NCBA Encourages Comments on WOTUS

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The comment period for the repeal of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) ends Monday, August 28, 2017 and members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) want to encourage farmers and ranchers to participate. The organization has released a video featuring Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt urges farmers and ranchers to let their voice be heard.

“When comments are made a part of a record – as rule-making – we have an obligation to review them,” Pruitt says in NCBA’s video. “It helps inform our decision-making process; it helps us make better decisions. And so we want farmers and ranchers across this country to provide comments.”

The video was filmed during the Administrator’s “State Action Tour” during which he met with ranchers and received input about how to proceed in the future.

“We’re trying to fix the challenges from the 2015 rule,” explains Pruitt, “where the Obama Administration re-imagined their authority under the Clean Water Act and defined a Water of the United States as being a puddle, a dry creek bed, and ephemeral drainage ditches across this country, which created great uncertainty… and we are fixing that, and then we’re hearing from stakeholders about how to get it right as we go forward.”

SMART Farmer Phil Borgic

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Meet the Illinois hog farmer whose family farm is the star of the 360 video the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance has been sharing around the country this year. You can watch the video without effects below – and if you have a VR viewer or headset take a look in 360.

Phil Borgic has a family farm in Nokomis, Illinois where he raises hogs, corn, soybeans and wheat. He also serves on the board of directors for the National Pork Producers Council and the USFRA. In this podcast, he talks about how today’s production methods are both humane and sustainable, in addition to being smart.

Learn more about Phil in this episode – SMART Farmer Podcast with Illinois hog farmer Phil Borgic

Subscribe to the SMART Farmer podcast

Learn more about USFRA and SMART Farm

Animal Ag Bites 8/14

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International Buyers of U.S. Soy Convene in Omaha

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Next week, U.S. soybean farmers will have the opportunity to meet the international buyers responsible for purchasing the 60% of soybeans exported from the U.S. each year. The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) will host its 5th annual U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange Aug. 15-17 at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center. It will be our second year to cover the event and we thought we would get a preview of the conference from Jim Miller, USSEC chairman of the board.

“The United States is a top supplier of the world’s soy, thanks to the sustainable, consistent supply and exceptional composition that U.S. soybean farmers provide. To maintain this leadership position, it’s imperative that we meet and exceed our customers’ demands. This event opens an important dialog that spans the soy value chain, from the U.S. soybean farmer to the end user,” said Miller.

They are expecting over 250 international buyers representing 50 countries and about 350 U.S. soybean farmers to attend the conference focused on relationship building and education. Jim said there are many myths and unknowns about U.S. soybean production and this event serves as the perfect location to tell the story and paint the picture of U.S. production.

“Anytime we can have the international customers come to the U.S. and visit directly with farmers and hear the farmers story firsthand, it’s a great opportunity to dispell those myths,” said Miller.

Following the event in Omaha, groups of international attendees will visit U.S. farms for a firsthand glimpse of sustainable U.S. soybean farming practices. Listen to my complete conversation with Jim here: Interview with Jim Miller, USSEC Chairman

Adam McClung Recognized as Transformational Leader

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It is still hard to believe our friend and fellow ag communicator is no longer with us. We wanted to share the latest information from the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association remembering Adam’s life and spirit. We send continued prayers to his family and close friends.

– Adam McClung Recognized as Transformational Leader –

Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association (ACA) Executive Vice President Adam McClung passed away August 6, 2017, at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. McClung succumbed to a brief, but severe illness. The unexpected passing sent shockwaves through the cattle industry in Arkansas and throughout the country.

McClung was known as a transformational leader, according to ACA President Jerry Christie. “Adam was one of a kind. His larger than life personality and unwavering dedication to the farm and ranch families of Arkansas was unparalleled,” said Christie. “Adam took this association to a whole new level. Under his leadership, we dramatically increased membership, effectiveness in the state legislature and created Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Class. Most importantly, Adam cared about cattle producers and made sure this association was member driven and member run. His passion was contagious.”

Adam first served ACA as director of membership before eventually becoming the executive vice president in 2009 after serving one year with the Oklahoma Beef Council as director of industry relations. His success was noticed throughout the country. McClung’s policy savvy and ability to draft innovative legislation that would truly advance the state’s cattle industry was evident by other state cattle organizations following his lead and pushing McClung’s ideas in their respective states. McClung honored tradition but pushed change when it was necessary to improve the cattle industry. His relentless efforts to bring positive change to the beef cattle industry spurred the White House and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to recognize him in 2014 as just one of 15 “Champions of Change” leaders from across the country.

Despite his passion and success in the cattle industry, those who knew him best would say that wasn’t his top priority. Past ACA President Marcus Creasy, who was a personal friend, said McClung’s first love and a primary driver in life was family. On July 3, 2010, McClung married his best friend, Chantel Powell. The real “game changer,” according to Creasy, came on May 26, 2015, when the family expanded with the birth of daughter, Magdelana “Maggie” Blair.

“Maggie Blair was a game changer for Adam. She was his whole universe. His devotion to the cattle industry paled in comparison to his love and commitment to Chantel and that little girl,” said Creasy. “It was impossible to have a conversation with Adam and not talk about his family. You could be talking cows one second and somehow his eyes would flicker with excitement and the conversation quickly turned to family.”

