Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Avian cholera detected at two Kansas wildlife areas

Officials in Kansas are closely monitoring waterfowl populations at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge after dead geese were observed in the wetlands. Staff at both areas picked up dead birds recently and sent samples for testing.
Lab results confirmed that avian cholera, a contagious disease resulting from infection by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida, was the cause of death. This strain of bacteria commonly affects geese, coots, gulls and crows. Most of the dead birds found have been snow geese.
“We picked up about 30 dead geese on December 14,” said Karl Grover, Cheyenne manager. “Those birds had died between [Dec. 11 and Dec. 14], so we’re seeing about 10 dead birds a day. We estimate that the Bottoms is holding between 75,000 and 150,000 geese, half of which are snows, and about 10,000 ducks.”
USFWS staff at Quivira NWR gave similar estimates. Refuge manager Mike Oldham said some geese moved off of the refuge after the weekend.
“We probably have about 80,000 geese and about half of them are snow geese,” Oldham said. “We’re picking up about 4-5 dead birds per day.”
While it’s not uncommon for a contagious disease to affect waterfowl when large numbers are concentrated, avian cholera deaths are not common in Kansas. According to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, humans are not at high risk for infection with the bacteria strain causing avian cholera. However, it’s recommended that hunters and their dogs avoid contact with any sick or dead birds.
Avian cholera quickly overcomes infected birds, resulting in death in as little as 6-12 hours, although 24-48 hours is more common. Infected birds may exhibit signs such as convulsions, throwing head back between wings, swimming in circles, erratic flight and miscalculated landing attempts.
Avian cholera should not be confused with avian influenza, which is a highly pathogenic virus that infected millions of poultry flocks in the upper Midwest last summer.

Zoetis to sell some animal health brands, manufacturing unit

Indian drug company Zydus Cadila will acquire select animal health brands and a manufacturing unit from Zoetis Inc., according to reports. One news outlet reported the deal at $29 million.
Zydus says the acquisition will help the company gain access to a wide range of nutrition and therapeutic products.
'We believe that this strategic acquisition will strengthen our portfolio of brands and add new dimensions to our growth in the animal health business. We see this as an opportunity to catapult our business to higher levels of excellence,' Zydus Cadila Chairman and Managing Director Pankaj R. Patel said.
Last month, Zoetis reported that it had sold three facilities in North Carolina, Colorado and Arkansas to Huvepharma in a deal valued at $40 million.
In November 2015, Zoetis held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of its new global production and supply facility in Suzhou, China.
In July 2015, Zoetis agreed to acquire KL Products to strengthen its automation technology for poultry hatchery operations. The privately held company headquartered in London, Ontario, Canada, is a leader in automation systems for the poultry industry.
And in May 2015, Zoetis reported flat revenue in the first quarter of 2015, and announced a comprehensive operational efficiency initiative to enhance its long-term competitive position and profitability, which includes slashing $300 million in annual costs by 2017 and cutting at least 20 percent of its workforce.

Aviagen Turkeys acquiring France’s Le Sayec

Aviagen Turkeys has announced the company is acquiring Le Sayec, a family owned business responsible for the selling of commercial turkey eggs and poults within France.
Le Sayec also exports throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
 “We are very excited about this acquisition, which is good news for both companies and for the turkey industry,” said Clay Burrows, managing director of Aviagen Turkeys. “There has been much consolidation within the industry over the last decade and because of this there is a need for us to operate further down the supply chain and the acquisition of Le Sayec will allow us to be closer to our end user. We look forward to continuing to build relationships and adding value for both our integrated and independent customers using our own Aviagen products, while continuing to develop the B.U.T. and Nicholas brands."
Patrice Le Sayec, managing director of Le Sayec, said: “My family and I are very pleased with this acquisition and believe there are many synergies between the two companies. We have been working with Aviagen Turkeys for many years and because of this it will be a very smooth transition. I will continue to manage the business going forward and I’m excited to be part of the Aviagen Group.”
Founded in 1958, Le Sayec employs 60 people with a turnover of EUR25 million (US$26.9 million).

