WESTERN BUREAU: Director of Sports at the University of Technology (UTech), Anthony Davis, says Jamaica’s long-term success in track and field and that of the wider sporting disciplines at the international level depends heavily on the development of a good collegiate system. Davis, who heads one of Jamaica’s most prestigious college sports programmes at UTech, was the keynote speaker at yesterday’s launch of the third staging of the Montego Bay City Run, at the Holiday Inn Resort. “Once upon a time we never had a vibrant collegiate system, but now it’s been growing exponentially and because of the direct link we now have genuine track and field stars on the rise in our universities and colleges,” Davis said. “This can only mean a sustained presence of high quality athletes at the national and international levels for Jamaica,” he noted. Davis has witnessed the rise of many local track and field stars to have benefited from attending US colleges and universities through various scholarships. He believes the system has improved for young stars to be schooled and trained locally. “I have nothing against a student wishing to access higher education and training elsewhere, but we have seen a dramatic drop in the numbers opting to do so. Instead, we see them getting into local universities and colleges, train locally and are now at the top of the world in respective events,” Davis said. “It shows we are on the right path and are doing the right things to educate and elevate our student athletes,” cited Davis. According to Davis, the approximately 21 universities and colleges across Jamaica have been making great investments to upgrade coaches and facilities to meet the growing local demand. “Before this we depended on our talents being developed overseas, primarily in US colleges and while that served its purpose and still does, I am of the view that we have been more than holding our own with the rise, development and upkeep of our own stars. And that is always good for Jamaica,” he stated. Davis is also a committee member of the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The MoBay City Run is set for May 1, 2016 and projected to attract more than 2,000 local and international marathon runners. It seeks to raise $5 million for tertiary level students in western Jamaica.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest A year ago I suggested that 2015 might just turn out to be “The year of the grass manager?!” For those who had grass to manage, and converted it to lean muscle in the form of beef or perhaps lamb, indeed it has been a profitable year . . . especially for cattlemen who sold early! Will 2016 become the year of the marketer and risk manager?Despite the plunge in prices during the past few months, margins, particularly for those who utilize grass as the basis of their feeding program, remain good. Consider the comments offered by University of Tennessee economist Dr. Andrew P. Griffith in his weekly comments:. . . Prices are still higher than they were the first week of December 2013! Making that statement may seem like a stretch to some producers, but in the fall of 2013 producers considered calf and feeder cattle prices to be extremely strong. In actuality, market prices this week compared to December 2013 could be stated as steady to $2 per hundredweight higher. It is unlikely the sentiments of prices today being equivalent to prices two years ago makes anyone feel better about where the market is. . . . prices in December of 2013 and 2015 are essentially the same . . .Perhaps what is separating the average beef cattle farms from the most highly profitable ones has been the ability to manage risk and get cattle and calves marketed at times when income exceeded the cost of production.That being said, as this year winds down perhaps it’s time to offer two simple reminders about profitably marketing at a time when we are still seeing the second highest calf prices in history.The first suggestion would be to remember the key to effectively managing risk and remaining profitable is knowing the cost of production and accurately identifying breakeven prices. Second, consider the marketing alternatives beyond just cash sales. Explore forward contracts, futures/options hedging, contract feeding, livestock risk management insurance and perhaps some value added opportunities.During the first session of the Ohio Beef Cattle School webinar series on January 19, we’ll spend the evening focused on the markets as well as some of the tools available for sustaining profitability when opportunities are available. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, will kick off the evening with his insight into the beef cattle markets . . . where they’ve been, where they may be going, and how they could get there. Sam Roberts of Producers Livestock will also join the broadcast on the 19th and offer suggestions on market risk management.While the most astute grass and cattle managers remain positioned to capitalize at today’s prices, it’s important to maintain a plan that allows one to take the greatest advantage of profitable prices during the volatile times we’d expect to remain in the markets.Regardless what you might call the coming year, most importantly, prepare yourself to enjoy a great 2016.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Forage ash content comes from both internal and external sources. Internal sources include minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium found in the leaves and stems of forage plants. External sources include things like soil, bedding, and sand that are deposited on the surface of the forage. An average internal ash content for alfalfa is around 8% and for grass forages around 6%. Values above that represent external sources and are negatively associated with forage quality and animal performance because ash takes the place of nutrients on approximately a 1 to 1 basis. A good goal to shoot for is an ash content of 3% coming from external sources, so an ash content of around 11% for alfalfa and 9% for grass forages.Forage harvest practices increase the external component of forage ash content. There are some management practices that growers can use to minimize the increase in ash percentage. The following list comes from a document written by Dan Undersander, Extension Forage Specialist at the University of Wisconsin:Raise the cutter bar of a disc mower: The lower the cut, the more likely it is to bring soil into the forage. Consider an alfalfa cutting height of 3 inches and 4 inches for alfalfa-grass mixes.Use flat knives on the disc mower. Angled knives create some suction and while they help to pick up lodged forage, they pick up more soil as well.Keep windrow off the ground. Placing a wide swath on to a higher stubble will decrease the amount of soil that can accumulate on the bottom of a windrow.Keep rake tines from touching the ground. Raising a cloud of dust when raking likely is adding 1 to 2% ash content to the hay.Use a windrow merger. Because hay is not rolled across the ground, there can be 1 to 2% less ash in the forage.