Friday, February 26, 2010

UK supermarkets endorse country-of-origin labeling for pork products

Britain’s major supermarket chains have endorsed a voluntary code that will provide clear information about country of origin on packs of pork, bacon and ham.
The companies that have already committed to the code include Asda, Baxter Storey, Marks and Spencer, Morrison's, Sainsbury's, Tesco, The Co-operative, Waitrose and Whitbread.
Launched by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn at the National Farmers Union Conference on February 23, the latest move has been welcomed by
British Pig Executive chairman Stewart Houston, who said, "Clear labeling is great news for everyone in the supply chain … benefiting both the producer and the processor."

Agriculture expert debunks food mile misconceptions

Roger A. Cady, senior technical consultant at animal health company Elanco, says that buying food from grocery retailers is better for the environment than purchasing locally grown food at farmers markets.
He made the argument at a presentation to the
American Trucking Associations’ Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference in Arlington, Va.
Cady is co-author of the recent report "
Demystifying the Environmental Sustainability of Food Production." The report explains that linear travel miles are not indicative of total energy use. Instead of total miles traveled, the report states that the energy use per unit of food moved paints a more accurate picture of overall energy use.
The report found that a modern refrigerated tractor-trailer uses the least amount of fuel per dozen eggs while en route to a grocery store, even if the eggs travel hundreds more miles than would eggs traveling from a local farm to a farmers market or to the consumer's home. Fuel consumption per dozen eggs purchased from a farmers market is more than eight times the amount used by a tractor-trailer, the report concluded. It also found that a consumer traveling to a local poultry farm is even less fuel-efficient.
Shipping eggs across then entire United States by tractor-trailer to a grocery retailer is still the most fuel-efficient, eco-friendly option, said the report. While the report did not examine all food products, it concludes that "food should be grown where the agricultural resources and capacity are most suited to efficient food production," rather than close to population centers.

Georgia Poultry Federation annual meeting set for April 30–May 2

The 2010 Annual Spring Meeting of the Georgia Poultry Federation will be held April 30–May 2 at Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris, Ga. It will start with the annual business meeting, including election of officers and directors, on the evening of April 30.
Exhibitors include AgGeorgia Farm Credit, Georgia Poultry Federation, Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network, Georgia Tech Research Institute, USDA Russell Research Center, and the University of Georgia Department of Poultry Science and Poultry Diagnostic Research Center.
The weekend will include several sports events and family games. Registration information may be obtained by calling the federation at +1.770.532.0473. Room reservations may be made by contacting the
Brasstown Valley Resort.

Congressional members, ag groups hold educational briefings on antibiotics

Livestock and poultry groups hosted educational briefings on Capitol Hill about the importance of access to antibiotics in raising healthy food animals.
“Taking FDA-approved animal drugs off the market would leave farmers and veterinarians with very limited options for preventing and controlling disease in livestock and poultry, which would have serious repercussions for animal health and preventing foodborne disease, with the strong likelihood that there would be no improvement in human health,” said Timothy Cummings, clinical poultry professor for the Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine at Mississippi State University. “It's absolutely vital that any decisions about the care of animals and the safety of our food be based on sound science rather than unsubstantiated concerns.”
Presenters explained that the industry has developed responsible-use programs to give feed companies and producers specific guidelines on the safe and proper use of antibiotics in health management systems. They countered claims that the use of antibiotics on farms contributes significantly to antibiotic resistance in humans, and said that the responsible use of these products enhances animal welfare and health.
The briefings were held in cooperation with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Reps. David Scott, D-Ga.; Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas; Zack Space, D-Ohio; and Roy Blunt, R-Mo. The informational sessions were co-hosted by the
National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation
, National Meat Association, American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Milk Producers Federation.

Justice Department, USDA to hold first ag industry competition workshop

On March 12, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will hold their first-ever joint workshop to explore competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. Speakers will include Christine Varney, the Department of Justice's assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
This is the first workshop in an ongoing series. It will be held in Ankeny, Iowa, at the Des Moines Area Community College's FFA Enrichment Center.
Registration is free and open to the public.
The workshop will include two panels focusing on competitive dynamics in the seed industry and trends in contracting, transparency and buyer power. It will end with an enforcer roundtable and public testimony. A full schedule is available on the
Department of Justice Web site.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2010 Leman Science in Practice Award recipient announced

Dr. Paul Yeske has been chosen to receive the Allen D. Leman Science in Practice Award, which is given every year by the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and Pfizer Animal Health in recognition of an individual’s scientific contributions to swine health and management.
Yeske maintains a veterinary practice at the Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minn., and is active in the field of swine health management, with a particular focus on disease control and eradication research. He publishes in numerous journals and is a member of the PRRS Eradication Task Force and Production Animal Disease Risk Assessment Program Committee for the American Association of Swine Practioners.
Yeske holds a master of science in swine medicine from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. He earned his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Iowa State University. He has also completed the executive veterinary program at the University of Illinois.
The award will be presented at the international
Allen D. Leman Swine Conference, which takes place September 18-21, 2010, in St. Paul, Minn.

Synthetic methionine request for organic feed

Paul H. Patterson of Pennsylvania State University has requested an amendment to the relevant provision in the National Organic Program Rule {7 CFR #205.603 (d) (1)} on behalf of the organic program’s Methionine Task Force. The submission requests continuation for inclusion of the amino acids DL-methionine and DL-methionine hydroxy analog in diets fed to laying hens at a level of 0.2%.
Some farmers affiliated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program maintain that inclusion of synthetic methionine is contrary to the spirit of organic production, even though commercially available methionine supplements are biochemically identical to the natural counterpart and are metabolized in the same way.
Incorporating non-genetically engineered corn cultivars with high lysine and methionine content into organic feed is considered a non-viable option, based on the practical difficulties of segregating these products through the production chain. Even if achievable, the cost of segregation would inflate the cost of organic-certified eggs.
There are concerns that failure to allow incorporation of synthetic methionine in diets could seriously depress efficiency of production and indirectly lead to higher mortality. Synthetic vitamins produced commercially by fermentation are allowed under current organic rules, while synthetic lysine produced by fermentation is disallowed.

Feed association announces two webcasts on controlling salmonella

The American Feed Industry Association has scheduled two educational webcasts in spring to help feed and pet food industry personnel better understand how to control and manage salmonella.
The first webcast, “Controlling Salmonella in Your Facility,” is scheduled for March 23, 2010, 2-4:30 p.m. EDT. Frank Jones, professor emeritus of the University of Arkansas, and Jarrod Kersey, AFIA pet food committee liaison, will review the practical steps that can be taken to reduce incidences of salmonella in feed, pet food and ingredients facilities.
The second webcast, “Management Considerations for Salmonella/Microbial Control,” is scheduled for April 22, 2010, 2- 4:30 p.m. EDT. Speakers will include Kersey; a representative from the Food & Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine; and Richard Sellers, AFIA vice president of feed regulation and nutrition. This webcast will review the considerations a manager must take into account in determining salmonella-control policies, such as the FDA’s Reportable Food Registry, sampling and testing, supplier contracts and matters related to potential recalls.

