Fremont County ag joins for annual softball tournament, inaugural cook-off eventWritten by Saige Albert
Riverton – Fremont County’s agriculture community gathered on Oct. 16 for the chance to enjoy camaraderie and some friendly competition.
“We wanted to bring the ag community together to have a little bit of fun this fall,” said Scott Priebe of Wyoming Ag Marketing, who hosted the day.
Rich Pingetzer of Bass Lake Farms and Brown Company also cooperated to organize the event.
The gathering invited farmers, ranchers and business people for the farmers versus ranchers softball game, a rousing game of human foosball and a barbeque cook-off. A bouncy castle for the youngest in the group topped off the day.
“Usually, we have this softball game during county fair,” explained Priebe. “This year, construction meant that our field was full of dirt, so we couldn’t have the game.”
With the title up for grabs, the ranchers barely pulled off a win, with a final score of 17-16. A traveling trophy will be passed from the farmers, last year’s winner, to the ranchers to keep for the year.
The barbeque cook-off, decided in a vote by attendees, was won by James Bunker who narrowly overtook Rich Pingetzer.
Priebe adds, “This was a lot of fun for our community.”
WBCIA Bull Test continues to make changes, improve through latest technologyWritten by Saige Albert
Shoshoni – The Wyoming Beef Cattle Improvement Association (WBCIA) Bull Test Sale will once again be held at Pingetzer’s Bull and Heifer Development Center in Shoshoni.
After feeding the set of bulls since mid-October 2013, Bob Pingetzer says, “Gain has been down in the Test this year, but the health of the cattle has been much better than normal.”
Pingetzer is owner of Pingetzer’s Bull and Heifer Development Center, where the WBCIA Bull Test and Sale are held.
This year at the WBCIA Bull Test, Pingetzer comments that their changed cattle ration improved animal health.
“Instead of grinding hay, we moved to a cutter baler, allowing us to mix the hay more like a vertical mixer cuts it,” he explains. “The nutritionists have said that gain will be off, but it will improve our health.”
They saw positive results, with improved cattle health.
“Gain has been off a bit, but we also did not feed quite as hot a ration this year,” Pingetzer says. “We fed for 3.1 pounds of gain instead of 3.25 pounds.”
In looking at the requirements to qualify for the sale, Pingetzer says they have changed the calving ease criteria.
“We use less than 85 pound birth weights, and we use the top 40 percent of the breed for calving ease on their birth weight EPD,” he explains. “For instance, the Black Angus have to have a 1.5 birth weight EPD or less.”
They have also introduced the use of Calving Ease Direct EPD.
“Calving Ease Direct is a newer EPD, but people are starting to look at it more and more,” he says. “The bulls have to have a seven or greater Calving Ease Direct EPD.”
As new EPDs emerge and technology becomes available, Pingetzer notes they may continue to add criteria based on the latest information.
“There is a lot more opportunity to do DNA work now,” he comments. “We don’t require DNA yet, but I think in the future, we are going to see DNA replacing some of these other criteria we have now.”
With improvements in accuracy and the technology, Pingetzer says results will continue to improve.
“They are working on being more accurate with the 50K DNA test,” Pingetzer notes. “When they get there, I think there may be some other things eliminated.”
The WBCIA Board also continues to discuss how to further improve the test even more, utilizing a variety of technologies.
“We are discussing doing more with the University of Wyoming and possibly sending a portion of the bulls to a GrowSafe system,” says Pingetzer. “We aren’t sure if it would work or if it is feasible.”
“GrowSafe systems are more and more popular,” he notes.
However, Pingetzer also sees that GrowSafe systems aren’t perfect, either.
“I think the GrowSafe system favors a certain type of cattle,” Pingetzer says. “Not all of the best-efficiency cattle come out because of competition at the feed bunk.”
The more timid, less dominant bulls tend to be out-competed at the feed bunk, meaning they can be missed in efficiency rankings.
“When we are looking at cattle from small producers who only own a small number of cattle, the bulls aren’t as aggressive in the feed bunks, so they don’t perform as well,” Pingetzer says. “GrowSafe misses those efficient, but timid, cattle.”
In WBCIA’s Bull Test, cattle from Six Iron Ranch in Shoshoni took the top spots in both Red and Black Angus cattle.
