4/20/2013 7:00 AM
By Jane W. Graham Virginia Correspondent
DUBLIN, Va. — Virginia has more than one million head of cattle.
That is one of the facts members of the relatively young New River Valley Cattle Producers Association learned at the group’s April meeting.
Jason Carter, who was appointed executive secretary of the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association in July, shared this information during the meeting at the Pulaski County Livestock Market in Dublin.
Carter was joined by Dr. Thach Winslow of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Veterinary Services, and John Beahm of VDACS’s marketing division.
During the meeting, Joe Meek, operator of the market, conducted a tel-o-auction of feeder cattle that let producers see how this marketing tool works.
“Our thing is to offer you options so you can decide what works for you,” Carter said of the VCA.
He told the producers that “opportunity” is a word that he uses often. He predicted that changes are coming to the industry and association and told the group not to miss opportunities, especially with small animal production.
Winslow led the group through a PowerPoint discussion of animal health issues and changes that have come recently or will be coming soon to the industry. He discussed both state and federal regulations.
Winslow said state veterinarian Dr. Richard L. Wilkes has worked to have Virginia regulations up and running before federal regulations went into effect.
Among the state regulations Winslow addressed were import regulations, Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, official identification, breeding class cattle, TB testing and livestock facility exemptions.
Federal regulations discussed included the Animal Disease Traceability rule, plans to comply with the rule in Virginia, and life after March 11, 2013, the date the ADT rule went into effect.
In Virginia, the state’s animal import regulations became effective Jan.18, 2012. Enforcement began on Aug. 15, 2012.
Winslow said Virginia was working on its state import regulations when the ADT rule was proposed. He said every state has its own unique set of rules but Virginia is ahead of most of them.
The state will be requiring a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) for every animal coming into Virginia from another state.
Exemptions are granted for animals going directly to an approved slaughter facility or to certain USDA-approved livestock facilities.
Virginia is going to begin issuing official identification tags for cattle over a two-year period. The numbers on the tags will replace the 900 series tags now in use.
Details of the rules are available from the VDACS Office of Veterinary Services or local Extension agents.
Beahm, a livestock marketing grader, discussed the various points he and his colleagues look for in the cattle they grade at local auction barns, in the fields and at special sales.
He said buyers are becoming more color blind than they have been in recent years, when they were following the standard set by Pennsylvania customers who were looking for black feeder cattle.
Helpers ran a number of feeder cattle through the sale ring so Beahm could demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses the graders look for in the cattle.
The meeting was one of a series put on by the cattle association, headed by Tim Sutphin, and Pulaski County Extension agent Scott McElfresh to keep producers advised of the latest industry developments.