Ag Area Law Struck Down The Iowa Supreme Court in a unanimous verdict Sept. 23 struck down the state's 16-year-old Ag Area law.

The law exempted Iowa farmers in the state's 684 designated areas from manure odor and other frivolous lawsuits provided the land was kept in agricultural production.

"The ruling could expose many hog producers to politically motivated lawsuits and hurt independent farmers who don't have the resources of larger corporations," says Norman Schmitt, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA).

While Iowa farmers still have nuisance protection under both House Bill 519 and Senate File 2394, which added some nuisance provisions this spring, "this ruling casts a cloud over whether or not those provisions will hold up in court," says Schmitt, a Rudd, IA, pork producer.

Schmitt believes this is the first time the Ag Area law has been tested and it is the first one in the nation to be overturned on the basis of it being unconstitutional. Most other states have some similar type of nuisance law protection, he points out.

The Ag Area law was passed in 1982 by the Iowa legislature to protect farmland. It was contested in Kossuth County in 1995, when the county board of supervisors had allowed a 960-acre tract of land to be designated a special agricultural area. The state high court agreed with neighbors who challenged the law because it denied them the right to sue.

According to the IPPA, the court ruled that giving farmers such blanket immunity from lawsuits creates easement over the neighbor's land. The court found that this granting of an easement is taking by the government without compensation. Schmitt says most rural Iowans realize the value of agriculture enough that they are willing to work out problems with their farm neighbors.

He stresses that under the Ag Area designation, farmers still were encouraged to make a concerted effort to eliminate as many nuisance problems as possible and use as many practical, modern-day science or technologies as possible to avert problems.

But now that specific nuisance protection is gone for large and small livestock and grain farmers alike, he explains.

Fast Track Fails Fast Track trade legislation was defeated in what National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Donna Reifschneider called "a disgraceful and depressing abandonment of American farmers and the nation's pork producers."

The bill was defeated in Congress 180 to 243. It sends "a clear signal to our competitors and the international community," says the NPPC leader, in what she refers to as the most important vote of this decade.

The economic crisis facing American farmers cries out for a progressive, long-term strategy that includes Fast Track negotiating authority, she says.

"We need to fully fund the International Monetary Fund and we need sanctions reform in addition to Fast Track," says Reifschneider. "But without Fast Track, we are simply sitting by the side of the highway, watching our competitors whiz by with agreement after agreement, costing us export sales and jobs."

For example, the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is being negotiated without American participation. Also, Canada recentlynegotiated a bilateral agreement with Chile, lowering tariffs between the two nations.

Reifschneider declares: "Last year, exports accounted for $15.73 for every hog sold. Without Fast Track, it will simply be impossible for American producers to overcome high tariffs and other barriers, even though we are the world's low-cost producer."

Moratorium Moves Forward The North Carolina House of Representatives has voted to extend the ban on construction and expansion of hog farms in North Carolina. The ban was scheduled to end in March 1999. If the state Senate concurs with the House vote, the ban would be extended to September 1999.

Also, House bill 1480 requires contract growers to be registered and file notice of change of contract status. It also expands the use of new swine waste technology to improve air and water quality, explains Roger Bone, lobbyist for the North Carolina Pork Council.

Bone says the existing moratorium, passed during the last legislative session, has already cost farmers $100 million, based on data compiled by Kelly Zering, agricultural economist, North Carolina State University. Zering included in his costs things like the loss of investment and property tax base. He considered the multiplier effects that would have been generated by new hog farm construction.

More than $1 billion has been invested in new hog farms in North Carolina in the last decade, says Zering. Without new investment, there have been related lay-offs in businesses that supply construction and materials and equipment to hog farms.

In his report, Zering also looked at operation of these farms and processing of pork products from them.

Supporters of the ban say the extension is needed so researchers can figure out how to reduce the pollution and odor that large farms produce.

Intensive Training Program An intensive training program in production and management skills aimed at reviving the Illinois pork industry is being offered by the University of Illinois Extension Service. The Executive Pork Program (EPP) opens in April 1999 and extends through February 2001.

"This program will not simply be a rehash of traditional extension swine educational seminars," explains Gilbert Hollis, U of I extension swine specialist. "Participants will go through 12, three-day modules offered in a continuing education format."

The 12 modules offered include: swine industry trends, information and technology, computer applications; communications and human resources; leadership and organizational behavior; economics; financial management and records; marketing; swine genetics, Pork 2000 and meat quality; reproduction, records; environmental monitoring and legal issues; nutrition, pig growth, immunology and gene mapping; swine health and group presentations.

"This is a first-of-its-kind educational program and will facilitate the transfer of information and technology directly to pork producer leaders," says Hollis.

"Hog inventory in Illinois decreased over 40% between 1976 and 1996. The number of hog farms dropped by 45% between 1986 and 1996 and the state dropped from second to fourth in total pork production in the past four years," states Hollis. "Despite these decreases, hog production remains the third most important agricultural commodity in Illinois."

