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News Update

July 20, 2012

Severe Weather Damages Louisville Hotel, Delays Friday Show at NJAS

Severe weather in Louisville, Ky., Thursday evening, July 19, ripped through the metro area and caused significant damage to the Crowne Plaza hotel and surrounding buildings. High winds, heavy rains and hail severely damaged the roof of the Crowne Plaza — the headquarters hotel for the 2012 National Junior Angus Show (NJAS).

Alternative lodging accommodations were made for several Crowne Plaza guests and several vehicles in the hotel parking lot were damaged.

Earlier Thursday evening, the National Weather Service reported winds topping 64 miles per hour at the nearby Louisville International Airport; and Louisville emergency response crews reported flash flooding.

The start of today's owned heifer show was delayed to 11 a.m. EST.
Click here to watch video coverage from Louisville. For more information, visit and the Association Facebook page.

AFBF Asks to Join Poultry Farmer's Lawsuit Against EPA

Taking aim at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of a Farm Bureau member, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) on Thursday, July 19, filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit concerning EPA's authority to regulate poultry and livestock farms under the Clean Water Act. AFBF filed to intervene on the side of West Virginia poultry grower Lois Alt, who brought suit to challenge an EPA order demanding that Alt obtain an unnecessary and costly CWA discharge permit. AFBF was joined in the motion by the West Virginia Farm Bureau.

Alt sued EPA in June after the agency ordered her to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharge permit. EPA's order threatens Alt with $37,500 in daily fines for stormwater that may come into contact with dust, feathers or dander deposited on the ground outside of poultry house ventilation fans, or small amounts of manure that may be present in the farmyard as a result of normal poultry farming operations. EPA also seeks separate fines if Alt fails to apply for an NPDES permit for the alleged "discharge" of stormwater from her farmyard.

U of Illinois Offers Drought Resources Website

University of Illinois Extension has launched an Illinois Drought Resources website.

Although the site is focused on information related to the weather and conditions in Illinois, it includes information of interest to other parts of the country, including drought-monitoring sites for the Midwest and the United States, information on USDA's Disaster Assistance Program, and American Society of Agronomy's Managing through the Drought Resources web page.

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding 2012 Drought

"The most widespread drought in a generation has imposed great stress on people, crops and livestock. While the full impact on the nation won't be known for several months, many farmers already know they won't have a crop. Ranchers and livestock producers are having difficulties getting feed and forage for their livestock. The on-farm economic impacts are real and serious.

"From a policy perspective, it is important to remember that we don't yet know the drought's impact on the food supply and food prices, though we are seeing effects on feed prices. The drought's effect on the 2012 corn crop is all the more dramatic because of the initial projections that U.S. farmers would harvest the largest corn crop ever. The latest forecasts still suggest we are on pace to produce the third- or fourth-largest corn crop on record. While the true extent of the damage will not be known until harvest is completed, we expect USDA's August crop report, which is now being compiled to be released in three weeks, will provide a clearer picture as it will include actual in-the-field surveys. And we know, quite often, if conditions do not improve, the biggest impact comes in the following crop year.

"Data suggests that most of the corn and other row crops in the drought-stricken regions are covered by crop insurance. It's often a different story for producers of other crops. Fruit producers in the upper Midwest had entire crops wiped out this spring by late freezes and other producers have had crop losses due to excessive rains and late-season blizzards. That is why we have called for a strengthened federal crop insurance program."

For more information and the full story, click here.

Livestock, Poultry Groups Release Ethanol Study

A coalition of livestock and poultry groups is urging Congress to change the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

The moves comes after a study, conducted by Thomas Elam of FarmEcon LLC and funded by livestock and poultry groups, asserted that the federal ethanol policy has increased and destabilized the prices of corn, soybeans and wheat.

"The increases we've seen in commodity prices are strongly associated with the RFS mandate," Elam said in a National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) news release. "At the same time, we haven't seen the promised benefits on oil imports or gasoline prices. This means that while Americans are forced to pay more for food, they're also not seeing lower prices at the pump; it's a lose-lose situation."

