5 Trending Headlines: Animal extremists are ramping up; PLUS: more help needed for rural vets

Animal rights extremists have always been a concern. Now they may become dangerous. That and more awaits you in this week’s Trending Headlines.

Animal rights extremists ramping up activity

Ever heard of an extreme animal rights group calling itself Direct Action Everywhere? Probably not up until now. But you may hear a lot more about them in the future. As part of its "Animal Liberation Conference," the group spearheaded a protest during which hundreds of activists descended upon a California farm. A release from the pro-ag group Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) described how the activists unlawfully entered a barn and stole animals. Ultimately, dozens of activists were arrested for trespassing on the farm.

Ringleaders of this stunt are now calling upon activists across the country to receive training in order to conduct copycat protests on other farms—a practice that is becoming all too common. According to the AAA, Direct Action Everywhere has conducted several self-proclaimed "open rescues," in which they trespass on farms and remove animals. The Alliance has expressed great concern for this unlawful behavior and activists' complete disregard for farmers' private property rights and the safety of livestock.

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Common sense is key when handling cattle in hot weather

During hot weather, cattle should be worked before 8:00 am, if possible. Certainly all cattle working must be complete by about 10:00 am. While it may seem to make sense to work cattle near sundown, they may need at least 6 hours of night cooling before enough heat is dissipated to cool down from an extremely hot day, according to the Oklahoma Farm Report.

"Research data has been reported by Dr. Mader at the University of Nebraska research station near Concord, Neb. He found that moving yearling cattle just a small distance (2000 feet) during mild summer temperatures (80 degrees F.) could change the core body temperature by as much as 1.4 degrees F. This indicates that body temperatures of excited, stressed cattle being worked in hotter temperatures could rise to important levels. This is where common sense enters the equation,” says Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University emeritus Extension animal scientist.

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FAO affirms cattle’s critical role as upcycler

In the livestock feed versus human food debate, we haven’t been using the right numbers. Rather than being a drain on global resources and competing with human food supplies by eating lots of grain, livestock are often net contributors to the global protein supply.

That’s the conclusion of a study from scientists at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Livestock, especially ruminants like beef cattle, play a key role in a sustainable food system. They allow us to produce food on marginal lands that are unsuitable for cultivated agriculture. Cattle act as “upcyclers” in our food system—they upgrade plants into high quality protein for people, reports Medium.com.

Click here for a complete analysis of cattle’s positive role in society.

More help needed to keep large animal vets in rural areas

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Nearly half of the survey respondents said people practicing without a veterinary license as negatively affecting their business.

Let's face it, it's not an easy job. Across rural America, vets often travel long distances and work odd hours under sometimes very challenging conditions. However, one of the biggest parts of the problem is the cost associated with becoming a vet, with some students racking up six figures in student debt—and that's after they pay for their undergraduate degree. The average cost of four years of veterinary school range from about $150,000 to over $300,000 at the 30 accredited colleges in the U.S., reports the Farm Forum.

Today, only 5% to 8% of graduating veterinarians join private practices with an emphasis on food animals, according to USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

NIFA reports that, "From FY 2010 through FY 2017, NIFA received 1,349 applications from which 447 VMLRP (loan repayment) awards were offered." This means the program's insufficient funding left more than 900 veterinarians without hoped-for USDA support to carry out their plans to either open new rural practices serving livestock producers or expand their existing practices because they've been able to pay off part of their educational loans.

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Rural Mainstreet index at highest level in almost five years

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index climbed above growth neutral in May for a fourth straight month, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy. This is the first time since the July 2015 that we have recorded four straight months of overall indices above growth neutral.

Overall: The overall index rose to 56.3, its highest level since July 2013, and up from 53.5 in April. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral. More than one-third, or 36.4 percent of bank CEOs identified rising regulatory costs as the top economic challenge to their banking operations over the next five years.

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