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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News as heard inside the BARN for January 11th…

Posted by Brian Allmer on January 11, 2013

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

“Efforts to Require GMO Labeling Continue”

A bill has been introduced in the New Mexico Senate that would require the labeling of any food or commercial animal feed that contains more than one-percent genetically modified material by weight. Unlike Proposition 37 – which failed during the 2012 election in California – the measure will not be placed on a ballot for voters in the state. Instead – it will move through the committee process and then – if passed by the New Mexico Senate – will go to the state House. In Washington – voters could have a chance to vote on a measure to require special labeling of genetically modified foods. The measure’s sponsors turned in petitions signed by an estimated 350-thousand registered voters – all but assuring the GMO-labeling initiative will be certified by the Washington Secretary of State and sent on to the state legislature. The legislature could then either pass a labeling law or leave it to a popular vote on the election ballot this November. If adopted by the legislature or approved by the voters – Washington would become the first U.S. state to require all genetically modified seeds used by farmers as well as food with genetically altered ingredients be labeled as such.

The Seattle-based food cooperative PCC Natural Markets is pushing for the initiative’s passage. A spokeswoman says 62 countries ban, restrict or require labeling of genetically modified food. According to Trudy Bialic – Washington apple and wheat farmers would face a loss of exports if those products turned out to be genetically altered without being labeled.

There’s also a petition that has gathered 1.3-million signatures demanding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration require the labeling of all genetically modified food. The FDA has not responded to the petition.


“Not Too Late for Flu Vaccine”

The flu season may be in full force – but the Pork Checkoff is still advising producers, farm personnel and others who have contact with pigs to get the seasonal flu vaccination as soon as possible to help protect human and pig health. Pork Checkoff Director of Producer and Public Health Jennifer Koeman says it’s never too late to get a flu vaccination that can help reduce the risk of getting sick and bringing the flu to the farm or workplace. She says it also demonstrates the industry’s We Care ethical principle is in action to help protect employees, animals and public health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends everyone over the age of six-months should be immunized for influenza each year. Koeman also recommends sick-leave policies that encourage workers to stay home when experiencing symptoms of influenza-like symptoms. She notes people may remain contagious for up to five to seven days after getting sick.

At the farm level – good building ventilation and good hygiene will help reduce transmission of flu viruses. To prevent pigs and humans from the influenza viruses of other species – Koeman says producers should look at bird-proofing their buildings, protecting feed from birds and enforcing biosecurity practices – such as the use of farm-specific clothing and footwear.

Lisa Becton – Pork Checkoff Director of Swine Health Information and Research – says it’s important to monitor the herd’s health daily and contact the herd veterinarian if influenza is suspected. Becton says rapid detection of influenza can help producers and their veterinarians implement appropriate strategies to better manage sick pigs.

For additional general flu-related information – visit www dot cdc dot gov slash flu ( The Pork Checkoff has flu information and resources available at www dot pork dot org slash flu (


“Hay Thefts on the Rise”

It may not seem like a big deal – but hay thefts in Weld County, Colorado more than doubled in 2012 – up to 15 from seven in 2011. Perhaps the rising number of hay thefts is simply a result of the drought – but sheriffs in rural counties in Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas say the spike is actually part of a broader rise in agricultural crime. Farmers in California have seen a growing number of grape, beehive and avocado thefts. Sheriffs say high prices of scrap metal also make agricultural machinery an appealing target. Law enforcement officials say there’s not much they can do to prevent the thefts or catch the culprits – particularly when it comes to hay. It’s definitely no easy task to tell one bale of hay from another. Farmers are doing what they can – padlocking their gates, painting their bales with their brands or finding other ways to mark their ownership. One farmer in Oklahoma even used a GPS unit to bug a bale in a theft-prone field.


“Members Appointed to Meat and Poultry Inspection Advisory Committee”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has appointed members to the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection for the 2012-2014 term. This 17-member committee was established in 1971. They meet on food safety concerns and advise the Secretary of Agriculture on matters affecting federal and state inspection program activities. The committee also contributes to the department’s development of regulatory policy. According to Vilsack – the diverse perspectives on food safety that the committee members bring are invaluable to USDA’s success in ensuring the safety of the foods we eat. Vilsack says he is committed to aggressively decreasing the incidence of foodborne illnesses. He says the support of those serving on this advisory committee will be instrumental in the work of protecting the American people’s food supply.

New members of the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection are Dr. Carol Lorenzen of the University of Missouri, Sherika Harvey of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Dr. John Marcy of the University of Arkansas Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, Christopher Waldrop of the Consumer Federation of America and Dr. Michael Rybolt of Hillshire Brands Company. The others appointed to the committee are returning members.

Public meetings of the advisory committee are scheduled for January 16th and 17th in Washington, D.C.


“America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Back for Another Year”

America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education is returning for a second year. Through April 15th – farmers can nominate their favorite, local public school district to compete for a grant of either 10-thousand dollars or 25-thousand dollars. Administrators of the nominated school districts will have until April 30th to submit an application for either grant amount to enhance their math and/or science programs. The Monsanto Fund is prepared to invest 2.3-million dollars to strengthen math and science education in rural communities. Monsanto Fund President Deborah Patterson says bright futures start in the classroom. She adds that building strong math and science foundation for today’s youth is great preparation for future success.

The America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to society. The program debuted nationally last year in 1,245 counties across 39 states. Its reach has grown to include 1,271 counties this year.

The Monsanto Fund will award 172 of the 10-thousand dollar grants and 22 of the 25-thousand dollar grants. Winners will be announced in August. For a list of eligible states and regions and to make a nomination – visit www dot growruraleducation dot com (

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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