Supreme Court Hearing The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments Nov. 18 in the case of whether counties in the state have legal authority to regulate livestock operations.

The test case involves three contested ordinances in Humboldt County. The ordinances require county approval for construction of new or expanding livestock facilities, require financial assurance for cleanup in case of abandonments and regulate manure application.

The ordinances were upheld by a district court and later appealed to the supreme court by state agriculture groups including the 28 members of the Humboldt County Livestock Producers.

According to Chris Gault, spokeswoman for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, the Humboldt County ordinances are trying to restrict growth of outside, corporate hog operations. But if the ordinances are left standing, the impact will fall on local farmers who can't pick up and leave the state, she points out.

There are five other Iowa counties which have adopted similar ordinances. Most are awaiting the outcome of the supreme court ruling before deciding whether to impose county rules on agriculture, explains Gault.

Eldon McAfee, Des Moines, IA, attorney for the Humboldt County producers, says the panel of five supreme court justices could rule as early as Dec. 24 or take as long as two to four months to render a verdict.

Market News Report USDA Market News Service is offering a new price reporting service for segregated early weaned (SEW) pigs and feeder pigs. Reports will be issued at 2:30 p.m. on Fridays.

Prices will be based on an average 19-day-old, 10-lb. SEW pig and 40- to 60-lb. feeder pigs, with a slide adjustment factor, explains Jack Obermeier of the Des Moines, IA, USDA market news office. Prices will reflect weight, lot sizes and estimated market potential of lean values.

So far, the majority of pigs reported as sold have come from Iowa producers. In the first two weeks, sales of about 37,000 pigs were reported to the USDA office.

Obermeier says the price reporting service will evolve over time and eventually will become a national report. To participate in price reporting or to comment, contact USDA market news reporter Bruce Thomas, 515/284-4460.

PRV Quarantines Drop The number of farms quarantined for pseudorabies (PRV) continues to drop, according to Arnold Taft, DVM, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Quarantined farms during the past year went from 2,889 to 2,069, a 28% drop.

USDA and the pork industry's joint PRV eradication program has a goal for completion by the year 2000.

A recent survey of state PRV advisory committees by the National Pork Producers Council indicates that in general, eradication is progressing well and producer commitment is high.

Ten top hog states reported farm quarantines at a meeting of the PRV Committee of the U.S. Animal Health Association. Iowa and North Carolina lead the way with 956 and 527 quarantined herds, respectively. Others include: Indiana, 209; Minnesota, 177; Illinois, 30; Pennsylvania, 27; Michigan, 25; and Nebraska, 23. Ohio and South Dakota report no quarantine premises.

DeCoster Injunction Filed Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has filed a lawsuit alleging that Midwest Pork is "a sham company" and has asked Wright County District Court to block Midwest Pork, A.J. DeCoster and DeCoster Farms from further hog farm construction in Iowa while environmental actions are pending against DeCoster.

Miller charges Midwest Pork is merely a cover to allow Jack DeCoster to continue construction of confinement facilities in violation of Iowa's "three strikes and you're out" provision in its environmental laws. DeCoster Farms has been convicted of one violation and has four actions pending. The law bans expansion for five years.

Pork Board Sets Budget A budget of $63.9 million in checkoff-funded programs has been approved for 1998 by the National Pork Board.

The budget is a 15% increase over total estimated 1997 expenses. Promotion accounts for 61%, research and education 27% and consumer information programs 12% of the budget.

Manure Storage Rules The Environmental Protection Commission of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has approved several administrative rules for manure storage structures effective Jan. 21.

Before building a lagoon, a soil profile must be done and current groundwater levels calculated using three temporary monitoring wells by measuring the water level seven days after installation.

Earthen, waste-holding structures must include either a 1- or 2-ft. compacted, clay liner or a synthetic liner.

Formed, manure, concrete storage structures must have a minimum compressive strength of 4,000 lb. per square inch (psi), 3,000 psi for footings. Floors must be at least 5 in. thick. Walls must be from 6-8 in. thick. Floors and walls must be reinforced with rebar or steel mesh.

Nine Steps For Tail-Enders There are many steps to dealing with the problem of lightweight pigs. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) projects sort loss costs the industry $47.1 million/year because pigs are sold too light to pork packers.

Oliver Duran, DVM, Michigan State University offers tips to end this problem. Stop tail-enders by:

1. Preventing lightweights at weaning by correctly feeding bred females while they are still in gestation.

2. Increasing milk yield and piglet growth through lactation feeding and by providing enough water.

3. Ensuring trouble-free farrowing by keeping females in correct body condition and in a comfortable environment.

4. Providing a clean and warm environment once piglets are born.

5. Speeding adjustment to solid feed in the nursery by creep feeding. Water availability to piglets aids creep feed intake but doesn't reduce milk intake.

6. Avoiding disease, notably scours and promptly diagnosing and treating disease problems.

7. Reducing exposure to manure and drafts.

8. Preventing processing problems by using aseptic methods and correcting steps to avoid infections and inguinal hernia or ruptures.

9. Culling nonviable and chronically infected piglets rapidly to stop spread to healthy littermates.