COOL: Is It Cool Or Sticker Shock?
SAMAR FAY / HI-LINE FARM & RANCH
nder the USDA’s newly amended country-of-origin rules, meat from these Montana cattle will end up in the meat counter under new labels. Instead of reading, “Product of the U.S.,” the labels will say “Born, Raised and Slaughtered in the U.S.” Depending on the meat’s origin, the labeling will vary. A couple of possible examples: • “Born in Mexico, Raised and Slaughtered in the United States.” • “Born and Raised in Canada, Slaughtered in the United States.” Samar Fay reports on Page 2.
June 2013 June 2013
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Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) Stricter On Production Steps; Industry Gets 6 Months To Change
By SaMar Fay Hi-LiNe FarM & raNcH he USDA on May 23 amended the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations that took effect in 2009, because the World Trade Organization ruled last year that the U.S. was in violation of trade obligations. Under the modified requirements, labels are required to list where each of the production steps (i.e., born, raised, slaughtered) occurred. For animals born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S., for example, labeling requirements would be changed from “Product of the U.S.” to “Born, Raised and Slaughtered in the U.S.” In other examples provided by the USDA, for meat derived from animals
born outside the United States, one type of label could state: “Born in Mexico, Raised and Slaughtered in the United States.” For meat derived from animals imported for immediate slaughter, one type of label could state: “Born and Raised in Canada, Slaughtered in the United States.” Labels for imported meat are unchanged by this rule. Those labels will continue to read: “Product of [Country X].” “USDA remains confident that these changes will improve the overall operation of the program and also bring the mandatory COOL requirements into compliance with U.S. international trade obligations,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. In 2012, the WTO found that the
United States’ COOL requirements for certain meat commodities discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock imports and thus were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. Local grocery stores will not have much trouble with the new regulations, according to the meat managers in two Glasgow stores. “The labels are automatically programmed on our computer,” said Neil Chouinard at Reynolds Market. The box beef he orders from the store’s warehouse is all from the United States anyway, mostly from feedlots in Colorado and Washington. The warehouse keeps track of the rules, changes the labels and even sends signs to hang up in the meat department.
When he grinds hamburger he has to keep a log of the source but since it’s all from the U.S., he said it is a waste of time. “They’re creating jobs is what they’re doing,” Chouinard said. He said Montana customers would pick up U.S. beef if similar cuts in the case were labeled from different countries. At Albertsons, Jerry Molstad said it was a lot for the warehouse to set up the process of matching labels on boxes to numbers in the computer but for him to do the follow-through when the product arrived in the store was not hard. “There isn’t any trouble for me,” Molstad. “It’s all done at the warehouse.” He said 90 percent of their meat is from the U.S. and just this week AlbcONTiNUeD ON PaGe 10
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June June2013 2013
Far LeFT: after his bull sale, Francis Koenig, center, had time to chat with the auctioneer, Kyle Shobe of Lewistown, left, and one of the buyers, Henry Martin of Malta. LeFT: Lot 38 tied for top-selling bull at the Koenig ranch production auction at the Glasgow Stockyards. Dale Drawbond of Dagmar bought the KrP Kanyon grandson for $3,500. SAMAR FAY / HI-LINE FARM & RANCH
40 Bulls at Koenig red angus Sale
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By SaMar Fay Hi-LiNe FarM & raNcH Arley and Francis Koenig of Winnett sent 40 Red Angus 2-year-old bulls to the Glasgow Stockyards for their fourth annual production sale on May 9. The auctioneer was Kyle Shobe of Lewistown. The average price for the bulls was $2,660, with the top 10 selling for an average of $3,175. There was a tie for the title of top bull of the sale at $3,500. Lot 38, KRP KO Gold Kanyon 1658, was bought by Dale Drawbond of Dagmar. This bull was sired by KRP Kanyon 6403. His adjusted weaning ratio was 107 and his EPDs were birthweight -2.7, weaning weight 44, yearling weight 59, milk 19 and total maternal 41. Lot 7, KRP Kanyon Rob 1249, tied for top. He went to Leroy Costin of Saco. Sired by KRP Kanyon, this bull had an adjusted weaning ratio of 103. His EPDs were birthweight 0.0, weaning weight 58, yearling weight 79, milk 10 and total maternal 39. There was a three-way tie at the next price, $3,250. Lot 1, sired by KRP Kanyon, sold to Ferdina Ranch of Wolf Point. The adjusted weaning ratio was 110 and the EPDs were birthweight 1.4, weaning weight 64, yearling weight 85, milk 16 and total maternal 48. Andrew Drawbond of Fortuna, N.D., bought Lot 2, also sired by KRP Kanyon. The adjusted weaning ratio was 103 and the EPDs were birthweight -0.2, weaning weight 54, yearling weight 75, milk 22 and total maternal 49. KRP BL was the sire of Lot 13, sold to Dale Mischke of Williston, N.D. This bull had an adjusted weaning ratio of 105, with EPDs birthweight -2.8, weaning weight 49, yearling weight 68, milk 26 and total maternal 50. Boucher Ranch of Hinsdale was the volume buyer, taking home eight bulls. Bob Holen of Wolf Point bought four. The Koenigs also brought 20 Red Angus heifers to the sale. They brought an average price of $1,060. Wes Koss of Malta claimed 15 of them, and Dale Drawbond took five.
