World Dairy Diary

Thermal Aid App Can Detect Heat Stress

Researchers at the University of Missouri have created a new mobile app that can detect the threat of heat stress in cows using nothing more than a smartphone. Called Thermal Aid, it can help farmers detect the threat of heat stress in cows. The app is scheduled for release this fall.

Heat stress can persist for three days before an animal starts eating less. The way University of Missouri researchers see it, that’s three days of missed opportunities to cool down a cow and keep it healthy.

“The thing that dawned on us is that we collect all this data, we publish all these papers [and] go to scientific meetings, but the producers aren’t using it,” says Don Spiers, the project’s lead researcher.

The app is a calculator of sorts. It takes the breaths per minute along with information about the cow’s breed, type, what it’s eating and other basic information. Then, it crunches the data and tells you how the cow’s feeling in this environment. Spiers says it’s surprisingly simple.

“It will automatically pull in the air temperature and humidity so that the producers or student can look at this later to see how hot their animals were under these conditions,” he explains. “Then they can work with [the animals]. They can treat them differently, depending on how stressed they are.”

Farmers often use fans, water misters and shades to help cool down their animals. The app can help them figure out which cows need these things most and which ones don’t. And it looks into the future, too: The app uses weather forecasting to show how the cow will likely feel in a few days.

Source: NPR, by Scott Pham

Cheese Could Reduce Diabetes

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that people who ate at least two slices of cheese per day were 12 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The risk fell by the same amount for those who ate the same amount of yogurt per day.

Researchers hypothesised that fermentation of cheese could trigger a reaction that protects against diabetes

The findings go against current health guidelines, which advise cutting back on dairy products and other high-fat foods to help prevent the illness.

British and Dutch researchers looked at the diets of 16,800 healthy adults and 12,400 patients with type 2 diabetes from eight European countries, including the UK.

For years NHS guidelines have advised against eating too much dairy, cake or red meat as they are high in saturated fat. This is thought to increase cholesterol and raise the risk of diabetes.

But the researchers – including academics from the Medical Research Council, Cambridge – say not all saturated fats are as harmful as others, and some may even be beneficial.

One theory is that the so-called ‘probiotic’ bacteria in cheese and yoghurt lower cholesterol and produce certain vitamins which prevent diabetes.

And cheese, milk and yogurt are also high in vitamin D, calcium and magnesium, which may help protect against the condition.

Source: The Daily Mail

Discovery Could Extend Dairy Shelf Life

Cornell University food scientists have found the elements in milk that cause it to curdling. The discovery could help to extend the shelf-life of dairy foods.

The researchers found that one single strain in particular, called Paenibacillus, can cause curdling in dairy products and affect flavors in a variety of foods.

These results are already being used in the dairy sector – Upstate Niagara, a cooperative of more than 360 dairy farm families in New York, has enlisted the help of the university to improve the quality of their milk by evaluating the milk samples.

Entire article.

Source: Food Business Review

Skim Milk May Lower Risk of Stroke

CBS News reports on the benefits of skimmed milk.

A new study finds that skimmed milk may actually lower your risk of a stroke. Dr. Holly Phillips reports.

Source: CBS News

Research Finds Distillers Grains Effective Energy Source

Research by a South Dakota State University dairy science student shows the energy value of the ethanol co-product distillers grains (DDGS) in dairy feed.

Sanjeewa Ranathunga was recognized for his research at the recent annual meeting of the Midwest American Dairy Science Association meetings with the Young Dairy Scholars Award.

Ranathunga is in the final stages of his Ph.D. program in dairy cattle nutrition at South Dakota State University under the guidance of Dr. Kenneth Kalscheur, Associate Professor in Dairy Science. During his time at SDSU, Ranathunga has conducted valuable research looking at DDGS and their impact on dairy cattle diets.

Ranathunga began his Master’s program at SDSU in dairy cattle nutrition under Kalscheur after completing an M.S. in Biochemistry at Pukyong National University in Busan, South Korea.

