Have you ever been slimed by a sneezing cow? I have and I can’t resist sharing the moment, which was caught on video during a recent farm visit. It’s part of a new series I’m producing to explain many of the tools we, as farmers and veterinarians, use to keep animals healthy. I explain more about it and share the blooper video in my latest blog.
At a time when the general population is more removed from agriculture than ever before, it is critically important to engage our youth. A recent exchange I had with students in Arizona reminded me that we must seize every opportunity to provide a window into our world. I share our exchange in my latest blog in hopes it will spark ideas and interest among others in agriculture as well as answer questions that you may have.
The contamination of baby milk with salmonella at a Lactalis factory in France last year was an accident and the dairy group took the necessary steps to prevent more babies falling ill, the company’s CEO told lawmakers in a rare public appearance. Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy group, recalled millions of tins of baby milk in France and around the world, and halted production at its Craon plant in northwest France after dozens of babies fell ill last year due to drinking salmonella-contaminated milk. The scandal, which deepened when errors in the massive product recall left some potentially contaminated baby milk on shop shelves, fuelled criticism of poor communication by Lactalis, which is privately held by the Besnier family.
A day after a tentative agreement to overhaul U.S. biofuel policy appeared to collapse amid farm-state concerns, EPA chief Scott Pruitt met to discuss the issue with the lead senator pushing for the changes: Ted Cruz. Pruitt had dinner with Cruz, a Texas Republican, at a Washington steakhouse blocks from the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday night. Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, declined to comment on the meeting as he left the restaurant, but Cruz said the dinner included discussion about the Renewable Fuel Standard and had been planned well before Monday’s reports that a White House-brokered accord was unraveling.
Nearly two years after Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto was first announced, the financial part of the $63 billion merger was finally completed Thursday. “Today’s closing represents an important milestone toward the vision of creating a leading agricultural company, supporting growers in their efforts to be more productive and sustainable for the benefit of our planet and consumers,” said Hugh Grant, outgoing chairman and CEO of Monsanto. But amid a still-ongoing marathon to secure regulatory approval of the deal, Thursday’s closing simply marks Bayer’s purchase of the Creve Coeur-based agribusiness giant.
William Wallace Cargill pioneered the modern agricultural trading industry in 1865 when he established a string of grain warehouses across the American Midwest. Having a deep-pocketed buyer that could take delivery locally gave farmers an easy way to quickly get cash for their crops, lest they rot in the field waiting on a sale or transport to a faraway market. The ability to store huge amounts of grain also gave Cargill the flexibility to time his own sales to maximize the spread between what he paid farmers and what he could get from distant food processors or exporters.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Thursday promised to produce legislation that meets President Trump’s hard-line immigration demands and addresses the fate of young undocumented immigrants in a last-ditch effort to stop a challenge from restive Republicans. A group of two dozen GOP moderates have set a Tuesday deadline for a rogue campaign to force votes on their immigration bill over the objections of leadership. It is incumbent upon Ryan (Wis.) to bridge the divide between moderates and conservatives and avoid a public showdown that could alienate voters ahead of the midterm elections.
For all his bluster about trade wars, President Trump seems willing to push China only so far: Witness the deal on Thursday to grant Chinese telecom giant ZTE a reprieve from harsh American penalties. The reason is likely to lead straight to Iowa soybean and corn farmers like Benjamin Schmidt. Mr. Schmidt’s forebears have farmed the same land outside Iowa City for nearly 150 years. He and his father together till about 2,500 acres of the fertile prairie that stretches from Ohio through Nebraska. When I reached him last week, he was on his tractor, spreading fertilizer on this year’s corn crop.
Health officials in Tennessee have repeated their public warning against drinking unpasteurized milk from French Broad Farm, confirming Thursday that more than 10 children are sick with infections from E. coli. The majority of the children were given raw milk from the farm before becoming sick. The dairy has stopped distributing milk, according to a statement from the Knox County Health Department (KCHD). The health department did not report when French Broad stopped distribution. The department began receiving reports “last week” about children with infections from E. coli O157:H7.
The USDA on Thursday put its official stamp of approval on California dairy producers’ desire to join the federal milk marketing order system, announcing that producers had embraced the move in a statewide referendum. Voting closed on May 5 with the state’s three largest dairy cooperatives, representing at least 75 percent of the state’s milk production, voting in favor. But the outcome wasn’t official until USDA tallied the votes. The agency did not reveal the breakdown of the vote, but dairy producer groups were confident that the bloc voting by the co-ops would clinch the deal.
Every June since 1937, America has celebrated National Dairy Month, taking the opportunity to recognize the hardworking men and women who make some of our favorite and most iconic foods possible. After all, it wouldn’t be summer without at least one dripping ice cream cone or a scoop of vanilla with some American apple pie. It’s a tradition that these men and women well deserve. If you took cream in your coffee, smeared butter on your toast or swirled yogurt in your granola this morning, you enjoyed the product of a real farm where the cows are milked twice every day, without breaks for holidays or bad weather.
Would you commit to a job that requires 100 percent dedication every week knowing you might not get paid each week? Farmers do it all their lives. Right now, dairy farmers are in an extraordinarily difficult situation, despite having a great story to tell when it comes to caring for cow health and the environment.