Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Virginia ordnance would allow backyard layers

By July 14, the City Council of Harrisonburg, Va. expects a draft of an ordinance that would allow residents to keep egg-laying chickens in their backyards.
Members of the Harrisonburg Backyard Chicken Project initiated the change to allow participation in the "organic food security movement,"
reported the Rocktownweekly.com.
The impact on property values and the potential for the spread of disease to commercial flocks have been raised as concerns.

Committee approves Food Safety Enhancement Act

Chairman Waxman's and Chairman Emeritus Dingell's Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 received approval from the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The legislation aims to raise
FDA's food safety-related authority in the wake of recalls and foodborne illnesses attributable to FDA-regulated products.
The bill will next move to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ohio livestock measure slated for ballot

Ohio farm families joined lawmakers to support a measure that would help ensure animal well-being, consumer choice and the availability of Ohio-grown food, according to a Ohio Farm Bureau Federation release.
The Ohio House and Senate Agriculture Committees have passed joint resolutions that will allow Ohio to create a Livestock Care Standards Board to supervise how farm animals are raised.
The Ohio House approved the resolution by a vote of 84-13. The measure will be placed before voters in November.

Friday, June 26, 2009

SAI Platform adds new members

SAI Platform (Sustainable Agriculture Initiative), an organization which supports the development of sustainable agriculture, accepted three new companies as members.
Novus International, provides scientific animal health solutions,
General Mills, the world's sixth-largest food company, and
Cayuga Marketing LLC, comprising 22 farm businesses, markets milk and became involved with other aspects of dairy production.
The new members will be part of SAI Platforms' groups on arable crops, coffee, dairy, fruit, water and agriculture.
SAI Platform is dedicated to supporting agricultural practices and agricultural production systems that preserve the future availability of current resources and enhance their efficiency.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

EU approves new rules for animal slaughter

European farm ministers have given their assent to new rules to lessen the suffering of animals during slaughter, Morning Star reported.
Slaughterhouses will be required to include animal welfare in their design, monitor techniques for stunning before slaughter and ensure the animals are unconscious when they are killed.
The law also requires all staff at the abattoirs to be trained and certified. An animal welfare officer will also be appointed. The rules take effect in 2013.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Research links temperature, broiler breeder performance

Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed an equation specifying how a broiler breeder's maintenance energy requirement fluctuates as a function of four variables: body weight, weight gain, external temperature and age, according to a Poultry Science Association report.
The goal of the research, which has been underwritten by poultry breeding company
Aviagen, seeks to optimize reproductive performance of broiler breeders by controlling their growth curves through feed allocations, based on weather forecasts.
According to lead researcher Dr. Martin Zuidhof, the team has made progress in quantifying the relationship between feed, body temperature and external temperature, thereby understanding better the energy required by the breeder for growth at various temperatures.
Dr. Zuidhof will present the results at the 2009 PSA Annual Meeting, to be held on July 20-23.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pilgrim's on track for bankruptcy exit

Pilgrim's Pride reported an operating profit of $16.74 million in May after one of $13.92 million in April. The company is not planning any further cuts in production after reducing output 9-10% earlier this year, a Reuters report said.
Pilgrim's Pride is still on track for exiting bankruptcy later this year, according to CEO Don Jackson.

USDA forecasts increase in broiler production

The latest USDA forecast shows the prices for broiler products are on the rise.
Though prices have not reached last year's mark, low production has forced prices to increase. Chick placement for grow-out is on the rise because of high broiler meat prices.
The USDA expects rates to reach last year's level by the fourth quarter of 2009.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vaccination for IBD recommended

Dr. Herman Block advised breeders to routinely vaccinate broilers to protect them against infectious bursal disease (IBD), while addressing a meeting of broiler producers at Shrewsbury, Shropshire, organized by the Slate Hall Veterinary Practice in conjunction with Lohmann Animal Health.
Dr. Block said he found AviPro IBD Xtreme, a vaccine for IBD, induced an earlier and higher sero-response than others. The vaccine, he said, provided protection in disease "hot-spots" and was used on about 60% of the birds.
Brigitte Othmar, product manager, Lohmann Animal Health, said trials showed that birds vaccinated with AviPro IBD Xtreme showed the highest number of sero-positive results and protection against clinical symptoms of IBD.

