Amber Weber has been named the new executive director of the Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance. She previously served as conference manager for DARCA's 2019 annual conference.

Weber grew up farming and ranching in Southeastern Colorado, where she was active in 4-H and FFA, before going on to attend Lamar Community College and Colorado State University.

Her goals for the DARCA association include creating a database of contacts for members seeking financial assistance through grants and loans, compiling a member handbook that will include resources on prevention of fires, floods and improvement of soil health, and continuing the association's work on water quality improvements and legislative issues.

 

Ag Commissioner continues statewide tour

Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg is continuing her tour to all areas of the state with another meet-and-greet scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 25 at the Yuma Community Center in Yuma.

Refreshments will be provided courtesy of Colorado Corn and the Colorado Livestock Association.

Greenberg will also be in Alamosa on May 9 at a public town hall starting at 6 p.m. in Carson Auditorium at Adams State University. Several local producer groups will help sponsor her appearance there.

 

Water forum

The Arkansas River Basin Water Forum is scheduled to be held April 24 and 25 in Pueblo, Colo.

Titled "A River of Dreams & Realities - Then and Now," the 25th annual forum will feature keynote speeches by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and and Don Ament, former Commissioner of Agriculture.

Other highlights include a discussion about statewide drought and climate trends, challenges of acquiring water for growing communities, threats posed by wildfires and floods, and a 25-year perspective on the landmark Kansas v. Colorado ruling.

The symposium will take place at the Pueblo Convention Center. The cost is $170 for two days, and $90 for activities on either April 24 or 25.

For more information, go to arbwf.org.

 

U.S. House approves Colorado River drought plan

The U.S. House has passed a drought contingency plan for the Colorado River aimed at improving water conservation.

Led by Representative Ral M. Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act implements a water-sharing agreement between Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, California, New Mexico and Nevada that accounts for ongoing water shortages and regional climate change throughout the Southwest.

The House passed the bill on a voice vote and, once transmitted to the Senate, it will be considered approved and will be sent directly to the White House.

The agreement establishes new water conservation measures to protect reservoir levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell, using voluntary water reductions and management strategies to avoid historic lows in Colorado River reservoirs, which would trigger dramatic water delivery cuts to the seven states.

Utah Democratic Representative Ben McAdams called the Colorado River the lifeblood for farmers and ranchers in Eastern Utah, adding Lake Powell and Lake Mead are operating as designed, but both at "uncomfortably low levels." McAdams says Congress needed to act quickly so the new agreement can be implemented, and water conservation efforts can begin.

 

Fallout from swine fever continues

The spread of African Swine Fever continues to make waves in the pork industry.

Out of an abundance of caution, the National Pork Producers decided to cancel the World Pork Expo in Des Moines this year, one of the largest events of its kind in the world. Held each June at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, it typically hosts approximately 20,000 visitors over three days, including individuals and exhibitors from regions of the world now positive for the ASF virus.

African swine fever presents no human health or food safety risks but could have devastating effects on the hog industry if it is ever allowed to enter the U.S. There is currently no vaccine available for the disease. U.S. pork producers are also calling on Congress to appropriate funding for 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors to further strengthen defenses against African swine fever.

Experts painted a bleak picture of ASF during the recent North American Meat Institute Meat industry Summit, even going so far as to describe it as "the worst possible disease in swine in the world." Among Chinese producers, it has been described as slow-moving but killing everything in its path.

The ASF is now credited with destroying 18 percent of China's herd, which topped 435 million head before the outbreak. That 18 percent is more than the entire U.S. hog population combined. The disease is transmitted through sick animals, as well as contaminated feed and casings. Outbreaks are now popping up in Vietnam, Tibet, Cambodia, and South Africa.

Rabobank is reporting that production losses from African Swine Fever are exceeding initial estimates, representing both challenges and opportunities for protein exporters. Rabobank expects China's pork production losses to total between 25 and 30 percent. In Vietnam, production losses will likely reach 10 percent. Animal protein companies that have the necessary supply, as well as access to Chinese and Asian markets, will likely benefit from the impact of ASF.

The European Union, the U.S., and Brazil appear to be in the best position to respond to the increased import demand. However, the disease outbreak in Eastern Europe could potentially restrict the amount of European exports.

The U.S. is a major pork producer, yet the tariffs in place on U.S. pork exports to China are restricting current trade opportunities. The U.S. is also a major poultry exporter but can't send shipments to China because of a ban in place dating back to the avian influenza outbreak back in 2015.