Friday, February 28, 2014

Pilgrim’s plans to produce more antibiotic-free chicken

    Responding to a public demand for antibiotic-free (ABF) meat and poultry products, Pilgrim's will be producing more antibiotic-free chicken, Pilgrim's CEO Bill Lovette said. "We are going to convert more complexes in the next couple of years to ABF chicken," Lovette said during a February 21 conference call with shareholders.
    "The move in us growing in that category is strictly tied to our strategy of being a more valuable partner to our key customers. We stay close with our key customers' needs. Their needs are driven by their customers -- the ultimate consumer -- and the consumer is clearly calling for an increase in supply of ABF chicken.  As such, we have a plan to grow in that category."
    Lovette acknowledged that raising chickens without antibiotics can cost as much as 15 percent more than growing chickens by traditional means. However, the consumer is also willing to pay more for the final product.
    "The consumer has clearly spoken and voted with their wallets, and as such in order to remain relevant in the marketplace, we are going to grow in that category," said Lovette.

USDA designated as authority to certify animal feeds, pet food for export

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has signed an agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that designates USDA as the authority to certify animal feed and pet food products for export to foreign countries.
    USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has unique capabilities in working with stakeholders to develop export certification programs that meet the specific requirements of other countries. With years of experience certifying agricultural products for export, AMS will now expand its services to support the trade of animal feed and feed ingredients.
    "This agreement is a big step toward helping U.S. feed exporters take advantage of the growing global demand for these products," said AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo. "By allowing producers to obtain certification that some importing countries require, this effort opens new markets for U.S. products, generating additional economic benefits and more jobs across rural America."
    Under this agreement, AMS has the authority to audit, register, and provide export certification for animal feed and pet food products for export. Once this program has been developed and implemented, it has the potential to provide new opportunities for U.S. feed exporters as well as supporting existing markets.
    AMS has the ability to certify a wide range of animal feed products, including pet food and treats, dried distillers' grains with solubles, mixed-ingredient feeds, and feed additives. The total market for U.S. exports of animal feed and feed ingredients (excluding soybeans) worldwide is estimated to be $20 billion.
    The USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), AMS and FDA will work together with other government agencies, and representatives from feed, grain, and pet food industry organizations, to develop a program and refine it based on stakeholder feedback.

As PEDV cases grow, NGFA offers tips for delivery drivers

    As the number of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) cases continue to rise in North America, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) offers tips to prevent the spread of disease through delivery equipment and delivery drivers.
    The cleanliness of feed delivery equipment plays an important role in preventing the spread of disease. Trucks and trailers used for feed delivery should be thoroughly cleaned, washed, disinfected and dried. To appropriately clean delivery equipment:
    • Scrape/remove dirt and/or debris that may be present on the equipment prior to washing.
    • Soak the equipment with soap and/or degreaser.
    • Pressure wash the equipment with hot water.
    • Disinfect the vehicle with an appropriate disinfectant, following all label directions. The effectiveness of disinfectants is reduced when applied to a surface that is not clean.
    • Cleaning and disinfecting also is to occur within the interior of the truck cab.
    • Other equipment associated with delivery of feed - e.g., brooms, shovels, etc. - are to be cleaned and disinfected.
    • All delivery equipment is to be thoroughly dried prior to being placed back in service.
    The NGFA also describes best practices for delivery drivers:
    • Drivers are to wear clean clothes and footwear.
    • Drivers are to put on clean, disposable boots in the truck before exiting the cab at the delivery site.
    • Drivers are to put on clean, disposable coveralls immediately after exiting the truck cab.
    • Drivers are to stay as close to the delivery truck as possible to minimize the areas accessed.
    • Drivers are to only access areas of the delivery site for which they are authorized. This likely means not entering the barn office or other facilities. Feed invoices and tags also should be left in a designated area, such as mailboxes attached to the bin leg or outside of the office.
    • For bulk feed deliveries, if possible, drivers should communicate with the farm staff and ask them to open and close the bin lids.
    • For sack feed deliveries, drivers are to only unload products within designated areas.
    • After unloading of feed is complete, drivers are to remove coveralls and disposable boots when climbing back into the truck. These items are to be disposed of in a separate garbage bag or container.
    • Drivers are to apply hand sanitizer to maintain a clean cab before touching surfaces after re-entering the truck.

India’s poultry feed demand expected to rise 9 percent in 2014

    The demand for corn and soymeal for animal feeds in India is expected to rise 9 percent to 10.9 million metric tons in 2014, according to a report. This is due to increasing consumption of eggs and chickens in the Southeast Asian country. Most of the growth in demand will be in corn due to ample supply and lower prices.
    The higher demand locally could further reduce overseas sales already under pressure from lower grain pricing in Latin America. India is the leading seller of corn and soymeal in Southeast Asia, and the world's fifth largest producer of broilers.
    "Consumption of feeds, mainly corn is expected to increase because demand for poultry products are likely to rise by at least 6 percent this year," said Sanjeev Chintawar, business manager for the National Egg Coordination Committee.
    "We expect about 1 million tonnes (907,185 metric tons) per month demand for corn and soymeal over the next two months," said Ricky Thaper, an official of the Poultry Federation of India. He said the monthly demand for corn would be 680-725 metric tons, while demand for soymeal would be 181-227 metric tons.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency testing feed for PEDv contamination

    The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting tests to determine whether contaminated animal feed was a factor in spreading the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) in Canada, according to a report.
    The agency said testing has found the virus was present in plasma that originated in the U.S. and was obtained at the Ontario-based third-party manufacturer for Grand Valley Fortifiers, a livestock feed company. The plasma was used in the company's feed pellets, which Grand Valley recalled on February 9. CFIA said results are expected in days of tests to assess whether the feed pellets could have caused PEDv in piglets.
    Grand Valley recalled the products after a Kansas State University swine specialist team posted research recommending replacing porcine-based products in diets, removing all animal proteins except milk from diets, and testing porcine feed products.
    The virus has killed between 1 million and 4 million pigs in the U.S. since April 2013. It was first detected in Canada on January 22 and has been confirmed on farms in Ontario, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.

New National Chicken Council website opens the door on poultry production

    The National Chicken Council (NCC) has launched a new "Chicken Roost" website, which features information on issues such as animal welfare, food safety, environmental stewardship, antibiotic use and the modern partnership between farmers and chicken companies.
    The site was developed as a follow-up to last year's inaugural Chicken Media Summit hosted by NCC and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, where 30 members of mainstream, social and trade media toured every aspect of how chicken is produced and processed today, from the hatchery to the feed mill, farm and processing plant.
    "We heard from folks at the summit about what their readers and listeners were interested in hearing and learning about - the health of the chickens, the family farm, what labels mean, where their chicken comes from and how it is raised," said NCC President Mike Brown. "We had overwhelmingly positive response by not only explaining, but showing, what it is we do and why we do it.  We want to build off of that by continuing to tell our story online, being more transparent and addressing consumer concerns that go beyond the product."
    The website features a "Day in the Life" video on a chicken farm.
    The new site also allows consumers to share and access content via social media including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. The goal is to form a better dialogue with consumers, get them more involved in food production and answer their questions about chicken production and chicken products.
    "More than ever, consumers want to know exactly what they're eating, where it came from and how it was made. We're thrilled that Americans are taking an interest in agriculture and are excited to show them how the industry has evolved," Brown said.
    In addition to featuring farm-to-fork details about chicken production, food safety and animal welfare, the site also focuses on nutrition, citing chicken as the cornerstone of a healthy and balanced diet, as well as a Kids Zone section with quizzes, trivia and other information.
    According to Brown, the site will also feature information for members of the press covering issues related to food and agriculture. He said that NCC hears frequently from reporters with questions about farming practices and hopes this site will provide them with the information they need.
    "We hope that in time, consumers will come to think of this site in much the same way they think about chicken-reliable, accessible and a good addition to their day."

