Groundbreaking for New Holland Pavilions

nh-pavilions-68-editedGround was broke to mark the start of construction on the New Holland Pavilions at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI. The 290,000 square foot expansion will create a state-of-the-art multi-use space, replacing again barn facilities.

“We are proud to partner with Dane County to build and provide what will be the premium livestock facility in the country, a tremendous upgrade that will benefit world class dairy, livestock, horses and other livestock throughout the year,” says Ade Hughes, Vice President New Holland North America. “This opportunity is a perfect fit for New Holland, considering the smart haymaking technologies we have brought to the marketplace that benefit so many animals across North America.”

The Alliant Energy Center is home to the World Dairy Expo and Midwest Horse Fair, as well as many livestock and equine shows. The new pavilions will have capacity to house more than 2,000 head of cattle and be versatile enough to include show rings for cattle and horse shows. They can be cleared to create open space accommodating for trade shows, a factor that will allow New Holland to conduct training activities. New Holland equipment will also be featured in the front reception area of the building.

Mark Clarke, Alliant Energy Center general manager, said, “The new space will enhance our ability to conduct world class activities here at the Alliant Energy Center. We’re excited to have New Holland Agriculture as a significant partner in our success moving forward.”

Construction on the project begins today and their goal is to have a ribbon cutting in just 30 weeks. Just in time for World Dairy Expo in early October.

Listen to or download the press conference here: New Holland Pavilions Groundbreaking Press Conference

Checkout photos from the event here: New Holland Pavilion Groundbreaking Ceremony

Fresh From Florida NAMA Farm Tour

nama14-blueskySince it’s usually in Kansas City, the annual NAMA conference rarely has a farm tour, so getting to see and hear about some agriculture outside the Midwest was a treat this week. Thanks to the Florida NAMA chapter for setting it up and to sponsors Ag Net Media and Vance Publishing for making it possible.

Our tour stops included a cracker cattle ranch, a potato farm, and a sod farm, finishing with a gourmet and locally source lunch at the St. Johns County Agricultural Center.

Fourth generation farmer Danny Johns was our host at Blue Sky Farm which grows specialty potatoes and onions and is very active in promoting agriculture to the public. “Farming is a constant evolution…always a challenge, that’s part of the fun of being a farmer,” he said. “It’s so important for the rest of the country to realize what agriculture looks like and the challenges we face.” Interview with Florida potato farmer Danny Johns

nama14-rancherMost people are aware that St. Augustine is the oldest continuous settlement in the new world (Pensacola was actually first but it got wiped out by a hurricane) – but you may not know that it is also the birth place of the United States cattle industry.

Alan Roberts of St. Augustine has a herd of pure Florida Cracker cattle, direct descendents of the original animals brought to Florida from Spain in the late 1500s. “They came over with Pedro Menendez in 1565 when he founded St. Augustine,” and Alan says they have had his herd DNA tested to confirm the bloodline.

nama14-crackersAlan says the cattle are more resistant to horn flies and worms than any other type of cattle and he likes their gentle dispositions. “They’re such a pleasure to raise,” he said. “They’re smarter for one thing, low maintenance and easy to handle.”

And so many of the mommas and babies in the herd looked just like each other with such unique coloring and markings. Watch the video below and be sure to check out the photo album where I took LOTS of cow pictures!

2014 Agri-Marketing Conference Photo Album

Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by
Brownfield Ag News and Rhea + Kaiser
Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Rhea + KaiserCoverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Brownfield Ag News

Sen. Thune Talks Rail Delays and Livestock Aid

Rail delays are impacting shipments of ethanol and grains, among other commodities, thanks in part to the long, cold winter – but also due to increased transport of crude oil from North Dakota.

thune“The railroads are going to have to do a better job,” said Sen. John Thune during an interview in Washington DC last week after meeting with biofuels supporters from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE). “It’s important that the railroads recognize that agricultural commodities need to be shipped too.”

Thune, who is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is looking forward to seeing the farm bill finally passed by Congress getting implemented quickly, especially for livestock producers in his part of the country still waiting for disaster aid after the deadly blizzard last fall. “Normally once they get the rules out and the sign up period starts…it’s a couple of weeks to get the money out there, so we hope that if the ag department is correct and they can get it done by the middle of April, that by the end of April-first part of May we’ll be getting some assistance in the hands of livestock producers,” he said. “It can’t come soon enough.”

