Rocky Mountain Ag Notebook: Bennet denounces Boehner’s immigration decision; Pilgrim’s Pride investigating alleged chicken abuse
Numbers from the New USDA Crop Reports
Acres Planted in Wyoming
Crop 2014 (U.S. Rank) 2013
All Wheat 170,000 (32nd) 150,000
All corn 85,000 (36th) 100,000
Barley 85,000 (5th) 80,000
Dry Beans 38,000 (10th) 39,000
Sugarbeets 30,600 (7th) 30,000
Oats 30,000 (23rd) 31,000
Hay Acres Expected to Be Harvested
2014 — 1.1 million (20th in U.S.)
2013 — 2.5 million
Wyoming Pasture and Range Conditions (As of June 29)
Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent
- 8 12 56 24
Source: New USDA crop reports, released Monday
Bennet Denounces Boehner’s Decision to Punt on Immigration
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet recently blasted the decision by House Speaker John Boehner to not hold a vote on immigration this year. The decision comes days after Bennet marked the one-year anniversary of the Senate’s passage of a bipartisan bill to fix our broken immigration system.
“It is reprehensible that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans would choose the status quo rather than working to secure our border, boost the economy, reduce the deficit, and protect millions of families. What’s most frustrating about this is that we agree on both sides of the aisle that our current immigration system is broken. We agree that it’s critical for our economy and for our country. Yet the House of Representatives refuses to move forward.
“If the House needs a model to get this done, it can use the bipartisan and transparent process the Senate used to pass a bill with the support of almost 70 senators.”
— Office of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
Pilgrim’s Pride investigating alleged chicken abuse
Pilgrim’s Pride Corp said Monday that it has launched an investigation into a supplier of its chickens that allegedly mistreated the birds by stuffing them in buckets and burying them alive.
A video filmed in January and February this year by an undercover investigator for animal rights activist group Compassion Over Killing shows workers of Prince Poultry of North Carolina filling an underground facility with live chickens.
The live chickens had been stuffed into buckets with apparently dead chickens. A worker is shown removing them from the buckets and crowding them into an outdoor pit, where Compassion Over Killing suggests they were left to die of starvation, dehydration or possibly suffocation. Compassion Over Killing posted the video on its website.
Pilgrim’s Pride has suspended its relationship with Prince Poultry and is investigating the “startling images of birds being mistreated,” according to an email statement issued by JBS USA spokeswoman Misty Barnes. JBS USA owns a controlling interest in Pilgrim’s Pride.
— Northern Colorado Business Report
CSU trains veterinarians to care for U.S. military animals
This spring, four new veterinarians graduated from Colorado State University’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program and were commissioned as officers in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps during commencement.
CSU and Kansas State University each graduated four new military veterinarians in May; that’s the highest number to enter the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps from any university in the country this spring. CSU has six more students now in vet school bound for the corps.
Service dogs have gained increased visibility since working alongside emergency responders during the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks of 2001.
In recent years, during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, highly trained combat canines have been deployed alongside U.S. troops to find improvised explosive devices before they blow.
Army veterinarians care for military working dogs on and off the field.
— Colorado State University
USDA Designates 4 Colo. Counties As Primary Disaster Areas
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata and Montezuma counties in Colorado as primary natural disaster areas due to a recent drought.
“Our hearts go out to those Colorado farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Colorado producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”
Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Colorado also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are Conejos, Mineral, San Juan, Hinsdale, Rio Grande and San Miguel.
— U.S. Department of Agriculture
Nigerian Wheat Trade Team Visits Colo.
A trade team of wheat importers from Nigeria arrived in Colorado June 21 to examine the 2014 hard red winter wheat crop.
While in Colorado, they toured Anderson Farms near Haxtun, Ardent Mills in Commerce City and the Grainland Cooperative unit train loading facility in Holyoke. They also met with Colorado State University Wheat Breeder Dr. Scott Haley. Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee Executive Director Darrell Hanavan briefed the trade team on the 2014 Colorado wheat situation and the high quality of the 2013 winter wheat crop.
The trade team consisted of senior managers from Nigeria’s milling and noodle/pasta manufacturing industries.
Nigeria was the largest buyer of U.S. hard red winter wheat (HRW) for seven consecutive marketing years (2006-2013) and during the recently completed 2013-14 marketing year purchased 2.037 million metric tons (78.2 mil. bu.). They were the fifth largest buyer of U.S. all-wheat (which includes HRW) in the 2013-14 marketing year with purchases of 2.696 million metric tons (97.8 million bu.).
