Thursday, December 20, 2018

Get Access to Your Dashboard

By Michelle Thomas

The vision of is to provide farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners with online self-service applications, educational materials, engagement opportunities, and business tools.
Many of these self-service features are available through the secure portal, where you can log in to your dashboard to apply for programs, process transactions, and manage accounts.  
If you use USDA services, we encourage you to get an USDA eAuthentication account, providing you access to the portal and enabling you to better manage your USDA business online. 

We know you’re busy! You can access the portal and manage USDA business from your desktop, tablet, or smartphone.
We know you’re busy! You can access the portal and manage USDA business from your desktop, tablet, or smartphone.

Sign Up Today
We encourage you to register for a Level 2 eAuthentication account: 
  1. Contact your local service center to ensure your correct email address is on file.
  2. Create an account at When creating your account, be sure to request Level 2 access and use the email address on file. 
  3. Complete identity verification by either using the online self-service identity verification method or by completing the identity verification in-person at your USDA service center. 
  4. Now that you’re now enrolled, contact your local USDA service center to have your account linked with your USDA customer record.
  5. You’re ready to login!
Currently, only customers doing business as individuals can access their records using a USDA eAuthentication account. Access for customers doing business as an entity (such as an LLC or Trust) or on behalf of another individual will be available in the future.

The vision of is to preserve and foster long-held traditional relationships between local USDA offices and producers.
The vision of is to preserve and foster long-held traditional relationships between local USDA offices and producers.

Available Features
USDA is building for farmers, by farmers, based on feedback from you and our field employees who serve you. Once you’re logged in to the secure portal, you can view a dashboard personalized with your customer profile and complete the following activities: 
You can also link directly to our existing business applications, such as Farm Service Agency’s FSAfarm+ and Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Client Gateway. As we grow, these and other USDA business applications will be integrated into the dashboard. 

The dashboard will have more features as it grows.
The dashboard will have more features as it grows.

Other Upcoming Features
In the next year, USDA plans to add new features, enabling you to: 
  • view information on current and previous farm loans;
  • evaluate loan programs to find the best fit for your business goals; 
  • submit loan documents to your service center; and
  • view your farm records, including your farm and tract number and maps.
Need Help?
For help setting up your account, call our help desk at 1-800-457-3642. For other questions, we encourage you to reach out your local USDA service center
Michelle Thomas is lead and a farm mom to a horse-crazy 4Her, a whole host of farm animals, and a burro named Ruby. Michelle can be reached at

Friday, December 14, 2018

VetLink Mobile App at Prairie View A&M:

VetLink Mobile App at Prairie View A&M: Agricultural Technology Breaking Through Barriers. Photo of goat . Getty Images. NIFA Fresh From the FIeld.

Agricultural Technology Breaking Through Barriers

Many livestock farmers, including goat producers, are located in remote or mountainous areas, and veterinarians are not nearby when livestock become ill. Goats are notorious explorers and climbers and are known for occasionally escaping from their farms and getting lost or injured.
Issues like these led to VetLink, a mobile goat application developed by Dr. Paul Johnson, a research scientist in Prairie View A&M University’s Cooperative Agricultural Research Center (CARC).
Johnson is leading a collaborative project that leverages current technology and advances it toward solutions that address Project 2050 challenges – the goal of increasing food and feed production in order to feed the world’s growing population. Johnson has developed a database of animal management issues and an interactive blog that helps small ruminant producers preserve a sustainable food source that supports themselves and the greater community.
NIFA supports the research through the 1890 Capacity Building Grants Program.
Read more about VetLink at PVAMU’s website.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Plan Ahead When Hauling Livestock in Adverse Weather