International Egg Commission to meet in Paris

The International Egg Commission will meet April 11-15 in Paris for a conference with the “The New Decade” as its theme. More than 280 egg industry decision-makers from four continents will meet, according to Frank Pac, the commission’s chairman.
The chosen location of Paris recognizes the contribution of France as one of Europe’s largest egg producers, with 44 million layers producing 40.5 million cases of shell eggs and 200,000 tons of processed egg products annually.

Indiana legislature considers livestock care

Indiana House Bill 1099 and Senate Bill 116 will be debated in the Indiana legislature during the last week of February.
The intent of the parallel bills is to allow the state’s Board of Animal Health to regulate care of livestock and poultry. Bob Kraft, the spokesman for the
Indiana Farm Bureau, said, “these bills establish the Indiana Board of Animal Health as the regulatory authority on animal care.” He added, “we support this legislation so that what happened in Michigan will not happen in Indiana.” In 2009, Michigan passed legislation that phases out veal crates, certain cages for poultry and gestation crates for sows.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Consumers clip coupons

William Johnson, chief executive officer of H. J. Heinz Company, noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article that the recession has stimulated intense interest in food coupons.
He said that this trend will persist as the economy recovers and that coupons will influence the purchase of specific brands.

Urner Barry executive conference set for April

The 2010 Urner Barry Executive Conference and Marketing Seminar will be held at The Venetian in Las Vegas, April 25-27.
The keynote speaker will be Harold Ford Jr., chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council and a former U.S. representative. Seminar topics include exports, the future of egg production in the United States, a market review of shell eggs and products, and the outlook for the food service channel.

Alltech Symposium to focus on bouncing back in 2010

Alltech’s 2010 International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium will focus on “The Triple Bottom Line: People, Profits, and Planet.” The symposium coincides with the animal nutrition company’s thirtieth anniversary and is scheduled for May 16-19, 2010, in Lexington, Ky.
Pearse Lyons,
Alltech’s president, said 2010 “will ... be a celebratory year for our industry as we bounce back from a year of adversity and look to future opportunities.” He added, “Companies cannot forget, however, that their people and customers, and the sustainability of the environment in which they operate, have also become critical to long-term survival.”
Plenary session speakers will include John Y. Brown, former Kentucky governor and creator of the Kentucky Fried Chicken brand; Nan Dirk Mulder of Rabobank International; and Ray Smith, University of Kentucky. Patrick Wall, associate professor of public health at University College Dublin in Ireland, will discuss lessons learning about traceability from the 2008 dioxin crisis that harmed that country’s pig industry.
Breakout sessions will focus on dairy, beef, pig, poultry, equine, aquaculture and regulatory issues. There will also be a roundtable discussion on companion animals. Key areas such as cell genomics, Alzheimer’s, traceability, carbon sequestering of greenhouse gases and agriculture of the future will be explored.

Chicken group asks FDA to revise egg rule

The National Chicken Council has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to modify a rule that would virtually eliminate the $5M annual market for hatching eggs that are not needed for broiler production and are sold to companies that can use them for processed food products.
“FDA’s rule on handling of eggs was intended to apply to table eggs, and to apply it without warning to hatching eggs makes no sense and achieves no gain in food safety since processed egg products fully meet safety standards without the required refrigeration step,” said Steve Pretanik, NCC’s director of science and technology.
The rule on “farm to table shell egg safety” did not apply to hatching eggs when it was proposed in 2004, and the broiler chicken industry did not comment on the rule since it did not apply to the industry, according to the NCC petition to the FDA. However, by the time the rule was published in final form in July 2009, it had been changed to apply to hatching eggs in such a way as to prevent them from being sold to processors, known as “breakers.”
The rule requires that any eggs being sold for human consumption must be refrigerated at 45F no more than 36 hours after they are laid in order to control salmonella. In the broiler chicken industry, eggs from breeder flocks can be held for several days at 65F before being put into incubators. If a company does not need all the hatching eggs on hand, surplus eggs can be withheld from incubation and sent instead to egg breakers.
Refrigerating hatching eggs at 45F, as required for table eggs, is not an option since such a low temperature would ruin them as hatching eggs, the petition said. Since a company rarely decides if eggs are surplus as soon as 36 hours after lay, the FDA rule would have the effect of barring hatching eggs from the breaker market.
The refrigeration requirement is unnecessary for hatching eggs since breakers already pasteurize egg products to achieve a 99.999% reduction in salmonella, the same standard as applied to table eggs, Pretanik said.
In its petition, NCC asked FDA to amend the final rule or to reopen the comment period with respect to application of the rule to hatching eggs.

USPOULTRY offers machine guarding training program

U.S. Poultry & Egg Association's Poultry & Egg Institute has released a new employee safety program to teach workers how to protect themselves against the hazards of moving machine parts.
“Machine Guarding” is a Microsoft PowerPoint-based program that emphasizes hazard identification, avoidance and control. The program outlines many of the mechanical hazards presented by machines common throughout the poultry and egg industry and describes ways to ensure that effective guards are in place to reduce the frequency of injuries.
The program was developed by Paul Pressley, vice president of the Poultry & Egg Institute, and members of the Joint Industry Safety and Health Council, which includes safety management professionals from member companies of USPOULTRY, the National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation.
CD versions are available free for U.S. Poultry & Egg Association members and $200 for non-members.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Japan increases South American corn imports

A lower protein content in 2009 U.S. corn has led Japanese feed manufacturers to switch some of their purchases to Brazil and Argentina, Business Week reported. Japanese grain importers are also concerned about possible mycotoxin contamination due to wet weather in much of the U.S. last growing season.
From January through June, Japan is set to import more than 500,000 metric tons of corn from Brazil, compared to 46,702 metric tons during all of 2009, Nobuyuki Chino, president of Unipac Grain Ltd., told Business Week.
U.S. corn accounted for 96% of Japan’s 11 million tons of feed corn imports in 2009, according to the magazine. The lower protein content in last year’s corn was a result of lower fertilizer use, a senior economist at Norinchukin Research Institute Co. said.

Russia’s Cherkizovo set to increase poultry production 40% in 2012

Vertically integrated Russian meat producer Cherkizovo said it will be increasing production at its facilities in Penza in response to recent market developments, including a ban on U.S. poultry imports,The Moscow Times reported. "Cherkizovo welcomes the government of Russia's recent provisions aimed at stimulating demand for national poultry producers by reducing poultry import quotas and restricting the use of chlorine … in poultry processing," said Sergei Mikhailov, chief executive of Cherkizovo Group.
The Penza project would increase live-weight production from 60,000 metric tons to 120,000 metric tons annually and involve a new incubation facility and slaughterhouse. The expansion is expected to cost about $120M.
Cherkizovo could step up its poultry production 40% in 2012 thanks to the Penza expansion and another expansion in Bryansk, The Moscow Times said.

