Friday, May 30, 2014

FAO and OIE boost collaboration on animal health

    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) pledged to step up their existing collaboration to control animal disease, ensure the safety of food from animal origin and promote safe trade. The two organizations said they would reinforce their partnership in priority areas that include joint response to animal health crises and programs to prevent and control foot-and-mouth disease, peste des petits ruminants (PPR), African swine fever (ASF), rabies, zoonotic influenza and antimicrobial resistance.
    In cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), FAO and OIE plan to focus on monitoring the responsible use of antimicrobial and pharmaceutical products. They will also work to strengthen national veterinary systems.
    Speaking at the World Assembly of Delegates to the OIE in Paris, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said animal health was of "paramount importance" in the work of the organization to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
    "We are committed to tackling high-impact animal diseases together with OIE, WHO and regional and national partners,” Graziano da Silva said. 
    FAO and OIE already have a number of joint initiatives including the FAO/OIE Crisis Management Centre – Animal Health, which provides rapid response during animal disease emergencies, and OFFLU, the network of expertise on animal influenza. The organizations have worked together on issues such as the prevention, detection and control of H5N1 avian influenza, and notched up a major success in 2011 with the global eradication of the deadly cattle virus that caused rinderpest.
    “OIE and FAO’s longstanding collaboration has proved its efficiency in the prevention and control of numerous animal diseases worldwide,” said OIE Director General Bernard Vallat.
    “Our common actions play a key role in the reduction of poverty and hunger. Convinced of the need to pursue this great collaboration, and to constantly reinforce its efficiency, OIE and FAO have agreed to reinforce their cooperation arrangement.”

In pork production, quality more important than quantity

    While it is difficult to predict the future, it’s inevitable that it will take the swine industry some time to recover. With more than 6,600 cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus confirmed in 30 states thus far, March hog inventories were 3.7 percent lower when compared to March 2013, and this drop came despite farrowings that were 2.8 percent higher.
    A recent USDA report showed April total pork inventories at 584.1 million pounds, up 8.6 million from March but down 116.9 million from April 2013. Even though the industry continues to produce larger litters, the number of pigs reaching market weight has been severely impacted by the disease outbreak.
    With the goal of getting more piglets per sow, piglet quality is often sacrificed. More often, producers must contend with piglets that have lower birth weights, and as a direct result, require extra care and effort to reach full value in the market. Pushing piglets along quickly can also leave them with lower immune strength and greater susceptibility to health challenges. Lower quality pigs stay in production longer, adding to the cost of producing meat.
    “We have to stay focused on producing pigs of higher value if we are to maintain optimum sow productivity,” said Russell Gilliam, U.S. swine business manager for Alltech. “We need to be careful not to produce pigs that require additional feed, care and costs.”
    Starting with a quality piglet can make a vast difference in health care costs, additional feed, and the increased cost of extra days before market. As the saying goes “you are what your mother ate,” piglet quality begins with sow nutrition. One of the staples in proper sow nutrition is mineral management. The fundamental objective of mineral nutrition is to build optimum reserves that will support the pig in times of stress, prevent inadequacies and maximize health and performance.
    While inorganic minerals are poorly absorbed, stored and utilized in the animal, organic minerals offer a more natural form for the animal and can perform even when supplemented at lower levels. Recent studies on the inclusion of Alltech’s organic trace minerals in sow diets showed considerable gain in performance and profitability for both sows and piglets. Data has shown that pigs with enhanced mineral status at birth and weaning, have reduced pre-wean mortality, higher piglet performance and weaning weight, and increased immune status. The trial work also showed a response in a mineral enhanced sow improves productivity and reduces mating intervals.
    “When efficiency and value matter most, it is good to know that less can equal more, and it can be done the natural way,” Gilliam said. “The application of Alltech’s Mineral Management Program consistently delivers optimal results in swine operations in North America and around the world, while being a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly program.”

IPC calls on OIE, WHO for neutral disease naming

    The International Poultry Council has expressed its support for efforts by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to review the nomenclature of existing and emerging animal diseases to ensure that the names are used accurately by the media and by infectious disease experts.
    In letters to Dr. Bernard Vallat, director general of the OIE, and to WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan, IPC President Jim Sumner wrote that the IPC shares the interest of OIE and WHO in developing a science-based and neutral nomenclature for diseases, including influenza viruses that affect poultry.
    “We believe that such an approach to naming viruses, consistently promulgated by OIE, WHO and FAO, and by other relevant international bodies and networks, …would greatly reduce the potential for major market disruptions from consumer loss of confidence at times of influenza and other disease outbreaks, and help to correct existing misleading usage,” Sumner wrote.
    Widespread use of such terms as “bird flu” in media reports of incidents of influenza in poultry often create confusion and fear among consumers leading to reduced consumption of poultry, which can be costly to producers. During the H7N9 influenza outbreak in China in 2013, for example, fearful consumers shunned poultry, and consumption plummeted, costing the Chinese poultry industry an estimated $600 million in lost sales.
    At IPC’s most recent conference in Istanbul, members discussed the issue at length and voted to support OIE and WHO’s disease nomenclature initiatives, and to offer technical expertise to the organizations if needed.
    The OIE has officially recognized the IPC as the organization representing the global poultry meat industry. The IPC’s 24 country members account for about 85 percent of global poultry production and 95 percent of international trade in poultry meat.

