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…]

In memory of Gerald “Jerry” Brunetti

CEW-MR-1-Jerry BrunettiGerald “Jerry” Brunetti, 63, of Lower Mt. Bethel Twp., passed away peacefully on Dec. 20, 2014, at St. Luke’s Hospice House, Bethlehem. Jerry was born Dec. 28, 1950 in Easton, PA. He was the son of the late Aurelio “Rello” Brunetti and Rena Tarsi Brunetti.
Jerry was a highly demanded lecturer and speaker, both nationally and internationally, on topics that included soil fertility, animal nutrition and livestock health. He passionately proclaimed to his audience the strong link between healthy soil, truly nutritious food, profitable farming and healthy communities. [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…]

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…]