— Colorado Wheat Growers Association
Wyo. Conservation Corps Removes Invasive Species on N. Platte
The banks of the North Platte are under attack from a hardy tree that was once a staple for homeowners building windbreaks or otherwise looking for a fast-growing tree for their landscapes.
The Russian Olive, listed as a noxious plant by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, crowds out its native counterparts, accounting for more than 30 percent of the basin’s water consumption. The tree’s seeds can lay dormant in the soil for three years. Once established, Russian Olive is a tough opponent.
In Casper, last week, the invasive species faced another tough opponent.
Members of the Wyoming Conservation Corps, a group of 18 to 24-year-olds from the University of Wyoming and as far away as Virginia, brought their skills to the North Platte to aide in the removal of the healthy stand of Russian Olive growing along Platte River trails.
The Corps dawned chainsaws and herbicide to combat the more than 15-foot tall trees growing in portions of the river bank.
— Casper, Wyo., Star-Tribune
In dry California, water fetching record prices
Throughout California’s desperately dry Central Valley, those with water to spare are cashing in.
As a third parched summer forces farmers to fallow fields and lay off workers, two water districts and a pair of landowners in the heart of the state’s farmland are making millions of dollars by auctioning off their private caches.
Nearly 40 others also are seeking to sell their surplus water this year, according to state and federal records.
Economists say it’s been decades since the water market has been this hot. In the last five years alone, the price has grown tenfold to as much as $2,200 an acre-foot — enough to cover a football field with a foot of water.
Unlike the previous drought in 2009, the state has been hands-off, letting the market set the price even though severe shortages prompted a statewide drought emergency declaration this year.
The price spike comes after repeated calls from scientists that global warming will worsen droughts and increase the cost of maintaining California’s strained water supply systems.
— The Associated Press
U.S. and Korea Streamline Organic Trade
Organic processed products certified in the United States or Korea can now be labeled as organic in either country. This will allow American organic farmers, processors, and businesses greater access to Korea’s growing market for organic products. The arrangement between the two nations will take effect on July 1, 2014.
“Korea is a growing, lucrative market for U.S. organic products, and this arrangement increases demand for American organic products,” said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. “This is another chapter in the success story of organic agriculture, which provides more economic opportunities for American producers, more choices for consumers, and more jobs in rural communities across the country.”
Without this equivalency arrangement in place, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell organic processed products in either country would have to obtain separate certifications to meet each country’s organic standards.
— U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Cattlemen Urge Congress Not to Intervene in COOL
The United States Cattlemen’s Association, a supporter of U.S. country of origin labeling, recently urged federal policymakers to reject requests for Congress to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to suspend indefinitely the U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL).
USCA expressed disappointment that a number of U.S. trade associations and other groups — led by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Association — are asking Congress to intervene.
NCBA and the other groups sent a joint letter dated June 26 to House and Senate agriculture leadership asking Congress to intervene in COOL before a decision by the World Trade Organization on compliance matters is released publicly, which is expected in September.
“U.S. consumers have consistently expressed their desire to know the origin of the food they eat and providing enhanced consumer information is what COOL is about,” said USCA President Jon Wooster. “It is unfathomable why any U.S. group … would want to breach the consumer trust and confidence COOL has established.”
— U.S. Cattlemen’s Association
Farm Bureau weighs in on 2nd Amendment Challenge
“Colorado Farm Bureau is extremely disappointed in today’s ruling from Chief Judge Marcia Krieger regarding the Second Amendment challenge. We believe this ruling upholds a regulation that is unfair and burdensome to our farm and ranch members,” said Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft.
“The use of firearms on Colorado farms and ranches is integral to the success of their operations and a part of normal, everyday activities. A sweeping ban on magazines and an unworkable system of background checks for temporary transfers and private sales of firearms, places an unconstitutional burden on our members.
“Colorado Farm Bureau remains committed to defending 2nd Amendment rights and the ability of Coloradans to possess and use firearms. Over the next few weeks, we will carefully evaluate and analyze the decision for a potential appeal.”
— Colorado Farm Bureau
US farmers plant record soybean crop, less corn
The nation’s farmers planted the largest soybean crop on record this year by devoting millions of acres of land to the crop that had been used for growing corn, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.
Farmers planted 84.8 million acres of soybeans, which was nearly 11 percent more than last year’s 76.5 million acres. Among the states that planted record amounts of the crop were Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Corn was planted on 91.6 million acres, which was nearly 4 percent less than last year’s 95.4 million acres.
About a third of the U.S. soybean crop is exported to China, where there’s a large demand for soybeans to feed hogs, poultry, and dairy cows.
The change in planting was also due to a drop in corn prices and rise in soybean prices.
— The Associated Press
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I want to address a couple of issues in this week’s editor’s note.