Plains Ag Notebook: Farm Bureau endorses Sasse; Survey shows consumers underestimate meat, poultry nutrition

Nebraska Farm Bureau Endorses Sasse in U.S. Senate Primary

Ben Sasse has received the official “Friend of Agriculture” endorsement by Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee.

Sasse is one of four Republican candidates seeking to win the U.S. Senate primary election May 13.

“Ben was the overwhelming choice of our county Farm Bureau’s as we worked through our grassroots endorsement process,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “Sasse has built a strong grassroots network of support across Nebraska which comes from meeting and listening to the concerns of real Nebraskans. He’s demonstrated to our membership that he is committed to being a strong voice for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families and will carry that voice to Washington D.C., not only through his words, but in his actions,” said Nelson.

According to Nelson, Sasse has demonstrated a strong grasp of the key issues effecting farmers and ranchers and is committed to protecting the long-term viability of American agriculture.

“Whether it’s the flood of federal regulations, other government intrusions into farm life, or protecting agriculture from those who don’t value and understand its complexity, we believe Sasse will be a force for farm and ranch families,” said Nelson.

“He understands farmer’s and rancher’s management and marketing decisions are best driven by the free market, but he also knows crop insurance and farm programs are necessary to protect farmers and ranchers from the volatility and risk inherent in agriculture from the weather and global markets,” said Nelson.

The decision to endorse a Republican candidate in the primary was not taken lightly, Nelson said, and Nebraska Farm Bureau is fully aware of the competitive nature of this primary race.

­— Nebraska Farm Bureau

NFU President Discusses COOL, Competition at House Livestock Hearing

This week National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson testified before a U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit hearing to review the state of the livestock industry.

“Farmers and ranchers are proud of what they produce and studies have shown that 95 percent of consumers want Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL),” Johnson said. “The World Trade Organization said the law is compliant. COOL has won twice in federal court. It is unfortunate to hear so many members of the subcommittee be more concerned about the fortunes of multinational packing and food companies rather than on-the-ground family farmers and ranchers.”

Rural America has lost 34 percent of beef operations and 91 percent of hog farms since 1980 — a total loss of 1.1 million livestock farms. There are also fewer meatpackers and processors. Today, the top four beef packers have control over 81 percent of cattle slaughter in the U.S., and the top four swine processors control 65 percent of hog sales.

“Fewer livestock buyers result in less competition, greater opportunity for antitrust violations, and a difficult market for the remaining farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has the authority to prohibit deceptive or fraudulent buying practices by processors and may protect farmers and ranchers if they have been harmed by unfair trade practices, but appropriations riders over the last three years have kept USDA from implementing these basic fairness rules. Future riders that impede enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act must be defeated.”

— National Farmers Union

Survey Reveals Consumers Underestimate Meat and Poultry Nutrition Benefits

Most consumers don’t fully recognize the unique nutrition benefits that meat and poultry offer, according to a recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll for the American Meat Institute.

Only 12 percent of consumers correctly identified animal products like meat and poultry as the only natural source of Vitamin B12, which keeps the nervous system healthy. Twenty percent said cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower were the natural source of B12 and 13 percent thought the correct answer was citrus fruit. Neither of these foods contain Vitamin B12.

The Harvard Health Blog reports that “Vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older people. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that 3.2% of adults over age 50 have a seriously low B12 level, and up to 20% may have a borderline deficiency.”

AMI’s survey also showed consumers don’t know that the body absorbs more iron from meat and poultry than from other foods. Meat and poultry contain “heme” iron, the most absorbable form, but 52 percent of consumers incorrectly thought the body absorbed the most iron from spinach, kale and other leafy greens, which are high in iron, but contain the less absorbable “non-heme” form. Only 17 percent correctly named meat, poultry and fish. Adequate iron intake is important because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies iron deficiency anemia as the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States.

These findings are similar to recent research by NPD Group, which found that most consumers agree that protein is necessary in a healthy diet, but three quarters of consumers said they didn’t know the recommended daily amount.

In general, men and women need between 46 and 56 grams of protein per day.

— American Meat Institute

No Allocation Restrictions for 2014 Irrigation Season in the Upper Big Blue

During March-April 2014, the NRD measured 495 observation wells throughout the District and then averaged the data of all these wells.

Observation wells are measured in the spring of each year, allowing the water table to rebound from the previous irrigation season.

Overall, the spring 2014 average measurement for the groundwater level change shows a decline of 2.10 feet from last spring.

The findings show that the spring 2014 average groundwater level is 0.93 feet above the “Allocation Trigger.”

As a result, there will be no allocation restrictions for the 2014 irrigation season.

However, flow meters must now be installed on all wells by Jan. 1, 2016.

Through the conservation efforts of groundwater users, and because of an extended period of above average rainfall in the 1980s and 1990s, the average groundwater level in the Upper Big Blue NRD rose significantly to a level in the year 2000 that was approximately seven feet higher than the 1961 level (baseline), and fourteen feet higher than the low level of 1976 to 1981.

The District goal is to hold the average groundwater level to above the 1978 level.

—­ Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District

USDA announces additional support for small and midsized farms and ranches

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced additional support and resources for America’s small and midsized farms and ranches. The announcement includes $7 million in university research awards in support of small and midsized producers; $8.8 million in technical assistance for small, socially-disadvantaged producers and Rural Cooperative Centers; and a marketing certification program for small and very small grass-fed beef producers. This is the second major USDA package this year in support of small and midsized producers. The first package included efforts to increase access to capital, provide better risk management tools, expand marketing opportunities, and offer food safety training and educational resources specific to America’s small and midsize producers. Today’s announcement builds on these efforts.

“Small and midsized producers are a vital part of America’s agricultural future, and we are dedicated to ensuring their success,” said Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The programs and opportunities announced today are part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that smaller farmers and ranchers get access to the resources they need to thrive. USDA is continually reviewing our resources, programs and policies to make sure we are working for producers of all sizes.”

More information about USDA tools and resources available to small and mid-sized farmers, including information about today’s announcement, is available on USDA’s Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources webpage.

— U.S. Department of Agriculture

2013 meat animal production up slightly from 2012

Total 2013 production of cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled 73.4 billion pounds, up slightly from 2012. Production increased 1 percent for hogs and pigs and slightly for cattle and calves.

Total 2013 cash receipts from marketings of meat animals increased 4 percent to $92.1 billion. Cattle and calves accounted for nearly 75 percent of this total and hogs and pigs accounted for over 25 percent.

The 2013 gross income from cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled $92.7 billion, up 4 percent from 2012. Gross income for cattle and calves increased 3 percent and hogs and pigs increased 6 percent over previous year’s gross income.

Cash receipts from marketings of cattle and calves increased 3 percent from $66.8 billion in 2012 to $68.7 billion in 2013. All cattle and calf marketings totaled 55.3 billion pounds in 2013, up slightly from 2012.

Cash receipts from hogs and pigs totaled $23.4 billion during 2013, up 6 percent from 2012. Marketings totaled 33.4 billion pounds in 2013, up 1 percent from 2012.

­— U.S. Department of Agriculture

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The Fence Post Updated May 5, 2014 11:49AM Published May 5, 2014 11:02AM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.