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Chris ClaytonDTN Ag Policy EditorOMAHA (DTN) — Leaders of farm groups on Thursday showed they have President Donald Trump’s back as he offered them another $16 billion in federal aid in lieu of anticipated higher exports to China.In response to the new Market Facilitation Program rolled out Thursday, farm groups offered praise to the Trump administration for helping offset export losses, but reiterated that a second consecutive year of trade aid is insufficient to make up for potentially years of lost trade revenue.Farm groups praised the $16 billion in aid, though it is unclear exactly how much farmers will be paid individually. Payments will be based on all planted commodities in a county, yet USDA will only pay crop farmers based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total planted acres in 2019. The new MFP payments will be limited to the total amount of eligible acreage a farmer planted in 2018.The payment rates will vary in every county, but USDA is not releasing those payment rates at this time. Payments will be broken down into as many as three tranches. The first set of payments could go out as early as July or August after farmers have provided Farm Service Agency with their crop-reporting data, which is due July 15.American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, who stood by Trump during an event Thursday at the White House, called the latest round of aid “a welcome relief to an economic sector that has been battered by foreign competitors and retaliatory tariffs.”“We thank the president for living up to his commitment to stand by our farmers and ranchers,” Duvall said. “While farmers and ranchers would rather earn their income from the marketplace, they have been suffering during the agricultural downturn and trade war. This aid package will help us weather the storm as the administration works to correct unfair trade practices that have hurt the U.S. economy for too long.”However, Duvall added that a “real, long-term solution to our challenges in agriculture is good outcomes to current negotiations with China, Japan and the European Union, as well as congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. America’s farmers and ranchers need fair and open access to markets.”National Farmers Union was pleased USDA is covering a broader range of commodities than it did in the first MFP. At the same time, NFU noted that basing payments on 2019 planted acres “fails to help those who have faced or are facing impossible planting conditions.”NFU President Roger Johnson said: “Ultimately, this package is only a short-term fix for a very long-term problem. Farmers rely on markets to make a living. Our ongoing trade wars have destroyed our reputation as a reliable supplier and have left family farmers with swelling grain stores and empty pockets. The very least we can do is provide our country’s struggling food producers with the certainty of a longer-term plan that also addresses the persistent and pernicious problem of oversupply.”Davie Stephens, president of the American Soybean Association and farmer from Clinton, Kentucky, said soybean farmers appreciate that President Trump understands their plight and has looked for ways to ease the burden.“But, farmers are resolute that the only real solution is to take away the tariffs that have hemorrhaged our sales and landed our relationship with China on life support,” Stephens said.Stephens added that the soybean industry needs open trade access. “The key word from today’s announcement is ‘facilitation.’ Trade assistance will only facilitate soy growers’ ability to farm, not make their losses whole or tariff woes disappear long term. Trade assistance will only help in the short term.”Though the payment program will be based on a new county formula for crops, National Corn Growers Association called on USDA to update MFP to consider its view that corn farmers lost an average of 20 cents a bushel from trade from over the past year. The spread recently has widened to closer to 40 cents a bushel, NCGA stated.NCGA is also encouraging additional actions the administration could take to open markets and provide more certainty to corn farmers, including stopping Renewable Fuel Standard waivers to big oil refiners and restoring waived ethanol gallons as well as resolving trade disputes and tariffs.Ben Scholz, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers and Lavon, Texas, farmer, said wheat growers appreciate the new mitigation program, but it does not make farmers whole.“The U.S. exports 50% of its wheat, which means we need a long-term solution,” Scholz said. “This includes getting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) across the finish line, completing negotiations with China and supporting our WTO case, and closing a trade deal with Japan.”Scholz said NAWG will work with the Trump administration and USDA on “a relief strategy to ensure that the program works best for wheat farmers.”Mike Tate, chairman of the National Cotton Council and an Alabama farmer, said this round of assistance, like the first one initiated in 2018, will help partially mitigate the impacts of retaliatory tariffs being placed on U.S. raw cotton to China. He said the cotton industry will look to the administration for other avenues of assistance.“While our industry is very thankful for this assistance, we strongly encourage the administration to engage in constructive dialogue with China to address unfair trade practices and barriers,” Tate said. “China traditionally has been U.S. cotton’s top export destination. Resolution of the current trade tensions remains our top priority.”Under last year’s MFP, commodity export groups received $200 million for trade promotion programs.Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers, said his group was disappointed USDA had cut the trade program in half for commodity export groups, “despite the fact that it was massively oversubscribed during the last round of trade assistance. As a silver lining, we see this situation as an opportunity to open up new markets for American agricultural products in other parts of the world.”Nassif added that the current aid package remains “insufficient to make the industry whole.“Indeed, it will take American farmers many years, if ever, to recover from the lost trade revenues and, more importantly, lost markets that have resulted from the continuation of trade disruptions with China.”The dairy package will provide farmers a payment based on recent production. National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern said the industry knows USDA is concerned about the damage being done to dairy farmers and called on the first tranche of payments to be “a large segment of the payment” to producers.“We appreciate USDA’s concern for dairy’s needs, and we look forward to working with USDA, Congress and the White House as the department further develops its plans,” Mulhern said.Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.comFollow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN(AG/KD)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.