Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
Like most other states, South Dakota has been adding young farmers and ranchers. South Dakota State University Extension wants that to continue.
THOMPSON, N.D. — Another cow in the long line tromps into the portable metal chute. Veterinarian Paul Motter grabs her tail, firmly but respectfully, with one hand and sticks his other plastic-gloved hand inside her. Motter — manure on his rubber overalls — probes for a few seconds before calling out, “Yes,” signifying that she’s pregnant. Assistant Sheila Johnson nods and marks the cow accordingly. Because the cow should bear a calf in the spring, her owner now knows she’s worth the effort and expense of feeding over winter.
A newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture study look at the role and impact of antibiotics in U.S. livestock agriculture -- and finds that restrictions on their use likely would have only "small effects." The report, "Economics of Antibiotic Use in U.S. Livestock Production", was prepared by USDA's Economic Research Service. It examines how limiting antibiotic use would affect farmer practices and profits, as well as market prices and volumes. Among the report's conclusions:
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The crop season is over and the meeting season is beginning — which means it’s time for another Prairie Grains Conference. The annual conference, considered by some to kick off the area’s winter agricultural meeting season, is set for Dec. 9 and 10 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D.
Returning by popular demand: An agricultural education major at the University of Minnesota Crookston. State budget cuts caused UMC to discontinue the program in 2013, despite strong support from agriculturalists. Ag education majors already were in short supply in Minnesota and nationally, school officials and others told Agweek at the time.
Unless you’re part of the sheep or goat industry, you’ve probably never heard of scrapies. The industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are fine-tuning efforts to make sure you never hear about this fatal, degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system of sheep and goats. Now, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, has extended the public comment period on the APHIS proposal to update its longstanding drive to stamp out scrapies to Dec. 9.
Corn and soybeans are America’s biggest, most important crops. They have many uses — from kitchen tables to industrial plants, from feedlots to fuel tanks — and they add billions of dollars annually to the farm economy. Upper Midwest farmers have taken note. They’ve been increasing their corn and bean acres for two decades. But too much of anything, even corn and soybeans, isn’t a good thing, two South Dakota agricultural scientists say.
I know a farmer who’s the epitome of Upper Midwest nice. He’s unflaggingly calm, friendly and soft-spoken, as pleasant and enjoyable as a warm, sunny spring afternoon with no wind or mosquitoes. But I once saw him get riled up. It happened when he told me of the time he sat in an East Coast airport and mentioned to the guy in the next seat that he’s a farmer. As he recalled it, the other guy nodded and muttered something about farmers waiting by the mailbox to receive their next government check. “It made me so mad, I couldn’t see straight,” the normally placid farmer told me.
The average age of U.S. farmers has risen to 58, increasing the need to bring in a fresh crop of producers. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is stepping up its efforts. USDA will “prioritize (spending) $5.6 billion over the next two years” in its programs and services that help new and beginning producers, with the push including a new, specially designed web tool. “We’re super-excited about it,” says Eric Hansen, policy analyst with the Washington, D.C.-based National Young Farmers Coalition.
The North Dakota State University Extension Service is looking for a sheep specialist — at a time the long-declining U.S. sheep industry is enjoying a much-needed resurgence. “The numbers (of sheep) are increasing. Only slightly, it’s true, but they’re stable again,” says Brad Gilbertson, a Sherwood, N.D., sheep producer.