going to do at FFA. But now coming to my senior year, I’ve found that I really have an interest in bridging that gap between production agriculture and the general community around us. Because there is a general disconnect that I can see between my peers and the community that surrounds me. And those that are producing the livestock and the produce, and those products that are coming from farm to table,” Sollecito noted.

Taylor hopes to bridge that disconnect this year as she travels the state serving 10s of thousands of California FFA members. After her year she plans to move closer to that extended family to attend Fresno State University.

2021-05-12T11:17:07-07:00June 9th, 2020|

Livestock Carriers Get Some Flexibility in Service Rule

U.S. Transportation Dept. Updates Final Hours of Service Rule

 

By Russell Nemetz, with the Ag Information Network of The West

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its final rule updating the “Hours of Service” rules designed to increase safety on America’s roads. The department updated multiple existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers.

“America’s truckers are doing a heroic job of keeping our supply chains open during this unprecedented time,” says Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (Chow). “These rules will help give them greater flexibility to keep America moving.”

The FMCSA says the changes were made based on thousands of comments they received from Americans across the country. There are four key changes to the existing hours of service rules, all of which do not increase driving time and will continue to prevent operators from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute break. The agency says the trucking industry is a “key component” of the national economy, employing more than seven million people and moving 70 percent of the nation’s domestic freight.

The new hours of service rule will be implemented 120 days after publication in the federal register.

2021-05-12T11:17:07-07:00June 1st, 2020|

Dairy Farmers Need More Help

Resources from SBA Not enough to Meet Dairy Demand

By Rich Worthington, with the AgInformation Network of the West

Current federal aid programs available to dairy farmers are considered good first steps in helping them navigate the ongoing pandemic and related demand issues, but more will be needed, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.

Chris Galen with the National Milk Producers Federation says the resources provided to the Small Business Administration are not enough to meet demand.

“It looks like that there’s been so much demand on lenders and the SBA that either the websites have crashed, or banks don’t have access to the money because it’s already gone. So, that’s certainly very frustration for a lot of groups like ours that worked very hard to get the money initially a few weeks ago, and then to get this second supplement of money here this past week. But, what I think it illustrates is that there’s a lot of government programs out there to help various entities in the business community, including agriculture, and right now the demands for that, whether it’s the PPP or USDA assistance, are much greater than what the supply of money is.”

“We’re looking at disastrously low prices here this spring for dairy farmers. And unfortunately, the payment formula that USDA has is more weighted towards the first few months of this year, not towards the spring and summer, when we know that farm level milk prices will be at their worst.”

Resources for dairy farmers to learn more about aid programs are available online at www.nmpf.org.

2021-05-12T11:17:07-07:00May 13th, 2020|
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