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Additional Assistance For Drought-Stricken Livestock Producers

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide surplus USDA stocks of non-fat dry milk to livestock producers in areas hardest hit by continuing drought.

Additionally, Veneman said that a Drought Coordinating Council has been formed to monitor ongoing drought conditions and the impact on agriculture producers. The Council will coordinate the full array of resources to assist affected producers and communities.

Veneman said the 2003 Livestock Feed Program will provide timely relief for livestock producers in areas hit hardest by drought by making available surplus stocks of non-fat dry milk (NDM), which are not intended for nor destined for human consumption. The stocks will be provided at a minimal cost to several states and tribal governments in areas designated as severely impacted by drought.

"One of our most pressing concerns right now is the ability of pasture and grazing lands to support livestock herds," said Veneman. "Non-fat dry milk can serve as a high quality source of protein to maintain foundation livestock herds in this critical time."

USDA will partner with state and tribal governments to move the non-fat dry milk to eligible producers. Approximately 100 counties in nine states currently meet the initial eligibility criteria. The states with eligible counties are: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Eligible counties are listed on www.usda.gov.

The U.S. Drought Monitor will be used to determine which counties are eligible, and eligibility will be re-evaluated every 30 days to ensure the program is targeted to producers in greatest need.

Information on all USDA programs available to assist producers including those provided by the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2003 is available at www.usda.gov .

Seeking an Edge Over Cattle Diseases Through DNA Sequencing

Agricultural Research Service scientists in Ames, Iowa, hope chromosome sequencing is the key that unlocks doors leading to new tests and vaccines for cattle diseases.

Researchers at the Bacterial Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, part of the National Animal Disease Center (NADC) in Ames, used a DNA sequence analyzer and collaborated with the University of Minnesota (U-M) to sequence the chromosomes of microbes that cause Johne's disease and bovine brucellosis.

In addition, the sequencing of an agent that causes leptospirosis -- a project being done completely within the unit -- has entered the final phase.

More information about genome sequencing at NADC can be found in the April 2003 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, on the Web at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/apr03/bact0403.htm

Control Range, Pasture Weeds With Long-Term Management

Good grazing management, combined with judicious herbicide use over several years, is the long-term, most profitable way to manage, said Paul Ohlenbusch, K-State Research and Extension range and pasture management specialist.

Two or more years of drought is the primary reason why weeds have been increasing, he said.

"We've had cold, dry springs with little moisture for several years. This combination changed the normal growth of grasses and resulted in new shifts in the weeds present," Ohlenbusch said.

This year, herbicides probably aren't a good choice for controlling many weeds, he said. Dry weather has resulted in grass plants that are too weak from lack of fall growth to rebuild the food reserves needed each spring.

Many of the native weeds, such as western ragweed and wild alfalfa, do not compete directly with grasses. And they contribute shade and wind protection that reduces soil moisture evaporation and provide a more moderate environment for grasses.

"Long term, the most economical weed control solution is to manage pastures for grass productivity," Ohlenbusch said. "In particular, avoid overgrazing pastures, especially from mid-July through December. Harvest native hay meadows in early July to get the best quality hay and long-term production, and mow meadows at least 4 inches high to allow for regrowth and good root system development."

Leaving adequate leaf growth is critical, he said. In eastern Kansas, the best grazing height for pastures is about 4 inches. In western Kansas, the best grazing height is about 2 inches.

"Mowing or grazing the grass shorter than the recommended height removes too much leaf area from the plants, which reduces their ability to rebuild needed reserves," Ohlenbusch said.

From mid-July through December, the grass plants are storing nutrients for their initial growth during late winter and early spring. If grazed short, the plants can't store nutrients and will be slower to start growth and will produce less forage next year, he said. In turn, reduced plant growth gives weeds the opportunity to invade.

Good grass management in relation to the weather should help reduce the occurrence of pasture and meadow weeds over the next one to three years, he said.

Major Firm Rolling Out New Beef Cuts

A new line of frozen steaks and roasts inspired by the checkoff-funded Beef Value Cuts program is being launched in many parts of the country. As part of its $100 million branding initiative, Tyson Foods, Inc., is shipping the new line to retailers in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and selected stores in Idaho. The line includes five new cuts from the Beef Value Cuts program: the Flat Iron Griller, Medallion Roast, Center Filet, Mesquite Center Filet and Peppered Center Filet.
In developing its new ready-to-cook beef products, Tyson Foods took advantage of pioneering work put forth by the beef industry with the checkoff-funded Muscle Profiling Study and the resultant beef value cuts. The company is initially launching the new beef products on the West Coast, in resealable packages that preserve quality and allow consumers to use what they need and save the rest for another meal. The packages include easy-to-follow cooking instructions.

CattleWomen Help "Beef Up" Air Base Morale

A group of CattleWomen, based in Hot Springs, S.D., recently provided $700 worth of beef and beef certificates as prizes for a Mardi Gras celebration held on Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, S.D.

"We wanted the folks on the base to know that we're behind them, and what better expression of South Dakota support, than a gift of beef?" said Barb Landers, Hot Springs, S.D., a Southern Hills CattleWomen representative who helped organize the sponsorship.

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