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Walker elected new PAACO Chair

Jennifer Walker, DVM, PhD, of Dallas, TX, has been elected chairman of the board of directors for the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO). Director of Dairy Stewardship for Dean Foods, Walker was the organization’s vice chairman the past two years. She succeeds Terry Mader, PhD, of Mader Consulting.
"I am proud to serve PAACO," said Walker.  "I am excited about helping implement our new strategic plan which will ensure that PAACO remains the authority in animal welfare audit certification and auditor trainings."
Angela Baysinger, DVM, Bruning, NB, was named vice chairman. She is a health assurance veterinarian for Merck Animal Health. Rounding out the officer team are Secretary Ted Friend, PhD, animal science professor at Texas A&M University, and Treasurer Dave Sjeklocha, DVM, operations manager of animal health and welfare at Cattle Empire. The organization’s executive director is Mike Simpson.
Paul Beck, PhD, professor at University of Arkansas is a newly-appointed board member representing the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. He replaces Mader as one of three ARPAS appointees.

Tech XChange planned for IPPE

The International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) is offering attendees a variety of free 20-minute technical presentations on current topics affecting the feed, meat and poultry industries. The Tech XChange program will be held on the trade show floor of the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta from Jan. 26 – 28.
Tech XChange presentations will address myriad issue areas, including food safety, animal welfare, sustainability and feed production. Each session will be led by an IPPE exhibitor, who will share his/her expertise and experience on the topic. Attendees can participate in the free Tech XChange education presentations from 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 26, and from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Jan. 27, in Booth A-3347 and in Booth B-8805.
The schedule can be viewed here or through the  IPPE Mobile App under the “Education” search.

Making animal production more sustainable

A new study led by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, which was published in the scientific journal of the Royal Society Interface, shows that reducing concentrate feed can be a feasible alternative for ensuring food security in a climate-friendly way.
Calculations using a model show that, should the predictions of the FAO become a reality, agriculture’s negative impact on the environment will increase significantly by 2050. One of the main reasons is the intensive feeding of livestock of crops like wheat, maize and soy. In order to intensify production, already diminishing cropland is increasingly used for feed production instead of the production of plant-based food. Thus, concentrate feed for animals competes with food for human consumption.
The study shows that by reducing the production of concentrate feed, more plant-based food can be produced while also protecting the environment and reducing GHG emissions. Calculations show that the number of animal products in human diets would decrease by 53% if feed production on cropland were to be reduced. This would mostly concern pork, poultry and eggs.
Grassland is more eco-friendly than concentrate feed
The connection between meat consumption and environmental damage of agriculture has long been a controversial topic. A common conclusion is to further intensify animal husbandry, i.e. to produce more high-energy concentrate feed on arable land. It is often regarded as the only way to meet the increasing demand for animal-based food and to reduce GHG per kg meat. However, the new FiBL study also shows that reducing concentrate feed would be a more sustainable solution for supplying the global population with food. According to the calculations, this strategy has great potential and ideally complements already existing approaches for food security like improving the efficiency of food production, distribution and use as well as decreasing consumption.
Newly developed model can be used for a variety of purposes
Researchers at FiBL, the FAO, the “Alpen-Adria” University in Vienna and the University of Aberdeen designed a global model system in order to calculate various scenarios of food availability and impacts of food production on the environment. This model system is able to calculate the complex material flows and resulting production volumes and environmental impacts of our food system. This allows for an in-depth analysis of changes in production methods and food consumption. The system is consistent with global statistics of the FAO and can be used in the future to answer various questions on the sustainability of agricultural and food systems.

