July 24, 2014

New Study Suggests Zilmax Feed Additive Safe After All

A recent study by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows beta agonists don’t harm cattle. The thought that beta agonists do harm cattle was the primary reason for Merck Animal Health to remove its feed additive Zilmax last August. The Food and Drug Administration approved the product – which has been used to improve feed conversion and result in more beef from each animal harvested – which has been a priority since 1952.

This recent study took place for a 26-day period. Researchers collected blood, monitored body temperature and video images from 20 heifers that were divided into two groups. One group received the recommended dose of Zilmax – the other did not. On the last day of the trial – heifers were exposed to a simulated stress event to mimic the stress response that would be anticipated in cattle being shipped from the feedlot to the packing plant. Study results show heifers fed Zilmax had an increase in parameters indicating increased muscle mass – which was expected.

Researcher Ty Schmidt says results also showed heifers supplemented with Zilmax had a decreased production of cortisol – the stress hormone – and decreased body temperature during the simulated stress event. Overall – Schmidt says the results indicate while there are variations in the body temperature, endocrine and metabolic parameters and histopathology of major organs of Zilmax-supplemented heifers – the differences show no indication supplementation of Zilmax is detrimental to health or well-being in cattle.


Risky Business Study Discusses Business Implications of Climate Change

A group of business people and political leaders have released a project called Risky Business. Risky Business assesses ways to manage the financial impact of climate change through the end of the century. The study does not propose ways to mitigate the problem. However - it does offer its data to anyone wanting to assess the financial risk of things like rising sea levels and the impact of flooding on coastal properties - real estate, homes, businesses, whole cities - or of drier growing seasons in the corn belt. One of the Risky Business study members is the Executive Chairman of the global agricultural giant Cargill - Greg Page

Greg Page On Risky Business-1

The study does not provide solutions to the inherent financial risks of the Earth’s warming - but rather an enormous data set - some 23 terabytes-worth - free to anyone who wants to use it. The data provides geographically specific climate change information

Greg Page on Risky Business-2

Decisions - Page says - that can take place in a business environment - regardless of one’s beliefs about climate change. The kind of conversations he says that are not taking place for fear the mention might prompt unwanted government involvement

Greg Page on Risky Business-3

Learn more about the Risky Business study on the web at www.RiskyBusiness.org



Biodiesel Advocates Hit Capitol Hill

Nearly 100 biodiesel producers, feedstock suppliers and other advocates are traveling to Washington this week to voice concerns about the Obama Administration’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for biodiesel.

The biodiesel supporters arrive at a critical time for the industry, which has seen widespread cutbacks this year as a result of policy setbacks in Washington. A recent national survey of producers conducted by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) found that more than half have idled a plant this year and 78 percent have reduced production from last year. Nearly two-thirds – 66 percent – have already laid off employees or anticipate doing so.

“People are losing their jobs in this industry as we speak, and it’s largely because Washington has delivered sporadic, inconsistent policy,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs at NBB, the industry trade association. “As President Obama has said, America should be the world leader in biodiesel and in Advanced Biofuels. And we can be. But we need this Administration and this Congress to stand behind strong energy policy that encourages investment and growth.”

Biodiesel – which had a record U.S. market last year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons – is made from an increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats. It is the only domestic, EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel produced on a commercial scale across the country. The EPA has determined that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent. With plants in nearly every state in the country, the industry supported more than 62,000 jobs in 2013.

The biodiesel advocates traveling to Washington represent companies in at least 27 states. Their visit will focus on concerns about the Obama Administration’s RFS proposal for biodiesel, which would set biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons, a sharp cut from last year’s actual production. They also will call on lawmakers to reinstate the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive, which expired on Dec. 31.