The senator from South Dakota also discusses the EPA proposal lowering the Renewable Fuel Standard and getting expired tax credits for renewable energy extended. Interview with Senator John Thune (R-SD)

2014 ACE Biofuels Beltway March photo album

Coverage is sponsored in part by Patriot Renewable Fuels

Texas Cattle in Super Bowl Ad

There was a lot of social media buzz surrounding the 2014 Super Bowl commercial for Chevy Silverado featuring a Hereford bull on the make for some sexy ladies. Texas A&M University reports the cattle in the ad belonged to one of their board regents.

Regent Jim Schwertner’s ranch was the set for Chevrolet’s “Romance” commercial, which is slated to be aired tonight during the Super Bowl. The commercial can be seen ahead of game time on YouTube.

The plot centers around a cowboy who hauls a Hereford bull in a trailer using his Chevy Silverado. The background music — Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing” — plays while the cowboy makes his way back to the ranch where several cows are waiting for the new stud.

Watch the commercial here:

Novus at Production and Processing Expo

novus-ippeOnce again we are pleased to bring you coverage of the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, courtesy of our friends at Novus International.

IPPE is the new name for the combination of International Poultry Expo, International Feed Expo, and International Meat Expo, which all integrated together in 2013. The 2014 IPPE will bring together more than 1,100 exhibitors and over 25,000 attendees in Atlanta this week.

As part of the event, Novus is hosting a full week of events and educational opportunities for the industry, starting with the International Poultry Scientific Forum (IPSF) today which precedes the IPPE tradeshow. Kicking it off will be a luncheon to discuss “How Consumer Preference Drives Poultry Processing” by Dr. Shelly Mckee of Auburn University.

Sponsored by Novus International Inc

Patron Saint & Protector of Animals

Saint Anthony the AbbotToday Saint Anthony Abbot, is commemorated by the Catholic Church. He is the patron and protector of animals. In Rome, St. Peter’s Square will be filled with animals and the Italian Association of Livestock Farmers has organized a series of events to honor their patron saint.

From the Vatican News Service:

The day began at 10:30 with Mass in the Vatican Basilica presided by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City. At noon there was a procession of horses and riders along Via della Conciliazione in which the military band of the IVth Regiment of mounted police will take part. After the procession, around 12:30, the guests of honor, cows, goats, rabbits, sheep, chickens, etc., and their owners, were blessed.

The members of AIA also invited all residents with pets to join in the celebration and, if they wished, to make use of the free veterinary visit offered to their four-legged friends.

Throughout the day, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, there was an exhibition of animals in the Pio XII Square directly in front of the Bernini colonnade around St. Peter’s Square, an entire farm in the city, showcasing Italian livestock production.

American Lamb Road Map

The American Lamb Board knows where it’s going and how it’s going to get there.

american-lambAfter over a year of research, analysis, and industry input, the American Lamb Board is proud to announce the release of the Final Lamb Industry Roadmap presentation. Created through collaboration and consultation from all sectors of the industry, the Lamb Industry Roadmap is owned by the entire American Lamb Industry.

road-lambThe Lamb Industry Roadmap will address key goals including improving the quality and consistency of American lamb, increasing demand, improving industry productivity and collaboration.

American Lamb Board Chairman Dan Lippert says their objective is to implement meaningful strategies that will “significantly strengthen the American Lamb industry and increase demand for our products.”

The final Roadmap presentation is now available on the checkoff website and a written report will also be released later this month.

Fresh Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner

IMG_3591When I saw this gaggle of plump turkeys in their pen on Monday morning, I wondered if they knew they were going to become very friendly with my mom, the turkey dresser, later that day. It was doomsday for these critters as they were pre-sold to friends and family of the hobby farmer, who also happens to be my best friend’s husband,  who had raised them for a farm fresh turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day for a handful of friends.

Monday’s life lessons reminded me that I can still recite my favorite Thanksgiving poem, Five Fat Turkeys, complete with hand gestures.  The poem itself starts out innocent, but it reminds me so much of our fowl friends the morning they were to meet their fate.

Five Fat Turkeys
Five fat turkeys sitting on a fence, 
the first one said, “I’m so immense.”
the second one said, “I can gobble at you.”
the third one said, “I can gobble, too.”
the fourth one said, “I can spread my tail.”
the fifth one said, “Don’t catch it on a nail”

Five fat turkeys flew up in a tree. 
the first one said, “there’s a man I see” 
the second one said, “he’s coming this way”
the third one said “it’s Thanksgiving Day” 
the fourth one said ” what’s he going to do?” 
the fifth one said “he’s coming after you”
chop went the ax before the turkey flew away 
they all were on the table that Thanksgiving Day!

