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…]

Establishing a safety culture

CEWM-CN-MR-2-Safety Culture9804by Sally Colby

Dairy farmer Walt Moore says prior to 2007, his farm had several workers compensation claims. “We had one really big one,” he said. “The herd manager was injured while moving a heifer. He came back in limited capacity, but was never able to fully return to work.”

After several more claims, Moore’s rates went up. Eventually, his insurance company decided that the farm was a high risk and dropped them. “We had to go with the state workers program,” said Moore, adding that he had to stay with that program for three years. “The rates are substantially higher than commercial insurance.” [Read more…]

Direct marketing of local foods

by Tamara Scully

Annual sales of direct-marketed local foods has decreased by at least $123,000 during the 2007-2012 period, in northern New Jersey, New York City, and in many portions of New England, particularly along the coast, according to a recently released USDA report. Eastern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier region of New York State were a part of this trend as well. While the majority of the country saw no major changes in direct-to-consumer local food sale dollars, a few pockets of very large increases were scattered across the nation, including in the northernmost regions of Maine.

“Foods sold through direct or intermediate marketing channels” are defined as local food for the purpose of the USDA’s Economic Research Service study, Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: Report to Congress, which was released on Jan. 28, 2015, Sarah Low, ERS Economist, said. Farms selling via these distribution channels are considered to be local food farms, for the purpose of the report. [Read more…]