22,000 chickens die in farm fire

On June 19, 22,000 chickens died in a fire in a 300-foot chicken house on McPhail's Chicken Farm in Townville, S.C., according to Upstate Today.
The chicken house fire was discovered about 10:30 p.m., but by the time fire officials were able to control the blaze, the chickens had been lost.
Farm owner Floyd McPhail said he was using a generator because of a power outage earlier in the day, speculating the possible reason for the fire.
An investigation team will return to the farm June 22 to verify the exact cause of the fire.

Friday, June 19, 2009

ARS finds Bordetella hinzii pathogenic in turkeys

Bordetella hinzii was believed to be nonpathogenic in poultry because previous attempts to cause disease in poultry with the bacterium have failed, but Agricultural Research Service scientists announced study results that prove otherwise.
Scientists at the ARS examined several Bordetella isolates, including some that had caused 100% morbidity in turkey. Although the isolates had been labeled as B. avium, the scientists found that they were actually B. hinzii, showing for the first time that some strains of B. hinzii can cause disease in turkeys.
In a similar study done on chickens no birds developed the clinical disease, suggesting that the pathogenicity of B. hinzii does not extend to chickens.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Committee amends, passes food safety act

The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 came one step closer to being enacted after the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed it by unanimous voice vote June 17.
H.R. 2749 would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to inspect high-risk food facilities at least once a year and require companies to keep detailed records to help the FDA more quickly trace tainted foods.
Although the bill was amended, the American Meat Institute presented new concerns over the bill because of the effect it would have on FDA-regulated products that are used as ingredients in some meat and poultry in addition to setting inspection precedents for the meat and poultry industries.
The bill is set to move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Capital restructuring boosts Tyson’s liquidity

Tyson Foods Inc. secured more than $1.7 billion in liquidity as a result of capital restructuring through March this year, according to a news report.
Tyson began capital restructuring in September by issuing 22.4 million class A common shares and $458 million in senior convertible notes. The company completed an $810 million high-yield bond offering in March and replaced its revolving credit facility with a $1 billion asset-based lending facility.
Tyson says it made improvements in its food segments, especially chicken, by better operational efficiencies, sales volume, product mix and shorter-term contracts with customers.

Study shows economic impact of meat, poultry industry

A study by the American Meat Institute shows that the meat and poultry industry contributes about $832 billion, or 6% of total GDP, to the U.S. economy.
It also shows that the industry employs 6.2 million people and pays $200 billion in wages and benefits.
Conducted by John Dunham and Associates in New York City, the study also suggests that the industry generates sizeable tax revenues - more than $81 billion in taxes to federal, state and local governments and more than $2 billion in state sales taxes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Buffalo gnats pester Mississippi poultry

The buffalo gnats currently plaguing Mississippi prompted David Carter, director of the Adams County Extension Service, to address what poultry farmers can do to combat the insects.
Gnats, although typically harmless, have grown so rapidly this summer in the state that they have caused poultry fatalities from toxic shock syndrome, blood loss from bites and, if inhaled, suffocation, according to Carter's
article in The Natchez Democrat. Buffalo gnats have also been linked to transmitting leucocytozoonosis.
Carter recommended the following:
*Provide shelter or move poultry indoors during the daytime (gnats are daytime feeders and do not like enclosures).
*Apply permethrin-based, on-animal products labeled for poultry use.
*Have a fan blowing on the birds to increase air movement.
Carter predicted the gnat population will decrease within the coming weeks since adult gnats only live for three to four weeks and cannot survive the hot southern summers.