IMG_3605Around 4 o’clock all the preparations were made and the dressing of the turkeys began to commence. My mom, who has butchered many a bird in her day, was on the dressing table while the men and kids were outside gathering and de-feathering the birds. The neighbors and friends stopped by to check it out, learn and gather some experience. There was even a 15-year-old who raised and butchered his own turkeys. He took a great deal of pride in that accomplishment, as well he should! It may not be for the faint of heart, but it is the way the first Thanksgiving turkey was prepared and even many of our grandparents raised and butchered their own birds. For those who advocate local food sourcing, this is a great example.

I leave you with a little turkey humor for your Thanksgiving Holiday From my family to yours, I hope you find many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Update from Animal Ag Alliance at NAFB

nafb-13-12-editedThe Animal Agriculture Alliance has been busy over the course of the last year staying up-to-date on animal ag issues, researching current activist campaigns and advocating farm policy. At the 2013 NAFB Convention I met up with Kay Johnson Smith, President and CEO, and Emily Meredith, Director of Communications during the events Trade Talk.

Hot topics of discussion included the Animal Rights Conference Report, Meatless Monday campaign, Farm Protection legislation, their outreach efforts and the 2014 Stakeholders Summit.

Kay shared that they recently attended the Animal Rights Conference Report to better understand what our industry needs to be on the lookout for throughout the next year. The key takeaways from the event were three target audiences these activist groups are focusing on. They include retail restaurants, youth K-12 and students on college campuses as well as, health conscious adults.

Listen to my complete interview with Kay here: Interview with Kay Johnson Smith

nafb-13-15-editedThe Animal Ag Alliance took it upon themselves to do a little digging into the Meatless Monday campaign and the results were shocking. You can checkout their complete report here. Emily shared how people were really surprised and that with such busy news cycle many of the mainstream news media take fact checking for granted.

The 2014 Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit is scheduled for May 8-9 in Arlington, VA. “Cracking the Millennial Code,” is the topic of discussion and will cover hot-button issues including antibiotics, animal welfare, sustainability and communication through the lens of a Millennial.

Listen to my complete interview with Emily here: Interview with Emily Meredith

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

TATT Global Farmer Roundtable visits Couser Cattle

tatt-13-couserDuring the Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT) Global Farmer Roundtable we went to the Couser Cattle Company. Bill and Nancy Couser with son Tim produce corn and cattle just outside of Nevada, IA.  

When Tim graduated from Iowa State University, mom and dad strongly suggested that he spend some time in the corporate world before returning to the family operation.  So Tim worked for John Deere Corporation in Ottumwa, IA and learned more about goals and the corporation way to do things.  Returning to the family farm to implement what he has learned regarding long term goals and implementing some additional safety measures, he might be getting some push back from the workers, but he’s excited to grow the family operation. Interview with Tim Couser

tatt-13-cousersThe Cousers have hosted the TATT roundtable since its inception and it is an event that Bill says they always enjoy. “Just the people we’ve met over the years is incredible,” he says. “To sit down at a table with farmers from all across the world – it’s amazing how we all have the same challenges and we all have the same goals.”

The Cousers are strong supporters of the ethanol industry – Bill is past president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association – and he is passionate about the importance of producing food, feed and fuel. In this interview he talks about Couser Cattle Company, corn, and communication. Interview with Bill Couser

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

Policy Panel at NAMA Fall Conference

nama-panelThe NAMA Fall Conference featured a policy panel moderated by Sara “Legs” Wyant of Agri-Pulse, and featuring Mike Deering with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Garrett Hawkins with Missouri Farm Bureau, and Steve Censky with the American Soybean Association.

The need for a new farm bill was the major topic of discussion. “We’re all kind of waiting to see what happens with this,” said Deering. “It’s like the cartoon ‘Peanuts’ where Lucy’s holding that football and Charlie Brown’s running as hard as he can to kick it and ends up falling flat on his butt and that’s the same thing we’re dealing with right now as an industry, working together and trying to kick that ball over the finish line but it keeps getting pulled back.”

Deering says they have been busy on the state level fighting against the Humane Society of the United States with the Missouri Right to Farm amendment that passed the state legislature this year and will go to the voters next fall. “It just gives farmers and ranchers in the state the right to farm,” he said. “It’s absolutely vital that we have some protection in our state to keep these wackos out of here.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Mike here: Interview with Mike Deering, Missouri Cattlemen's Association

2013 NAMA Fall Conference Photo Album

Cattle and Ethanol Debating RFS

rfa-ncba-debateNational Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts is live right now on AgriTalk in a debate with Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Great RFS Debate is being co-hosted by Agri-Pulse.

