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Published June 16, 2014, 09:35 AM

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EU will test imports of live pigs for PED, callers posing as FSA attempt to scam farmers and FSA nominations begin.

By: Agweek Staff and Wire reports, Agweek

EU to test imports of live pigs for PED

• European Union member states have agreed that live pig imports from the U.S. and Canada must be tested for a deadly virus that has killed millions of piglets. The latest measures complement import requirements on pig blood products that can be used for feeding piglets, which the European Union agreed on last month. The European Commission says the temporary testing was to protect the EU pig industry from porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has swept the U.S. and helped push pork prices to record highs. The U.S. and Canada exported some 900 pigs for breeding purposes to the EU in 2013, the commission says. The EU does not need to import pigs for food because it produces 22 million tons of pig meat annually, more than enough for EU needs. The European Commission has also asked the European Food Safety Authority to research new strains of the virus, which it says will enable a more thorough review of the disease situation and risk mitigation measures. As the U.S. battles the disease, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack ordered farmers to start reporting cases of the virus and pledged more than $26 million in funding to help stamp it out.

Callers posing as FSA attempt to scam farmers

• DICKINSON, N.D. — People posing as Farm Service Agency agents are fraudulently requesting personal information from farmers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Callers identify themselves to farmers as Farm Loan Services representatives out of Washington, D.C. They state that the FSA owes disaster assistance funds, and request checking account information or credit card number to reimburse money. The FSA advises farmers to not reveal any financial information if they receive such calls.

FSA nominations begin

• The nomination period for Farm Service Agency county committees began June 15. FSA committee members make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. They serve three-year terms. To be eligible to serve on a county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA. He or she must also be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area. Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates. To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign the nomination form, FSA-669A Nomination forms for the 2014 election must be postmarked or received in the local U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1. Elections will take place this fall. Information: www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

Researchers complete sheep genome sequence

• DENVER — A large international team of researchers has completed the sequence of the sheep genome, to be published in a study entitled, “The Sheep Genome Illuminates Biology of the Rumen and Lipid Metabolism.” The completion of the genome follows eight years of work by a team of more than 70 researchers from 26 institutions in eight countries around the world. The specific findings include the DNA sequence of sheep, the locations of the genes and an extensive index showing where in the body each of the genes is active. In the past, researchers studying particular traits had to do extensive DNA sequencing — often over months and years — to understand just a few genes at a time. Now the complete set is available in seconds. Another key finding from the study involved the rumen, which is an essential organ for sheep to convert plant forage into animal protein. Sheep and some other livestock species have a rumen and a stomach to help with forage digestion. A number of novel genes have been identified that are only active in the rumen. The sheep genome will assist in advancing human and veterinary medicine.

MCGA: Farmers should plan for propane needs

• SHAKOPEE, Minn. — Even though harvest season is months away, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association is encouraging farmers to plan ahead for their propane needs. Last winter, farmers and homeowners were hit hard by a propane shortage caused by several factors, including sub-zero temperatures, record propane exports and the closing of the Cochin pipeline. MCGA staff have been meeting with industry representatives and state agencies who are working on strategies to try and prevent a similar shortage this winter. “It’s absolutely essential that farmers plan ahead for their propane needs,” says MCGA president Ryan Buck. “There’s a good chance that the days of having propane delivered as you need it during harvest — something farmers had been used to before last year — are over for the foreseeable future.”

ND lifts requirements on swine movement

• BISMARCK — North Dakota’s state veterinarian says requirements for in-state movement of swine have been discontinued. The decision was made at the June 10 meeting of the State Board of Animal Health. Interstate requirements are still in place for all swine being imported into North Dakota. In March, as a result of industry concerns regarding porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), the board instituted requirements for a certificate of veterinary inspection, individual identification and a statement regarding PEDv for all pigs moving within the state. “The intrastate movement requirements were originally deemed necessary to help address the risk of introduction of PEDv due to the increasing incidence in the U.S. and the fact that the first North Dakota case had been identified in February,” says Susan Keller. No additional cases of PEDv have been identified in the state since the first affected herd was identified. Keller says swine exhibitors should contact local extension agents and fair managers for swine exhibition requirements for specific events.

Briefly . . .

• Tied record: American Crystal Sugar Co. finished slicing beets June 7 at its Hillsboro, N.D., plant — equaling a record-late season held by five other previous processing years, says Brian Ingulsrud, vice president for agriculture. The company had previously predicted surpassing its record, finishing June 8. The company started processing later in the fall of 2013 because it expected a 22- to 23-ton per acre crop, and ended up with a 25.2-ton crop. The June 7 record is now shared by 2014, 2013, 2008, 2007 and 1999 crop years.

• Transportation exemption: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted a one-year exemption to drivers transporting livestock and poultry from the 30-minute break requirement during the first eight hours of a shift. This requirement is part of the current hours-of-service rules for truck drivers. In 2013, FMCSA granted livestock haulers a 90-day waiver during the hot summer months with no adverse effects to safety. As authorized by Congress, FMCSA carefully considers and collects public comments on all applications for exemptions from federal regulations, including hours-of-service for truck drivers.

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