Pingetzer comments that they have great cattle involved in the sale from a variety of consigners, and top quality bulls can be seen throughout the sale.
“When I look at the numbers, if a calf has one bad day, he can shift four or five places in the standings,” Pingetzer explains. “However, calves can’t have a bad day and sit in the top place. There are calves that may be 10th in the Test that are still good calves that had one bad day.”
Benefits to producers
Testing bulls at a test facility is beneficial to producers, adds Pingetzer.
“The biggest benefit to testing is that it lets a producer know how their cattle compare to other cattle in the same situation,” he says. “Producers know what their calves perform like in their environment, but they don’t know how they perform compared to other people.”
With differences in environmental conditions, Pingetzer says bull tests allow producers to pit their animals against one another on a level playing field.
“If producers think they have performance, this is one way of finding out if they really do,” he comments.
The Wyoming Beef Cattle Improvement Association Bull Test Sale will be held on April 5 at 1 p.m. at Pingetzer’s Bull and Heifer Development Center in Shoshoni.
The auction will sell 105 bulls, including 75 Black Angus and 30 Red Angus.
In addition to the live auction, DVAuction will hold an online auction at dvauction.com. Visit their website for more information and to register to bid.
Town and Country Party returns for second year, raises funds for 4-HersWritten by Saige Albert
The event raises funds for the foundations’ activities, including scholarships, grants to committees, youth clinics, educational materials, leader training and recruitment.
Carol Whitney, Natrona County 4-H Foundation secretary, says, “The Natrona County 4-H Foundation is thrilled to continue this tradition in our community. The ‘Town and Country Party’ is a time of celebration for all members of our community.”
The Town and Country Party will be held this year on Dec. 15 at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds. The event provides fun for everyone in the family, including a silent auction, craft and trade show and selection of games.
Another feature of the Town and Country Party is the Community Spirit Award. The award focuses on honoring those business and individuals in the Casper area who actively support the endeavors of the community. This year’s winner is the Mountain View Hospital and Clinic.
“The list of things they support and do for the community is astonishing,” read the nomination.
Mountain View Hospital and Clinic participates and supports the 4-H Livestock Sale, sponsors the 4-H goat show, the Boys and GirlsClub, Jason’s Friends Foundation, Wyoming Cavalry, Casper Amateur Youth Hockey, the Science Zone, Casper Ghosts, the Jefferson Awards, Beartrap Summer Festival, National Historic Trails Center, Casper Children’s Theater, the Nicolaysen Art Museaum and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, among others.
“Everywhere you look, you see the Mountain View Hospital and Clinic participating,” added the nomination.
Mountain View Hospital and Clinic will be receiving a plaque recognizing their efforts, as well as eight complimentary tickets to the event.
In hosting the event, a number of sponsors have come forward, donating time, advertising and money to make the event a success.
“We would like to thank Greenline Equipment for being the Exclusive Sponsor of the Second Annual Town and Country Party,” Whitney comments. “We would also like to thank event sponsors Wyoming Machinery, Greiner, Fremont Motors, Wells Fargo Bank, Murdoch’s, Wyoming Livestock Roundup and Hilltop National Bank.”
On Dec. 15, doors will open at 5 p.m. Dinner by Arrowhead Catering will be served from 6-7:30 p.m.
One of the major draws for this year’s event is entertainment by Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band, who will play from 8-11 p.m. Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers are a Wyoming group that has gained national attention for their music and promise to provide a fun-filled night, adds Whitney.
Admission is $15 per person, and tickets are available at the Natrona County 4-H Office, the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, Murdoch’s and Greenline Equipment. At the door, admission increases to $20, or a dance only ticket is available beginning at 8 p.m. for $10.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 307-235-9400 or 307-259-2689.
2014 shows promise for Wyo agricultureWritten by Saige Albert
With 2013 behind us and wet snow for the first days of 2014, Wyoming agriculture industry groups are optimistic about the coming year.
Cattle prices are projected to be higher than normal and drought is easing across much of the country, leading to optimism throughout much of the industry.
“I am going to take an optimistic outlook on 2014,” comments Leanne Correll, Wyoming Livestock Board director and CEO. “We have had issues with livestock over the past year, but when we look at the big picture, it has been positive. “
Correll adds that she looks progress toward to continuing forward with the WLSB computerization project and the challenges that it will bring.