Feed additives company Jefo unveils new philosophy

Non-medicated performance feed additives producer Jefo has unveiled its new global corporate philosophy based on the company’s history and strong corporate values. The new philosophy, “Life, made easier,” sustains the rationale of the company’s logo: a natural cycle, an easier continuity of life.
According to Jefo:
“Life. It’s health. It’s reproduction. Calving, farrowing, laying [and] hatching. It’s milk. It’s growth. It’s animals feeding the hands that feed them. Jefo is a circle of life.
“’Life, made easier’ is a view to easier calving and easier transition. It’s nutrition delivered as it should be, through vitamins, minerals, yeasts and organic acids. It’s better balance, better metabolism. It’s just a little more comfort.
“’Life, made easier’ is a promise of health solutions that are easy to administer. Right in the feed, as it should be. Without fuss or pain or risk to the animals. It’s a promise that with better nutrition, animals are more comfortable, easier to raise. That each stage of life is just a little less complicated, with a lower risk of disease, weight loss and mortality due to stress and malnutrition. It’s just a little more peace of mind.
“’Life, made easier’ is a promise that Jefo is constantly searching for solutions to animal nutrition challenges, offering a full range of products and programs to satisfy the needs of the different life stages of each species. It’s a lot more confidence and a true partnership.
“’Life, made easier’ is a promise of excellent service and expert technical support. It’s a promise that doing business with Jefo is easy, with immediate response and efficient communication. It’s an entire solutions-oriented team at your service.
“’Life, made easier’ means programs and solutions for real-life situations, for different lifestages and challenges.
“’Life, made easier’ with science. Through its applied scientific research, Jefo continues to innovate and develop additives that take into account the genetic make-up, physiology and metabolism of each species, as well as the varying requirements of the market: Jefo Matrix Technology for safe and targeted delivery of active compounds and nutrients, enzymes for improved feed conversion and increased body weight, and liquids for optimal animal performance.
“’Life, made easier’ is about timely technical support and practical advice worldwide. It’s experienced, dependable and friendly professionals at your service.
“’Life, made easier’ means healthy animals feeding the hands that feed them. This is the circle of life. This is what sustains us. This is Jefo,” the company says.
The new philosophy will be rolled out in all communications in the many countries where Jefo is present. New kiosks, stationery, business cards and corporate communications including advertising, promotions and website have been designed.

USDA vaccine stockpile prepares US for HPAI outbreak

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making preparations to turn back and stop another outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). One of the most powerful tools in fighting another U.S. outbreak of HPAI may be the USDA’s stockpile of poultry vaccines.
During the WATT Global Media webinar, "Vaccination as Part of an Avian Flu Eradication Plan," Dr. David Suarez, research leader for exotic and emerging avian viral diseases research at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), spoke about a stockpile of vaccine the agency is building. The National Veterinary Stockpile would only be tapped in the event of a widespread outbreak of HPAI – like the one that spread across the country between December 2014 and June 2015 – but it is a key part of the USDA’s response plan.
Suarez, who’s been with the ARS since 1995, said empirical research from two decades of fighting HPAI outbreaks around the world proves that vaccines in combination with other biosecurity measures are an effective way to both stop outbreaks and reduce viral shedding, or the transmission of the virus from one infected bird to an entire flock. So, the agency has decided to stockpile as many as 500 million doses of poultry vaccines in the event of an outbreak. 
However, in accordance with U.S. regulations, the USDA can only use vaccines approved and licensed by its Center for Veterinary Biologics. This limits its access to experimental vaccines that have shown promise against extant strains of HPAI. The USDA has limited options because drug companies have very little economic incentive to independently research and produce HPAI vaccines.
“We’re certainly constrained by what the commercial companies are willing to get licensed in the U.S.,” Suarez said. “Because we don’t vaccinate for avian influenza on a routine basis, there’s very little economic incentive for these companies to license in the U.S. because obviously, they don’t want to go through the expense of licensing unless they have a product that can be sold that they can make a profit on.
“That really has constrained what is available in the U.S. In some countries, like in China and Mexico, they actually have some products available there that are not available here.”
In order to encourage drug companies to produce newer, more-effective vaccines that the USDA can stockpile in the event of a mass immunization, the agency released a request for proposals for avian influenza vaccines in 2015.
The two avian influenza vaccines purchased by USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for the stockpile had different costs. The vaccines are being added to the stockpile at costs to USDA of $0.06 and $0.125 per dose by Ceva Animal Health and Harrisvaccines, respectively.
The agency released a second request in November. Suarez said the USDA may issue three more similar requests in the near future where APHIS may purchase additional doses of vaccine. So far, the agency has purchased 148 million doses for $12 million.
Beyond the vaccines already stockpiled, Suarez said he thinks there are new vaccines being developed that will be released soon. He believes the existence of the National Veterinary Stockpile has played a positive role in advancing the development of new vaccines in the U.S. The stockpile, at the very least, he said, gives the USDA the option to immunize with proven and reliable vaccines in the face of another HPAI outbreak.
The USDA has not yet made any decision on mass immunization. However, it has established a criteria for how it would immunize if that decision is made in the future.