(SAINT JOSEPH, Mo., Dec. 11, 2018) Wouldn’t it be nice if every livestock show was just a short drive from home? And wouldn’t it be even more ideal if we could haul our livestock in 55-degree weather with no humidity, no storms, and dry, clear roads? Unfortunately, there is no “utopia” for hauling livestock to shows, even if you live 20 minutes from the show, you have the possibility of a flat tire or a re-route due to somebody else’s unfortunate accident. That’s why we’ll be exploring the topic of hauling livestock in the next few weeks.
With winter jackpots and major livestock shows like the National Western and Fort Worth around the corner, it’s time to think about traveling to shows in less than perfect weather conditions. For life-long Angus producer and exhibitor, Randy Stabler, Pleasant Valley Farm, Brookeville, Md., the keys to a successful trip in adverse weather include a well-planned trip combined with regular vehicle and trailer maintenance.
Stabler, who typically takes a pen of Angus bulls, along with several Angus heifers and bulls for the “hill” to Denver and a string of Limousin cattle for his son-in-law’s family, will haul cattle in a semi while tack and supplies travel in an accompanying pickup and gooseneck trailer. The key, Stabler says is to make sure all vehicles and trailers are well-maintained and prepared for the conditions he will be traveling in.
 “Our own operation has been afforded the opportunity to have very up-to-date, newer model equipment that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of miles or age on them, but with the state of the ag economy, we are going to push them further and harder and will need to put more maintenance in them because we aren’t going to be able to buy them as often as we used to,” Stabler said.
“Maintenance is going to be more important than ever. We won’t just load the cattle up and take off and go. Although we stay focused on maintaining all of our equipment, a load of grain can stay broken down on the side of the road. Where with livestock, there becomes a time issue and health issue and a little more pertinence, so we don’t want to break down. Before we leave for a trip, the truck and trailer are gone over to make sure it is worthy to make it from point A to point B. If it needs tires, or filters or hoses, we replace those.”
And if regular maintenance isn’t enough, Stabler carries extra parts and tools with him, just in case. He doesn’t necessarily carry a spare tire for the semi because if any of those tires are questionable, he will replace them before the trip. However, he does carry two spare tires for both the pickup and gooseneck, along with an assortment of tools, hoses, filters and belts.
“Preventative maintenance definitely helps. You don’t want to be out there with a trailer and a wheel baring goes out or the wiring goes out in the trailer. You’ve got an obligation to be safe around other drivers too,” Stabler reminds.
Plan Ahead
Well before the cattle and tack are loaded, the family and crew at Pleasant Valley Farm have monitored the long-range weather forecast, contacted friends and colleagues in the Midwest and planned their route and travel itinerary to travel the slightly more than 1,700 miles from their farm in Maryland to Denver, Colo. They are fortunate in the fact that they have two primary routes with Interstates 70 and 80 being accessible to them at both ends of their travel, and the distance only varies 30 to 40 miles between the routes, so if they do see a bad storm forecast for Nebraska or Iowa during their trip, they can take the southern route of I-70 instead of their usual route along I-80.
Once the Stablers have checked the weather and determined their route, they contact a place to layover at about a half-way point. Stabler said he looks for a place that is fairly accessible where he can unload the cattle and they can run loose for about 24 hours, and where his crew can get some rest themselves.
“I want the cattle to be off the trailer twice as long as they’ve been on. If we’ve been driving 12 hours, they get off for 24. It’s the first thing we do when we stop before we even take care of ourselves. We hay, water and give them a little feed. I want them to be comfortable,” he said.
Stabler said he tries to arrive at his layover stop during daylight hours even if it means leaving home in the dark. He wants to respect the place he is stopping at, and he has found he has fewer challenges unloading cattle in an unfamiliar place during the daylight.
Part of his plan is also making sure he has plenty of extra feed and hay and planning some extra time in to his travel in case an unpredictable storm blows in during his trip. Although, with extra expenses incurred with hotels and food, he said his family and crew has invested a lot of time and energy in the cattle and getting them safely for the show and sale makes that extra time and expense worth it.
“No matter what your best plan is, you need to have a little bit of hiccup room built into your plan. We try to leave 1 1/2 to 2 days built into our plan, in case the weather is bad, or we do break down, we still make our destination on time. That’s costly, hard to plan and hard to do, but a necessity. If I leave Maryland and the sun’s shining, and I get to the Mississippi river between Illinois and Iowa and it is snowing and 50 below zero, we might have to stay over an extra 12 hours just for a break. And, I have left home a day or two early to beat a storm,” Stabler said.
Part of his plan is to make sure his trailer is bedded adequately, and can have the vents both open and shut, depending on the outside temperature. He has traveled to Denver when it’s 45 degrees below zero and 45 degrees above, and the cattle needed the vents both shut and open – all in the same trip.
Upon arrival at his destination, his crew gets the cattle out, gets them fed, gives them hay and water and makes sure they are in good health, all with plenty of time to get rested and filled before show and sale days.
“Transporting livestock is going to become more important than ever,” Stabler said.
Another resource that makes the long haul easier on cattle – or any species – is a Vita Charge® supplement with the Amaferm® advantage. Vita Charge Paste and Vita Charge Liquid Boost® are two multi-species supplements that help livestock recover and stay on feed and water during times of stress, like long-distance traveling in adverse weather. Both products contain Amaferm, a precision prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying nutrient supply for maximum performance. It is research-proven to combat stress by supporting the animal's own immune system, significantly increasing intake and nutrient utilization. Add the Liquid Boost to your animals’ water a few days prior to traveling, while traveling and at the show; administer the paste orally three days prior to traveling and the entire time you are on the road and at the show.
To learn more about keeping your animals healthy at home, on the road and at the show, visit

Monday, December 10, 2018

Getting perennial pastures back into shape

By Emily Thompson
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast Facts:
·       Perennial pastures are valuable investments, but can show wear in the winter months
·       Make sure to use the correct seeding rate when overseeding
·       Pay attention to weed control

FAYETTEVLLE, Ark. – Perennial pastures are valuable to any farm operation and they took a lot of time, effort and money to put in, said Dirk Philipp, associate professor of animal science and forage researcher for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Perennial pastures that have been in use for many years are prone to weed problems, disappearance of the base forage in certain areas and overuse, Philipp said. In colder months, some of these issues become more obvious, like changed species composition, weed issues, and patches of bare soil.

Philipp offers tips on how to get perennial pastures back into shape for three different grasses.

Tall Fescue:
·      Renovate to get the most for the money.Renovating old pastures takes time and money, so make sure you are using supplies that will give you the best bang for your buck. For a pasture that currently is toxic fescue (KY 31), converting it to novel endophyte, non-toxic tall fescue (NE+) is a good, but expensive option, Philipp said. The field renovation process will last one year, as it must first be thoroughly prepared and the weeds controlled. Farmers should be careful during the first year of growth.
·      Use the correct seeding rate.If producers have existing NE+ fescue stands, overseeding may be necessary after several years of use. Overseeding with NE+ seeds should take place in October. Philipp said that canopies should be very short, between 2 and 4 inches, to be able to plant through the thatch with a no-till drill. Plan and space out your work; don’t do everything in one fall but over a few years. Philipp recommends using a seeding rate that is close to the original one, about 15 pounds per acre and concentrate on the patches with no fescue. Normally, seeding rates into existing forage stands are smaller than for straight establishment, but many times gaps in the pasture are large enough to warrant normal seeding rates. A no-till drill is a must, Philipp said. It will cut through the existing grass sward and place the seeds into the soil.

·      Know when to overseed.Orchardgrass is non-toxic, so stands that lose vigor can be overseeded without having to renovate entire fields into new varieties. Overseeding should take place in the fall at a rate of about 15 pounds per acre, Philipp said.
·      Watch out for nutrient deficiencies.Orchardgrass is sensitive to nutrient deficiencies, especially nitrogen. Make sure to keep soil fertility in check at all times, Philipp said. Avoid fertilizer with extra nitrogen content for the best results.

·      Overseed with annual forages during dormancy. Bermduagrass is a perennial warm season grass mostly established via sprigging in late spring and cannot be overseeded as easily. However, because bermudagrass is dormant between October and March, these pastures can be overseeded in October with annual forages, like winter cereals or annual legumes, to add forage to a grazing program. Dense existing bermudgrass stands are very competitive, so make sure the canopy is very short before planting after grazing or the last hay cut.
·      Focus on weeds. To keep healthy bermudagrass stands over time, be diligent with weed control in February and March to take care of winter weeds, Philipp said.

For more information on perennial field maintenance, visit, or contact your local county extension agent.

About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Wahl Clipper welcomes new fitting educators for the Professional Animal Division

STERLING, Ill. (November 27, 2018) – Keep calm and get your learn on! Champion Fitters Chad Charmasson and Tracy Coffland offer education info and demos as new Wahl Animal ELITE team members. Chad and Tracy reinforce Wahl’s strong team of grooming experts and continue Wahl’s brand commitment in offering educational opportunities for animal education around the world. “As some of the most well-known and highly respected fitters in the industry, it is an honor to have Chad and Tracy join our team. I look forward to the knowledge and experience that they will bring to our already diverse ELITE Team” says Brandi Willey, Large Animal Product Manager.

Chad Charmasson joins the team with more than 30 years of experience working with and fitting club lambs. Chad is a lamb industry expert, Weaver Leather clinician, and breeder. Chad and his wife Amy operate Charmasson Club Lambs in Hennessey, OK. When he is not leading clinics, he can be found judging various shows around the country. Chad has a passion for teaching and enjoys helping youth be successful among educational opportunities throughout the United States. 
Tracy Coffland joins the team with more than 30 years’ experience showing heifers, steers, and pigs. Tracy is a Show Feed and Cattle Specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition. A Master Professor for the Sullivan Supply Stock Show University program, Tracy cherishes the opportunity to travel and work with livestock families across the United States leading 40 clinics a year.  Tracy, his wife Amanda and their children Garrett and Breck enjoy showing cattle and swine. Tracy believes it is a true honor to give back through education to the industry that has given him so much.