His Master’s research demonstrated that the non-forage fiber provided from DDGS and soyhulls can effectively replace starch provided by corn in dairy cow diets without negatively affecting the performance of dairy cows.

This research revealed that DDGS can be used as an effective energy source to replace high priced corn, and can decrease the feed cost of the diet. According to income over feed cost analysis, an economic advantage if $1.42 per cow per day was observed in this study when feeding the 21 percent DDGS diet compared with 0 percent DDGS diet.

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Dairy Research Institute is Paying Dividends

The Dairy Research Institute (DRI) is making a difference in driving innovations and demand for dairy products and ingredients both in the United States and in an increasingly competitive global market.

“We’re seeing whey proteins put in more products and at higher amounts than we ever have,” says DRI president Greg Miller. “It’s helping the export market because we have more claims that we can make about dairy proteins and their impact on body composition. We’re helping the industry formulate new products like the Slim Fast with whey protein, you know, the Gatorade bars that have whey protein in them. We’re helping the artisan cheese industry flourish, and we’re selling lots of milk in to artisanal cheese now. The product research area’s doing a great job.”

According to Arizona producer Paul Rovey, the vision for DRI when it was established in 2010 was to provide a scientific basis for the value of dairy products. “DRI is a function of working with partners, bringing money together so that those dollars are spent in a very focused, strategic way. Instead of everybody spending their money out in different directions and not having quite as big an effect – we have more, bigger, faster research that really drives the information and drives the change in how we can present dairy and our information about dairy,” Rovey says.

The Institute was established under the leadership of America’s dairy farmers through Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI), the nonprofit organization that manages the producer checkoff program.

University Study Explores Milk’s Potential

A South Dakota State University study is helping provide better understanding of the potential use of some milk products to lower the risk of colon tumors.

Associate professor Ashraf Hassan of SDSU’s Dairy Science Department and graduate student Darshan Purohit focused partly on the chemopreventive properties of milk fermented with lactic cultures that produce exopolysaccharides.

Fermented milks are consumed in many parts of the world for their acidic taste and health benefits. Some strains of lactic acid bacteria used in making fermented milks produce exopolysaccharides, or EPS – polymers usually high in molecular weight that are made up of sugar residues and are secreted by microorganisms such as bacteria.

Exopolysaccharides are associated with factors such as the smoothness and creaminess of fermented milk products and some may also have chemopreventive properties, meaning they can prevent tumor development.

“Reports in the literature showed chemopreventive activities of polysaccharides from mushrooms. Since the structure of such polysaccharides is somehow similar to that in the bacterial EPS, we expected bacterial EPS to show similar activities,” Hassan says.

He adds that there is a correlation between molecular characteristics of polysaccharides from mushrooms and their chemopreventive activities.

For the study, rats were on diets supplemented with different fermented milks made with differing strains of EPS-producing or non-producing cultures. Rats fed diets supplemented with fermented milk made with two EPS-positive strains and one EPS-negative strain had significantly lowered incidence of colon tumors compared to the other groups.

Distinguished professor Chandradhar Dwivedi, research associate Ekta Bhatia, and graduate research assistant Xiaoying Zhang, all of SDSU’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, also participated in the study, which was recently published in the Journal of Dairy Science.

The SDSU study has important implications because cancer causes about 13 percent of all deaths and is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Colon cancer is the third most prevalent cancer in the United States, accounting for about 10 percent of cancer deaths in men and women.

As researchers learn more, Hassan said, it may become possible to craft dairy products with known disease-fighting properties.

The research was supported in part by the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.

Source: SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, Kindra Gordon

Milk Has Brain Health Benefits

A study, published in the International Dairy Journal, showed adults who consumed dairy products at least five or six times a week did far better in memory tests compared with those who rarely ate or drank them.

The researchers said: ‘New and emerging brain health benefits are just one more reason to start each day with low-fat or fat-free milk.’

Scientists asked 972 men and women to fill in detailed surveys on their diets, including how often they consumed dairy products, even if only having milk in their tea and coffee.

The subjects, aged 23 to 98, then completed a series of eight rigorous tests to check their concentration, memory and learning abilities.

