USDA announces NewFarmer website

on Jul 01 in News

Today USDA continues its commitment to the future of agriculture by unveiling, a one-stop shop for new and beginning farmers entering agriculture. It’s a practical, workable tool that will help farmers and ranchers of tomorrow tap into the range of USDA resources today. Featuring direct links to USDA programs and services, as well as case studies about how USDA support is being put to work to for America’s agriculture future, is a welcome new resource.

New and beginning farmers and ranchers are as diverse as American agriculture itself. They are veterans entering agriculture after their military service and immigrants new to the country. They are farmers returning to the land after long absences and young people taking on their first jobs. They are professionals entering agriculture in their post-retirement years, and new couples raising tomorrow’s farm families.

Read the press release. Help us spread the word about ! Visit Learn about what USDA has to offer the next generation of farmers. Use #newfarmers to support America’s farmers and ranchers of tomorrow.

Humane handling has many connections to the safety and quality of meats

on Feb 28 in Industry News, News

The American Meat Institute’s (AMI) July 2013 edition, Rev.1, Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines & Audit Guide: A Systematic Approach to Animal Welfare that’s credited to Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State University is an aggregation of voluntary humane handling programs that goes beyond USDA/FSIS regulatory requirements involving humane handling.

Some of the content contained within the AMI guidelines are advanced recommendations that when examined closely, could become harbingers of things to expect of future FSIS/USDA directives and notices.

Already USDA/AMS governmental auditors are required to attend the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) training classes, pass the written exam and perform three shadow audits prior to receiving their PAACO certification.

Many of the private humane handling auditors that are contracted by the Wal-Mart’s and McDonald’s are PAACO certified or hold an equivalent qualification. PAACO holds several certification courses each year. It can take a year or more to be accepted because of the large amount of people who try to attend from around the world.

USDA/AMS auditors are presently performing humane handling audits at pre-approved USDA harvesting establishments that qualify to supply fresh boneless beef and or frozen ground beef for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Approved suppliers to the NSLP are required to have a written humane handling program that’s based on the AMI’s latest animal handling guidelines. In addition, the NSLP requires that someone who is PAACO certified (or an equivalent) train the establishment employee’s who work in the corrals and perform internal audits. The AMI’s guideline contains audit forms for lamb, pigs and cattle.

Know that presently the FSIS does NOT require harvesting establishment to have written humane handling programs. Prudent harvesting companies do have such a program in place as perceptive establishments base their written program on the most recent AMI’s humane handling guidelines while including references to germane USDA/FSIS directives.

If one connects the AMI’s humane handling guidelines with present academia studies regarding enteric and exterior pathogens (including parasites) that are naturally inherent with livestock, the end result is a fountainhead of pragmatic and preventive measures that can truncate measurably and quantifiably, pathogens downstream during transportation, corralling and ultimately the harvesting of livestock; incluidng the meat quality.

Cases in point: Trailer maintenance

The conditions of the trailers should be kept as clean as possible. There should be no protruding objects and the floor of the trailers must be non-slip. Ideally, the trailers should be cleaned after each load of livestock.

Past studies involving DNA tracking show cross contamination can occur from one load of cattle to another regarding E. coli O157:H7 and the six NON O157:H7 STECS.

The hog industry routinely steam cleans their trailers in order to eschew diseases.

Often the problem with sub-contracted livestock truck transporters, opposed to the pig transporters, is there’s no present requirement to ensure trailers are cleaned between loads of cattle: unless the harvesting establishment requires it and enforces their policies.

Loading practices/driving practices

Statistics have clearly shown that overloading livestock increases bruises and injuries that result with adverse results to meat quality. Driving conditions that avoid sudden stops and accelerations will also help preclude bruises and injuries.

Water, water trough and pen conditions

Keeping the water and the water troughs clean on a regular cleaning and change-out schedule (including the addition of chlorine tablets and salt licks) can help reduce the possibility of cross contamination of pathogens from one animal to another. Regular cleaning of the corral floors can also help reduce cross contamination of pathogens while contemporaneously reducing slips and falls that can result with injuries and bruises.

Scheduling deliveries

Pre-planned scheduling of deliveries of livestock plays an important role that in most circumstances can help sidestep FSIS’s 28-hour law (49 USC 80502 – requiring trucks to stop and provide animals with food, water and rest).

USDA/FSIS regulations (9 CFR 313.2) require that if livestock are held in the corrals longer than 24 hours they must be fed. Feeding livestock prior to the knocking creates marked increases of ingesta from shackling through head removal downstream on the kill floor- even if the esophagus is tied or clipped.

Dr. Grandin is unequivocally a walking genius regarding the humane handling of animals. She’s that bright and that commonsensical.

When you factor in talented people like Erika Voogd, Mike Simpson, Janet Riley and members of the AMI’s humane handling committee, among others, the collective results is the perspicacious AMI guidelines.

