- February, 2011
- January, 2011
- December, 2010
- November, 2010
- October, 2010
- September, 2010
- August, 2010
- July, 2010
- June, 2010
- May, 2010
- April, 2010
- March, 2010
- February, 2010
- January, 2010
- December, 2009
- November, 2009
- October, 2009
- September, 2009
- August, 2009
- July, 2009
- June, 2009
- May, 2009
- April, 2009
- March, 2009
- February, 2009
- January, 2009
- December, 2008
- November, 2008
- October, 2008
- September, 2008
- August, 2008
- July, 2008
- June, 2008
- May, 2008
- April, 2008
- March, 2008
- February, 2008
- January, 2008
- December, 2007
- November, 2007
- October, 2007
- September, 2007
- August, 2007
- July, 2007
- June, 2007
- May, 2007
- April, 2007
- March, 2007
- February, 2007
- January, 2007
- December, 2006
- November, 2006
- October, 2006
- September, 2006
- August, 2006
- July, 2006
- June, 2006
Most read articles
|0207 PD: In The News|
|Archives - Past Articles|
|Tuesday, 06 February 2007 05:25|
Food from cloned animals safe to eat
Milk and meat from some cloned animals is safe to eat and can be sold on the U.S. market, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said recently in a landmark draft ruling that brings the controversial technology one step closer to Americans’ grocery carts.
If given final approval, the ruling would allow the sale of food from cloned cattle, pigs and goats –but not sheep – for the first time in the United States.
“No unique risks for human food consumption were identified in cattle, swine or goat clones,” the FDA said in a draft risk assessment, which now enters a public-comment period before the agency makes its final decision.
—From a Reuters news article
December milk production up more than 2 percent over 2005
Milk production in the 23 major states during December totaled 14.0 billion pounds, up 2.7 percent from December 2005. November revised production, at 13.3 billion pounds, was up 2.6 percent from November 2005. The November revision represented an increase of 13 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month’s preliminary production estimate. Production per cow in the 23 states averaged 1,689 pounds for December, 26 pounds (1.6 percent) above December 2005. The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 states was 8.27 million head, 86,000 head more than December 2005 and 14,000 head more than November 2006.
WUD urges implementation of new round of herd retirement
Western United Dairymen is urging implementation of a new round of herd retirement as part of the Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) program. In a letter to Jerry Kozak, CEO of National Milk Producers Federation, WUD says that California dairy families are “in dire straits” and that immediate action by the CWT board is necessary to “relieve the extreme economic stress that the U.S. dairy industry is now facing.”
“Dairy producers in California are struggling mightily with extremely negative margins,” wrote CEO Michael Marsh. Noting the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) recent decision to implement a Class 4a and Class 4b hearing decision that “drastically slashed producers’ prices,” Marsh said that “our dairy producers are reaching the limits of their resources. Equity is diminishing and farm sales are becoming a more attractive option to many. The state’s producer infrastructure is in peril.”
Herd retirement was a feature of the first two rounds of the CWT program, but it was not included in the current version. “We ask that National Milk and the CWT board immediately initiate action to relieve the extreme economic stress that the U.S. dairy industry is now facing,” urged Marsh.
—From Western United Dairyman news release
Genetic evaluations help breed better bossies
Breeding dairy cattle is an inexact science, so many gene-linked traits must be considered. Some of the major ones are quantity of milk produced, its fat and protein content, mothers’ pregnancy rates, calving ease and, most recently, stillbirth rate. Such evaluating of genetic traits has allowed dairy farmers to increase milk production to all-time highs.
Scientists recently added calf survival to a series of calculations that lead to what’s called a Lifetime Net Merit score. This is an economic evaluation of a bull and – by extension – what he will transmit to his daughters and granddaughters. Sadly, about eight percent of calves born do not survive beyond 48 hours and are considered stillborn.
According to Duane Norman, the research leader of the Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory (AIPL) in Beltsville, Maryland, when the scientists select traits for Lifetime Net Merit, the animal’s economic value, level of hereditary influence and amount of variation are all taken into account. Norman oversees a database that includes not only important yield traits, but also fitness traits that affect animals’ health, vigor and profitability, such as mastitis resistance, fertility and longevity.
According to AIPL geneticist Paul VanRaden, each genetic trait is given a percentage of emphasis for calculating Lifetime Net Merit. For example, milk production accounts for 46 percent of the score, while calving ease and stillbirth are combined into a calving ability index valued at 6 percent. Stillbirth data are collected on-farm by dairy workers and provided to the National Association of Animal Breeders based in Columbia, Missouri.
Having information like this about genetic evaluation traits allows breeders to make selections that best achieve their goals. This may involve doing “corrective breeding” to strike a productive balance. For instance, a dairy farmer may mate a cow with a history of calving difficulty to a sire that’s demonstrated his offspring are born relatively easily.
World Dairy Situation report available
The International Dairy Federation has released its annual World Dairy Situation report.
This major publication includes statistics on production, consumption and trade. It assists researchers, policymakers and economists in providing a tool for strategy formulation.
The new authoritative World Dairy Situation survey is based on independent dairy sources. This new publication presents a thorough and broad overview on trends in production, milk processing, consumption, trade and prices in major parts of the world. Detailed statistics by world, region and individual countries are also included.
The 2006 edition includes special articles on the International Farm Comparison Network (IFCN), on worldwide market prospects, on the collapse of the WTO Doha Round negotiations, on the EU Commission’s projections for dairy markets from 2006 to 2013 and on EU enlargement: The dairy sector in Bulgaria and Romania.