In some of the tests, adults who rarely consumed dairy products were five times more likely to fail compared with those who had them between two and four times a week.

The researchers, from the University of Maine in the U.S., believe certain nutrients in dairy products, such as magnesium, could help to stave off memory loss.

They also suspect dairy foods may help protect against heart disease and high blood pressure, which in turn maintains the brain’s ability to properly function.

Source: The Daily Mail

Enriched Milk Could Ease Gout

A new study shows that people who drank an enriched skim milk shake made from powdered milk and additional dairy components had fewer gout attacks and less painful symptoms.

Previous research has already shown that people whose diet is low in dairy products are more likely to develop gout.

But researchers say this is the first short-term study to show adding dairy products to the diets of people already diagnosed with gout can reduce gout attacks and symptoms.

Gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden attacks of burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. It occurs when there is too much uric acid in the body.

Normally, the kidneys rid the body of excess uric acid in the form of urine. But when the body produces too much uric acid or the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, the uric acid can form hard crystals in the joints.

In this study, researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand looked at the effects of drinking a skim milk powder enriched with two dairy components, glycomacropeptide (GMP) and G600 milk fat extract (G600), on the frequency of gout attacks in 102 people.

The people were divided into three groups. They drank either the enriched milk powder, a plain skim milk powder, or a lactose powder mixed with water as a vanilla-flavored shake each day.

After three months, the frequency of gout attacks dropped in all three groups. But those who drank the enriched skim milk had a significantly bigger reduction in gout attacks than those in the other two groups.

The enriched skim milk group also had more improvements in pain-related gout symptoms, fewer tender joints, and lower levels of uric acid in their urine.

The researchers write that this study shows the need for more clinical trials to support dietary recommendations (such as dairy) for gout.

Source: WebMD

Yogurt Drink Improve Cholesterol

New findings published in the journal BMC Medicine suggest that regular consumption of a vitamin D-fortified yogurt drink improves cholesterol levels and biomarkers of heart disease, in diabetics.

Sakineh Shab-Bidar and colleagues at the National Research Institute and Faculty of Nutrition and Food Technology and Tehran University of Medical Sciences said not having enough vitamin D affects the inner lining of blood vessels, endothelial cells, eventually leading to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

In a double-blind trial, researchers investigated the effect of vitamin D on the glycemic status, cholesterol levels and endothelial biomarkers of diabetics. Patients were given either a plain yogurt drink or the same drink fortified with vitamin D, twice a day for 12 weeks.

Patients who had taken the vitamin D yogurt also had improved cholesterol levels with lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, the “bad,” cholesterol and an increase in high-density lipoprotein, the “good,” cholesterol.

All the improvements in cholesterol seemed to be due to the reduction in insulin resistance, the study said.

“Most of our patients were deficient in vitamin D at the start of the trial but the fortified yogurt drink elevated most of their levels to normal,” Abolghassem Djazayery said in a statement. “However, even amongst those who took the vitamin D supplement, about 5 percent remained deficient at the end of the 12 weeks. These people did not show the same improvements. Nevertheless for most diabetics with vitamin D deficiency this is an easy way to improve their outcome.”


New Dairy Ingredient Processing Plant Opens

The Institute for Dairy Ingredient Processing, a component of the new Davis Dairy Plant at South Dakota State University (SDSU), will provide a means by which to expand domestic and global market opportunities for dairy-based products.

The Institute for Dairy Ingredient Processing will provide the facilities and experts to assist dairy ingredient manufacturers in research, development and testing of new dairy-based ingredients and processes.

“Historically, the lack of semi-commercial scale pilot equipment in the United States has limited the ability of manufacturers to develop and introduce new dairy ingredients for domestic and global use,” said Lloyd Metzger, director, Midwest Dairy Foods Research at SDSU. “In the past, a dairy-based ingredient manufacturer wanting to test a new product or new system at their plant needed to shut down an entire production line in order to do so. This practice resulted in lost manufacturing time and potential product failure due to lack of real commercial scale-up measurements needed to test production of a new ingredient. The Institute for Dairy Ingredient Processing now provides manufacturers with the means to evaluate the commercial feasibility of full-scale production.”

