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…]

Local food and the USDA

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. [Read more…]

Grazing 260 days in Upstate New York is Possible

CEW-MR-3-Grazing days3DEANSBORO, NY — Fifty hearty farmers from Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York braved downpours and cold temperatures to learn, discuss and verify that forward grazing planning does meet the realities of extending pasture resources into the winter season.

The goal for the day at the Bishopp Family Farm was to show others that it’s possible to increase grazing days, reduce wintering costs and maintain animal performance by using holistic planned grazing management principles and decisions to implement a stockpiled grazing program. [Read more…]

Sixth-generation dairy survives mammoth storm

CW-MR-2-Breezyhill Dairy1298by Sally Colby

Like many generational dairy farms, Breezyhill has faced its share of challenges. The most recent was dealing with the sudden onslaught of snow that plagued a good portion of upstate New York. Brad Almeter, who is back on the farm after studying Animal Science and Ag Business at Cornell University, talks about how his family’s Sheldon, NY, dairy farm has progressed over the years.

“My grandfather Charlie took over the farm in the 1970s,” said Almeter, adding that the farm included 60 cows at the time. “He put up some freestall barns and Harvestore silos. He died in a tragic tractor accident three years later and my dad Roger took over the farm. I grew up on the farm and came back in 2002 after college.” [Read more…]