Opinion by PriceWritten by Charles Price
Charles Cl. Price, District III Commisioner of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission
In previous articles, I described a protocol that I believed could be used to booster vaccinate pregnant cows with RB51 vaccine without the risk of a significant loss to vaccine induced abortion. These articles were published in the Wyoming Livestock Roundup on Jan. 1, 2011 (Brucellosis – Strain-19 and RB51) and on June 25, 2011 (Brucellosis – Booster Vaccination with RB51).
In the second article, I related the result for a small group, 20 head, which had received a RB51 booster shot as yearling heifers prior to being bred and were given a second booster shot as pregnant heifers in the fall of 2010. The entire group of 20 heifers that received a second booster shot while pregnant carried their calves to term. As proposed in the June 25 article, my son Kent Price and I booster vaccinated all of the bred cows that we retained for the herd at our fall 2011 pregnancy test with RB51. All of these cows, numbering over 350 head, except one, carried their calf to term. We had two dead before birth, and both appeared to be full term. As for the one cow that was open we don’t know, she may have aborted or we could use the old fall back, ”blame the vet.”
The important lesson was that any RB51 vaccine induced abortion caused by vaccinating the cows while pregnant was insignificant or nonexistent.
One interesting thing that happened during this experiment was that all of our replacement yearling heifers carried their calves to term. So much for the “blame the vet” theory. Until these last two years when the yearling heifers have been RB51 booster vaccinated prior to breeding, we have always had a heifer or two slink their calf or show up with no calf by the end of the calving season. This has led me to speculate that perhaps the RB51 booster prevents abortions caused by other aborting type diseases such as BVD or similar disease. After all, the way the brucellosis vaccine works is to resist a brucellosis-induced abortion, thus minimizing the spread of the disease within the herd.
In summary, the protocol that we have followed with RB51 is as follows. First, give the calf hood vaccination, which is a legal requirement. Then, booster vaccinate yearling heifers prior to breeding. Finally, give the first booster vaccination to cows that have only had a calf hood vaccination while they are open. This allows us to booster vaccinate cows while we are doing our fall pregnancy testing. A point to keep in mind is that we booster vaccinated our cows in about their second trimester of pregnancy. I don’t know if a booster shot late in the pregnancy cycle would be a problem.
In conclusion, we have demonstrated a protocol that allows booster vaccination of pregnant cows during their pregnancy testing with an insignificant loss due to vaccine induced abortion. We have not addressed the time interval between booster shots that maintains this insignificant loss. We are currently going to follow the state veterinarian’s recommendation of every third year.
The important question regarding booster vaccination with RB51 is, will a cow properly booster vaccinated be able to resist an abortion caused by the field strain of brucellosis? This is the critical question.
A challenge test of the RB51 and the booster vaccination protocol by the field strain of brucellosis is imperative. We need to determine how effective the RB51 with booster vaccination is in controlling brucellosis.
Opinion by BuchananWritten by Tom Buchanan
Tom Buchanan, President, University of Wyoming
On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, allowing for the creation of land grant institutions in each state to provide education related to agriculture, home economics and mechanical arts.
Twenty-five years later, even before Wyoming became a state, the University of Wyoming opened its doors based upon the foundation of the Morrill Act, also known as the Land Grant College Act.
As we this year mark the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act and UW’s 125th anniversary, it’s important to note the university remains dedicated to its land-grant mission. Whether it’s educating students for careers in agriculture or conducting research to benefit Wyoming’s farmers and ranchers, UW takes seriously its mandate to serve the people of the state.
At a time when the agriculture industry is seeing its workforce age rapidly, I’m happy to report that enrollment in our College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has never been higher – more than 1,000 students for the second year in a row. Young people are entering these fields of study in part because agriculture remains such an important industry in the state and in part because of UW’s strong leadership. We have focused our programs in areas where our students really have an opportunity to enter careers, grow and succeed.
For example, we recently rolled out a new degree incorporating animal science and agribusiness. The targets are students who have an interest in the livestock aspect of agribusiness. In addition, we have a new bachelor of applied science degree that allows students who have two-year degrees, along with time in the workforce, to come back to school and finish bachelor’s degrees in two years.
We’re also cooperating with Sheridan College to improve our agroecology and horticulture program. Under this partnership, students who receive associate’s degrees in horticulture will be able to take their third year of classes in Sheridan, then their final year at UW, to earn bachelor’s degrees.
The Sheridan effort is getting a big boost from UW’s purchase and renovation of the Watt Agricultural Building from Sheridan College. The project’s purpose is to strengthen UW’s partnership with Sheridan College, enhance and consolidate UW’s program in agriculture and horticulture and provide a unified site for outreach instruction for UW students in Sheridan. We’re working with Sheridan College and Whitney Benefits, a nonprofit foundation in Sheridan, to lease the adjacent Adams Ranch at little or no cost. We plan to integrate the Adams Ranch into our Sheridan Research and Extension Center and curriculum for third-year agriculture students.
