Friday, January 29, 2010

Treat environmental regulators as stakeholders, expert advises

While environmental management compliance is costly, the investment will pay off – but only if done right, James T. Banks, Hogan & Hartson, told listeners at the Animal Agriculture Environmental Sustainability Summit.
The former EPA regulator, now environmental law attorney, ticked off three reasons why companies must put the necessary culture, resources and systems in place: stewardship, reputation and liability.
“Stakeholders’ views of the company matter a lot,” Banks said. “And environmental compliance can have a lot to do with how a company is perceived by investors, by customers, by communities in which you work and in turn by the employees who work for the company because they live in those communities.”

Regulators are stakeholders, too
Banks advised companies to not forget that regulators are stakeholders along with customers and investors. “Protecting your company’s reputation and image and building a relationship with regulators is critically important,” Banks said.
“Regulators are among your most important stakeholders,” he said. “There are plenty of examples where regulators get the idea that a company doesn’t care about compliance and set out to make an example of a company.”

Banks also discussed “self disclosure,” a more recent innovation in the world of enforcement and compliance. EPA has disclosure policy under which companies can self-report non-compliance and get penalty mitigation.
“I have represented dozens and dozens of companies taking them in for self-disclosures and getting penalties reduced from seven to six figures or six to five, and in many cases getting potential fines of $100,000 or $200,000 waived altogether.
“The key to being able to use that type of a tool is self-discovery of the violation and self-reporting. Self discovery of a violation occurs only in those companies that manage compliance effectively and are in a position to know when non-compliance has occurred,” he said.
Banks said doing environmental compliance right requires a systematic to environmental compliance management.

National Flock Performance Study shows improvements

Part No. 27 of the National Flock Performance Study compiled by Don Bell, poultry specialist emeritus at the University of California–Riverside, documents a steady improvement in performance parameters for the industry.
The National Flock Performance Study data denotes genetic progress and advances in disease prevention, nutrition and management from 1997 to 2009.
Average U.S. hen performance shows a 6.6% improvement in contribution margin—the difference between egg revenue (a function of egg price, feed conversion and egg mass) and feed costs per hen housed (influenced by feed conversion efficiency, daily intake and cost of feed).
The study showed a 37.5% increase in post-peak persistence. Hens averaged 31 weeks over 90% in the 2009 survey compared with 19 weeks in 1997. This increase was attained despite a 2.5% decrease in average hen-day peak, which attained 97.7% in 1997 and 95.1% in 2009. Total egg mass increased by 6.6%, which was attributed to a combination of a 4.8% increase in hen-housed production through 60 weeks and a 2.6% improvement in livability. Feed conversion improved by 1.1% from 1.84 (pounds of feed per pound of egg) in 1997 compared with 1.82 in 2009.

Feed cost expressed in cents per dozen was almost static, demonstrating that the escalation in feed cost was offset by improvements in production efficiency.Within the limitation of the sample size, the data shows a steady improvement. In 1997, 203 flocks with an average of 66,000 hens amounting to 13.4 million birds comprised the sample. In 2009, this number was reduced to 165 flocks averaging 48,000 hens for 7.9 million in total.

Bird flu hits southern Vietnam

About 4,000 birds were recently culled in Vietnam to contain the spread of avian influenza A H5N1, according to the Vietnam New Agency. The outbreaks occurred in two separate provinces, one in the far south and one in north-central Vietnam. Authorities said that most of the affected birds had not been vaccinated but that they are working to vaccinate other flocks.
The current migration of wild birds could worsen the situation, said Diep Kinh Tan, deputy minister of agriculture and rural development.
A duck farmer tested positive for H5N1 and other poultry farmers with culled flocks are under medical observation, a hospital official said. The affected provinces have established checkpoints to prevent the movement and slaughter-for-sale of contaminated poultry, according to the news agency.

Philippine farmers warn against zero-tariff wheat

The government of the Philippines is considering lifting the tariff on wheat imports to stabilize bread prices, but corn growers are asking that feed wheat not be included in the move, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
A six-month tariff exemption that began in November 2008 resulted in an influx of feed wheat and lowered demand for domestic feed corn, the newspaper reported.
The Philippine Maize Federation (Philmaize) said that a repeat of the scenario could lead farmers to plant less corn and cause supply problems in the long run.

Kansas State to build new feed mill

Kansas State University reports that it will have a new feed research mill by the end of 2011. Work on the new mill is set to begin in late 2010 and should be completed in about a year, according to Keith Behnke, a professor in Kansas State's department of grain science and industry.
The $12.5M facility, to be named after the founder of
O.H. Kruse Grain & Milling thanks to a $2M lead gift from the Kruse family, will replace outdated feed mills belonging to the grain science and animal science departments. It will serve as the new home of the feed science and management program, which has produced about 700 graduates over its nearly 60 years.
The facility will include a modern, automated 5-ton-per-hour feed mill, a liquid feed research facility, and a Bio-Safety Level 2 teaching and research feed mill. The mill is designed in such a way that scientists will be able to safely work with low virulence pathogens such as salmonella in feeds, but also use the facility for other research, teaching and outreach activities when not used in the Bio-Safety Level 2 mode. "The new mill is designed to accommodate nearly any type of processing research and data acquisition that is needed by an industrial client or university scientist," said Behnke.
Part of the impetus for the new feed mill is the selection of the old Kansas State animal science feed mill site as the location for the new $650 million
National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) laboratory to be built by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. NBAF will replace an aging Bio-Safety Level 3 facility on Plum Island, New York.
"With the new mill just across the street from NBAF, K-State can provide specialty livestock diets to support infectious disease experiments, oral vaccine studies and other trials under high level bio-safety controlled conditions. This work cannot be done anywhere else in the U.S.," said Kirk Schulz, the university's president.
The preliminary design and cost estimate of the feed mill was provided by Younglove Construction, Sioux City, Iowa. In addition to the processing operations, the facility will contain corrugated grain bins for conducting large-scale grain storage and grain quality preservation research.
The Buhler Corporation has agreed to install a vertical shaft hammer mill for research and teaching, said Dirk Maier, head of the department of grain science and industry. "In addition to a traditional pellet mill, we will have a Kahl 'flat-bed' pellet mill that will be a technology platform for pelleting biomass for cellulosic biofuels research. Several devices, such as a Kahl expander and a CPM Hygenizer, will be available to conduct feed sterilization and sanitation research." Maier said he expects that the feed industry will be required to consider feed sterilization in the near future to satisfy new food/feed safety laws that are under consideration in the U.S. Congress.
Because of long term interests in biofuels from cellulosic materials, there will be space in the new mill for a "semi-works" scale biorefinery that can use nearly any biomass as raw material. The facility is also expected to include pilot-scale oilseed crushing and processing equipment.
The state of Kansas has committed to providing about half of the funding required for the new mill to replace the existing feed mill. Additional cash and in-kind equipment donations are to provide the remaining resources needed for construction.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Good news: record U.S. corn and soybean harvests

On Tuesday January 12, the USDA reported that it projected U.S. corn production at a record 13.2 billion bushels and soybean production at a record 3.361 billion bushels.
This is really good news, since, as one report I read stated, "Despite poor planting conditions, a cool, wet growing season, and an abysmal harvest that still sees corn standing in fields, American farmers shattered records for both yield per acre and total corn production."This was a terrible year for farmers, seeing that the crops were planted extremely late, and then saw lots of rain and snow as they were trying to bring in a late harvest. ...Read the rest of the blog on

Contract growers demand higher per-pound pay

The Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, which includes poultry and egg producers in West Virginia and Virginia, is calling on consumers to demand that poultry processors pay higher prices to farmers.
In a statement, the association argues for a $0.02 per pound increase on the price that processors pay to farmers, up from an average of $0.05, according to the association. The statement says that the average per-pound price farmers were paid in 1985 was $0.0485 in non-adjusted dollars and that, adjusted for inflation, real pay has decreased by more than half.

