Weekly ag briefs: Free marketing webinars offered, Russian COVID vaccine for animals and more

Compiled by Candace Krebs
Las Animas mural with blossoms.

Colorado program offers free marketing webinars

Colorado Proud is teaming up with ROOT Marketing & PR to offer six free marketing webinars covering the basics of what you need to give your business a lift. Learn how to leverage PR, social media, branding and marketing in six lunchtime webinars scheduled for 12 Noon to 1p.m. every other Thursday starting April 8 (includes live Q&A time). Sign up for one, some or all by going online to the Colorado Proud Markets page.

Water law intro offered online

The Colorado Ag Water Alliance is hosting an introduction to water law on April 13 starting at 5:30 p.m. The online event will feature Rob Pierce, a water attorney with Dufford Waldeck Law. This seminar has been approved for 1 hour of continuing legal education credit and 1 hour of real estate continuing education credit.

Global sustainable beef conference announces capstone speaker

Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, managing director and chief sustainability officer of protein for OSI Europe, will provide the capstone address during the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef, which starts April 14. OSI Group is an international group of companies developing innovative food concepts and solutions for its customers worldwide in cooperation with leading food service and retail brands for over 100 years. Johnson-Hoffman is also a former president of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. For the full agenda, go to grsbeef.org/agenda.

Additional food assistance announced

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would provide $1 billion per month in additional food assistance to an estimated 25 million people in very low-income households that are participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and struggling to put food on the table due to the pandemic. Starting this month, households that had not received at least $95 per month in increased benefits through emergency allotments during the pandemic – because they were already at or close to receiving the current maximum benefit – will now be eligible to receive additional benefits.

Packing plant line speed rule tossed out

A federal court in Minneapolis tossed out a federal rule that eliminated line speed restrictions in pork slaughterhouses, saying it was "arbitrary and capricious." The United Food and Commercial Workers, including one of its Minnesota locals, sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2019 to stop implementation of a new inspection system for pork plants, which included unlimited line speeds. The union claimed the USDA did not consider an "overwhelming record" that faster line speeds put workers at more risk of injury. In an order recently, U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen essentially agreed, vacating the USDA's limitless line speed standard. She gave plants 90 days to reconfigure their processing lines.

Feral swine problem illuminated

USDA has created a new video series that chronicles the impacts of feral swine damage on American livelihoods and ecosystems through personal stories. Farmers, ranchers, land managers, conservationists, and others describe dealing with feral swine damage and how diverse and widespread it is in states that include Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. To view the videos, go to the Feral Swine in America You Tube site.

New COVID vaccine for animals

Russia has registered the world’s first animal vaccine against COVID-19. Carnivak-Cov was developed by Russia’s federal center for animal health, Russian state media reported. Clinical trials began last October and the research involved dogs, cats, foxes, Arctic foxes, minks and other animals. Russian scientists say the use of this vaccine could prevent further mutations of the virus.

New zoonotic oversight tool launched

SpillOver, a new web application developed by scientists at the University of California-Davis, which features contributions by experts from all over the world, ranks the risk of wildlife-to-human spillover for newly discovered viruses. It is the first open-source risk assessment tool that evaluates wildlife viruses to estimate their zoonotic spillover and pandemic potential. It effectively creates a watch-list of newly discovered viruses to help policymakers and health scientists prioritize them for further characterization, surveillance and risk-reducing interventions. The team ranked the risk from 887 wildlife viruses using data collected from a variety of sources.