“The biggest challenges I see in 2014 are the changes in our day-to-day operation with the implementation of computerization,” she comments. “Hopefully the benefits will outweigh the detriments, and we are able to get to the point that it works well.”
“It will be challenging, but I am very optimistic that it will be a good year moving forward,” Correll adds.
Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton notes that farm policy will continue to be discussed on the national level into 2014.
“We’ll see discussions on the Farm Bill this year, and our folks in Washington, D.C. say that we will see something early in the year,” he says.
Currently, the sticking points for the Farm Bill include nutrition programs, but Hamilton also adds that elections in 2014 may results in changes in the House or Senate that could alleviate these issues for future legislation.
“If there is a change in the House or Senate, I’m sure it will change the way the political landscape works,” Hamilton adds.
Also nationally, Hamilton notes that the Chesapeake Bay decision related to the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to dictate total maximum daily loads and their implementation will affect Wyoming down the line.
“We are hopeful that the court will overturn that decision,” he says. “If the decision is upheld, the EPA will start moving into land use regulation through water quality, and that is a very serious concern.”
For 2014, Hamilton adds that the focus of Farm Bureau will be on national regulatory concerns.
For Jim Magagna, executive director of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, 2014 brings several legislative concerns, as well as work on forests.
“Legislatively, there are a couple of things that are high on our agenda, and they carry over from 2013,” he says. “We didn’t quite get the bill on protection for landowners against liability for trespassers injured on their lands or the bill that puts parameters on state acquisition of land.”
The bills, Magagna said, will be introduced this year, and he hopes to see them passed.
He also mentioned the Grazing Improvement Act in the U.S. Congress, mentioning, “While it is a long way from anything acceptable, the fact that we were able to get grazing legislation through committee in the Senate creates some opportunity for 2014.”
He looks forward to moving in a positive direction with the legislation.
Magagna also serves in a national capacity on the Federal Forest Service Advisory Committee on the Forest Service Planning Rule.
“I think we came out with some very positive recommendations from the Forest Service that will be beneficial,” Magagna comments. “The devil will be in the implementation.”
Nationally, he says recommendations include enhancing the role of state and local governments in the planning process.
“There is also language with regards to water rights and recognizing the impacts of forests on downstream water supplies,” he explains. “The whole area of socio-economics and strengthening the rule of cultural consideration in the Forest Planning process was another area that we found common ground on.”
At the state level, he continues that Governor Mead’s Forest Health Task Force has begun meeting, and Magagna believes the group may be able to make changes to help livestock grazing.
The Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) Executive Director Bobbie Frank says, “This year, I think most of our work will be with the industry and others to provide ground water related education.”
With Governor Mead’s Water Strategy being formed, Frank adds that dealing with water quality issues will continue to be a top priority.
“The state will also be issues a new updated version of the 303(d) list, so the change in workload for districts will also be coming,” she said.
Frank continues, “Like most years, we will have a combination of new efforts and completing projects.”
She notes that the Pathway to Water Quality project is nearly complete, and the Living Legacy program continues, but there are no new big-ticket projects that will be started by WACD this year.
Frank continues that as the listing decision for sage grouse approaches, WACD will be working with The Nature Conservancy and Wyoming Stock Growers Association to educate producers on the Sage Grouse Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances.
“We are not promoting the CCAA, but we are educating people on what it does,” Frank says. “For some producers, it will be a good fit, and for others, it won’t, but we will be part of the partnership making sure the word gets out.”
“If we see some decent rain and our cattle prices continue to stay, I think we will have a good year,” Hamilton says. “For producers raising corn, that may not be the case.”
While Hamilton notes that sometimes agriculture sees good years in one segment but not in other, he says, “It would be nice to see a good year all around.”
Magagna adds, “We’re looking forward to 2014.”
He continues, “I think there will be a number of issues we will discuss over the course of the next year, and it could reap benefits for us that aren’t necessarily enjoyed by other states.”
Sides emphasizes the positive impacts of modern agriculture in the U.S.Written by Saige Albert
At their event, Today’s Ag, held on April 16, the group encouraged producers to invite non-ag community members to hear about agriculture from Sides.
Sides began by emphasizing the incredible impact that modern agriculture has had on the developing world.