Hendrix Genetics building layer hatchery in Nebraska

Hendrix Genetics plans to build a hatchery for its layer breeds in Grand Island, Nebraska.
The hatchery is being built to meet the company’s growing demand for the Hendrix ISA division Isa Brown, Bovans Brown, Shaver White, Dekalb White and Bovans White laying chickens.
The potential $10 million hatchery will be situated on 20 acres at Grand Island’s Platte Valley Industrial Park-East, reported the Grand Island Independent. When completed, it will produce 24 million chicks per year.
Hendrix-ISA Managing Director Peter Mumm said that the company has 40 hatcheries across the world, but only two in the United States. Since one is located in Virginia and the other in Pennsylvania, a Midwestern location was deemed ideal because chicks could be delivered across the U.S. in one day.
The hatchery plans were announced during a special ceremony in Grand Island, with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts in attendance.
“This is a great win-win for the city of Grand Island, for Hendrix-ISA, for the State of Nebraska to be able to expand the agribusiness right here in our state and in your community to be able to create more jobs and get that investment," said Ricketts. "This really is a great day for the city of Grand Island and the State of Nebraska."

IPVS Congress releases preliminary program

The preliminary program for the 24th International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) Congress and 8th European Symposium of Porcine Health Management (ESPHM) has been released. The jointly-held event will take place June 7-10 in Dublin, Ireland.
The event will include a number of presentations by leading industry keynote speakers and roundtable discussions.
Topics to be discussed include:
  • Bacteriology and bacterial diseases
  • Herd health management
  • Immunology and vaccination
  • Parasitology and parasitic diseases
  • Reproduction
  • Veterinary public health and food safety
  • Virology and viral diseases
  • Welfare and nutrition
Scheduled speakers include:
  • Gary Althouse DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACT, Chairman, Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center
  • Sandra Edwards, Professor, UK Agricultural Development and Advisory Service
  • David Francis, Emeritus professor,South Dakota State University
  • Dr. Peter Geldhof, Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Ghent University
  • Dr. Bruno Goddeeris, Chairman of the Scientific Council, VAR-CODA-CERVA (Centre for Veterinary and Agrochemical Research) of Belgium
  • Dr. Carl Andreas Groentvedt DVM, Dipl. ECPHM, Swine health expert and researcher, Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Oslo
  • Prof. Anja Joachim, Professor, Institute of Parasitology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
  • Dr. Yuzo Koketsu, Professor, School of Agriculture Meiji University, Japan
  • Dr. Andrea Luppi, Brescia and Reggio Emilia Laboratory (IZSLER)
  • Dr. John Mabry, Director, Iowa Pork Industry Center, ISU
  • Fernando A. Osorio DVM, PhD DACVM, Professor, Nebraska Center for Virology and School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Gerald Reiner, Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Clinic for Swine, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen
  • Dr. Nicolas Rose DVM, PhD, Director, Swine Epidemiology and Welfare research unit
  • Prof. Jonathan Rushton, President, International Society for Economics and Social Science of Animal Health
  • Peter Stevenson, author of comprehensive legal analyses of EU legislation on farm animals and of the impact of the WTO rules on animal welfare and lead author of the recent study by the FAO reviewing animal welfare legislation in the beef, pork and poultry industries

Abstracts being accepted until January 8

The deadline to submit abstracts for the IPVS Congress and ESPHM is January 8, 2016. This is an opportunity for people in the swine health field to advance their careers, advance their departments and make industry connections.
Potential abstract topics include:
  • Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS)
  • Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv)
  • Classical swine fever or African swine fever
  • Viral and viral diseases
  • Porcine circovirus type 2 (PVC2)
  • Swine influenza virus (SIV)
  • Herd health management and economy
  • Welfare and nutrition
  • Reproduction
  • Lawsonia
  • Brachyspira
  • Salmonella
  • H. Parasuis
  • S.suis
  • Parasitic diseases
  • Vaccinology and immunology
  • