Cattle Ranchers Protect Coastal Landscape

Cattle and Seashores Coexist

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network 

When scientists found levels of bacteria from cattle in the seashores of Marin and Sonoma County, some decided to work with farmers and ranchers instead of against them. David Lewis is one of them. He’s director for UCANR Cooperative Extension in Marin County and a watershed advisor.  He’s worked with ranchers to research ways for cattle and oceans to coexist.

“How do we have a production system on a landscape that can support and provide us blue cheese and oysters? And so if that helps you think about Tomales Bay and then the surrounding watersheds that support a lot of wildlife or shellfish, and then the landscape, that’s this really perfect place to do grazing livestock, and have open connected working landscapes. So how do we protect the environment? How do we produce great dairy products? How do we have wonderful shellfish,” asked Lewis.

Lewis gives a lot of credit to local ranchers who have taken steps to give back to the community and to the environment.

“The ranches on the seashore are really integral to our agricultural production and to the community. And they’ve been with us every step of the way in this environmental stewardship as well. So I hope people really view them as a part of the local Marin and Sonoma community. And if you’re not from the area, please come and learn how that’s true, that these ranches and the seashore are really a part of the local community, not separate from,” Lewis said.

AB 2114 To Help Cattle Ranchers

Bill to Help Meat Processing Options

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

Back in 2018, Assembly Bill 2114 allowed cattle ranchers to sell beef that was slaughter on the farm rather than having to take it to a federally inspected facility. This was important because of how few of these facilities are left. Some producers who wanted to sell their beef directly to consumers would have to transport them hours away to get them processed. Now Assembly Bill 888 will do the same for sheep, goats, and potentially swine. This will make a big difference for producers like Marcia Barinaga.

“I sell most of my lambs to people who are buying a whole lamb for their freezer and the most humane and cost-effective way for me to harvest these lambs is to have our local mobile abattoir come to the ranch, slaughter the lambs, and take them then to a custom butcher for cut and wrap. Now that kind of a scenario is legal federally, but California law only allows on ranch slaughter for the owners use,” said Barinaga.

This bill would change that, allowing farmers like Barinaga to sell a limited amount of meat slaughtered on the farm to her customers. She calls it a ‘no brainer’ that just levels the playing field with what’s already legal in beef.

“This bill is just giving those of us who raise sheep, goats, and swine equal status to those who raise beef on a small scale and sell them this way,” Barinaga said.

Assemblyman Marc Levine of Marin County authored the bill, which is endorsed by the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Cattle Grazing Reduces Wildfires

 

Cattle Grazing Reduces Wildfire Fuel

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

Our state has experienced three serious wildfire years recently, and managing the amount of fine fuels can certainly help reduce these risks in the future. This leads some ranchers and scientists to ask the question: just how much of these fine fuels are cattle eliminating when grazed properly? The study still needs to pass peer review, but here’s Devii Rao, a UCCE Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor with what they found.

“Across the state of California cattle – at least in 2017, which is the year that we used for our analysis – they grazed across 19.4 million acres of rangeland, and consumed 11.6 billion pounds of fine fuels,” said Rao.

Rao says they collected data across multiple regions to also look at the variance of cattle consumption of these fine fuels.

“On average across the entire state, we found that livestock consumed about 596 pounds per acre. And then when you break it up by region, it really varied from, you know, 174 pounds per acre in some parts. Which, you know, that would be the more drier desert regions where there’s just not that much forage or fine fuels being produced. And then on the higher end, cattle were consuming a little bit over a thousand pounds per acre,” noted Rao.

With cattle found in almost every county of the state, it’s just a matter of finding creative ways to graze more of these fire fuel reducers.

Cattleman U: Virtual Education for Cattle Producers

New Platform Brings Education and Community to Young Producers

What started as a desire for more community with peers in the agriculture industry as a young rancher, quickly grew into a passion to take action for Karoline Rose, owner of KRose Company. Amidst conference and training cancellations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the KRose team began plans for a new way to connect with other professionals in agriculture, access educational content, and compare notes on ranch and farm topics.

“Cattleman U is an educational platform and community for the next generation of producers or people who want to raise livestock or crops in the near future. So many of this generation are working their operation full time and aren’t able to get away for conferences. There is a need for education that is easily accessible on an as-you-get-to-it basis,” says Rose.

Cattleman U became the newest online platform designed specifically for the next generation in agriculture. The online membership allows members to access expert advice and pre-recorded trainings presented by well-known speakers from respected organizations. It also has a free classifieds page where members can post items for sale or advertise their business. Members receive access to industry discounts for bulls, semen, ear tags, vaccines, and more. One of the biggest advantages Cattleman U offers is a community where members can network and access resources. 

“There are a lot of questions that go unasked because a next-generation producer might be embarrassed to ask or not know who to turn to for an honest and straightforward answer. We need to be in community with other producers and growers to build a network while we learn and discuss alternative solutions and ways of doing things that might not be just like grandpa did them,” says Rose.

Cattleman U consists of 6-week sessions on topics such as agriculture marketing strategies, adding value to your calves, certified branded beef programs, and the futures market. Each session is packed with information, real-life examples, and expert advice from cattlemen who have been there before, and tried many different techniques. The first six-week session will focus on marketing cattle.

There are plenty of flexible options for everyone wanting to sign up for Cattleman U, with monthly, yearly, and 6-week only membership options. The waitlist for the second segment, Futures and Hedging Basics, is now open. On October 5th, the second segment will start. Learn more at cattlemanu.com.

For more information:

Markie Hageman 

markie@krosecompany.com

559-901-7806

Additional assets such as audio clips, graphics and images to support this release may be downloaded here

KRose Company strives to be the best agriculture marketer in the United States, whether that be by helping ranchers increase their bull sale average with digital marketing, or by providing services such as design, social media marketing, and advertising to agriculture businesses. KRose Company also works to market the highest quality of calves and offer a country contract for classifieds. Learn more at www.krosecompany.com

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.

2017 Tulare County Crop Report Tops $7 Billion

Tulare Crop Report Shows 10 Percent Growth in Single Year

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Big numbers announced today from Tulare County Ag Commissioner Marilyn Wright on the 2017 crop year.

“Our value is 10.5 percent up from last year, at 7,039,929,000. So, that’s 669 million more than the previous year,” Wright said.

Marilyn Kinoshita, Tulare County Ag Commissioner
Marilyn Wright, Tulare County Ag Commissioner

And, of course, more water in the system probably helped, as it did in Fresno County, which announced $7.028 billion in its 2017 Crop Report, released earlier this month.

The dairy industry, which is prominent in Tulare County, came in number one again, representing 25 percent of the total value.

“Milk prices were stronger in early 2017, but they went down later in the year. And they continue to go down, but still it was a big part of the Tulare County ag receipts in 2017,” Wright said.

Following dairy were grape products—including juice grapes, raisins, and table grapes. Table grapes had a stellar year.

Navel and Valencia oranges were next. Cattle and calves ranked fourth, down from category number three in 2016, because cattle prices were off last year.

Tangerines, also known as mandarins, were number five, followed by almonds, cling peaches, and freestone peaches.

Lemons, were ninth on the crop list.

We only have just over 10,000 acres of lemons in the County, Wright said.

Wright said the value of this year’s crop report, $7.39 billion, is the third highest value Tulare County has ever reported.

Farm Service Agency Can Help with Livestock Losses

Emergency Livestock Assistance Program Can Help with Livestock Losses

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

“It’s been a crash course for me,” said Aubrey Bettencourt, a third generation farmer in California. Last month, she was appointed by the Trump administration to serve as the executive director of the United States Department of Agriculture’s California Farm Service Agency. She recently spoke to California Ag Today about FSA programs for livestock losses, which would be applicable to all states across the country.

“Emergency Livestock Assistance Program … provides financial assistance for eligible producers for certain diseases, adverse weather events, wildfires, and more. These are great programs that we need, especially with some of the disasters California is dealing with,” Bettencourt said.

She is very close to the situation in southern California with all of the fires, which have affected a lot of cattle. Any cattleman or woman who is having trouble should get a hold of the FSA office immediately to get into the system to be matched up to programs such as ELAP.

“We also have a livestock indemnity programs, so if there is unfortunately a loss of livestock, we can definitely help you with that,” Bettencourt said.

ELAP also has a forage program that helps if you have lost the ability to graze, and there are also other programs along the lines of secondary insurance for non insurable crops that can be purchased ahead of time.

“In case there is a disaster, we can help cover some of the costs if you are not able to graze or you are not able to care for cattle in some capacity because of the loss or a disaster of some sort,” Bettencourt explained.

“I would encourage you not only to reach out to our offices, but a lot of the really good trade associations have great information on this as well,” she said.

Data Loggers Could Impact Cattle Comfort

Data Loggers Could be Hardship on Cattle Being Transported

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Transporting cattle, or any livestock for that matter, has special nuances so drivers can get to the destination quickly for the animals’ comfort. Occasionally a driver can self-adjust the drive time beyond the mandated limit.

But now a new regulation regarding electronic logging devices by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in Washington D.C., may be implemented December this year, forcing drivers to stop.

“It would essentially require commercial truck drivers to use a electronic device to comply with the hours of service schedule that they’re required to meet, which limits both on-duty time and driving time,” said Justin Oldfield, a California cattleman and vice president of governmental affairs with the California Cattlemen’s Association in Sacramento.

“We not only have the cattle’s welfare that we need to take into account for, but we’ve got to get to that destination and make sure those cattle are off-loaded properly and safely,” Oldfield said.

Oldfield said they’re looking at some alternatives that would help the California Cattlemen’s Association members. “One of the things that we are concerned about is our distance to a lot of buyers, which would be in the Midwest,” Oldfield explained. “So any additional cost that this regulation might cause would probably be felt more significantly farther from the Midwest, which would primarily represent California, other states in the West and the Southeast.”

The current regulation is maximum on-duty time of 14 hours, with maximum driving time being 11 hours, with a 10-hour break. If a driver hauling cattle was only 100 miles from the destination, he would want to keep going for the comfort of the cattle. But with the electronic logger in place, he’d be forced to take that 10-hour break.

