Farm energy efficiency

by Sanne Kure-Jensen

Farm inputs can include energy in the form of fuels, electricity and fertilizers. Crop and livestock production uses energy in many forms. Energy heats water for washing equipment and harvested crops, and powers lighting for production and handling areas. Livestock and produce producers use energy for heating, ventilation and refrigeration. Transportation uses more energy to move inputs to farms as well as moving produce and livestock from farms to processors, markets and consumers. Sustainable, viable farms maximize energy efficiency and minimize costs for all aspects of production.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) oversees programs that help farmers and producers conserve energy through a variety of on-farm energy upgrades for existing buildings. Kip Pheil, C.E.M., Acting Leader of the USDA NRCS National Energy Technology Development Team and Stephen Henry, P.E., NRCS South Carolina Assistant State Conservation Engineer described NRCS programs and shared their expertise in a webinar called “Key NRCS Energy Practices: Farmstead Energy, Lighting, and Building Envelope.” [Read more…]

The bottomless pit of Pennsylvania pensions

CM-MR-PA PENSION_1196by Steve Wagner

“While many of the pension reforms included in House Bill 2497 are noble, I cannot support legislation I know does not meet constitutional muster. No matter what provisions are included in the bill, if it does not correspond with the constitution I have sworn to uphold, it is my duty to vote no.” Those were State Representative Bryan Cutler’s words on Nov. 15, 2010. He hasn’t changed his tune. [Read more…]

What we know about managing emerging swine diseases

CEW-MR-1-Swine diseases9484by Sally Colby

Swine producers are all familiar with TGE, or transmissible gastroenteritis. TGE is a coronavirus, and has been identified in swine herds since the mid-1940s. However, a new coronavirus disease, PEDv (porcine epidemic diarrhea virus) has challenged pork producers throughout the United States.

“PED was in Europe for 50 years, and they haven’t had a problem with it,” said Dr. Meghann Pierdon, swine veterinarian at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. “More recently, between 2008 and 2010, there have been more severe outbreaks in Asia. But we had never seen it here in the U.S. until May of 2013.” [Read more…]

Mary L Farm enters its 10th year of organic dairying

CM-MR-3-MaryL1aby Karl H. Kazaks

MT. ULLA, NC —  In 2006, Mary L Farm, operated by Rick and Dorcas Parker, was the first North Carolina dairy to be certified organic. Recently, two of the Parkers’ children, Taylor and Maurice, shared their perspective on what the past nine years have brought.

“Being organic is different, not easier, than conventional production,” said Taylor, who is a student at Catawba College and helps on the farm when not in school. “The transition brought a whole new set of struggles.” [Read more…]

New and improved animal identification system

CEW-BF-MR-Animal ID 1cby Sally Colby

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.” [Read more…]