Friday, May 31, 2013

American Soybean Association releases position on 2013 Farm Bill amendments

    The Senate is currently debating amendments to the Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, also known as the 2013 Farm Bill. Senators have filed more than 200 amendments to alter certain aspects of the legislation before it comes to a vote, and there are some amendments that soybean farmers support and some that they oppose, according to the American Soybean Association.
    "In order to see a farm bill signed into law that represents the interests of soybean farmers, we must ensure that amendments to scale back programs like crop insurance, place unscientific regulations on biotech crops, hamper trade or restrict the growth of biodiesel are opposed," said the association. Supported amendments include: one that would provide a Sense of the Senate Resolution supporting market-oriented farm policy and opposing any program with high fixed target prices and/or planting requirements, or requiring farmers to choose between programs that cover different risks; and one that would protect the information of livestock producers. Opposed amendments include several dealing with crop insurance, biotechnology and the Renewable Fuel Standard.
    The American Soybean Association said it encourages each of its farmer members to send the list of supported and opposed amendments to their Senators.

AFIA 2013 Liquid Feed Symposium registration open

    The American Feed Industry Association's Liquid Feed Committee will present the 43rd annual Liquid Feed Symposium on Sept. 10-12 at Missouri's St. Louis Union Station, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. The program will educate and promote the agricultural liquid supplement industry through high-quality speaker presentations, research funding, achievement recognition and the Liquid Feed Symposium Trade Show, according to show organizers.
    A specialized educational line up has been developed to bring information to the broad spectrum of liquid feed manufacturers and supporting industries. Delivering the keynote will be Dr. Michael Swanson, a Wells Fargo economist. In addition to sessions covering crisis communication and legislative and regulatory topics impacting the industry, the symposium will also feature weather, cattle and ingredient forecasts. The event will also offer technical presentations on beef life cycle, fetal programming, milk pricing, milk fat and energy sources
    Networking opportunities for attendees will include watching the 2011 World Series champions take on the Milwaukee Brewers, and the induction of the 2013 Liquid Feed Hall of Fame recipient. The AFIA event will also feature the Liquid Feed Trade Show, where manufacturers, suppliers and industry-support companies exhibit their products.
    Registration is available at

Retail prices climbing faster for poultry than for other proteins

    Retail poultry prices have increased faster than other proteins over the past year, having climbed 4.2 percent from their April 2012 levels. Chicken prices moved up 4.4 percent, while other poultry prices -- including turkey -- increased 3.4 percent. Poultry prices in April increased 0.7 percent from the previous month.
    "Consumers over the last six months or so, and maybe a little longer, have been beginning to switch from the perennially expensive beef and even pork, on to poultry," said USDA economist Ricky Volpe said during a recent USDA broadcast, indicating that higher demand translates into higher prices.
    In contrast, beef prices were down 0.5 percent in April and are 1.8 percent above last April, with steak prices down 0.2 percent and ground beef prices up 2.7 percent, according to the USDA's Food Price Outlook, released on May 28. Pork prices decreased 0.6 percent in April and are 1.6 percent below last April's level. A decline in exports and increased hog production has resulted in retail pork prices for the first 4 months of 2013 that are well below those of 2012. Overall, the drought has not had a substantial effect on pork prices.
    Fish and seafood prices were up 3 percent from March to April and are 2.3 percent above the April 2012 level.
    Egg prices rose 1 percent in April and are now 3.1 percent above the April 2012 level. Egg prices are expected to fully reflect the impact of higher feed corn prices sooner than many other food products but are also subject to strong seasonal swings in pricing. 

Global poultry industry dependent on supply, demand, feed costs

    In its recent second quarter report, Rabobank's Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group says that the positive outlook for the global poultry industry is highly dependent on the continuation of a balance in local supply and demand, falling feed costs, and ongoing high prices for competitive meats like pork and beef.
    Key wildcards for the rest of the year will be global trade developments, which were very weak in the first quarter of 2013, and the impact of avian influenza virus H7N9 on the Chinese poultry industry.
    Rabobank poultry analyst Nan-Dirk Mulder commented, "Conditions for the global poultry industry have improved thanks to a further slowdown in feed price growth, which is helping to boost margins. While we expect this trend to continue, a positive outlook will depend very much on how well the industry can balance its markets and whether the bird flu outbreak in parts of China can be contained. If it were to spread further across the Asian region, we can expect an impact on poultry markets globally."
    The Chinese poultry industry has been suffering ever since the official announcement of H7N9 in March 2013, which has so far resulted in 130 human cases and claimed the lives of 36 people as of May 20. As a consequence of falling demand, prices collapsed and farmers have commenced a large scale slaughtering of birds with no replenishment to broods as they adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Local governments in affected areas have extended help to the sector in order to limit the impact on the industry; this assistance comes in the form of purchasing programs or compensation offered to poultry merchants in return for slaughtering their stocks.
    While consumers remain wary, the initial panic appears to be waning as the pace of growth of new infections has slowed. Still, in the six weeks after the first case was confirmed, China's poultry industry has suffered losses amounting to $6.5 billion.
    The Chinese government has reacted to concerns about the negative industry impact of the outbreak - namely future supply concerns - by implementing a new $96.9 million breeding program aimed at preventing shortages when markets recover. This support program has lead to some price recovery recently, but prices remain low.
    The U.S. and Brazil are performing better than in the first quarter, with a relatively healthy supply and demand situation limiting the impact of a weak international trade situation. The EU remains the weakest performing industry, as it is still challenged by relatively high feed prices combined with abundant supply. In Asia, the Thai industry has greatly improved a consequence of large oversupply and is benefiting from strong demand for poultry products in the EU and Japan.

USPOULTRY Information Systems Seminar to highlight project management solutions

    The complexity and significance of information technology projects in an ever-changing environment showcases the growing impact information systems managers have within their organizations. Handling this changing environment requires in-depth and up-to-date solutions from industry experts. The 2013 USPOULTRY Information Systems Seminar will provide valuable information and tools that information technology managers can apply immediately. Sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, the seminar will be held July 16 - 17, at the Doubletree Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.
    This year's agenda will address Project Management and Metrics, IT Challenges and Opportunities; A Washington Update; Workflow Process Development; Cloud Computing: Software as a Service; How Are You Leading Your Team?; Fleet Management and Safety Technology; Vendor Solutions: Product Traceability/Recall and Predictive Modeling; Emerging Technology; and an open forum on What Keeps You Up at Night?
    A program committee of information technology managers developed the agenda for the seminar, including Jose Faller, Cooper Farms; Sim Harbert, Georgia Tech Research Institute; Greg Whisenant, Case Farms; Mike Burruss, Tip Top Poultry; Kendall Layman, Cobb-Vantress, and Alan Brownell, Case Farms.
    To register for the 2013 Information System Seminar, go to  

Missouri eases rules on egg sales

    The Missouri Department of Agriculture has changed laws making it easier for farmers' market merchants and roadside vendors to sell eggs directly to consumers. The agency has lessened licensing requirements where those who sell eggs directly to consumers now only need a $5 retail license, the Associated Press reported.
    Missouri previously required dealer licenses for direct-to-consumer sales of eggs. The new classification applies to those who sell fewer than 25 cases of eggs weekly. Labeling requirements remain the same, where sellers must list their name, address, and the size and grade of the eggs.
    State officials say the change is a response to the growing popularity of farmers' markets.

US poultry live weight climbs 7 percent in April

    The preliminary total live weight of all federally inspected poultry during April was up 7 percent from 2012 numbers, increasing from 4.66 billion pounds to 4.97 billion pounds. The April figures were released in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Poultry Slaughter report on May 23.
    Young chickens inspected totaled 4.25 billion pounds, also a 7 percent increase from April 2012, while mature chickens, at 72.3 million pounds, were up 10 percent over 2012 numbers, according to the report.
    Poultry certified wholesome during April totaled 3.75 billion pounds, up 7 percent from the amount of certified ready-to-cook weights from April 2012 and rebounding from the revised March total of 3.52 billion pounds, which was a 2 percent decrease from the total weight certified in March 2012. 