The impact of modern ag
“In Peru, women are beasts of burden,” he says. “It’s a tough life and one that is brutal on women.”
“They live in rock shacks or grass huts with their sheep that graze in communal grazing lands at 15,000 feet above sea level,” added Sides. “If nothing else, modern ag frees women and children from this type of lifestyle.”
Modern agriculture and technology open a world of possibility for Americans, he said.
“We don’t have to go very far to see what life is like without modern agriculture,” he added.
Because of the technology in modern agriculture, Sides said that food safety has increased, allowing Americans to worry less about the food they eat.
“Is there anything that is really safe? There is really nothing safe,” said Sides. “Is there a risk to eating food? Yes. So what’s the risk in eating?”
According to Sides, eating is a risk worth taking.
“In 2011, the CDC estimated that yearly, one in six people will become ill from food borne illnesses, with 120,000 people hospitalized and 3,000 deaths,” explains Sides. “Your chance of dying is 0.0001 percent.”
He also noted that, since 1999, food safety has increased dramatically, with half as many deaths and hospitalizations resulting from food borne illness.
“Practically all of these diseases are preventable if food is cooked fully, if you don’t eat raw meat, don’t drink unpasteurized milk and rinse or cook veggies,” added Sides. “It’s everything that our grandmothers used to tell us, but people today don’t know.”
Sides also addressed arguments for organic foods from a food safety perspective.
Last year, an outbreak of E. coli in sprouts sickened thousands and killed 31 people, largely women, and an E. coli contamination in organic spinach from California in 2006 resulted in 276 sicknesses and five deaths.
“By definition, organic food producers cannot use commercial nitrogen fertilizers, and their sources of nitrogen is manure, which is a source of these different disease causing bacteria,” said Sides.
Milk and water
After an outbreak of typhoid transmitted by milk in 1913, all milk was required to be pasteurized in the 50 largest cities by 1917. Today, Sides said milk is safe because pasteurization controls bacterial threats.
“Raw milk accounts for less than one percent of total milk consumed, but is responsible for 90 percent of food borne illness related to milk,” he noted. “Pasteurization is a piece of technology that saves lives.”
Consumable drinking water is another aspect of our lives that we take for granted, said Sides.
“Every year, 30,000 children die in Peru from drinking unsanitary water, and we know that the tap water isn’t safe in Mexico,” he said. “I never worry about the water supply in the U.S. Outside of the country, water is a precious issue.”
Hormones and antibiotics
“Antibiotic use in livestock is a really complex issue,” said Sides, looking particularly at tetracycline.
Tetracycline, a commonly used antibiotic, is naturally occurring, he explained. A microbiologist taking soil samples at the University of Missouri campus isolated a bacterium that produced the compound in 1949.
“We have used tetracycline for about 60 years, and it still works,” Sides noted. “If we have a huge resistance issue, why is it still working?”
He added that resistant organisms occur naturally, as well, specifically mentioning that a bacterium found deep in caves that have never been exposed to humans before, but was resistant to antibiotics.
“We use antibiotics very judiciously,” he said, using cattle as an example. “Cattle have very small lungs and rapidly die of pneumonia, so these treatments are very valuable.”
Antibiotic use in livestock is also very strictly regulated and don’t pose a food safety risk. Sides said in one example, conventional and organic animals in a feedlot were tested and no difference could be seen in their meat.
“Antibiotic resistance, especially with MRSA, comes from human hospitals where you have people that are susceptible and a system that is deficient,” he added.
The hormone story
Hormone use in cattle is another area of controversy throughout the world, and some consumers are concerned about the safety of hormone use.
“International bodies have determined that hormone use in beef cattle is safe and effective,” explained Sides. “There is no such thing as hormone-free beef or chicken or pigs.”
The hormone utilized in cattle, estradiol, is essentially the same hormone found in animals and humans naturally, he said.
“Estradiol is required for life,” he added. “There would be nobody in this room without the hormone, and the European Union has declared it to be a carcinogen.”
At the end of the day, a safe food source is something that many in the U.S. are concerned about, all while having no idea where their food comes from. With the current set of strict regulations and basic food safety practices, Sides says the U.S. food supply is both safe and abundant.
“Food security means I have access to good food, and I can get what I need,” said Sides. “These technology that are being used are the greenest of the green.”