Murphy’s Law 2020 #1 Livestock

January 17, 2020

Earlier this week when it was only 40 degrees below freezing I was sent to cover the 2nd Annual North Dakota Livestock Association Summit at Black Leg Ranch south of McKenzie. It was a pretty big deal featuring panels, radio stations, sponsors, food and even a comedian to wrap up the day. The soybean industry was thanked by speakers numerous times, most often about the importance of soybean meal as animal feed. Contained Animal Feeding Operations were a major topic at the summit with time spent on a virtual tour of a swine barn in SD as well as a discussion of the wide variety of high quality feed resources for livestock. That topic was led by NDSU Extension Livestock Specialist Karl Hoppe. I know some of you producers do have livestock and if you feel you’ve need for feed improvement I would strongly recommend giving him a jingle. There was also a major amount of time devoted to the labor shortage and a panel on securing a reliable workforce for livestock operations featuring an immigration attorney with ND producers who use the J-1 and H2-A (A is for Ag) programs. As I understand it, H2-A is where most of the South Africans are sourced, although the USA’s largest recruiter (who spoke) is expanding to Moldova, Mongolia, Peru and Brazil for those workers who have experience in livestock and often have degrees in the field. I learned that one other federal program is T-1 which is dedicated exclusively to bringing in people from Canada and Mexico. Obviously, the NDLA is concerned with the difficulty in finding people who are reliable and want to work caring for animals which is a far cry from the schedules of people producing only crops. The reduction in basis for soybeans that occurs when a nearby animal feeding operation is utilizing them is significant. Our neighbor to the south has been moving along nicely in that direction and it is obvious with improvements in waste management to reduce odor and contamination that ND could eventually build up that industry as well. However, the importance of siting and the educational component of the public cannot be overstated. The presenters from SD told us that even in that state there are some communities dead set against such development while others see the economic advantages of more jobs, residents and all that comes with more people in the neighborhood such as stable school populations and property values. Today it is only about 55 degrees below freezing, so keep yourself and those animals protected.