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National Briefs: Trade to Mexico worries dairy farmers

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK

New state initiative aims to improve conservation efforts

A new statewide collaboration was officially launched last week during a special signing before the annual Lt. Governor Turkey Hunt kickoff luncheon at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Conservation Task Force will focus on advancing conservation efforts across the state.

The task force is comprised of eight organizations, each dedicated to natural resource stewardship.

This statewide effort will focus on three collaborative objectives: enhance the development of conservation in Oklahoma, coordination of research, and communication. In addition, the task force will identify and address major state conservation goals, develop models of success for specific topics, and develop informational resources and messaging to provide critical information to the general public, those involved in conservation, and the next generation.

“As urban areas continue to grow, land and water resources are depleting,” said Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb. “It’s important we all do our part as a united team to conserve, protect and restore Oklahoma’s natural resources. This is the first step in beginning a long-term collaborative relationship.”

One outcome of the communication objective will be an annual meeting of all partners in Oklahoma to address the issues in conservation. This meeting is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 18-19, 2017, in Oklahoma City.

ST. ALBANS, VT

Dairy farmers worry about trade to Mexico 

U.S. dairy farmers already struggling with low milk prices worry President Donald Trump's talk of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement could harm trade to Mexico, its biggest export market.

About 15 percent of dairy production in the United States is exported with one-third valued at $1.2 billion going to Mexico in the form of milk powder, cheese and whey protein, according to the National Milk Producers Federation, which says trade with Mexico is its top priority. That's nearly double the value exported to Canada, the country's second biggest export market, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

"The income of dairy farmers, whether they're in Vermont or California, depends heavily on our export to Mexico," said Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president responsible for domestic and international policy for the federation.

If just 1, 2 or 3 percent of the exports were to come back to the United States, "we would see a significant drop on overall prices," he said.

WINFIELD, WV.

Neglected animals removed from farm 

More than 100 animals have been rescued from a West Virginia farm after complaints of suspected neglect and sightings of loose animals.

News outlets report the Putnam County Animal Shelter called in support to assist with the largest seizure in recent county history. The animals were found in cramped and dirty quarters without adequate food at A&A Farms, a self-designated shelter. Six were found dead.

The farm is run by Mark Andy Santee, who will be formally charged Wednesday with multiple counts of abuse and neglect, according to unnamed humane officials.

Santee disputes the claims of neglect, saying that he's spent around $90,000 to care for the animals while going through a divorce. He says he was going to register as a charity but a pig ate the paperwork.

BOISE, IDAHO

Temporary ban on using cyanide predator traps

U.S. officials temporarily stopped the use of predator-killing cyanide traps in Idaho on April 10 after one sickened a young boy and killed his dog last month after they checked out the trap.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in a letter that it had halted all use of the traps on state, federal and private land in Idaho in response to a petition from 19 conservation and wildlife groups.

The spring-activated devices called M-44s look like water sprinkler heads and are embedded into in the ground but spray cyanide when triggered by animals attracted by bait smeared on the devices. They're used to kill coyotes and other livestock predators.

The 14-year-old Idaho boy was injured last month when he checked one out with his dog on federally-owned land about 500 yards from his house on the outskirts of the small city of Pocatello. His Labrador retriever dog died.

The groups that petitioned for the use of the devices to be stopped will be warned 30 days in advance if authorities decide to start using them again in Idaho, the Agriculture Department said.