My next blog will examine Bio-security, the FSIS Humane Handling Activities Tracks Systems (HATS) and then we’ll begin focusing on pathogenic interventions that some are practicing in the corrals leading up to the final chute.

(Excerpts for this blog were derived from the AMI’s July 2013 recommended guidelines for animal’s edition)Source:


USDA Expands Research on Larger Dog Breeds for Use in Livestock Protection

on Feb 26 in Industry News, News, News Releases

Gail Keirn, APHIS Legislative and Public Affairs (970-266-6007)

USDA Expands Research on Larger Dog Breeds for Use in Livestock Protection

Taking on an adult grizzly bear or a pack of wolves is a lot to ask of a livestock protection dog, but it’s a task they willingly take to protect their herds from predation. For centuries, livestock protection dogs have helped ranchers protect livestock from coyotes, feral dogs, foxes, and mountain lions. Without them, thousands of sheep, lambs, and calves would be killed or injured each year.

Livestock protection dogs grow up and live with their herd, patrolling the perimeters of grazing areas to ward of potential predators. Now, with the recovery and expansion of populations of grizzly bears and wolves, current breeds of livestock protection dogs— like the Great Pyrenees, Komondors, and Akbash— are losing many of the fights. They are no match for these larger predators.

To help producers in western States cope with the rising number of large carnivores on the landscape, USDA’s Wildlife Services (WS) program and its research arm the National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) are leading an effort to identify more suitable breeds of livestock protection dogs. In 2013, NWRC researchers began a multi-year study to determine the effectiveness of larger, more assertive European dog breeds at protecting livestock from grizzly bears and wolves in Idaho and Montana. WS Deputy Administrator William Clay recently directed that this project be expanded to Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

“Finding suitable dog breeds for use as livestock protection dogs against wolves and bears not only helps us safeguard livestock and the livelihoods of ranchers, but also enhances and encourages coexistence between people and large predators” states Deputy Administrator Clay.

Researchers and their partners are importing young Kangal, Karakachan, and Cão de Gado Transmontano dogs from Europe and placing them with producers to acclimate and bond to sheep. The dogs’ movements and behaviors are monitored using global position system (GPS) collars and direct observations. Care is taken to monitor for negative behaviors in the dogs, such as aggression towards other dogs, livestock, or humans or an inability to bond to livestock. Data is also being gathered on wolf and grizzly bear activities and movements in the study areas. Researchers hope to learn whether the European breeds can protect livestock from wolves and bears while also exhibiting appropriate temperaments for living with livestock in pens and on open lands.

Large carnivores, such as wolves and grizzly bears, were rare in the 1980s and ‘90s when WS first published its research and guidance on the use of livestock protection dogs. For more information on livestock protection dogs, please visit the following:


USDA Makes Long-Term Ag Projections

on Feb 14 in News

Despite lower prices for many agricultural products in the near future, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is projecting U.S. farm income to remain historically high through 2023. Analysis for the report was conducted prior to completion of the Agricultural Act of 2014, and was based on the assumption of continuation of policies in the 2008 Farm Bill. Projections range from long-term economic growth, global production and consumption trends, global trade trends, commodity prices, farm income and more.

USDA projects global economic growth to average 3.2 percent annually over the next decade, with stronger growth projected in developing countries, including China, India and countries in Africa and Latin America. The U.S. economic growth is projected to average 2.6 percent over the next decade.

“Steady global economic growth supports longer term gains in world food demand, global agricultural trade and U.S. agricultural exports,” according to the report.

While prices for many of the major crops are projected to decline in the next few years, long-term growth in global demand, a low-valued U.S. dollar and demand for biofuel, will hold prices for corn, oilseeds and other major crops above pre-2007 levels, according to the report.

As a result of recovering from high feed prices in recent years and drought, USDA is projecting livestock production and per capital red meat consumption to increase through 2023.

The full report is available at

Is a cow eating my lunch?

on Feb 14 in Industry News, News

From American Sheep Industry Association newsletter:

Consumers have increasing questions about animal agriculture and whether it’s good or bad. Some are concerned that animal agriculture takes away human food supplies and wastes resources.

To help answer related questions and help consumers learn about the role animals can have in a healthy diet, the Council for  Agricultural Science and Technology has released a new video based on its Issue Paper Animal Feed vs. Human Food: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustaining Animal Agriculture Toward 2050.

The paper addresses the commonly heard argument that livestock compete with humans for food resources, thus providing support for the continued existence of livestock production. It also addresses the knowledge gap that currently exists as to the quantity of human feed and fiber by-products used within animal agriculture.

The paper and video are available at

Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research

on Feb 12 in Industry News, Legislative, News

FFAR Authorization, PLUS $200 million in MANDATORY Dollars

Go here for full details.