2014 Food Safety Conference speaker line-up announced

    The speaker line-up for the upcoming Food Safety Conference includes numerous experts from industry, academia, and government. Frank Yiannas, vice-president of Food Safety and Health at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club is one of the featured speakers. The conference is scheduled for March 4-5 at the Hilton Branson Convention Center in Branson, Mo. This conference, hosted by The Poultry Federation, qualifies for continuing education credits for the Veterinary Medical Boards of Missouri (12 credits), Oklahoma (9.75 credits), and Arkansas (pending).
    The Food Safety Conference is an educational event beneficial those working in food safety, live production, poultry processing, HACCP, QA, and environmental protections. Other key fields of interest are poultry service technicians, grow-out and feed-mill managers, veterinarians, and suppliers to live poultry production and processing.
    Tuesday, March 4, Shane Acosta, Cargill, presiding
    • Welcoming Remarks - Marvin Childers, The Poultry Federation
    • Documenting A Salmonella Outbreak - Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, Centers for Disease Control
    • Response To A Food Safety Investigation - Dr. Robert O'Connor, Foster Farms
    • A Retail Recall - Craig Wilson, Costco Wholesale
    • FSIS Strategy to Reduce Salmonella & NRTE Comminuted Poultry - Dr. Dan Englejohn, USDA-FSIS
    • Enumeration Of Salmonella - Dr. Jennifer McEntire, The Acheson Group; Dr. Randall Singer, University of Minnesota; Dr. Charles Hofacre, University of Georgia
    • Keynote - Frank Yianna, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club
    • Foreign Material Control - Bill Bouldin, Simmons Feed Ingredients, Dr. John Marcy, University of Arkansas
    • Interventions in Live Production - Dr. Charles Hofarce, University of Georgia
    Wednesday, March 5, Dr. John Marcy, University of Arkansas, presiding
    • Integrating Food Safety - Dr. Scott Gustin, Tyson Foods; Dr. Scott Eilert, Cargill; Craig Wilson, Costco Wholesale
    • Second Processing - Jill Stuber, GNP Company
    • Cut-up Parts - Dr. Robert O'Conner, Foster Farms
    • Parts Data - Dr. Ashley Peterson, National Chicken Council
    • Regulatory Update - Dr. Ashley Peterson, National Chicken Council
    • Campylobacter - Rafael Rivera, US Poultry and Egg Association
    • Antibiotics in Feed & FSMA - Leah Wilkinson, American Feed Industry Association
    • HACCP:  Deviation Investigations and Corrective Action/Validation with Biomapping - Dr. Ken Petersen, IEH, Dr. Dan Zelenka, Tyson
    Sessions Tuesday and Wednesday conclude with breakout sessions. Advance registration for the conference is $150 before February 28    and $200 after and on-site. Registration for university students and USDA officials is $50. Attendees are asked to register online at The Poultry Federation's website. For more information, contact The Poultry Federation at 501-375-8131.

Organic Chemical Solutions invests in Miami liquid and dry packaging operation

    OCS-miami-1402FMmiami .gif
    Chemical Solutions CEO Dr. Martin Moreira, President Alejandro Valdes and Production Manager Roberto Perez are shown at the OCS Miami facility. Newly installed additional packaging equipment will expand packaging capacity by approximately 80 tons per shift at the Miami plant.
      Dr. Martin Moreira, CEO of Organic Chemical Solutions LLC (OCS), has decided to increase the company's range of packaging options by making additional capital investments in an already state-of-the-art liquid and dry packaging operation located in Miami. New dry packaging equipment was installed and startup was concluded on December 3.
      Dr. Moreira also announced that a decision was made and arrangements have been concluded to launch OCS into the human supplement supply market. A line of at least 50 top-selling human supplements will be offered initially into the world markets by OCS, including the markets in the U.S., Middle East, Far East, Europe and Latin America. Novel approaches to natural treatment aids for diabetics will be offered.
      Organic Chemical Solutions LLC is a leading domestic and international company with dynamic approaches to product research and biotechnology development. OCS supplies profitable solutions through specialty ingredients and proven feed additives for pet, poultry, pig, cattle, equines and aquatic species.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pilgrim's reports 529 percent improvement in net income for fourth quarter of 2013

    Poultry processor Pilgrim's reported a surge in net income for both fiscal year 2013 and the fourth quarter of 2013. The financial results for the two periods ending December 29, 2013, were announced on February 20.
    Pilgrim's net income for the fourth quarter of FY 2013 was recorded at $143.4 million, a 529 percent improvement from the $22.8 million earned during the fourth quarter of FY 2012. The company's net income for the year was reported near $550 million, a 315 percent improvement from the $174 million recorded during FY 2012.
    Pilgrim's net sales reached $2.05 billion for the thirteen-week period, as compared to $2.2 billion for the fourteen week period in 2012. Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) of $196.5 million increased 205 percent compared to the $64.4 million generated in 2012.
    For the full 2013 fiscal year, Pilgrim's achieved $8.4 billion in net sales and $800.4 million of EBITDA, resulting in an EBITDA margin of 9.5 percent.
    "Three years ago our company began executing a strategy to create shareholder value and improve capital structure by partnering with key customers, relentless pursuit of operational excellence and growing our value added exports. During this period, we grew our sales by 22 percent while increasing our profitability, clearly demonstrating that this strategy is working as evidenced by this year's strong free cash flow generation" stated Bill Lovette, Pilgrim's CEO.
    "Our team fully understands that our company is going through a 'Revolution of Rising Expectations' and we continue to drive accountability deeper, setting targets to achieve the highest standards for every aspect of our business. We continually emphasize that being better than average is not good enough as we strive to be the best managed and most respected company in our industry."

Brazilian poultry producers must work together on labeling change

    All Brazilian poultry producers should label their product as being produced without hormones. This call has come from the producers association of the Brazilian state of Parana in response to new government measures allowing producers to label their product as being produced "without hormones, in compliance with Brazilian legislation."
    Although use of hormones has been prohibited for some time, the association fears that, with the change in legislation, consumers will automatically assume if a poultry product does not carry such a label, then it will have been produced using hormones.
    The association is calling on the industry nationwide to adopt the measure and to work together to dispel any misguided beliefs regarding hormones. A recent survey of consumers in Brazil found that 72 percent of those questioned believed that hormones were used in poultry production. 

Cherkizovo Group, Grupo Fuertes secure financing for new turkey plant in Russia

    Cherkizovo Group, one of Russia's leading food manufacturers, and Grupo Fuertes, a leading Spanish producer of turkey meat, has plans for a new turkey meat processing and production plant in Russia's Tambov region. Financing for the project has been approved, with an arrangement made with Sberbank CIB.
    The total amount of investment in the Tambov Turkey project is RUB7.5 billion (US$210 million), with over RUB3 billion (US$84 million) jointly provided by Grupo Fuertes and Cherkizovo Group. The output of the project is estimated at 40,000 metric tons of turkey meat per year. The launch date of the plant is 2015.
    Tambov Turkey is a landmark project because it involves Grupo Fuertes, a leading European producer of turkey meat that possesses many years of experience in creating similar high-tech production facilities. The significant investment in this project is a testament to the development prospects of the Russian turkey meat market on the whole and foreign investors' interest in high-tech Russian agriculture industry projects. This project to construct facilities for processing and producing turkey meat in the Tambov region will help increase the volume of production of high-quality, nutritious poultry and make it more accessible to the Russian population.
    Sergei Mikhailov, CEO of Cherkizovo Group, commented: "This is Cherkizovo Group's first international project which is being implemented in partnership with one of the leaders of the European poultry market. We are certain that the unique combination of European turkey farming experience and our Russian market experience - Cherkizovo Group owns the country's largest and most successful frozen poultry brands such as Petelinka, Kurinoe Tsarstvo and Mosselprom - will enable us to execute our Tambov region project on time and go on to occupy a leading position on the dynamically growing Russian turkey meat market. Cooperation with a reliable financial partner is essential if we want accomplish these goals. We are glad that Sberbank, with whom we have already carried out several successful projects, is that partner."
    Kirill Polishkin, acting head of the Client Management Department at Sberbank CIB, said the following about the deal: "We highly value our long and productive partnership with Cherkizovo Group. This project is being implemented according to the principles of project financing. It combines the in-depth expertise possessed by international producer Grupo Fuertes, Cherkizovo Group's strong position on the Russian meat market and Sberbank of Russia's experience in financing long-term agriculture industry projects. We are certain of the success of Tambov Turkey and intend to continue working on large, ambitious projects with our partners."