Latest Ross 140 Club member achieves production record

    Aviagen SweChick customer Övraby Lantbruks AB, a contract farmer for SweHatch, is celebrating a record achievement of 151 chickens per hen housed at 60 weeks from its Ross flock. Owned by Ingela and Carl Erik Övgård, this success makes Övraby Lantbruks AB the latest addition to the Ross 140 Club.
    Aviagen SweChick introduced the Ross 140 Club to Sweden in 2012 to help customers in their region motivate their producers to reach higher levels of productivity, thereby aiding overall economic results.
    The Övraby Lantbruks AB farm has been going from strength to strength since its inception in 1979.  It began with a capacity of 3,500 females and this has grown over the years to a current capacity of 32,000 females.
    Ingela Ovgard said: “We are very happy to have achieved this record result.  We are very proud of what we do. Work on the farm never stops. I start every morning at 5 a.m., checking feed going out and picking up floor eggs. I like to be up and about at the same time as the birds and always keep a close watch over them.  The time spent with the animals is very important. For me, it is crucial to take care of details today and not tomorrow and to check that the basics, such as feed, water and light are always just so. 
    “I have very good support from my employees Petra and Kenneth who understand our values very well.  Of course, no good management will show results without a good bird and I feel that the Ross 308 is more robust and easier to manage than ever.”
    Nina Yngve, SweHatch production manager, added: “I am delighted with the outstanding result Ingela, Carl Erik and their team achieved.  Many factors attribute to this success – excellent management with focus on the rearing period, male management and, of course, attention to detail on the key inputs at the crucial stages of production. SweHatch and all suppliers and contractors follow the same principles and work towards the same targets which makes for a successful cooperation.“
    Thomas Carlson, general manager, Aviagen SweChick, commended the success by commenting: “I am very happy for Ingela and Carl Erik and offer my warmest congratulations to them. Clearly, the hard work they put in every day is paying off and they are worthy entrants to the 140 Club with their excellent achievement of 151 chicks. We started the 140 Club to acknowledge and reward our customers’ producers who reach a high level of productivity and we’re pleased to a see a record such as this being set.”

Fifty more illnesses attributed to Foster Farms’ chicken

    A Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak which has impacted consumers in 27 states and Puerto Rico has infected 574 individuals as of May 22, according to an update released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 27. CDC reports that 50 more people reported illnesses since the April 9 update, an average of eight new illnesses per week. The outbreak has been linked to Foster Farms chicken products from three facilities.
    Among 560 persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from March 1, 2013, to May 1, 2014. Ill persons range in age from less than 1 year to 93 years, with a median age of 18 years. Fifty-one percent of ill persons are male. Among 478 persons with available information, 178 (37 percent) reported being hospitalized. Thirteen percent of ill persons have developed blood infections as a result of their illness. Typically, approximately 5 percent of persons ill with Salmonella infections develop blood infections. No deaths have been reported.
    Foster Farms reports making numerous changes in its operations to reduce Salmonella levels on its products. In a statement released May 27, Foster Farms said: “Since October 2013, Foster Farms has developed a multiple-hurdle approach to reduce or eliminate Salmonella at each stage of production – from screening breeder flocks before entering the Foster Farms system, to enhancing procedures on the farms where the birds are raised, to adding sanitation interventions in the plants where the chicken is processed as a whole bird and when it is cut into parts. As a result, the company continues to make steady progress that has effectively reduced Salmonella at the parts level to less than 10 percent – well below the 2011-12 USDA-measured industry benchmark of 25 percent. With each set of sampling, Foster Farms has demonstrated a significant improvement in Salmonella control.”

Nepal declared free of H5N1 avian influenza, OIE reports

    Nepal has declared itself free of H5N1 avian influenza after resolving a case in which a commercial layer farm had been stricken by the high pathogenic form of avian influenza in late February. The declaration was made after all samples taken throughout the country following the outbreak tested negative for the virus.
    According to reports from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), 570 birds kept in a deep litter system at the layer farm had died in February from the virus, with an additional 1,430 susceptible chickens destroyed. The affected birds had shown signs of depression, decreased egg production and/or paralysis prior to death.
    Once stamping out, quarantine, movement control and disinfection procedures were completed, animal health officials intensified surveillance activities throughout the country, with no samples testing positive for H5N1 avian influenza.

FAMSUN debuts at VIV Europe

    FAMSUN, the new brand of Muyang Co. Ltd., made its first public appearance outside China at VIV Europe 2014 in Utrecht, Netherlands, from May 20-22.
    As the world’s demand for quality and safety foods grows, food supply chains have become more connected. Most players in agro-industry diversify their businesses and extend to upstream and downstream links in order to boost efficiency, safety and resources sustainability in operations.
    “Same with that you can find what you need here and all under one roof at VIV, Muyang is trying to cope with our customers’ growth and to become a one-stop solution supplier who shares knowledge, experience and resource, provides convenient, flexible and consistent technical supports to customers and helps them grow business.” Liu Guangdao, vice president of Muyang, said. “The new brand FAMSUN therefore is launched. It originates from ‘famous, farm, family, sun and union’, implying that we are going to build a green and healthy supply chain from farm to table together with our customers and create sustainable development.”

Thursday, May 29, 2014

House of Raeford reopens plant, buys Speedy Bird trademark

    House of Raeford Farms, based in Rose Hill, North Carolina, has opened a 64,000 square foot further processing cook plant in Mocksville, North Carolina. The facility will produce fully-cooked chicken products including grill-marked fajita strips and filets, whole-muscle and formed chicken tenders, filets, wings, nuggets, patties, fully-cooked chicken sausage and and fully-cooked chicken burgers.
    In a related move, the House of Raeford Farms also acquired the Speedy Bird trademark, formerly associated with Townsends, with the intention of launching many of these items under this popular brand.
    In announcing the acquisition on May 27, Bob Johnson, president and CEO of House of Raeford Farms, indicated that this action supports the company’s strategy announced in 2013 to expand its cooked chicken product lines in conjunction with an increase in chicken production volumes.
    “Combined with production capabilities at our cook plants in Raeford, North Carolina, and Hemingway, South Carolina, we are now in a position to offer our retail, foodservice, and co-pack customers an even wider variety of further processed chicken and turkey products at competitive prices and increased supply,” said Johnson.
    The Mocksville plant began operations in April and plans to grow to over 200 associates during the next several years.  The facility, a former Townsends chicken processing plant, has been idle for the past two years. The facility has been greatly improved, having undergone refurbishing of the building, equipment, and grounds. According to Chris Murray, the company’s environmental manager, this includes a revamping of the wastewater and refrigeration systems to provide an environmentally sound and safe operation.
    Johnson also emphasized the company looks forward to becoming an integral part of the Mocksville and Davie County communities, both as an employer and as a good corporate citizen.

