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Commodity Communicator Weekly

July 20, 2012

RESEARCH EXAMINES POTENTIAL ANIMAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF SOYBEAN MEAL. . . . .Recent University of Illinois research funded by the Illinois soybean checkoff shows that soybean meal may help hogs fight disease. The findings indicate that soybean meal may offer advantages compared to synthetic amino acids.

“The study results provide strong encouragement that there is a special role for soybean meal for sick pigs,” says Jim Pettigrew, University of Illinois professor. “Farmers want healthy animals, and perhaps soybean meal, a major ration component, is a new approach to lessening the impact of sickness.”

The study was designed to investigate industry observations that pigs eating soybean meal instead of crystalline amino acids responded better when sick. Young pigs with the PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome) virus received different amounts of soybean meal in their feed, and their growth and health were monitored as they recovered.

REPORT: RICE MAKES GAINS IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY. . . . .Field to Market: The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture this week released The Field to Market 2012 Environmental and Socioeconomic Indicators Report, which analyzes sustainability trends on a national scale for U.S. corn, cotton, potato, rice, soybean, and wheat production from 1980 through 2011.  The report details important advancements for all commodities on a variety of environmental, social and economic indicators.

The results for rice demonstrate significant progress in all measures of resource efficiency, (per hundredweight of rice produced) with decreases in land use land use (35 percent) soil erosion (34 percent), irrigation water applied (53 percent), energy use (38 percent), and greenhouse gas emissions (38 percent).

MILK PRODUCTION. . . . .With heat and drought taking its toll on dairy farms, this could be the last time in 29 months that the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports a milk production increase.  This past week, the USDA reported that milk production in June was up 0.9 percent compared to the same month a year ago.  It’s a smaller growth rate than previously seen this year.  In April, production on a year-over-year basis was up 3.2 percent and in March 4.2 percent.  The states showing the largest increases in June were: Colorado (5.5 percent), Florida (5.2 percent), and Utah (5.1 percent).

Across the entire U.S., the number of milk cows increased by 45,000 head from June 2011 to June 2012.  However, the number of cows was down 19,000 head from the previous month.  Dave Kurzawski, dairy analyst with FC Stone/Downes-O’Neill in Chicago, called it a “bullish” report, since the milk production increase for June came in lower than analysts’ expectations.  He also cited a sharp decline in milk cows from May to June. And, milk per cow dropped nearly 100 pounds -- from 1,900 to 1,804 -- from May to June.

UNITED STATES CATTLE FUTURES SURGE. . . .U.S. livestock futures soared this week as signs of looser beef-import restrictions by Japan helped spark broad gains across markets, which had become very ripe for a rally. Traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange seized on reports suggesting Japan could widen its doorway for U.S. beef shipments as early as November. The associated rise in futures quickly led to sharper gains across all futures that had fallen sharply in recent weeks due to spreading drought conditions in the United States, spiking feed costs and slowing meat demand.

. . . . Taking aim at the Environmental Protection Agency in support of a Farm Bureau member, the American Farm Bureau Federation on Thursday filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit concerning EPA’s authority to regulate poultry and livestock farms under the Clean Water Act. AFBF filed to intervene on the side of West Virginia poultry grower Lois Alt, who brought suit to challenge an EPA order demanding that Alt obtain an unnecessary and costly CWA discharge permit.

EPA  threatened Alt with $37,500 in daily fines for storm water that may come into contact with dust, feathers or dander deposited on the ground outside of poultry house ventilation fans, or small amounts of manure that may be present in the farmyard as a result of normal poultry farming operations. EPA has basically claimed that Lois Alt’s family farm isn’t agricultural and rainwater from her farmyard isn’t agricultural storm water, just because she houses more than a certain number of chickens,” said Stallman.

In two prior court cases, AFBF has defeated EPA regulations that illegally attempted to impose broad NPDES permit requirements for thousands of livestock and poultry farmers whose operations have no regulated discharge.

AFBF:  FDA’S LIVESTOCK ANTIBIOTIC PROPOSALS BASED ON THEORY. . . . .Citing a lack of data to support limiting antibiotic use in livestock, the American Farm Bureau Federation has told the Food and Drug Administration that it is concerned with proposals that would restrict antibiotic use based on unproven theory. AFBF submitted comments to FDA on two proposals made by the agency earlier this year. According to FDA, the agency is taking action to help preserve the effectiveness of medically important antimicrobials for treating disease in humans, but FDA has not demonstrated whether the actions will have any effect on antibiotic resistance,

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR IS WELFARE INDICATOR FOR FARM ANIMALS. . . . .A major advantage of behavior as a welfare indicator for farm animals is that it can be measured non-invasively, according to E.A. Pajor, of the University of Calgary.  He explained that the focus of scientific inquiry and policy development is shifting to include the study of positive welfare states. As a starting point, Pajor said a species' natural behavior is often compared with its behavior in confinement. Although this approach provides some general information about the range and variation in behavior, it does little to indicate anything about animal welfare.


Recordings of the weekly corn producer webinars are available online at  The first two webinars covered fertilizer timing, nutrient deficiencies, insect threats and more.  The series will continue throughout the growing season on Thursdays at 11a.m.  To join the conference, follow the instructions below:

You have 3 options to join:
Option 1:  Download WebEx Ap and Join from Smartphone or Tablet
             Click the link:
            Open the Ap: Enter Meeting Number: 572 822 694 and Password: WCPU12
Option 2:  Call 1-877-668-4490
            enter Meeting Number/Access Code: 572 822 694
            when asked for attendee ID press #

Option 3:  Join from Computer  
            Click the link:
            Enter your name and email when prompted and click "Join Now".
            Say Yes or OK to any boxes which pop up
            Click Join using computer or enter your phone number area code first to have WebEx call you back.

. . . Members can save $500 on qualifying 2011/2012 model year Chevrolet, GMC or Buick vehicles. Complete details at

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