Dairy settlement denied in federal lawsuit

by Bethany M. Dunbar

BURLINGTON, VT — United States District Court Judge Christina Reiss has denied a proposed $50-million settlement in an anti-trust case filed by dairy farmers against their cooperative.

In a decision filed Friday, March 31, the judge notes that 35 farmers objected to the settlement, while 10 supported it. Objections noted that the settlement per farm would be about $4,000 per farm, an amount described by one of the farmers in a letter as “functionally irrelevant” as it is about “the cost of one tractor tire.”

One of the plaintiffs, Richard Swantak of Kortright, NY, said in a telephone interview he is hoping Judge Reiss will decide the plaintiffs can dismiss their attorney. [Read more…]

Gabe Brown: Writing on the back of the check is better

CEW-MR-3-Gabe Brown1by Troy Bishopp

TOWANDA, PA — When North Dakota’s soil health evangelist Gabe Brown speaks: Farmers listen. They also fill fire halls and fields to visit with him about the finer points of regenerating soil, improving profit and actually having fun on the farm again.

The candid rancher spoke in front of over 150 farmers from three states at the Wysox Volunteer Fire Company as part of a 3-day soil health roadshow in Pennsylvania with Dr. Bernard Sweeney, Director of the Stroud Water Research Center and Norm Conrad from the Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). [Read more…]

Using genetic evaluation to improve dairy herds

CEW-MR-2-Dairy Day1by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

Central New York’s 2015 Dairy Day focused on breeding stronger and healthier dairy herds through genetic improvement, reproductive results and calf management.

Dr. Curt Van Tassell, Research Geneticist, ARS, USDA, from Beltsville, MD, spoke to attendees about using genomics for testing and predicting future traits in dairy herds. [Read more…]

Animal care in USDA Research Program

by George Looby

One of the most important of the USDA’s many departments, units or sections is the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) where wide ranges of agriculturally related research programs are conducted. If it pertains in any way to agriculture there is very likely some sort of research going on in that particular area. One of the many components within the ARS is the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) located in Clay Center, NE.

The mission statement of this program is to develop scientific information and new technology to solve high priority problems for the U.S. beef, sheep and swine industries. The research is directed toward problems of national concern and to meeting USDA’s Action Agencies research needs. Research approaches involve multidisciplinary teams with emphasis on both short-term and long-term solutions to improving animal production and product quality. [Read more…]

Legal concerns around farm workers and employees

CN-MR-1-LEGAL CONCERNSby Sanne Kure-Jensen

Rachel Armstrong led an informative webinar on the legal considerations regarding unpaid and compensated volunteers. “Ag. law is incredibly complex,” said Rachel Armstrong, lawyer and former grower. Farmers should carefully distinguish between a volunteer and employee. A volunteer must not displace a regularly paid employee doing similar work. The largest volunteer risk is injury. Volunteers often arrive unskilled or untrained in specific farm activities and may not use the same caution as experienced farmers. Armstrong recognizes that consumers everywhere value their connection to the land, wanting to reconnect with the land and with farmers who grow their food. Many farm customers happily volunteer for their favorite farmer. Farmers must manage risks in all aspects of farming. Risk of injury, liability or employment law violations is serious. Accident prevention keeps everyone safe. Armstrong recommended all farmers purchase a Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy for interns, employees, seasonal employees and other farm guests who volunteer for compensation. A commercial policy also ensures coverage for off-farm activities (CSA drop sites) value-added processing, agritoursim, transportation to markets and for distribution, if you sell anyone else’s products. Armstrong also recommends a Farm Liability Insurance (like homeowner’s liability policy). This protects the landowner in case of an accident on the farm property. This is separate from a CGL. Shop around and describe all aspects of your business to potential insurance agents. [Read more…]