Take the ‘Nutrition and Feeding’ survey

Participate in the 2010 WATT Poultry Nutrition & Feeding Survey and help us identify the top challenges facing the poultry industry in nutrition and feeding. The survey will discover how the industry is responding to key trends involving supply chain integrity, composition of rations, sustainability, investment and more.
Survey results will appear in upcoming issues of WATT agribusiness publications including Poultry International, WATT PoultryUSA, Feed International and at
Who should participate? Anyone whose work or responsibility involves producing or using poultry feeds. This includes corporate managers (CEOs, vice presidents, directors, etc.), nutritionists, live production managers, manufacturers and suppliers of feeds or ingredients, purchasing agents, researchers, consultants, etc.
Click here to go to the easy-to-complete survey form that takes only minutes to answer.
The deadline for responses is February 24.

Perdue products receive USDA Process Verified seal

Perdue Farms Inc. announced that it has received the U.S. Department of Agriculture Process Verified seal for its Perdue fresh, all natural whole chickens and bone-in parts, as well as Perdue Fit & Easy boneless, skinless chicken products. It is launching the product lines in North Carolina with a video contest, in which North Carolina consumers are invited to demonstrate their best recipe or techniques for preparing or serving chicken.
"The seal verifies our chickens are fed an all vegetarian diet, with no animal by-products. It also verifies they are raised cage free and humanely raised," said Jim Perdue, the company’s chairman. Perdue is the first chicken company to be allowed to make these claims on its product packaging using the USDA Process Verified seal. Jim Perdue added that the seal will help differentiate his company’s products in the minds of consumers.
The USDA Process Verified seal indicates that USDA has audited the company's processes behind the claims made on the product's packaging. "We are pleased to allow Perdue to use the USDA Process Verified Program seal in recognition of their adherence to their vegetarian diet and humanely raised process points," said Charles Johnson, poultry programs grading branch chief of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service.
Products carrying the “humanely raised” claim are verified to come from birds raised in accordance with the Perdue Farms poultry welfare program, which is based in part on the poultry welfare guidelines of the National Chicken Council.

Legal troubles inhibit pork producer

Missouri’s St. Joseph News-Press recently summarized a number of legal obstacles facing pork producer Premium Standard Farms. According to the newspaper:
*Premium Standard Farms has been ordered to pay $900,000 jointly with Smithfield foods for failing to meet a required pre-merger waiting period when Smithfield acquired the pork producer in 2007.
*A consent judgment requires Premium Standard Farms to address alleged violations of environmental regulations by updating its facilities.
*A group of Missourians have initiated a lawsuit against the pork producer over smells associated with one of its farms.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ivorian poultry producers credit industry revival to import duties

The return of duties on poultry products from Europe and Latin America has revived Cote d’Ivoire’s domestic poultry industry, according to Inter Press Service. From 2005, to 2009, poultry production expanded from 9,000 tonnes to 20,000 tonnes and egg production grew from 435 million to 800 million, according to Philippe Ackah, president of the poultry industry association IPRAVI (Interprofession Avicole de Côte d’Ivoire).
Cote d’Ivoire reinstated poultry duties in 2005, after three years of free import licenses, and the current duty raises the price of imported poultry by about 100%, the Inter Press Service reported.
"This regulation saved the Ivorian poultry industry from ruin," Alain Bouabré, an Ivorian economist, told the news agency.

Texas challenges EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases

Texas is challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will lead the legal challenge, which focuses on the process that triggered Clean Air Act regulation.
Last December, EPA ruled that greenhouse gases were harmful to the environment. The state argues that the EPA failed to perform the precise study required, and instead relied on flawed theories.
“EPA’s move to regulate greenhouse gases would impose devastating rules on those Texans who fuel one of our state’s largest economic sectors – farmers and ranchers,“ said
Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. “As a regulatory agency, the Texas Department of Agriculture is required to impose rules based on sound science – not political science. … EPA has ignored extensive research on greenhouse gas emissions and based this significant regulation on faulty data.”

Equal Opportunity magazine ranks Tyson as a top employer

Tyson Foods Inc. has been selected as one of the nation's "Top 50 Employers" by the readers of Equal Opportunity magazine. At number 30, Tyson was the highest ranking meat company in the publication's seventeenth annual survey. Google ranked highest overall, followed by General Electric.
According to Equal Opportunity, "readers selected the top companies in the country for which they would most prefer to work or believe are progressive in hiring members of minority groups." The magazine, launched as the first U.S. diversity recruitment publication, is read by 42,000 students, entry-level workers and professionals in all career disciplines who are members of minority groups.
"We're proud to be recognized as a leader in the important area of equal employment opportunity," said Karen Armstrong, vice president of diversity and leadership development for poultry processor Tyson. "Our company is committed to offering a culture that fosters inclusion and diversity."

Emerging retail trends could affect egg industry

Two significant marketing trends are emerging which may have some impact on the U.S. egg industry.
The first relates to the accelerating pace of adopting house brands.
Wal-Mart is a leader in this initiative, recently announcing that national brands Hefty and Glad would be replaced by private label products in both Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores. In a subsequent announcement, Wal-Mart indicated that McCormick spices would be dropped in favor of a private label. This is significant, since McCormick is thought to market 11% of its production through the Wal-Mart chain.
The second trend is toward smaller stores, especially in urban areas. Meijer’s, Target and Wal-Mart have all announced smaller stores either as a test or as a commitment. Smaller stores would have reduced cold storage, which could require more frequent deliveries, either from a distribution center or, in the case of some suppliers, increased direct-to-store delivery.

Proposed 2011 USDA budget increases user fees

The U.S. Department of Agriculture 2011 budget sent to Congress this week includes an increase for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which would be recouped from increased user fees. The Agriculture Marketing Service received a slight increase in total budget and is anticipated to collect $148M from the Commodities Grading Services Program. An increase in user fees for grading is therefore not anticipated for fiscal 2011.
The budget for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was lowered by $35M with an approximately 10% reduction in expenditures for avian influenza. Funds for Veterinary Biologics and Diagnostics would increase slightly to $47M. The budget for the Agricultural Research Service would rise by $20M over fiscal 2010 to include $3M for research on preventive measures against infectious diseases of poultry and livestock.
The budget for the Market Access Program was reduced by 20% to $160M and the Foreign Market Development Program was funded at a slightly higher level of $34.5M. The last two allocations relate to export of agricultural commodities and indirectly influence trade.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Petition seeks to add farm animal welfare regulations to the Ohio constitution

Activists have proposed a constitutional amendment in the state of Ohio that would effectively overturn the November 2009 voter initiative establishing the state’s Livestock Care Standards Board as the final authority in establishing farm animal welfare regulations. The voter initiative passed by a two-to-one margin in November 2009.
The proposed amendment is similar to California’s Proposition 2. It would put restraints on the housing of calves, poultry and hogs and place certain restrictions on on-farm slaughter of livestock. Proponents of the constitutional amendment must collect 400,000 signatures to place the proposal on the November 2010 ballot.
The petition move was widely anticipated following the preemptive measure adopted by voters in 2009 establishing the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. Petition supporters include local humane societies, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and United Farm Workers. The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association is expected to respond negatively to the petition.
Recently the
American Veterinary Medical Association announced a policy position against using ballot initiatives to reform animal welfare. The association favors expert bodies to set animal welfare standards, stating, “veterinarians and animal welfare scientists, who have been professionally trained to responsibly advance animal care, should thereby be given substantial opportunity for representation on welfare boards.”
State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Organization encourages development of welfare standards through legislative committee processes with expert input. This organization considers that “ballot initiatives are poorly designed for addressing complex issues” such as establishing standards for welfare.