Zimbabwe broiler production grows by more than 500 percent

    The poultry and pig industries in Zimbabwe have recorded significant growth during the past four years due to increases in small operations production, according to Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made. Broiler production had grown by more than 500 percent while egg production grew by 300 percent.
    "Small to medium scale producers now account for two-thirds of the broiler producers and nearly half of the egg producers," said Made. "In the same period, pig slaughters increased by 31 percent to 141,000 pigs in 2012."
    Made said this development addressed dietary diversification recommendations under the country's recently launched Food Security and Nutrition Policy, reported. He said that the poultry and pig industries have also contributed meaningfully to the gross domestic product, as poultry production added $357 million and the pig industry contributed $39 million to the gross domestic product.
    "Close to 82 percent of all stock feeds produced in the country are consumed in the poultry and pig industries making the combined two subsectors the mainstay of the feed industry," he said.
    The growth of the sectors has resulted in job creation; however, the uptick in poultry and swine production has created a feed shortage and has made Zimbabwe more reliant on imports, said Made. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Inventories of frozen chicken wings continue to build

    U.S. inventories of frozen chicken wings continue to grow, with the amount of wings in cold storage at the end of April up 11 percent from March numbers and up 131 percent from April 2012.
    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cold Storage report, U.S. chicken wing supplies reached 83.6 million pounds on April 30. That compares to 75.4 million pounds on March 31 and 36.2 million pounds on April 30, 2012.
    No other chicken parts saw as significant of a month-over-month climb as chicken wings did. Total chicken in cold storage amounted to 668.8 million pounds on April 30, up 8 percent from the 617.9 million pounds reported at the end of March, and up 11 percent from the 600.9 pounds reported in April 2012.

Poultry school announces upcoming sessions in Europe

    Aviagen, a poultry breeding company, has announced the next modules in its Europe, Middle East and Africa Production School. Following feedback from students attending the first three modules, the next series will take a slightly different approach with more workshops and hands-on sections in addition to lectures.
    The Breeder Module will take place in Edinburgh, Scotland, August 31 through September 7, 2013, followed by the Broiler Module in Budapest, Hungary, February 15-22, 2014, and the Hatchery Management and Incubation Module in Amsterdam, March 15-21, 2014.
    School Director Nick Spenceley said, "The school has been a great success. We have welcomed people from many countries and it is rewarding to enter a room of 30 quiet and insular people from 20 different countries in the morning; yet by the end of the day see them laughing, sharing information and generally enjoying each other's company.
    "However, we do recognize that while we are dealing with highly skilled people, for many, English isn't their first language and we wanted to make sure that this didn't become a barrier to learning. With that in mind, and taking account of the feedback from the previous modules, we have increased the number of workshops and are taking a fresh approach at our most popular topics, such as data management, which has received great reviews from attendees."
    The Breeder Module in September will include a variety of topics:
    • Data handling and analysis
    • Ventilation
    • Veterinary health
    • Nutrition
    • Critical age management
    • Financial benchmarking
    The new format will see students splitting into teams to run a hypothetical company and make decisions that affect the growth and success of the business.
    Spenceley added, "At some point in our careers, we will all be asked to investigate investment opportunities and present a justified cost/benefit analysis to our senior colleagues.
    "The course will culminate by bringing the week's tutorial and case study work together, with each team presenting a reasoned business case with any required capital investment justified for improving the output of least-cost fertile hatching eggs."

Jim Perdue stresses sustainability at poultry workshop

    "Sustainability is about thinking globally. Responsibility is about what happens locally within your operations," said Jim Perdue, chairman of the board of directors for Perdue Farms. Perdue gave his opening remarks at the U.S. Egg & Poultry Association's 2013 Poultry Processor Workshop held at the Embassy Suites Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Ga.
    During his presentation on "Sustainability: Social Responsibility/Managing Packaging Wastes," Perdue stressed that the concept of sustainability is wrapped around providing the world with a nutritious product that is safe, affordable, accessible to the consumer and produced in a way that respects the earth, animals and people with the understanding that it does not necessarily cost you more money to do this.
    Dr. Ashley Peterson, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the National Chicken Council, provided a regulatory update on Salmonella and Campylobacter. She focused on regulations related to the poultry slaughter rule, chicken parts baseline, activities within the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring Program, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Reassessment Notice and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration activities at hatcheries. Peterson noted that there seems to be more regulation in recent history, commenting that government agencies are feeling pressure from consumers, consumer groups and industry.
    In his presentation on "Yield: Back to Basics … What Does It Mean in Dollars and Cents?" Kevin Ingram, quality assurance manager with Koch Foods, remarked that yield is an area that is often overlooked or misunderstood. He provided various scenarios reflecting how much yield is worth and where it can be found within the poultry production process. Ingram said, "Everyone can make an impact on yield, and it is very important that we give it our full attention."
    Other topics included:
    • Further Processing: Marination 101 and Breading
    • Controlling Foreign Material: Challenges in Rendering and Animal Feeds
    • New Innovation
    • The Impact of Leadership on Employee Retention
    • Animal Welfare…Combating the Public's Perception
    • GFSI Audits: Root Cause Analysis

Analytical instrument supplier sponsors near infrared conference

    Foss, which supplies analytical solutions for quality control and processing throughout the supply chain for agricultural products, is a sponsor for the 16th International Conference on Near Infrared Spectroscopy, held June 2-7, 2013 in La Grande-Motte, France.
    Experts in all aspects of near infrared spectroscopy will gather to explore how the technology can be used for a range of applications in food, agriculture and other industries. Foss will have a stand in the Salle Exposition and will participate with a calibration training event, posters and presentations and a social event with near infrared spectroscopy and chemometrics expert, Harald Martens.
    Pre-conference calibration course
    On June 2, a course on calibration is available. Chemometrics expert, Dr. L. Nørgaard and M. Westerhaus from Foss will train those attending the course: "WinISI advanced training  a case-based and hands-on workshop on calibration and discrimination."
    Presentations on variable selection and Gaussian Process Regression
    Foss will host several presentations, including:
    • "An improved variable selection method for classification of collinear data: Recursive Extended Canonical Variates Analysis," with Søren B. Engelsen, Martin Andersson, Lars Nørgaard, Copenhagen University, Denmark
    • "Gaussian Process Regression in NIR spectroscopy  a comparative chemometric study with PLS and ANN," with Wangdong Ni, Rasmus Bro, Lars Nørgaard, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
    • Foss will also present a poster: "A Procedure to Determine when NIR is Better than its Reference Method," Martin Andersson, Lars Nørgaard
    Social event
    Foss will host a social event on June 3, which will include guest speaker Harald Martens, a near infrared spectroscopy and chemometrics expert. 

Chemical producer works to expand enzyme offerings

    BASF, a chemical production company, has made several transactions to grow its industrial enzyme field. It has completed the acquisition of Henkel's detergents enzyme technology. Additionally, BASF has entered into a research and license agreement with the global biotechnology company Dyadic International Inc., which provides access to a new production host technology. BASF has also signed a research and development collaboration agreement with Direvo Industrial Biotechnology to develop a feed enzyme for animal nutrition.
    "The acquired technologies are a prerequisite to develop and further strengthen our enzyme technology platform for attractive global market segments. We will use the acquired know-how and technology for the efficient development of future innovative customer solutions," said Michael Heinz, member of the board of executive directors of BASF.
    In order to add to its position as a supplier of differentiating ingredients to the detergents and cleaning industry, BASF completed the acquisition of Henkel's detergents enzyme technology, including production hosts, various detergent enzymes and corresponding intellectual property. Under the agreement, Henkel retains the right to use the technology for captive demand, including back-licensing provisions.
    In addition, BASF and Dyadic International announced that the two companies have entered into a non-exclusive worldwide research and license agreement for Dyadic's C1 production host technology. Under the terms of the license agreement, BASF will be able to use Dyadic's patented and proprietary C1 technology for gene discovery, expression and the production of enzymes and other proteins. BASF will fund research and development at Dyadic's research labs.
    Moreover, BASF and Direvo Industrial Biotechnology are broadening their collaboration on enzymes for animal nutrition. Direvo, an expert in enzyme development and optimization, and BASF will jointly develop a highly efficient protease for pig and poultry. Proteases are increasingly used in animal nutrition to improve the digestibility of soy. This new product will help animals to make better use of the nutrients in their diet and support their well-being. 