Turkmenistan president calls for more poultry farms

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has called on government officials to ensure regular and adequate supplies of poultry meat and eggs to the population. He is encouraging the construction of poultry farms and processing complexes in each velayat (administrative region), with construction to be undertaken this year. He noted that the Gush Toplumy company's poultry complex in the Baharly etrap (district) in the Ahal velayat is a successful example of what can be achieved. The Turkmen government has allocated substantial resources, both financial and technical, to facilitate the development of the national poultry industry.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wheat, corn, soy futures fall

Wheat and corn futures fell for the second week in response to a revised global production estimate from the International Grains Council of 1.77 billion tons, up from an earlier estimate of 1.76 billion tons. Futures for soybeans also slid.
March-delivery wheat dropped 1.6% to $4.9175 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade at 1:50 p.m. Singapore time on January 22, according to
Bloomberg news agency. The week's total losses were 3.6%. The price of corn for March delivery slipped 1.2% to $3.675 a bushel, making the total loss for the week also 1.2%.
March-delivery soybeans fell 0.8% to $9.46 a bushel, bringing the week's total loss to 2.9%, in the wake of an announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that worldwide soybean production could break records at 253.4 million tons. Brazil's projected harvest of 65 million tons is expected to outpace U.S. production, according to the USDA.
Agricultural commodities "are in for a bit of a major downfall. With abundant world supply, that’s what’s going to have to happen," Paul McKay, a director at Commodity Broking Services Pty., told Bloomberg.

Malaysian citizens group demands relaxation of pork import restrictions

A group representing ethnic Chinese citizens of Malaysia, who make up slightly less than a quarter of the country's population, says that the government should allow imports of pork and pork-containing products throughout the year in order to keep prices down, according to the Malaysian newspaper The Star.
The majority of Malaysians are Muslims and, according to religious custom, do not eat pork. However, most ethnic Chinese Malaysians are not Muslims and have no religious restrictions against pork consumption. The government has eased pork import restrictions for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration.
Chua Soi Lek, deputy president of the Malaysian Chinese Association, said in a press conference that large swine farms in Malaysia are cutting production even though daily demand has remained steady at about 5,000 to 6,000 pigs, resulting in increased prices.
Farmers and retailers have argued publicly for three years about who is responsible for price increases, according to The Star, but Chua laid the blame squarely on producers. "There seems to be an element of monopoly by some big farmers," he said.

Belarus feed imports down in first eleven months of 2009

Belarus imported 51,900 tons of products for animal feed in the first eleven months of 2009, a substantial decrease of 40.9% compared with the same period in 2008. This was higher than the 30.5% year-on-year fall in Belarus' total goods imports.
A breakdown of the feed import figures reveals that imports from countries within the Commonwealth of Independent States were 13.5% lower year-on-year at 12,500 tons, with imports from non-commonwealth states 46.3% lower year-on-year at 39,400 tons.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ukraine processed pork production down in 2009

Ukraine's fresh or chilled pork production of 97,500 tons in 2009 was significantly lower than the 126,200 tons produced the previous year. Frozen pork production was also lower at 5,100 tons, compared with 13,200 tons in 2008, according to Ukraine's State Statistics Committee.

International Grains Council predicts strong production

The latest market report from the International Grains Council estimates that world grains production in the 2009–2010 crop year will total 1.768 billion metric tons, thanks to strong production of wheat, corn and barley in North America and the Russia-Eastern Europe region. This would be 25 million metric tons below last year’s record. Total consumption is projected at 1.744 billion metric tons.
According to the council, the output of wheat will total 674 million metric tons, compared with 686 million tons last year. The forecast global consumption of 642 million metric tons would be only 3 million metric tons more than in 2008–2009. The world wheat harvest in 2010 is expected to come from 221 million hectares, down 1% from 2009, but the upward trend in yield per hectare should still give the current calendar year the third-largest crop on record at 653 million metric tons.
The International Grains Council’s corn production forecast for 2009–2010 has been raised to 791 million metric tons, matching last year's total, although it says that some doubts remain about quality. Uptake for all uses is put at 803 million tons. The use of corn for animal feeds is predicted to rise by 1.5%.

Ukraine processed poultry numbers up in 2009

Ukraine's fresh or chilled poultry meat and fresh or chilled edible poultry offal production of 632,900 tons in 2009 was significantly higher than the 565,200 tons produced the previous year.
Production of frozen poultry meat and frozen edible poultry offal was also higher at 79,900 tons, compared with 71,000 tons in 2008, according to
Ukraine's State Statistics Committee.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mexican feed company assesses a DDGS increase

A workshop with a group funded by the U.S. Grains Council discussed boosting usage of DDGS (dried distillers grains with solubles) in Mexico, particularly at a commercial feed plant of integrated poultry group Bachoco located in Minatitlan, which currently consumes 24,000 tons per year. Patricia Esqueda, the council's technical director in Mexico and Central America, said that Bachoco has specific clients who want to customize their ruminant feed with Bachoco if it is willing to increase DDGS levels in its commercial diets.
Although the Minatitlan plant has received expert help in previous years to improve pellet quality, the increase in inclusion levels of DDGS may oblige Bachoco to convince its customers to use meal instead of pellets. Information provided to participants during the workshop indicated that this change would not affect animal performance and would simplify operations for Bachoco, especially if it planned to increase DDGS levels in its commercial diets.
Bachoco's use of grain for feed production is around 1.5–1.8 million tons, but Bachoco is looking to increase its imports of DDGS to provide part of that requirement. In Mexico, Bachoco produces 3 million metric tons of feeds annually, according to the U.S. Grains Council. Its 19 plants located throughout Mexico include three that are for commercial feed production. Approximately 80% of the feed tonnage is used for poultry, but the company also makes diets for pigs, ruminants, rabbits and horses and sells pet, tilapia and bird feed.

Indiana swine industry grows

Indiana's growing swine industry brings more than $3B annually to the state economy, according to Tim Belstra, president of Belstra Milling Co. An Iowa study showed that a new swine facility directly creates 21 new jobs and indirectly creates 19 jobs, he said.
According to
Indiana Pork data listed in The Times of Northwest Indiana, Indiana is the fifth largest pork-producer in the country, and the pork sector is the largest consumer of Indiana grain. About 3,000 producers are involved in Indiana’s pork industry.