Jamaica Broilers invests millions of dollars in grain storage

    Jamaica Broilers Group will triple its grain storage capacity by investing JM$830 million (US$7.5 million) to build out more room for raw materials used in the production of feed. The poultry processor, which also produces feed, has started construction of six grain silos, each with a 12,000 metric ton capacity.
    Construction of the new silos, situated at the Best Dressed Mill in Old Harbour, Jamaica, should be completed within a year.
    John Carberry, assistant vice president for energy and mill operations, Jamaica Broilers, told the Jamaica Observer when the new silos are in place, the company can purchase grain from other regions in the world instead of primarily from the United States as it has in the past. The new storage capacity will also help the company operate more efficiently in terms of logistics, reducing the need to truck grain to the mill. The new silos will also complement the company’s local corn-growing program.

Tyson Family Foundation pledges $2 million to The Jones Center

    John Tyson, left, chairman of Tyson Foods, presents a ceremonial check for $2 million on behalf of the Tyson Family Foundation to Ed Clifford, president and CEO of The Jones Center and Jones Trust. 
    The Tyson Family Foundation has pledged $2 million to The Jones Center Endowment Fund. The Jones Center is a unique recreation and education center located in downtown Springdale, Arkansas.
    The announcement of the pledge was made at a special presentation in The Jones Center’s main lobby on May 20.  The ceremony included special remarks by John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods; Ed Clifford, CEO and president of The Jones Center and Jones Trust; and Susan Barrett, chairwoman of the Jones Trust Board.
    “Over the last two decades, the Tyson Family has honored their close personal friendship with Harvey and Bernice Jones by generously supporting operations of The Jones Center,” said Clifford.  “At our Big Night gala last November, we were pleased to announce Tyson’s most recent $1 million pledge to support the Center’s annual operations and programs.  This year, that support takes on a new meaning and a new level with a significant gift to our endowment campaign, initiated to bring The Jones Center to a position of sustainability for future generations.”
    On behalf of the Tyson family, John Tyson remarked: "The Tyson and Jones families were very close for decades.  They worked side by side in downtown Springdale for many years to make this community a great place to work and raise families. Bernice Jones’ magnificent gift of The Jones Center plays a major role in continuing that tradition of strengthening our community. Tyson Foods and the Tyson Family have been supportive of The Jones Center since its inception through annual operational gifts. Now, we are delighted to make this endowment gift because it will help insure that the important work and mission of The Jones Center will continue for decades to come.  When The Jones Center is vibrant and thriving, it empowers Springdale and all of Northwest Arkansas to continue growing and developing its citizens well into the 21st Century."
    Following the check presentation, Barrett commented: “The Tyson Family connection with the work of The Jones Center goes back to the beginning through a deep, personal friendship between the two families. I'm sure that even as Bernice was first formulating her plans, she shared with Don and John what she had in mind, why she felt it was important, and how she hoped that ultimately the community would embrace it and help her in making it sustainable over the long haul. This very meaningful gift from the Tyson Family Foundation reaffirms this longtime friendship, by working together with the community to accomplish great good.”
    For the past 18 months, the Jones Trust board has been actively fundraising in order to reach the full endowment campaign goal amount of $30 million, and they fully expect to make additional gift announcements before the end of the year. In addition, for sustainability purposes, the nine person board of regional leaders has approved a strict spending policy limiting the organization to a 3.5 percent draw from the endowment. 

Jennie-O Turkey Store profits up 1.6 percent in second quarter

    Jennie-O Turkey Store profits increased 1.6 percent to $52.8 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2014, its parent company, Hormel Foods announced. Jennie-O Turkey Store was helped by strong commodity turkey prices and lower feed costs, but was hindered by lower live production performance and higher fuel expenses from the extended harsh winter.
    Sales for Hormel Foods' Jennie-O Turkey Store segment were down 1 percent for the quarter, but sales of value-added products increased during the second quarter, including Jennie-O fresh lean ground turkey tray packs, turkey breakfast sausage and and turkey bacon, reported Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Hormel Foods..
    Jennie-O Turkey Store accounted for 17 percent of Hormel’s net sales and 24 percent of the total operating profit. As a company, Hormel Foods had a strong quarter, with its operating profit increasing 14 percent and sales reaching a record $2.2 billion, a 4 percent increase from the second quarter of 2013.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Southern California Egg Cooperative buys Moark assets

    The Southern California Egg Cooperative (SCEC) has acquired the Western Division of Moark LLC’s egg production operations from Land O’Lakes. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
    Moark’s Western Division is headquartered in California, and services customers along the West Coast, as well as Idaho and Nevada.
    The two organizations had a longtime working relationship, as Moark hard been the distributor of the cooperative’s fresh shell eggs. However, SCEC believes as the new owner of the Moark assets, the cooperative will become a stronger business.
    “This acquisition puts us in direct connection between the farms and the purchasers of our eggs,’’ Jim Van Gorkom, vice president of sales and marketing for SCEC, told the Press Enterprise. “There are a lot of positives: One, it should be more efficient. Two, the eggs may be a little fresher when they hit the store shelves. They’ll go straight from the farm to the retailer, with no middle man.”
    SCEC was formed in 2010 when four egg enterprises -- Demler Enterprises, Pine Hill Egg Ranch, Demler Egg Ranch and Harmony Egg Ranch -- joined to form one organization. Those four operations were owned by five brothers from the Demler family.
    Earlier in May, Moark’s Midwestern Division egg production assets in Missouri and Colorado were sold to Opal Foods, a new company formed by AGR Partners, with Rose Acre Farms and Weaver brothers as minority shareholders.
    Land O' Lakes, in its 2013 annual report, announced its intent to sell its Moark egg operations, citing financial losses over the past three years.

