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Most read articles
|0806 PD: In the news|
|Archives - Past Articles|
|Wednesday, 23 August 2006 07:13|
USDA announces new BSE surveillance program
“It’s time that our surveillance efforts reflect what we now know is a very, very low level of BSE in the United States,” said Mike Johanns, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. “This ongoing surveillance program will maintain our ability to detect BSE, provide assurance that our interlocking safeguards are successfully preventing BSE, while continuing to exceed science-based international guidelines.”
The new surveillance program will sample approximately 40,000 animals each year, or fewer than 800 per week. Under the old program, the department had been sampling as many as 11,000 animals per week. The USDA will continue to collect samples from a variety of sites and from the cattle populations where the disease is most likely to be detected, similar to the old surveillance program procedures.
In April, the USDA released an analysis of seven years of BSE surveillance data. This included data from an enhanced surveillance program, which began in June 2004, as a one-time effort to determine the prevalence of BSE in the United States. The analysis concluded the prevalence of BSE in the United States is less than one case per million adult cattle.
The analysis further revealed the most likely number of cases is between four and seven infected animals out of 42 million adult cattle.
Producers must have animal ID for calves shipped to New Mexico
New Mexico requires animal identification requirements for dairy calves shipped into the state to assist in tracking potential disease introductions, particularly cattle tuberculosis (TB).
Dairy cattle are no more susceptible to TB than beef cattle, but in confinement operations, such as dairies, infected animals may transmit the disease more readily. Commercially-produced milk is pasteurized, or heat-treated, to kill bacteria and ensure product safety.
New Mexico requires dairy calves to be individually identified with an official USDA ear tag, or a commercially-produced ear tag that shows the state and premises of origin, if the calves are not imported into the state as part of a cow-calf pair, says Dr. Dee Ellis, head of animal health programs with the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state’s livestock and poultry health regulatory agency.
Dr. Ellis noted that New Mexico requires dairy and beef cows and bulls from all states to have a negative TB test within 30 days prior to importation, and these animals must be tagged. Calves entering New Mexico, however, are not TB test-eligible until they are 12 months old, and many would not otherwise be identified. By requiring dairy calves to be tagged, New Mexico livestock health authorities can notify the state of origin, if an imported calf later tests positive for cattle TB. This action may also protect New Mexico’s TB-free status, which was regained in 2005, with the exception of a small zone in the southeast portion of the state.
Senators want investigation into CME trading practices
The senators say such questions need to be brought up, especially as the nation marks the 10-year anniversary of the price manipulation practices that were uncovered in cheese trading on the old National Cheese Exchange based in Green Bay.
“Ten years ago, a study found that the cheese trading in Green Bay was susceptible to price manipulation, causing dairy farmers in Wisconsin and across the country to question the validity of the prices that are linked to what they receive for their milk,” Feingold said. “We need to determine whether in the past decade since cheese trading moved to Chicago, improvements have been made or if our dairy farmers continue to have a reason to be concerned.”
In 1996, a report commissioned by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture showed that the National Cheese Exchange was susceptible to price manipulation. The following year, the exchange was closed and trading moved to the CME.
The senators are also asking about what the CME has considered to improve its cheese market based on its own internal analysis or from outside parties; what role, if any, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission or other federal agencies play in overseeing the CME’s cheese market; and what changes could be made at the CME or in federal oversight to improve the market’s price discovery, fairness and integrity.
BSE case confirmed in Canada
The agency also said it has located the birth farm, and investigators are tracing other cattle born on the premises within 12 months before or after the birth of the affected animal.
Given its age, the affected animal was exposed to BSE after the 1997 implementation of Canada’s feed ban. This scenario, as well as the animal’s age, is consistent with the experiences of most countries reporting cases of BSE.
Nonetheless, a full accounting and determination of how this animal was exposed to BSE will be the primary focus of the Canadian agency’s investigation.
Canada also recently reopened its border to live U.S. cattle imports. All classes of U.S. dairy and beef cattle, including those for breeding purposes born after 1999 and beef from cattle over 30 months of age, will immediately be eligible for import under prescribed certification requirements.
ARS unveils mobile manure analyzing device
Many farmers apply manure to their crops as an organic fertilizer, but it can sometimes be too much of a good thing. They apply too much because they’re not sure how much nitrogen or phosphorus might be in it and decide to err on the side of excess. But excess nutrients can run off in rainwater and eventually pollute streams, lakes and other bodies of water.
To determine how much nitrogen or phosphorus manure contains, farmers can send samples to a laboratory for analysis, but that takes time and money. And they usually send only one sample from the large pit into which they flush their manure. According to Reeves, a one-sample analysis can’t reflect the nutrient levels that often vary throughout a manure pit. The prototype analyzer passes invisible, near-infrared light through filters onto about two tablespoons of manure placed in a small cup. The amount of light reflected back allows a filter spectrometer to quantify both the nitrogen and water content. Manure samples require no preparation or chemicals, and the analysis takes about a minute.
Having access to an accurate, inexpensive manure analyzer will become even more important to farmers if nutrient-management regulations tighten further. The prototype analyzer is a 15-inch cube that weighs about 20 pounds. Reeves plans to make it even smaller – about the size of a shoebox and weighing 5 pounds.
Senators introduce bill to clarify Superfund rule
Operations would still be subject to the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts.
“Congress thought it was clear when it passed EPCRA and CERCLA that naturally-occurring processes such as manure decomposition at agricultural operations were exempt from these laws,” Craig said.
“However, some special-interest groups intent on shutting down American agriculture seem to disagree and are attempting to use the courts to legislate their desired changes.”
USDA offers guide to help producers enhance farm-level biosecurity
“While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to protecting agriculture, recommendations in this guide can be beneficial to a variety of types and sizes of agricultural operations,” says Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner.
The voluntary guidelines and checklists were developed based upon recommendations made by producers throughout the United States. Guidelines have been developed for general agriculture, dairy, crops, cattle and poultry security.
This guide is the latest in a series of materials produced by the USDA to bolster food and agriculture security. The USDA continues to work closely with its federal, state and local government partners as well as industry stakeholders to develop sectorwide guidelines. For instance, guidance has been issued by USDA for food processors and distributors, and for agricultural transporters in coordination with the trucking industry. The USDA’s local Farm Service Agency Service Centers are distributing the “Pre-Harvest Security Guidelines and Checklist 2006” to agricultural producers throughout the country.
Visit www.usda.gov/homelandsecurity for more information about the USDA’s homeland security efforts or to download a copy of “Pre-Harvest Security Guidelines and Checklist 2006” in PDF format. PD