Hormel Foods first quarter net earnings jump 18 percent

    Hormel Foods on February 20 reported fiscal 2014 first quarter net earnings of $153.3 million, up 18 percent from the net earnings of $129.7 million recorded during the first quarter of 2013. Hormel's first quarter of fiscal year 2014 ended January 26.
    Hormel Foods' diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $0.57, up 19 percent compared to the $0.48 reported for the same quarter of 2013. Sales for the quarter were $2.2 billion, up 6 percent from the same period in fiscal 2013.
    "We achieved excellent results in the first quarter, posting an earnings per share increase of 19 percent over last year, with sales up 6 percent. Four of our five segments generated growth in sales and operating profits as we continue to deliver quality products with trusted brands to our customers and consumers," said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer.
    Jennie-O Turkey Store, which accounts for 18 percent of net sales and 24 percent of the total segment operating profit, made modest gains for Hormel, with profits increasing 1 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2013.
    "While our Jennie-O Turkey Store segment experienced more favorable feed costs this quarter, the savings were offset by weaker live production performance driven by extreme, sustained cold weather," said Ettinger.
    Jennie-O Turkey Store segment made additional investments in its brand during the first quarter, kicking off a new "Make the Switch" media campaign in January, featuring lean ground turkey. Jennie-O sales for the quarter increased 2 percent, led by sales of Jennie-O Turkey Store turkey bacon and fresh lean ground turkey tray packs.
    Hormel's Grocery Products, Refrigerated Foods and International segments also increased profits during the first quarter, while the Hormel Foods Specialty Foods segment experienced a loss.

British Poultry Council congratulates new scholars

    British Poultry Council scholars are congratulated by BPC Chairman John Reed.
    A team from the British Poultry Council and key figures from a range of UK and Irish poultry companies welcomed the latest group of BPC scholars at Harper Adams University.
    Representatives of Aviagen, Bernard Matthews, Cargill Meats Europe, Cranberry Foods, Faccenda, Gressingham, Moy Park and PD Hook visited Harper Adams for the annual scholarships presentation event, where 14 new BPC scholarships were presented to students on agriculture, agribusiness and animal science degree programs.
    Scholar Grace Righton, 22, from Pershore, Worcestershire, said: "The opportunity that I have been given from Faccenda is fantastic. The poultry industry is a fast-growing industry and I cannot wait to be a part it. I'm new to poultry so it's going to be an adventure."
    The awards, which aim to draw new entrants into the poultry sector, benefit the students to the tune of GBP3,500 (US$466,470) per year for up to two academic years, and provide a guaranteed paid placement with the sponsoring company for the sandwich year that all Harper Adams students complete as part of their courses.
    David Long, 20 from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, said: "The BPC scholarship will give me a great advantage in my studies, allowing me to gain a high-level of experience to take into a future job within the industry. I would like to thank the BPC scholarship awards and Bernard Matthews for granting me a placement year during which I will have insight into the day to day operations of the Agricultural Division, working throughout the production line of turkeys."
    Catherine Gawn, 20, from Ballymena, Co Antrim, said: "I am very thankful to be receiving a BPC scholarship and very much look forward to my year working for Aviagen - a prestigious company." Catherine's placement will take her to pedigree and grandparent farms in Scotland, a hatchery in England and on an extended overseas trip to see similar operations in a different climate.
    Jennifer Costello, 20, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire adds: "This scholarship will allow me the unique opportunity to learn first-hand about the entire process of specialty poultry production. I would like to thank Gressingham Foods for granting me the invaluable experience of working within an expanding and innovative family-owned company."
    Further new scholars included Connor Donaldson, 20 from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, who will join the team at PD Hook. Edward Calcott, 20, from Tamworth, Staffordshire is Cranberry Foods-bound and Emma Fletcher, 20, from Hinckley, Leicestershire is looking forward to a year with Moy Park.
    There was also an opportunity to hear from existing scholars about how the awards had benefited them.  Charlotte Wright, 23, from Brough, East Yorkshire, said: "I feel extremely proud and honored to be a BPC scholar with PD Hook. It has given me confidence and allowed me to develop my knowledge and skills within the poultry industry. During my placement year, I experienced a whole new level of farming as I had no knowledge of chicken production beforehand. I was part of a large hard-working team and involved in all aspects of poultry production."
    Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors from throughout the UK and Ireland, Harper Adams University Development Trust has this year awarded scholarships worth GBP280,000 (US$5,831) to 98 students.

Aviagen production management school goes mobile

    When 35 Aviagen customers from around the world gather in Huntsville, Ala., in June for the 51st Aviagen Production Management School, they won't be handed the hefty, fact-filled binders that students of previous schools carried with them during the month-long program - and then lugged back home.
    The course materials, handouts and technical documentation those infamous binders always held will still be available -- just in a vastly more mobile and student-friendly format.
    That's because this year, the Aviagen Production Management School is going digital. For the first time, the company will issue Apple iPad Mini tablets pre-loaded with school content. The tablets are small enough to slip into a jacket pocket, and they make it easy for students to refer to curriculum content as they listen to 45 experts from industry and academia, engage in eight to 10 hands-on, practical workshops, and visit 10 production facilities. Students will keep the iPads after graduating from the school.
    "At the annual Aviagen Production Management School, we teach the most advanced techniques and best practices in poultry production management, so it's only natural that we should use state-of-the-art technology to deliver that knowledge," said Mark Wright, director of the Aviagen school. "Now students can have instant access to updated course content wherever they go - at school, on those long international flights home, or throughout their own production facilities. And by delivering this information digitally, we're using less paper, generating less waste, and supporting Aviagen's commitment to promote sustainability worldwide."
    Using iPad Mini tablets as a learning platform also makes it easy for Aviagen to provide students with the most current course materials. Aviagen also is developing production tools specifically for use on iPad and iPad Mini tablets.
    The Aviagen Production Management School offers Aviagen customers a chance to gain hands-on experience with virtually every facet of poultry production, including biosecurity, fertility, feed formulation and animal welfare. More than 1,500 poultry professionals from 62 countries have completed the program since 1967, when it was founded in Connecticut as the Arbor Acres Production Management School.

Growth potential in Christmas traditional turkey market

    Christmas turkey producers are urged to get into the market for joints and value-added products in the annual newsletter from Paul Kelly to FarmGate Hatcheries poult customers.
    "While whole bird sales do make up the majority of Christmas sales, the market for joints and value-added products is growing. This is a market you must get into in order to stay in the race," said Paul Kelly, managing director of Kelly Turkeys.
    "Crowns and joints were averaging about GBP16 (US$26.68) per kilogram at retail at Christmas - they can be very profitable."
    Providing value-added products is one of his key pointers to future growth. He stated: "Quality farm fresh turkeys have the potential to increase their market share in the long term, providing we as farmers work hard at ensuring consumers know where to buy our turkey and offer an easy order service with a range of value-added products to satisfy demand."
    To make ordering easy producers must be using the internet, he said.  "In 2013, just 11 percent of our retail orders were received via our traditional price list that is mailed out to our customers. Of all our retail orders online, 62 percent were taken out of office hours. You need to provide a 24/7 ordering service and it must be online - and not a telephone answering machine."
    This year FarmGate Hatcheries, of Danbury, Essex, is offering a range of five breeds in both bronze and white, along with the Black Roly Poly, with the option of as-hatched or sexed hens.
    Paul Kelly referred to their 'unique program to select breeding stock that eats superbly.' He stated: "I think I can confidently say I have tasted more turkeys of different breeds than anyone on the planet. I can assure you there are big differences in various breeding lines for both bronze and white. We have stopped breeding from two pure lines over the past three years because of relatively poor eating quality.
    "Ultimately, it is the experience your customers have at the Christmas dinner that is the key to repeat business."
    Day-old poults are available from mid-May to mid-September, with prices up by less than one percent on 2013 on account of the inflation in power and wages more than absorbing all the saving in feed cost.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