Jennie-O Turkey performance hurts Hormel Foods’ quarterly income

    Revenue from the Jennie-O Turkey Store declined about 2 percent to $384.7 million because of higher feed costs and weaker turkey prices. The weakness of the Jennie-O business was a contributing factor to parent company Hormel Foods' net income dropping 2 percent during the second quarter of the 2013 fiscal year.
    Revenue from Jennie-O Turkey Store makes up about 18 percent of Hormel's revenues.
    Hormel Foods earned $125.5 million, or 46 cents per share, for the three months ended April 28. That compares with $127.9 million, or 48 cents per share, a year earlier.
    Its quarterly performance missed Wall Street's expectations. Analysts predicted earnings of 49 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.
    Also contributing to Hormel's net income decrease was about $9 million in one-time costs related to the company's purchase of Skippy peanut butter. Hormel agreed to buy Skippy in January from Unilever for $700 million. 

Alltech announces young scientist research awards

      Amanda Pesqueria and Nimesha Fernando, middle, won the Alltech Young Scientists Award.
    Two students have received the title of Alltech Young Scientist for research demonstrating an exceptional awareness of science and its role in shaping the future of agriculture.
    Undergraduate student Amanda Pesqueira of the University of Kentucky and graduate student Nimesha Fernando of the University of Melbourne, Australia, were honored May 22 from a field of more than 8,000 global registrants. The students were recognized in front of a crowd of more than 2,300 during the closing session of Alltech's 29th International Symposium.
    After a regional evaluation process in early 2013, eight finalists were invited to travel to Lexington, Ky., to deliver their research findings before a panel of judges. The undergraduate and graduate winners received $5,000 and $10,000 respectively.
    Pesqueria attended the University of Maringa in Brazil before transferring to the University of Kentucky for her final year of undergraduate studies in animal science. Her research presentation, titled "Contractile Response of the Different Ergot Alkaloids in Bovine Cranial Branch of the Lateral Saphenous Vein In Vitro," examines the compounds involved with fescue toxicosis syndrome in cows through the use of an advanced testing system. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in animal science.
    Fernando, a graduate student at the University of Melbourne, looked at how high levels of carbon dioxide in the environment affect the growth of grain through her research presentation titled "Free Air CO2 Enrichment Altered Wheat Grain Protein Quality and Rheological Characteristics: A Comparative Proteomic Analysis." Using proteomic analysis, she showed that exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide results in grains with lower levels of protein, and then applied her research findings to the use of wheat in food production.
    Fernando holds a Bachelor of Science in agriculture and a Master of Science in resource management from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. She is committed to finding innovative ways to maintain food quality through environmental changes.
    "The theme of this year's symposium was Glimpse – looking into the future and imagining the possibilities of what we can achieve together. But we need to cultivate curiosity in our young people to make progress toward these achievements," said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech.
    "Our Young Scientists are asking the question, 'Why not?' It's their sense of curiosity that will lead us to answers to reduce our carbon footprint, to feed our animals more efficiently and to improve the quality of human life through nutrition," Lyons said.
    "This year, the Alltech Young Scientist finalists amazed our panel of judges with brilliant insights into the future of agriculture, but also with their personal dedication to advancement through research," said Dr. Inge Russell, director of the Alltech Young Scientist Competition. "Our winners' stories of perseverance and sacrifice are a true testament to their passion for science."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Smithfield Foods purchased by China’s Shuanghui International Holdings

    Smithfield Foods, Inc. and Shuanghui International Holdings Limited announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement that values Smithfield at approximately $7.1 billion, including the assumption of Smithfield's net debt. Shuanghui International is the majority shareholder of Henan Shuanghui Investment & Development Co., which is China's largest meat processing enterprise and China's largest publicly traded meat products company as measured by market capitalization.
    Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, Shuanghui will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Smithfield for $34.00 per share in cash. The purchase price represents a premium of approximately 31 percent over Smithfield's closing stock price on May 28, the last trading day prior to today's announcement.
    "This is a great transaction for all Smithfield stakeholders, as well as for American farmers and U.S. agriculture," said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield. "We have established Smithfield as the world's leading and most trusted vertically integrated pork processor and hog producer, and are excited that Shuanghui recognizes our best-in-class operations, our outstanding food safety practices and our 46,000 hard-working and dedicated employees. It will be business as usual - only better - at Smithfield. We do not anticipate any changes in how we do business operationally in the United States and throughout the world. We will become part of an enterprise that shares our belief in global opportunities and our commitment to the highest standards of product safety and quality. With our shared expertise and leadership, we look forward to accelerating a global expansion strategy as part of Shuanghui."
    "We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Smithfield, which represents a historic opportunity for both companies and their stakeholders," said Shuanghui chairman Wan Long. "Shuanghui is a leading pork producer in China and a pioneer in the Chinese meat processing industry with over 30 years of history. Smithfield is a leader in our industry and together we will be able to meet the growing demand in China for pork by importing high-quality meat products from the United States, while continuing to serve markets in the United States and around the world. The combination creates a company with an unmatched set of assets, products and geographic reach."
    Wan continued: "The acquisition provides Smithfield the opportunity to expand its offering of products to China through Shuanghui's distribution network. Shuanghui will gain access to high-quality, competitively-priced and safe U.S. products, as well as Smithfield's best practices and operational expertise.  We were especially attracted to Smithfield for its strong management team, leading brands and vertically integrated model. We look forward to working with Larry Pope and the many talented employees at Smithfield to grow the combined company as a leading global pork and processed meat producer with the same vision and values of providing high-quality and safe products to consumers."
    Shuanghui is committed to continuing the long-term growth of Smithfield, and continuing to work with American farmers, producers and suppliers who have been critical to Smithfield's success.
    Shuanghui will continue its long-term strategy and vision to become a global leader with strict adherence to the highest standards of quality control and safety compliance. Its agreement to acquire Smithfield is fully aligned with this focus.  Shuanghui will maintain the excellence in Smithfield's brands and strategic priorities. Together, Shuanghui and Smithfield will enhance their competitiveness, contributing to a more secure future for the Chinese and U.S. pork industries.
    Pope added, "This transaction provides Smithfield shareholders with significant and immediate cash value for their investment, and ensures that Smithfield will continue to execute on its strategic priorities while maintaining our brand excellence, community involvement, and our commitment to environmental stewardship and animal welfare.  Our board of directors is pleased with the outcome of the process we followed leading to this transaction, and we unanimously believe that this combination with Shuanghui is in the best interests of the Company, our shareholders and all Smithfield stakeholders."
    Commitment to Smithfield's Headquarters, Management and Employees
    Upon closing of the transaction, Smithfield's common stock will cease to be publicly traded. The Company will be a wholly-owned independent subsidiary of Shuanghui International Holdings Limited, operating as Smithfield Foods.  Mr. Pope will continue as president and chief executive officer of Smithfield, and the management teams and workforces of Smithfield's Independent Operating Companies will continue in place after the transaction.
    Shuanghui will honor the collective bargaining agreements in place with Smithfield's represented employees, as well as existing wage and benefit packages for non-represented employees. Under the agreement, there will be no closures at Smithfield's facilities and locations, and Smithfield's existing management team will remain in place.
    Understanding the importance of preserving Smithfield's heritage, values and connections with the communities it serves, and because it also is an engaged member of the communities it serves, Shuanghui has pledged to maintain Smithfield's headquarters in Smithfield, Va., and to continue Smithfield's philanthropic support of community initiatives and investments in sustainability.
    Transaction Details and Approvals
    The transaction will be financed through a combination of cash provided by Shuanghui, rollover of existing Smithfield debt, as well as debt financing that has been committed by Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, Inc. and a syndicate of banks.  There is no financing condition to this transaction.
    The closing of the transaction is subject to certain conditions, including, among others, approval by Smithfield's shareholders, the receipt of approval under applicable U.S. and specified foreign antitrust and anti-competition laws, The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and other customary closing conditions.
    The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2013.
    Barclays is serving as financial advisor to Smithfield and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and McGuireWoods LLP are serving as legal counsel. Morgan Stanley is serving as financial advisor to Shuanghui and Paul Hastings LLP and Troutman Sanders LLP are serving as legal counsel. 

