- Author: Brenda Dawson
For an article "Should Wyoming livestock and ag adjust to climate?" in the Billings Gazette, reporter Paul Murray sought information about livestock animals' response to warmer temperatures from Frank Mitloehner, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis. Mitloehner talked about ways animals can cool down and discussed shade, fans, sprinklers and even alternative cattle breeds. "We're seeing more and more extreme weather. That is a tendency we're seeing more and more often. That can stress animals. Similar to animals in the wild, that can impact animals' reproductive ability and their performance," he told the reporter.
European pepper moth widespread in California
Surendra Dara for Western Farm Press
Western Farm Press published this article about European pepper moth by Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Santa Barbara County. Dara explains that the European pepper moth has been reported in several central and southern California counties. The pest prefers to feed at the plant base of crops such as corn, peppers, tomatoes, squash, strawberries and some ornamental plants. Dara has been appointed to the national Technical Working Group for European pepper moth, along with UC Cooperative Extension colleagues James Bethke and Steve Tjosvold.
Dara also wrote about this pest and shared photos of it on the UC Strawberries and Vegetables blog.
Bovine respiratory disease - pneumonia in cattle - is the most significant health problem for the beef industry. The disease annually results in the death of more than 1 million animals. In addition to these losses, beef producers spend a significant sum on disease-related medication and labor costs each year.
According to AgInfo.net, raising cattle for specific resistance to BRD was a hot topic at the Beef Improvement Federation Conference earlier this month in Bozeman, Mont. Attendees learned about research under way at UC Davis to find the genetic component to BRD resistance and, eventually, breed out this deadly disease.
This spring, UC Davis announced that USDA awarded the university $2.6 million to carry out research aimed at reducing the incidence of bovine respiratory disease. The goal of the newly funded research project is to integrate research, education and extension activities to improve diagnostics and develop cost-effective genomic and management approaches that reduce the incidence of the BRD in beef and dairy cattle.
The extension component of the project is headed by Alison Van Eenennaam, Cooperative Extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology in the UC Davis Department of Animal Science. Van Eenennaam made a presentation at the Bozeman conference about the weight cattle producers should be give to BRD resistance when making selection decisions.
Research by UC Davis scientists that revealed a substantial amount of San Joaquin Valley ozone is generated by animal feed is getting wide coverage in the news media. Google News reported 126 articles on the subject.
Many newspapers ran the Associated Press version of the story, written by Fresno-based Tracie Cone. She reported that the study — funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California Air Resources Board and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District — was initially intended to measure the impact of animal manure, urine and flatulence on ozone levels.
However, the researchers discovered that millions of tons of fermenting cattle feed bears greater responsibility.
Mark Grossi of the Fresno Bee noted in his story that the study was published last month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. This week's flurry of interest was generated by an April 21 news feed from the American Chemical Society press office. ACS publishes the journal.In his story, Grossi wrote that the cattle feed explains only half of the Valley's ozone problem. The other half, Nitrogen oxide, or NOx, comes from vehicles. San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District believes NOx is more important to control, the Bee article said.
Meanwhile, Capital Press reported yesterday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rescinded its long-standing exemptions for agriculture under emission-control rules.
"Air quality in the San Joaquin Valley is consistently among the worst in the nation," said Deborah Jordan, director of the Air Division for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region, in a statement. "New and modified facilities will now be subject to the most stringent requirements, which will contribute to the health of our communities."/span>/span>
A commentary that appeared on the Web site Drovers.com, an information source for beef industry insiders, said the dialog at the Farm, Food & Health Conference held March 2 and 3 in Kansas City was "unbalanced and unrealistic."
"Much of the conversation at the . . . conference," Drovers editor Greg Henderson wrote, "centered around the idea that a 'movement' is taking shape in America to change our food system."
In the article, Henderson quoted conference speaker Larry Yee, director emeritus of UC Cooperative Extension in Ventura County and co-founder of the Association of Family Farms.
"Our current system is fundamentally unsustainable," Yee told attendees. "I believe the antidote is a 21st Century recreation of the food system."
Yee said there are deep flaws in the global economic paradigm and criticized modern industrial agriculture as a system that has been developed only to seek efficiency and profits. He said the current system is designed to produce cheap and abundant food and calories.
These examples were presented by Henderson as evidence of the "tone" of the conference, which he said inferred that local, natural and organic foods are "good," and that food produced with the assistance of modern technology - such as antibiotics, hormones, fertilizers and pesticides - are "bad."
"The first Farm, Food & Health Conference produced an unflattering and unbalanced view of American agriculture - and provided unrealistic expectations for a 21st Century food system," Henderson wrote.
The Modesto Bee ran a story over the weekend with a headline that proclaims, "Experts positive about effect of grazing on land." It is remarkable, in my opinion, because scientists are so rarely "positive" about anything and are very adept at using conditional wording, such as seemingly, may be, could be, almost, nearly, etc.
On the other hand, the headline writer may have been using the meaning of "positive" as merely the opposite of "negative."
The story was based on reporter John Holland's take on a recent Tuolumne County Resource Conservation District seminar, in which participants learned that grazing enhances the foothill environment by controlling wildfire fuel and keeping imported grasses from overwhelming the native species. Cattle grazing also preserves open space.
"These are all privately owned landscapes that you are all managing for the greater good of everyone else," the reporter quoted UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Scott Oneto.
According to the article, experts at the meeting said perennial native plants can thrive on grazed land because the cattle thin out the annual European grasses that have dominated the landscape since the 1800s. This improves habitat for squirrels and other small wildlife that sustain bobcats, golden eagles and other predators. Cattle, the story said, have taken on a role similar to that of buffalo on the Great Plains.