USDA expects sharply lower animal, animal product receipts in 2016

USDA expects sharply lower animal, animal product receipts in 2016

Animal and animal product cash receipts are expected to fall 12.3% to $23.4 billion in 2016, according to the “2016 Farm Sector Income Forecast” released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. Relative to 2015, prices are expected to fall for almost all major animal and animal product commodities, especially eggs.

Since reaching a record high of $49.4 billion in 2014, milk receipts are forecasted to drop 31.2% to $15.4 billion over 2015-16 as declining prices continue to outweigh expected increases in milk production, the report noted.

Cash receipts from cattle and calves are also expected to decline in 2016, falling almost 15% to $11.6 billion from 2015 as cattle/calf prices decline.

USDA said hog production is expected to continue rising in 2016 as the industry recovers from porcine epidemic virus (PEDV) in 2014. Hog prices are expected to drop in 2016, leading to a nearly 7% decrease in hog cash receipts.

While animal and animal product receipts are forecasted to be substantially lower, turkeys are expected to increase 10.6%, or $600 million, while miscellaneous livestock increase 2.9%, or $200 million.

USDA forecasted poultry and egg cash receipts to fall more than 18% in 2016 due primarily to a decline in egg receipts. Highly pathogenic avian influenza resulted in 50.4 million birds being destroyed in 2015, with turkeys and egg-laying chickens suffering the largest loss in numbers and driving egg prices to new — if fleeting — highs, USDA said.

“The egg-laying industry has returned to normalcy in post-flu 2016, and the greater production levels have resulted in large price declines, with an overall decline in 2016 chicken-egg receipts,” the report explained.

Broiler prices are expected to decline in 2016 as production increases, leading to a decline in broiler cash receipts.

Texas Farm Products Co. changing corporate name

Texas Farm Products Co. changing corporate name

Texas Farm Products Co., a leading manufacturer of pet food and feed, announced that as of Dec. 2, it is changing its name to TFP Nutrition. In consideration of recent changes and the company's future direction and focus, the company has determined that this change in its corporate identity will reinforce its primary purpose to support the health of animals through balanced and wholesome ingredients.

“While we have a rich history of producing products for the ag marketplace and continue to do so, we now reach beyond that market. We believe it is important for our name to better reflect our expertise to the ag community and beyond,” Bud Wright, Texas Farm Products chief executive officer, stated.

TFP Nutrition is a family-owned, fourth-generation company that has more than eight-and-a-half decades of experience transforming raw ingredients into formulas that provide balanced and healthy nutrition for pets and livestock.

FWS moving ahead to relist lesser prairie chicken

FWS moving ahead to relist lesser prairie chicken

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) filed a petition to list the lesser prairie chicken species, saying it had substantial information to warrant a Species Status Assessment that could lead to an eventual Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing.

Map of current and historical range of the lesser prairie-chicken, showing sites surveyed during the 2015 range-wide aerial survey. The data from this survey was used to assess the occupancy of lesser prairie-chickens. Source: USDA

In July 2016, the lesser prairie chicken was removed from the ESA List of Endangered & Threatened Wildlife following a September 2015 court order from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, which vacated the FWS 2014 listing rule. In the spring of 2015, FWS began assessing the biological status of the lesser prairie chicken to ensure that future actions related to the species are based on the best available science. That assessment is expected to be completed in the summer of 2017, FWS said.

On June 9, 2014, the Permian Basin Petroleum Assn. and several New Mexico counties filed a lawsuit challenging FWS’s 2014 listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under ESA. In September 2015, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and vacated the final listing rule, effectively ending ESA protections for the bird.

In an attempt to avoid the bird’s ESA listing, farmers, ranchers, energy developers and other stakeholders in the region came together to develop a local, voluntary conservation plan. However, the plan was not given the opportunity to prove its effectiveness because FWS chose to list the bird as a threatened species in March 2014.

The Obama Administration dropped the appeal of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in May 2016, which vacated the FWS listing of the bird as a threatened species.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, said he was disappointed in FWS’s decision to move ahead to relist the lesser prairie chicken.

