APHIS Urged to Review Indemnification Calculators for TB and Brucellosis Eradication Programs

January 06, 2012

NMPF recently commented on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Service (VS) proposals for “Appraisals Using Beef and Dairy Calculators” and “Options for Federal Indemnity Payments Veterinary Services Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Programs.”

Based on the USDA “Appraisals Using Beef and Dairy Calculators” proposal, the milk cow appraisal calculator appears to generate a reasonable engineered price. It depreciates a recently freshened first-calf cow until it is a cull cow, with logical adjustments for higher productivity and, through productivity, for breed. In comments to USDA, NMPF states that the milk cow appraisal calculator appears to overstate this depreciation in the first year or two, and encourage USDA to investigate this possibility. The dairy replacement appraisal calculators are a bit more ad hoc, because they rely on less consistent information, but also seem to be reasonable. Nevertheless, NMPF encouraged USDA to examine all these models’ ability to predict actual market prices (especially if that was not part of the original validation process) and to periodically review the models’ accuracy, especially for appraising whole herds.

One important purpose of the indemnity payments is fair compensation of producers for the cost they bear for the public’s benefit and fairness demands effective valuation. Providing fair market value for livestock is also important for eliminating an owner’s incentive to hide an infection or to resist taking appropriate steps for wider animal health. In that light, NMPF commented on four options presented in the USDA “Options for Federal Indemnity Payments Veterinary Services Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Programs” proposal.

NMPF suggested that enhancement of the management tools available for producers who have a tuberculosis or brucellosis infected animal is required to advance this disease eradication program. Traditionally, USDA and states have relied on whole herd depopulation as the preferred response to maintain state status. The recent TB experience in California, where a single TB-infected animal is identified out of thousands of animals, demonstrates the need for a viable test-and-cull strategy. At the same time, whole herd depopulation must remain in the suite of management strategies. A linchpin to these efforts is an effective animal ID system.

Full comments are available on the NMPF website.


NMPF Submits Comments on USDA Disease Traceability Proposal

January 06, 2012

As part of the dairy industry’s strong proactive stance in advocating mandatory animal identification and disease traceability, NMPF provided comments on the proposed USDA disease traceability rule. The rule would establish general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving across state lines when animal disease events take place. In the comments consistent with long standing policy, NMPF stated its support for mandatory animal identification and disease traceability to serve as a collective industry insurance policy against catastrophic animal disease outbreaks.

NMPF recommended that USDA proceed with mandatory animal identification and traceability standards that are unique for the dairy industry and these not need to be aligned to any requirements for the beef industry. In the past, USDA has attempted to have a unified animal identification and traceability rule for bovines in general, thus having the same requirements for the dairy and beef industries. USDA is well aware of the differences in opinion between the dairy and beef industries relative to the need of mandatory versus voluntary animal identification and traceability.

Because animal diseases do not respect political boundaries, NMPF believes that disease traceability must be consistent across all state, tribal, and territorial governments. Without this consistency, there will be a negative impact on the effectiveness of the program for animal identification and disease traceability for the dairy industry. It is conceivable there could be different systems implemented by each political entity. Since a significant number of dairy producers operate in more than one political jurisdiction, this will likely result in confusion and added expense for producers. Therefore NMPF recommended that USDA exercise federal preemption to provide a far more beneficial national system with all state, tribal, and territorial governments utilizing a central system, making it easier for producers and other industry partners to participate.

NMPF recommended that USDA require official 840-RFID tags for all female dairy cattle and those male dairy cattle used for reproductive purposes. Along with our IDairy partners, NMPF has long supported the use of RFID tag technology as the appropriate animal identification for dairy cattle to allow for disease traceability at the speed of commerce. RFID tag technology is being readily adopted by dairy producers as part of their herd management systems for animal health, reproduction, performance, genetic, and other purposes. NMPF also recommended to USDA for the allowance of the replacement of AIN’s with the same number which will protect the long-standing and important animal management philosophy the dairy industry utilizes today.


Agriculture Groups Oppose Animal Rights Bill

January 06, 2012

A coalition of eight agricultural groups, including NMPF, the Egg Farmers of America, and the American Farm Bureau Federation, signed a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee last month to oppose the creation of federal standards for the welfare of egg-laying hens.

The bill, introduced by Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR), resulted from an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP). It would allow for larger, enriched-colony cages and phase out smaller cages over 15 to 18 years, which the letter argued would force additional, costly, and unnecessary animal rights mandates that could leach into all corners of animal farming, irreparably damaging the livelihoods of family farmers across the country.