The $10 million expansion of the South Dakota State University Davis Dairy Plant was funded by dairy farmers through Midwest Dairy Association and the American Dairy Association of South Dakota, dairy processors, dairy suppliers, alumni and friends of the SDSU Foundation, the State of South Dakota and South Dakota State University.

The Institute for Dairy Ingredient Processing at South Dakota State University is part of the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center. The Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center includes researchers and facilities at the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University and South Dakota State University, and offers expertise in cheese, whey, milk and dairy ingredient processing, and dairy product safety, flavor and nutrition. With the addition of the Institute for Dairy Ingredient Processing, commercial scale and feasibility studies can be added to trials.

Source: Institute for Dairy Ingredient Processing

Vermont Company Explores Dairy Whey Usage

Delta Tri-Gen, a renewable energy company based in Brattleboro, Vt. has received federal grant money to encourage further study of extracting energy from dairy whey.

The company has been awarded a $15,000 research grant from the Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to experiment with whey, which is a dairy serum that separates as a watery liquid from the curd after coagulation, and test its future cultivation.

Grafton Village Cheese in Brattleboro provided whey, Effluent from gas production was applied to Russian confrey plants in a greenhouse environment.

That effluent made the plants grow faster. Renewable natural gas can be used as a fuel for heat and electric generators, and even potentially as a transportation fuel. The proposal is titled “Fuel Crop Cultivation for Remediating Methane Digester Effluent from Dairy Whey.”

“Vermont produces 1 billion pounds of whey per year. Generally, the whey is disposed of through municipal waste treatment facilities and this is expensive. We are producing renewable natural gas from whey now,” said project researcher Steve Redmond.

“Fermenting whey on its own is a relatively new and difficult technology and we’ve worked on a whey digester for the last year, which I’ve been using and producing gas,” he said. “And we’re trying to get the amount of time it takes for the whey to be digested into natural gas down as small as possible because otherwise a plant that did this would to be too big.”

Redmond has crafted a digester with a bacteria culture in it that produces the equivalent to natural gas from whey. He has taken a process that takes an estimated 30 days on a farm to digest the whey fully into methane down to four days.

But even when the energy is remove from the whey, other materials like nitrogen remains and Redmond wants to keep those byproducts from entering the streams and brooks.

“The effluent from that process can be used by plants for fertilizer. Those plants, in turn, can be combined with whey to increase the quantity of fuel we produce. That’s the subject of our grant study,” he said.

Source: Brattleboro Reformer; Chris Garofolo

CDC – Kids Drink More Low-Fat Milk

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges parents to ensure that their children receive the recommended daily servings of low-fat milk and dairy foods.

Drinking milk is important for children’s bone health, but CDC experts advise that although young people need the calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients found in milk, children aged 2 and older should consume low-fat milk and milk products to avoid unnecessary fat and calories.

The research, published in a CDC report titled “Low-fat Milk Consumption Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2007-2008,” showed that about 73 percent of children and teens drink milk, but only about 20 percent of them say they usually drink low-fat milk (skim or 1 percent).

In summary, the authors of the report wrote: “The overall low consumption of low-fat milk suggests the majority of children and adolescents do not adhere to recommendations by Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 and the American Academy of Pediatrics for all children aged 2 years and over to drink low-fat milk. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Lets Move!’ campaign and ‘The Surgeon Generals Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010′ have recommended promoting water and low-fat milk and reducing sugar-sweetened beverages as components of comprehensive obesity prevention strategies.”

The report, by Dr. Brian Kit and colleagues at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), is published in a September NCHS Data Brief.

Source: USA Today

Cut Diabetes with Milk?

This news clip from WPRI TV 12 Eyewitness News in Providence, Rhode Island reports on a study that found females who drank milk at a young age cut their risk of type 2 diabetes by 42%.

Source: WPRI TV 12

New Study Out of Wisconsin

A new study published in the August issue of the Journal of Dairy Science, found milk produced at large and extra-large farms in Wisconsin had lower levels of both bacteria than that produced by small ones, although all the farms met standards for grade A milk certification.