Cobb European research facility doubles capacity

    Gosse Veninga, left, Cobb European research director stands with geneticist Marieke Meeuwes at Cobb’s Herveld pedigree farm. 
    The EUR12 million (US$15 million) investment in doubling the capacity of the Herveld pedigree farm – the hub of Cobb research in Europe — was celebrated at three customer events at Kasteel De Haar, near Utrecht, Netherlands, during VIV Europe 2014 week. The expansion of the Dutch farm, which came to Cobb when it purchased Hybro breeding company from Hendrix Genetics in 2008, is the latest move from Cobb in increasing the company’s global research and development (R&D) program.
    “The Herveld farm investment reflects our commitment to the importance of the European market sector to our business,” said Jerry Moye, president of Cobb-Vantress Inc. “Europe remains a key focus for Cobb’s long-term growth, and so this investment is part of our overall strategy for the future.”
    “These are exciting times for Cobb in our region,” said Roy Mutimer, general manager of Cobb Europe.  “Expanding and renovating Herveld has transformed Herveld into a world-class research and development facility, and our expanded R&D team will deliver accelerated genetic progress to all our customers.
    “With the equally impressive investments in our European great grandparent facilities, we have an operation to ensure continuity and quality of supply to Europe, Middle East, Africa and markets beyond.”
    Herveld is set in Gelderland, the largest and least populated province of the Netherlands, and is now developed as a state-of-the-art pedigree complex that will ensure continuing breed improvement.
    With the Hybro purchase, Cobb saw this as an opportunity to expand and remodel the farm along the lines of their five other research complexes in the United States.
    The investment, which brings around 70 additional jobs to Herveld, is in three phases. The initial work was to renovate the on-farm hatchery in a EUR1.0 million (US$1.25 million) project to increase capacity and install the latest incubation technology. Thirteen new poultry houses have been built, with renovation of the original Herveld accommodation now well-advanced.
    The Herveld project is alongside an ongoing investment in Europe and the Middle East where EUR4.5 million (US$5.5 million) has been spent in rebuilding an re-equipping great grandparent farms in the UK, with a further investment in opening a hatchery in Turkey to produce five million parent stock per year.
    The new development at Herveld takes advantage of local landscape features to reduce its carbon footprint. Lake water is used to help cool the chicken houses in summer while ground-source heat is used in winter. It is believed to be the first such a combined system to be adopted in the Dutch poultry industry.
    The strictest levels of biosecurity are routine, with staff members taking showers and fully changing clothing when moving from one group of birds to another. To guard against airborne pathogens, all air entering each house is filtered and positive pressure is maintained — a policy that has helped to keep the location free from disease for over 25 years.
    The European breeding program, like its U.S. counterpart, places great emphasis on feed conversion efficiency while advanced technologies such as digital X radiography (using the lixiscope), blood oximeters and ultrasound ensure continuing development of the robust, high yielding broilers customers expect.
    “Genomics is becoming a more important part of the selection process,” said Gosse Veninga, Cobb European research director. “Genomics brings a higher accuracy of breeding values, especially for those traits which have not been measured at selection, such as reproduction traits or where we apply disease challenges off-farm on sibs or even on cross-breds. That data will be used via DNA analysis for pure line selection.
    “Currently we are measuring more than 50 traits.  That does not mean every individual bird is selected on the basis of 50 traits — but if you look to the pedigree population as a whole, we are definitely measuring over 50 traits altogether. Based on our experience, and the experience of our customers, we believe that the Cobb500 is a really good balanced bird.”
    The commercial trial farms that Cobb has also opened in the Netherlands over the past year are an integral part of the European breeding program and offer challenge testing environments to supplement the genomics efforts to generate an increasingly robust broiler for a world where responsible use of antibiotics is key.

Sanderson: Chicken industry expansion coming

    The U.S. chicken industry will see plenty of growth over the next few years, Sanderson Farms CEO Joe Sanderson Jr. told investors May 21 during the BMO Capital Markets 2014 Farm to Market Conference. That industry growth will come from both the addition of new poultry plants and expanded production at existing plants, he said.
    “I feel sure there will be some expansion coming,” Sanderson said.
    Sanderson Farms is helping lead the industry expansion, as it continues to build a new big bird deboning complex in Palestine, Texas. The new complex will consist of a feed mill, hatchery, poultry processing plant and wastewater facility. At full capacity, the Palestine facility will process 1.25 million head of chickens per week. While construction had been slowed because of inclement weather, Sanderson said things are back on schedule. The plant should open during the first quarter of the 2015 fiscal year.
    Sanderson also pointed out that other poultry companies are planning the construction of new plants. Peco Foods in March announced that it would open a fully-integrated poultry complex that includes a hatchery, feed mill and processing plant in Arkansas’ Randolph and Clay counties. Also, Allen Harim Foods is actively working to gain approval to open a new poultry complex at a former Vlassic pickle plant in Millsboro, Delaware.
    But Sanderson said the U.S. poultry industry could also see increased processing within existing plants.
    “I’m certain that there are going to be a lot of people that would like to speed up their lines, or add a line in the next couple of years,” he said. “We’ve heard a lot of talk about people building chicken houses.” Sanderson added that the talk of new chicken houses was “anecdotal” and he did not have specific information. However, he believes new houses will be built because the industry is currently profitable.
    “It’s a good time to be in the chicken business,” he said.