Farm Dust Legislation Passes House of Representatives

January 06, 2012

In the fall, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the agency will not seek to revise the standards for coarse particulate matter (PM10), or dust, alleviating major concerns for farmers and ranchers throughout the country, especially in the west. Nevertheless, there is still anxiety by some that this announcement is just a slight victory, while the days of farm dust being regulated further by EPA are not too far down the road.

There have been ongoing efforts in Congress to halt or delay EPA from revising the standards. Legislation introduced by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD.), the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011 (HR 1633), would exempt farm dust from falling under the purview of the Clean Air Act for one year. On Dec. 8, the legislation passed the House of Representatives by a resounding vote of 268-150. The bill has now been sent to the Senate, where many are skeptical it will ever see further action. Prior to the bill’s passage in the House, President Barack Obama sent a message to Congress that he would veto the legislation if it were to reach his desk. A large coalition of agriculture stakeholders, including NMPF, sent a letter pledging support for Rep. Noem’s legislation.


NASS Reinstates Dairy Reports after NMPF Request

January 06, 2012

Last October, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced that it would cut a number of its statistical reports in anticipation of substantial budget cuts imposed by Congress. In November, Congress voted to give NASS $6 million more than anticipated, and directed the agency to re-evaluate the reports that had been slated to be cut. NMPF wrote to Cynthia Clark, NASS’ Administrator, requesting that she restore the July Cattle report, along with the annual table containing the national breakdown of dairy farms by size.

On December 8, Dr. Clark informed NMPF that both the July Cattle report and the Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations report – which contains the dairy farm size breakdown – would be restored to NASS’ publication schedule. The Cattle report, which is also published in January, provides the only comprehensive data on dairy heifers and cows. (This is the foundation for the monthly cow estimates in the Milk Production report.)

NMPF has also been in discussions with NASS about ensuring the accuracy of its reported alfalfa hay prices.


FDA Milk Sampling Program Begins

January 06, 2012

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) milk residue survey project is now underway. The FDA residue survey involves the collection of a total of nearly 2,000 universal milk samples at central milk testing laboratories: 900 milk samples from dairy producers with a cull dairy cow tissue residue violation, and another 900 random milk samples. FDA will have the samples blinded at the central laboratories, and then shipped to the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) at Illinois Institute of Technology.

The milk samples will then be shipped to FDA laboratories for analysis. The milk samples will be tested for about 30 different antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory residues which may include the following: Ampicillin, Cephapirin, Cloxacillin, Penicillin G, Erythromycin, Tylosin, Ciprofloxacin, Sarafloxacin, Chlortetracycline, Oxytetracycline, Tetracycline, Doxycycline, Sulfachloropyridazine, Sulfadiazine, Sulfamerazine, Sulfadimethoxine,Sulfamethazine, Sulfaquinoxaline, Sulfathiazole, Tripelennamine,Thiabendazole, Pirlimycin, Flunixin, Bacitracin, Virginiamycin, Tilmicosin, Neomycin, Gentamicin, Florfenicol, Chloramphenicol and Tulathromycin.

NMPF anticipates that the sampling and laboratory analysis will take about one year. As a reminder, the NMPF Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Manual is available on the National Dairy FARM Program website.


CWT Export Assistance Sets New Performance Benchmark in 2011

January 06, 2012

In 2011, Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) helped member cooperatives make 280 export sales totaling 92.4 million pounds of cheese, a new benchmark for the Export Assistance program. That total was nearly 20 million pounds higher than exports achieved in 2010, when CWT assisted with 241 export sales totaling 73.9 million pounds of cheese.

CWT continued to play a significant role in exports of American-type cheese in general, and Cheddar cheese specifically. While data for all of 2011 is not yet final, initial analysis indicates that the volume of CWT-assisted Cheddar cheese export shipments in the first ten months of 2011 – 69.7 million pounds – accounted for 76% of Cheddar cheese loaf exports, 79% of American-type cheese exports in loaf form, and 19% of the total cheese exported in all forms.

Dairy product sales assisted by CWT and shipped in 2011 have added an average of 22 cents per hundredweight on all milk marketed. That is an increase in producer revenue of $120 million, according to an analysis by Dr. Scott Brown, University of Missouri and FAPRI.

Asian countries accounted for 35% of the total pounds sold, with Japan taking 84% of the sales volume. The Middle East was close behind, representing 32% of the total tonnage, with Saudi Arabia accounting for 50% of the pounds sold in that region.