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Old farms, new technology While agricultural production doesn’t seem as if it would be a hotbed of modern technology, farmers and ranchers are benefiting from many modern advances in tech and science.
Farming implement tech
Pam Burke/Havre Daily News Adam Briese operates a joystick that controls the hydrostatic drive and boom height override controls for a sprayer he was using on an irrigated field on his family's farmland east of Havre in May.
Crop producers, especially grain growers, are clear winners in the technology race. Grain growers need three major pieces of equipment beyond a tractor — a seeder, a sprayer and a combine — said Ron Harmon, owner of Big Equipment Co. in Havre and long-time worker in the agriculture support industry. “It starts with the seeding technology (which) has totally changed,” Harmon said, adding that much of the advancement has been in just the last four to five years, especially with the drills that deliver seeds into the soil. Twenty to 30 years ago, he said, drills just gouged into the ground, then air drills were developed and the added air pressure helped deliver seeds to more uniform depth, but modern seeders have precision seeding drills that have “substantially” more accurate seeding success. Sensors in the drills read soil moisture
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and hardness then adjust the individual drills and packers to deliver seed at a uniform depth, said Harmon, adding that this evenness of seeding depth is what allows the plants to sprout at the same rate, thus helping assure that all plants in a field grow and mature at the same time, to be harvested all at once as they ripen. “Getting the seed so that the crop comes up uniformly — you don’t have green spots in your field — then when it ripens up it ripens up altogether, it emerges altogether, is very important to what the harvest is going to look like.” But the seeders can handle even tougher conditions than just soil moisture, said Darrel Briese, an area farmer born and raised on a farm north of Loma and who has been farming on his own for about 40 years. “You can go through an irrigation ditch or down a border dike, and it seeds the same,” he said. “Even though the border dike is a foot-and-a-half higher than the rest of the field that packer wheel lifts that shank out of the ground so it seeds the top of the border dike the same as it did ground down in the field.” The latest sprayers and combines also have sensors and computers that automate tasks for increased efficiency, Briese said. All the data for spraying needs can be entered into the sprayer computer now, he
said, and the computer will calculate the amount of spray needed for the given acreage, while sensors regulate the amount of spray coming from the sprayer, adjusting for driving speed and other conditions. This automation provides a cost savings and makes weed sprays more effective. “With older (sprayers) you set the pressure (based on your calculation for chemical per acre and average speed you’d drive) and then if you slowed down for a dip in the field or a bump or something, or you had to turn, it kept spraying the same amount of chemical all the time,” he said. The GPS unit, though, is the most widely used technology on modern farm equipment. It guides the automated steering up and down the fields, requiring drivers to steer only enough to turn the machine around to the next row and around obstacles. The GPS earns its keep through cost-savings and earnings boost, Harmon said. This auto-steering is especially helpful with sprayers and seeders because the GPS tracks the passes across the field so carefully that it can place the spray-boom or seeding drill exactly next to the last pass without overlapping or leaving a gap, both of which costs the producers money, either through added expense or loss of production respectively. The GPS can also map the field as its being worked, said Briese. This is particularly important with sprayers because the farmer can’t make an immediate visual confirmation of what has been sprayed and what hasn’t. The spray boom is connected to the GPS
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unit, so as it passes over any areas of both sprayed and not-sprayed ground the computer turns off unneeded sections and only sprays where needed. Briese, who farms a considerable amount of irrigated farm land mostly between Havre and Chinook, is particularly appreciative of the changes the GPS has brought to the irrigated farming processes. Having come from the days when leveling irrigated fields still required surveying equipment and marker stakes hand-driven into the field, and then transitioning through the use of laser levelers which were less accurate farther out from the laser source and were susceptible to wind vibration, Briese fully understands the time-savings the modern GPS-guided land levelers provide with the cutting edge of the scraper controlled directly by the GPS.