Now in its 99th year, Wahl Clipper Corporation is an international industry leader in the manufacturing of products for the professional beauty and barber, consumer personal care and animal grooming industries. Headquartered in Sterling, IL., Wahl currently employs over 1,500 people worldwide in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Spain, UAE and the United States. Wahl products are available in 165 countries around the world.  For more information about Wahl Clipper Corporation, contact Wahl toll-free at 800-PRO-WAHL, and visit

Chad Charmasson

Tracy Coffland

Sustainability Means Ranching Done Well and Right

(Editor's Note: This article is written by a cattleman about cattle, but the same philosophy can be applied to the meat goat industry. Goat meat production is a sustainable industry with a bright future in American agriculture — TH)

By James Palmer, TSCRA director and Agriculture Research and Education Committee chair

There are those who believe that cutting back on the amount of beef we eat or taking meat off the dinner plate altogether, will go a long way toward stopping global climate change or solving worldwide environmental problems. Those people believe animal agriculture is unsustainable and wasteful and would prefer to see smaller farms and ranches, more labor and fewer inputs. 

Their intentions may be good, but the facts on which they base their assertions seem to be shaky. Beef provides humans with nutrients our bodies need in a form our bodies can readily digest. The business of U.S. beef production supports the worldwide food supply with the smallest carbon footprint compared to the footprint of other fundamental services humans need to survive. 

As ranchers, we know how to change our operation to adapt to the variables Mother Nature gives us — drought, abundance, flood or blizzard. We know how to adapt to the changes man causes — market swings, expanding cities and changing consumer preferences.

We know how to be sustainable because we know how to adapt to keep our resources healthy and to produce a food that meets a fundamental nutritional need.

The fact that there are still ranchers in the U.S. proves my point. The same cannot be said of the once-giant Pan Am, Kodak and Blockbuster. Remington typewriters used to be found in every office. Now they are found in nearly every antique store in rural Texas. Either these businesses would not or could not adapt. 

U.S. ranchers are the bedrock of a sustainable industry. Science supports our sustainability. We have good stories to share with our consumers and supporters and with our detractors, many of whom simply do not understand our work processes or management ethic.

U.S. ranchers do more with less. We produce 18 percent of the world’s beef with only 8 percent of the world’s cattle.

Compared to 1972, today’s farmers and ranchers produce the same amount of beef with one-third fewer cattle. We can do this because our thought leaders have studied the genetics that make cattle better and more productive. They have studied the nutritional needs of our cattle and educated ranchers about how to meet those needs. We have studied the effects of stress on our cattle and are committed to managing our cattle for their best while causing them the least amount of stress.

Of the important industries of our age — transportation, electricity and food production — U.S. beef production has one of the lowest carbon footprints. Cattle account for only 2 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation accounts for 25.3 percent and production of electricity accounts for 29.7 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Beef is a nutrient-rich food that provides “digestible indispensable” proteins that meet the nutrition requirements for children and adults. 

Thanks to our advances in improving the feed efficiency of beef cattle, 1 pound of feed protein used to finish beef converts to 1.19 pounds of beef. Of the feedstuffs fed to beef cattle, corn is human-edible but is a poor source of amino acids needed by humans, providing only a third of this nutrient that beef provides.

In this holiday season, when the weather may be turning colder for some areas, you can be sure many a ranching family will be celebrating with a beef meal. You can be equally sure those ranching families are sitting down to eat after they have checked the cattle and made sure that the herds were safe behind good fences with fresh water and plentiful feed.

Science proves that the U.S. beef producers continually improve where we can. The fact that we still are U.S. beef producers proves that we feel responsible for the resources entrusted to our care and are proud to provide safe, wholesome beef for the world’s population.
James Palmer


TSCRA is a 141-year-old trade association and is the largest and oldest livestock organization based in Texas. TSCRA has more than 17,500 beef cattle operations, ranching families and businesses as members. These members represent approximately 55,000 individuals directly involved in ranching and beef production who manage 4 million head of cattle on 76 million acres of range and pasture land primarily in Texas and Oklahoma, and throughout the Southwest.