As Wyoming’s only four-year university, we recognize the importance of reaching out across the width and breadth of our big state. Nowhere is that more evident than in agriculture.
UW Extension – which, since 1914, has helped Wyoming farm and ranch families respond to challenges and changes – maintains offices in all 23 counties and on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Through various publications and personal contacts, UW Extension provides information and assistance to help rural communities thrive.
Perhaps our biggest contribution to Wyoming agriculture is our focus on research, both on campus and through our research centers in Lingle, Powell and Sheridan. Our scientists aim to help producers and constituents address a wide variety of issues important to Wyoming. In 2011, for example, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources completed a total of 79 applied research projects. Of those projects, 25 were related to crop research, 27 to livestock production and health, three to economics, three to weed management, 17 to horticulture and three to food safety. Key projects are reported and presented at field days and at public speaking engagements.
We’re making a particular effort to reach out to constituents across the state to make sure our research enterprise is responsive to the needs of our stakeholders. For example, producers have asked for more help with farm and ranch budgeting, so we’ve hired new personnel to work in the area of ag finances.
Emblematic of UW’s commitment to the state’s agriculture industry is the fact that Frank Galey, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, recently was honored by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association with its “Guardian of the Grasslands” award for his efforts to protect the state’s natural resources.
Along those lines, we recently received the largest research grant in UW history – $20 million from the National Science Foundation – for wide-ranging research into one of our state’s most precious resources: water. There’s nothing more central to the future of agriculture in Wyoming and the West. We expect this research to yield important information to guide water managers as they make decisions during a time of increasing demand and climate variability.
Be assured we will continue working to communicate what we’re doing and to seek your input in setting priorities. For UW to remain effective, we must always remember we are a land-grant university. That means quality instruction and research, particularly in agriculture, and remaining connected to the people who live in our great state.
Opinion by Becky GitthensWritten by Becky Gitthens
By Becky Gitthens, CPA, Director of Finance and Operations, Mountain States Lamb Cooperative
With more than 2.3 million lambs marketed, total producer payments exceeding $375 million and 93 percent ownership of the largest domestic lamb company in the U.S., the members of Mountain States Lamb Cooperative (MSLC) had a lot to celebrate at our recent 10th Annual Meeting. Following a roller coaster 12-month period, which saw record high prices of lambs and a short supply in 2011, followed by an industry-wide surplus of lambs and falling prices in 2012, our members are thankful to be a part of this Wyoming-based, producer-driven success story. In fact, one of the primary reasons MSLC exists is to provide its producers market access during the exact conditions we have experienced in the lamb industry the last nine months.
The record high prices and short supplies of 2011 took a heavy toll on consumer demand. MSLC and our meat company, Mountain States Rosen, have had to deal with the consequences of this, right along with the rest of our industry. Many retailers reduced the limited shelf space allocated to American lamb even further or quit carrying lamb altogether. Restaurants often removed lamb from the menu or offered lower-priced cuts. In addition, drought conditions in key regions brought lambs into the feedlots earlier than normal last summer and fall. A mild winter in lamb feeding areas facilitated optimum feed conversion and accelerated marketing. The ethnic trade, which annually uses an estimated 1 million head of lighter weight lambs, pulled out of the market entirely due to price, thus increasing the supply of feeder lambs available over previous years. In addition, a weak global economy has contributed to increased pressure from imported product in the United States and a much weaker pelt market. The last nine months have been incredibly challenging for the entire lamb industry because of the inability to get lambs marketed in a timely manner.
Market access is one of the primary benefits of our organization. We utilize a harvest schedule based on solid communication with both our meat company and producers. As shareholders in the nation’s largest domestic lamb company, our producers know they have a home for their market ready lambs every year. Members communicate with the Co-op throughout their marketing cycle regarding the number of lambs they have to market and the projected harvest dates. This allows MSLC to forecast its supply and work to align it with the needs of the meat company.
We will be the first to admit there are a number of variables to work with, and much like the weather, some factors are always going to be difficult to predict or beyond our control. Perfect alignment of supply and demand will always be impossible, but because both our supply and meat company are producer-owned and controlled, we have proven that we are able to do so much better than our industry as a whole. As a cooperative and a vertically integrated organization, we have improved the communication between our producers and meat company tremendously over the last few years and diligently work at this each day. This communication and cooperation is key to our business model and gives us a competitive advantage over the rest of the industry.
Mountain States Lamb Cooperative is current with all of our member’s committed supply. Based on the weights and number of lambs on feed in Colorado, it does not appear as if the industry as a whole will be current until much later this fall. As non-member producers have struggled to market their finished lambs during 2012, inquiries and new MSLC memberships have increased significantly. Producers from around the country are contacting us because they want to align themselves with the long-term vision of our organization and eliminate the uncertainty of where they will market lambs next year. Producers also want the opportunity to earn premiums on quality lambs, be paid for actual carcass yield and pelt quality, and earn dividends based on the profitability of their own meat company.