As noted last week the Farm Bill does include authorization for a Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research.  This is a new collaborative opportunity to fund research. The following provides insights on the Congressional intent for the new effort.  An important note near the end is that ” the Managers do not intend in any way for the Foundation’s funding to offset or allow for a reduction in the appropriated dollars that go to agricultural research.”  It will be important for animal agriculture to be actively involved with FFAR to assure that this is intent is realized.

FFAR Excerpt from Statement of Managers, Title VII (56) Foundation for food and agriculture research

The Senate amendment authorizes a foundation for food and agriculture research, a new nonprofit corporation designed to supplement USDA’s basic and applied research activities. On Oct. 1, 2013, of the funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Secretary shall transfer to the Foundation $200,000,000 to remain available until expended. (Section 7601)

The House bill contains no comparable provision.

The Conference substitute adopts the Senate provision with an amendment. The amendment authorizes a foundation for food and agricultural research designed to supplement USDA’s basic and applied research activities and $200,000,000 of Commodity Credit Corporation funding to the Foundation to remain available until expended. (Section 7601)

The Managers recognize the significant need for agricultural research and the challenge to find funding in the current fiscal environment. As such the conference substitute creates a new non-profit foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, to leverage private funding, matched with federal dollars, to support public agricultural research. This approach will foster continued innovation in agricultural research.

The increased productivity and boost in crop yields experienced by American farmers can be attributed to research investments made 30 to 50 years ago. Federal investment in public agricultural research has been trending downward at a time when the demands of a growing population require that American agriculture research again take a leading role in pushing forward food production. USDA, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation and agricultural research stakeholders will play an integral role in establishing the Foundation.

The Managers do not intend for the Foundation to be duplicative of current funding or research efforts, but rather to foster public-private partnerships among the agricultural research community, including federal agencies, academia, non-profit organizations, corporations and individual donors to identify and prioritize the most pressing needs facing agriculture. It is the Managers view that the Foundation will complement the work of USDA basic and applied research activities and further advance USDA’s research mission. Furthermore, the Managers do not intend in any way for the Foundation’s funding to offset or allow for a reduction in the appropriated dollars that go to agricultural research. 

US Fish & Wildlife Reopens Comment Period on Wolf Proposal

on Feb 07 in Industry News, Legislative, News, News Releases

Contact: Gavin Shire, 703-346-9123,

Service Reopens Comment Period on Wolf Proposal

Independent scientific peer review report available for public review

Following receipt of an independent scientific peer review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the comment period on its proposal to list the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies and remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. The Service is making that report available for public review, and, beginning Monday, February 10, interested stakeholders will have an additional 45 days to provide information that may be helpful to the Service in making a final determination on the proposal.

The independent scientific peer review was hosted and managed by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), a highly respected interdisciplinary research center at the University of California – Santa Barbara. At the Service’s request, NCEAS sponsored and conducted a peer review of the science underlying the Service’s proposal.

“Peer review is an important step in our efforts to assure that the final decision on our proposal to delist the wolf is based on the best available scientific and technical information,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “We thank the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis for conducting a transparent, objective and well-documented process. We are incorporating the peer review report into the public record for the proposed rulemaking, and accordingly, reopening the public comment period to provide the public with the opportunity for input.”

The peer review report is available online, along with instructions on how to provide comment and comprehensive links relating to the proposal, at

The Service intends that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best available information. Comments and materials we receive, as well as some of the supporting documentation used in preparing this proposed rule, are available for public inspection at under the docket number FWS–HQ–ES–2013–0073.

The Service will post all comments on This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes. Comments must be received by midnight on March 27.

The Federal Register publication of this notice is available online at by clicking on the 2014 Proposed Rules under Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

The Service expects to make final determination on the proposal by the end of 2014.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit

Growth and Performance of Meat Goat Kids from Two Seasons of Birth

on Feb 07 in Industry News, News

Growth and Performance of Meat Goat Kids from Two Seasons of Birth in Kentucky Author: K.M. Andries

File Summary

Little information is available on the impact of season of kidding on growth and performance of meat-goat kids. However, seasonal market trends have many producers in the southeastern United States kidding in the late fall and winter, when animals must be supplemented to meet nutritional needs. Because of this, a study was designed with the objectives being to evaluate the effect of season of birth and ther factors on kid survival to weaning and performance from birth to weaning in meat-goat kids. One hundred and twenty commercial-meat-type does were used in this study. The does were bred for kidding either in the fall (October, November, and December) or spring (March, April, and May) seasons. Data collected included birth weight, birth type, sex, 60 d weight, and 90 d weight. Season of birth had a significant effect on birth (P < 0.0001) and 90 d wt (P = 0.0063), and ADG between 60 d and 90 d (P = 0.0003), with fall-born kids being heavier and having higher daily gains. The interaction between year and birth type was significant (P = 0.0004) for birth weight and the sex by birth/rearing type interaction was significant for 60-d wt (P = 0.0003) and ADG to 60 d (P = 0.0002). These data indicate that season of birth has an impact on some performance traits in meat goat kids. These differences can impact profitability and need to be studied in more detail to determine specific impacts on productivity and profitability of the meat goat industry.