The study used 2008 data collected by the Wisconsin government to look at levels of cells linked to mammary disease in dairy cows and bacteria tied to improper refrigeration or unclean equipment. The study defined small dairies as those with 118 cows or fewer and large ones as having 119 to 713 cows. Extra-large farms with 714 or more cows require special permits in Wisconsin.

Lead researcher Steve Ingham said he did the study because he wanted to see whether there was a link between milk quality and the size of a dairy farm. He said the results cast doubt on the perception that big dairies can’t matcher smaller ones in terms of quality.

“Certainly, the small-is-better blanket statement doesn’t appear to be true,” said Ingham, who started the study when he was a food science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is now a food safety division administrator at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

But a group that represents small farms said the study was irrelevant because of the way it defined milk quality. It looked at the amount of certain cells and bacteria in milk, which are factors agriculture inspectors use to evaluate cows’ health and farms’ cleanliness.

Because he used data exclusively from Wisconsin, the nation’s second-leading milk producer behind California, Ingham said he wasn’t sure whether the results would apply elsewhere, especially in warmer states where bacterial growth might be harder to prevent.

He said the perception that smaller was better seemed to spring from the belief that small farmers have a greater incentive to collect milk hygienically and avoid taxing their cows with over-milking.

However, he noted, larger operators also have an incentive to keep their herds healthy, including by removing cows that have udder infections so they don’t infect others. Bigger farms also keep bacterial counts down by investing in better sanitation and refrigeration equipment, he said.

Jayme Sellen, spokeswoman for the Dairy Business Association, which represents Wisconsin dairy farmers, said the study just shows that all dairies produce safe milk and consumers shouldn’t be concerned.

“The main point is that milk is extremely high quality regardless of the size” of the dairy farm, Sellen said. “And that’s not surprising. We have some pretty high standards here in Wisconsin. We know our milk.”

Source: Dinesh Ramde, Associated Press

AJCC Seeks Research Proposals

Attention researchers interested in work involving the Jersey dairy cattle breed: the AJCC Research Foundation is seeking research proposals to be funded in 2012. Proposals should address significant issues for the Jersey breed and Jersey milk producers.

Current priorities for research funding are:

· Nutrition of high-producing Jerseys, particularly practical feeding methods to maximize production of valuable milk components;
· Factors affecting management of Jersey calves;
· Factors affecting yield and/or quality of products manufactured from Jersey milk;
· Factors affecting economic impact of Jerseys: efficiencies, net income, longevity, and lifetime profit;
· Optimizing the genetic basis for improving animal health and/or enhancing product quality;
· Enhancing environmental impact associated with Jerseys;
· New technologies for safe and sustainable food production from Jersey cattle; and
· Feasibility of adding value and increasing consumer acceptance of Jersey-derived products through enhanced product quality and branding.

Application deadline is Thursday, December 1, 2011. The Research Advisory Committee of the American Jersey Cattle Association will evaluate the proposals, then forward its recommendations to the AJCA Board of Directors, which will award funds at its meeting in March 2012.

Detailed information about the Competitive Grants Program can be found here.

Source: US Jersey

Dairy Nutrition Highlighted at World Dairy Summit

The IDF World Dairy Summit 2011 will be highlighting the importance of dairy nutrition through three different sessions.

New to the programme this year, a conference exploring “Sustainable Public Health and Dairy Nutrition Economics” on October 19 is set to prove extremely valuable. With the important contribution of dairy products to human nutrition and health, the concept of Nutrition Economics helps to demonstrate how a greater awareness of the nutritional benefits of dairy products can improve nutritional status and reduce health care costs.

The interplay between economic systems and the nutritional value of food is particularly relevant today as we look ahead to increased longevity and aiming to improve public health across the globe. Coordinated by conference manager Irene Lenoir-Wijnkoop, an expert in nutrition economics at Danone Research as well as a member of the IDF Standing Committee on Nutrition and Health, a series of prestigious speakers will present recent findings and initiatives within this emerging science.