Poultry temperature fraud suspect accepts plea bargain

    One of three men accused of conspiring to falsify temperature records for poultry to be shipped to Russia has entered a guilty plea. Terry White was a warehouse supervisor for Gulf Coast Cold Storage in 2009 when he directed others to falsify blast-freezer records and restack loads of poultry to disguise portions that were not cold enough to load onto ships. Shipping the poultry at higher than required temperatures was a violation of a trade agreement with Russia. Gulf Coast Cold Storage is a tenant at the Port of Pascagoula.
    White accepted a plea agreement Tuesday to conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States. The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the Sun Herald reported. He avoided trial on four other charges with additional penalties of up to 18 years in prison and fines of $760,000. White will be sentenced Aug. 19 in U.S. District Court.
    Two other men who were supervisors at the business are set for trial June 3. Gerald Miller and Patrick McClain will be prosecuted on the conspiracy charge. Miller also will be tried on three counts of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
    They are accused of circumventing trade-agreement requirements on poultry temperatures to increase productivity at the business. The three men remain free on unsecured bonds.

Consumer demands on antibiotic-free pork production challenge industry

    The animal agribusiness industry - specifically pig producers - are currently walking a fine line between science and consumer attitudes and values  when it comes to the use of antibiotics, and especially antibiotics as growth promoters.
    That view was expressed by Dr. Terry Coffey, chief science and technology officer for Murphy-Brown LLC, a major U.S. pork producer, at the 2013 Alltech Symposium May 21 in Lexington, Ky.,  as part of a panel,  "Is Antibiotic-Free Animal Production Possible?"
    Antimicrobial growth promoters
    "What is on the line is use of antimicrobials as growth promoters," said Coffey. Referring to the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] Guidance 209 for judicious and responsible use for antibiotics in the animal industry, he said, "Basically, if a product is important for human use, it can't be used in animals."
    Murphy-Brown follows Guidance 209 and the Veterinary Feed Directive and clearly outlines the company's antibiotic usage policy on its consumer web site. Coffey said Murphy-Brown does a full accounting of antibiotics use each year, so Coffey knows exactly why and how antibiotics are used at the company.  He said well over 90 percent of the antibiotics are used for prevention and control of disease, with a very small percentage used as growth promoters.
    Antimicrobial growth promoters are used to manage immune system inflammatory stress.  "These function more predictably than other alternatives, so they do work," said Coffey.  "When we look to the future, the search is on for alternatives. What natural products can give that type of protection?
    Pig health factors
    Murphy-Brown also is looking at other management techniques to reduce stress.  "Other related issues are sanitation, biosecurity, good management practices, and use of pig vaccines," said Coffey.  "Every time we use a vaccine, we create a reaction in the immune system, so some of this is self-inflicted.
    As pressure from the public mounts for reduced antibiotics in pork production, the challenge of keeping pigs healthy continue.  While Coffey says alternatives may be found to manage gut microflora, there aren't many alternatives for therapeutic use of antibiotics. "More than 90 percent of the antibiotics we use are for prevention and control of disease," he said. "PRRS and swine influenza drive most of the therapeutic antibiotic use."

Tyson Foods supports disaster relief efforts in Oklahoma

    Tyson Foods is providing disaster relief support in Oklahoma in the aftermath of the devastating tornado that hit May 20. The company's "Meals that Matter" disaster relief trailer and cooking teams from several Tyson plant locations arrived in Moore on May 21 to begin providing meals to victims and relief workers. Depending upon the need, the trailer and cooking teams could be on site for two to three weeks.
    Tyson also plans to provide financial support to the Oklahoma relief effort. The company is matching employee donations, dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000, to the American Red Cross.The 53-foot "Meals that Matter"  semi-trailer was first used in 2012 in New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. It is designed to help Tyson set up an organized disaster relief site quickly. It serves as a central supply unit to support Tyson cook teams that bring grills and volunteers to help feed people in need. The unit was also used in 2012 to serve 1,600 people at KNOW Hunger nutrition fairs in Mississippi that were organized by the National Urban League and Tyson Foods. 

Wayne Farms employee honored by The Poultry Federation

    Wayne Farms employee Steve Harrington, Danville, Ark., was one of three recent industry recipients named Service Technician of the Year- Broiler Division by the Poultry Federation.
    The winners were announced at the Service Technician Awards Ceremony during the Poultry Federation's annual Spring Symposium, held April 24 at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers, Ark. The recipients were nominated by their companies and growers for outstanding service in their respective field in the industry.
    "Steve does an outstanding job in managing his route and has maintained status as the number one performer at Wayne Farms for four consecutive years," says David Elam, Wayne Farms Danville complex manager. "He has earned the respect of his producers by listening to their concerns, offering solutions and helping them to improve. We are very proud of Steve's achievement and his contributions to our company."
    The Wayne Farms Danville facility consists of a 79,783 square-foot processing plant, 25,658 square-foot feed mill and a 39,280 square-foot hatchery. 

Feed supplier and poultry equipment companies sign agreement

    Tri Dinamika Nusantara, a feed ingredient supplier, will distribute Jansen Poultry Equipment products. The agreement between the companies was undersigned in Indonesia and allows the Netherlands-based Jansen Poultry Equipment products to be sold in Indonesia.
    Introduction of the Jansen Poultry Products will take place at the Indonesian Livestock Exhibition at Bali from June 5-7 in the Balu Nusa Dua Convention Center. 

Poultry house environment the focus at annual Aviagen SweChick seminar

    Aviagen SweChick recently held its annual customer seminar, attended by representatives of the company's customer base across Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark.
    The focus for the 2013 seminar, held in Malmo, Sweden, with 37 delegates in attendance, was about the importance of the poultry housing environment.
    On the first day of the event, all attendees received a joint program to give a broad overview of the business in general, with the second day split for specialist discussions among Aviagen SweChick customers.
    Being able to "think outside the box" was a key element to the second day of the seminar, with delegates encouraged to think up new ways of approaching specialist issues, with the overall aim being to develop new tactics and share information to drive performance and increase profits.
    Thomas Carlson, managing director of Aviagen SweChick, said: "This year's seminar proved to be another success and I was happy with the outcome. One thing that always comes through at these events is the positive and open atmosphere among our customers.
    "I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of networking among our customers and the strength between them to share knowledge for improvement and as a result, better profitability for their own businesses."
    Among the presentations given by speakers from Aviagen and industry specialists, Sander Lourends from Wageningen University talked about the importance of the whole production chain taking responsibility to keep the chain as strong as possible.
    Comments from customers who attended reflected their appreciation for the seminar and Jon Magnus Jonsson from Isfugl in Iceland said: "I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and it was great to share information as well as take in the specialist presentations. The location proved to be an excellent choice also." 