We recognize that there are a number of serious challenges for the industry in the short term. Drought, rising production and feed costs, pressure from imported product and predator and environmental issues all plague an industry that currently has more product than demand. However, longer term the future is bright.
There is still a worldwide shortage of protein and not enough lambs being produced in the United States. Lamb is a wonderful, nutritious product and is a favorite of diners, chefs and families because of its tender, delicious taste profile and ease of preparation. Consumers want to know where their food comes from and the assurance that it is raised responsibly. The MSLC story and all-natural program addresses those concerns and features an antibiotic- and hormone-free product.
Lamb consumption in the U.S. still averages well less than one pound per person per year, so there are infinite marketing opportunities. Mountain States Rosen’s New York and Colorado case-ready programs are opening up new markets for our lamb. We are utilizing state of the art technology, which produces a high quality product, conveniently and attractively packaged with an extended shelf life, thereby increasing customer satisfaction, and enhancing the retailer’s product margin.
Mountain States Lamb Cooperative is optimistic about the opportunities for lamb, our organization and most importantly our members. After 10 years of marketing more than 2.3 million lambs, paying each producer on time and in full and acquiring the controlling interest in Mountain States Rosen, our state and industry realize MSLC organization is the real deal and here for the long haul.
Opinion by Ashley McDonaldWritten by Ashley McDonald
Ashley McDonald, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Deputy Environmental Council
Always a hot topic in Washington, D.C. is “regulatory overreach.” This phrase has been the battle cry for many industries over the past few years, and the cattle industry is no exception. As one of the top two enforcement priorities for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the cattle industry has seen an attack from all sides. We are fighting issues from dust and greenhouse gas regulation to preventing your ditches and dry washes from becoming a “water of the United States.” EPA is a power hungry bureaucratic machine, and it is in their own self-interest to continue to stretch their authority and gain power over every aspect of our operations. War has no doubt been declared on both sides, but while EPA may have won a few battles, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) will fight to ensure the cattle industry wins the war.
Let’s examine where the agency has gone over the past few years. Immediately upon arrival, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declared carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases a direct threat to human health, and she went on to promulgate three major rules that will raise input costs to farmers and ranchers and subject them to permitting requirements for their emissions starting in 2016. That year as well, the agency published staff recommendations that the dust standard should be lowered to double the stringency of the current standard, subjecting cattle producers across the country to expensive regulations and fines for driving down a dirt road or cattle moving in pens.
Next the agency dropped another bomb, usurping states’ rights in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by taking over all aspects of the Clean Water Act and setting a TMDL (total maximum daily load) for the 64,000 square mile watershed. While the usurpation of the states’ rights is atrocious, it pales in comparison to the economic impact this rule will have. Nutrient loadings have been set so low that only completely idling land is an option. Not only will municipal ratepayers in the region pay more for their water bill, but a 20 percent reduction in the amount of farmland in the watershed is relied upon by EPA in order for states to meet their obligations under the TMDL. Bad data and false assumptions plague the EPA “model” that developed the nutrient loadings, so much so that NCBA and other agricultural groups had an analysis done on these assumptions and found that not only was EPA’s model wrong in the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that came from agriculture, but the model simply would not count many of the conservation measures producers had put on the ground.
The agency next instituted the Florida numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) rule, again railroading the state’s rights under the Clean Water Act. That rule too will come with a heavy price tag, with estimates that the federal rule will cost the state more than 14,000 in job losses and cost agriculture over $3 billion in implementation costs. The list of overreaching federal regulations that directly hurt cattle operations continues, with ammonia regulation under the Clean Air Act, pressure on states to develop more nutrient reduction regulations, a guidance document expanding “waters of the U.S.,” and new reporting rules.
While the cattle industry is bruised and bloody from these actions, the agency has also felt the sting of defeat, and NCBA’s “win” column is increasing. In the face of a tough re-election campaign, the Administration has decided to pull back in its war against farmers and ranchers. You will remember the heat the agency took over their consideration of lowering the dust standard, and eventually NCBA was successful in getting the Administrator to promise she would not propose to lower the standard.
EPA also decided not to move forward with its plan for regulating ammonia under a Clean Air Act standard for oxides of nitrogen. And in July, EPA withdrew a controversial reporting rule it had proposed back in October of 2011 that would have put our industry at risk of increased attacks from animal rights activists and terrorists.
The war is not yet won. The number of people involved in agriculture and living in rural America continues to decrease, while the knowledge gap about our industry continues to widen. Cattle producers must be outspoken about the measures we have put in place to protect the environment and how the U.S. cattle industry is more sustainable than anywhere else in the world. The knowledge gap does not reside with consumers alone. It is prevalent with regulators, congressmen and senators. NCBA works every day to close this gap and limit the number of harebrained regulations that seem to flow so easily out of the capitol city. While NCBA will not win every battle, we intend to win the war and keep ranching a viable way of life.