USDA to help agricultural producers improve water quality

    Andrea Gantz
    The USDA NRCS identified priority watersheds in each state where on-farm conservation investments will deliver the greatest water quality benefits while maintaining or improving agricultural productivity. 
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $33 million in assistance to agricultural producers to make conservation improvements that will improve water quality in 174 watersheds. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), will work with the farmers and ranchers to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and pathogen contributions from agricultural land.
    With the help of partners at the local, state and national level, NRCS identified priority watersheds in each state where on-farm conservation investments will deliver the greatest water quality benefits. Now in its third year, the NWQI has grown to include small watersheds across the nation as well as high-impact conservation areas such as the Mississippi River basin, Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes.
    The funding was announced on Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack’s behalf by Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Ann Mills during a Hypoxia Task Force meeting, held this week in Little Rock, Arkansas, according to a USDA press release.
    "This targeted approach provides a way to accelerate voluntary, private lands conservation investments to improve water quality and to focus water quality monitoring and assessment funds where they are most needed," Mills said in the press release. "When hundreds of farms take action in one area, one watershed, it can make a real difference to improving water quality."
    "The collaborative goal is to ensure people and wildlife have clean, safe water," said NRCS Chief Jason Weller. "Water quality improvement takes time, but by working together and leveraging our technical and financial assistance, we are better able to help farmers and ranchers take voluntary actions in improving water quality while maintaining or improving agricultural productivity."
    Eligible landowners will receive assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for installing conservation systems that help avoid, trap and control run-off in these high-priority watersheds. These practices may include nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.

Tyson CEO: Protein likely to be more prominent in diets

    Protein is likely to continue taking a more prominent role in people's diets, Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods, told investors May 21 at the annual BMO Capital Markets 2014 Farm to Market Conference.
    "We see opportunities for innovation to put protein in more affordable, convenient forms," Smith said. "We'll go where the consumer takes us, and we have the capability and flexibility to meet changing consumer needs and expectations."
    Steve Stouffer, Tyson Foods’ president of fresh meats, said protein supplies will remain tight through the summer grilling season as a result of constrained chicken breeding stock, a virus in the hog population and drought that has reduced grazing pasture for cattle. "The beef and pork supply and price dynamic this year and into 2015 are expected to drive more consumers to the relative value of chicken."

Tyson Foods selling its half of Dynamic Fuels

    Renewable Energy Group Inc. (REG) has reached an agreement with Tyson Foods Inc. to acquire Tyson’s 50 percent ownership position in Dynamic Fuels LLC, the companies announced May 21. Completion of the transaction with Tyson Foods, which is contingent upon the closing of REG’s December 2013 announced agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Syntroleum Corporation, would give REG full ownership of Dynamic Fuels and its 75-million gallon per year nameplate capacity renewable diesel biorefinery in Geismar, Louisiana.
    Tyson and Syntroleum formed Dynamic Fuels in 2007 as a 50/50 joint venture. The Geismar facility, completed in 2010, was the first large-scale renewable diesel biorefinery built in the U.S.
    “Upon closing, this is another milestone for REG in growing our core advanced biofuels business,” said Daniel J. Oh, REG president and CEO. “It gives us the opportunity to further expand our production capacity into new product lines, while growing our overall advanced biofuel manufacturing capability, and bringing on other renewable chemical applications.”
    “Selling our interest in Dynamic Fuels to REG provides capital for Tyson to redeploy into other opportunities,” said Andrew Rojeski, vice president of renewable energy for Tyson Foods. “REG is a long-term customer of ours, buying fats, oils and greases to make renewable fuel, and we hope to continue that relationship.”
    Under the terms of the agreement, an REG subsidiary would acquire Tyson Foods’ 50 percent membership interest in Dynamic Fuels by paying Tyson approximately $18 million in cash at closing and up to $35 million in future payments tied to production volume at the Geismar biorefinery over a period of up to 11.5 years. REG will also fund repayment of approximately $12 million of Dynamic Fuels’ indebtedness to Tyson at closing.
    A portion of the development and construction of the Geismar biorefinery was funded by $100 million in Gulf Opportunity Zone Bonds, issued through the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority. Closing of the acquisition from Tyson Foods is conditioned on REG’s replacement of the letter of credit Tyson Foods obtained to support issuance of the bonds or completion of a financing sufficient to refinance the bonds prior to December 31, 2014 on terms acceptable to REG. REG may seek to use existing cash on hand and/or one or more financing vehicles, including public or private debt or equity, to satisfy this condition. Closing is also subject to satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.
    REG currently owns eight operating biodiesel refineries in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Texas that have a combined annual nameplate production capacity of 257 million gallons. With the addition of the Geismar facility, the company’s total advanced biofuel annual nameplate production capacity would increase to 332 million gallons.