Chinese pig farmers encouraged to use, record data

    Chinese pig producers are encouraged to record and study data and actively promote reform and development in the agriculture sector, according to Liu Yonghao, president of New Hope Group.
    He cited the pig farming of New Hope group as an example, and pointed out that the company pays attention to the nutritional composition of its pig feed.
    “Allocation and percentage of energy, protein and 21 amino acids in protein — all should be strictly controlled and recorded,” says Yonghao. “Real-time data can help farmers to understand the trophic dynamics of pigs and lead to scientific farming.”
    According to Yonghao, China has hundreds of millions of pig farmers. If cloud computing is adopted, then big data can be used to develop a model and establish an information system to create a scientific pig farming industry. 

Organic selenium used as a nutritional additive approved by European Commission

    The European Commission has just published the approval of Biorigin’s organic selenium product as a nutritional additive for all animal species, with no limitations of age or period of administration.
    Selemax is a selenium source in the form of organic compounds produced from a Saccharomyces cerevisiae-type yeast enriched with selenium. It is presented at the concentrations of 1,000 and 2,000 ppm.
    The process for the approval of Biorigin’s organic selenium for the European market started in 2007, when the data for the registration dossier was compiled by a multidisciplinary group, which was composed by employees and an external consultant.
    Technical trials were carried out for three years to demonstrate product functions, and to determine product specifications, technical data and other relevant information. The dossier for Selemax registration was submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2010, and their positive scientific opinion was published in 2012. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Animal relief services deployed to Oklahoma

    Shortly after the tornado hit Moore, Okla., Dr. Rod Hall, state veterinarian for Oklahoma, extended an invitation to American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services to officially deploy to the disaster in Moore.
    The tornado, reported to be EF-5 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on May 20, killing at least 24 people.
    “Our hearts and prayers go out to the people in Oklahoma as they begin recover and rebuild. Just as people are adversely affected by a natural disaster, so are our animals  both those we keep as pets and those on our farms and ranches,” said Animal Agriculture Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith. “The alliance is encouraging its members to donate to worthy causes, which will be on the ground in Oklahoma helping in this devastating storm’s aftermath.”
    The American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services in Oklahoma will include two large big-rig rescue vehicles, which serve as mobile veterinary hospitals and triage centers for animals and also transport crates and medical supplies. The rigs also provide lodging for the association’s staff and first responders.
    Other groups that will be instrumental in helping ensure animal care and well-being in the storm’s aftermath include the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter. Both these groups, as well as the American Humane Association, are accepting donations to aid in their relief efforts.
    According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, certified American Veterinary Medical Association veterinary teams will be standing by to assist in Oklahoma in caring for both large and small animals. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation asks any Oklahoma veterinarians in need of help in order to continue to provide critical health and sheltering care, to contact them.
    “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this disaster, their families and those on the ground helping to assist with the ongoing clean-up efforts. We hope our membership and others will be generous in donating to those organizations caring for both humans and animals in Oklahoma,” Johnson Smith said. 

Registration for Hatchery-Breeder Clinic available

    The 2013 Hatchery-Breeder Clinic will bring hatchery and breeder flock managers together to discuss the latest technology, equipment developments and industry trends. The annual clinic, sponsored by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, will be held July 9-10, at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, Ala.
    "This year's program will provide essential tools and resources to help managers stay abreast of new developments that can assist them in their day-to-day duties, as well as highlight cost-saving innovations for running an efficient and effective hatchery-breeder operation," said program committee chairman Jack Patrick, Harrison Poultry Inc.
    Topics include: an agriculture stats review for hatcheries and breeders; cocci vaccine alternatives: pros and cons; chick mortality; biosecurity methods for hatcheries and breeders; disease update and prevention methods; hatching eggs: sanitation/handling/storage; and concurrent breakout sessions on related hatchery and breeder topics.
    The agenda was developed by a committee of hatchery-breeder specialists. Members of the committee are Richard Higgins, Perdue Farms Inc.; Nath Morris, Heritage Breeders; and Jack Patrick, Harrison Poultry Inc.
    Registration for the 2013 Hatchery-Breeder Clinic is available on the USPOULTRY website

Poultry companies can’t afford to operate without yield technicians

    When poultry processors allow even the smallest piece of meat go to waste, they are also allowing money to go to waste. By hiring special yield technicians, companies can help maximize yield from each bird and improve the bottom line, Kevin Ingram, quality assurance manager for Koch Foods, said during the recent Poultry Processor Workshop.
    Ingram estimated that a 1 percent yield loss can cost a processing plant $5,200 per day, which adds up to $1,326,000 annually. When a manager looks at those statistics, the question of whether the company can afford to hire a yield technician gets answered with a definitive "yes."
    "There are so many little areas, with so many pieces of equipment that we touch in a poultry plant where we can find yield that it justifies the extra technicians. If they can help us find that 1 percent, they've paid for their salary," Ingram said.
    Lost yield can be found at all stages of the plant, Ingram said. Receiving, live hang, kill room, picking room, evisceration, chilling, second processing and further processing are all stages where yield loss can occur.
    All employees need to be aware of yield, Ingram said. He suggested that all plant workers be trained in yield awareness, that daily and weekly yield data be posted, and employees be given frequent feedback on performance. 

Brochure on pig feed handling available

Poultry thresholds remain unchanged after EU emissions review

    The European Commission has decided not to amend thresholds for poultry and pigs or to include cattle in the Industrial Emissions Directive. However, there are fears that measures on manure spreading could still impact on the livestock industry.
    The directive, published in 2010, brought together seven previous directives and came out of a review of industrial emissions legislation, aiming to ensure clearer environmental benefits, the removal of ambiguities, promotion of cost effectiveness and encouragement of technical innovation.
    At the time of publication, it was envisioned that some topics relevant to the directive would be reviewed. These included review of the thresholds for poultry, mixed pig and poultry farms and whether there was a need to control emissions from cattle, but these will not now be implemented.
    Despite leaving the thresholds unchanged, the report states that the European Commission will be further investigating whether EU measures should be introduced for manure spreading and for combustion plants less than 50 megawatts.
    Dr. Diane Mitchell, chief environmental advisor with the UK's National Farmers Union, commented: "This is a great relief for the livestock sector and we are pleased to see that commonsense has prevailed. The National Farmers Union has remained convinced that the directive is ill-suited to the agriculture sector and argued that the costs of extending the scope of the directive would have far outweighed the environmental benefits."

Organic selenium used as a nutritional additive approved by European Commission

    The European Commission has just published the approval of Biorigin’s organic selenium product as a nutritional additive for all animal species, with no limitations of age or period of administration.
    Selemax is a selenium source in the form of organic compounds produced from a Saccharomyces cerevisiae-type yeast enriched with selenium. It is presented at the concentrations of 1,000 and 2,000 ppm.
    The process for the approval of Biorigin’s organic selenium for the European market started in 2007, when the data for the registration dossier was compiled by a multidisciplinary group, which was composed by employees and an external consultant.
    Technical trials were carried out for three years to demonstrate product functions, and to determine product specifications, technical data and other relevant information. The dossier for Selemax registration was submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2010, and their positive scientific opinion was published in 2012. 

Seven ways to avoid sow heat stress in hot weather

    Heat stress can have a major impact on sow performance and longevity and sows may feel heat stressed as temperatures surpass 70 degrees F. Depending upon humidity[1], sows can start to experience adverse effects from heat stress, such as reduced feed intake.
    Changes in the ration can help sows continue to consume the nutrients they need to maintain performance and body condition levels. Sows are most comfortable between 45 and 70 degrees F, with 60 to 65 degrees F being optimal,  according to Vern Pearson, PhD, swine nutritionist for Purina Animal Nutrition.
    "The combination of hot temperatures and humidity results in a high heat stress index and can cause problems for the sow if we don't account for it," Pearson says, explaining that heat stressed sows have a greater potential to experience seasonal infertility, smaller litter sizes, decreased embryo survival rates and death losses. Heat stress can also impact boars, resulting in lower libido, lower sperm counts, abnormal sperm and smaller litters. [2]
    Heat stress can be minimized by adjusting the temperature in the facility. Strategies for adequate air movement and cooling include: ventilation systems, air conditioning units, drip cooling, fresh-air inlets, cool cells, nose coolers and water sprinkler systems. No matter the system selected, Pearson advises producers to measure temperatures at the sow's level and to keep temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F.
    In addition to environmental controls, sow nutrition plays a key role in sow productivity through the summer.
    "There's a direct correlation between heat and reduced feed intake," Pearson says. "Heat stressed sows will eat less because digestion gives off body heat and makes the sows even warmer.
    "Lactating sows will first maintain their litters and then use nutrients from their feed for body condition; sows that are not eating can lose body condition quickly," he adds. "An under-conditioned sow will be less likely to breed back, so we need to keep the sows eating and in good condition."[1]
    The following seven sow nutrition tips keep sows eating consistently throughout the summer:
    1. Promote consistent feed consumption.
    In the summer, the biggest issue is reduced feed consumption in lactation. Adjust the ration to avoid those decreases by feeding sows so they maintain a body condition score (BCS) of 3 on a 5-point scale through all stages. Summer feed additives, like True Appetizer® Feed from Purina Animal Nutrition, can be added to the sow diet to help maintain dry matter intakes.
    2.  Feed sows according to stage.
    BCS is important for all sows, so an ad libitum ration is suggested during lactation with limit-feeding during gestation. Don't over-feed during gestation; feed to maintain condition. Sows that are over-fed in gestation may eat less during lactation. Over-conditioned sows have even more stress during hot weather.
    Lactation feed intake is critical as sows need greater nutrient levels. Adjust lactation rations in the summer to help sows receive the nutrients needed to maintain condition.
    To compensate for reduced intake potential, feed a palatable, concentrated source of energy to sows. A dense source of energy, fed with a summer sow feed additive, can help the sow consume the nutrients needed to support milk production and maintain body condition.[1]
    3. Increase feeding frequency.
    Feed breakdown generates heat; therefore, larger meals cause the sow's body temperature to increase. Feed sows smaller meals throughout the day to decrease the heat generated by the body when breaking down the feed.
    Pearson recommends feeding 2 to 3 smaller meals throughout the day and to feed sows in the night or in the early morning when it's cooler to prevent significant body temperature increases.
    Switching from two large meals to three small meals has been shown to increase sow feed intake 10 to 15 percent.[2] Account for this additional feed when formulating summer rations.
    4. Provide calories through fat vs. fiber.
    Include higher levels of fat, such as choice white grease or vegetable oil, at 2 to 6 percent of the diet in place of fibrous ingredients such as soybean hulls, wheat middlings, distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and alfalfa. Adding fat at a rate of 50 to 100 pounds per ton of complete feed increases the energy density of the ration, helping the sow to receive necessary nutrients at a lower heat increment than protein.[2]
    5. Evaluate trace mineral levels.
    Make sure that vitamins, minerals and amino acids are balanced with the energy you are providing the sows. These levels may need to be increased during times of heat and humidity.
    6.  Provide access to quality water.
    Make sure the sow has access to fresh, quality water at all times. In the summer, a lactating sow can consume up to 16 gallons of water per day, with 5 to 10 gallons of water consumed per sow per day on average.
    Supplying fresh, clean water at constant rates can help sows meet their water requirements. If using nipple waterers, adjust the water flow rate for at least 0.5 gallon of water flow per minute.
    7. Keep feed fresh.
    Feed is more likely to spoil in warm temperatures. Increase the feeding frequency, feed slightly smaller meals and routinely clean the feeding area to keep feed fresh through the summer.

     [1] Whitney, Mark. "Minimizing heat stress in pigs during the summer." University of Minnesota Extension. 5 May 2013.
    [2] Rozeboom, K.J., M. Todd See and W. Flowers. "Management practices to reduce the impact of seasonal infertility on sow herd productivity." North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Publication No. ANS00-8138. 5 May 2013.

Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 World Pork Expo seminars get down to business

    Leading the effort for the World Pork Expo's three days of information and insights are the business seminars scheduled for Wednesday, June 5 and Thursday, June 6. All of the business seminars will take place in the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
    As a pork producer from Edgerton, Minn., Randy Spronk, president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), says that between the trade show, seminars and conversations with fellow producers, World Pork Expo offers ideas that can be applied today, as well as in the future.
    "Whether it involves animal housing, transportation or health, the industry is continually moving forward and at World Pork Expo you will find innovative products and ideas that you can apply back home," Spronk says.
    On Wednesday, sponsor DSM Nutritional Products will kick off Expo's business seminars with breakfast at 9:00 a.m., followed by "Understanding the Ps-Feeding Pigs for People, Planet, Profit," three presentations outlining swine nutrition strategies to improve production efficiencies and profit.
    Wednesday at 3:00 p.m., Feeding for 30 sponsors Purina Animal Nutrition, Zinpro Corporation and DSM Nutritional Products will host a peer-to-peer forum focused on sow nutrition and management to help producers achieve 30 pigs per sow per year.
    Thursday morning's seminar, sponsored by SFP, will begin at 9:30 a.m. and address ways to increase the phosphorus and nitrogen availability of swine manure applied as fertilizer.
    On both Wednesday and Thursday, the National Pork Board  (NPB) will sponsor a weather and crop outlook seminar luncheon at noon in the upper level of the Varied Industries Building with programming starting at 12:30 p.m.
    Rounding out this year's seminar offerings at World Pork Expo is PORK Academy presented by NPB and Pork Checkoff. Throughout the day on Wednesday and Thursday, nine seminars will address a wide range of topics from sow productivity and housing to food safety and exports to on-farm security and steps to protect against a foreign animal disease.
    More details about the business seminars, the free business outlook luncheon and PORK Academy are available at
    Stay connected with Expo
    Download the new mobile app for this year's show. You can view maps, exhibitor information, speaker bios and add events to a personal calendar.
    Regular updates are available when you connect with World Pork Expo on Facebook and Twitter (@NPPCWPX).
    Online registration still open
    Online registration is available through June 1. If registering after May 15, credentials will need to be picked up onsite.
    This year, World Pork Expo celebrates its 25th Anniversary, June 5-7, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. More than 400 commercial exhibits will be on display from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, and Thursday, June 6, as well as from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 7. The swine breeding stock sales will continue on Saturday, June 8, from 8 a.m. until they're completed (at approximately noon).

US corn, soy prices following expected post-drought patterns

    U.S. corn and soybean prices have generally followed the expected pattern experienced in other "short crop" years, with prices peaking near harvest and returning to pre-drought levels later in the marketing year, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.
    “For old-crop corn prices, July 2013 futures peaked at $8.24 on August 10, 2012, nearly $3.00 above the June 2012 low,” said Good. “That contract is currently trading near $6.50, well below the peak, but still above the pre-drought level. Due to an inverted price structure, spot-cash prices have been above July futures in much of the Corn Belt since January 2013, and that strong basis continues.
    “Prices remain generally high as it is not yet clear that the small crop of 2012 has been sufficiently rationed,” he said. “Exports remain weak, but ethanol production is rebounding from the low levels in the first half of the marketing year. Uncertainty still surrounds the magnitude of feed and residual use of corn."
    For new-crop corn, prices have completed the transition back to pre-drought levels, according to Good. December 2013 futures peaked at $6.64 on September 10, 2012, about $1.50 above the June 2012 low. That contract is currently trading just over $5.15, about $0.05 above the summer 2012 low. Soybean prices have behaved similarly to corn prices but are still well above pre-drought levels. July 2013 futures peaked at $16.05 on Sept. 14, 2012, about $3.85 above the June 2012 low. That contract is currently trading near $14.60, still in the upper half of the trading range of the past year.
    Due to the ongoing futures price inversion, spot-cash prices in the Corn Belt have been above July futures all year, with basis levels strengthening in recent weeks. Old-crop prices are being supported by prospects of a minimum level of year-ending stocks and the need for consumption to remain under the pace of a year ago.
    For new-crop soybeans, prices are closer to a complete transition back to pre-drought levels, said Good. November 2013 futures peaked at $14.10 on September 14, 2012, $2.70 above the June 2012 low. That contract is currently trading near $12.25, $0.85 above the low of a year ago and $1.85 below the peak.

Sudan sugar producer exporting animal feedstock to Arab Gulf

    Sudan sugar producer Kenana has plans to begin exporting up to 50,000 metric tons of animal feedstock annually to Arab Gulf countries, according to reports.
    The company produces around 100,000 metric tons of feed per year for the local market, but Kenana wants to switch 50 percent of that to exports. "We have a plan to export animal feed maybe to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait — Arab countries," said El Zein Mohamed Doush, general manager of the sugar business.
    The company is mainly owned by the governments of Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It has plans to more than double its annual sugar output to 1 million metric tons by 2015 and expand its byproducts, such as biofuel and animal feed.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Reconciliation process will be the key to hopes of Egg Bill passage

    Proponents of the Egg Bill (H.R. 1731 and S. 820) were unable to get this legislation added as an amendment to the Farm Bill in either the Senate or House Agriculture Committees. Agriculture groups who oppose the Egg Bill had too much influence on these committees and were able to block the legislation. But, Mike McLeod of McLeod, Watkinson & Miller, a law firm representing the United Egg Producers, said that the struggle to secure passage of the Egg Bill is far from over.
    Speaking at the United Egg Producers' Legislative Board and Committee Meetings, McLeod said that the real battleground for the Egg Bill will be on the floor of the House of Representatives; because it is there that the influence of the Humane Society of the United States will be felt the most. Proponents of the Egg Bill will need to get two things accomplished on the House floor, according to McLeod. The so-called King amendment will need to be removed from the Farm Bill and the Egg Bill amendment will need to be added.
    The King amendment, which would not allow a state to restrict movement of agricultural products into the state from other states, was added to the Farm Bill as an amendment by the House Agriculture Committee. McLeod called the King amendment the "anti-Egg Bill," but he said that some lawyers have espoused the position that the King amendment would be found to be unconstitutional if enacted and challenged in court.
    If the King amendment is removed from the Farm Bill on the floor of the House and the Egg Bill amendment is added, then the reconciliation process can result in the Egg Bill being part of the final Farm Bill legislation. McLeod said that action on the Farm Bill on the House floor should begin around June 16. 

Egg producers asked to keep fighting for Egg Bill passage

    David Lathem, the CEO of Lathem Farms and the United Egg Producers’ chairman, opened the second day of the cooperative’s legislative board meeting by commenting on the potential passage of the laying hen welfare legislation, the Egg Bill. He said, “Somehow, some way we will get this done.” Chad Gregory, president and CEO, United Egg Producers, said, “I couldn’t be more proud of the egg industry with what we have tried to accomplish the last few months. We are not giving up; we are absolutely not giving up.”
    After failing to get the Egg Bill added as an amendment to the Farm Bill in the Senate Agriculture Committee as had been hoped, the focus of attention will shift to the floor of the House of Representatives. In spite of the setback in the Senate, Gregory said, "We are just as optimistic and positive as before that we can get this bill passed. We still think it is the right thing to do."
    Mike McLeod, a lobbyist for the United Egg Producers, said that he believes they have a good shot of getting the Egg Bill included in the Farm Bill as a floor amendment in the House of Representatives. He said that he also thinks the bill could pass on the house floor and survive in the conference committee. If all this happens, he said that they would then need 60 votes in the Senate in favor of a Farm Bill including the Egg Bill amendment. In spite of the obstacles, he said, "We have a good pathway to victory."
    Chad Gregory, president and CEO, United Egg Producers, said, “We are just as optimistic and positive as before that we can get this bill passed.”

    Congressman Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., 5th District, is a veterinarian and farmer who has been a sponsor of the Egg Bill in the 112th and 113th Congresses. Schrader complemented the egg industry on being willing to change, adapt and engage with the opposition. He said that industries that refuse to engage their adversaries won’t survive. "If you aren't setting the table, you are on the table,” he said.
    Schrader told egg producers that they will need to continue to explain to their representatives in Congress why the Egg Bill is necessary. He said that this is not an either/or bill, bad for livestock and good for egg producers. “Explain that this is what you need and that it won't affect livestock,” Schrader said. “This isn’t about other livestock industries; this is about what you need to do your business.”
    “You will need to explain that this is a well-thought-out agreement,” he said. “This will be a long battle.” Schrader emphasized the importance of all egg producers getting involved and contacting their representatives. "This is your life's work," he said. "It will take all of your voices."

Hillandale Farms gets permits to build in Hicksville, Ohio

    Hillandale Farms can begin construction on a new egg layer production and processing farm in Hicksville, Ohio after David Daniels, director of the state Department of Agriculture, signed permits to install and operate.
    The permits were finalized after a formal 30-day comment period in which the public had the opportunity to voice any concerns about the new poultry facility, the Bryan Times reported. Now that the permit has been approved, construction plans are proceeding.  No exact dates have been set, but farm managers expect the farm to be operational in the near future.
    "We are grateful for the local and statewide support that we have received," said Sy Rizvi, Hillandale general manager. "Hillandale Farms has a rich history in Ohio, and Hicksville is a great location both from the standpoint of access to grain and feed and its proximity to the marketplace."
    Hillandale Farms plans to start with 2 million hens. Under the Ohio Animal Care Standards, an enriched cage system will be provided, designed to enhance the well-being of the hens with a clean and protective environment, and offering flexibility for future changes in space and amenities, as well as extra space for the hens. Hillandale Farms' daily operation will require an estimated 70 acres of corn and 185 acres of soybeans per day for feed. The farm managers plan to purchase feed grains from local farmers.
    This is the first new poultry farm in the state constructed under the new Ohio Livestock Care Standards law. 

Poultry products from Spanish province banned in Hong Kong

      Poultry, eggs and other poultry products from the Spanish province of Catalonia have been banned in Hong Kong. The ban was enacted after the World Organization of Animal Health issued a notice about an outbreak of low-pathogenic H7N1 avian influenza on a poultry farm in Catalonia, the Center for Food Safety announced.
      About 4,600 metric tons of frozen poultry meat was imported into Hong Kong from Spain in 2012, the center stated. 

Perdue AgriRecycle cleans up poultry industry, image

    Since its inception in 2001, Perdue AgriRecycle has helped rid poultry producers of more than 860,000 tons of litter and converted the waste into usable organic products.
    Through the AgriRecycle operation, Perdue Farms goes to poultry growing operations and removes the waste free of charge, Perdue Farms Chairman Jim Perdue said at the Poultry Processor Workshop on May 15.  Once the litter is converted, rather than being a potential contaminant to the area water supply, it becomes a helpful resource for companies like Scotts, Espoma, Davisson Golf and Wedgworth that make lawn and garden fertilizer products.

    Helping producers protect resources, operations
    One of the biggest environmental issues the poultry industry faces is what to do with litter. In Maryland, where Perdue Farms has multiple operations, there are strict regulations on how waste is managed and kept away from water sources.
    Perdue cited a case where the Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental group, filed a lawsuit against Hudson Farms, one of Perdue's growers. The alliance alleged waste from the Hudson property was polluting the Chesapeake Bay and Pocomoke River. Though the suit did have a near-devastating impact on the Hudson operation at the time, it was eventually dropped by the court.
    Perdue AgriRecycle seeks to help poultry producers avoid that type of turmoil, Perdue said.