“Just last year, the Western District of Texas appropriately overturned the lesser prairie chicken’s previous listing, noting that the service did not adequately consider the effectiveness of the states’ conservation plans when it assessed the species’ need for federal protection,” Inhofe said. “It is important that we let the multi-state conservation plan have time to work before bringing down the full force of the Endangered Species Act.

“The ESA should be a last resort; local, cooperative efforts -- as seen in Oklahoma and her partner states -- could set a precedent for a way to move forward on species conservation without the heavy hand of the federal government. I am confident that the Trump Administration is aware that state conservation is sufficient to protect the lesser prairie chicken, and I will work with the new administration to ensure local efforts are given the chance to work,” Inhofe added.

The bird's habitat is found in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.


New venture selects Tennessee site to produce novel protein

Cargill Inc. and Calysta Inc., along with several third-party institutions, plan to invest in the creation of the world’s largest gas fermentation facility in Memphis, Tenn., to produce Calysta’s FeedKind protein, a family of sustainable, traceable, nutritional ingredients for fish, livestock and pets.

The new venture plans to build and operate this facility on Cargill’s 69-acre property on President’s Island, where Cargill currently produces corn oil and stores and distributes sweetener products. The facility is expected to come on line in late 2018, producing up to 20,000 metric tons per year of FeedKind protein initially and expanding to up to 200,000 mt per year when operating at full capacity.

Upon completion of the plant, the new venture expects to hire 75 permanent employees and expand to 160 people when the plant is fully ramped up.

“Cargill has been a part of the Memphis community for 40 years. With the strong support of the state of Tennessee, Shelby County and city of Memphis, we are pleased that the venture chose to locate the facility in Memphis,” said Cargill global vice president of bioindustrial Brian Silvey. “The venture’s building of a state-of-the-art fermentation facility on the existing Cargill Memphis site reaffirms our commitment to the community and state and our pledge to strategically invest in aquaculture as an ever-increasingly important source of protein.”

FeedKind protein is a proprietary, new feed ingredient initially targeted as an alternative to fish meal for the aquaculture industry. It is produced using the world’s only commercially validated gas fermentation process. Cargill and Calysta will be jointly marketing FeedKind protein globally.

“With a proven and proprietary fermentation platform, Calysta is introducing a scalable and disruptive protein source critical to meeting the needs of a growing global population. Partnering with Cargill -- a leader in fermentation and protein production -- and others to invest in the establishment of the venture as the first U.S. manufacturing plant to commercially produce FeedKind protein significantly accelerates FeedKind protein’s launch in the aquaculture industry at commercial scale. This venture is an important first step to deploying this technology globally,” Calysta president and chief executive officer Dr. Alan Shaw said.

In September 2016, Calysta opened a research and development and market introduction facility in the U.K. to produce samples of FeedKind protein that can be used in aquaculture, livestock and pet markets worldwide.

Study: Hand washing, temp reminders improve food safety

Study: Hand washing, temp reminders improve food safety

Kansas State University researchers have discovered the secret ingredient to improving kitchen food safety: include hand washing reminders and meat thermometer instructions in published recipes.

Edgar Chambers IV, co-director of the university's Sensory Analysis Center, and collaborating food scientists have found that only 25% of people use a meat thermometer when they are cooking at home. When a recipe includes a reminder, however, 85% of people will use a thermometer. The researchers saw similar results for hand washing: Only 40-50% of people wash their hands when cooking, but 70-80% of people will wash their hands when a recipe reminds them to do so.

K-State’s Sensory Analysis Center researchers have found that including hand-washing reminders and meat thermometer instructions in published recipes helps to improve food safety. Source: K-State

"This is such an easy thing to do: Just add the information to the recipe, and people follow it," said Chambers, who is also a university distinguished professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health. "It's a simple way to reduce foodborne illness, and we can actually reduce health care costs by simply adding information to recipes. It's a great finding and a great piece of information for the promotion of food safety information."

Chambers and his team – including researchers at Tennessee State University and RTI International in North Carolina — have published their research in the Journal of Food Protection. They presented the results to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which intends to start including these food safety instructions in the recipes it develops, Chambers said.

The four-year collaborative project is supported by a $2.5 million USDA grant. The researchers spent three years studying consumer shopping and cooking behaviors. Now, they will spend the fourth and final year working with the Partnership for Food Safety Education in Washington, D.C., to develop a nationwide food safety campaign. The researchers want to educate consumers, manufacturers, grocers, journalists, magazines and publishers on the importance of including food safety instructions in published recipes.

"We want to provide research-based information for consumers," Chambers said. "The goal is to promote safe behaviors so that people actually begin to do them every day in the kitchen and as part of their shopping behavior."

The project focused on several areas of food safety with poultry and eggs, including using meat thermometers, washing hands frequently and storing meat in plastic bags provided by the grocery stores.

The researchers observed 75 people as they cooked two dishes — a parmesan chicken breast and a turkey patty with mushroom sauce — following recipes that did not have food safety instructions. Another group of 75 participants cooked the same dishes following recipes that did include food safety instructions. The dishes required the participants to handle raw meat, eggs and fresh produce while scientists observed how often the participants washed their hands or used a meat thermometer.

By comparing the two groups, the researchers found that 60% more people used a meat thermometer and 20-30% more people washed their hands when the recipes included reminders about the two food safety practices.

"This is such a wonderful outcome," Chambers said. "It's such an easy thing to do and such an easy way to help people remember to be safe. It doesn't cost anything — just a little extra paper and a little extra time to wash your hands and use that thermometer."

The researchers also are studying kitchen lighting, which also can affect food safety. Many people are switching to LED and energy-efficient lights for kitchens, which is great news for consumers but bad news for food safety, Chambers said. The energy-efficient lights make meat and poultry appear as if they are more done than they actually are.

"We have shown through research that changing to more modern lighting in kitchens makes people believe their meat patties are done sooner than they would be under old lighting, which is wrong," Chambers said. "That is not good news for consumers unless they are using a meat thermometer."

The researchers recently published the lighting-related research in the Journal of Sensory Studies.

USDA accepts 504,000 acres of working grasslands

Farm and foreign agricultural services deputy undersecretary Alexis Taylor announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will accept more than 504,000 acres that were offered by producers during the recent ranking period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands enrollment. Through the voluntary CRP Grasslands program, grasslands threatened by development or conversion to row crops are maintained as livestock grazing areas while providing important conservation benefits.

USDA will accept more than 2,100 offers totaling more than 504,000 acres across 34 states. More than 70% of the acres are from beginning farmers, veterans and underserved producers. About two-thirds are in counties with the highest threat of conversion. Additionally, nearly 60% of the acres are in wildlife priority areas, and nearly three-fourths will have a wildlife-focused conservation plan as part of the operation.

“This 15-year commitment on more than half a million acres demonstrates that voluntary, incentive-based conservation methods benefit producers and help to preserve our natural resources,” Taylor said. “Combining conservation and wildlife benefits while still supporting livestock production is a clear example of how agriculture and conservation can go hand in hand.”

USDA is also reminding producers that it is still accepting additional offers for CRP Grasslands. The current ranking period that closes on Dec. 16 also includes a new CRP Grasslands practice specifically tailored for small-scale livestock grazing operations to encourage broader participation. Small livestock operations with 100 or fewer head of grazing dairy cows (or the equivalent) can submit applications to enroll up to 200 acres of grasslands per farm. USDA’s goal is to enroll up to additional 200,000 acres.

The new practice for small-scale livestock grazing operations encourages greater diversity geographically and in all types of livestock operation. Small livestock operations are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to learn more about this program before Dec. 16, to be considered as part of the current ranking period.

Participants in CRP Grasslands establish or maintain long-term, resource-conserving grasses and other plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. CRP Grasslands participants can use the land for livestock production (e.g., grazing or producing hay) while following their conservation and grazing plans in order to maintain the cover. A goal of CRP Grasslands is to minimize the conversion of grasslands to row crops or to non-agricultural uses. Participants can receive annual payments of up to 75% of the grazing value of the land and up to 50% to fund cover or practices like cross-fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife.

