National briefs: Schools, farmworkers honor Chavez

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs

Los Angeles, CA

Schools, farmworkers honor Cesar Chavez

California and several other states honored Cesar Chavez by closing schools and state offices on March 31, the 90th anniversary of the birth of a man who went from a grape and cotton picker to an enduring hero for laborers, Latinos and justice seekers of all kinds.

Farmworkers in four states marched over the weekend in honor of Chavez, who died in 1993, and in protest of President Donald Trump's immigration policies.


U.S. Alpaca Industry Teams up with U.S. Manufacturing

U.S. Alpaca Fiber Council (USAFC) announced the formation of their industry centric organization focusing on processing activities associated with U.S. produced alpaca fleece. Their mission is to assist U.S. manufacturers in production, promotion, profitability and marketability of U.S alpaca fiber.

Since the United States first commercially imported alpacas in 1984, the primary focus of the individual alpaca breeder has been to produce offspring with the finest, softest, most lustrous fleece. This concept has produced a national herd of superior fleece that is able to compete in the global market. The alpaca industry is moving forward to produce products that will be commonly found in homes across the nation and abroad.

In an earlier meeting held in Washington, D.C. to discuss strategies to move alpaca fleece into the national supply chain, the U.S. Alpaca Fiber Council was formed to bridge the gap between the expectations of manufacturers and the needs of the alpaca community. The council consists of artisan and commercial mills, agricultural cooperatives and alpaca industry experts that are uniquely qualified to support manufacturers with their alpaca product initiatives.


Man gets 10 years for $5M cattle-buying scheme

Prosecutors say a North Texas man must serve 10 years in federal prison for a cattle-buying scam that cost a Nebraska company more than $5 million.

Tony Eugene Lyon of Fort Worth was sentenced Friday in Fort Worth. The 52-year-old Lyon in November pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Lyon was known to be involved in the buying, fattening and sale of cattle.

Prosecutors say Lyon in 2015 scammed Midwestern Cattle Marketing of Sidney, NE. The firm, which bought and sold cattle for third-party clients, went out of business after the $5.1 million loss.

Officials say Lyon became an MCM representative and was authorized to write company checks, using a signature stamp. Prosecutors say Lyon operated a check-kiting scheme involving a fictitious company and kept MCM funds for himself.


Nintendo Switch gamers milking cows?

Nintendo gamers may be better at virtually milking cows, but they say dairy farmers beat them at the real thing, hands down.

Two Nintendo employees beat two farmers at Vermont's Billings Farm & Museum during a game of 1-2 Switch, where players perform various minigames, for the new Nintendo console Switch.

The Woodstock farm challenged Nintendo to the competition. A day before the head-to-head battle, the Nintendo employees got a lesson in actual cow-milking. But on the day of challenge, they agreed they were no competition for the farmers.

Nintendo's David Young said "Games are fun, but actually working on a farm is hard work."


One infected chicken could have global impact

With the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) confirmation of Avian Influenza in southern Tennessee, Alabama, and now Kentucky, the virus has struck the United States for the fourth year in a row. With news of the recent outbreak, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan have all halted import of U.S. poultry.

Since the first reported case in 2014, over 40 million chickens and turkeys have died or been euthanized across 15 states in the U.S. Until recently, the last highly pathogenic bird flu was found in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana in January 2016.

"Even one infected chicken house could have a global impact," said Mark Leggett, president of the Mississippipi Poultry Association. "One of the worst impacts from the bird flu in the U.S. is the impact on global trade. We export a large percentage of poultry products to other countries around the world."

The USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) cautioned the public that the strain of Avian Influenza experienced in Tennessee is not the same as the H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in China and across Asia.