August 29, 2014

Gov. Heineman calls EPA the enemy of agriculture (AUDIO)

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman says federal regulations being issued by the Environmental Protection Agency pose a big problem for agriculture.

Heineman takes direct aim at the EPA, especially its proposal to expand the Clean Water Act.

“As I kiddingly say, but I think it’s fairly accurate, you know, when we have a little rain in the state and there’s a little pond in the ditch, they think that’s an environmental wetlands and they want to regulate it,” Heineman says, adding. “It’s ridiculous.”

Heineman, answering a question about what is the biggest regulatory issue facing Nebraska agriculture, says the federal government under the Obama Administration has been over-aggressive with its regulations.

The governor says he appreciates the efforts of the Nebraska Congressional delegation to curb what he considers federal over-reach.

“The fact of the matter is we all support clean air, clean water, and appropriate regulations, but it’s the EPA that’s the enemy of agriculture, I’ll put it that way.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:40]

State Fair provides stage to proclaim agriculture’s importance (AUDIO)

The State Fair provides a unique platform to proclaim the importance of agriculture to the state economy and to combat some negative messages.

A recent Purdue University study disclosed many consumers get their view of farming from the Humane Society of the United States or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, much to the chagrin of Governor Dave Heineman.

“The Humane Society of the United States is anti-agriculture and they’re out to destroy thousands of job opportunities for young people in this state,” Heineman says.

Heineman says that when HSUS made a strong push in Nebraska a few years ago, agricultural groups responded and received help from their urban counter-parts, such as the Omaha and Lincoln Chambers of Commerce. Heineman says the response demonstrates the understanding Nebraskans have about the importance of agriculture to the state economy.

State Agriculture Director Greg Ibach believes the pitches used by the animal welfare groups are wearing thin.

“People are starting, even in urban areas, are starting to see through them,” according to Ibach. “They’re starting to understand that when they’re asking for money on TV that that money is going to lobby against agriculture rather than help the pets that they claim to be helping.”

Ibach says the State Fair provides a great opportunity to spread farming’s message to urban residents throughout the state.

The Purdue University study disclosed that nearly half the 800 consumers surveyed report they get their annual welfare information from the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, groups considered unfriendly to agriculture at best, hostile at worst.

The Purdue report published in the Journal of Animal Science indicates the agriculture industry is considered a less reliable source of public information about animal welfare.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Nebraska State Fair opens 5th year in Grand Island today

The 145th State Fair begins today and begins its 5th year in Grand Island.

State Fair Executive Director Joseph McDermott says the fair has prospered from the move to Grand Island.

“We’ve got, right now, about $50 million worth of new buildings out there. It’s a beautiful fairgrounds,” State Fair Executive Director Joseph McDermott tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “We’ve had very good attendance at the Nebraska State Fair.”

The state fair had been located in Lincoln for years; enough years for the buildings to age and the fairgrounds to sprawl out in the city. The move to Grand Island recreated the fair in many ways. New buildings have been erected, a tighter fairgrounds featured.

This year, the Nebraska Building has been completed. With its completion comes the return of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to the fair. Game and Parks didn’t make the move with the fair. But it has returned this year complete with a number of new exhibits, including a 6,500 gallon aquarium featuring native Nebraska fish.

The University of Nebraska has an exhibit that explains the journey our food takes from the farm to the kitchen table.

Marketing Director Shaun Schleif says those who haven’t seen the new fair, need to come out.

“I think that anybody who comes to the Nebraska State Fair that hasn’t been there yet will be so wowed, truly, I think they’ll come back year after year,” according to Schleif. “The only thing they need to do is make that first step.”

The first concert of the fair features Chris Young tonight.

The State Fair runs through Labor Day weekend.

Kevin Thomas, KLIN, contributed to this article.

Study: Beef Check Off is good investment in Nebraska

A Cornell University study shows every dollar invested in the Beef Check Off during the past five years returned about $11.50 to the beef industry. The survey also showed that had the Check Off not been in place, beef demand would be down by nearly 16-billion pounds.

Nebraska Beef Council executive director Ann Marie Bosshamer says those figures prove the value of the Check Off.

“It’s our mission, especially here at the Nebraska Beef Council, it’s on our front door every day, ‘Strengthening beef demand in the global marketplace,’ so it is what we really do focus on,” Bosshamer says. “Our board members are always thinking about what we can do with the producers’ Check Off investment to make sure it’s in their best interest.”

The study results also concluded all eight of the Check Off’s demand-enhancing programs had positive impacts on beef demand. Bosshamer says the two most telling were nutrition and beef safety research.

Bosshamer says, “I like to look at the nutrition research and the beef safety research and how by doing the research that we do, even though sometimes it’s really hard because it’s not instant results, but if you look at what the studies have shown, our demand would have been 3% lower had we not done that nutrition research.”

The other demand-enhancing programs included advertising, marketing, industry information, new product development, public relations and product enhancement research. She says Check Off-funded marketing has increased beef demand by 2.1 billion pounds a year.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Study: Deadly hog disease PEDV can travel in feed

A deadly virus that’s driving up pork prices as it’s wiped out as many as one in every ten piglets in Nebraska in the past year can be spread through hog feed, according to new research.

Dr. Scott Dee, the study’s lead author and research director at Minnesota’s Pipestone Veterinary Services, says they were stunned to learn Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDV, can travel through livestock feed.

“That’s why I think the industry is a little reactive to that, because it’s new, it’s a surprise,” Dee says. “Again, no blame on the feed industry because we’re partners and we have to work together, but we have to realize that it is a potential risk, so we can manage that risk.”

In a little over a year, the virus has killed as many as seven-million pigs nationwide. There have been more than 4,100 cases reported in 26 states, including about 50 cases in Nebraska.

Dee isn’t sure where the virus originated but believes the study’s findings can help deter future outbreaks. He says the revelation that PEDV travels through feed has shaken the pork industry.

“The feed’s the wild card because historically feed hasn’t been a risk factor for disease transfer,” he says. “Now, all of the sudden, we have a pathogen that does. The fact that the feed could potentially be a vehicle was a big surprise.”

The study is being published in the BMC Veterinary Research Journal. Later this month, Dee’s team will release a paper on commercially-available feed additives which he says will help in the prevention of PEDV.

Nebraska is the nation’s #8 hog producer in an industry worth more than $1-billion dollars to the state’s economy.