USDA will select offers for enrollment based on six ranking factors: (1) current and future use, (2) new farmer/rancher or underserved producer involvement, (3) maximum grassland preservation, (4) vegetative cover, (5) environmental factors and (6) pollinator habitat. Offers for the second ranking period also will be considered from producers who submitted offers for the first ranking period but were not accepted, as well as from new offers submitted through Dec. 16.

Small livestock operations or other farming and ranching operations interested in participating in CRP Grasslands should contact their local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit To learn more about FSA’s conservation programs, visit

Preparing for rebreeding as important as calving

Preparing for rebreeding as important as calving

As preparations for calving season start, a dilemma plays out in the cattle industry each year: Which comes first, calving or rebreeding? A producer might put all of his eggs in the calving “basket,” since a live, healthy calf is often the first priority. However, a calf is ultimately the result of a successful breeding period, and preparation for calving and rebreeding should occur simultaneously.

“Calving and rebreeding ideally occur within a relatively short but very critical 85-day window,” said Dr. Chad Zehnder, a cattle consultant with Purina Animal Nutrition. “How a heifer or cow calves out at the beginning of the window will impact her ability to get bred at the end of the window, and how quickly rebreeding occurs will impact a cow’s ability to stay on a 365-day calving cycle.”

Here are four strategies that can be implemented now to prepare for spring calving and rebreeding:

1. Monitor body condition score (BCS). The BCS of a cow at calving not only affects colostrum quality, cow stamina (to get through birthing) and calf vigor, but it also affects the time until that cow starts cycling again.

“We want cows cycling prior to the breeding season so that when they come into heat during breeding season, we have a better chance of getting them bred in the first 21 days. Cows bred early in the breeding season will result in calves born early in calving season,” Zehnder said.

Calf age has the biggest effect on weaning weight. Therefore, calves born in the first 21 days of the season are likely to be heavier at weaning. If one estimates that a calf gains between 2.25 and 2.50 lb. per day, every heat cycle is worth roughly 50 lb. That’s why it’s so critical to get cows rebred on the first cycle.

Mature cows should calve in at a minimum BCS of 5.5 but preferably at a score of 6.0. Heifers should calve at a minimum BCS of 6.0. Supplementation can help maintain a consistent BCS, which can lead to cows breeding back quickly, optimized conception rates and heavier calf weaning weights.

2. Evaluate mineral programs. Mineral nutrition is one of the most commonly overlooked items on the calving and rebreeding preparation list.

“We tend to think about the importance of minerals either right at calving or before breeding, but we need to make sure we’re providing an adequate mineral program year-round,” Zehnder said. “Minerals are especially important 60-90 days before calving, since they impact colostrum quality, calf trace mineral status and calf health.”

Minerals also play a role in tissue repair, helping the cow’s reproductive tract repair from calving and prepare for breeding. If the tract is not fully repaired, a cow may have challenges being rebred, or she may not breed back at all.

A program with highly bioavailable trace mineral sources can be of benefit, especially leading up to calving season and through breeding. The bioavailability of a mineral source alters the absorptive ability of the trace minerals eliciting their full benefit.

3. Discuss herd health with a veterinarian. If a cattle producer doesn’t have a comprehensive herd health program, now is the time to talk with a veterinarian or animal health supplier to develop one. If you have a program, it can be beneficial to re-evaluate it to make sure the protocols still make sense.

“Make sure you have a vaccination program in place for both cows and calves,” Zehnder said. “Since every operation has a different risk level in how and when they calve, the program should be specific to your operation and region.”

For operations with multiple employees, make sure everyone is familiar and comfortable with the program ahead of time. Getting everyone on the same page before calving begins can help ensure that protocols are followed correctly and consistently.

4. Take time to troubleshoot. Calving and rebreeding are two of the most important events for a cow/calf operation’s bottom line, which makes it stressful when things don’t go as planned. However, an overreaction may make things even worse.

“It’s easy to get frustrated when there’s a bump in the road, but it’s important to take an objective approach when a challenge arises,” Zehnder said. “Troubleshoot and try to figure out what the true cause is versus making a knee-jerk decision.”

Involve a nutritionist, veterinarian, suppliers, employees and other key personnel to help work through a cause and solution. A team discussion can help identify the diagnostic work needed to find a solution.