Veterinarian: Pig system stability works better than dosing pigs

    Dr. Mark FitzSimmons, a pig farmer and veterinarian of Swine Graphics, presented at the 30th Alltech Symposium that he believes maintaining stability in systems, rather than dosing, is the key to combating stress and disease in pigs.
    “You can actually make an endemic disease become epidemic … if you try to use antibiotics to eliminate a bacterial disease out of your pig population,” FitzSimmons said. 
    He went on to discuss the current eradication process of mycoplasma: “The disease itself is not that big of a deal. If you take your gilt production system, and because you can, you go in and you use antibiotics at a high level in pigs early in their life (basically in the farrowing house) and you eliminate mycoplasma from that pig population … that’s going to be a problem.
    “You have gilts that come into the farrowing house; they farrow their pigs. Instead of getting exposed to [a small amount of] mycoplasma early in their life and getting colonized normally by the sow … they get exposed to [a large amount of] mycoplasma, because of the gilts that came in naïve into that herd are shedding at the rate that they should have been shedding at when they were 180 days of age and they weren’t anywhere near those pigs. By the time they got into a crate with their first litter of pigs, the level of mycoplasma they would be shedding would be back down to [a small amount]. 
    “Now what you have is instead of a disease that we typically saw … in 80- to 100- to 120- or 150-pound pigs, we are now seeing it in 3-, 4- and 5-week-old pigs. Now you find the need to have to vaccinate for mycoplasma in pigs not when they’re 50 to 60 pounds, but when they’re 5 days old.” He explained that it wasn’t a change in the disease that causes it to show up in younger pigs, but a change in the upset of stability of the sow.
    “If you have a myco-negative sow, and you can put myco-negative gilts into it, and you can keep those pigs myco-negative all the way through their lifecycle, without a doubt, they perform better. The problem is getting all those things lined up on the same day.” 
    FitzSimmons also said that while producers can vaccinate for mycoplasma several times and the pig is more or less protected from that disease, they’re not taking into account the healthy bacteria getting killed by the multiple vaccinations, creating instability by leaving piglets more susceptible to other diseases.
    He concluded that while it seems like a basic concept to have and maintain system stability, people are continuing to develop programs that promote instability.

JBS Foods files for initial public offering

    Brazilian meat and poultry processor JBS SA on May 20 filed paperwork with the Brazilian securities commission (CVM) for an initial public offering (IPO) for JBS Foods. JBS Foods is the company’s newest subsidiary, producing value-added poultry and pork products.
    It is expected that stock for JBS Foods will be accepted for trade on Brazil’s BM&F Bovespa stock market. The company sought registration as a publicly held company in Category A.
    With the IPO, JBS hopes to use the money raised through the IPO to help pay down debt and make investments. JBS recently announced its financial results of the first quarter of fiscal year 2014, stating that net revenues for JBS Foods reached BRL2.78 billion (US$1.26 billion).

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ex-egg producers Jack and Peter DeCoster face federal charges

    Former egg industry executive Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter DeCoster were charged in a federal court May 21 with selling the eggs responsible for a 2010 Salmonella outbreak that caused thousands of people to become ill and led to the recall of 550 million eggs. The DeCosters were charged with introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, a misdemeanor that carries a minimum sentence of one year in jail.
    Quality Egg LLC, which includes the Decosters' former network of farms in Iowa, was charged with introducing misbranded food into interstate commerce for selling products from 2006 to 2010 with labels that "made the eggs appear to be not as old as they actually were." The company is also charged with bribing a public official for an alleged 2010 payment to influence a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector to approve shell eggs that had been held back for failing to meet federal standards, the Associated Press reported. Both are felonies.
    The DeCosters are expected to plead guilty at June 3 hearings.
    Jack DeCoster had previously been involved in a lawsuit with the plaintiffs accusing him of discriminating against workers based off of age, race and national origin. That suit was settled in October 2013, with the terms of the settlement not being released.

Zinpro to manufacture new products for China

    Beginning in June, Zinpro Corporation will manufacture threenew high-concentration spray-dried products for the animal feed market inChina: AvailaZn 170, AvailaMn 150 and AvailaFe 150. With the addition of thesenew products, the company now has a broader offering of Zinpro PerformanceMinerals in China to meet the needs of livestock and poultry producers.
    “We know that producers in China are seeking solutions to improve animal performance and the productivity of their operations,” said Sou Fei Chin, Ph.D., vice president ofsales – north Asia, Zinpro Corporation. “As the leader in trace mineral nutrition, we are pleased to introduce these three new research-proven performance minerals that offer numerous benefits, including improved feed conversion, reproduction and immune function. These are factors that give producers a competitive edge.”
    These will be the first products manufactured at the Zinpro Corporation facility in Wuxi. The company has exported products to China for more than 15 years and has built this new facility to better serve its customers and support the growth of its business in this market.
    “Our new manufacturing facility in China represents an exciting step for the future growth of Zinpro Corporation,” said Chin. The manufacturing facility in Wuxi follows the same manufacturing protocols and requires the same rigorous raw materials specifications as Zinpro Corporation manufacturing facilities in the United States. As a result, products manufactured in China will be of the same premium quality as products manufactured in the United States.
    “Our facility in Wuxi is focused on serving the China market,” said Chin. “There will be no effect on U.S. operations. The new manufacturing facility currently under construction in Shell Rock, Iowa, will service our growing needs in North America and other parts the world.”