“Some of the issues that we have, for instance, is technically you’re on-duty even if you’re waiting to load cattle. So there are situations to where maybe there’s eight trucks waiting to load cattle, and you could be waiting in line for 2, 3 hours. And that entire time is counting against your on-duty time,” Oldfield said.

“We’re looking at where we can try to ensure that those hours are not counted against your maximum on-duty time,” he said.

And another area that’s being looked at is an exclusion for drivers hauling live animals, in order to have time to get to destinations.

“Our membership is basically past policy that asks us to look at everything, including that. There’s of course the challenge politically of making these changes on the regulatory side. I can tell you that nothing is off the table at this point,” Oldfield said. “Again, the reform is not necessarily the electron log-in device. The reform itself is the hours of service.”

Future Looks Bright with Young Cattlemen’s Club

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Group Educates Fellow Students About Cattle

By Joanne Lui, Associate Editor

If their attendance at the California Cattlemen’s Association’s 100th Annual Convention was any indication, the future is bright for the next generation of cattlemen and cattlewomen. We spoke to Veronica Staggs, a junior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, about why she’s a member of the Young Cattlemen’s Club and what they are doing to educate students about the cattle industry.

Veronica Stacks, member of the Cal Poly San Luis Obisop Young Cattlemen's Club
Veronica Staggs, member of the Cal Poly San Luis Obisop Young Cattlemen’s Club

The club, which is a chapter of the California Young Cattlemen, has about more than 50 members, with both those who grew up on cattle ranches and many who just have a passion for livestock agriculture, Staggs said

Staggs, who is studying animal science at Cal Poly with the goal of becoming a livestock veterinarian, is one of those who doesn’t haven’t a background in cattle.

“I actually love cattle, but it’s a great industry to go into and to be a vet for because the people you work with are just so nice, and so genuine, and they’re so easy to work with,” Staggs said.

The prospect of working with cattle ranchers was a main reason that drew her to studying animal sciences.

“I just think that cattle ranchers are super easy people to work with,” Staggs said. “They’re super genuine. You can work well with them. They treat you like family, so I think being a vet for cattle ranchers would just be a super great job.”

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is well-known for a great agriculture program in general. The Young Cattlemen’s Club does their part to get to engage fellow ag students about the cattle industry.

“We do a lot of networking with people not a part of agriculture to show them what’s going on,” Staggs said. “And most of them are pretty receptive to it, and actually get interested in what’s going on and seeing how their food reaches their table.

Recently, the club even brought a calf into the student union to let people meet the animal and to educate the public about food animals. The Young Cattlemen also use social media to get their message across.

“We try to put a lot of information out there for them, because we think that it’s important for everyone to understand how food reaches their table and that it’s not just from a super market,” Staggs said.

Air Resources Board to Rein In Cow Flatulence

Public Enemy #1: Cow Flatulence

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

While not a popular or sexy topic of discussion, flatulence is a very natural activity. Who amongst us hasn’t occasionally burped, belched, or otherwise passed a little gas? When guilty of passing waste gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane and other trace gases due to the microbial breakdown of foods during digestion, we may say, “Excuse me.”

 

California CattleBut for dairy cows and other cattle, manners do not suffice; the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has a low tolerance for such naturally occurring and climate-altering gaseousness. The ARB is planning to mandate a 25% reduction in burps and other windy waftage from dairy cows and other cattle, as well as through improved manure management.

 

Anja Raudabaugh, CEO of the Modesto-based Western United Dairymen (WUD), said, “The ARB wants to regulate cow emissions, even though the ARB’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) reduction strategy acknowledges that there’s no known way to achieve this reduction. The ARB thinks they have ultimate authority, even over what the legislature has given them: two Senate Bills—SB 32 and SB 1383—to limit the emissions from dairy cows and other cattle.”

 

“We have a social media campaign addressing the legislative advocacy components,” Raudabaugh explained, “to make the legislatures aware that this authority has not been given to ARB by the legislature, and to bring that into perspective.” Raudabaugh said while SB 32 is not that popular because it calls for raising taxes, SB 1383 is worrisome, “because if anybody wanted to achieve something of a win for the legislature this year with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, this is the only bill left,” she said.

 

WUD Cattle Flatulence Social Media FB
Cattle Flatulence Social Media (Source: Western United Dairymen Facebook)

Raudabaugh said that in order for the ARB to achieve their mandated 75% reduction in total dairy methane emissions, they are proposing that 600 dairy digesters be put on the methane grid by 2030. According to the ARB’s own analysis that could cost as much as several billion dollars—more than $2 million, on average, for each of California’s remaining 1,400 family dairy farms.

 

“That is not only expensive, but digesters do not work for every dairy. They can be an option for some, but because of their expense and the reality that not everyone ‘dairies’ the same way, digesters cannot be a mandated solution,” noted Raudabaugh. “All dairy personnel and other interested Californians should contact your state legislature and urge them to veto both bills and not allow the ARB more powers than they actually have.”