Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tyson to lay off 45 at Virginia plant

Tyson Foods will lay off 45 workers at its Harrisonburg, Va., poultry production plant on Friday, January 2, according to the Associated Press.
The company is shifting the plant's production focus from whole chickens to cut-up chickens as it deals with high costs and an increasingly competitive marketplace, Plant Manager Danny Sutton was quoted as saying.The plant's remaining 375 employees will work shorter hours in 2009, said the company.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nominations sought for National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that nominations are being sought for membership on the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI).
The nominations are being sought from individuals representing industry, academia, state and local government officials, public health organizations, and consumers and consumer organizations. The full committee consists of 16 - 18 members, and each person is expected to serve a two-year term.The NACMPI was established in 1971 to the provide advice and recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on meat and poultry inspection programs.
Membership is drawn from a groups interested in food safety including consumers, producers, processors, exporters and importers of meat and poultry products, as well as those in academia, public health, and federal and state government. Nominations must include the nominee’s typed resume or curriculum vitae and must be e-mailed or postmarked by Jan. 23, 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New poultry litter tool fertilizes fields, reduces runoff nutrients

A new field tool developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists applies poultry litter to fields in shallow bands, reducing runoff of excess nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen.
Poultry litter—a combination of poultry manure and bedding material, such as pine shavings or peanut or rice hulls—is a natural fertilizer. The conventional method of applying it to fields utilizes a broadcast spreader, which scatters the litter across the soil surface. Because it rests on top of the soil, the litter is vulnerable to runoff in heavy rains.
A new tool developed by ARS agricultural engineer Thomas Way and his colleagues at the agency's National Soil Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn, Ala., offers a solution. The tool digs shallow trenches about two to three inches deep in the soil. It then places the poultry litter in the trenches and covers it with soil. Burying the litter significantly reduces the risk of runoff.
Designed to attach to a tractor, the litter applicator can dig four trenches as it is pulled through the field. Collaborators in six states have used Way’s litter applicator in their research, with positive results. In one project, Way worked with Dan Pote, a soil scientist at the ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center in Booneville, Ark.
The scientists applied the litter to Bermudagrass forage plots, and then watered the field with a rainfall simulator.When the litter was applied with Way’s new tool, phosphorus and nitrogen runoff were 80 to 95% lower than when the litter was applied in the conventional manner.Way has also collaborated with ARS scientists throughout the country to examine the tool’s effectiveness with different crops.
They used the new implement in experiments in corn fields in Alabama, Kentucky and Maryland; cotton fields in Mississippi and Georgia; and in Bermudagrass and tall fescue stands in Alabama. Their results showed that the new tool has the potential to reduce water pollution significantly when used to apply poultry litter to a variety of crops. Now, ARS is pursuing a patent and seeking companies to manufacture and market the litter applicator.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Poultry, egg industries urge registration of farms

The National Chicken Council (NCC), National Turkey Federation (NTF) and United Egg Producers (UEP) are urging farmers to register their premises with the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) to help protect their poultry producers in the event of an outbreak of disease.
Working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the trade associations for poultry and eggs have developed and are distributing a brochure, “First Steps: Register Your Premises,” which encourages growers to register their farms.
The brochure is being distributed to the membership of all three associations. While registration is voluntary in most states, NTF, NCC and UEP encourage poultry growers and egg producers to register their premises to assist state governments and first responders in reacting to a disease problem.
“We urge all broiler growers to register their premises with the National Animal Identification System (NAIS),” said NCC President George Watts. “Getting registered means chicken producers will be informed promptly if there is a serious animal disease outbreak in the vicinity. This will help protect the flock and the grower’s livelihood.”
“NTF members recognize the importance of registering turkey production premises and encourage all growers to register their production sites with their respective state premises registration systems,” said NTF President Joel Brandenberger.
The UEP board of directors supports premises registration for egg production facilities. UEP encourages producers to register their premises under NAIS through state agencies and poultry associations working with USDA.
UEP President and CEO Gene Gregory said, “Egg producers have worked hard to prevent an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the nation’s layer flock. At the same time, they have spent vast resources in preparing for such an outbreak anywhere in the United States.
The ability to assess vulnerability to egg layer sites or other poultry farms and contain quickly any outbreak depends on readily available and accurate premises information.”Poultry growers and egg layers can obtain a copy of the brochure by contacting NCC, NTF or UEP.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FSIS releases report on salmonella testing of raw meat, poultry products

FSIS has posted to its Web site the 2008 second quarterly progress report that provides preliminary data on salmonella testing results of selected raw meat and poultry products.
In this report, FSIS is announcing several changes to how the agency will be providing future aggregate data on the salmonella verification testing program. Establishments will be placed in Category 1, 2 or 3 only after completing two salmonella sets, said the agency. Additionally, establishments having a current salmonella set at or below 50% of the performance standard or guidance for their product class but a prior set in Category 2 or 3 will be identified as 2T (defined as a Category 2 plant that is in transition to Category 1).
In this manner, FSIS is acknowledging those establishments working to achieve consistent process controls. These changes will align the quarterly reports with the monthly posting of names of broiler establishments in category 2 and 3.The agency will also lower the number of acceptable positives for Category 1 status in those product classes that have an odd number of acceptable positives to meet the performance standard or guidance.
This will affect three product classes: turkey, ground beef and ground turkey. FSIS said it recognizes that an establishment with highly consistent process control should strive to operate over time at a relatively low level of salmonella positive samples if it is to maintain its category 1 status. The agency said it views this more stringent policy (i.e., rounding down) as a necessary and important incentive to improve performance in controlling salmonella.
FSIS has also removed approximately 1,000 very low-volume-producing ground beef (<1,000>

Bangladesh reports new bird flu outbreak

Authorities in Bangladesh have culled nearly 10,000 chickens in five districts as a fresh outbreak of bird flu has been detected in the country, according to a senior government official.
“We have detected avian influenza, known as H5N1, in four commercial poultry production farms and a household in five districts so far this month," said Muhammad Salehuddin Khan, director of Bangladesh's Fisheries and Live Stock Department."Some 9,950 birds on the farms and in the household and nearby areas of the country's western Natore, central Gazipur, eastern Narsingdi, and northern Gaibandha and Kurigram districts were culled this month," he said."We have taken special steps to stem the outbreak of the disease, and we are asking farmers to adopt more preventive measures," he said.
Muhammad said his department is yet to confirm the sources of fresh attacks of the disease, "but it may be due to germs of bird flu remained as we faced huge outbreak last winter," he said.However, he added that there had been no report of human infection of the disease in Bangladesh to date.