FAO rules out human-to-animal transmission of H7N9 avian influenza

    The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says there is no evidence that human patients infected with H7N9 avian influenza can transmit the virus to animals, including birds. FAO referred to the first human case of H7N9 outside China, which was recently detected in Malaysia.
    The patient, originally from Guangdong Province in China, where she is thought to have contracted the infection, was visiting Malaysia as a tourist and has now been hospitalized there. Guangdong is one of the Chinese provinces most affected by the H7N9 virus in 2014.
    "This case does not come as a surprise and should not be a cause for increased concern, but should remind the world to remain vigilant," said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth.
    "Humans that become ill with (H7N9) constitute no threat to poultry populations," Lubroth underlined.
    "In fact, we have no evidence that affected people could transmit the virus to other species, including birds. The highest risk of virus introduction is uncontrolled live poultry trade between affected and unaffected areas."
    People, on the other hand, become infected following close contact with infected live poultry, mostly in live bird markets or when slaughtering birds at home.
    WHO risk assessments show that should infected people from affected areas travel internationally, community level spread is unlikely since the virus does not have the ability to transmit easily among humans.
    Lubroth observed that "Such 'imported' human cases, like the one reported in Malaysia last week, have been found in the past in previously unaffected areas of China, like Guizhou, Taiwan Province of China and Hong Kong SAR, and we will likely continue to see this in the not too distant future again. To date the virus has not been found in poultry populations outside affected areas in China."
    Birds that have contracted H7N9 do not show clinical signs, which renders early detection of the virus in poultry populations more difficult. FAO therefore urges countries to adapt their surveillance programs to include this recently emerged virus.
    One of the main recommendations is to target surveillance at critical points of entry, where direct or indirect live poultry trade with infected areas might occur.

    In order to reduce human exposure to zoonotic pathogens in general, biosecurity measures should be introduced or reinforced at live bird markets, including frequent cleaning and disinfection, establishing market rest days with no poultry present and applying good hygiene standards.
    With the strong support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), FAO is assisting a number of member countries to prepare for a potential introduction of H7N9 into their poultry populations.

    FAO is focusing in particular on high risk countries, facilitating risk assessment, contingency planning, expansion of diagnostic capabilities and risk-based surveillance.

Cherkizovo Group celebrates success with inaugural Ross 400 Club awards

    Russia's Cherkizovo Group celebrated its first Ross 400 Club awards with a ceremony held on February 7. Two certificates were awarded for results achieved last year, with Cherkizovo farms Vasilievskaya and Petelinkaya being rewarded for their scores of 409 European Production Efficiency Factor (EPEF) and 431 EPEF, respectively.
    Aviagen and Cherkizovo have been working together for more than five years, but this is the first time the Ross 400 Club awards have been introduced. Aviagen's Tore Mercan, director of technical service, and Eduard Taktarov, sales director, were in attendance at the awards along with Sergey Pilipenko, group head of production and Natalia Sereda, head economist, both from Cherkizovo Group.
    Mercan said: "'The Ross 400 Club family has been consistently expanding with new members and we are delighted that the Ross genetic potential has been realised in combination with Cherkizovo's high level of management. I would like to congratulate Cherkizovo on reaching these superior broiler results and on behalf of Aviagen I would like to welcome Cherkizovo to the Ross 400 Club."
    Pilipenko added: "We are extremely pleased to become members of the Ross 400 Club. With Ross 308 we always achieve excellent results with, for example, an average EPEF of about 360 on GK Cherkizovo for Ross 308. Our main competitors are four points of FCR behind Ross. Of course we understand that feed conversion is the main factor that contributes to the economics of broiler meat production. I would like to say many thanks to the Aviagen geneticists for their good work. At the moment two of our poultry farms, Vasilievskaya and Petelinskaya, have become members of the Ross 400 Club and we hope that our other production units will also join this prestigious Club in the near future. We are not stopping at what has already been achieved but are determined to further enhance our results in the future."

Poland has first confirmed cases of African swine fever

    Poland has confirmed its first two cases of African swine fever (ASF). The Polish government said on February 18 it is taking action to stop the spread of the disease.
    State veterinarians confirmed African swine fever in Poland following tests on carcasses of wild boars found near the village of Szudzialowo, near the Belarus border. A buffer zone has been set up along parts of the borders with Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine, Poland's chief veterinary officer Janusz Zwiazek told reporters. Officials have ordered farmers to fence in their land, lay down disinfectant mats and test and monitor shipments of live pigs out of the zone.
    The ban comes at a time when the European Union is working to end Russia's ban on pork from the EU, which was imposed on January 29 after Lithuania confirmed ASF in two wild boars.
    Russia previously imported nearly a fourth of EU pork exports, and Poland is one of the EU's leading pork exporters, with 2013 exports valued at EUR 912 million (US$1.25 billion).

New, non-PEDV coronavirus detected in pigs with diarrhea

    The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is informing pork producers and veterinarians that a new coronavirus has been detected in pig fecal samples from four swine labs in Ohio by Dr. Yan Zhang, a virologist from ODA's Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL). The virus cannot spread to humans or other species and poses no risk to food safety.
    The farms from which the samples were taken experienced outbreaks of a diarrheal disease in sows and piglets in January and early February of 2014. The clinical signs of the disease were similar to that of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) and transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), which are both caused by coronaviruses. Electronmicropy of fecal samples from the four farms showed the presence of coronavirus-like viral particles. In one of the four farms, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for TGEV and PEDV currently circulating in the U.S. were negative, but all 10 samples were positive for a new virus. PEDV and the new virus were detected in fecal samples from the other three farms.
    Sequence analysis of the new coronavirus shows that it is a deltacoronavirus, distinct from PEDV and TGEV. The new virus has been designated as Swine DeltaCoronavirus (SDCV). Further study is needed to confirm whether this virus is the cause of diarrheal disease in affected pigs.
    The ADDL offers PCR tests that can detect PEDV, SDCV and TGEV.

The first Topigs Total Feed Efficiency webinar is March 25

    On March 25, the first of two Total Feed Efficiency webinars will be held. Two prominent speakers will give insights into the latest developments in pig feeding.
    Dr. Piet van der Aar, managing director of the internationally respected Schothorst Feed Research, The Netherlands, will talk about the use of new feed alternatives, feed production methods and other new insights and technologies concerning the production and use of feed.
    Professor Bruno Silva, professor and researcher in nutrition and swine production and environmental adaptation at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil, will explain the possibilities of precision feeding, where feeding the right amount of nutrients leads to higher results and greater efficiency.
    These two presentations will inform pig producers about new, improved nutrition sources and feed alternatives and how these can dramatically improve feed efficiency, pig health and grow out when combined with precision feeding.
    The Total Feed Efficiency webinars are being sponsored by Topigs and presented by WATT Global Media. The webinars will be accessible via internet to everybody who has registered for them. For further information about the webinars and to register for them, visit the Topigs website or the WATT Global Media website.