Restaurant industry outlook brightens

With the economic downturn easing, the restaurant industry is expected to show gradual improvement in 2010, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2010 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Industry sales are projected to reach $580B this year, a 2.5% increase in current dollars over 2009 sales. When adjusted for inflation, 2010 sales will be essentially flat, which is an improvement over the 1.2% and 2.9% negative growth in real sales that the industry experienced in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Restaurant sales are expected to represent 4% of the U.S. gross domestic product.
Quick-service restaurants are projected to post sales of $164.8B in 2010, a gain of 3% over 2009. Sales at full-service restaurants are projected to reach $184.2B in 2010, an increase of 1.2% in current dollars over 2009.
According to the 2010 Restaurant Industry Forecast, consumers will continue to seek value, convenience and expanded menu options in 2010. Locally sourced food, sustainability, and health and nutrition will be the top trends on restaurant menus this year, the study says.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bangladesh parliament moves to ban harmful ingredients in feed

Bangladesh's parliament passed new feed regulations on January 19, according to The Financial Express, a national newspaper. The bill, which has not yet been signed into law, empowers the government to set standards for animal and fish feed, including restrictions on the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides and steroids that may have negative effects on human health.
It also requires government licensing for all parties involved in producing, importing, marketing or selling feed, the newspaper reported.
The bill comes a year after the antibiotic nitrofuran was discovered in a shrimp shipment to the European Union. In June 2009, Bangladesh suspended shellfish shipments to Europe so the nation's government could deal with sources of contamination, according to the Bangladeshi newspaper
The New Nation.

Ukraine pig count increases in 2009

Ukraine's pig industry recorded 7.14 million pigs on January 1 this year, a large increase of 9.3% from January 1, 2009, according to preliminary figures from Ukraine's State Statistics Committee. The highest number of pigs at the beginning of 2010 was recorded in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast, totaling 507,000. Of the 24 oblasts and one autonomous republic in the country, all but one had more pigs on January 1 this year than at the start of 2009.

Scientists sequence soy genome

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists are part of a team that has sequenced the majority of the soybean genome. The team from 18 federal, state, public and private organizations published its research January 13 in the journal Nature.
"This new information about soybean's genetic makeup could lead to plants that produce more beans that contain more protein and oil, better adapt to adverse environmental conditions, or are more resistant to diseases," said Molly Jahn, USDA deputy under secretary for research, education and economics.
"We've mapped the locales for about 90 important traits affecting soybean growth and development, seed yield, seed protein and oil, and disease resistance, to name but a few," said USDA geneticist Randy Shoemaker. Integrating the new sequence with existing physical and genetic maps of soy will move researchers closer to linking observable physical traits of soy to their associated genes and alleles (alternate versions of genes), he said. Using such markers, soy breeders can rapidly determine which offspring plants have inherited these traits without growing them to maturity, saving time, money and resources.
Some key discoveries already gleaned from the whole-genome sequence include the first soybean gene conferring resistance to Asian soybean rust, which can cause soy losses of 10 to 80 percent; a mutation that could make soybeans easier to digest by producing lower levels of a carbohydrate called stachyose; a mutation for higher levels of production of the enzyme phytase that could enable livestock to absorb more phosphorus from soybean feed so less gets excreted as a potential water contaminant; and 52 genes that orchestrate development of soy plant root nodules, where symbiotic bacteria transform atmospheric nitrogen into a form soy and other crops can use for their growth and development.
This sequencing of the soy genome is the culmination of more than 15 years of collaborative research. The team used a so-called "whole-genome shotgun" approach to sequence 85% of the 1.1 billion nucleotide base pairs that spell out the entire DNA code of the soy plant. The sequence also provides researchers with a reference to use in deciphering the genetics of some 20,000 other legume species.
The Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute; Purdue University at West Lafayette, Ind.; the University of Missouri at Columbia; and the University of Arizona at Tucson also participated in the soybean sequencing project, which was supported by the National Science Foundation and USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

US-Russia trade talks end in stalemate

Two days of trade negotiations between the United States and Russia have ended without a resolution to the dispute over the use of chlorinated water in poultry processing, according to Reuters news agency. The talks also failed to resolve a dispute over antibiotic residues that led Russia to block imports from nearly all U.S. pork processing plants.
Russia barred poultry imports from the United States because U.S. processers wash the meat with chlorinated water to remove pathogens. Russia says that the chlorine residues that remain on poultry after this process is too high to conform with its food standards. Before the ban, Russia had become the United States’ largest export market for poultry, with an annual value of approximately $800M.
Russia is also the fifth largest export market for U.S. pork, according to Reuters. Hog futures fell on January 21 as traders in Chicago responded to the news of stalled negotiations.
Russian importers are negotiating with other countries to replace its U.S. poultry imports. Thailand “said it was interested in starting large-scale supplies of poultry imports to Russia and guaranteed full observation of Russian veterinary and sanitary rules," the Russian health agency Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement.
The U.S. and Russian governments said they will continue to discuss the import disputes, Reuters reported.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Growing pork without the pig

Dutch scientists are progressing in their efforts to grow meat in a petri dish, according to the Associated Press. The method puts stem cells from pig muscles in a nutrient medium so they can reproduce.
International scientists say that the Dutch team's research, which began in 2006, is the most advanced look into producing meat through alternative means. But it still has a distance to go. So far, the Dutch scientists have only been able to produce a piece of meat about half an inch long, and it has the texture of a scallop, due to higher water content than that found in farm-raised meat.
No one has yet tasted the lab-produced meat, but some scientists argue that it will be difficult to replicate the taste of traditionally grown meat. "What meat tastes like depends not just on the genetics, but what you feed the animals at particular times," biochemist Peter Ellis of King's College London told the Associated Press. "Part of our enjoyment of eating meat depends on the very complicated muscle and fat structure ... whether that can be replicated is still a question."
The Dutch researchers, who are part of the
In Vitro Meat Consortium, said lab-produced meat would probably be used in processed products, like sausages, hamburgers and hot dogs. Mark Post, a biologist at Maastricht University and a member of the In Vitro Meat Consortium, said that the meat could probably be produced at the same or lower cost than farm-raised meat, once it was in industrial production.
Hanna Tuomisto, who studies the impact of agriculture on the environment at Oxford University, told the Associated Press that lab-produced meat has the potential to produce 95% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use 95% less water and land than conventional meat.

Egg production drops in India’s Northern Plains

Egg producers in the Northern Plains region of India have suffered this winter as wholesale prices have dropped from Rs300 per 100 in November 2009 to about Rs215 per 100 currently, according to The Indian Express.
Pramod Singla, president of the Haryana Poultry Farm Association, said the cold weather has led older hens to stop laying, so farmers are selling them for meat at about Rs15 per kilogram. Singla added that northern farmers face heavy competition from egg producers in India’s south.