Canada hog herd smallest in 12 years

Canada’s hog farmers are continuing with planned downsizing in the wake of a Statistics Canada report that the country’s hog numbers have hit their lowest point in a dozen years, according to Reuters. The national herd shrunk 4.5% to 11.63 million from January 1, 2009, to January 1, 2010.
A planned downsizing that includes government incentives to help farmers leave the swine industry should help bring the price of hogs back up, said Andrew Dickson, general manager of the Manitoba Pork Council. He told Reuters that farmers need CAN$140 per pig to recoup their costs and another CAN$20 to manage their debts, but are commanding just CAN$127 a head.
Statistics Canada attributed the national herd’s decline to high grain prices and a drop in exports to the United States. New U.S. regulations requiring meat at retail to be labeled with its country of origin have put a crimp on trade.

Indonesia resumes pork imports from U.S., Mexico

Indonesia has reopened its borders to pork from the U.S. and Mexico after implementing a ban in May 2009, The Denver Post reported.
The ban involved pig products from several countries and stemmed from a fear that pigs might be the source of the worldwide H1N1 influenza epidemic. Indonesia lifted the ban because there is no evidence that pigs pass this virus to humans, according to the nation’s Ministry of Trade.

UK meat groups, cancer organization dispute study results

Four UK agricultural groups—the National Beef Association, the British Pig Executive, the National Sheep Association and the National Farmers' Union—have issued statements suggesting that the World Cancer Research Fund has misled the public with its recommendations on meat consumption.
In its 2007
report on possible links between diet and cancer, the fund recommends that individuals limit their consumption of red meat to 500 grams cooked weight per week and avoid processed meat. The fund says that this recommendation was developed by an independent panel of international scientists who concluded that convincing evidence links the consumption of red and processed meat to colorectal cancer.
According to a
press statement by the UK agricultural organizations, other researchers have drawn different conclusions. The statement said that Dr. Stewart Truswell of the University of Sydney, Australia, and Dr. Dominik Alexander of the American scientific consulting firm Exponent have found several errors and omissions in the diet and cancer report.
According to the statement, “Dr. Truswell published a letter in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition detailing his concerns. Dr. Alexander completed a review which identified analytical inconsistencies and data extraction errors in WCRF’s evidence, which could have contributed to an overestimate of the association between eating red meat and the risk of [colorectal cancer]. The conclusion of Dr. Alexander’s review was that ‘there is no conclusive evidence of causal relationship’ between eating meat and [colorectal cancer].”
The industry groups accused the cancer fund of refusing to publicly acknowledge errors in the report or inform the UK Food Standards Agency about potential errors.
In response to the industry statement, the World Cancer Research Fund released its own statement saying, “The UK meat lobby accuses WCRF of making mistakes in analyzing the scientific literature about the link between meat and colorectal cancer and then refusing to admit to these mistakes. This is not true. Any errors in the report were too minor to have affected the overall conclusions.” The fund has created a
Web page listing errors it identified in the report and corrections.
Professor Martin Wiseman, project director of the diet and cancer report, said he personally invited the agricultural groups to share any information they had about inconsistencies in the report with the Food Standards Agency.

Research to identify causes of poultry disease in Ethiopia

The University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom has been awarded £700,000 to reduce the burden of poultry diseases in Ethiopia through improved breeding. The study, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council UK, the UK Department for International Development and the Scottish government, is part of a £13 million project to tackle the growing threat of livestock diseases to global food security, particularly in developing countries.
Dr. Rob Christley, head of epidemiology and public health and co-director of the National Centre for Zoonosis Research at the University of Liverpool, said: “In Ethiopia, indigenous chicken varieties are well-adapted to local environments but tend to grow slowly and produce fewer and smaller eggs compared to commercial stocks. Infectious diseases have a major impact and prevent this even limited genetic potential from being realized.”
He added, “Enhanced genetic resistance through selective breeding represents an under-exploited, low-cost opportunity for disease control in low-input poultry production systems. We aim to develop a poultry breeding program that enhances productivity, while improving resistance to diseases [that pose] the greatest threat to village poultry.”
Knowledge from this study will enable more precise disease control planning by Ethiopian policy makers and animal health professionals. The study will also strengthen Ethiopia’s veterinary research sector by training of local scientists and enhancing laboratory facilities for poultry testing. The University of Liverpool is collaborating with the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research and other partners to carry out the study.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Farm group: UK animal welfare regulations inhibit competition

The United Kingdom has stricter livestock welfare laws than most countries inside and outside of the European Union, and a recent investigation by the Guardian newspaper found that a quarter of meat and poultry sold in the country comes from foreign farms that do not meet UK animal welfare standards.
UK agricultural groups are calling for better labeling of imported products and a move to make standards more uniform across the European Union.
"If consumers know anything about it, they probably think all the standards are the same," said Kevin Pearce, head of food and farming at the
National Farmers Union. "We want to be able to compete fairly. If the customers say 'that's the standard we want', we want to do our best to produce it. Where we have a problem is if the price is too high or the supply too short, they'll go elsewhere to get it."
According to his organization, half of the pork production that feeds the United Kingdom moved to other countries after UK laws went into effect prohibiting sow pens and tethering. The Guardian confirmed that more than 50% of bacon and 43% of pork comes from countries that allow sows to be housed in smaller pens.
UK standards allow about 15 full-size chickens (38 kilograms total) per square meter of housing, while EU standards permit about 20 full-size birds (about 50 kilograms total) in the same space, the Guardian reported.
Organic certification standards also pose issues. The United Kingdom’s largest certifying body requires pigs to have free access to the outdoors and limits the size of poultry flocks to 500. Other certifying bodies permit limited outdoor access for pigs and do not put caps on the size of poultry flocks, the newspaper reported.

New Web site scrutinizes HSUS

The Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit coalition of food industry groups and individuals, has launched, a new Web site dedicated to scrutinizing the activities of the Humane Society of the United States.
HumaneWatch will include a blog written by David Martosko, the center’s director of research; a document library; and a database for tracking the non-profit and for-profit organizations involved with the Humane Society of the United States.
“Someone has to ask the hard questions about the Humane Society of the United States, and HumaneWatch will be a relentless source of useful information,” said Martosko. He said that most donors to the Humane Society of the United States believe that their money goes to local pet shelters, although such grants make up only a small portion of expenditures.
The Center for Consumer Freedom said in a press release that, “in 2008, less than one-half of one percent of HSUS’s budget consisted of grants to actual hands-on ‘humane societies’ that deal with the thankless task of sheltering unwanted pets,” while the Humane Society
reported that 5.4% of expenditures went to animal care facilities in 2008.
According to the Humane Society’s
Web site, the organization “protects all animals through legislation, litigation, investigation, education, science, advocacy and field work.” Local shelters that operate under the name Humane Society are independent organizations that affiliate with the national group.
“HumaneWatch will create an open dialogue for farmers, scientists, fashion designers, entertainers, and countless Americans who love both their pets and their chicken sandwiches,” said Martosko.

