Weekly ag briefs: CattleCon offering scholarships, irrigators facing cuts and the Animal Ag Alliance summit

Compiled by Candace Krebs
Old barn on a frosty morning.

CattleCon offers scholarships, internships

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is providing scholarships to attend CattleCon, the cattle industry convention and trade show that has been scheduled for August 10-12 in Nashville, Tennessee. Scholarships are provided to farmers and ranchers and all are invited to apply. CattleCon will also feature the winner of NCBA's 7th Annual National Anthem Contest, on stage during the convention, and provide internship opportunities for students. Students can apply to be a marketing ambassador and help promote the event.

Sorghum exports hit new records

U.S. Department of Agriculture data issued this week showed U.S. sorghum exports hit a record, at 33.9 million bushels, topping the previous record by more than 10 million bushels back in August 2020. The top destination was China. In addition to record-breaking exports, new sales commitments were at 33.8 million bushels, predominantly purchased by China. The previous record for weekly sorghum sales was 32 million bushels, also in August 2020. New crop purchases of U.S. sorghum at this point in marketing year are also at a record level, reaching 40 million bushels this past week, a 264 percent increase from the previous record set in 2014.

Irrigators could face cuts for first time

This year Lake Mead is projected to drop from an elevation of 1,083 feet to about 1,068 feet, according to officials with the Central Arizona Project, likely triggering for the first time the initial tier of cutbacks under the river’s Drought Contingency Plan. The first tier of the plan targets agricultural users, requiring them to rely on groundwater and count on stores from other municipalities instead of Colorado River supplies from the Central Arizona Project. The cutbacks are most likely to start in 2022.

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Late freeze casts shadow over Southern Plains

Below-freezing temps for two nights in a row earlier this week could impact wheat, fruit and nut trees in parts of Kansas and Oklahoma, resulting in millions of dollars of damage. Oklahoma State University Wheat Specialist Amanda Silva said there’s clearly potential for freeze injury, the extent of which will depend on several factors, including the growth stage of plants, how low the temperature got, and how long it stayed that way. In some cases, temperatures of 30 degrees for at least a couple of hours could harm rapidly developing wheat. Lows of 28 degrees were widespread across the state.

Animal Ag Alliance Summit planned for early May

Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and the sustainability of the current food system is generating media buzz, especially with the United Nations gearing up for its Food Systems Summit later this year. Frank Mitloehner, with the University of California-Davis, will provide insights on rethinking methane and animal agriculture’s role in reaching climate neutrality at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2021 Virtual Stakeholders Summit. Timothy Caulfield, author and professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta, is also slated to speak. In his keynote presentation, Caulfield will provide his take on addressing misinformation in the time of COVID-19. In his latest book, Your Day, Your Way: The Fact and Fiction Behind Your Daily Decisions, he teaches readers how to tackle misinformation. Summit attendees can purchase Caulfield's book at a discounted rate. The summit is scheduled May 5-6.

Big food companies fund grazing grant

Sysco and Cargill, two of the world's largest food companies, announced a major new partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation they say will help ranchers in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado tackle the impacts of climate change and improve grasslands and wildlife habitat by creating one of the largest sustainable beef cattle grazing efforts in the nation. Through a public-private partnership, $5 million in funding from Sysco and Cargill is intended to accelerate the implementation of sustainable grazing practices over the next five years across 1 million acres in the Southern Great Plains, an area responsible for approximately 30 percent of the beef produced in the United States. The Southern Plains Grassland Program has the potential to sequester up to 360,000 metric tons of carbon per year, or the equivalent of removing 78,000 passenger vehicles from the road in one year. The funds will be managed through a competitive grant process offered to nonprofit conservation groups, ranching associations, and state and local agencies that engage with ranchers.

Check-offs help fund demand monitoring service

The Meat Demand Monitor project at Kansas State University is funded in part by the beef and pork check-off programs. According to the beef check-off, driving consumer demand requires understanding beef’s place in the protein marketplace, including overall consumer demand, as well as views and preferences among all protein alternatives. The MDM is a monthly online survey that tracks U.S. consumer preferences, views and demand for meat with separate analysis for retail and foodservice channels. The sample of more than 2,000 respondents reflects the national population and is collected by a third-party company on a continual basis, ultimately providing a one-stop on meat demand trends available to all audiences. It is executed by Glynn Tonsor, a K-State professor in ag economics who developed a life-long interest in agricultural markets while growing up on a hog farm in Missouri.

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APHIS offers funds for CWD management

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is providing up to $5.6 million for states and tribal governments to further develop and implement Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management and response activities in wild and farmed cervids, including deer and elk. State departments of agriculture, state animal health agencies, state departments of wildlife or natural resources, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments and organizations are eligible to submit funding proposals that further develop and implement CWD management, response and research activities, including surveillance and testing. The funding can also be used to support education and outreach activities to increase awareness about the disease and how it spreads. APHIS will likely prioritize states and tribal governments that have already detected CWD or border CWD endemic areas.

Anaplasmosis linked to lower milk production

Researchers at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine have published new data suggesting a negative effect on a dairy cow’s milk production from bovine anaplasmosis, a globally widespread livestock disease. The researchers specifically found that 38 percent of the animals in a test herd were positive for bovine anaplasmosis antibodies, which are linked to significant production losses in cattle across the U.S. The data was collected in Iowa from 2008 to 2011. The study demonstrates the need for careful monitoring for anaplasmosis infection across various geographic regions and especially in open herds without rigorous diagnostic testing protocols, the researchers said.

Compiled by Candance Krebs.