Consumer Report’s report on pork and other things

by George Looby, DVM
The January issue of Consumers Report featured an article summarizing the findings of a group of investigators from the magazine who conducted a representative sampling of pork products from several sources to determine their level of bacterial contamination. It is recognized that while the animal is alive, most edible parts are sterile but during and after slaughter the potential for contamination rises significantly. Today’s packing house environment is far superior to that which existed years ago but the potential for contamination still exists with the need for speed on the processing line sometimes compromising good sanitation despite. [Read more…]

Integrating shade into grazing pastures

CN-MR-1-Integrating shade1977by Tamara Scully
Silvopasture is the managed integration of trees and livestock, utilizing the land both to produce a tree crop and to graze livestock. This multi-tasking can result in diverse income streams, with money from timber, nuts, syrup or other tree by-product, plus income from livestock production. Silvopasturing enhances both systems: the forest and the animals. It is one of five recognized agroforestry practices in the United States.
Unmanaged woodland grazing can be extremely detrimental to the ecosystem, and may not add any value to a livestock production system. A few scattered trees in a pasture can cause more harm than good. But neither of these scenarios represent a silvopasturing practice.

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Educating farmers on soil health

CN-MR-1-Educating farmers 1by Laura Rodley
Dysfunctional soil in your fields can’t attend a self-help program. It needs your help to bring it back to life, following nature’s system of using microbes and nutrients in organic matter to bring it back to life. Benefits include higher crop yield, less petroleum-based product use, less pesticide use, and a way to keep water in the soil through crop cover rather than irrigating, cutting down erosion, and a reverse of drought conditions in pockets throughout the country.
How do you do that? By planting cover crops that are rolled over and by not tilling, or reducing tilling, and keeping your soil always covered which forms a detritusphere, or armor. [Read more…]

Virginia Beef Expo brings industry together for a weekend of fun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAby Jennifer Showalter
HARRISONBURG, VA — Like in years past, the 2013 Virginia Beef Expo recently drew producers, exhibitors, lenders, industry officials, salesmen, and others who make up the beef cattle industry together for an eventful weekend at the Rockingham Fairgrounds. From cattle sales, shows, contests, educational workshops, to a trade show that offered something for everyone, the 2013 Virginia Beef Expo was a great success. Above and beyond all the activities that went on, the Expo provided an opportunity for cattlemen to simply come together and visit with old friends and meet new ones.

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An annual reminder

CM-MR-2-RURAL ROADSby Stephen Wagner
Some messages bear repeating, and often. As messages go, ‘try to drive safely on rural roads’ is one of them. It is a common sense notion, but as notions go, it doesn’t always factor in daydreaming at the wheel, impatience, or a driving ambition to be ahead of a larger and/or slower vehicle. These are merely earmarks of America’s on-demand society, wanting something and wanting it now. Road rage is another pervasive factor, one seen all too often these days. As an annual reminder, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau conscienciously does its part to dramatize the courteous and [Read more…]