Poultry litter could fuel Virginia power plant

Renewable energy company Fibrowatt has proposed a commercial power plant for southern Virginia that would run on poultry litter, according to WHSV-TV in Page County, Va.
The plant would burn poultry litter to produce steam that turns turbine generators. The ash formed as a result of the burning could be used as fertilizer, the company said.
Page County Supervisor John Woodward told the television station that the county is researching possible impacts of the plant on the county, including environmental effects and use of roads. If the project is approved, construction would begin no sooner than early 2011, he said.
Fibrowatt is a subsidiary of
Homeland Renewable Energy Inc., which specializes in power plants that use poultry litter as an energy source.

Egypt reports more H5N1 outbreaks

Egypt has reported another human death from H5N1 influenza, along with at least four outbreaks on poultry farms and 29 more outbreaks in household birds since February 1, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota.
The governates of Dakahlia had the highest number of poultry outbreaks at seven. Qalyubia had six and Menofia had five. Nine other governates were also affected, according to Egypt's Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response.
Egypt has reported seven H5N1 cases in humans to the World Health Organization this year.

Study: organic agricultural land totals 35 million hectares worldwide

About 35 million hectares of agricultural land were certified according to organic standards at the end of 2008, a 3 million hectare increase from the previous year, according to the latest information from The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2010. Conversion of land to organic farming was strongest in Latin America and Europe.
The greatest share of the global organic surface area is in Oceania (34.7%), followed by Europe (23.4%) and Latin America (23%). Countries with the most organic farmlands include Australia with 12 million hectares, much of which is grazing land, followed by Argentina with 4 million hectares and China with 1.9 million hectares.
The book is published by the
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and Germany’s SÖL (Stiftung Ökologie & Linotype, or Foundation Ecology & Agriculture) .
The number of organic producers is almost 1.4 million, said Helga Willer of FiBL.
FiBL and IFOAM will present statistics from The World of Organic Agriculture on February 19 at
BioFach 2010 in Nuremberg, Germany. BioFach is the world’s largest tradeshow for organic products.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Avian scientists discuss Gumboro disease at Merial summit

More than 150 veterinarians and poultry production specialists from 21 countries gathered in Atlanta recently to learn about effective control of infectious bursal disease, also known as IBD or Gumboro disease, at a summit sponsored by animal health company Merial.
IBD is one of the most widely recognized diseases affecting chickens globally and is a major cause of immunosuppression and mortality, according to Merial.
John R. Glisson, a doctor of veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia, kicked off the symposium, speaking about the history and control of avian diseases, from the days of Louis Pasteur to today’s use of vector vaccine technology.
Academic veterinarians from the United States and Venezuela discussed diagnostic methods for IBD and the use of vector vaccine technology to control it. Industry veterinarians from Venezuela and the United States reported positive economic and production results from using the Merial Vaxxitek HVT+IBD vector vaccine against Marek’s disease and IBD in commercial production. The vaccine has been used in 5 billion chicken worldwide since its launch in 2006, according to the company.
Vertically integrated producers from Asia also attended the conference.

Southern snowstorms collapse more poultry houses

Seven Shenandoah Valley poultry houses buckled in under heavy snow on February 12, the Virginia Poultry Federation told the Associated Press.
The mid-Atlantic and South have suffered from unusually high snowfall this month.

2009 distillers grains exports break previous record

The U.S. ethanol industry exported 5.64 million metric tons of distillers grains worth nearly $1B in 2009, breaking the previous record set in 2008, according to data released last week by the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service. Exports in 2009 were 24% above 2008 levels and more than five times higher than the amount of distillers grains exported as animal feed just five years ago.
The top three export markets were Mexico (1.5 million metric tons), Canada (804,000 metric tons) and China (542,000 metric tons). Turkey and Thailand ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.
Total U.S. distillers grains production in 2009 was approximately 30.5 million metric tons.
Ethanol biorefineries produce about one bushel of high-protein distillers grains for every bushel of corn that enters a facility, according to the
Renewable Fuels Association. The amount of distillers grains exported in 2009 is equivalent to the feed value of 5.4 million metric tons of whole corn and 1.6 million metric tons of soybean meal, according to displacement ratios developed by Argonne National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy facility.

Flavor & the Menu announces top 10 menu trends for 2010

Signature sausages, globally inspired sandwiches and a resurgence in fried foods are among the 10 major influencers driving menu trends for 2010, according to Flavor & the Menu magazine.
For the annual
“Top 10 Flavor Trend” issue, Flavor & the Menu editors watch menu development, restaurant growth and dining patterns, and, with input from a team of restaurant industry experts, select ten trends likely to influence menus and restaurants for the coming year. Flavor & The Menu's top10 trends for 2010 are:
*Top ethno-cuisine trend: ethnic and regional sandwiches
*Top sauce trend: chili-based sauces
*Top menu-making trend: diner-style foods
*Top technique trend: deep-fried
*Top concept trend: American tavern
*Top ingredient trend: signature sausages using high-end meats and served with other premium ingredients
*Top culinary trend: rustic foods, from regional, home-style cooking to foraged foods and farmstead cheeses
*Top dining trend: “Global Grab & Go” foods, such as kebabs, dosas, crepes and gorditas
*Top dessert trend: sentimental sweets such as cupcakes, cookies, whoopie pies and popsicles
*Top beverage trend: booze-free buzz

Perdue recognized for poultry litter recycling program

Perdue Farms Inc. was featured on the premiere episode of the Discovery Channel’s “The Green Room” documentary series, which looks at the steps businesses are taking toward environmental sustainability.
On February 13, “The Green Room” showcased Perdue’s AgriRecycle plant, which was established in 2001 to convert poultry litter into fertilizer pellets. The plant is the first large-scale processor of poultry litter, according to, and has processed more than half a million tons.
The pellets are sold for use by organic and conventional crop growers, according to the Web site.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Koch Foods fined $536K for immigration violations

Koch Foods Inc. has paid more than $536,000 in fines for immigration violations at its Fairfield, Ohio, poultry processing plant, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The penalties were for failure to fill out and verify certain employment forms, and were imposed after investigations following a 2007 raid on the plant involving 161 immigrants working without legal documentation. Koch hiring personnel did not knowingly break the law, an attorney for the company told the
Associated Press.

Surge in poultry feed milling investment ahead?