Possible divestiture of Merck Animal Health units

Since the March 2009 acquisition of Schering-Plough by Merck and Co. Inc. there has been considerable speculation in the animal health industry regarding rationalization and divestiture. Merck is a 50% partner together with Sanofi-Aventis of France in Merial.
The company generated sales of $684 million for Quarter 1, 2009. Revenue from parasiticides for companion animals and food species represented more than 70% of this total. Sales of Merial animal health products worldwide for food animal species including poultry during the quarter amounted to $70 million.
It is generally accepted that Sanofi would be the first in line to acquire the Merck shareholding in their joint venture. The Schering-Plough animal health subsidiary arising from the recent acquisition dominates the U.S. market for oocyst-based anticoccidial vaccines but will encounter intensified competition from companies including Merial in the current year. Schering-Plough lacks breadth in either poultry biologicals or pharmaceuticals and would be a natural spin-off. Merging this subsidiary with the existing Merial JV would not seem to offer any strategic advantages or synergy unless as an interim measure to package Merial/Schering-Plough/Intervet.
Bayer AG and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH have been mooted as potential purchasers of a consolidated enterprise.
Editorial Comment: While the disposition of Merck assets in animal health should not materially affect the poultry industry in the short term, concentration of production, distribution and service among fewer companies would appear to be inevitable. On the one hand this will decrease competition and lead to escalation in prices in an extremely competitive and low-profit margin segment of the pharmaceutical-biologics market. Consolidation will, however, justify expenditure on research and development to produce a new generation of antiparasiticals, biologics and pharmaceuticals required to replace existing products.

China poultry workers show antibody to AI strains

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine online edition, June 11, 2009, reported on the results of a serologic survey of poultry farmers, workers in broiler and pig processing plants and live bird markets in the Guangzho metropolitan area in Guangdong Province of Southern China.
Less than 1% of poultry retailers in food markets and wholesalers in live bird markets showed antibodies to H5. In contrast 16% of the retailers in markets and 7% of the wholesalers showed antibodies to H9 avian influenza as did 6% of workers in commercial farms. All three groups were regarded as significantly different on statistical analysis from the general population which served as a control.
An antibody response against H5 influenza was not detected in subsistence poultry farmers, workers on commercial swine operations or employees of food markets not in contact with poultry. Although a small proportion of these groups showed from 1.8-2.8% reactor rates, these values were not significantly different from the general population which showed a 1.3% reactor rate against H9.
Editorial Comment: The result of the study is consistent with the knowledge that close contact with live poultry either through handling birds or processing in wet markets exposes workers to infection if flocks are excreting influenza virus at the time of delivery. The presence of circulating virus in markets represents a potential for recombinant events which could result in the emergence of strains of avian influenza with increased pathogenecity for humans. Failure to control avian influenza through applying biosecurity and vaccination contributes to endemic infection. H9 strain AI is presumed to be endemic in poultry flocks in the province. Maintaining a live bird marketing system perpetuates the danger of dissemination of virus from poultry farms to the general population.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tyson Foods fined $500,000 for worker’s death

Tyson Foods was fined $500,000 and placed on probation for one year in a federal court action on June 12 for the death of Texarkana worker Jason Kelly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration won the maximum fine allowed for a willful violation of worker safety regulations.
Kelly was overcome by the hydrogen sulfide gas generated by decomposing poultry feathers at a rendering plant. Five other workers were injured.
Tyson Foods pleaded guilty in January saying that the incident was an accident and that preventive measures had been taken to avoid such cases in future.

CDC's report misleading says NCC

The National Chicken Council said unconfirmed data has skewed the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on foodborne illness.
The report suggests that poultry is the single leading cause of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, held responsible for 21% of the cases. NCC says the data blames poultry for 1,355 out of 6,395 cases. Of these, 741 stemmed from a single incident in an Alabama jail in 2006, which has still not been confirmed to have been caused by poultry. Without this number, poultry would account for 641, or 10.9% of the reported incidents.
Steve Pretanik, NCC's director of science and technology, said it was unfair to present a picture that is skewed by a single event and which presents a misleading picture of the safety of poultry.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pilgrim’s Pride recalls product for undeclared allergens

Pilgrim's Pride voluntarily recalled about 608,000 pounds of buffalo-style chicken wings on June 10 as it could have contained undeclared soy, dairy and wheat allergens.
The recalled product is Kroger Fully Cooked Buffalo Style Wings, packaged in two-pound bags, all code dates. These products were sold in Kroger's family of stores nationwide, except for the Fred Meyer, QFC and Ralphs banner stores.
Consumers are advised to check their freezers for this recalled Pilgrim's Pride product and return it to the Kroger store for a full refund.
Although no illnesses associated with these products have been reported to Pilgrim's Pride, anyone who is concerned about an allergic reaction should contact a physician.

