VA State Feed Association holds annual meeting in anticipation of new growing season

Ed Ebert, Bunge North America, presented a forecast for grain markets in 2015.by Karl H. Kazaks

ROANOKE, VA — During an unusually cold spell in late February, with snow on the ground and snow squalls in the air, the Virginia State Feed Association held its 69th Annual Feed Convention and Cow College. Members of the feed industry, dairy producers, animal nutritionists, and other interested parties attended the three-day event.

For grain producers, the forecast Bunge’s Ed Ebert gave for the coming year was as bleak as the weather outside The Hotel Roanoke.

The prices of corn, soybeans, and wheat, Ebert said, will “remain constrained.” In the U.S., he expects an increase rather than a reduction in acreage planted, have canvassed hundreds of growers at several states around the country at meetings this past winter. Couple that with an increase in projected yields and you get a picture of likely record levels of production, likely leading to an increase of grain stocks, which already are at high levels. [Read more…]

Keynote address

CM-MR-2-PA-KEYNOTE-096by Bill and Mary Weaver

“I would like to speak today about a question that keeps me awake at night,” stated Russell Redding, Keynote Speaker at the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Hershey, PA, who was recently nominated to become the next PA Secretary of Agriculture. “Our biggest challenges in agriculture today aren’t consumer preferences or a proper shelf life. What keeps me awake at night is how to bring enough human capital into agriculture,” Redding said. [Read more…]

Creature comforts

CM-MR-2-Improving cow759by Steve Wagner

Concerns about cow comfort haven’t changed much in 130 years other than to diversify those concerns. “When we look at a cow’s day, 75 percent is spent eating and resting,” said Penn State’s Dan McFarland, a Capitol Region Extension Educator from York County PA. “So time away from the pen becomes pretty important.” McFarland was one of the presenters at the 2015 Lebanon Dairy & Crops Compliance Days at the Lebanon Valley Expo Center. When we think of the creature comforts, cow comfort specifically, it is often a passing thought, another one of those incidentals. Dan McFarland is different. He and a handful of ag engineering confreres who are similarly inclined not only think about it; they think about it from this angle and that. They hypothesize and theorize over creature comfort dimensions and measurements to the nth degree, putting it all under the theoretical microscope of time and motion study. Accordingly, he and his wide range of associates have produced charts and graphs to explain how to make life better for cows during every waking, and sleeping, moment. [Read more…]

VA No-Till meeting once again brings good crowds

CM-MR-3-VA-NO-TILL-4by Karl H. Kazaks

Harrisonburg, VA – The Virginia No-Till Alliance held its 6th annual conference in early February. Like last year, the meeting was held first at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds and then repeated, with a few variations, the following day at the Olde Dominion Ag Complex in Chatham. About 300 people attended the event’s first day, and a good crowd was on hand in Chatham, too. On both days, farmers and ag professionals from around Virginia gathered to listen to featured speakers, enjoy fellowship with each other, and take in information at trade shows.

Jason Geesaman, of Cullen, was at the Harrisonburg event. “I learned a lot about cover crops,” he said. Jason and his father Sam, who was also present at the meeting, raise, cattle, hay, row crops, and broilers for Tyson. “What I’m learning about cover crops is to plant shorter season corn,” Sam said. “Last year we did cut back on maturity,” and the approach was successful – they were able to get cover crops established behind the early season corn. [Read more…]

Cattle feeders learn more about finishing cattle

CEWM-MR-4-Cattle feeders8by Jon M. Casey

For the 160 attendees that attended this year’s Lancaster Cattle Feeders Day, there was a lot to learn about how grading and labeling of beef takes place. With PSU Retired Extension Economist, Lou Moore leading the way, Dr. Ty Lawrence, director of the Beef Carcass Research Center at West Texas A&M University and Dr. Jonathan Campbell, Penn State Meat Extension Specialist, together put on what this writer considers one of the most interesting cattle feeder days in recent memory. They touched on everything from the state of the current U.S. and World Ag economies to meat product labeling. Dr. Lawrence focused on how to finish beef cattle to receive the best sale price for the effort. Together, these three experts gave an informative overview, covering everything from what goes into Nathan’s Hot Dogs to the political wranglings of foreign nations as they deal with U.S. farmers. At the end of the day, there was much to contemplate. [Read more…]