In addition, the conference “Dairy Products: A Healthy Choice” will focus on leading science projects in the health and nutrition area. On 16-17 October participants are invited to attend this three part conference, with presentations on the positive nutritional impact of dairy products, healthy aspects of specific nutrients in dairy, and how to address age-related nutritional needs with dairy.

Finally, on October 18, the Marketing Conference will showcase new thinking in dairy marketing following the theme: “Conveying the Benefits of Dairy to Consumers”. Presentations will concentrate on new strategic communication techniques such as social media, suggesting innovative ways to deliver positive dairy nutrition messages. Through exploring approaches followed in current and future campaigns this conference aims to develop a united approach and to make the dairy sector be once again top of mind for consumers.

Register today for the IDF World Dairy Summit.

Source: IDF World Dairy Summit

New Merck Survey Reveals Improvements

A new survey released by Merck Animal Health reveals that the dairy industry has made significant progress since 2007 in the implementation and improvement of dairy-calf respiratory-management practices. The study reveals advances in diagnostic testing, colostrum management and calf nutrition.

The survey represents the management of more than 775,000 dairy calves and heifers across 23 states. The last survey to include dairy-calf care and management was conducted in 2007 by the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS). Of the 174 dairy producers surveyed by Merck Animal Health, 83 raise fewer than 1,000 calves, 70 raise 1,000-9,999 calves and 21 raise more than 10,000 calves each year.

One of the most notable findings of the survey is the increased use of diagnostic testing on calves both before and after weaning. Twenty-two percent of operations surveyed use tissue sample testing on at least one calf that died of respiratory disease each year, and 72 percent have at least one necropsy performed. The 2007 NAHMS study, by comparison, reports that eight percent of herds have had necropsies performed on calves before weaning and 7.1 percent on calves after weaning, for all causes of death, including respiratory disease.

Producers now do a much better job monitoring their calves for failure of passive transfer (FPT) of immunoglobulins than they did four years ago. According to the survey, the number of calf raisers who routinely check for FPT grew to 45 percent from just two percent in 2007.

The survey also shows that producers have responded to the message that calves need to be fed at a higher plane of nutrition and more frequently. Nutrition programs where calves are fed at least 1.5 pounds of milk replacer or five quarts of non-saleable milk or a combination of non-saleable milk and milk replacer are used in two-thirds of small- and medium-sized herds and one-fourth in large herds.

The percentage of producers who pasteurize non-saleable milk fed to calves has grown from 8.4 percent to 72 percent since 2007. Additionally, eight percent of calves are being fed at least three times per day year round, and 14 percent are fed three times per day in the winter.

The study calls attention to the need for standardization of vaccination and treatment protocols. Although 80 percent of producers surveyed have been trained by their veterinarians to identify and treat respiratory disease, less than half have veterinary assistance in designing treatment protocols. Additionally, while 96 percent of producers surveyed vaccinate their calves for respiratory disease, there is no consistency in vaccination protocols.

Almost half of the producers surveyed report respiratory disease in their calves before 30 days of age. Sixty-six percent cull calves prematurely because of respiratory disease. The survey also shows that 9.9 percent of preweaned and weaned calves are treated for respiratory disease. In the NAHMS survey, 12.4 percent of preweaned and 5.9 percent of weaned calves were treated for respiratory disease.

Source: Merck Animal Health

Grant to Support Dairy Farm Stewardship Toolkit

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a $1.1 million Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to the Dairy Research Institute™ (formerly known as Dairy Science Institute, Inc.), an affiliate of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®.

The funding will support the development of a Dairy Farm Stewardship Toolkit for dairy producers to evaluate their production techniques and identify potential improvements in management practices. These improvements could increase profitability or reduce costs on the farm.

“This grant will help take the industry’s heritage of dairy stewardship to a new business level,” said Bob Foster, owner, Foster Brothers Farm in Middlebury, Vt. “As dairy producers, we know that consumers want products that are not only nutritious and good-tasting, but also environmentally friendly. We have long been committed to stewardship, but have not had a science-based tool to identify and measure practices that reduce costs and environmental impact.”

