March 6, 2015

H5N2 Avian Flu Found In Minnesota Turkey Flock

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Pope County, Minnesota.

Minnesota State Veterinarian Dr. Bill Hartman says it’s the same strain confirmed in backyard and wild birds in states in the Pacific Northwest. However – this is the first finding in the Mississippi flyway…

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Hartman says nearly 15,000 turkeys have died at the farm – which has been quarantined.  The remaining birds will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease…

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The good news is there are no commercial flocks in that zone. However – Minnesota Ag Commissioner Dave Fredrickson says the infection could still lead to export bans beyond the one China already has in place for the U.S…

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Birds from the involved flock will not enter the food system – and the risk to humans from the illness is low.


South Dakota Beef Industry Council To Meet March 9

burgerThe South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) board of directors will meet on March 9, 2015 in Pierre, S.D. at the Red Rossa Conference Center to discuss upcoming projects of the state’s Beef Checkoff Program.
The meeting is open to the public, and RSVPs for the noon meal on Monday are due by March 6,” said Karla Pazour, SDBIC president. “These meetings determine how checkoff dollars are spent in South Dakota, as well as nationally and globally.”
Pazour credits the Beef Checkoff Program for keeping beef on foodservice menus and increasing demand for beef around the world, despite rising beef costs.
“The checkoff is mindful of the hard work that beef producers provide daily to meet the needs of today’s consumer,” said Pazour. “It is of utmost importance that we continue to support research and education that helps consumers feel good about the beef product that they love to eat.”
In addition to the quarterly financial and event reports, the SDBIC board of directors will discuss current hot topics, such as the proposed 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which call for the reduction of red meat from a healthy diet. In other new business, the directors will discuss the approved verbiage from the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group that would increase the checkoff assessment by one dollar to achieve a national rate of $2/head for each cattle transaction.
“As usual, at each quarterly meeting, individual committees will be going over proposals for future projects that support promotion, research or education of our beef product,” said Pazour. “Our target audience is the young Millennial parent, and funding is determined by how well the proposal reaches that influential market. A newly formed evaluation committee will be looking over current projects and giving direction or focus for future events.”


For more information on SDBIC projects, check out



Coalition of Farm Groups Urge Congress To Leave Farm Bill Alone

Proposed crop insurance cuts and EPA delays in issuing new renewable fuels targets continue to dominate ag lawmakers concerns. Both were among key topics at a Tuesday Senate hearing on farm bill implementation. Freshman Iowa Republican Joni Ernst asked Iowa corn and soybean grower Clay Mitchell if the EPA’s failure to issue timely RFS targets for 2014 and 2015 has created some instability in farming…tape

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Lawmakers are also focused on the administration’s proposed crop insurance cuts – 16-billion over 10-years in new cuts to prevented planting and revenue insurance programs. Georgia producer Ronnie Lee…tape

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Senate Ag Chair Pat Roberts asked USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack what the department’s doing to keep crop insurance as a viable risk management tool for farmers – especially with crop prices so low…tape

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Vilsack says the number of insurers has increased by a net of two – despite cuts in federal fees to the industry in recent years. Still – he argues insurer profit margins at 14 to 17-percent are too high – and the Administration insists 12-percent is enough. Other areas of concern include payment limits, food stamp waste and abuse, and proposed conservation cuts.

Nearly 400 farm, nutrition and conservation groups – including the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union – have written congressional budget letters urging Senate and House leaders to reject calls for additional cuts to the 2014 Farm Bill. In the letter – the groups say Congress passed sweeping changes to the nation’s food and farm policy that included significant deficit reduction just over one year ago.

The 2014 Farm Bill required over three years of debate in both chambers of Congress and ended with the consolidation of over 100 programs and cuts to mandatory spending across many titles. The groups say these cuts came in addition to those already in effect due to sequestration – and the farm bill was estimated to contribute 23-billion dollars to deficit reduction over 10-years when including sequestration.

NFU President Roger Johnson says the 2014 Farm Bill was a great victory for America’s farmers and ranchers because it provided them with much-needed stability – and also a huge win for taxpayers who will realize real savings from budget cuts made by the legislation. The coalition opposes re-opening any title of the Farm Bill during the consideration of the 2016 Budget Resolution. Johnson says the farm bill has been debated and passed – and should be left alone.