IFEEDER recognizes gold level donors

    Two American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) member companiesrecently made generous donations to the Institute for Feed Education and Research(IFEEDER) to advance education and research within the feed industry. The donations,collectively totaling $100,000, will help IFEEDER support critical research andeducation projects focused on meeting the challenges of sustainable feed and foodproduction.
    Balchem Corporation and DSM Nutritional Products, both leading animal health and nutrition companies, donated $50,000 each to the nonprofit, lifting them to the corporate gold level donation status. The companies were recognized during a check-signing ceremony recently with IFEEDER Executive Director Ken Thomas.
    “At DSM, we are passionate about education and research within the industry, which are objectives recognized by IFEEDER,” said Marc de Beer, DSM senior director. “Unfortunately, there is a lot of miscommunicated information about the industry out there and DSM hopes our donation will help to produce and disseminate accurate content.”
    DSM is a manufacturer of vitamins, carotenoids, enzymes and premixes for animal feed.
    “Communicating within the industry is easy. That’s the lower-hanging fruit,” said de Beer. “We have a difficult time communicating what a fantastic job has been done providing safe, affordable food to those outside the industry. Hopefully, with the help of IFEEDER, we will find ways to reach out to people who may otherwise be misinformed.”
    Representatives from Balchem, a global leader in choline, encapsulated ingredients and chelated minerals for animal nutrition, agree, stating there needs to be one clear, concise voice for the industry in order to positively and accurately communicate information. They believe IFEEDER should be recognized as that voice.
    “IFEEDER will help to fill a void by providing timely, quality information, and there has been a void for far too long,” said Jonathan Griffin, global director of Balchem’s ruminant business.
    Translation of industry research into a compelling message is one of IFEEDER’s core objectives and is also an important factor for why science-based companies donate.
    “As an industry, we are focused on the science. As scientists, we are good at improving the science, but not so good at conveying the story. We have a great story, we just need help telling it,” said Scott Sorrell, Balchem’s director of global marketing.
    IFEEDER was created in 2009 to address the enormous challenges our U.S. food and feed production industries will face in the next 40 years and beyond, as the world’s population grows by almost 2.5 billion people.
    IFEEDER recently contributed $100,000 toward porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus research and also sponsored the 2013 Council for Agricultural Science and Technology report, “Animal Feed vs. Human Food: Challenges in Sustaining Animal Agriculture Toward 2050.”

Antibiotics in pork: Is pig industry sending mixed message to public?

    During the International Pig Forum at the 30th Alltech Symposium, experts and attendees discussed the use of antibiotics in pork production and how consumers react to their usage. 

    What does ‘antibiotic-free’ mean?

    The first call-to-action at the forum was for the industry to define what exactly “antibiotic-free” means. Does it mean the therapeutic use of antibiotics in pork production? Does it mean no growth-promoting antibiotics? Does it mean no antibiotic use at all? The forum group agreed that the swine industry needs a definition in order to present a unified front to the public, helping circumvent consumer confusion.

    Consumer confusion

    Without a definition of what "antibiotic-free" means, attendees noted that companies like A&W and Chipotle are capitalizing on consumer ignorance by marketing their antibiotic-free meat.
    Dr. Megan Edwards, a pig nutritionist, mentioned an example of consumer confusion in Australia, where veterinarians are writing a recording-breaking number of prescriptions for swine producers. While the farmers feel that they are producing antibiotic-free meat, this is not in alignment with what consumers expect in antibiotic-free pork.
    Dr. Mark FitzSimmons, a veterinarian and pig farmer from the U.S., added that consumers do not seem to be on the same page as to what exactly they do not like about the use of antibiotics. “When you ask people what they're afraid of about antibiotics, you get all sorts of answers. To me, we really need to understand if they are afraid of antibiotic resistance [or something else].”

    Potential solution

    The forum concluded with the opinion that there needs to be a holistic approach when it comes to educating the public about antibiotic use in pork production. With consumers, clarity on the term “antibiotic-free” should come from both inside and outside the production chain in order to have an effect. The industry also needs to understand and address what exactly consumers fear about antibiotics. Are they afraid of "antibiotic residue” on meat? What about antibiotic resistance? 

ADM, SGI announce omega-3 DHA strategic partnership

    Archer Daniels Midland Company and Synthetic Genomics Inc. have entered into a long-term agreement to commercialize omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from algae. As part of the agreement, omega-3 DHA will be produced and marketed throughout the world by ADM’s Foods & Wellness and Animal Nutrition groups.
    DHA is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that has been studied for its role in brain, heart and eye health. While it is typically found in fish and seafood products, extracting DHA directly from algae grown in fermentation tanks yields a highly purified form of DHA, which can then be used as a dietary supplement for humans and in animal feed.
    “This partnership is an important example of ADM’s ongoing efforts to enhance returns by strengthening our portfolio of higher-margin products,” said Greg Dodson, general manager, ADM Foods & Wellness. “There is significant demand for Omega-3 DHA products. We are impressed with the leading-edge technologies that SGI uses to quickly turn commercial opportunities into realities, and we look forward to working with them to use those capabilities to further enhance our current portfolio of nutritional ingredients.”
    “We are pleased to be working with ADM, a global leader in human and animal health and nutrition,” said J. Craig Venter, founder and CEO, SGI. “This agreement is a major accomplishment for SGI as it represents commercial validation of our science and technology. We are eager to continue to work with ADM to develop other unique and nutritionally sound food and nutraceutical ingredients.”
    “The ADM partnership with SGI will prove beneficial for both companies by capitalizing on the strengths of SGI’s technologies and know-how, while using ADM’s significant scale and production capabilities to commercialize important products demanded by our customers,” said Brent Fenton, president, ADM Animal Nutrition. “The end result will be an improved animal nutrition portfolio, which will deliver value both to our customers and our shareholders.”
    “We are excited to have this partnership with ADM that will allow them to provide a real alternative to what had been a very short list of plant-derived DHA ingredients,” said Jon Getzinger, senior vice president at SGI. “Having a real choice in the market will provide manufacturers the opportunity for broader inclusion of this essential nutrient in food, beverage, nutraceutical and animal feed applications.”