Other farming tech Other technological advances for the modern farmer include the rotary head for combines. Looking somewhat like a giant corkscrew, the rotary head has recently become the industry standard ahead of the conventional swather, said Harmon, adding that the benefit is that the rotary head doesn’t damage as much of the grain, and this adds value to the harvest in the marketplace. Advances in conditioners and windrow rakes have proven to save on lost leaf in the production of hay. Certain modern irrigating systems allow
Courtesy photo E.J. Briese, grandfather of Havre resident and farmer Darrel Briese, farms his homestead north of Loma in 1913. user-control of water levels and dams by cellphone, and they provide warnings via cellphone as well, said Briese, who doesn’t have this technology for his own farms. For him, he said, improvements in machinery allow for cleaner ditches and ease in plowing ditches out and filling them in as needed. “It’s hard to change the ditch technology,” he said.
It is also hard to change technology for ranching and livestock production, said Bill Bradbury, a fourth-generation Havre-area rancher and farmer. “You look at farmers and you can't hardly find a combine in the field that doesn't have GPS, or even automatic steering,” Bradbury said. However, he added, “the technology
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industry hasn't been able to do much for the cattle industry.” But Bradbury and his long-time friend Tim Anderson, who works in the high-end electronics field in the Kalispell area, have developed their own technology to solve one of Bradbury’s problems. He lives on his ranch about 25 miles south of Havre but also owns pasture and cropland 27 miles north of town, so when his cows are on summer pasture up north, he has to make daily round trips of as many as 120 miles to check his stock tanks. So Bradbury and Anderson developed a computerized water-level monitoring system that uses a series of sensors to read water levels and other data at Bradbury’s stock tanks and collects this information on a centralized computer server. He can then access this data via the Internet from anywhere he has Internet access. Anderson and Bradbury, who both say they are working toward marketing their system, are thinking toward the next generation of their system already. “With electronic ear tags we could, in the future, have the system read those tags and know what cow is drinking how much, or even if a cow belonging to someone else is there drinking from your water tank,” Bradbury said. And these two men aren’t the first to think of using electronic identification tags — electronic disks about the size of a halfdollar that transmit a number that’s like a Social Security number, or a bar code — to help in the livestock industry.
During past outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in the United Kingdom and the U.S., debate raged about providing cattle with electronic IDs so they could be traced more easily from the breeder to the butcher. Though nothing came of the discussions nationwide, at least five states — including Michigan, Alabama, Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin — now require EIDs for almost all livestock. As Bradbury pointed out, though, the EIDs can be used for larger purposes than simply government tracking. At Montana State University’s Northern Agricultural Research Center south of Havre Darrin Boss, the Research Center superintendent and animal science and beef cattle nutrition specialist, said he uses EIDs to track nutritional intake information to calculate such things as health, size and productivity per cost or feed consumption on the Research Center’s cattle. Readers on devices like feeders, waterers, scales and hand-held computers collect the information, Boss said. For example, cattle in holding pens at the Research Center have their EID read each time that cow, calf, bull or steer enters a feeder, which tracks every ounce of food that particular bovine eats, and the data is automatically stored on the server at the Research Center. The system, which is also used by many larger dairy cow producers, also saves time and general entry problems or errors, he said.
