Ag Briefs: Beef minimum marbling score to be modified

Wisconsin State Farmer

Kansas City, MO

Certified Hereford Beef modifies program marbling score specification

The Certified Hereford Beef® and the American Hereford Association (AHA) Board of Directors voted unanimously to modify the minimum marbling score requirement of the current Schedule G-10 for the Certified Hereford Beef brand.

The minimum marbling score requirement will be modified from a Slight marbling score to a Small marbling score to elevate the quality level of the Certified Hereford Beef brand to a USDA Choice quality grade.

“Our Hereford farmers and ranchers have worked diligently over the years to improve the Hereford breed,” says Amari Seiferman, Certified Hereford Beef chief operating officer. “This modification is a testament to their work and proves Certified Hereford Beef is a premium quality product. We are proud to move our brand forward into a new era of success.”

The marbling score modification will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. The Certified Hereford Beef brand will serve customers with two flagship programs — Choice and Premium. The Choice program will provide a USDA Choice and higher product, while the Premium program will provide an upper-two-thirds USDA Choice and higher product.


Scientists: US military program could be seen as bioweapon

A research arm of the U.S. military is exploring the possibility of deploying insects to alter plants' genes. Some experts say the work may be seen as a potential biological weapon.

In a paper in Science, the authors say the U.S. needs to provide greater justification about the peace-time purpose of its Insect Allies project to avoid being perceived as hostile to other countries.

The military research agency says it has been open about its goal to protect the nation's food supply from threats like drought, crop disease and bioterrorism. It says the State Department was briefed to ensure the work doesn't violate international treaties.

The project differs from genetically modified seeds because it seeks to alter crops already growing in fields.


Montana hemp farmer harvests first crop after water battle

A Montana hemp farmer has harvested her first crop after a year of battling federal regulations to gain access to irrigation water.

Kim Phillips planted about 30 acres (12 hectares) of hemp in early June in Helena Valley, yielding about 20 acres (8 hectares) of the crop this month, the Independent Record reported Oct. 5.

The Helena Valley Irrigation District and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation denied Phillips access to irrigation water from Canyon Ferry Reservoir in 2017. The bureau bans the use of water from federal reservoirs on federally controlled substances, including hemp, which is related to marijuana.

Phillips had planted 12 acres (5 hectares) last spring, but the lack of irrigation water resulted in the crop's loss, she said.

In May, Phillips was granted a contract to use federally controlled water after the Department of Agriculture authorized Phillips' crop under Montana's Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, which was created under the 2014 Farm Bill. Phillips was given a research exemption because of her work with Montana Tech in Butte.

Despite the legal battle to grow her crop, Phillips said the harvest went as well as she could have hoped.

"It helps set a precedent for the future," Phillips said. "This whole thing got way bigger than I could have imagined."

Hemp has dozens of practical applications, from making clothing and rope to uses in building materials and chemical spill cleanup.

Some of Phillips' hemp will go to Montana Tech, where it will undergo strength testing against other natural fibers. The rest will be put in bales and sold.


Minnesota farmers worry about wet weather during harvest

Farmers in southern Minnesota are hoping for some drier weather as they begin the fall harvest.

Some farmers have expressed concern about the possible impact that recent wet weather will have on tillage, the Albert Lea Tribune reported. Tillage work involves preparing soil for planting by uprooting weeds, as well as cultivating soil after planting.

Michelle Miller farms east of Geneva with her family. She said wet weather hasn't significantly affected harvest because their approximately 1,750 acres of soybeans weren't ready anyway.

Miller estimated that they wouldn't finish harvesting until early November. Tillage work usually isn't complete until fields freeze for the first time, which typically occurs before Thanksgiving, she said.

"I'm not worried," she said. "We'll get the crop out. The only issue is how wet is the ground going to be when we go and do tillage and put on anhydrous, that type of thing. It may make it difficult." Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used source of nitrogen for plant growth.

Ryan Hajek farms with his father near Myrtle. He said their farm is behind schedule from harvest delays due to the rain.

The last three fall seasons have had extensive rainfall, but there's usually a dry period that farmers take advantage of to harvest, Hajek said. Soybeans will be more difficult to harvest as winter nears because of decreasing daylight hours and the need for dry conditions, he said.