Danisco launches two value-add services for customers

    Danisco Animal Nutrition, a business division of DuPont Industrial Biosciences, has announced the global launch of two exclusive, value-add services for customers.
    The online Optimize Feed Service is an easy-to-use tool that enables customers to maximize profitability from the use of the company’s bio-efficacious phytase products - Axtra PHY and Phyzyme XP - and its Betafin natural betaine. The service uses accurate and well-researched matrix values based on animal species, diet variation, substrate levels and the age of the animal to help its customers determine the right dose of:

    • Phytase to maximize uptake of phosphorus, reducing the need for costly inorganic phosphorus supplementation and balancing calcium levels. It also helps minimize the impact of phytate and other anti-nutrients on the diet using extensive global data on raw material substrates.
    • Betaine to allow accurate and safe replacement of costly methionine and choline, and to support production stress, maximizing profitability.
    In addition, the company’s new semi-quantitative Axtra PHY FASTkit assay quickly detects the presence of active Axtra PHY phytase in the feed, saving valuable production time.
    “To determine the optimum doses of phytase enzyme and betaine, it is important that various factors, such as the species, age, substrate levels and other dietary variations, are taken into account,” said Nicholas Hewens, head of global marketing. “Using the Optimize Feed Service, our Phyzyme XP, Axtra PHY and Betafin natural betaine customers can be confident in the knowledge that their dosing calculations are backed up by reliable, worldwide trial data. The phytase FASTKit assay also speeds up the production process by quickly establishing that Axtra PHY is present and active in the feed.”

PEDv in British Columbia to be fought with help of fund

    A $613,050 investment by the governments of British Columbia and Canada is resulting in increased surveillance and preventative measures to stop livestock diseases like porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus from spreading to British Columbia, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and British Columbia Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick announced. The funding provided to the BC Pork Producers Association results in immediate action to reduce the risk of PED virus arriving in British Columbia, and prepare measures to rapidly respond and contain the disease if it should ever enter the province.
    The funding comes from the five-year Growing Forward 2 agreement, a $3-billion federal-provincial-territorial government investment in innovation, competitiveness and market development.
    The immediate action includes:

    • Implementingenhanced biosecurity efforts at the two facilities that handle pigs fromwithin and from outside British Columbia, including livestock transporttrucks and driver-sanitation measures.
    • Twopork processing facilities and 21 pork-producing farms will be supportedin developing response and containment plans to ensure rapid action shouldPED virus be found. In addition, enhanced auditing and application ofnational standards for on-farm biosecurity will be supported.
    • Theindustry will cost-share any activities that include the purchase ofequipment and/or costs for infrastructure associated with enhancingbiosecurity.
    “Vigilance towards PED is key to reducing its impact on the Canadian agricultural sector and the economy as a whole. This investment will provide the B.C. Pork Producers Association with the tools and resources it needs to support producers and processors in improving biosecurity,” Ritz said.
    PED virus is an extremely infectious and economically devastating pig disease that was first discovered in Canada in January.  The disease can be transmitted through animal feces among vehicles or equipment, and though harmless to people, results in a very high mortality in young piglets. To date, PED virus has not been found in British Columbia.
    Testing for PED virus is conducted at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Animal Health Centre. The facility receives more than 5,000 animal samples of all varieties for diagnosis annually and is one of only three Canadian labs accredited as a veterinary diagnostic laboratory by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians.
    In April the province passed a new Animal Health Act, updating nearly 70-year-old legislation, aimed at limiting the spread of current and emerging diseases like PED virus, and better responding to potentially disastrous outbreaks.

Bayer, Ashkan Animal Health sign distribution agreement

    Bayer HealthCare’s Animal Health group has finalized a sole distribution agreement with innovation’s company Ashkan Animal Health’s Aviboost and Byboost nutraceutical range for the Southern African Region. This region includes South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique.
    Under the agreement, territories abounded by the Zambezi River, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean will now be exclusively serviced and supplied by Bayer.
    The innovative nutraceutical range developed in South Africa by Eddy Mehta of Ashkan Animal Health will be marketed exclusively by Bayer HealthCare’s Animal Health group.
    The Aviboost and Byboost range provide nano- particulate nutrients, quickly and effectively, in a liquid form to the livestock and poultry industry. Organic minerals coupled with specifically balanced vitamins, essential protein precursors and nucleotides deliver a readily available boosted package enhancing investment return for Poultry and large animal farmers.
    The CEO of Ashkan Holdings commented that the 4-year relationship with Bayer now had a solid foundation while Bayer Marketing Manager Dr. Barry Schoombee emphasized that the only way forward for this range “was upwards and outwards” at the signing of the agreement emphasizing, “The beauty of this range is that the farmer can immediately alleviate any micronutrient deficiency syndrome on farm once identified, reducing the long term impact on production and profitability”
    The agreement includes the exclusive distribution of Aviboost Poultry Tonic, the flagship of this range as well as the innovative and novel Byboost Scour-Ex for the treatment of scours in ruminant and monogastric stock. A combination energizer,  Byboost Liquigize,  as well as Byboost Kal-Ci-Phos with extra+ Zinnc will go a long way to providing the protein producing industry of Southern Africa with essential immediate response tools to alleviate nutrient stress episodes and enhance investments returns in both intensive and extensive livestock farming sectors.
    The comprehensive range will be supplied solely through Bayer and UTI, its logistic partners.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The future of technology in agribusiness

    Alltech's Chief Information Officer Tim Arthur described how technology will be used in the future in agriculture during the 30th Alltech Symposium.
    Predictive analytics, such as weather forecasts, are currently used in agriculture. In the future, prescriptive analytics will be incorporated to make business decisions on our behalf. The United Parcel Service (UPS) currently uses prescriptive analytics to direct its packages around the world, but this technology has yet to make its way to the farm due to its high cost. However, “The $100,000 you have to invest in technology now will [cost] $1,000 10 years from now,” said Arthur.
    Arthur described a world in which a farmer would not have to visit his or her complex in order to discover coccidiosis in poultry or to address porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus in swine, because programs will act on behalf of the farmer to take corrective action. He also suggests that this technology will be applied to grain fields, tractors and animal nutritional needs.