Egg farmers ask for clarification of Proposition 2

The Association of California Egg Farmers has asked the state Legislature to enact clear standards for housing egg-laying hens as the mandates in Proposition 2, a ballot measure Californians approved last year, are vague.
Californian egg farmers are not sure how much space they need to provide the hens to comply with the proposition.
Debbie Murdock, executive director, ACEF, said the farmers need clear-cut housing standards to determine how they can comply with the law.
If the provision is violated, farmers face fines up to $1,000 per violation and/or a jail sentence of up to six months.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

California farmers to receive $20 million for air cleanup

A new program, aiming to reduce air pollution, will make $20 million available to California farmers to update equipment to meet current air emission standards, according to The Fresno Bee.
The California Air Quality Enhancement Program is run by the Natural Resources Conservation Service as part of a new air quality provision of the 2008 Farm Bill's Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
The program will allow agricultural producers to apply for money to help pay to replace, repower or retrofit existing combustion engines.
To learn more, visit the
NRCS Web site.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FAO establishes animal welfare 'Gateway'

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has established a Web site (Gateway) addressing international aspects of welfare of livestock. The Web site is designed to be used by national agencies involved in agriculture, biosecurity and export promotion in addition to the scientific community, NGOs and industry associations.
Information on their gateway will include news and press releases, details of congresses, seminars and workshops, recent publications, pending and enacted legislation, codes of practice and links to relevant Web sites.
Organizations contributing to the Gateway include:
*International Fund for Agriculture Development,
*World Organization for Animal Health,
*Compassion and World Farming,
*Humane Society International,
*Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,
*International Federation of Agriculture Producers, and
*World Veterinarian Association.
The editorial board comprising 22 individuals with diverse backgrounds range through law, veterinary medicine, international development, animal behavior and administration. Familiar names include Dr. David Fraser of the University of British Columbia; M. Park of the Humane Society of the United States and Dr. Ian Robinson of the RSPCA.
Based on the intended objectives and the composition of the collaborating organizations, the FAO Gateway will provide the U.S. poultry industry with an indication of impending legislation which may impact international trade, welfare, housing and management systems.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cameco recalls under-processed meat and poultry products

New Jersey-based Cameco Inc. has issued a Class 1 recall of about 79,312 pounds of various fully cooked, ready-to-eat meat and poultry products because they may contain under-processed ham after contacting surfaces of equipment, according to a report by the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The products were produced on May 29 and June 1 and were distributed in Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
The recalled products include cooked ham and turkey products, sold under the Appleton, Bridgford, CV Clear Value, Dean's, El Primero, Fas √ Chek, Food Club, IGA, Lay's Classic Meats, Meijer, Mrs. Stratton's, Pro's Ranch, Red Osgood, Quality Meats, Thank You by Cameco and Valu Time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Major damages in Washington egg farm fire

About 180,000 chickens were killed in a three-alarm fire that broke out at an egg farm near Stanwood, Wash., on June 2, according to a report in The Seattle Times.
The property is owned by the National Food Corp. The fire burned through three large chicken coops which were attached at one end by a connecting structure. The total damage is estimated to be $2.2 million. The Snohomish County officials said the fire was accidental.

Canada reports higher poultry sales in 2008

Sales of poultry products in Canada increased by 13.1% in 2008 compared with the previous year, according to a news report.
The combined sales of poultry were CAN$3.2 billion, with turkey selling the most at CAN$2.4 billion. Compared with 2007, there was a 15% increase.
The egg sales increased 7.9%, to CAN$823 million.
Canadian poultry farms produced 1.2 million metric tons of poultry meat in 2008, of which 85% was chicken.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Enforcement-oriented OSHA back with appetite for fines

OSHA is back! The best advice I can give you is get ready,” Larry Stine of Wimberly & Lawson told listeners at the National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry in Hilton Head Island, S.C.Stine said the Occupational Health & Safety Administration, with Jordan Barab appointed as acting OSHA chief, is back with a renewed mandate for aggressive enforcement.
OSHA has a big budget and an even bigger appetite not only for fines, but also for stiff monetary penalties that far exceed their their non-punitive stance, Stine said.“Remember those ergonomics standards that the Clinton administration published on their way out the door, and that the the Bush Administration canceled during its first weeks in office?
Get ready, they’re coming back. As a matter of fact, that’s the best advice I can give you: Get ready!"Among other advice, Stine said companies should plan ahead and be prepared for OSHA visits. He also advised companies to correct conditions before inspectors enter the premises.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tyson Foods reports improved chicken sales

Structural changes and modified business practices, along with improved market conditions, have benefitted Tyson Foods' chicken business, according to a news report.
Donnie Smith, senior group vice president for poultry and prepared foods at Tyson, said that as a result of such changes, the company's chicken segment will have a stronger Q3 than anticipated a month back. Smith was speaking at the Stephens Inc. Spring Investment Conference held in New York on June 2.
However, Smith added that higher input costs and a demand for other sources of protein could affect chicken sales later in the year.