Pictured here, left to right, as the debate begins – Bob Dinneen, AgriTalk host Mike Adams, Agri-Pulse editor Sara Wyant, and Kristina Butts.

Archived program available here.

Reaction to Court COOL Decision

A U.S. district court judge today denied a request for a preliminary injunction blocking a final USDA regulation mandating country-of-origin labels (COOL) on meat sold in retail stores until a lawsuit filed July 8 is concluded. That decision made COOL supporters happy but disappointed the plaintiffs, which include U.S. and Canadian meat packer and livestock organizations.

American_Meat_Institute_Logo“We disagree strongly with the court’s decision and believe that several aspects of the ruling are susceptible to challenge,” said American Meat Institute President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle. “We intend to pursue them on appeal.”

Joining AMI in the lawsuit, filed July 8, are the American Association of Meat Processors, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, Confedaracion Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and the Southwest Meat Association.

NFU1In the other corner is the National Farmers Union (NFU), the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America, who intervened in the lawsuit last month.

“We are pleased that the packer-producer organizations and foreign interests’ attempts to thwart COOL have been denied,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We are committed to defending COOL and will continue to do so throughout this legal process.”

The judge denied the injunction request primarily on the basis that the plaintiffs were unable to demonstrate they would suffer irreparable injury if the regulation were to be implemented by USDA.

Gauchos Herding Livestock Across River

Gauchos herding cattleAfter a dusty day on the trail during our IFAJ Congress livestock farm tour in Argentina’s Entre Ríos province we got a welcome change of pace with a boat trip on the Paraná River. Our boats all took us to where we got a front row seat as gauchos herded horses and cattle across the river. It turned into a beautiful afternoon with the sun shining. As we got to the crossing we could hear the gauchos in the distance through the brush as they brought the herds to the river. Then they kept them going and swam on their horses along with the livestock to the other side where they turned back around and did it again. It was fascinating to watch.

2013 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 IFAJ Congress is sponsored by Novus International and Dupont Pioneer

Argentina Farm Tour

Dust on the TrailDuring the 2013 IFAJ Congress many of us participated in a livestock tour that focused on one farm in the Entre Ríos province. Throughout the major portion of the day we were taken from location to location on dirt roads in trailers pulled by tractors and trucks. Let’s just say we got down and dirty, or rather dusty. From the looks of things a little rain was needed on this farm. Check out the video to see what I mean.

2013 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 IFAJ Congress is sponsored by Novus International and Dupont Pioneer

ZimmComm Hits 100,000 Photos During IFAJ 2013

“I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph, so Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away.” Paul Simon

ifaj13-cattle-crossingSometime last week during the IFAJ 2013 Congress, ZimmComm reached a milestone of 100,000 photos in our eight-year-old Flickr account.

We picked this photo as our 100,000th – since we are not exactly sure but it’s one of our favorites. It was from the livestock tour where the gauchos led a cattle drive across a river. Video to follow soon – it was pretty awesome!

Actually, we now have 100,334 photos in 447 sets, dating back to May 2005. Back in the day, that would have been a whole lotta Kodachrome! Our photos have been viewed nearly 5.5 million times and average about 30,000 views per day. Some day we would like to catalog all of these photos and make them easier to find – if anyone thinks they would like to take on that job, contact us and let’s talk.

2013 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 IFAJ Congress is sponsored by Novus International and Dupont Pioneer

Argentine Agriculture Secretary Comments at IFAJ

ifaj-13-arg-agWe did get to hear from a high ranking official in the Argentine government during the IFAJ Congress this week – but not in English and there was no opportunity to ask questions.

Lorenzo Basso’s title is Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture of Argentina, so not exactly the equal to Tom Vilsack in the U.S., more like Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden.

Some interesting takeaways from his comments:
Argentina is able to feed ten times its population of 40 million people
Argentina is the number one exporter of soybean oil, soybean meal, biodiesel, pears, lemons, lemon juice, and honey.
Four pillars for “smart agriculture” they are adopting in Argentina are:
- No till practices – 80% of farms now
- Crop rotation – working on that, nearly 50% is soybeans
- Biotechnology, pesticides and stewardship
- Precision agriculture technology – growing rapidly
Poultry production in the country has adopted new technology and become more competitive but beef industry needs to do more to produce more calves since birth rate for calves is the same as it was 50 years ago.

I recorded some of the Secretary’s comments through my headphones with the interpreter. He also discusses ethanol production, dairy, value-added agribusiness and much more: Argentine Agriculture Secretary Lorenzo Bosso

2013 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 IFAJ Congress is sponsored by Novus International and Dupont Pioneer

Myths Busted About Beef

9467471483_8c2920e0c3_bThe Cattle Industry Summer Conference was more than committee and board meetings. Education was a key element to help arm attendees with facts and figures they can take home and use in everyday conversations with familiy, friends and complete strangers about beef.