For more information, contact Hollis at 204 Animal Sciences Laboratory, 1207 W. Gregory Drive, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801; telephone: 217/333-0013.

U.S. Hog Blockade At presstime, governors of six northern U.S. states agreed to halt what amounted to a blockade of Canadian hog and grain imports.

The action was initiated by South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow in mid-September with the state banning trucks hauling Canadian hogs from passage through their state unless there is written certification that the hogs and grain meet certain guidelines. Hogs must be certified free of six drugs South Dakota officials say are banned for use in the U. S., but permitted in Canada. Grain shipments must be free of Karnal Bunt disease and not contain wild oats.

There was concern Canada was dumping low-priced agricultural commodities on the U.S. market because of favorable exchange rates. And there was a perception that U.S. inspections of Canadian imports are only cursory, while Canadian officials are thought to conduct the most in-depth inspections of U.S. imports allowed under trade laws.

The concerns drew the support of North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Minnesota. These states stepped up inspections and took other steps to slow down Canadian truck traffic.

Canada's International Trade Minister Sergio Marchi, reported, "I am pleased that the U.S. federal government has intervened to stop the harassment." As a result, Canada withdrew plans to file trade complaints with the World Trade Organization and under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But Canada says they will reactivate the consultations if any U.S. state restricts or obstructs Canadian trucks again.

During the "blockade," Canadian ag officials charged that the U.S. action was politically motivated. "The inspection requirements established in mid-September for vehicles carrying Canadian hogs into the state of South Dakota are totally unjustified, are based on faulty information, and in our view represent a violation of NAFTA," says Edouard Asnong, president of the Canadian Pork Council.

Asnong says of the six drugs South Dakota's governor charges are used in Canada but are banned in the U.S., only one, dimetridazole, is available. It is used primarily in turkeys, but available for use by prescription only for treating swine dysentery in Canadian hogs. He added that Canadian hogs undergo stringent inspection standards including routine testing for antibiotics.

The six drug compounds in question are: dimetridazole, ipronidazole, nitroimidazoles, fluoroquinolones, glycopeptides and sulfamethazine.

Tom Burkgren, DVM, executive director of the American Association of Swine Practitioners, clarifies their status. He says dimetridazole, ipronidazole and the nitroimidazoles are banned from the U.S. Fluoroquinolones and glycopeptides are banned from extra-label drug use.

The fluoroquinolones have been approved for use in cattle and poultry in the U.S. As far as he knows, the glycopeptides have never been approved for use in livestock in either the U.S. or Canada. They are a widely used human antibiotic compound. Sulfamethazine has never been banned from use in livestock in the U.S. Sulfonamide drugs are banned from use in lactating dairy cattle, except for certain approved uses, says Burkgren.

Missouri Ag Conference The annual Commercial Agriculture Institute is set for Nov. 11-12 at the Ramada Inn, Columbia, MO.

Focus is "Cost Effective Strategies During Times of Financial Crisis."

For more details contact Joy Williams, conference organizer, at 573/882-9556.

NSIF Conference National Swine Improvement Federation (NSIF) Conference and Annual Meeting is slated for Dec. 4-5 at the Marriott Hotel, East Lansing, MI.

For a copy of the complete program plus registration information, contact NSIF, 203 Polk Hall, Box 7621, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7621; phone: 919/851-6222; fax: 919/515-6316 or by accessing NSIF website at: mark.asci.ncsu.edu/NSIF/

Hotel reservation deadline is Nov. 3 for the $85 rate at the Marriott, 517/337-4440.

Barrow Show Results Grand champion of the National Barrow Show (NBS) truckload division carcass contest at Austin, MN, was W-D Swine Farm, Modesto, CA, with six Hampshire-sired crossbred hogs. The entry placed second live in the heavyweight class.

Carcass winners were selected based on average percent of lean. W-D Swine Farm's truckload entry averaged 59.20% lean, 187.1 lb. carcass weight, 34.1 in. length, .38 in. 10th rib backfat and 7.49 sq. in. loineye area.

Twenty-two Super Sire and 30 NBS Sire awards were presented in the NBS Progeny Test conducted in the spring. Test averages for both groups this year were: 1.79 average daily gain; 1.18 in. 10th rib backfat; 6.37 sq. in. loineye area; 56.80 muscle quality score and 7.50 soundness score.

In total, 333 boars and gilts were sold, bringing $375,070.

Animal Feeding Guidelines A national plan to deal with environmental issues from animal feeding operations was released by the Environmental Protection Agency and USDA.

The Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations (AFO) includes nutrient management requirements for all sizes of operations.

About 95% of the livestock operations in the U.S. will be able to participate in the program voluntarily with help from USDA to put these plans into action.