|USDA Officials Visit Pennsylvania Livestock Producers
By CHARLIE CATHCART
Century Commerical Lamb Producers and Feeders
(August 1, 2010) On June 23, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Edward Avalos took Charlie Cathcart up on his invitation to come to Pennsylvania and visit with sheep producers to hear first hand how predation issues affect Pennsylvania producers.
Prior to 1990, most producers were not aware of the presence of coyotes, and vultures were viewed as scavengers, not predators. The Pennsylvania Game Commission recorded that in 1990, hunters killed 1,810 coyotes. By 2007, that number had increased to 28,974. The current population of coyotes is estimated to be 400,000 in the state.
The undersecretary was happy to hear how USDA’s Wildlife Services (WS) started a Cooperative Livestock Protection Program (CLPP) at the request of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to conduct an integrated protection program. This program was initiated as a pilot project in 2005 serving five counties. With the addition of federal funding in 2008, the program expanded to include 16 counties in the southwest region of the Commonwealth. The CLPP has grown exponentially in cooperator participation which is a result of the expansion of the additional counties as well as the increased awareness of the program. The CLPP provides technical and operational assistance and educational programs to producers that are suffering damage from European starling, Canada geese, eastern coyotes and black vultures.
The following livestock operations were visited by the USDA officials:
Brian Woy – Dairy Farmer in Everett, Pa.
The Woy dairy farm has 550 milking cows and has experienced predation problems with European starlings and Canada geese. With the operational assistance of CLPP, damages from both predators have been reduced significantly.
Scott Baer – Cattle/Sheep Farmer in Friedens, Pa.
The Baer farm has a small beef herd of 40 brood cattle and 250 sheep. Starting in 2004, he experienced predation problems with coyotes in his flock. CLPP has provided services to eliminate the predation. Baer uses a lama as an everyday protector and has not experienced problems with vultures in either his beef or sheep.
James Sheeder – Sheep Farmer in Somerset, Pa.
The Sheeder farm has 90 Dorpers and 250 Polypay sheep and has experienced predation problems with coyotes and vultures. CLPP has been successful in providing services to eliminate the predation.
All producers indicated to the undersecretary that they were very satisfied with the assistance provided by WS with the CLPP program. Sheeder says that he would have left the business if it was not for the assistance provided by WS to resolve his predation problems. There is a need to expand CLPP to cover the entire state to assist all 58,000 agriculture producers in the Commonwealth.
The three producers were very impressed that Avalos expressed interest in their farm operations. They stressed that WS is an integral part of their management program, and that farm operations are a part of the small businesses that support rural Pennsylvania.