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News Update

February 1, 2012

NFU Commends Department of Labor for Retracting Proposed Child Labor Rules

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it is reevaluating the parental portion of the proposed child labor safety regulations for agriculture and agriculture-related jobs while moving forward with the hazardous occupation portions of the proposed rules:

"NFU is pleased that the administration listened to the concerns of the agriculture community and determined that these rules would hinder the ability of young workers to learn about agriculture while doing little to make them safer.

"Farming is a lifestyle that is passed down from generation to generation, so it is critical that farmers are able to teach their children how to perform the work safely and responsibly. No one is more concerned about the safety of young workers than their parents and other family members. Current rules and regulations allow adequate flexibility for parents to teach their children about agriculture while still ensuring that young workers are safe. Even more important are the values, work ethic, and life lessons, which are an enormous contribution to society and to our country.

"NFU is also pleased that the administration is moving forward with the new rules on Agriculture Hazardous Occupations Orders. While it is critical that young workers learn about agriculture, their safety is our top priority. We must ensure that only those who are older and understand the risks are able to perform some of the more dangerous tasks associated with agriculture, such as working inside a grain storage facility."

Cattle Industry Kicks Off Annual Convention in Nashville

National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President Bill Donald said roughly 6,000 cattlemen and women registered for the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. The event offers something for everyone. The convention, which kicked-off today, Feb. 1, in Nashville, Tenn., is the largest annual gathering of the beef industry, and Donald said it promises to be a convention to remember.

"We're here to highlight some of the successes of the past year while also setting goals and priorities for what lies ahead," Donald said. "From today's Cattlemen's College sessions to the many other educational events that will take place over the next three days, cattlemen and women will have the opportunity to hear directly from the experts about how to sustain and improve their operations."

After learning about the latest trends and technologies in the industry during Cattlemen's College and attending the NCBA Trade Show, convention goers will have the opportunity to attend committee meetings and take part in NCBA's grassroots policy process, Donald said. "It is important to let the voice of our producers be heard. The grassroots policy process is the backbone and the strength of NCBA. Cattlemen come together to discuss policy priorities and then chart the course forward for NCBA," Donald said. "From cattle health and federal lands to marketing and tax policy issues, there will be critical issues addressed this week."

While cattlemen and women will be hard at work during the day, Donald said there will be many opportunities to enjoy the Nashville culture.

Visit for more information from NCBA about the convention. Click here for photos and to follow NCBA on Twitter.

Angus Productions Inc. (API) is covering the event online. Visit the newsroom at Associate editor Kasey Miller will share tweets from the convention through our @AJeditor handle. Not on Twitter, you can follow her posts on the newly redesigned Angus Journal home page at or on

Accurate, Timely Foodborne Illness Data
Needed to Improve U.S. Food Safety

Food attribution data is essential to understand better the relationship and associated risks between microorganisms and food, the American Meat Institute (AMI) told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Tuesday, Jan. 31, and better food attribution data is critical in enhancing food safety. AMI made its comments in a public meeting to discuss federal efforts to enhance food safety strategies through the improved use and characterization of foodborne illness source attribution.

"Having and utilizing objective data allows food safety stakeholders to allocate food safety resources appropriately and scientifically justify the decisions made in their food safety systems," AMI Director of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren said. "By having timely, credible food attribution data, the food industry can accurately identify and improve any food safety gaps that may exist. It also may help identify emerging foodborne risks, especially when such risks have not been previously associated with specific foods."

AMI recommended several key steps:

"AMI recognizes the challenges of accurately estimating the burden of foodborne disease and attributing these burdens to food types, but these metrics are essential," Booren said. "The last decade has shown the important role cooperation and communication among public health officials, regulators, the food industry, and other allied stakeholders have had on improving food safety."

The full comments are available at

Are Your Cows Ready for the Calving Season?

Cattle producers need to pay close attention to the nutritional management of pregnant cows as they approach calving, says a University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist. "Cows need to have a body condition score (BCS) of 5 or better by calving, so their nutritional needs are very important now," said David Hoffman.

Management of the late-gestation pregnant cow determines if and when the cow returns to cycling activity after calving, Hoffman said.

"Body condition, age of the cow and the number of days since calving are the biggest influences on whether the cow is ready for the spring breeding season," he said.

Cows that are thin (BCS less than 5) at calving have a lower percentage cycling at the beginning of the breeding season. As body condition score increases, the percentage of cows cycling increases.

"Improvements in cow condition will lead to improved calf survival and vigor, improved quality and quantity of colostrum, and improved reproductive performance in the cow," Hoffman said.

The age of the cow affects the cow's ability to rebreed. "First- and second-calf cows are harder to get to rebreed than mature cows," he said.

The extra nutrient requirement for growth clearly limits the cycling activity at the beginning of the breeding season of 2-year-olds. "Supplementing your young cows will improve their breed-back performance," he said.

The number of days since calving also influences the cow's ability to rebreed. In research at Kansas State, from less than 50 days to 70 days, the percentage of cows cycling increased by 7.5% for every 10-day interval since calving.

"Having cows calve together in a short calving season is important because it allows for more cows to be cycling at the beginning of the breeding season," Hoffman said.

"Management of mature cows and first-calf heifers before the calving season has a dramatic effect on your calf crop this year and, more importantly, next year's calf crop," he added. "A cow or heifer needs to be in good body condition before she calves if you expect her to raise a healthy calf, continue to grow — if she is a first-calf cow — and rebreed in a timely fashion to calve next year. Calving early in the calving season improves production and profitability."

Ohio Compost Operator Education Course is March 21-22

The 2012 Ohio Compost Operator Education Course takes place March 21-22 at the Shisler Conference Center at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), 1680 Madison Ave., in Wooster.

It's a comprehensive program for people who work in the composting industry, including compost facility operators, public health officials, farmers, nursery managers, municipal solid waste managers and others.

Registration costs $175 for members of the Organics Recycling Association of Ohio (ORAO) and $225 for non-members. Continental breakfast, lunch and materials are included. The registration deadline is March 13.

Hours are 8:15 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on the first day and 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on the second. For more information and to register, contact Mary Wicks, 330-202-3533,, or go to (pdf).

To join ORAO and receive the discount registration rate, contact Linda Robertson,

Among the course's topics:

The instructors are composting experts from industry and from Ohio State University, including from OARDC.

Participants are eligible for the following continuing education credits: 13.0 hours, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Waste Water Certification; and 11.0 hours, Registered Sanitarians.


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