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FARM & RANCH Boss added that the EIDs are useful as a marketing tool to prove source and age of cattle as required for overseas sales. As an ag scientist, Boss sees technological advancements that aid the livestock industry somewhat obliquely. Scientists are using nanotechnology, or devices the size of molecules, in cow digestive tracts to monitor feed digestibility and how food is moving through the system, he said. Science and tech that allows for cattle fetal studies is helping scientists understand how nutrition, or nutraceutical, can help with fetal programming for everything from growth speed and efficiency to greenhouse gas emissions, he said. In other words, they are seeing how “fetal programming can change the efficiency, or change and turn on and turn off genes and protein sequences, and make those cattle a little bit different in utero,” Boss said. The researchers are utilizing ordinary feeds with protein and mineral supplementation applied correctly at the right time and in the right combinations to affect gene dominance. He also predicted that understanding of DNA through studies going on today will develop so far in his lifetime that a cow breeder will be handed a chip with a purebred bull’s complete genetic makeup and from reading this DNA information, they will both know if that bull could increase calf weaning weight and yearling weight while maintaining carcass characteristics in that particular herd of cows.
The universal tech The one thing everyone interviewed for this article talked about is that the advances in communications along with advances in information storage and transfer is the most influential technology across the board in agriculture production. These advances drive decisions from feeding and breeding choices to planting and marketing choices. Farmers can call tech support or mechanical support from out in the field. Farmers and ranchers out in their fields and pastures access realtime marketing information, said Boss “They're on their cellphone or on a tablet and they're selling the grain or they're buying and selling cattle or calves right there as they're going down the field,” he said. “So the speed of information, the speed of technology transfer all the way across agriculture is unbelievably fast right now. I see more and more people using their cellphones and tablets on the go every day, whether for marketing for information or for breeding.” He knows livestock producers who use Excel spreadsheets that can calculate when to start synchronizing cows and when to AI to get them to calve during a certain timeframe. “There's an app for everything,” said Briese. He recalled using a calculator and paper and pen to figure out weed spray to water ratios and the amount of pressure needed for the correct amount of spray per acre as well as other calculations needed around the farm. Now, when he tells his two sons to complete a task, he said, they go straight to their smart phones and search out information, programming applications and other information. “Every time I tell them to do something, they never have to figure anything out, they just go find an app to do it.” And though Briese said he feels keeping up with all the technology is a young man's game, he operates all the machinery and admitted to having note-taking, chemical mixing and other smart phone apps. Briese noted that when he started out the three-cornered shovel was high-tech, and his grandfather broke all the land on his homestead north of Loma with four oxen in 1913. “They could seed a half-acre in the morning and a half-acre in the afternoon, and now we can seed 300 acres in a day,” he said. “The thing that amazes me the most is how far we’ve come.”
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Ag research center to hold field day Tours, demonstrations, free dinner June 26 Pam Burke email@example.com Area farmers and ranchers, as well as those people simply interested in growing plants and breeding and handling animals, will have a chance to tour the local research center, hearing from and speaking with many experts in these disciplines. Montana State University’s Northern Agricultural Research Center, located east off U.S. Highway 87 south of Havre at Fort Assinniboine, will be holding its annual Field Day Wednesday, June 26, with registration starting at 3:30 p.m. and tours at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The three tours are 1 1/2 hours long, with a free dinner during the break, which starts at 5:30 p.m., said Darrin Boss, the Research Center’s superintendent and beef cattle specialist. The dinner is locally sponsored, he added, with the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce’s Agri-Business Committee cooking, Devon Energy Corp. providing the grill, Tilleman Motor Co. providing the tent and
many other local, long-time sponsors pitching in. People of all ages will have the opportunity to go on two of three tours. The beef tour will feature information about maternal efficiency; the GrowSafe System that helps monitor nutrition data; synchronizing cow breeding cycles; and different productive strategies being employed in the beef industry right now. Pre s e n t e rs f ro m t h e M S U B o z e m a n Experiment Station — the parent program for the seven state land-grant research centers — will include a range ecologist from to talk about a current research program he is developing and for which he is looking forward to some feedback from producers. Participants will also get to tour the cattle operating facilities to see how the system works and how researchers are applying modern technology and lowstress handling of cattle. The variety development tour will have variety crop breeders for barley, winter wheat and spring wheat. The tour will also include a plant pathologist, a pulse crops producer and feature talks about new varieties recently started at MSU Bozeman, and talk about what grows best in this area. This, Boss said, is an important tour for producers to find out what seeds will be coming onto the market that are higher yielding,
sawfly resistant, or sustainable or more profitable. The alternative cropping systems tour will look at long-term crop rotations developed at the station; new developments to combat the wheat stem sawfly and reduce losses to the pest; the cover crop termination trial that is exploring keeping cover on the ground, instead of fallowing, and alternative ways to use cover crops, whether through grazing, haying or spraying, to increase soil health and provide data on water loss versus income pay off. A speaker will discuss “green manures,” using various legumes in rotations. Further information will be provided on new developments in canola crops and varieties of seeds best suited for northcentral Montana, as well as a dry land corn fertility trial going on at the Research Center.