Poll shows farmers say they have unfair burden for validating a worker’s immigration status
Nine out of 10 American farmers surveyed said they have an unfair burden to ensure the workers they employ are in the United States legally, a process some believe should be better handled by the U.S. government, according to a Reuters poll recently released.
The agriculture industry has grown increasingly dependent upon immigrant workers – employed at meat packing plants and dairy, fruit and vegetable farms – to help prevent labor shortages. But up to 70 percent of U.S. farm workers are estimated to be undocumented, totaling about 500,000 people.
The American Farm Bureau estimates that without a guest-worker program, U.S. agriculture could lose up to $5 billion in revenue annually, including 30 percent of fruit and vegetable production going to foreign growers.
A recent Reuters survey of 653 farmers at the Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City found that 56 percent supported establishing a non-amnesty/guest worker program. The farmers sampled were responding voluntarily to the straw poll from about 4,800 in attendance at the meeting.
Some agricultural groups think a Democratic-controlled Congress this year will be more willing to make changes to immigration policy.
“If (these workers) all went away tomorrow, everything collapses,” said Craig Regelbrugge of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform. “I’m not saying it’s going to be simple by any stretch of the imagination, but the environment has improved to get legislation,” he added.
—From a Reuters news article
Interest in trading futures contracts increased in 2006
About 225,000 Class III milk futures contracts were traded in 2006 for an average of 900 contracts per day, up 24 percent from the prior year, according to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). After the CME introduced electronic trading of Class III futures on Feb. 27, nearly 15 percent of the volume came through Globex, the exchange’s online trading program.
Open interest on Class III futures was 28,615 after year-end close, up 39 percent from the end of 2005, while Class III options open interest was 25,160, up 143 percent, and cash-settled butter open interest was 2,542, up 114 percent.
NMPF asks USDA to consider implications of ethanol production on dairy economics
Because of concerns about the economic health of dairy farmers, the National Milk Producers Federation is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the overall implications of the rising production of biofuels, such as ethanol, on food production in the United States.
The U.S.’s ethanol production is expected to reach 7.5 billion gallons this year, and next year, ethanol could use nearly half of the nation’s annual corn production.
While NMPF understands the need to develop alternatives to imported petroleum fuels, “We think it is important for both sides of this story to be evaluated, and that is why we are asking the Agriculture Secretary to form a working group to study the implications on food producers of the emerging biofuels industry,” said Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF.
In the letter, NMPF, along with five other organizations representing the livestock sector, ask Secretary Mike Johanns to assemble a working group within the USDA’s Chief Economist’s office to study the emerging biofuels economy and its full implications for milk and meat producers, as well as consumers of those products.
“Ethanol production will have an economic impact on the U.S. livestock industry; good for some, and bad for others. Given that corn prices are the major feed input cost for dairy cows, and that corn is expected to reach record prices levels in 2007, the USDA needs to do more homework on the implications of the ethanol gold rush on milk and meat costs,” Kozak said. “What’s good for energy prices may not be so good for food prices, and we don’t want the viability of the biofuels sector to come at the cost of losing the viability of our dairy industry.”
Full-fat dairy products linked to lower weight
Though health-conscious eaters often shun whole milk, a new study suggests that adults who favor full-fat dairy gain less weight over time.
Swedish researchers found that among more than 19,000 middle-aged women, those who had at least one serving of whole milk or cheese each day put on less weight over the next nine years than women who consumed these foods less often.
The new findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
For one thing, only whole milk, and not low-fat milk, seemed to offer protection against weight gain. For another, the benefit was seen only among women who were normal weight at the start of the study.
—From a Rueters news article
USDA adjusts predictions about year-end corn stockpiles
The USDA recently predicted 2006/2007 ending corn stocks will be just 752 million bushels, down 183 million bushels from the previous forecasts, and just 38 percent of last year’s carryout. Production estimates were reduced from 10.745 billion bushels to 10.535 billion bushels. Of this, 20 percent is expected to be used for ethanol.
Some experts believe nearly half of the 2007/2008 crop will be used for ethanol production.
USDA evluates prion-free cattle
According to the scientific journal, Nature Biotechnology, USDA-Agricultural Research Service scientists recently evaluated cattle that have been genetically modified so they do not produce prions. The researchers determined that there were no observable adverse effects on the animals’ health.
“These cattle can help in the exploration and improved understanding of how prions function and cause disease, especially with relation to BSE,” says Edward B. Knipling, administrator of ARS. “In particular, cattle lacking the gene that produces prions can help scientists test the resistance to prion propagation, not only in the laboratory, but in live animals as well.”
ARS studied eight Holstein males that were developed by Hematech Inc., a pharmaceutical research company based in Sioux Falls, S.D. Veterinary medical officer Juergen Richt, of ARS’ National Animal Disease Center (NADC) in Ames, Iowa, led the evaluation of the prion-free cattle. The evaluation revealed no apparent developmental abnormalities in the prion-free cattle.
Richt says, “The cattle were monitored for growth and general health status from birth up to 19 months of age. Mean birth and daily gain were both within the normal range for Holsteins. General physical examinations, done at monthly intervals by licensed veterinarians, revealed no unusual health problems.”
ARS, with assistance from researchers at Hematech and the University of Texas, evaluated the cattle using careful observation, postmortem examination of two of the animals and a technology that amplifies abnormal proteins to make them easier to detect. Further testing will take at least three years to complete.
The evaluation was reported in the online version of the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology. To access it, go to www.nature.com/nbt/ PD