Shell eggs broken down 6% from 2008

During April 166 million shell eggs were broken, down 6% from April a year ago, but 3% above the 161 million broken last month, reported the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Shell eggs broken totaled 637 million dozen during calendar year 2009 through April, down 4% from the comparable period in 2008. To date, cumulative total edible product from eggs broken in 2009 was 835 million pounds, down 4% from 2008.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

FAWC guidelines for poultry welfare

In a report released on May 28, Britain's Farm Animal Welfare Council has proposed six principles for the humane slaughter of poultry, according to a news report.
FAWC has urged the
Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs to implement the new guidelines as the current welfare standard before and during slaughter is poor.
The guidelines cover the welfare of birds from the time they are hauled from farms to when they are stunned and killed. It suggests poultry handlers be better trained, and to ensure the bird is unconscious when slaughtered.
In the UK, over 800 million birds are killed for human consumption annually.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tyson Foods settles artificial inflation lawsuit with donation

Tyson Foods Inc. has agreed to donate fresh poultry to Illinois food banks in order to settle an eight-year-long lawsuit claiming the company artificially inflated the retail weight of its poultry, as reported in The Associated Press.
The company, which has denied any wrongdoing, agreed to resolve the matter out of court to avoid additional costs related to the lawsuit.
The case began in 2001 when three individuals claimed that Tyson artificially inflated the weight of poultry products sold between 1997 and 2003 through a cold-water immersion chilling process that resulted in absorption and retention of water under the birds' skin and muscle tissues.
Due to a lack of customers providing proof of their previous purchases, the company agreed to donate the unclaimed compensation funds in the form of 1.7 million pounds of fresh poultry to the Illinois Food Bank Association, according to the article.
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson was quoted, "We are pleased the outcome will help feed thousands of those in need."

Report finds AI infectious up to 2 years

Nebraskan researchers found that poultry carcasses infected with avian influenza can remain infectious in municipal landfills for almost two years, according to their report Survival of the Avian Influenza Virus (H6N2) After Land Disposal.
Researchers at the Department of Veterinary Basic Sciences and the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln combined their findings to report that AI survived in landfill leachate — liquid that drains or "leaches" from a landfill — for at least 30 days and up to 600 days.
The study found two factors that most reduced influenza survival times: elevated temperature and acidic or alkaline pH.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Natural ingredients, irradiation together kill meat bacteria

Food Safety Consortium researchers at the University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture found that select organic acids, plant extracts and irradiation combine to make a formidable force against pathogenic bacteria on chicken breast meat, according to an article from ScienceDaily.
The researchers reduced E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella typhimurium in the meat by infusing combinations of organic acids – acetic, citric, lactic, malic and tartaric – into the meat.
The use of green tea and grape seed extracts in combination with irradiation and the organic acids yielded the best results, significantly decreasing all the pathogens.
There were no significant effects on the chicken's color and texture due to the irradiation, said Navam Hettiarachchy, a UA food science professor who supervised the project.
"We want to determine the least amount of plant extracts that we can use and the least amount of irradiation dosage to get the best inhibitory effect," Hettiarachchy said.

H1N1 outbreak in West Bengal

A new outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza has been reported in West Bengal according to an article in India's Business Standard.
On May 25, deaths of about 20 backyard poultry birds in the rural areas of Uttar Dinajpur in West Bengal were contributed to H1N1. All samples tested by the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory, Bhopal, and the National Institute of Virology, Pune, tested positive for this virus.
The outbreak was reported to the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) on May 28. The animal husbandry department told OIE that curbs on the movement of poultry products, screening and culling of domestic poultry in a 3 km radius around the outbreak spots are in place.