This year, Waded Crusado, president of Montana State University, is bringing a contingent of the university’s leadership personnel — deans and faculty members — in a cruiser bus to the Field Day as part of a tour called “Follow the Beef” that is coming up through central Montana, Boss said. Some members of the Montana University System Board of Regents will be there, also, he added, and participants will have opportunity to speak with these people. Boss said the Research Center can expect 150-250 people, depending on weather, which can keep producers in the field, especially with haying season in full swing for many at that time. Everyone, even those not involved in ag production, is encouraged to attend this free event. For more information, call 2656115.
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cONTiNUeD FrOM PaGe 2 ertsons started a new program of using strictly U.S. beef. Because he doesnâ€™t generate enough trim to make enough hamburger to sell, he does buy coarse ground hamburger that can originate from four countries. and the label already says that. The new rules will take some adjusting to, he said. â€œTheyâ€™re getting pickier on COOL. It will take a while to get through.â€? He said he has heard some complaints from ranchers who donâ€™t like it because there is more bookkeeping required. In case of a contamination problem, such as E. coli, the number-one problem with hamburger, it will allow tracking to the source, which is good for public health reasons. Do his customers care? â€œI canâ€™t say everyone cares, but I do have people come up and ask where the meat comes from.â€? The Northern Plains Resource Council, a Montana conservation and family agriculture group, was fully in favor of the USDAâ€™s new rules. â€œWe applaud USDA and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for strengthening rules on country-of-origin labeling. We also want to thank the Obama administration for standing up to industry pressure and opposition from the Canadian and Mexican governments to water down COOL,â€? said Ressa Charter, a Shepherd
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into compliance with the WTOâ€™s ruling is a win-win situation for all interested parties. â€œWe further applaud the administration for deciding to take a proactive approach in bringing COOL into compliance by providing more information on the origins of our food, instead of simply watering down the process. â€œNFU has been a long time supporter of COOL and we will continue to vigorously support it. Consumers want and have the right to know where their food comes from.â€? However, the new rules donâ€™t sit well with the National Cattlemenâ€™s Beef Association, and the organization doesnâ€™t believe they meet WTO obligations. â€œWe are deeply disappointed with this short-sighted action by the USDA,â€? said Scott George, National Cattlemenâ€™s Beef Association president and a Cody, Wyo., dairy and cattle producer, in a written statement. â€œOur largest trading partners have already said that these provisions will not bring the U.S. into compliance with our WTO obligations and will result in increased discrimination against imported products and in turn retaliatory tariffs or other authorized trade sanctions. cONTiNUeD ON PaGe 11
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rancher and chair of Northern Plainsâ€™ Ag Task Force. â€œThe international meatpackers have tried and failed again to take down country-of-origin labeling. Weâ€™ve worked for more than a decade to get COOL and weâ€™re not about to give up defending it now. â€œThe new rules require more meaningful and informative labels that tell the consumer where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. Now consumers will be able to make the choice for themselves, and be able to find beef made in the USA, raised under rigorous health standards, by American livestock producers. â€œA strong implementation of COOL will allow the average U.S. retail shopper to vote with their forks against the homogenized products foisted on them by the centralized food system and allow the demand side of the meat market to better discipline and resist manipulation by the monopolies controlling most meat production.â€? National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued a statement lauding the decision, and saying that legal analysis determined that it put the U.S. into compliance with the WTO. â€œWe are very pleased that the USDA has decided to stand strong and keep COOL. The decision to bring the law
