Ag briefs: Rancher gets probation for letting cattle starve

Wisconsin State Farmer


WPA supports extra ASF-prevention measures

To ensure the U.S. swine herd remains free of the disease, the National Pork Producers Council and 30 state pork producer associations recently asked Agriculture Secretary Perdue to take additional measures, including restricting imports of organic soy products for animal feeds from all ASF-positive countries.

The U.S. pork and feed industries have adopted holding times to allow for the natural degradation of any viruses, to ensure that most imported feed ingredients are safe to use.

Research indicates, however, that organic soy products can maintain the virus for longer periods of time, making holding times impractical. While overall imports of feed ingredients are minimal, most soy products imported by the United States are organic. NPPC is confident in the safety of domestic soy products


Rancher gets probation for letting cows starve

A Florida rancher convicted of letting cows starve to death over several months has been sentenced to five years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Hendry County Judge James Sloan sentenced Robert David Starkweather, 52, on Friday, according to court records. He must also pay court costs and restitution.

Starkweather was convicted in January of 12 counts of aggravated animal cruelty. The judge adjudicated him guilty on two of the counts while withholding adjudication on the others.

The Hendry County Sheriff's Office agricultural crimes unit responded to a LaBelle pasture owned by Starkweather in March 2018 following reports of a downed cow, prosecutors said. Deputies reported finding 13 dead cows and 131 emaciated cows and calves. The animals were taken from the property.

Starkweather failed to provide adequate food, water, and medication to the animals, prosecutors said during the trial. He also ignored signs over a four-month period that the cows were in distress and suffering from malnutrition.


Cow in barn at San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo had rabies

Texas health officials say people who visited the cattle barn at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo may need to be assessed for possible rabies exposure because a cow there had the virus.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said Saturday that people who visited the barn from Feb. 11-14 may need to be assessed. 

Health officials say they've been in contact with the people who were caring for the cow and the animals in nearby stalls. The cow was being shown by a student.

Rabies is spread through the saliva of infected animals. It can be prevented if treatment is started before symptoms begin, however, once symptoms start, it's almost always fatal, health officials said.

If someone is exposed, it usually takes between three weeks and three months for them to get sick.


Guilty plea entered in organic dairy fraud

The owner of an award-winning organic dairy in Pennsylvania that abruptly closed its doors last fall pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors of nearly $60 million, according to an Associated Press report.

Philip Riehl, an accountant and the majority owner of Trickling Springs Creamery, ran a long-running fraud scheme that preyed on hundreds of Amish and Mennonite investors, according to federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty in federal court to securities and wire fraud and conspiracy.

Riehl, 68, faces a maximum of 45 years in prison.

The dairy opened in 2001 and produced milk, cream, butter, ice cream, yogurt and cheese. The dairy's products were sold up and down the East Coast.

Court documents said Riehl lured investors to a fund that made most of its loans to Trickling Springs and paid off older investors with money from new investors. He and a co-conspirator also sold promissory notes in an effort to prop up the struggling creamery, lying to investors that it was profitable when in reality it was losing money, according to court documents.


Fake meat and a latte? 

Starbucks customers in Canada will soon be able to down fake meat with their Frappuccinos. According to the Associated Press, the coffee chain will soon start selling a sandwich featuring a meat-free patty from Beyond Meat.

Starbucks said its new sandwich, which also has egg and cheddar cheese, will be available at almost all its 1,500 Canadian stores in March. The patty is made from peas and brown rice and features a blend of fennel, rosemary and other spices. 

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so. 


Zoetis named a top company for executive women by NAFE

Zoetis Inc. announced that it has been named one of the 2020 "Top 70 Companies for Executive Women" by the National Association for Female Executives. This honor recognizes U.S. corporations where there is a strong focus on best practices that demonstrate effectiveness in moving women to senior ranks, including mentoring, involvement in employee-resource groups and leadership development training.

"We are honored to once again be recognized by NAFE for our advancement and development programs for women," said Roxanne Lagano, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer and Global Operations at Zoetis. "Under the leadership of our new CEO Kristin Peck, we encourage and support every colleague as they grow personally and professionally and pursue their career goals and aspirations. We view our people as our biggest strength, and we are committed to offering development opportunities that engage and empower all of our colleagues."

NAFE ranked Zoetis most highly for its workforce profile, including the number of women who hold leadership positions within the company, as well as its recruitment, retention and advancement programs for female employees. Zoetis' commitment to women starts with the company's diverse, twelve-member executive team, led by CEO Kristin Peck. In addition to Peck, five of the executive team's 11 members are women, leading Zoetis' Research and Development, Information and Digital Technology, Legal and Compliance, Human Resources, and Corporate Affairs teams.

In addition to this honor, Zoetis has been recognized as a top employer by Working Mother, Forbes, Great Place to Work ® and many others.