Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Newsletter Updates and Bad Storms

From my ARS newsletter comes word that they are now using space images to help with Chesapeake Bay cleanup, the National Arboretum is now including edibles in their plant display, there is ongoing research to improve the heat tolerance of corn-based plastics (which is good because they're highly sensitive right now), and finally research is proceeding into the improvement of toxin resistance in corn.

Courtesy of Feedstuffs with the ADSA comes a couple of good conversations about national animal ID programs and the pros/cons of disease tracing in relation to recent Salmonella outbreaks. These are both worth your time to read. National ID programs have seemed like such a great idea to improve livestock biosecurity and disease tracking, but they've been slow to come into being, especially due to the scope of such a project. The disease tracing discussion is a very interesting read with well-represented viewpoints.

I was recently discussing the methods of poultry euthanasia and so this article is pretty interesting to me. It seems like basically the chickens are being taken to "high altitudes" as the air is thinned and they reach "instantaneous death".

Also, the USDA has published the first handbook giving national guidelines for organic products. Hopefully this is just what is needed to provide more consistent control over the hyped organic market.

I like the take Feedstuffs took on the veal video released by Mercy for Animals about tethered calf housing for veal calves in Ohio. Frankly, when I heard about the video, my first response was just "why on earth do I care?". It's not that I don't care about calf housing, but this is something that we've already acted on in Ohio and the US veal industry has acted on it as well. This video is too late and served no purpose at all.

On a different note, fall is coming very quickly and there are so many things I love about fall. My birthday, bonfires, harvest, the landscape colors, the cooler weather, thunderstorms, football and livestock shows. With the Delaware County Fair (not my favorite website in the world) and the Farm Science Review just around the corner, I am busier than ever as I try to prepare for school starting. I apologize in advance if I can't get on here often.

However, before I go I want to comment on a storm yesterday that was pretty fantastic. I was on a farm north of Mt. Vernon when the lights started flickering and the fans kicked off. Almost immediately there was sharp lightning and it got to flashing a lot. This was about 5.30 pm. We sat there in the barn as the rain started to pour, wind blowing the rain all the way through the windows to the center of the building. The power failed permanently and it's no wonder why. When we emerged we found that this farmer had lost 3 of his 4 barns (fortunately we were in the one still standing) and there were trees and powerlines down everywhere. It took 45 minutes just to get out of the area as many people volunteered to clean up the roads. The area was hit very hard, and the corn was absolutely flattened in some places, while the crests of hills were missing most of their treelines where you could see that the wind had topped the hill in powerful fashion. Just another day in my life, but I am thankful to have gotten out as easy as we did. The picture I added shows the lightning strikes that evening and you can see a highlighted red area where I was that day.

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