The grant, awarded through a nationwide competitive process, is made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
(USDA’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The first stage in developing the toolkit will be to establish a set of on-farm sustainability indicators that will be pilot-tested on farms. A broad group of stakeholders from the dairy industry and other experts will determine which indicators best describe the quality and quantity of economic, social and environmental value provided by farms. Indicators could include, for example: a farm’s contribution to the local community through jobs and community relations; energy efficiency; food safety and quality; water quality and use; waste management; and greenhouse gas emissions.

The toolkit will be national in scope. At least 12 dairy producers within 10 regions across the country will participate in pilot tests. The 120 producer volunteers will represent a diverse set of farms, including small- and large-scale dairies, dairies with varying milk production methods, and both conventional and organic dairies. On-farm pilot tests in the designated areas will begin in October.

When completed, the toolkit will enable producers to generate an analysis of their stewardship practices and help them communicate positive contributions their farm businesses have made to neighbors, community groups, consumers and customers.

The U.S. dairy industry is developing best practices and decision-support tools for producers, processors, manufacturers, transport and retail through a voluntary, industrywide effort to measure and improve dairy sustainability. The toolkit is an important first component of the Farm Smart project, which is creating a series of on-field decision-support tools for dairy and crop production management.

“This toolkit will give producers a resource that will help them tell their stewardship story in a way that will be easily understood and valued,” said Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and senior executive vice president of Dairy Management Inc.™, which manages the dairy checkoff on behalf of the nation’s farmers. “By establishing benchmarks and assessing specific on-farm practices, producers will be able to better understand the efficiency of their overall operations, as well as opportunities for improvement. And that is not only good for business, but also good for the environment, for consumers and for communities.”

Source: Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®

New Report Identifies Ag Priorities

A new report from the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense at Texas A&M University identifies several major priorities for developing the next generation of disease screening tools for livestock, milk and other products.

The report is based on a recent collaboration between U.S. agricultural industry leaders and top scientists specializing in contagious animal disease, and is entitled “Enhancing Ag Resiliency: The Agricultural Industry Perspective of Utilizing Agricultural Screening Tools.”

“This collaboration between industry, science and policy marks a significant step toward developing and utilizing screening technologies for high consequence disease detection,” said Dr. Tammy Beckham, director of the FAZD Center. “To best meet the needs of our end-users and stakeholders, new screening tools should fit easily into day-to-day business operations and support business continuity during an outbreak situation.”

The report is the product of a recent workshop convened by the Department of Homeland Security and the FAZD Center. Participants included leading foreign animal and emerging disease diagnostic experts from the U.S. and the United Kingdom, as well as leaders from the nation’s beef, dairy, pork, poultry, sheep and goat industries.

This workshop was the second held to date in a series of collaborative discussions on the development and deployment of agricultural screening tools. Some priorities defined by the participants, are:

· Develop agricultural screening tools that can be used to permit movement of animals that do not have clinical signs of disease and associated animal products (e.g., milk), especially during an outbreak or recovery period.

· Validate assays that are currently being used for testing, such as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), for use with additional matrices, including milk (such as from bulk milk tanks), oral fluids (such as from saliva-drenched ropes), meat juice, air and environmental samples, and blood, especially for testing for foot-and-mouth disease virus.

· Validate pooling of samples to test for foreign animal diseases, including optimal pooling of swabs or similar specimens for key poultry diseases and optimal pooling of animal blood and/or swab samples, especially for foot-and-mouth detection.

· Develop simple, low-cost, field-deployable devices for nucleic acid extraction and/or amplification.

· Develop and validate serological tests for “disease free” testing and develop associated policies for using those tests.

Participants also discussed other critical needs, such as developing a more robust information technology infrastructure for reporting and sharing laboratory test results.

The 40 participants in the workshop represented the National Milk Producers Federation, the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, the National Pork Board, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, Mountaire Farms, Canyon Veterinary Consultants, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Texas Animal Health Commission, the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System and the Pirbright Institute for Animal Health.

Source: Texas A&M University

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