Texas Meeting Returns to Review Industry Change

TEXAS, US - Industry changes are the focus of the Animal Manure Management Conference, which started at Round Rock yesterday. Keynote speakers are addressing environmental, regulatory and public relations issues in a meeting last held a decade ago.
calendar icon 30 September 2009
clock icon 4 minute read

Changes in Texan livestock and poultry industries was the theme of the two keynote speakers yesterday, the first day of the two-day Texas Animal Manure Management Issues Conference held in Round Rock.

Other conference presentations included a series of science-based technical sessions on environmental and economic issues relating to poultry, dairy and beef cattle operations.

Between the day's technical presentations, a poster/sponsor session also was held to address additional topics and research related to animal manure management.

More than 125 producers, regulators, researchers, technical service providers and others attended the initial day of the conference.

"We wanted to bring the regulatory side and commodity groups together with researchers, educators and technical people," said Dr Saqib Mukhtar, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agricultural engineering specialist in College Station and conference chair. "The goal of the conference is to discuss how we can improve the environment while keeping agriculture thriving and viable in our state."

"We in agriculture must constantly be looking for ways to add value to our products and byproducts," said Bryan Shaw, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in his keynote address. "We need to learn more about the economics behind the combustion and gasification of manure, but in a way that protects the environment and public health."

Dr Shaw's presentation, entitled 'The Changing Environmental Context for Texas Livestock and Poultry Producers', addressed issues ranging from animal emissions and odor control to water quality and developing numerical standards for regulating nutrient content in water bodies. It also outlined some of the challenges and opportunities in converting animal manure into energy.

He also touched on the issue of global greenhouse gases and the need for a holistic approach to dealing with greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Ben Weinheimer, vice president of the Texas Cattle feeders Association provided the morning's second keynote address under the title 'The Changing Regulatory and Public Relations Context for Livestock and Poultry Feeders in Texas'.

Mr Weinheimer began his presentation by noting that by 2050 the world population is estimated to grow another two billion to a total of about nine billion people.

He said: "To keep up with this dramatic growth, overall food production must grow by 70 percent and meat production must grow from its current 297 million tons annually to about 517 million tons. We must also improve crop yields, increase crop production intensity and ensure water quality and availability."

Mr Weinheimer said producers, regulators, industry organizations, technical assistance providers and others must all step up to the challenges and identify solutions in the areas of air and water quality, nutrient management and greenhouse gas emissions.

He added: "Today's livestock and poultry producers have to address a lot of the same issues they had 30 years ago – a volatile economy, meat prices, animal health, markets, taxes and regulations. But there are many new challenges, and Texas agriculture has to adapt to those as well."

Brent Auvermann, AgriLife Extension agricultural engineering specialist in Amarillo and program chair who introduced the keynote speakers, told attendees: "I was thinking about what a 'stable' regulatory environment might mean in relation to the poultry and livestock industry. Stable doesn't mean static, so what we should be working toward is a rational process based on reasonable scientific forethought.”

Conference topics slated for today include emergency response during disasters involving livestock, manure management and water quality, advanced manure conversion/bioenergy and manure management systems.

It has been a decade since the last such conference was held, Dr Mukhtar said, and since then there have been many improvements in manure management technology, animal mortality management and other issues.

He said: "This conference provides a unique opportunity for interaction between those who work in the poultry and livestock industry and scientists, researchers, regulators, engineers and others interested in the economic and environmental challenges faced in Texas animal agriculture."

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