Sixty percent of respondents to the WATT Poultry Nutrition and Feeding Survey say their companies will invest in replacing or upgrading poultry feed milling facilities or equipment in 2010.
The data is based on preliminary results but indicates an uptick in investment in the poultry feed milling sector in 2010.
What’s your outlook for business in 2010?
Take the survey.
The survey will help the WATT editorial team identify top challenges facing the poultry industry in nutrition and feeding. We want to hear from you about how you are responding to key trends involving supply chain integrity, composition of rations, sustainability, investment and more.
Survey results will appear in upcoming issues of Poultry International, WATT PoultryUSA, Feed International and at

Moscow may ease poultry import restrictions

Russia may temporarily ease import restrictions on U.S. poultry, provided that U.S. producers move toward meeting Russia’s new standards, according to First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov.
Earlier this year, Moscow implemented restrictions on the use of chlorine in poultry processing, effectively banning imports from the United States, where poultry is routinely cleaned with chlorinated water to reduce pathogenic bacteria.
Talks last month on resuming U.S. imports stalled, but Russia has invited the United States back for a second round of talks about poultry imports, Gennady Onishchenko, head of Russia’s Federal Consumer Protection Service, told
Reuters. “Now the ball is in the court of American partners,” he said.

Oklahoma wants poultry companies to pay $25M in attorney's fees

In addition to requesting that U.S. courts limit poultry litter fertilizer application in the Illinois River watershed to 65 pounds per acre, the state of Oklahoma wants poultry companies to implement watershed remediation, pay civil penalties for alleged pollution since 1993 and pay for the state’s attorney fees, according to the Associated Press.
Oklahoma’s attorney fees total about $25M, according to the state’s attorney general.
Poultry companies should be required to remove all poultry waste from the watershed that exceeds the proposed 65-pound limit, a state said in a filing with the court. It also wants poultry producers to be subject to reporting and monitoring requirements.
Attorneys for the poultry industry said in their filing that restrictions on the use of poultry litter would impose huge economic burdens on both poultry producers and the farmers who use the product as a fertilizer. They said that the state has failed to prove that poultry litter imposes or will impose a “substantiated threat to human health, drinking water, recreational use or wildlife.”
Closing arguments in the case begin February 18.

Daniel's Western Meat Packers recalls 8 tons of turkey products

Daniel's Western Meat Packers of Pico Rivera, Calif., is recalling approximately 16,290 pounds of frozen turkey patty products because they were inadvertently mislabeled and may contain an undeclared wheat allergen, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Wheat is a known potential allergen, which is not declared on the label. Neither FSIS nor the company have received reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.
The products subject to recall include 10-pound cases of frozen turkey patties, 2-1 round, and 10.93-pound cases of 7-ounce frozen turkey patties produced on certain dates from February 18, 2009, to January 22, 2010 and distributed in California and Illinois.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tyson Foods donates 8.6 million pounds of protein in 2009

Tyson Foods reports that it donated more than 8.6 million pounds of chicken, beef and pork to food banks in 28 U.S. states in its fiscal year ending October 2, 2009. The company also honored four outstanding individuals for their efforts to fight hunger in their local communities. The company donated approximately 35,000 pounds of protein to each Hunger All Star's food bank.
Since 2000, Tyson has donated approximately 71 million pounds of protein for hunger relief.

Farmer uses chicken manure to heat hatchery

A poultry farmer in West Virginia has adopted an innovative approach to heating his hatchery, managing poultry litter and possibly reducing greenhouse gases, according to USA Today. Josh Frye heats his facility with a special incinerator that operates on chicken manure.
Upon combustion, the chicken manure is transformed into biochar, a high-carbon substance that serves as a high-quality fertilizer. Unlike most organic fertilizers, which produce carbon dioxide gas as they break down, biochar is slow to decompose and stores carbon in the soil for up to 1,000 years, according to Johannes Lehmann, a soil scientist at Cornell University.
Frye’s machine, manufactured by
Coaltec Energy, can produce up to 9,000 pounds of biochar a day, and the highest-quality biochar can command a price of $1 per pound. So far, Frye has sold just $1,000 worth of biochar on a trial basis, but plans to incorporate biochar sales into his business plan. Soon, he told the newspaper, “"the chicken poop could be worth more than the chickens themselves."
He also says the machine saves him $30,000 a year in propane heating costs.
As new technology, the incinerator came with a high price tag of $1M. Frye received grants and low-interest loans from federal and state agencies to cover the capital outlay.
Also known as a gasifier—equipment that converts carbon-containing materials into a fuel similar to natural gas—the machine produces no odor or smoke as it burns the chicken manure, USA Today reported.

The Poultry Federation announces symposium plans

The Poultry Federation’s 2010 Annual Spring Symposium in April will feature keynote speakers on animal housing, welfare and environmental regulations, as well as expert panels focusing on developments in turkey, hatchery and broiler operations.
Keynote speakers include Mike Morris of Yum Foods on animal welfare, Mike Czarick of the University of Georgia on ventilation, and Jim Bradbury of James Bradbury, PLLC, on environmental regulation.
The Poultry Federation is a trade organization representing the poultry and egg industries in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Its spring symposium is geared toward live production personnel and suppliers, particularly service technicians and grow-out managers. It will take place April 20-21, 2010, at the Springdale Holiday Inn in Springdale, Ark. Registration is $100 for non-members and $60 for members. The registration deadline is April 16.

North Carolina waives vehicle regulation to aid poultry sector

Maximum hours of service on motor carriers have been waived in parts of North Carolina so that feed and supply deliveries to poultry farmers are uninterrupted, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.
“These feed shipments are essential to keep these animals alive during this extended cold snap and to protect our agriculture jobs,” said Gov. Bev Perdue, who signed an executive order suspending the regulation.
The executive order applies to Alexander, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin counties. Drivers of exempt vehicles must carry documentation that shows their deliveries are for relief efforts. The executive order is in effect for 30 days or until the cold and snow emergency ends, the newspaper reported.

CBS airs report critical of farm antibiotic use

CBS Evening News featured a report on its February 9 newscast on antibiotic use in farm animals, in which workers and Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming allege that current veterinary practices are leading to the development of antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans.
In the CBS report, reporter Katie Couric stated incorrectly that “the bottom line on antibiotic use in factory farming is this: no one is really monitoring it.”
The report interviewed workers at an Arkansas hatchery who claimed they developed methicillin-resistant staph infections from working with poultry who were treated with antibiotics. It also cited a University of Iowa study that found a new strain of the infection in 70% of hogs and 64% of workers on sampled farms in Iowa and Western Illinois.
Liz Wagstrom, a veterinarian with the National Pork Board, told Couric that “the vast majority of producers use [antibiotics] appropriately.” Wagstrom added, “I'd say we do strategically place them. It's not an all day, every pig gets antibiotics every day of his life.” Wagstrom was one of two industry representatives interviewed for the report. The other was Iowa pig farmer Dave Kronlage.

Friday, February 12, 2010

East Coast storm destroys poultry houses

A weekend snow storm has led to the collapse of more than a dozen poultry barns in Delaware and Maryland, University of Delaware extension specialist Bill Brown told the Associated Press. He estimated losses at millions of dollars. Delaware’s agriculture secretary said removing snow from roofs as conditions permit could prevent additional collapses.
The weather is further threatening chicken survival by delaying deliveries of feed and fuel.