Chuck spoke with Dr. Jude Capper, Livestock Sustainablity Consultant, after she presented a talk on common myths about beef. She truly put the numbers into context for the audience and stated, “If we have no context then we have no way to assess if these numbers are big or small.” Here are a few of the myths she busted that will allow us all to talk beef with anyone and be able to explain it practically.

Beef’s Carbon Footprint

“We have a perception out there that modern ag is killing the planet. For example, cattle cause global warming, if we went meatless every Monday we could save the planet and still drive our Hummer. If we use Meatless Monday’s as an example, as a contribution to national carbon footprint, meat only contributes 2.1% so the other 97.9% comes from everything else we do. The perception is if we all went meatless, all 330 million people in the states, we could save the planet. But actually if we did that every Monday for a whole year it would cut out national carbon footprint by less than 1/3 of 1%. So really it isn’t that big of a deal, but people really think it is”

Hormones in Beef

“Hormones in beef. There are so many conversations about, “Well, I don’t feed my kids beef and dairy now because kids are growing bigger and developing faster and it’s because of the hormones used in the beed and dairy industry.” And it is true that beef from an implanted steer has more estrogen in it then beef from an non-implanted steer. But the quantities are still are really tiny. If we put that into context with the birth control pill thats taken by 100 million females every single day globally, each one of those tiny little pills contains 35,000 nano grams of estrogen. So to get the amount of estrogen from beef as you do from one tiny little pill, each female would have to eat more than 2,000 lbs. of beef per day.”

Grain-fed vs. Grass-fed

“If we look at grass-fed vs. corn-fed beef, for example. The assumption is that feedlots are bad, we need to do away with them, we need to make all of our beef grass-fed. And it is a great system. But if we want to make the 27 billion pounds of beef that we produce every year from grass-fed system we are going to need more then 65 million more cattle in the national herd. We are going to need an extra area of land, more than 75% of the land area of Texas, a huge amount of more land. We are going to need water equivalent to adding 53 million households to the staves and the carbon emissions extra to make the same amount of beef will be the same as adding 27 million cars to the roads every year.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Jude here: Interview with Jude Capper

Here are photos from the event:2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference Photo Album

Educating the Masses at NAMA Boot Camp

nama-bootcamp-13-086-editedEducating the agricultural industry about other aspects of the agricultural industry is just as important as educating our consumers. And that is exactly what happened at this year’s NAMA Boot Camp, held last week in Kansas City. Breakout sessions titled Ag 101 and Ag 201 took place for attendees to hear from experts so they could broaden their knowledge of the community they work in.

Dr. Dan Thomson, Kansas State University Vet School, spoke to the crowd who attended Ag 201 specifically about the beef industry and food safety. I believe an eye-opening moment for many was when Dr. Thomson defined the difference between animals rights, animal activists and animal welfare.

He also stressed the importance of education through hands-on training. This statement brings me back to the FFA Motto. “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live and Living to Serve.” This old message that is taught to high school students across the country still rings true in today’s agriculture.

Later in my interview with Dr. Thompson, he expresses his concern on people farming to the audit and explains that assessments are the key to ensuring farming practices are done with food safety and humane practices on the forefront, not audits.

Listen to my interview with Dan here: Interview with Dr. Dan Thomson

Here are photos from the event:2013 NAMA Boot Camp Photo Album

Southeastern States Hire New Advertising Sales Rep.

19The Livestock Advertising Network (LAN) has been named the new national advertising representative for state cattlemen’s associations across the Southeast. LAN will currently be representing the Alabama Cattleman, Carolina Cattle Connection, Georgia Cattlemen, Cow Country News (Kentucky), and Tennessee Cattle Business. These 6 states will represent a circulation of over 37,400 producers.

The Livestock Advertising Network will be coordinating all of the national advertising sales for these publications. LAN is owned by the Southeastern Livestock Network, a joint venture of 11 southeastern states who came together in 2002. The states have worked extensively over the years on legislative issues, cattle source and age verification and they are looking forward to working together on other projects like this.

This will create an advertising outlet to reach organizations representing approximately 160,000 beef cattle farmers raising almost seven million head of cattle across 6 of the southeastern states. Not to mention create an even tighter bond among these state organizations.

The Livestock Advertising Network will be managed by Carey Brown, who has over 10 years of experience with the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association. Visit LAN online at