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Not too Much COOL Sticker Shock cONTiNUeD FrOM PaGe 10 â€œAs we said in comments submitted to USDA, â€˜any retaliation against U.S. beef would be devastating for our producers.â€™ While trying to make an untenable mandate fit with our international trade obligations, USDA chose to set up U.S. cattle producers for financial losses. Moreover, this rule will place a greater record-keeping burden on producers, feeders and processors through the born, raised and harvested label. â€œAs cattlemen and women, we do not oppose voluntary labeling as a marketing tool to distinguish product and add value. However, USDA is not the entity that we want marketing beef, and on its face, a label that says â€˜harvestedâ€™ is unappealing to both consumers and cattle producers.â€? USDA estimates the total adjustment costs of the new rule at $123.3 million at the midpoint with a range of $53.1 million at the low end to $192.1 million at the high end. Intermediaries, primarily meat packers and processors, and retailers will bear most of these costs. The modified rule removes the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts. Under the 2009 COOL regulations the packer could use one label for two or more origins of meat if they
were processed on the same production day. For example, if on the same day a slaughterhouse processed meat born and raised in the U.S. and meat of mixed origin (e.g., born in Mexico, but raised and slaughtered in the U.S) they were allowed to affix the â€œmixed originâ€? label to all the meat produced that day. The industry will be given six months to make the necessary changes. During this period the USDAâ€™s Agricultural Marketing Service will conduct an industry education and outreach program concerning the provisions and requirements of this rule, as it did following the 2008 Interim Final Rule and the 2009 Final Rule. Meats that were produced and packaged before the effective date of the amended rule can be sold with their existing labels. This will prevent confusion and reduce the cost of compliance with the program. Under COOL, retailers must provide their customers with information about the origin of various food products, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, goat meat, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, perishable agricultural commodities, peanuts, pecans, ginseng and macadamia nuts.
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FARM RANCH FARM& & RANCH
June June2013 2013
Donâ€™t Spray Nontarget Crops MSU NewS Service Montanans who plan to spray noxious weeds this spring should take preliminary steps when spraying to reduce nontarget injury to nearby sensitive crops, aquatic areas, trees and/ or ornamentals, says MSU Pesticide Education Specialist Cecil Tharp. That means â€“ even before calibrating their sprayers -- applicators should inspect equipment for leaks, rust, plugged lines and ruptured seals. They should also select the appropriate nozzles for the job. Lowdrift nozzles will minimize the amount of pesticide droplets that can be carried off-site by the wind. Many herbicides target broadleaf weeds such as leafy spurge and spotted knapweed, but they can also damage alfalfa and other pulse crops, such as peas and lentils, Tharp said. It isnâ€™t uncommon for herbicide drift to be implicated in the injury of nearby trees, vegetables and ornamentals. Many people still use standard or extended range flat fan nozzle technologies from the 1980s, which produce small droplets that drift easily, Tharp said. Small droplets drift farther than larger, heavier droplets. Nozzle technology from the 1990s â€“ which includes turbulence chambers and air induction designs -- produces larger droplets. â€œThese nozzles (turbulence chamber and air induction designs) reduce pesticide drift from 50 to 75 percent when compared to the extended range or older flat fans,â€? Tharp said. Wind can carry pesticides where they shouldnâ€™t be, but a 2009 poll showed that a large percentage of Montanans have sprayed even though they knew it was too windy, Tharp said. Approximately one in three private applicators surveyed indicated that drift had damaged nearby sensitive crops at some point in their career.
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â€ The Honda One Year Extended Warranty Event offer is good on all Honda HRS, HRR and HRX Series purchased March 1st through July 31, 2013. See your Authorized Honda Power Equipment Dealer for full details. Please read the ownerâ€™s manual before operating your Honda Power Equipment and never use in a closed or partly enclosed area where you could be exposed to poisonous carbon monoxide. ÂŠ2013 American Honda Motor Co., Inc.