Brazil poultry industry to increase North American exports

Brazil's poultry exporters hope to recover from last year’s losses by expanding the industry’s markets in the United States, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Sudan and Senegal in 2010, and they are seeking federal tax breaks to lower their costs, according to Brazzil Magazine.
Brazil’s 2009 chicken exports totaled 3.63 million tons, about even with 2008 figures. But revenues fell 16.33% to US$ 5.8B, from US$6.9B in 2008, as Brazilian currency lost value against the U.S. dollar, the magazine reported. The only regions to increase their imports of Brazilian chicken in 2009 were Africa and the Middle East, according to Ricardo Santin, executive director of Abef, Brazil's poultry exporters association.
The industry’s performance in the Middle East was due to a variety of factors, including a regional rise in chicken consumption without a corresponding rise in production and more Brazilian slaughterhouses equipped for halal slaughter (slaughter in accordance with Islamic tradition), Santin said.

UK breeder warns of swine disease threat

The United Kingdom needs to tighten up its import controls on meat and animals to prevent a mutant strain of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus entering the country and devastating the national herd, warns a leading British pig breeder.
Stephen Curtis, chairman of breeding company
ACMC, claims the new highly pathogenic PRRS poses as great a risk as foot-and-mouth disease to the British pig industry. He is concerned that it could find its way into the country through illegally imported exotic meat products.
Curtis has seen the results of the highly transmissible disease in several Asian countries, such as Cambodia, where herds have suffered 20% to 30% mortality in their breeding sows, an 80% rate of spontaneous abortion and piglet mortality rates approaching 100%.
U.K. pigs are unlikely to have immunity through cross-protection, he warns, and current vaccines against PRRS may not be fully effective in combating the highly pathogenic form. Curtis suggests that the British industry should draw up its own code of practice for increased import controls.

Malaysia eases pork import restrictions

Malaysia will ease pork import restrictions in order to meet demand for the Chinese New Year holiday. Dr. Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin, director general of the government’s veterinary services, told The Star newspaper that Malaysia has relaxed import restrictions on 10 types of pork-based products from several countries.
Since October, the price of live pigs has gone up 4% and the retail price of pork per kilogram has risen 57%, according to The Star. Aziz attributed the accelerating costs to culling for disease and heavy sales of suckling pigs last December. The government also recently shut down five farms for using beta agonist to promote pig growth.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

FAO calls for $23M for agricultural recovery in Haiti

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is seeking $23M in international aid to help Haiti’s agricultural sector recover from the recent earthquake, according to Food Ingredients First.
The aid would support both farms and small-scale “backyard” farming throughout the country, as the collapse of Port au Prince is expected to reverberate throughout the entire country’s economy. It would also be used to repair agricultural infrastructure, such as irrigation canals and food processing facilities.
About 80% of Haitians farm for subsistence or trade, but half are nonetheless undernourished, according to FAO. They need to learn better production methods and get access to equipment and small livestock for backyard egg and milk production, officials say. The next planting season begins in March.

Feed Mill Management Seminar to take place in March

The 2010 Feed Mill Management Seminar, sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s Poultry and Egg Institute, will take place March 10–11, 2010, at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville.
The seminar will examine best practices, changes in OSHA regulations, the latest technology in conditioning and pelleting, new truck anti-roll over devices, boiler management and other feed manufacturing topics.

Avian influenza 2009 statistics

Last year, 17 countries reported outbreaks of H5N1 in domestic poultry and wild birds, according to ScienceInsider. From 2003 to 2010, 62 countries reported H5N1 avian influenza in domestic poultry or wildlife.
Five countries recorded H5N1 in humans in 2009, compared with six countries in 2008. The World Health Organization recorded 72 human cases in 2009, 32 of which were fatal. The disease had its toll on developing countries: Indonesia accounted for 19 of the 32 H5N1 human deaths; five were in Vietnam, four were in China and four were in Egypt. Of the 72 confirmed human cases, 39 were recorded in Egypt.
The number of human fatalities has declined steadily since peaking at 79 in 2006. From 2003 to December 2009, there have been 467 confirmed human cases and 282 deaths.

Ghana poultry farmers ask for import cuts

Ghanaian poultry farmers are urging their government to curb poultry imports. According to Ghana News Agency, the chairman of Dormaa Poultry Farmers Association said in a statement that low-priced imports are luring consumers away from domestic poultry and are the single greatest challenge to the country’s poultry industry.
Nana Kwabena Asamoah Asare, chairman of the association, said that government assistance could help domestic farmers meet the country’s demand for poultry products and create employment opportunities.

US senators challenge Russian meat import restrictions

As U.S. trade officials prepared for talks with Russia, two members of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee have asked President Obama to challenge Russian regulations curtailing U.S. meat exports to that country, according to Food Safety News.
Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), chair of the committee, and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), ranking member, wrote in a letter to Obama that the Russian government’s restriction on chlorinated water in poultry processing, which went into effect at the beginning of the year, is unfounded because “numerous studies and most recognized scientific bodies worldwide have found this practice to be entirely safe. It is also our understanding that a significant number of poultry processors in Russia use the same technique. Since almost all U.S. poultry plants use chlorine rinses, this action has essentially closed their market to our product.”
The senators also expressed concerns over Russian restrictions on U.S. pork, writing that “a variety of Russian ministries have raised a series of questionable or undocumented objections about processing or residue issues for products originating from specific U.S. plants, leading to those facilities being de-listed for eligibility to export to Russia. With the de-listing of nearly 30 pork processing plants, 98% of pork processed in the United States is ineligible for export.”
Meanwhile, Russian First Vice Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov is negotiating with several other countries to replace U.S. poultry imports, which accounted for more than a fifth of Russia’s poultry supply in 2009.
According to, Zubkov said U.S. poultry can be replaced by chicken from South America, the European Union or the Middle East if U.S. processors do not comply with Russian chlorine standards.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Putin: Russia to become self-sufficient chicken producer

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a press conference that he expects his country to produce enough chicken for domestic needs and become a poultry exporter in four to five years.
Currently, Russia produces about 1.7 million tons of chicken per year, about 50% of the total domestic requirement. Putin’s remarks are in light of his country’s new ban on imports of chicken treated with chlorinated water, which would end U.S. poultry exports to the country.

Southeast Asian researchers work to contain H5N1

Southeast Asian researchers hope to contain the spread of H5N1 avian influenza by identifying poultry smuggling routes, according to Reuters news agency. Disease and agriculture experts from five countries met in Kunming, China, to develop a plan.
Unregistered, informal trading and more organized smuggling appear to be especially prevalent along the Cambodian border with Thailand and Vietnam.
In the past year, the H5N1 virus has killed people in China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Egypt. Although transmission from birds to humans is relatively rare, the disease poses a threat because it kills 60% of people who contract it, the agency reported.

UK aims for 2-ton sow

Britain’s pig industry has set itself a new aim for 2010 – that of achieving what is being called the “two-ton sow.” A spokesperson for the British Pig Executive (BPEX) told Pig International that the term has been coined to describe plans to increase the average carcase weight produced per sow per year up to 2000 kilograms by the end of this year. Speaking to producers in the east of England, Andrew Knowles of BPEX insisted that this was the level of output which British pig producers must achieve in order to stay competitive with the rest of Europe. “We are confident that the UK industry can achieve this target,” he added. “It will be achieved through improvements in breeding, accommodation, nutrition, finishing and health status that will add up to increases in the number of pigs per sow per year and carcase weight of slaughter pigs. We can do it, but we will need the whole industry to pull together.”

Farrowing alternatives still years away

An acceptable alternative to the current conventional farrowing crate that is both welfare-friendly and economically viable is still "at least 10 years away," according to Andrew Knowles, head of communications at the British Pig Executive (BPEX). He told a meeting in the UK that progress in developing possible alternatives remained slow, despite what he described as "positive efforts" at the research level in the UK and Denmark aimed at devising a new system.
Knowles also said he doubted whether the UK government would impose any changes to farrowing housing on the British pig industry ahead of the rest of the European Union – unlike what happened with gestation accommodation, where the then British administration insisted on a national switch to group penning some years before the EU banned sow stalls.

Recent Illinois soybean results atypical

The Illinois Soybean Association is encouraging farmers to consider multi-year data on seed varieties before deciding what to plant in 2010. It said that 2008 and 2009 statistics on the performance of seed variety studies were unusual because of heavy rainfall in both years.
"I would say 2009 was a year of extremes around the state, with soybean yields all over the map," said Vince Davis, University of Illinois Extension soybean specialist. "For example, farmers in northern Illinois who planted varieties not susceptible to white mold had above-average yields. Meanwhile, aphids moved farther south than usual this year and were around later in the season. For farmers in that situation, the learning curve was steep and yield losses were large where scouting and applications were not timely. Yet statewide, insects were not too bad in 2009."
The online
Varietal Information Program for Soybeans includes performance data on hundreds of soybean varieties across multiple seasons in Illinois. University of Illinois also posts variety trial data.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2009 feed projections at 30 million metric tons

For calendar year 2009, the United States is expected to produce more than 30 million metric tons of livestock feed from a record corn crop, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.
The record-breaking 2009 corn crop of 13.2 billion bushels was produced on 7 million fewer acres than were required to produce the previous record-holding crop, 2007’s 13.0 billion bushels, according to the association.
In the January Crop Production report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that farmers averaged 165.2 bushels of corn per acre in 2009, shattering the previous record of 160.4 in 2004.
"Despite unfavorable weather conditions from start to finish, farmers produced considerably more corn than the food, feed and fuel markets are demanding," said Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association.

Bob Evans Farms to participate in hen housing study

Bob Evans Farms announced its plans to participate in a commercial-scale U.S. study of laying-hen housing alternatives, including cage-free housing. The study will look at the effects of different housing environments on hen health and well-being, safe and affordable food, the environment and worker welfare.
The goal of the study is to understand the viability of alternative housing systems in the United States, including cage-free and "enriched housing," which includes nests and perches. Another goal is to provide scientific research that will assist Bob Evans Farms and other companies in making more informed decisions on sustainable egg purchases.
"There are many compelling reasons for a study of this kind," said Sommer Mueller, a veterinarian and director of food safety and regulatory compliance at Bob Evans Farms. "Current research offers conflicting evidence regarding the well-being of animals in a cage-free environment. We recognize the gap in commercial-scale research on sustainable egg production and are very interested in further data to guide our decisions at Bob Evans Farms."
The study is sponsored by the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply, of which Bob Evans is a member. Experts at Michigan State University and the University of California-Davis are determining the design, timeline and costs of the study, as well as standards for each housing type, which include cage-free aviary, free-range and enriched housing.

UK quality assurance program announces changes

In April, the United Kingdom’s Assured Food Standards will implement changes to its Red Tractor program to unify the brand and ensure that farm products from all sectors meet consistent standards.
The rebranding includes changing the names of sector quality assurance agencies that award the Red Tractor label. For example, Assured Chicken Production (ACP) will be called Red Tractor Farm Assurance–Poultry, while Assured British Pigs (ABP) will be called Red Tractor Farm Assurance–Pigs.
Producers currently involved in the program will receive new manuals in February to help them meet industry standards for their sector. According to Assurance Food Standards, most of the changes are minor and were made to comply with changing technology and new laws. Changes are highlighted in the producer manuals and in newsletters that will be sent out to affected parties.
The Red Tractor logo is used to designate food products that have met industry standards for safety, quality and affordability. When used in combination with the Union Jack, it also serves as verification that the food comes from British farms and was processed and packed in the United Kingdom.
More than £10B worth of products currently carry the Red Tractor quality assurance mark.

Tyson Foods settles class action suit for $5M

Tyson Foods has settled a $5M class-action suit over its two-year promotional campaign that claimed its chickens were “raised without antibiotics,” according to
Representing consumers who purchased Tyson chicken products during the period of the promotional campaign, the suit alleged that Tyson’s treatment of chickens with ionophores constituted antibiotic use. Tyson has stated that ionophores are better classed as antimicrobials because they are not used as antibiotics in human medicine, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies them as antibiotics.

USDA projects record corn crop

The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects corn production at a record 13.2 billion bushels, according to the U.S. Grains Council.
This is up from 12.9 billion bushels projected in the USDA December forecast and 1% above the previous record of 13.0 billion bushels set in 2007. Corn exports are projected at 2.1 billion bushels, unchanged from last month and up from the estimated 1.9 billion bushels exported in 2008/2009.
According to the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates released by the USDA on Jan. 12, the U.S. corn yield is estimated to hit a record 165.2 bushels per acre in 2009. This is up 2.3 bushels from the December forecast and 4.9 bushels above the previous record of 160.3 bushels per acre set in 2004.
The USDA projects sorghum production at 383 million bushels, 140 million of which will be exported.

Bangladesh plans to regulate feed

The Bangladeshi parliament is planning to draft two laws to regulate fish and animal feed production, according to The Financial Express of Bangladesh.
The Fish and Poultry Feed Act and the Hatchery Act are intended to end the sale of sub-standard and adulterated fish and animal feed, and to prevent the entry of unregulated antibiotics into the food chain, said Md Sharful Alam, secretary of the country's Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.
The new laws are expected to create a licensing system for all feed manufacturers and suppliers and require labels on all feed and feed ingredients that include manufacture date, expiration date and ingredients.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Belarus egg, livestock numbers up in 2009

In 2009, egg production in Belarus continued to increase, but more slowly than 2008’s growth of 5.6%. Belarusian farms produced 3.40 billion eggs in 2009, an increase of 2.8% compared with the previous year.
Production of livestock and poultry for slaughter in Belarus increased by 10.0% year-on-year to 1.33 million tons liveweight in 2009, following annual growth of 2.8% in 2008. Egg producers plan to modernize a number of poultry production facilities in 2010 in order to further increase their production and sales.

German poultry producer responds to abuse allegations

Wiesenhof, a major German poultry producer, is ending its relationship with an animal transport company and suing a contract grower after a German television station broadcast images of alleged animal abuse by the business partners, according to The Local, a German news Web site.
The problems were made public on January 11 when a television news program showed video footage secretly taped by activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The program included images of a Wiesenhof contract grower’s chicken housing that The Local described as “an unlit, cramped space.” Other footage showed workers kicking and throwing chickens into transport boxes and trucks.
In a statement, Wiesenhof called the birds’ treatment “absolutely unacceptable” and said it “will, as a consequence of this isolated case, no longer work with the outside firm responsible for the transport of the animals.” Wiesenhof pledged to add unannounced checks of contract growers’ facilities to its inspection routine.
Wiesnhof’s parent company, the PHW Group, has said it will sue the contract grower featured on the news show for failing to meet his contractual obligations to abide by animal welfare laws, The Local reported. The company may also ask state prosecutors to press charges against PETA for not reporting the abuse immediately and allegedly encouraging abuse in order to produce more shocking footage.
On January 12, PETA pressed charges against Wiesenhof under animal welfare laws.

China pork prices to even out in 2010

China's Ministry of Commerce expects the country's pork production and prices to even out in 2010, according to Xinhua news agency. Prices are currently recovering from a steep drop in early 2009.
Oversupply led the live hog price to fall 40% to ¥9.56 (US$1.41) per kilogram from June 2008 to June 2009. But some of the loss was recovered by the end of the year, with the live hog price reaching ¥12.36 per kilogram by the first week of 2010, according to a ministry official.

Walmart to reduce supply chain costs

Walmart has announced that it will reduce costs by decreasing the proportion of items purchased from third-party procurement companies or suppliers and dealing directly with manufacturers.
Walmart’s annual sales are estimated at $400B, including $100B from private label products. Eduardo Castro-Wright, the head of Walmart USA, anticipates savings of $4B to $10B if the company meets its objective of purchasing 80% of its requirements directly.

Second annual egg industry issues forum scheduled for March

The Iowa State University Egg Industry Center and Purdue University will hold the Second Annual Egg Industry Issues Forum in Chicago, Ill., on March 26, 2010. This one-day event will consider the state of animal welfare standards, the economic outlook for the egg industry, FDA food safety regulations and environmental issues.
More details are available on the
Egg Industry Center Web site.

Philippine producer establishes 'virtual' poultry business

Maharlika Agro-Ventures Corp. of the Philippines has established a “virtual poultry farming” operation that allows investors to monitor farm activities via the Internet, according to BusinessWorld.
The operation, called North Star Poultry Equities Inc., seeks investment from Filipinos who live and work abroad. Investors will own a 30% to 40% share in North Star and Maharlika Agro-Ventures will own a 60% to 70% share, according to the newspaper. North Star is working to open several poultry farms in 2010 as part of the P65M virtual farming project.
Internet-ready cameras in the poultry houses will show investors the day-to-day business, and accountants will post income and expenses for investors to view.
The chickens will be sold to the
San Miguel Corp. for processing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thailand’s egg prices fall below production cost

Thailand’s commerce ministry estimates a daily national oversupply of 1 million to 2 million eggs, leading to falling wholesale prices that are lower than the average production cost, according to The Nation, a Thai newspaper. Production totaled 9.9 billion eggs in 2009, fewer than 1% of which were exported, and is expected to rise even higher this year to 10.2 billion.
Currently, the farm gate price for eggs is ฿2, while production costs average ฿2.30. The retail price averaged ฿2.71 in 2009, according to the newspaper.
Small-scale farmers, who are responsible for about 30% of production but make of 90% of egg producers, say competition from large-scale producers and high feed costs could destroy their businesses. “Large enterprises can sell their eggs below the market price as they have lower production costs, while small farmers face higher costs of production but low selling prices in the market,” said Manoch Chootubtim, president of the Hen-Egg Farmers Association.
Porntiva Nakasai, Thailand’s commerce minister, said her ministry is calling on government agencies to encourage egg consumption and will be meeting with large egg feed producers to discuss a solution to the price drop.

USDA’s askFSIS provides answers to food safety questions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service has released FSIS Directive 5620.1: “Using askFSIS,” which explains how to use the askFSIS Web application to find answers to technical and policy-related food safety questions. The Web application is available for use by the public and is designed especially for government inspectors, industry members and consumers.
complete directive is on the FSIS Web site.

Ag group defends antibiotic use in livestock

The Animal Agriculture Alliance has issued a statement disputing many of the claims made in “Pressure Rises to Stop Antibiotics in Agriculture,” an Associated Press article released December 29, 2009.
According to the statement, “The AP article dangerously blurs the line between opinion and fact. Although the authors quote an unsubstantiated estimate that 70% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are administered to livestock, they fail to acknowledge that nearly half of the total estimated amount is made up of ionophores and other compounds not used in human medicine that do not impact human resistance. The article also inaccurately suggests that animal feed is constantly ‘laced’ with antibiotics. In reality, each antibiotic is administered according to the specifications of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved label that clearly indicates the number of doses and duration of use.”
The statement said that the article overlooked the steps that animal agriculture has taken “to ensure that antibiotic use in livestock and poultry does not affect human health.”
Ending antibiotic use in livestock can have negative consequences for animals, the statement said: “The decision to limit the use of antibiotics in food production should not be taken lightly. … Indeed, there is evidence from Denmark and the Netherlands that the removal of antimicrobial growth promoters resulted in additional animal death and disease, with little evidence of decreased human antibiotic resistant rates. The Alliance urges reporters to provide balanced information about the role that antibiotics play in food production in future articles.”
complete statement can be found on the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s Web site.

WATT Dashboard offers industry data

Agribusiness professionals from around the world are finding the WATT Agribusiness Dashboard a useful and valuable tool to discover market data and trends and news on the worldwide poultry, egg, feed, swine and related animal agribusiness industries.
The WATT Agribusiness Dashboard can assist in making better business decisions about strategies and revenue generation by gaining an instant understanding of global poultry, egg, swine and animal feed data faster and more conveniently than previously possible. This powerful business tool is used to review price, production and consumption data and how changes to that data can have an impact on you or your organization. It also provides instant access to industry news gathered from over 400 sources on the Internet.
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Poultry industry urges US to pursue action against European ban

The American poultry industry has urged U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to “fully and resolutely pursue” a World Trade Organization action against European Union rules that effectively block American poultry from the European market.
“To date, the EU has conducted no risk assessment to justify the ban on U.S. poultry,” wrote George Watts, president of the
National Chicken Council; Joel Brandenberger of the National Turkey Federation; and James H. Sumner of USA Poultry and Egg Export Council in a letter to Kirk’s agency.
Since 1997, the European Union has banned imports of poultry processed with chlorinated water, which helps control potentially pathogenic microorganisms and is considered safe by U.S. authorities. The industry representatives who signed the letter estimate that the policy prevents them from developing a market in Europe worth about $240 million for chicken and $60 million for turkey and duck.
The European Food Safety Agency, the EU Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks, and the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks cleared the way in 2008 for approval of the use of four pathogen-reducing treatments—chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, and peroxyacids— finding them safe and effective. The European Commission tentatively approved their use, but was overruled by representatives of national governments.
“The EU has not been able to demonstrate nor justify why the use of [pathogen-reducing treatments] is not scientifically acceptable and why a politically expedient decision should be acceptable,” the industry representatives wrote. “Pursuing resolution of the issues through the WTO dispute settlement process may not only prove to restore U.S. poultry exports to the EU but, equally important, will … provide for a more predictable and fairer opportunity for agricultural exports to participate in the world market.”

