Remember NAIS, or National Animal Identification System? It was the USDA program that was essentially abandoned after drawing ire from producers who thought the system was difficult and expensive to initiate. After dropping the concept of NAIS, USDA officials worked on developing a program that was more flexible and that would improve the ability to track animal movement across state lines, and came up with USDA/APHIS veterinarian Dr. Paul Pitcher says one justification for a national database of beef cattle is the international market. “Our consumers are present around the globe,” said Pitcher. “Producers in the United States are under the gun to be more responsive to the international customer. Animal traceability is becoming more important and will impact producers’ ability to make a profit.” Continue reading
HAMILTON, NY — Flannel shirts, calloused hands, delicious food and colorful stories marked the culmination of another year in protecting Madison County’s natural resources while assisting local agriculture and municipalities to make sensible land and water management decisions.
The 5th annual appreciation luncheon held at the White Eagle Conference Center credits the family of farmers, contractors, town supervisors, Agri-business companies, engineering support, state and federal conservation partners and funding organizations who collaborate together to get practical conservation on the ground. “The day is dedicated to saying thank you for contributing to the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District’s mission and enjoying food, friendships and the holidays together,” said District Manager, Steve Lorraine. Continue reading
by Tamara Scully
There isn’t a set definition of a local or regional food system within the USDA. But that doesn’t mean that local food isn’t a priority. In fact, local food systems are definitely on the USDA’s radar, and all initiatives focusing on local food are coordinated via the prominent Know Your Farmer/Know Your Food program.
Elanor Starmer, USDA’s National Coordinator and Advisor for Local and Regional Food Systems, outlined the characteristics of a local food system to a national audience, via a live webinar, “The Role of Cooperatives in Local Food Systems Development,” held earlier this fall. Local food systems have all phases of the lifecycle of the food take place within a defined region, Starmer said. And, the benefits of such a food system impact the immediate community. These benefits include social, economic, environmental and nutritional improvements. Additionally, products in a local food system are identified as “local,” and “a lot of other values are conveyed with that product,” she said. Continue reading
Dairy operations are expensive. Costs to build and maintain facilities, purchase feed, provide proper ventilation, purchase bedding and dispose of manure add up quickly.
“It can be somewhat discouraging to new dairy farmers,” said Dr. Brad Heins at University of Minnesota-West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, MN, “a reduced input dairy (model) can be a way for new farmers to get involved without a lot of equity.”
Out wintering can be a successful method for managing a reduced input dairy herd. “The animals tend to stay relatively clean and you reduce bedding costs in out wintering systems,” he added, “but you must be able to respond to quickly changing weather conditions.”
In the webinar, titled Considerations for Out-Wintering the Organic Dairy Herd, which was hosted by eOrganic, Heins shared his results in out wintering University of Minnesota’s certified organic dairy herd. Continue reading