Vietnam culls poultry in five provinces

Avian influenza has led to the culling of thousands of poultry in Vietnam, reported Agence France Presse. Six provinces have been hit, with about 3,600 chickens and ducks infected and 14,000 destroyed since January 15 in Ha Tinh, where the outbreak is the most severe, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
A ministry official has expressed concern that H5N1 could spread in central Vietnam and the Mekong Delta because many birds are being transported for slaughter in preparation for the Chinese New Year on February 14.

Environmental seminar will look at new regulations

The 2010 Environmental Management Seminar will focus on what some are calling a new era of enforcement. Sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association's Poultry & Egg Institute, this year's conference will be held March 17-18 at the Marriott Hotel in New Orleans. The program will examine an anticipated higher level of regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the current developments in technology and management techniques for environmental sustainability.
Topics will include a federal policy and regulatory update; a case study of wastewater optimization and associated cost savings, the poultry industry’s impact in the Chesapeake Bay area, and plants that have won clean water awards.

USDA: Turkish biotech rules restrict poultry sector growth

A Turkish ban on genetically modified crops has caused feed prices to spike and is limiting poultry industry growth, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report cited on
Turkey banned the import of genetically modified food and feed crops in October. By November, soybean prices rose 40% to $700 per tonne, according to the USDA report. Prices for corn gluten feed and distiller’s grains also increased.
Russia wants to increase its poultry imports from Turkey to fill a gap created when Moscow banned poultry shipments from the United States. But Turkish producers say they will be able to export only about 100,000 tonnes of poultry this year, falling far short of Russia’s 500,000-tonne order. Turkey exported a total of 115,000 tonnes in 2009, according to
The USDA report said that Turkey will be unable to expand at the rate needed to meet Russia’s import demands as long as biotech crops are restricted. Turkey is expected to enact additional legislation in 2010 that would ban domestic production of genetically modified crops.

Cracking cholesterol confusion during American Heart Month

The Egg Nutrition Center of the American Egg Board has partnered with registered dietician Keith Ayoob to dispel myths surrounding eggs and cholesterol during February’s American Heart Month. Ayoob is associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of the nutrition clinic at the Rose F. Kennedy Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center.
"It's important that we clear up all the confusion that surrounds what people should or shouldn't eat to reduce their risk of heart disease," said Ayoob. Egg consumption does not significantly raise the ratio of “bad” LDL-cholesterol to "good" HDL-cholesterol, he said. A high LDL-to-HDL ratio can be an indicator of heart disease.
"Egg consumption does not significantly impact the LDL:HDL ratio, so enjoying an egg or two a day can fall within current cholesterol guidelines, particularly if you eat lower-cholesterol, nutrient-rich foods throughout the rest of the day, like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy," Ayoob said.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

AgFeed Industries announces IPO

AgFeed Industries Inc., a U.S hog production and animal nutrient company with primary operations in China, announced the proposed sale of up to 20% of its animal nutrients feed subsidiary via an initial public offering of the subsidiary's common stock. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission must declare the company’s filing effective before any common stock sales may occur. The company seeks to raise $20M to $25M.
Songyan Li, AgFeed's chairman, said "the IPO reflects our board's desire to provide dedicated capital to our animal nutrient business to develop its presence in other segments of the animal nutrition market, specifically the compound feed and concentrated feed markets, which together comprise 95% of China's expanding production."

Idaho prepares for egg industry growth

The chairman of the Idaho senate’s agriculture committee is planning to introduce legislation to help the state prepare for a possible influx of California poultry producers, who say that California’s plans to ban battery cages for hens by 2015 could raise their costs by 20%, the Associated Press reports.
Senator Tim Corder supports the use of cages but wants to revise regulations regarding the siting of poultry farms. He says he wants to avoid the pollution problems that accompanied the rapid growth of Idaho’s dairy industry over the past two decades.
"The time when agriculture can sweep in and do whatever it wants and nobody will say anything about it until it's too late, that time is past," Corder told the Associated Press. "If we're going to do this, let's do it right from the start."
Pam Juker, an Idaho Department of Agriculture chief of staff, said that, in the dairy industry, "The laws and rules had to be developed alongside the industry growth. … With this [Corder's] proposed legislation, it will help to have the regulatory structure in place before a new industry settles in."
The new regulations are necessary whether or not California farmers move their operations, Corder said, because Idaho’s poultry industry is already growing. For example, genetics company Hy-Line North America opened a hatchery in southern Idaho in 2009, and government officials recently took steps to help a 4-million bird broiler plant locate there, the news agency reports.

Middle East’s largest poultry slaughterhouse opens

Investors in Iran have opened the largest poultry slaughter facility in the Middle East and the fourth largest in the world, Tehran Times reported. It has a production capacity of 10,000 birds per hour. The facility was 70% privately financed and cost about $40M.

Avoiding mycotoxins in corn feedstock and DDGS

Fusarium species are responsible for most of the mycotoxin contamination of corn harvested with 14%-plus moisture values in 2009, according to Dr. Frank Jones, professor emeritus and extension specialist with the University of Arkansas. This corn was harvested in areas that experienced high rainfall before and during harvest, said Jones, who recommends that feed manufacturers conduct mycotoxin assays on feed ingredients, particularly DDGS (dried distillers grains with solubles).
Although fusarium molds produce a wide range of toxins, deoxynivalenol—also known as DON or vomitoxin—is the most commonly encountered. Poultry are relatively resistant to DON at dietary levels of up to 10 parts per million. Swine, however, are extremely sensitive and will exhibit feed refusal at a level of one part per million.
DDGS derived from affected batches of corn can show up to three times the concentration of toxins when compared with the corn feedstock. Accordingly, most of the ethanol plants supplying DDGS implement some form of quality control using assays.
Despite these precautions, feed manufacturers—especially those supplying swine herds—are advised to conduct their own tests on ingredients and finished feed using available test kits for DON, aflatoxin and other specific toxins, as requested by clients.
Jones recommends a composite sample of at least 10 pounds to determine the specific mycotoxin content, derived using the
U.S. Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration recommendation of a single 12-foot probe from each railcar or 5- to 7.5-foot probes from a truck. This helps obtain a representative sample, since toxins may not be evenly distributed in consignments.

USDA grant funds hen welfare research

A consortium of scientists from Michigan State University, University of California–Davis and Washington State University has been awarded a $375,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to monitor the activity of hens in non-confined housing. Subjects will be fitted with wireless sensors to track movement and use of nest boxes, perches, feeders and waterers.
The sensor technology is adapted from systems that monitor human activity and health.
The team, led by Dr.
Janice Siegford, assistant professor of animal science at Michigan State University, will gather data to determine how much space hens require and to provide a scientific basis for the design of hen housing systems.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Producers advised to cooperate with environmental regulators

James T. Banks of the law firm Hogan and Hartson advised producers to become more environmentally aware in his address at the Animal Agriculture Environmental Sustainability Summit organized by WATT at the 2010 International Poultry Expo.
Banks is a specialist in environmental law and previously served as a regulator with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He stressed stewardship, reputation and liability in his talk. His take-home message was that environmental compliance influences how customers, communities and employees perceive a company. He said that “protecting your companies’ reputation and image in building a relationship with regulators is critically important.” Obvious scofflaws attract the attention of regulators, and agencies may set out to make an example of companies that flaunt laws.
Banks recommends “self-disclosure” if inadvertent contravention of regulations takes place. With appropriate representation, transparency, disclosure and evidence of remedial action, it is possible to have penalties for violations reduced or waived.