Regardless of which takes priority in your mind, calving and rebreeding success is always "in season."

“We need to think about that critical 85-day window year-round. Every management decision we make throughout the year should focus on a cow delivering a live, healthy calf and being bred back in that time frame,” Zehnder said.

Campylobacter jejuni virulence identified

An Iowa State University research team has identified the specific mutations that have led to the virulence of a major bacterial threat to ruminant animals such as cattle and sheep.

The discovery could pave the way for new treatment options and possibly even a vaccine to help sheep and cattle producers fend off Campylobacter jejuni, said Qijing Zhang, an associate dean for research and graduate studies in the Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine and a professor of veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine.

C. jejuni can cause miscarriage in pregnant sheep and cows. It can also lead to food poisoning in people who consume raw, or unpasteurized, milk from infected animals.

Zhang said nearly all of the U.S. cases of sheep abortion caused by the bacteria during the last 13 years arose from a particular strain of the bug that is capable of moving from an animal’s gut into its bloodstream and eventually into the placenta of a pregnant animal. Other strains of the bacteria don’t manifest the disease, so Zhang’s team decided to find out what made the virulent strain different from the others.

To do so, the team purified the genome of the virulent strain and inoculated its DNA into a culture of a non-virulent strain so it would then take up the DNA and become capable of causing the disease. Using cutting-edge sequencing technology, the research team was able to zero in on the unique gene mutations that gave rise to the virulent property.

“It’s like giving an army a specialized weapon that it didn’t have before and seeing if the army becomes more destructive,” Zhang said. “In this case, the weapon is the mutation that makes the bacteria more virulent.”

Zhang and his team published their results in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Making the research even more vital is the fact that the virulent strain is resistant to tetracycline, the only drug approved to treat sheep abortion. Zhang said identifying the features that make the strain so dangerous will lead toward new avenues for controlling the disease, including the potential for the development of a protective vaccine.

“Every spring before lambing season, we see a wave of sheep abortions due to this bacteria,” Zhang said. “Our hope is to find a way to stop that from happening, and by doing so, it will help to improve food safety.”

EU court upholds keeping business info confidential

On Nov. 23, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rendered its judgments in two cases in which activist environmental groups had sued to make public certain confidential business information (CBI) related to crop protection products approved for use and sold in the European Union.

In a case brought by Greenpeacethe General Court had previously broadly interpreted EU laws regarding disclosure of “information which relates to emissions into the environment.” The CJEU rejected the General Court’s broad interpretation and set aside the judgment under appeal. In both cases, the CJEU found that the so-called emissions rule must be limited to information on actual and foreseeable emissions following the use of pesticides under normal and realistic conditions of use.

In the second case, Bayer CropScience SA-NV/Stichting De Bijenstichting vs. the Dutch Board for the Authorization of Plant Protection Products & Biocides, which was appealed from a Dutch court, the CJEU sent the case back to the Dutch national court to decide whether the CBI at issue falls within this interpretation of “information which relates to emissions into the environment.”

“Like most businesses, the crop protection industry depends on governmental protection of its CBI to justify the considerable time, cost and effort involved in developing and marketing new technology, as well as updating and improving older technologies,” stated Jay Vroom, CropLife America (CLA) president and chief executive officer. “Bringing a new crop protection product to market requires a company to invest on average $286 million and 11 years. This just highlights a small piece of the resources companies put into research and development of both older and new technologies that farmers depend on to provide a safe and abundant food supply for the U.S. and the world.”

CLA, along with CropLife International, the European Crop Protection Assn., the European Crop Care Assn., the American Chemistry Council, the European Chemical Industry Assn. and the National Association of Manufacturers, intervened in the Greenpeace case to represent the position of crop protection, chemical and other industries that could be affected by the CJEU decision.

CLA is still analyzing the significance of these judgments and will closely follow further developments before the lower courts. A limitation on the protection of CBI would be contradictory to obligations made in international agreements protecting intellectual property. CLA welcomes CJEU’s recognition of the value of CBI protection and advocates a consistent international recognition of the rights of industry to protect their proprietary information while providing detailed studies and access to data to regulatory decision-makers to help ensure product safety.