Cal-Maine Foods announces passing of Jack B. Self

    Cal-Maine Foods on February 18 announced the passing of Jack B. Self, who served as the company's vice president of operations - production. Self, age 84, had been an employee of Cal-Maine Foods since 1968.
    Commenting on the announcement, Dolph Baker, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, "All of us at Cal-Maine Foods are deeply saddened by the death of our good friend and colleague, Jack Self. He has been a valued member of the Cal-Maine Foods family for over 46 years and played an important role in the company's growth and development. More importantly, Jack served as a great mentor and teacher to many of us throughout the company. He was also well respected in our industry and has built a legacy that will survive him in the years to come. During the coming days, our prayers and support will be with Jack's family."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

OSHA invites comments on procedures for handling FSMA retaliation complaints

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on February 19 published an interim final rule establishing procedures and time frames for handling retaliation complaints under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). OSHA invites the public to submit comments on the interim final rule.
    FSMA, signed into law January 2011, provides employees who disclose information about a possible violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act with protection against retaliation from businesses engaged in the manufacture, processing, packing, transporting, distribution, reception, holding or importation of food.
    This interim final rule establishes procedures, burdens of proof, remedies and statutes of limitations similar to other whistleblower protection statutes that OSHA administers.
    Individuals may submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, via mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments must be submitted by April 14.
    OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace, commercial motor vehicle, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, maritime, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, health care reform, corporate securities, food safety and consumer financial reform regulations.
    Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

Federal insurance to cover poultry flocks under consideration

    Is it feasible for chicken and turkey flocks to be covered under a federal crop insurance plan? A forthcoming study called for in the 2014 farm bill may answer that question.
    The farm bill, which was signed into law on February 7, includes an amendment that calls for a study of whether a federal program should be launched that would insure poultry producers for flock losses in the case of a disaster, whether it would be a disease outbreak, weather-related disaster or a financial disaster, such as a poultry processor bankruptcy.
    The amendment including the poultry insurance study was championed by Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. Both Coons and Chambliss are members of the Senate Chicken Caucus.
    Insurance for poultry flocks would have helped growers for Allen Family Foods when the company went bankrupt in 2011, Coons said during a news conference on February 18.
    "Many other segments of agriculture benefit from crop insurance," Coons said. "Poultry's something where there is no such product available. There's no federal role in providing for that ... We're trying to encourage young folks to get into this segment. We want to help them manage risk in a responsible way."
    The amendment doesn't include any estimate of what a poultry crop insurance program might cost, according to reports. The federal crop insurance program for corn, wheat and other seed crops cost $5.9 billion in federal funds in the most recent fiscal year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, or 3.8 percent of the USDA's annual budget.
    National Chicken Council President Mike Brown, who also participated in the press conference, said he supports the study, saying an insurance program could help growers "when their flocks are disrupted."

Human infections of Campylobacter, Salmonella decreased in EU in 2012

    Human cases of Campylobacteriosis and Salmonellosis both decreased in the EU in 2012, the annual report on zoonoses and foodborne outbreaks in the European Union for 2012 revealed. While human Salmonella cases have continued to drop over the past seven years, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said it is premature to suggest that Campylobacter is on a downward trend.
    Campylobacteriosis is still the most reported disease in the UK, accounting for 214,000 cases of infections. Typical symptoms include diarrhea, fever and headache. The bacterium that causes Campylobacter is mostly found in chicken meat.
    "It is encouraging to see that cases of Campylobacteriosis have gone down in 2012. But more investigation and monitoring is needed to see if this is the beginning of a trend," said Marta Hugas, acting head of EFSA's Risk Assessment and Scientific Assistance Department.
    Over the years, Salmonellosis has been decreasing, with 91,034 reported cases in 2012. This is mainly due to the successful Salmonella control programs put in place by EU member states and the European Commission in poultry, the report stated. Most member states met their Salmonella reduction target for poultry flocks. Salmonella, which typically causes fever, abdominal cramps and vomiting, was most often found in poultry meat.
    Johan Giesecke, chief scientist at European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), added: "The decreasing trend of Salmonellosis is very encouraging. However our evidence shows that any Salmonella serovar can cause human illness which requires continued surveillance and vigilance."
    The report on zoonoses and foodbourne outbreaks is produced jointly by the EFSA and the ECDC every year, using data collected by EU member states.

IPVS Congress makes last call to submit abstracts

    The International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) is making its final call for people to submit abstracts for the 2014 IPVS Congress. The deadline to submit an abstract has been extended to 11:59 p.m. February 28.
    The IPVS Congress, in its 23rd year, is scheduled for June 8-11, in Cancun, Mexico. The IPVS Congress will showcase research and topics of swine health and production interest from around the world.
    Abstracts must be submitted online through the IPVS website.
    Presentation venues include oral, corner and poster presentations.
    The program is organized around the following topics: bacteriology, virology, immunology/vaccine/diagnosis, epidemiology/public health, breeding/genetics, nutrition and production, management/housing/economics, food safety/pork quality, welfare, practitioners' line and miscellaneous.

Government strengthens Canadian poultry research

    Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on February 18 announced an investment of $4 million to the Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC) to further strengthen the poultry industry's role within the Canadian agri-food sector.
    The research will focus on helping the poultry processing industry remain competitive, while addressing consumer concerns about poultry welfare and environmental preservation. This will include developing new vaccines, reducing the environmental footprint of poultry farms and providing poultry farmers access to high-caliber training opportunities.
    While industry leadership and investment are key to the success of this cluster, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) researchers will collaborate in priority areas, including developing viable alternatives to the use of dietary antibiotics in chicken production.
    "The Canadian poultry industry is a key contributor to Canadian agriculture and our overall economy," said Ritz. "Collaborative research investments such as these advance the sustainable production and profitability of the Canadian poultry industry, while further improving animal health."
    Roelef Meijer, chair of the Canadian Poultry Research Council, stated: "Canada's poultry industry has made embracing innovation part of the industry's vision in recognition of the need to be dynamic and to foster efficiency for farmers and our industry partners. This announcement of funding for a second Poultry Science Cluster is a substantial contribution to the sector's future. It will enable researchers to find more immediate answers to industry issues and to provide important information to farmers, stakeholders and consumers."

GAP Resource selects Meyn again

    Meyn has received a new order from GAP Resource for a line with a capability of processing 9,000 birds per hour. This new line, to be installed in Blagodarny, Russia, is the fourth high-speed line that GAP Resource will be operating. All four have been delivered by Meyn.
    Meyn's relationship with GAP Resource dates back to 2008 when Ptitcekombinat LLC was equipped with a state-of-the-art broiler processing line that also has the capability of processing 9,000 birds per hour. In the years that followed, both the facilities of Nevinnomyssk and Blagodarny were equipped with complete Meyn processing lines.
    GAP Resource, situated in south Russia, is a vertically integrated agricultural company, starting from growing crops, production of feed mixes up to broiler processing and meal component production. Its mission is to offer millions of families the possibility to buy fresh, high-quality poultry products. The company employs more than 9,000 people and based on a yearly production volume of more than 210,000 tons, ranks third in the Russian poultry market.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sonic Drive-In strengthens premium chicken lineup with new Honey Mustard & Swiss Chicken Sandwich

    Sonic Drive-In is taking another step in its ongoing pursuit of providing flavorful sandwiches using superior ingredients as it introduces the new Honey Mustard & Swiss Chicken Sandwich and announces the return of the Asiago Caesar Chicken Club Sandwich to its premium chicken lineup. Each sandwich features Sonic's unique combination of tangy sauces and savory cheeses, made specifically for customers who crave these classic flavors.
    "Sonic customers enjoy our premium chicken sandwiches, but sometimes they crave different flavors, like the new Honey Mustard & Swiss Chicken Sandwich," said James O'Reilly, chief marketing officer for Sonic. "They enjoy trying unique flavor pairings, and we will continue to build on our diverse menu while offering the quality you might associate with a sit down restaurant in a quick service format."
    Effective February 18, Honey Mustard & Swiss Chicken Sandwiches are available with 100 percent all-white meat grilled or crispy chicken breast on a soft, whole grain ciabatta bun (offering 10 grams of whole grain) with fresh lettuce, a hand sliced tomato, Sonic's tangy honey mustard sauce and mild Swiss cheese to pack even more flavor. The Asiago Caesar Chicken Club Sandwich is also available grilled or crispy on a whole grain ciabatta bun but features the distinct taste of Asiago cheese, savory bacon and Sonic's signature Caesar dressing.
    "We worked with many different ingredients to develop a lineup of premium chicken sandwiches that appeal to the varying tastes of our customers," said Chef Claes Petersson, vice president of product innovation at Sonic.
    "The tangy and savory flavors of the new Honey Mustard & Swiss Chicken Sandwich perfectly complement our premium 100 percent all-white meat chicken breast in a way our customers will love. Because we are all about customization at Sonic, I like to add crispy bacon to take it to another level."

Hy-Line inaugurates new farm in Nebraska

    After millions of dollars have been invested, Hy-Line International continues to carry out a 4-year expansion project. The initial phases completed within the past two years included a complete remodel and upgrade of the Dr. James Arthur Research and Development Farm, a new pureline pullet growing farm, a new grandparent farm in India and construction of a state-of-the-art hatchery dedicated exclusively to pedigree and grandparent stock.
    The Nebraska project is focused on increased grandparent and parent stock production capacity to ensure continuous and reliable supply for Hy-Line's growing customer demand.
    In an effort to accommodate the growth and guarantee security of supply, Hy-Line has completed a new cooperator house in Nebraska. "Being able to meet customers' needs and supply them with quality products is our first priority. The ability to source our product from multiple states gives us control over quality assurance," explains Global Director of Production Antonio Paraguassu.
    The new cooperator will house Hy-Line Grandparent stock, which will include multiple varieties. The modern design includes a computerized monitoring system, and a strict shower-in policy and isolated location set a high standard for biosecurity.
    Hy-Line International is a world leader in poultry layer genetics with a rich history of innovation.  Founded in 1936, by Henry A. Wallace, Hy-Line was the first poultry breeding company to apply the principles of hybridization to commercial layer breeding and continues to lead the industry with the application of molecular biology and genomic selection. Hy-Line genetics are sold in over 120 countries worldwide.

Danish pig herd grows by 1 percent

    The Danish pig population on January 1 increased by 1 percent when compared to the start of 2013, according to figures published by Statistics Denmark. The total pig population of Denmark reached 12.4 million head.
    The Danish pig population count was also up 1 percent on the final quarter of 2013, going against the typical seasonal trend where the pig population declines around the end of the year. The breeding herd followed a similar trend, while maiden gilt numbers rose by 10 percent and in-pig-gilts increased by 3 percent on the year. There can be large fluctuations in the number of gilts from census to census, but these numbers suggest some optimism regarding the future production of piglets, according to BPEX.
    Piglet numbers in Denmark increased 2 percent on the year, showing some signs of further improvements in productivity. In addition, the rise in piglets was reflected in a 1 percent increase in the count of weaners, but fattening pig numbers remained unchanged. This was largely because of the continuing strength of the weaner export market, with Poland attracting an increasing number in addition to the more established German market. 

US broiler production, consumption expected to rise steadily through 2023

    U.S. broiler production and consumption is expected to increase steadily over the next ten years, nearly doubling the production and consumption of both beef and pork by 2023. The projections were highlighted in the Agricultural Projections report, released by the USDA Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) on February 13.
    US broiler production to grow by 10 billion pounds
    Broiler production in the United States is expected to reach 35 billion pounds in 2014, but production will continue to rise throughout the projection period, reaching nearly 45 billion pounds in 2023. Larger amounts of birds produced and heavier weights at slaughter are both expected to contribute to the increase in U.S. broiler production.
    The projected U.S. broiler production estimates significantly exceed the estimated figures of U.S. pork and beef production. An estimated 24 billion pounds of pork and 23 billion pounds of beef are expected to be produced in the United States in 2023.
    U.S. beef production is expected to decline through 2016, before starting a slow, gradual climb. U.S. pork production is forecast to surpass U.S. beef production in 2014 and continue rise slowly throughout 2023, maintaining a modest lead in market share over beef throughout the projection period.
    US per capita broiler consumption to rise substantially
    U.S. consumption of broiler meat will substantially rise from an estimated 83.7 pounds per capita in 2014 to 94.7 in 2023, according to the Agricultural Projections report. Meanwhile, U.S. pork consumption will rise slightly from 47.1 pounds per capita in 2014 to 48.6 pounds in 2023, and U.S. beef consumption will drop from 53 pounds per capita in 2014 to 52.1 pounds in 2023.
    Turkey consumption is also expected to increase over the projection period, rising from an estimated 16.3 pounds per capita in 2014 to 17.4 pounds per capita in 2023.

Young named Frank Perdue Scholarship Student of the Year at the 2014 USPOULTRY College Student Career Program

    Corissa Steimling, left, Penn State University, was the second place winner of the 2014 College Student Career Program Frank Perdue Scholarship Student of the Year award. Taylor Young, right, Penn State University, was winner of the 2014 College Student Career Program Frank Perdue Scholarship Student of the Year award.
    Taylor Young, Penn State University, was named the Frank Perdue Scholarship Student of the Year at the annual USPOULTRY College Student Career Program, held in conjunction with the 2014 International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta. The scholarship is named for Frank Perdue, noted for his dedication to aspiring young people studying for careers in the poultry industry, and who for many years would attend the College Student Career Program to interview students.
    The College Student Career Program provides undergraduate and graduate students from colleges and universities across the nation and internationally, in multiple disciplines, with the opportunity to interview for jobs and internships with industry and allied companies. These students can also visit the exhibit floor to complement their studies and to see and experience the latest technology and newest innovations in today's poultry and egg production and processing operations.
    "There were approximately 500 students from 30 universities throughout the United States at the USPOULTRY College Student Career Program, in addition to 24 students from 14 universities internationally. We are very pleased with the number and quality of applicants, and I know a number of hiring decisions were made at the program," remarked USPOULTRY Chairman Elton Maddox, Wayne Farms, Oakwood, Ga.
    The annual program also includes competitions for Club of the Year and Scrapbook of the Year. North Carolina State University was awarded Club of the Year, and Texas A&M University was awarded Scrapbook of the Year.

Rattlerow and Karro Food Group agree to major deal in Scotland

    Rattlerow Farms and Karro Food Group have agreed a deal which sees Rattlerow extend its Scottish operations with the acquisition of Karro's breeding herd interests. As part of the same deal, Karro affirmed its ongoing commitment to Scottish farming with agreements for Rattlerow to supply its farming operation that was formerly part of Vion Food Group UK.
    The deal was reached during the second week of February, seeing the transfer of nine employees and two nucleus farms. Rattlerow will also take control of Karro's dam line breeding program to exclusively produce all its replacement gilts as well as supply artificial insemination to the processor's commercial pig production operation based in Scotland.
    Both companies have also agreed to long term arrangements where Rattlerow, together with RA-SE Genetics, will operate a dedicated Scottish nucleus and multiplication program to specifically supply Karro's farms with Landroc and Whiteroc genetics. Karro will have a distinct market edge, through the unique selling point of access to Rattlerow's prolific outdoor herd, expertise and technologies - all of which will lead not only to a high quality pig supply but also through the partnership there will be significant efficiency advantages, as synergies are realised between the pig breeder and pig processor.
    Seamus Carr, CEO of Karro Food Group, commented: "We are delighted to be involved in a strong and developing relationship with Rattlerow, with this new agreement we have secured the supply of a high quality product which is a vital component in our delivery of top quality pork to our customers."

Friday, February 21, 2014

Vietnam bans poultry imports from China over H7N9 worries

    Vietnam has banned poultry imports from China, citing fears of the spread of H7N9 avian influenza. To date, Vietnam has not had any reports of H7N9 avian influenza, though there have been confirmed cases of H5N1 avian influenza in Vietnam in recent months.
    The fears of H7N9 avian influenza's spread are high, as two human cases of H7N9 avian influenza in Quangxi were confirmed. Quangxi is a Chinese province bordering Vietnam.
    Cao Duc Phat, Vietnamese minister of agriculture and rural development, said the country is also cracking down on the illegal import of poultry from China. According to reports, there is no official tally on the amount of illegal poultry imports from China, but in one major poultry market in Hanoi, there could be as many as five metric tons of illegal poultry imports arriving daily.

Cobb leads in pioneering compartmentalization in Brazil

    Cobb has become the first poultry breeding company in Brazil to achieve approval for its compartmentalization project in accordance with the Terrestrial Animal Health Code of the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
    The project has been validated by the OIE and now approved by the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry (MAPA).
    The project was first discussed in 2000 and gained momentum in 2005 after the detection of large scale, highly pathogenic avian influenza in Southeast Asia. The aim was to create subpopulations through certifying the health of poultry at units with enhanced biosecurity.
    Compartmentalization increases control over bird health through the stricter biosecurity standards, with periodic risk audits, a traceability system and surveillance of both the flocks and wild animals around the units. In Brazil, the project is a partnership between MAPA and Ubabef (the Brazilian Poultry Union), with the participation of the private sector.
    "Cobb's participation in the project is based on the need to protect our genetic base, minimizing the risk of avian influenza and Newcastle Disease," said Cobb-Vantress Brasil technical manager Paulo Raffi. "This will facilitate international trade, provided compartmentalization is officially recognized by the importing country as well as the Brazilian government."
    To develop its own compartment model covering the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Mato Grosso do Sul, Cobb based the project strictly on OIE rules. The location and design of the farms, animal movement within and outside the compartment, control of pests, the flow of people and vehicles and water quality were evaluated.  So, too, were equipment and facility disinfection, litter, feed and input quality, vaccines and medications, waste treatment, and movement of breeding stock, with recording of all procedures and monitoring flow of material and information.
    "The OIE recognizes that breeding companies already work as a compartment due to the need to protect their flocks from disease through stricter biosecurity plans than on commercial units," said Paulo Raffi. "The main challenge was to complement this work with risk analysis, a traceability system and a monitoring program covering the flocks within and outside the compartment."
    A plan was established providing the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to any health emergency. To put it into practice, Cobb is training all employees, so that 'alert' conditions can be minimized or, where appropriate, addressed.
    "This is easier in Brazil due to the high levels of biosecurity already established. We are working now on diagnostic capability and emergency response, especially monitoring for low pathogenic viruses and of wild birds around the compartment units."
    Jairo Arenazio, Cobb's general manager for South America, said that Cobb is a pioneer in compartmentalization in Brazil.  "This initiative is at the root of the success of our business in South America and of our exports of breeding stock from Brazil," Arenazio said. "Without it, we would have had to create an alternative officially recognized regime to ensure the high health status of product for both domestic and especially international markets.
    "At the moment the global poultry industry is facing up to the threat of avian influenza, We couldn't let Brazil, which exports poultry to more than 150 locations around the world, be 'held hostage' to international regulations restricting bilateral trade. We had to create a new regime to ensure the high health status of our stock."
    To Jairo, compartmentalization is simply a set of hygiene measures with routine monitoring to ensure that 'nothing outside comes in, and nothing inside gets out.'
    In other words, if there is any health challenge from diseases featured on OIE's A list in areas surrounding a poultry operation, there are risk mitigation measures to ensure that this challenge does not affect the birds.  There are also control measures to avoid transmission outside the compartment.
    "With the new OIE regime, Brazilian poultry farming is taking another major step towards global recognition of the high health standards of our industry and our products,' he added. "Compartmentalization will bring us even greater assurance on biosecurity. And I'm sure it is here to stay."

Cal-Maine Foods announces agreement to acquire remaining interests in Delta Egg Farm

    Cal-Maine Foods announced on February 17 that it has reached an agreement to acquire 50 percent of the membership interests of Delta Egg Farm from Sunbest Foods of Iowa, Inc., a Moark affiliate. Cal-Maine Foods currently owns the remaining 50 percent of Delta Egg Farm, so Delta Egg Farm will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Cal-Maine Foods.
    Pursuant to this agreement, Cal-Maine Foods will purchase the membership interests for a total of $17 million. Delta Egg Farm owns and operates a feed mill and egg production complex with capacity for approximately 1.2 million laying hens, located near Delta, Utah, and an organic egg production complex with a capacity for approximately 400,000 laying hens located near Chase, Kan. The transaction is expected to close on March 1.
    Commenting on the announcement, Dolph Baker, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., said, "While we have enjoyed a long-term working relationship with Moark and Sunbest Foods of Iowa, we are excited about the opportunity to take over the ownership and management of Delta Egg Farm, LLC. We look forward to the opportunity to continue to expand our business and provide greater value for our shareholders."

‘Enough is enough’ when it comes to food security debate, says Elanco president

    Elanco on February 13 introduced "Enough: The Fight for a Food Secure Tomorrow," a report focused on the realities and solutions available to achieve global food security. The report, written by Elanco President Jeff Simmons, advocates for farmer access to innovative tools in order to feed a growing global population and reduce natural resource use.
    During his presentation at "Feeding the World 2014: Sustainable Solutions for a World Crisis" hosted by The Economist, Simmons shared the main messages of the report, explaining that innovation, choice and trade will be the core solutions to tackle food security.
    Simmons laid out today's food security realities: The world's middle class will more than double in size to nearly 5 billion as the world population grows to 9 billion by 2050. However, the fastest part of that growth will actually occur between now and 2020. This means billions of people demanding access to better diets, including an increased consumer demand for meat, milk and eggs.
    The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports we'll need 60 percent more meat, milk and eggs to meet demand by 2050. But, we're already overusing the Earth's resources; it currently takes 1.5 years to regenerate one year of resource use, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
    "We are currently on the fast track to a crisis and a global shortage of basic foods such as meat, milk and eggs. For example, today, we are meeting global milk demand primarily by adding cows. On this path, we will need 40 million more dairy cows in order to meet consumer demand for dairy products in 2050. This is simply not sustainable," Simmons said.
    "Health experts recommend that we have two glasses of milk each day for optimal health. Today, we have access to about one glass of milk on average globally - though clearly some have access to more or less. Given current productivity level and population growth, 500 million people won't have access to one glass of milk in 2020 if we don't make a change," Simmons explained about the crisis. "By 2040, nearly half the population, or 4.5 billion people, won't be able to meet their nutritional needs of two glasses a day.
    "But alternatives exist. We have - either available right now or in the pipeline - the technology that would enable us to meet consumer demand in 2050. But we need to give farmers the ability to access and utilize this technology and ensure that proven innovation and farm practices which maintain health and productivity are available for use," Simmons continued.
    In the case of milk demand, using innovations to increase a cow's annual production by as little as a half a glass a day or 4.75 ounces would fill the gap and freeze the footprint of milk production. It would mean 66 million less cows, 747 million tons less feed and 388 million acres less farmland - roughly the size of Alaska. Further, it would save 618 billion gallons of water - enough to supply the annual household consumption of the 11 largest U.S. cities.
    Simmons' call for technology is backed up by food security experts, including organizations such as Heifer International.
    "By providing farmers with the tools and training they need, we can empower them to feed the world's growing population. Innovation, appropriate technology and access to markets are key to helping smallholder farmers achieve autonomy and self-reliance, paving the way from poverty to prosperity," said Heifer International President and CEO Pierre Ferrari. Elanco partners with Heifer International to address shared goals for creating a food secure future, including volunteer and financial support for Heifer International initiatives.
    Simmons' "Enough" report also features new research that helps detail the reality of consumer perceptions and the path for ensuring global food security with innovation, choice and trade. The research includes original consumer perception and survey data from The Nielsen Company and Elanco researchers as well as in-depth new research regarding nutrition and food chain solutions for ensuring food security.

ISU studies poultry genetics to fight hunger in Africa

    Animal science faculty members at Iowa State University are studying the genetic makeup of chickens in Africa in an effort to improve nutrition and alleviate food scarcity across the continent.
    Susan Lamont, a distinguished professor of animal science, recently returned from a two-week trip to Africa to lay the groundwork for a project aimed at identifying the genetic mechanisms that strengthen the resistance of chickens to heat and a potentially devastating disease.
    The five-year project, funded by a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, will draw on the expertise of ISU faculty and will be led by personnel at the University of California, Davis.  Two universities in Africa - Sokoine University in Tanzania and the University of Ghana - also will contribute to the project.
    Lamont said the team will explore the local genetic diversity of chickens in Africa and eventually breed birds that are more resistant to heat stress and Newcastle disease, an acute respiratory illness that can kill half the birds in a flock in a matter of days.
    "Newcastle disease is the No. 1 health limit to poultry production in these countries," she said. "The potential impact of this research is huge."
    Addressing Newcastle disease through genetic resistance is of particular importance because most vaccines available to combat the disease require refrigeration, which often is not an option in areas of Africa with limited access to electricity, Lamont said.
    One advantage to improving chicken resistance is that the birds require little space compared to other animals, so families can raise their own flocks relatively cheaply. Lamont said between 80 and 90 percent of poultry production in some African countries comes from small backyard flocks rather than the large-scale production that occurs in developed countries. That means a project like this one has the potential to benefit African families in a direct way, she said.
    Eggs are an important source of protein, especially for young children, Lamont said. And boosting the stress resistance of chickens means African families can meet their nutritional needs and have more birds left over to sell.
    "In most cases, the excess chickens and eggs create extra income," Lamont said.
    While larger animals such as cattle are traditionally the responsibility of men in the countries involved in the study, women usually tend chickens, she said. That means any extra cash will benefit families more directly.
    "This work has the potential to address nutritional needs and alleviate poverty while also empowering women," Lamont said.
    Previous work at Iowa State explored the genetics of Fayoumi chickens, a breed originating in Egypt known for resistance to Newcastle disease and other ailments. Lamont said that history with chicken genetics uniquely positioned Iowa State to make important contributions to the project. Jack Dekkers, an ISU Distinguished Professor of animal science, also will work on the project, conducting statistical analyses of genetic information.

Jones-Hamilton Co. selected among top 35 workplaces

    The Jones-Hamilton Co. was recently named one of the Top 35 Workplaces by the Toledo Blade, a designation based solely on employee feedback.
    Jones-Hamilton President, Bernie Murphy, cites employee ownership as the driving force in employee satisfaction. "It would be unlikely to see this impressive level of commitment from our employees if they did not understand the business that they owned," said Murphy. "Continuous and accurate communication is critical to maintain the level of accountability and care our employee owners exhibit."
    The Top Workplaces are determined by an employee survey conducted by WorkplaceDynamics, LLP, a leading research firm on organizational health and employee engagement. Over the past year, more than 5,000 organizations and 1 in every 88 employers in the U.S. have turned to WorkplaceDynamics to better understand what's on the minds of their employees.
    Based in Walbridge, Ohio, the Jones-Hamilton Co. is an employee owned chemical company that serves such diverse markets as water treatment, steel processing, oil and gas, pet food, food safety, poultry and dairy production.
    "As employee owners, our employees directly benefit from their daily roles in how we do business, serve our customers, support our community and secure their futures," said Murphy. "This personal commitment assures our products are produced, shipped and serviced in line with what our customers are paying for."
    Company leaders focus on regularly sharing company information to give employees the opportunity to learn more about strategic plans for the future.

JBS acquires poultry processor Frinal

    JBS has added to its poultry operations with acquisition of Frinal. Details of the transaction have not been released.
    Frinal, which has a 40-year history in the poultry industry, is based in Garibaldi, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Frinal employs about 1,270 people and processes 120,000 chickens per week, according to news reports. Its product line includes chilled and frozen chicken.
    The JBS purchase of Frinal marks the second change in ownership for Frinal in less than a year. In April 2013, businessman Erasmo Carlos Battistella purchased the company.
    The Frinal acquisition comes not long after JBS closed on the purchase of another Brazilian poultry processor. In September 2013, JBS purchased Seara Brasil, a poultry and pork processing company previously owned by Marfrig. JBS at the same time acquired Zenda, a leather company, from Marfrig.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

United Egg Producers officially ends efforts to pass Egg Bill

    Chad Gregory, president, United Egg Producers (UEP), announced on February 14 that UEP no longer will seek passage of the national hen housing and welfare legislation known as the Egg Bill.
    In a statement to UEP members, Gregory said: "Members should feel proud of the tremendous efforts over the past two years with our endeavors to pass the Egg Bill. With the farm bill now concluded, UEP can confirm that it has ceased efforts to pass the Egg Bill. UEP is now focused on exploring a range of options with the objective of delivering much-needed business certainty to America's egg farmers."
    "Enriched colony housing represents the future of this vibrant industry and we are encouraged to see these contemporary houses being constructed throughout the United States. We remain dedicated to partnering with members, allies and other stakeholders in hope of achieving a workable solution of transitioning the industry towards enriched colony facilities in a manner and timeframe that best suits our egg farmer members."
    Gregory also said UEP and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have agreed not to extend their memorandum of understanding (MOU) or any formal connection that existed up until now. The end of the MOU doesn't mean that UEP and HSUS will quit talking, Gregory said. He said that UEP will continue to work with all stakeholders, including HSUS, to find common ground.
    Production of eggs for the California market after the implementation of Proposition 2 on January 1, 2015, continues to concern Gregory. He said the uncertainty over the outcome of the Missouri attorney general's lawsuit and other possible litigation leaves egg producers guessing as to what type of housing and housing density will be acceptable to the marketplace and the courts. This uncertainty increases the prospect of egg shortages in California next year.

Ball Park launches new line of turkey patties

    Ball Park has added more turkey to its product line, launched a new line of launching Flame Grilled Turkey Patties. The patties are available in two varieties: flame grilled turkey and flame grilled turkey with cheddar and jalapeño.
    Ball Park Flame Grilled Turkey Patties are fully-cooked and ready straight from the microwave in just minutes, providing that juicy, flame-grilled taste, with no grill required. Containing fewer calories, no preservatives or artificial flavors, and 17 grams of protein, the Ball Park Flame Grilled Turkey Patties are a convenient and high-quality option making it easy to enjoy the taste of a grilled burger any time of the year.
    "Ball Park Flame Grilled Patties were launched to help meet the needs of consumers looking for convenient foods that are great-tasting, bold and juicy," said Kristin Kroepfl, director of marketing, Ball Park brand. "After seeing a positive response following the launch of Flame Grilled Beef Patties, we were excited to introduce new turkey varieties. The new Flame Grilled Turkey Patties are an excellent source of protein and provide burger lovers with a delicious, quality meal that's ideal for anytime, especially those guy time occasions."
    The new Flame Grilled Turkey and Flame Grilled Turkey with Cheddar & Jalapeño varieties are the first Turkey Flame Grilled Patty offerings from the Ball Park brand and join the popular product line-up which currently includes Beef, Beef & Onion and Beef & Cheese. Packed with bold flavor, the new Flame Grilled Turkey Patties are the ideal game-day snack or anytime guy food.
    Available in resealable six count packages, Ball Park Flame Grilled Turkey Patties can be found in the frozen food aisle of grocery stores nationwide beginning this month and are priced the same as the Ball Park Flame Grilled Beef Patties at a suggested retail price of $8.29 per package.

White House to provide additional assistance to Californians impacted by drought

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined President Barack Obama in Fresno, Calif., on February 14 to announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide additional assistance to help farmers, ranchers and residents affected by severe drought in California. At President Obama's direction, USDA has made implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill livestock disaster assistance programs a top priority and plans to have the programs available for sign up by April 15, 2014.
    "President Obama and I will continue to do everything within our power to support California farmers, ranchers and families living in drought-stricken areas. This assistance, coupled with other aid being made available across government, should provide some relief during this difficult time," said Vilsack. "Thanks to the newly signed Farm Bill, we are now able to offer long-awaited livestock disaster assistance, which will provide needed stability for California livestock producers impacted by drought."
    USDA has declared 54 counties in California as primary natural disaster areas due to drought. Additional USDA resources announced for California and other drought-stricken states include:
    • $100 million in livestock disaster assistance for California producers
    • $15 million in targeted conservation assistance for the most extreme and exceptional drought areas
    • $5 million in targeted Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program assistance to the most drought impacted areas of California to protect vulnerable soils
    • $60 million has been made available to food banks in the State of California to help families that may be economically impacted by the drought
    • $3 million in Emergency Water Assistance Grants for rural communities experiencing water shortages
    California state health officials have already identified 17 small community water districts in 10 counties that are at risk of running out of water in 60-120 days. This number is expected to increase if current conditions persist.