Elam notes that the biofuels industry does not yet have a commercially viable process for converting cellulosic biomass to ethanol, and that increased ethanol production since 2007 has not reduced gasoline production or crude oil use.

For more information and the full story, click here.

Higher Corn Prices May Carry Widespread Implications

Corn prices have soared since late May as drought conditions in the U.S. Midwest fuelled expectations of lower yields and tighter supplies, according to a report issued by BMO Capital Markets.

"The production shortfall is making already-stretched supplies even tighter," said Sam Miller, managing director and group head, agriculture, BMO Harris Bank. "The states most heavily affected by the drought are Indiana, followed by Illinois, Missouri and southern Wisconsin. If sustained, the surge in corn prices would raise production costs for many agricultural and food enterprises."

While the latest jump in crop prices is unlikely to cause overall inflation to run rampant, it will impart some upward pressure.

For the full release, click here.

Group Says Humanely Raised Meat Is More Nutritious

A group opposed to so-called factory farming has analyzed data from 76 scientific studies to conclude that meat from animals raised in "higher-welfare" farming systems tend to have less fat and more Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

"The compelling results in our report indicate that raising animals in high welfare systems can have nutritional benefits for people," said Emily Lewis-Brown, research manager at U.K.-based Compassion in World Farming, the group that produced the report.

Among the group's claims:

A free-range chicken may have up to 50% less fat than an industrially farmed one and up to 565% more Omega 3s.

Pasture-reared beef has 25%-50% less fat, up to 430% more Omega 3s, and as much as 700% more beta-carotene.

Free-range pig meat has up to 200% more vitamin E and up to 290% more Omega 3s.

The full report can be found by clicking here.

Disaster Loans Available in Illinois After Drought Declaration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that federal economic injury disaster loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of all sizes located in Clark, Crawford, Gallatin, Lawrence, Wabash and White counties in Illinois as a result of drought that began June 19, 2012.

"These counties are eligible because they are contiguous to one or more primary counties in Indiana. The Small Business Administration recognizes that disasters do not usually stop at county or state lines. For that reason, counties adjacent to primary counties named in the declaration are included," said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA's Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.

"When the Secretary of Agriculture issues a disaster declaration to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops, the Small Business Administration issues a declaration to assist eligible entities affected by the same disaster," Skaggs added.

Webinar Examines Livestock and Crop Options During Drought

Iowa crop and livestock producers dealing with drought-related issues are invited to attend an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach webinar Wednesday, July 25, to learn more about options available to them. County extension offices will be hosting the 1-3 p.m. webinar. There is no charge to attend the webinar.

Livestock issues covered during the webinar will include options to help producers manage immediate needs related to stressed pastures and reduced hay supplies. "We also will talk about early weaning to reduce cow requirements and supplemental feeding," said Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center director. "Other topics facing producers are feeding value, proper ensiling and potential for nitrate toxicity for corn harvested as silage or green chop."

Members of the extension crops team will cover the topics of crop growth and development under drought conditions and feeding drought damaged crops. "We will look at current conditions, short-range and long-range forecasts, impacts of drought on forages and crops, and impacts on disease and insect development," said Roger Elmore, extension corn specialist.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Can Improving Soil Decrease Risk During Drought?

It sure has been an interesting year when it comes to evaluating red clover stands that were frost-seeded into wheat. In the southwest part of Michigan where we haven't received any rain for an extended period, most of our red clover is burning up. In other parts of the state where they have had rain, farmers are calling me to develop a management plan for outstanding clover stands.

At W.K. Kellogg Biological Station where most of my research is located, our frost-seeded red clover plots are burning up. However, in our organic wheat, the red clover remains green and has a pretty good stand. Obviously, if we do not receive any more rain it will die over time.

Seeing this difference in red clover survival made me contemplate why. So, our cover crop team came up with several possible hypotheses.

For more information and the full release, click here.


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