Avian pathologists seek comments on nomenclature

The welfare committee of the American Association of Avian Pathologists has reviewed terminology applied to flock management practices in the United States and made the following recommendations:
*“Cages” should be used in place of “batteries.”
*“Beak treatment” is to be used when chicks are subjected to infrared processing at the hatchery.
*“Beak trimming” should be used for manual hot blade trimming. The terms “debeaking,” “beak conditioning” or “beak cutting” should not be used for either process.
*“Induced molting” is preferred to “rejuvenating,” “recycling” or “reconditioning.”
The association welcomes readers’ comments and suggestions.

Judge to hear final arguments in Oklahoma poultry suit

Final arguments in Oklahoma’s pollution lawsuit against poultry companies begin on February 11, Food Safety News reported. The state wants the court to permanently limit the application of poultry litter as fertilizer to no more than 65 pounds per acre and is seeking a ruling before the spring application cycle.
Attorneys for the poultry industry say that U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frizzell should impose no limits because Oklahoma has not shown a "substantial threat to human health, drinking water, recreational use, or wildlife" posed by poultry litter.
The attorneys represent Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., Cargill Turkey Production L.L.C., Cobb-Vantress Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc., Simmons Foods Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc. and Tyson Poultry Inc.
Oklahoma contends that runoff from fields fertilized with poultry litter have raised phosphorous levels in the Illinois River watershed and led to dropping oxygen levels in Lake Tenkiller.

Tell us about industry trends in poultry nutrition, feeding

Participate in the 2010 WATT Poultry Nutrition & Feeding Survey and help us identify the top challenges facing the poultry industry in nutrition and feeding. The survey will discover how the industry is responding to key trends involving supply chain integrity, composition of rations, sustainability, investment and more. Survey results will appear in upcoming issues of WATT agribusiness publications including Poultry International, WATT PoultryUSA, Feed International and at
Click here to go to the easy-to-complete survey form that takes only minutes to answer.

Less than 1% of US farmland used for organic products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a survey finding that less than 0.5% of U.S. farmland is used for raising organic crops and livestock—a total of 14,450 farms on 4.1 million acres, compared with a total of 2.2 million farms on 922 million acres, according to The Wall Street Journal. Organic farms accounted for $3.16B in sales in 2008.
California accounts for a fifth of U.S. organic farm operations and more than a third of sales, the survey found.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New poultry industry safety recognition program announced

The Joint Poultry Industry Safety and Health Council has launched its first annual safety award program. The program is open to National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association members with poultry processing plants, hatcheries, feed mills or rendering facilities that have injury and illness rates below the industry average for three consecutive years.
The application deadline for this year’s awards is March 15, 2010. The awards will be presented during the National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry, June 9-11, 2010, at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

UK targets campylobacter in chickens

Britain’s seven major supermarket chains have been told by the national Food Standards Agency that they should review and improve the way they buy poultry, after a survey reported finding campylobacter bacteria in 65% of samples of chicken in UK retail stores. Supermarket executives from Asda, Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury, Tesco and Waitress have received a letter from the agency asking for the retailers’ cooperation to reduce the level of campylobacter in chickens sold to levels found in other countries.
The agency is already working with British processors on improvements to plant hygiene and biosecurity measures and on possible packaging solutions, such as modified atmosphere packaging. It will host a conference in March to look at further options for the post-processing treatment of birds and meat.
The agency is also part of a campylobacter joint working group with representatives from retailers and the poultry industry.
Recently, the European Food Safety Authority stated that 20% to 30% of human cases of campylobacteriosis in the European Union may be due to bacteria picked up from broiler meat.

USDA announces food safety initiatives for school lunch program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced several new food safety initiatives for the National School Lunch Program and other nutrition assistance programs. While the changes focus on ensuring the safety of ground beef, they could have consequences for every food segment.
As part of the plan, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will work with the Agricultural Marketing Service, a USDA agency that purchases meat, poultry and other crops for the school lunch program, to review meat, poultry and processed egg vendors.
The plan requires USDA agencies to share more information with each other so they can better monitor vendor performance and identify potential food safety issues. Information would include in-plant enforcement actions, positive pathogen test results, contract suspensions and recall notifications.
In addition, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is charged with developing performance criteria and providing financial assistance so states can rapidly communicate with schools and school districts about product recalls and food safety.
USA Today recently reported that the government has no unified system for notifying schools in the case of a food safety recall.
“These changes and continuous reviews will ensure that the food USDA distributes to school children and others meets the highest quality and safety standards,” the USDA said in a statement.

USDA ends National Animal Identification System

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will end the National Animal Identification System, the voluntary program intended to help the government respond to disease outbreaks in livestock, The New York Times reported.
Agriculture officials told the newspaper they would work with the livestock industry to develop a new program tracking only those animals that are transported between across state borders. They added that states may implement their own animal identification programs.
The national system has been in place since 2004, but just 40% of livestock producers participated in it. Detractors cited high equipment costs for tracing livestock, burdensome amounts of reporting, and fears that the government could use the information inappropriately to monitor business practices or income.

China may impose anti-dumping duties on US poultry

China may assess preliminary anti-dumping duties on poultry from the United States in an effort to check what it says are below-market prices on chicken feet and wings, reported.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce posted a notice on its Web site of the change, but indicated no date when enforcement would begin. The Chinese Poultry Association has accused American poultry producers of dumping feet and wings on the Chinese market.
The National Chicken Council said it “is very disappointed” with the decision. “We disagree that any chicken products have been sold below the cost of production or comparable price in the United States,” said a press release from the council.
According to the council, U.S. companies sold mainland China 693,830 metric tons of poultry products worth $620M from January through November of 2009. The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council reports that U.S. chicken accounted for 72.7%of China’s total broiler meat imports in 2008.
According to Jim Sumner, USAPEEC president, the Ministry of Commerce disregarded information from 36 U.S. companies that showed U.S. chicken is not being dumped on the Chinese market. “We’re hopeful that if Chinese officials study our submissions in greater detail, they will conclude that U.S. chicken products were, in fact, not dumped,” he said.
USAPEEC said that more than half of all U.S. poultry exports to China during the period under investigation were chicken feet, since Chinese farmers do not produce enough to meet demand. U.S. producers get a better price for feet on the Chinese market—$0.60 to $0.80 per pound—than the pennies per pound they can charge at home. “When a product is sold at export for prices that are many times higher than the price for the like good in the home market, that is not dumping. In fact, it is the very opposite of dumping,” the statement said.
Sumner added that he believes the anti-dumping move is a reaction to unrelated U.S.-China trade disputes, including those arising from U.S. safeguard duties on Chinese tires.