In honor of Adam, the “Maggie Blair Education Fund” has been set up at People’s Bank at 20409 Arch Street, Little Rock, AR., 72206. There has also been a memorial fund established through YouCaring.com.

The Memorial Service for Adam will be this Friday, August 11th at 2 pm at Springhill Baptist Church in Greenbrier, AR.

PERC Announces New Propane Farm Incentive Program

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If you’ve been thinking about switching to propane, now is the time, says Cinch Munson, director of agriculture business development at the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC).  The Propane Farm Incentive program has been newly revised, taking it from a two-step process to one-step where farmers receive their application packet from the dealer when they purchase a piece of qualifying equipment.  “We wanted to make things easier,” Munson said.

The purpose of the program is to offset the costs of purchasing propane-powered equipment and to gather valuable information about increasing efficiency and the development of new equipment.  Currently propane equipment in the ag space includes irrigation engines, prime power generators, heating systems for greenhouses and animals, and a few grain dryers.  To find a list of qualifying purchases, visit www.propane.com/farmincentive.

Two new offerings have also been brought to market by Origins Engines.  The new 5.7 L and 6.2 L engines provide higher horsepower that was previously lacking.  “We’re pretty excited to see that come to market because more choices are always a benefit for the consumer,” Munson told Cindy.

As with all good things, this offer will come to an end.  Currently it’s set to continue through 2017, but if you’re thinking about it, do it now, Munson advised.  There are lots of positives and very few negatives.

“It’s a good size incentive on an engine that, in most every case, costs considerably less than the latest Tier 4 engines.  So by choosing propane you save money on the cost up front.  Participating in the Farm Incentive Program you save even more money, and then the operating costs on those engines- we’ve seen over the last five years- by using propane instead of diesel, an operation can save 30 to 50 percent on their operating costs.”

Listen to Cindy’s full interview with Munson here: Interview with Cinch Munson, PERC

Ag Community Remembers Adam McClung

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The beef and agricultural media communities lost a great man and passionate spokesperson for the industry. Adam McClung, executive director, Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, passed away over the weekend after a brief but severe illness. Just weeks ago many Livestock Publications Council and American Ag Editors Association members were gathered together and Adam was among us. We all have such fond memories of his wit and commitment to agriculture.

Just three weeks ago, I was able to spend the day with Adam on a farm in North Central Arkansas gathering a story on the Black Headed Vultures and depredation loss Arkansas cattlemen are seeing. This policy issue is just one example of Adam’s dedication. We send prayers to his family and friends during this time, along with love and support to his wife and young daughter.

An education memorial fund has been set up in memory of Adam for his daughter, Maggie Blair. Make checks to “Maggie Blair Education Fund” in memory of Adam McClung. They can be mailed to Peoples Bank, Maggie Blair Education Fund, 20409 Arch Street, Little Rock, AR 72206.

AmericanWool.org Launches to Educate Consumers

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The American Sheep Industry Association and its American Wool Council have launched a multi-faceted campaign to take wool’s incredible story straight to the consumer, including a new website at AmericanWool.org.

A new American Wool logo was launched in 2016 to kick off renewed promotional efforts. The website will work in conjunction with a variety of social media sites to tell American wool’s narrative in a multi-media fashion that includes stories, photos and video.

“What we found is that consumers are not aware that wool is a high-performance fiber,” said ASI Director of Wool Marketing Rita Kourlis Samuelson. “A lot of consumers don’t understand how modern-day wool differs from grandma’s scratchy, old sweater. We saw a need to educate the consumer about American wool, and the new website is the best way to reach an audience that is ready to embrace products made with natural fibers such as American wool.”

USDA Getting #BackToOurRoots

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has been on a five-state “Back to Our Roots” Tour to gather input on the 2018 Farm Bill, meeting with farmers, ranchers, foresters, producers, students, governors, USDA employees, and other stakeholders. This is the first of two RV tours the secretary will undertake this summer.

This first RV Tour features stops in five states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. “The ‘Back to our Roots’ Farm Bill and rural prosperity RV listening tour will allow us to hear directly from people in agriculture across the country, as well as our consumers – they are the ones on the front lines of American agriculture and they know best what the current issues are,” Perdue said.

Secretary Sonny held a press conference this morning to talk about his trip, with reporters’ questions including issues with Sam Clovis’ nomination, dicamba concerns, and drought in the Dakotas.
Sec. Perdue presser on Back to our Roots tour

Animal Ag Bites 8/7

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  • Elanco celebrated the opening of their new autogenous poultry vaccine manufacturing facility in Winslow, Maine earlier this summer.  The new facility is dedicated to manufacturing customized inactivated vaccines for unique disease challenges.
  • This month the National Young Farmers Coalition is hosting the Young Farmers Roundtables to provide an oppoturnity for members to express their needs to members of the House Agriculture Committee.
  • On Aug. 4, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced that its members have approved a three-year extension of the labor contract covering 29 West Coast ports. The contract between ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) now runs through June 30, 2022 reports the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).