Fire lays waste to Australian chicken facility

Fire has nearly obliterated an Inghams chicken processing plant southeast of Melbourne, Australia.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the fire began in a storage room in the afternoon. In took more than 100 firefighters to contain the blaze.
Four hundred workers were evacuated and residents have been asked to stay indoors to avoid smoke inhalation. The cause of the chicken processing plant's fire is not yet known.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

iPhone app guides visitors to International Poultry Expo

The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association will provide a free digital show guide iPhone application for the International Poultry Expo 2010 and International Feed Expo 2010 later this month in Atlanta.
The application was designed by
Taptopia and can be downloaded from the iTunes store. There are two versions, one for the poultry show and one for the feed show. The guides give animal agribusiness professionals and exhibitors access to event schedules, floor maps and exhibitor information. Users can take notes about events or exhibitors directly within the application, export exhibitor information to their contacts list, use pre-event planning tools and receive real-time announcements.
The shows take place January 27-29 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga. They attracted more than 17,600 attendees in 2009.

Philippines see gain in poultry subsector

Records from the Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) show that the poultry subsector registered a 3.46 output gain in 2009, even with the production of chicken and chicken eggs decreasing by 3.21% and 6.33%, respectively, according to the Sun Star, a newspaper based in the Philippines.
The subsector's 2009 share in total agricultural output was 14.09%, and gross receipts of the subsector was P100.3B, an increase of 11.38% over 2008.
San Miguel Foods Inc. projects that the demand for chicken will grow from 16.5 million birds in 2007 to reach 24.1 million birds in 2011, according to the newspaper.

Beta agonist used on five Malaysian pig farms

Malaysia has barred five pig farms that were using beta agonist from selling their livestock, according to Sin Chew Daily. The government discovered the prohibited substance, which is used to create leaner pork, through laboratory tests on samples collected from a number of swine operations.
The five farms are in are in Selangor, Perak, Kedah and Penang, according to the paper.

Soy group argues for competition

The American Soybean Association has submitted initial comments to the U.S. Department of Justice as the government considers competition issues in agriculture. The association said it believes the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be more involved in providing recommendations to the justice department on agribusiness mergers and acquisitions.
In its comments, ASA said four principles should guide competition in the agricultural sector:
*Competition within and among domestic industries must be safeguarded.
*Innovation should be supported, which includes the protection of patent rights.
*Competition from generics should lead to lower prices after patents expire.
*The same requirements and expenses for accessing intellectual property should apply to foreign and U.S. companies.
The American Soybean Association plans to provide more detailed comments at a public hearing on competition issues scheduled for March 12 in Des Moines, Iowa. The hearing will be hosted by the Department of Justice and USDA.

Canada orders environmental study of biofuels

Just as a Canadian law requiring that gasoline include 5% biofuels is about to go into effect, the country’s government has ordered an environmental impact study on the manufacture of biofuels, according to Reuters news agency.
The study is a response to concerns over potential pollution resulting from biofuels manufacture. "Experiences in the U.S. and Brazil now suggest that existing biofuels production facilities are responsible for the generation of a range of new air- and water-related problems as well as recent concerns over human health," says a document from Environment Canada, the country’s environmental protection agency.
The Canadian government has committed to providing biofuels manufacturers with CAN$1.5B (US$1.4B) in subsidies over the next nine years.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

H1N1 found on California turkey farm

The H1N1 flu virus has been found in a flock of breeding turkeys in California, according to the International Society for Infectious Diseases.
After the Central Valley flock had experienced a decrease in egg production, the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory tested members for the virus and confirmed its presence on December 28, 2009. The laboratory has sent samples to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, for additional confirmation.
The producer in charge of the facility has voluntarily put the flock under quarantine.

FSIS issues new directive to inspectors

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued FSIS Directive 5010.1 regarding food safety topics that inspectors should include at weekly meetings with food production establishments. The directive is a response to concerns that inspectors are failing to discuss some important food safety issues at these meetings.
Suggested topics to be addressed include in-plant observations, handling issues “that do not rise to the level of noncompliance but warrant discussion,” FSIS policies and guidelines, changes to the establishment’s processing and handling methods that could affect food safety, and results of industry-wide tests for salmonella, E. coli and violative residues.
The full directive can be downloaded

Britain heading for GM revolution?

Britain should embrace cutting-edge technologies, such as genetic modification and nanotechnology, to avoid catastrophic food shortages and future climate change, the government's chief scientist said in a paper presented to the Oxford Farming Conference.
"In the clearest public signal yet that the government wants a hi-tech farming revolution, Professor John Beddington [wrote that] U.K. scientists need to urgently develop 'a new and greener revolution' to increase food production in a world changed by global warming and expected to have an extra 3 billion people to feed by 2040," according to
an article in The Guardian newspaper.
Development and environmental activists are expected to challenge the conclusion that new technology is the answer to the global food crisis.

Philippines corn prices expected to fall

The price of domestic corn in the Philippines is expected to continue its downward slide in the face of increasing imports and lowered use of corn in animal feed, according to The Philippine Star. It is currently about 10.50 pesos to 11.50 pesos per kilogram.
Imports are rising with the country's participation in free trade agreements with members of the Association of South East Asian Nations and China, the newspaper reported.
In the face of a corn shortage in the first half of 2009, feed mills increased the percentage of substitute ingredients, such as feed wheat, in their mixes. But Roger Navarro of the Philippine Maize Federation wondered why they are not reintroducing more corn into their mixes, since the harvest rebounded in the latter half of 2009 and is expected to be good in 2010.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Retail food prices continue to drop

Retail prices for staple foods have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row and are significantly lower than one year ago, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey.
In fourth quarter of 2009, the average price for boneless chicken breasts fell $0.37 to $2.71 per pound, or 22%, from the previous quarter. The price of sliced deli ham fell $0.40 to $4.35 per pound and the price of bacon fell $0.37 to $3.00 per pound. Egg prices rose 11 cents to $1.55 per dozen, but were 13% lower than they were a year ago.
Stefphanie Gambrell, an economist with the federation, said that “sluggish consumer demand, particularly for meats and dairy products,” contributed to the decrease in prices.
Survey shoppers found that the average price for “cage-free” eggs was $2.77 per dozen in the fourth quarter of 2009, about 80% higher than the price of regular eggs. That price is 9% lower than the price for “cage-free” eggs reported in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The American Farm Bureau Federation has conducted its informal quarterly marketbasket survey of retail food price trends since 1989.

