Ag briefs: Florida top watermelon producer

Wisconsin State Farmer


New pig inspection rules announced for Iowa State Fair

Officials have announced new inspection rules for pigs that will be shown at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

An Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship news release said Friday that the additional exhibition requirements are designed to promote biosecurity and animal health as African swine fever continues to spread across China and other parts of Asia and Europe.

All pigs must be individually inspected and identified on a certificate of veterinary inspection that was completed within seven days of the fair, which runs Aug. 8-18 this year. A veterinarian will inspect all pigs as they arrive at the Des Moines fairgrounds before they are unloaded or mixed with other livestock.

Biosecurity concerns led organizers to cancel the World Pork Expo scheduled for last month at the fairgrounds.

The National Pork Producers Council says African swine fever affects only pigs and presents no human health or food safety risks. There is no vaccine to treat the disease.


What state is the nation's top watermelon producer?

Summer means relaxing by the pool, barbeques and refreshing slices of watermelon and no one produces more of this favorite summertime fruit than Florida.

The Sunshine State is the top producer of watermelon in the United States. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences says Florida farmers sold 800 million pounds of watermelon last year.

The largest growers are near Immokalee, Belle Glade, Arcadia and the Suwannee Valley, which produces a third of the state's watermelon crop.

The research center's assistant director Bob Hochmuth says watermelons are made of 92 percent water.


MVP Dairy opens new state-of-the-art farm to help supply Danone North America's Yogurt Plant

MVP Dairy, a partnership between McCarty Family Farms and VanTilburg Farms, opened a new dairy in northern Mercer County, creating 35 new local jobs.

MVP Dairy produces high-quality, fresh milk that is Non-GMO Project Verified for Danone North America, the leading maker of yogurt in the U.S. The MVP Dairy is only 18 miles from Danone's facility in Minster, the largest yogurt-making plant in the U.S., which produces leading brands such as Activia, Danimals, Dannon, Light & Fit and Oikos.

The new dairy is home to nearly 4,500 cows that live in six free-stall barns built for optimum cow comfort. The cows are milked in a state-of-the-art carousel milking parlor, which benefits their health and well-being, by providing a predictable and efficient milking routine, allowing the cows more time to eat, drink, sleep and spend time with other cows.

This is the fifth McCarty Family Farms' dairy and its first in Ohio. The VanTilburg family, who live next to the MVP Dairy site, are lifelong residents of Celina, Ohio with a vested interest in responsible and sustainable production agriculture close to home.

The farm also features an innovative and patented anaerobic treatment cell system on the farm that significantly reduces waste solids, consumption of water and waste odor, with a recycling system that benefits the animals, crop care and the environment.

In accordance with Danone North America's strict animal welfare guidelines, MVP Dairy is certified by Validus, an independent audit firm with the most stringent requirements for socially responsible, scientifically based, economically viable long-term solutions for dairy animal care. The cows are monitored daily and provided routine health screenings. In addition, all employees are regularly trained in animal welfare and farm safety.

The MVP Dairy also includes a 7,500 square foot Learning Center that will be open to the public with interactive displays that share the story from soil to cup on how milk and dairy foods are made. In addition to viewing the dairy farm's 80-cow carousel milking parlor, guests can explore and learn from interactive games and displays as well virtual reality experiences and a digital Danone grocery store to learn more about their dairy foods.


$50M replacement planned for State Fairgrounds swine barn

Indiana State Fairgrounds officials say a $50 million project will replace its nearly century-old swine barn with a new building that can host events around the year.

Fairgrounds Executive Director Cynthia Hoye say the current open-air building can't generate year-round revenue because it isn't climate controlled.

The new building will be called the Fall Creek Pavilion and will still house livestock during the state fair. Most of the current building that opened in 1923 will be demolished. Work could start after next year's state fair.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb proposes dipping into the state's $2.3 billion in reserves to pay cash for the project. Democrats have lambasted that plan, saying the money should go to other priorities such as raising teacher pay or improving access to affordable child care.