View Article at American Sheep Association Website


Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy in Small Ruminants

on Feb 04 in Industry News, News

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy in Small Ruminants

Susan Schoenian, 2004
By Gregory S. Lewis

Scrapie has compromised the health of small ruminants for centuries.  The disease was first described in 1732 and is now recognized as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE).  A recent article in Animal Frontiers, by Dr. V. Beringue and Dr. O. Andreoletti, describes how the specter of this “old” disease has remerged in a “new” form.  The old, well-known TSE is considered the classical disease, and the newly discovered form is considered the atypical disease.

Scrapie is not a treatable disease, and the prognosis for a sheep or goat that has been diagnosed with scrapie is death.  Even though there are no vaccines to prevent or control the spread of scrapie, some control measures have been effective.  Research over the last several years has shown clearly that some sheep are less susceptible to classical scrapie than others, and genetic markers associated with the degree of susceptibility to classical scrapie have been described.  The authors of the article described how the European Union, United States, and several other countries are using modern genetic technologies to control classical scrapie in sheep.  There are good reasons to believe that the same approach will be effective for goats, but more genetic information and testing is needed before that can be determined.

Now that scientists have developed effective control measures for classical scrapie, many are turning their attention to atypical scrapie, which is also called Nor98 because it was first identified in Norway in 1998.  There is evidence that atypical scrapie develops spontaneously, with no external cause, and usually in aged animals.  The ability of atypical scrapie to be transferred from one animal to another under natural conditions is not well understood, but there is evidence that it can be transmitted under experimental conditions.  To further complicate matters, the relationship between the genetics of the animal and susceptibility to atypical scrapie is not known.  Thus, considerably more research is needed to begin unraveling the threads of information that will allow scientists to determine whether effective methods can be developed to control or prevent the onset of atypical scrapie.

The newest story on this old problem is available in “Classical and atypical TSE in small ruminants,” in the January 2014 issue of Animal Frontiers, found at

Scientific Contact: O. Andreoletti UMR INRA ENVT

Media Contact: Gregory Lewis ASAS Editor-In-Chief

New Dairy Goat Resource Website

on Feb 01 in Industry News, News, News Releases

CapriDairyWorld is a non-profit science-based and philanthropic organization rooted in the dissemination of scientific information of goat milk and its dairy research for the advancement of the wellbeing and nutrition of humanity. It was established by Professor Young W. Park of Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Georgia, USA. It was launched in August 2013 by Professor Park, and the organization and its CapriDairyView e-mail service rely upon the volunteer efforts of many friends, colleagues and supporters.

CapriDairyWorld aims to provide scientific knowledge and advanced research information on caprine milk and its dairy products to various stakeholders around the world. It also acts as the primary knowledge base and/or vehicle for disseminating the values of goat milk and its processed foods for the nutrition and wellbeing of mankind. Its website and e-mail service derive current information from numerous subscribers from many countries. Although the CapriDairyWorld has been established very recently, it has already attracted a large number of scientists and consumers from dairy sectors of goats, sheep, buffalo, horse, camel, yak and reindeer.

CapriDairyWorld publishes a free electronic newsletter, CapriDairyView, which is a “must read” information, news, research updates and commentary of the latest advancements in goat milk, and caprine dairy science, including nutritional, chemical, microbiological, rheological, sensory, flavor compounds studies and sustainability of the dairy goat industry. For better understanding on “beyond the headlines” coverage of the most important caprine dairy science and technology news, click here to subscribe.

CapriDairyWorld is focusing on caprine milk and its products which have been proven to show nutritional and health promoting benefits for humanity because goat milk is a rich source of important nutrients. CapriDairyWorld will serve as the center and primary reference organization to provide the stakeholders, scientists, educators, farmers and general consumers with the essential scientific knowledge, references, research data, and integral information on caprine milk and its manufactured products for human wellbeing throughout the world especially in developing countries.

The CapriDairyWorld Foundation is established as a volunteer-driven non-profit organization. The foundation has two distinct visions and purposes: One is to foster and strengthen the science-based studies in dairy goat production and products research to advance the dairy goat industry which is far behind the scientific research in the dairy cow industry due to the lack of governmental, industry and academia supports and interests; and the Second is to make the best possible efforts to improve the wellbeing and living conditions of humanity worldwide through the financial contributions of colleagues, friends and stakeholders to the CapriDairyWorld by providing philanthropical and charitable assistances to those who are socially and economically underprivileged, underserved and disadvantaged populations around the world.