Podcast: Turnaround at Pilgrim’s Pride

Winston Mar, managing director at CRG Partners, talks with Gary Thornton about the turnaround at poultry producer, Pilgrim’s Pride and its emergence from bankruptcy in this podcast on WATT Radio. The interview occurred Dec. 29, 2009, the day after Pilgrim’s Pride emerged from bankruptcy and the day on which trading of its stock resumed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Check out other broadcasts on
WATT Radio and iTunes.

Philippines launches poultry project

A 65-million-peso poultry farming project has launched in the southern Phillipines island of Mindanao, according to The Philippine Star.
An experimental aspect of the project, run by
Maharlika Agro-Marine Venture Corp., is its method of accepting investments. Filipinos who work outside the country invest directly in the project and monitor their investments via the Internet.
In an opening ceremony for the project, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo noted that Filipinos working overseas sent US$17B home to the Phillipines in 2009

Republic of Georgia egg production up

The poultry industry in the former Soviet republic of Georgia performed well in the first nine months of 2009. Egg production during the period totaled 350 million, compared with 340 million in the same period in 2008.
This increase in egg production was achieved in spite of a decline in the number of poultry to 8.86 million on Oct. 1, 2009, compared with 8.98 million on the same date in 2008. This suggests an increase in egg productivity per hen.
The figures for 2009 are preliminary ones. In 2008, Georgia produced 441 million eggs, compared with 438 million in 2007.
The number of pigs in Georgia on Oct. 1, 2009, was 155,000, compared with 160,000 on the same date in 2008.

Japan halts Texas poultry imports

Japan is not allowing imports of Texas poultry and eggs to enter the country because of concerns about avian flu in the state, according to reports.
Birds slaughtered in Texas from December 1, 2009, forward are not allowed into Japan, according to the
Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Illinois poultry imports previously were banned by the country.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Poultry group opposes Chesapeake Bay legislation

Delmarva Poultry Industry, a trade association representing poultry industry members in the Chesapeake Bay region, has come out against bay restoration bills sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
In a
memo to its members, the association wrote that the bills create an unlevel playing field for Chesapeake farmers by subjecting them to greater regulation than farmers in other parts of the United States. It added that “the bills will hamper innovative solutions in areas such as nutrient trading, farm adaptive management, and overall water quality restoration.”
The association argued that the legislation is unnecessary because the Clean Water Act provides a sufficient legal framework for reaching the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s clean water goals for the Chesapeake Bay.

Schothorst Feed Research expands feed research facilities

Netherlands-based Schothorst Feed Research is planning €9M of facilities improvements through 2012. Plans include two research farms to be put into production in 2010 and an expansion of swine facilities in 2012.
The new research farms include a laying hen facility and a dairy cow facility. The hen facility, which goes into production in the second half of 2010, is based on the aviary system to comply with European regulations going into effect in 2012. It will include two separate stables, each with 40 different animal groups of 330 hens, to enable statistical nutrition studies. The new dairy cow facility will launch with 220 lactating cows, doubling the company’s research capacity, and will have the capacity for 340 cows.
SFR has contracts with the compounding feed industries and its suppliers in 14 countries.

2010 International Poultry Expo offers 'Grower Days'

The 2010 International Poultry Expo/International Feed Expo will offer $5 on-site registration for growers. The event, sponsored by U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and the American Feed Industry Association, will be held Jan. 27–29, 2010, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The normal cost of the event for growers is $60.
The expo features equipment, products and services for all phases of poultry and feed production and processing. Registration will open each morning at 7:30 a.m. at the Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd., Atlanta. A completed registration form and a Grower Days coupon are required. Coupons are available from state poultry organizations and on the International Poultry Expo
Web site.

Cargill turkey hatchery receives OSHA safety honor

Cargill Turkey Production LLC’s hatchery has received “Star” status as part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Programs.
In the Voluntary Protection Program, management, labor and OSHA establish a cooperative relationship at a workplace to implement safety programs. According to OSHA, “The Star Program is designed for exemplary worksites with comprehensive, successful safety and health management systems.”
The hatchery has 44 employees and the capacity to hatch more than 17 million poults per year. The poults are placed on farms in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Up-to-date world market data available

The WATT Agribusiness Dashboard can assist in making better business decisions about strategies and revenue generation by gaining an instant understanding of global poultry, egg, swine and feed data faster and more conveniently than previously possible.
This powerful business tool is used to review price, production and consumption data and how changes to that data can have an impact on you or your organization. It also provides instant access to industry news gathered from over 400 sources on the Internet.
A two-week free trial is available at
The service offers poultry, egg, pig, and commodity grain prices from China, the United States, Latin American, European Union, East European markets.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ag scholarship deadline February 1

The application deadline for the next round of Westchester Foundation college scholarships is February 1, 2010. The scholarships are given by the foundation to high school seniors accepted for enrollment and students already enrolled in a course of study related to agriculture or agribusiness at accredited colleges, universities and community colleges.
The scholarships can be renewed annually for up to four years, provided the students maintain acceptable grade point averages. While the amount awarded for each scholarship varies by individual and economic need, successful applicants may anticipate a minimum of $1,000 per year to fund any expenses related to attendance at the college of their choice.
The foundation’s board of directors selects recipients based on academic qualifications, community and school involvement, leadership potential and financial need.
Applications can be downloaded from the
Westchester Group Web site and must be received no later than February 1, 2010, to be considered for scholarship funds for the fall semester of the 2010–2011 school year.

Philippines feed production falls

The Philippines produced less feed in 2009 because of a drop in livestock numbers from disease and typhoons, according to the The Philippine Star. It estimated that total feed production for the year was 5.5 million metric tons. Less demand also meant a 15% to 20% drop in feed prices.
The Philippines imported 1.1 million metric tons of soybean meal in 2009, compared to 1.6 million metric tons in 2008. Total weight for feed wheat imports was also 1.1 million metric tons, but this was an increase from 2008 as mills looked for a cheaper alternative to domestic corn. Imported feed wheat was less than a third of the price of corn, according to The Philippine Star.
The newspaper reported that 60% of the country’s feed goes to swine and 20% to poultry, with the remaining share split among aquaculture, goats, fighting cocks and other specialty animals.

Court sides with poultry processor in labor dispute

In a decision published December 29, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that a unionized poultry processor with a history of not paying employees for time spent changing and washing sanitary and protective gear did not violate the Fair Labor Standards Act because Congress left decisions about compensation for clothes changing to the collective bargaining process.
“This is a significant, pro-employer decision in the long-running donning-and-doffing debate,” said the law firm of
Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine, P.C., in a press statement.
The employees in Sepulveda v. Allen Family Farms sued their employer for wages for time they had spent putting on, removing and sanitizing sanitary and protective gear they were required to wear for their jobs at the employer’s poultry processing facility in Delaware. The plant was unionized, and although the union had asked for compensation for these activities in negotiations in 2002, they had never secured it through collective bargaining, according to the law firm.
The Fourth Circuit also rejected the employees’ claim for compensation for the portions of their meal breaks spent removing, washing and putting on protective gear, finding that those activities were excluded from compensable time because they were part of a bona fide meal break and required insignificant amounts of time.