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News Update

February 28, 2013

Producers Should Control Lice in Cold Weather

Beef producers should be on the lookout for lice infestations and have a plan for controlling the spread toprevent animal stress, a Purdue Extension beef specialist says.

“Now is the time when lice populations are going to become a noticeable problem,” Ron Lemenager said. “We’ve got cold weather and heavy winter hair coats on cattle, and that’s the perfect scenario for lice populations to increase and become evident.”

Cattle with lice infestations will rub against trees, fences and buildings, irritating their skin and damaging property. Lemenager said lice can disrupt feeding behavior, reduce milk production, increase weight loss and result in an unthrifty appearance.

Persistent rubbing and loss of hair should be a warning to producers that cattle have a lice problem.

“Lice infections can be confirmed by parting an animal’s hair and looking closely to identify the small, flat-bodied lice attached to the hair and skin,” Lemenager said. “Heavily infected cattle can take on a greasy appearance from rubbing, and skin will be raw and red.”

This additional stress can make cattle more susceptible to disease, and it hinders productivity in grow-finish cattle, cattle experiencing cold stress and cows within the herd.

For more information, click here.

Farmers See Tax Changes in Annual Reporting in 2012

The fiscal cliff created the opportunity for a number of changes in the tax rules regulating when a farm must complete and file their annual income tax returns. For 2012, farm income tax returns have received a deadline extension from the normal March 1, 2013, date to file their tax returns without penalty, if they have not made estimates. With the tax deadline extended, Farm producers now have until April 15, 2013, to file their tax returns without a penalty.

Farms that elect to delay completing and filing their tax returns after March 1, 2013, will need to include a Form 2110F as part of their returns. The Form 2110F is a waiver that was part of the enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA). To qualify, at least two-thirds of the taxpayer’s gross income must be from farming in either 2011 or 2012.

Much of the guidance from the IRS is still in process due to the late enactment of ATRA after the end of 2012.

Some of the changes and a major point that may impact farms as they prepare their 2012 income tax returns.

The 179 expense election for 2012 was set at $500,000 retroactively because of the ATRA. This allowance provides an option for accelerated depreciation on new or used machinery or equipment purchases for the year of its purchase. There is a dollar-for-dollar phase-out if your farm purchased more than $2 million of depreciable capital assets during 2012. This change is a major increase from the $139,000 that was originally stated in the 2012 rules.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Ranchers Develop Planning Methodology
to Best Respond to Drought

Like a general mapping out his strategy before going into battle, a rancher must be prepared to respond effectively to drought, one of the biggest threats to Great Plains ranchers. With the input of ranchers and advisors, a drought-planning methodology has been created to encourage more ranchers to develop advance plans.

Drought-planning concepts are examined in the current issue of the journal Rangelands. Noting that “a strategic objective of every ranch should be to strive for drought resilience,” the National Drought Mitigation Center interviewed and brought together ranchers and advisors to develop this planning methodology.

The many aspects of a drought plan include how a ranch operation will maintain natural resources, production, financial health, customer relations and lifestyle. However, drought planning is essentially part of a larger vision for a ranch. This vision might include the importance of native grass, livestock, wildlife and people in its overall goals.

In planning for a future drought, it is necessary to conduct an inventory of resources, understand the risks and even the benefits of drought, and know how to monitor and measure drought. Critical dates for decision-making should be identified in advance. It is also important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all plan, and multiple management strategies may be useful.

Strategies for before, during, and after drought should be in place. Some ranchers described using grazing-management systems to foster desirable plant species as a way to improve pasture health beforehand. When drought occurs, these ranchers know their pastures will be in the best condition to tolerate it. Others mentioned ensuring there was a “cushion” in their forage supply.

During a drought, ranchers need guidelines for when to make decisions about stocking rates, alternate forage and changes to burn schedules. After a drought, strategies for recovery are needed that take into consideration the severity of the drought, market trends and financial issues. These factors affect decisions such as when and how much to restock. Advisors recommend cost analysis exercises to help ranchers determine the short- and long-term tradeoffs.

Grass-Fed Beef Conference Scheduled
May 30-31 in College Station

With consumer interest heightening about where food comes from, grass-fed beef producers will have the opportunity to learn more about marketing opportunities as well as production trends during a May 30-31 conference in College Station, Texas.

Rick Machen, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist in Uvalde, Texas, said producers can learn about all aspects of grass-fed beef production techniques at the conference, which will be hosted at the Rosenthal Meat Science Building on the Texas A&M University campus.

“One of the highlights will be Dr. John Andrae, Extension forage specialist from Clemson (University),” Machen said. “Among U.S. grass-fed livestock producers, John is well-recognized for his ‘sustainable systems’ approach to forage production and grazing management. Given the ongoing drought across much of the South Central U.S., sustainable forage production is atop everyone’s items-of-interest list.

“Though we’ve talked about it before, a significant emphasis in this year’s conference will be the importance of a sustainable — both quantity and quality — forage supply, perhaps the most difficult part of a grass-fed beef production system.”

The conference will cover a broad range of topics pertaining to grass-fed beef production and is open to both beef producers and consumers.

For more information, click here.

Three States Awarded ‘My American Farm’ Kiosks

Minnesota Farm Bureau (MFB) was awarded a “My American Farm” kiosk at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Joint National Leadership and Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. The winner of the kiosk was selected through tweets posted to Twitter.

The conference’s keynote speaker, Michael Abrashoff, selected the winner, asking attendees to tweet examples of how they put the leadership roadmap to work.
MFB member Malissa Fritz tweeted, “I am passionate about being a farmer, a wife, and a mom! But, as a leader, it’s my responsibility to share that passion!” She won the kiosk for her home state’s Farm Bureau headquarters.

Two additional kiosks were given away at AFBF’s 94th annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., in January. North Dakota Farm Bureau won a kiosk during a drawing at the opening general session and North Carolina Farm Bureau was awarded the second during the Foundation’s Night Out at the Grand Ole Opry House.

Kiosks feature educational games from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s website. The site, resources and kiosk are made possible through the generous support of title sponsor, DuPont Pioneer. To take advantage of free My American Farm resources, games and activities, click here.

South Texas Soil Testing Campaign Extended Until March 31

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s soil testing campaign for the Lower Rio Grande Valley has been extended until March 31 to allow agricultural producers more time to get their soil tested, according to agency officials.

Growers in Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties are encouraged to take part in the no-cost soil testing campaign to help the environment and their bottom lines, according to Ashley Gregory, an AgriLife Extension assistant in Weslaco. Gregory works with the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership for the Texas Water Resources Institute.

“Conducted every year since 2001, the soil testing program has been very successful in helping growers know exactly how much residual fertilizer is already in the ground,” Gregory said. “More than 5,000 soil samples have been collected since 2001.”

By knowing how much fertilizer is in the soil, many growers have been able to cut down on the fertilizer they apply, which can amount to a huge cost savings, especially with rising fertilizer prices, she said.

Growers can pick up soil sample bags and forms from the AgriLife Extension offices in Cameron, Willacy and Hidalgo counties and the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Weslaco, said Brad Cowan, AgriLife Extension agent for agricultural and natural resources in Hidalgo County.

For more information and the full release, click here.


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