    Benefits go beyond bottom line
    The AgriRecyle venture has not yet been directly profitable, but Perdue believes it has helped the company's overall image. The judge who heard the Hudson case is one person in particular who now has a better perception of Perdue Farms, Perdue said.
    "The judge was very impressed. Sometimes there are side benefits," he said.
    It is increasingly important for poultry processors to have endeavors that protect the environment, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is good for the image of the companies and the industry as a whole.
    "Consumers, customers and communities are the new regulators in our industry," Perdue said. "They want to know what you're doing to impact the environment, locally and/or in a bigger way."

    Share the good news
    Acting in an environmentally responsible way is only half of the job. Perdue urged processors to share stories about the good things they are doing, just as he did during the workshop.
    "People trust farmers, but they don't necessarily trust agribusiness. Our job is to get the word out," Perdue said. "It is a changing world. Somebody will define you, unless you go out and actively define yourself."

Survey finds UK grain hauling costs increasing

    The latest Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board/Home Grown Cereals Authority United Kingdom Grain Haulage Survey shows average UK hauling costs have increased by 8 percent since last year.
    The figures confirm a long term-upward trend in haulage costs. Alongside increased regionalizing of the UK wheat market this may mean supply chains have to look at haulage use efficiency. For some regions, this could include alternatives to road transport, such as coastal vessels.
    The survey - based on an online questionnaire completed by members of several agricultural organizations - looks at haulers' most common journeys, including distance traveled, tons and cost per ton. The figures exclude value added tax and include a fixed cost per ton to cover overheads as well as mileage-associated costs such as fuel, spare parts and maintenance.
    The results show the average cost of a 10-mile journey is 15 percent higher at £4.92 per ton than last year's survey. The average per-mile cost of grain haulage for 10 mile journeys is £0.49 per ton, compared to only £0.09 per ton for 150 mile journeys, due to both better fuel efficiency over longer distances and the dilution of loading and tipping costs over a greater mileage.
    It is thought the delayed 2012 harvest and subsequent quality issues may also have been a factor in the increased average cost.
    Jack Watts, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board senior analyst, said, "With the UK being increasingly reliant on imports this season, the movement of additional grain from ports to processors would have used a greater proportion of the national fleet capacity. In addition, the poor and variable quality of the 2012 wheat crop has likely resulted in longer tip times and more redirecting, both of which utilize fleet capacity and increase costs to all involved.
    "As haulage costs continue to rise, supply chains may well look at improving efficiency, with key areas including loading and tipping times as well as reducing the number of 'empty miles' traveled. There may also be an opportunity to use coastal vessels to transport grain from the surplus regions of the south and east to the deficit regions in the north of the UK."
    Full survey results including regional tables can be found at the Home Grown Cereals Authority website, or for a full analysis, see the online edition of Prospects.

Egg farmers fight childhood hunger

    As part of the Good Egg Project, where farmers donate to local food banks, America's egg farmers are joining forces with Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign to raise awareness and encourage others to help fight childhood hunger.
    "As egg farmers, it's essential we do our part to help feed the hungry and we are committed to providing Americans, especially children, with high-quality protein eggs so they can stay energized and perform their best," said Roger Deffner, chairman of the American Egg Board.
    "In addition to donating more than 48 million eggs to local food banks across the country, America's egg farmers are proud to partner with Share Our Strength to support and feed kids in need," Deffner said.
    "Childhood hunger is a nationwide problem. The good news, however, is that it is a solvable problem," said Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength.
    "The No Kid Hungry strategy is ensuring kids in need are getting the healthy food they need, every day. Working with partners like America's egg farmers, we are successfully connecting more kids to effective nutrition programs inside and outside the classroom while teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals," Shore added.
    Those interested in fighting childhood hunger can take the Good Egg Project pledge. For every pledge made, America's egg farmers will donate one egg to local food banks.

    Feeding hungry children starts with breakfast
    Eggs are a good source of high-quality protein that helps keep children energized, and research shows that starting the day with breakfast leads to better learning and test scores in schools. Eggs are also one of the few foods that are naturally a good source of vitamin D, which aids calcium in helping grow strong bones. However, high-quality protein foods like eggs are often in short supply at the nation's food banks, where many families go for food support - especially during summer months.
    Once eggs are laid, farmers carefully wash, package and deliver to the grocery store - or food bank - within 72 hours, ensuring families and children in need are getting a quality, nutritious product.

European feed additive supplier announces collaboration

    Excentials, a Europe-based specialty feed additives supplier, announced its collaboration with Vetim to develop sales, marketing and technical support of Excentials' product range in Central America. Vetim is an animal health and nutrition company based in Costa Rica. Besides collaboration to service that country, Excentials' portfolio will be distributed in Panama by a daughter company of Vetim. The cooperation with Vetim allows Excentials to set foothold in Central America, a main strategic target for Excentials.
    Diego Pineda, Excentials area manager for Latin America, said, "We found that the philosophy of the ownership of Vetim is very similar to ours given they're very eager to introduce and develop new nutritional concepts in Costa Rica that have not been discussed before. These efforts require deep technical knowledge of the products and a great communication plan to have direct impact on key decision makers. Vetim can certainly help us in this task."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Symposium will focus on meeting food demand

    On May 21, 2013, leaders from science, government, business and civil society will meet at an all-day symposium to urge U.S. leadership in mobilizing science, increasing trade and capitalizing on the power of business to meet future food demand. The Global Food Security Symposium will meet at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
    At the symposium, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs also will release a new report, "Advancing Global Food Security: The Power of Science, Trade, and Business," which puts forward four broad policy recommendations, composed of 21 specific actions to define the next steps for U.S. global food security policy. A full copy of the symposium agenda can be found via the Chicago Council on Global Affairs website

Foster Farms recalls ready-to-eat chicken breast strips

    Foster Farms is recalling about 6,165 pounds of ready-to-eat grilled chicken breast strips that contain wheat and soy, known allergens, which are not declared on the product label, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced on May 21.
    Recalled were 4.5 lb. cases containing 12, 6-oz. trays of boneless and skinless with rib meat, 97 percent fat free, with an identifying case code of "000606."
    The recalled product bears the establishment number "P-20923" inside the USDA mark of inspection and a use-by date of "JUN 22 2013" printed on each tray. The product was produced on April 23 and distributed to retail establishments in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
    The problem was discovered as a result of a customer complaint and occurred because the company inadvertently used labels for another chicken product it produces that does not contain wheat or soy. The Food Safety and Inspection Service and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions associated with consumption of these products.

Poultry companies invited to apply for safety recognition awards

    Poultry industry facilities with outstanding safety programs are invited to apply for recognition under the Joint Poultry Industry Safety Award Program. The program is open to National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association members with poultry or egg processing plants, hatcheries, feed mills and rendering facilities with injury and illness rates below the industry average. Injury and illness rates must meet the qualifications for three consecutive years, through the implementation of innovative and effective programs.
    The poultry processing total recordable illness and injury rate for 2011 was 5.8 cases per 100 full-time workers (per year). Poultry processing's 2011 rate represents an over 74 percent improvement from 1994, the oldest data available on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' website.
    Doug Britton, manager of the Georgia Tech Research Institute's Agricultural Technology Research Program and one of the award program judges, states: "As consumer demand changed over the years, the product mix provided by the poultry industry changed to skinless, boneless, marinated or otherwise further-processed, value-added products. Over the last 30 years, the unique worker safety challenges presented by these changes have been proactively tackled by the industry through improved equipment technology, ergonomic solutions, and effective employee training and safety programs. The notable reductions in recordable injuries and illnesses are not surprising given the industry's commitment to providing a safe workplace."
    Award program application forms can be obtained on the website.  The application deadline for the 2013 awards is May 29. The annual awards will be presented during the National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry, August 19-21 at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Amelia Island, Florida.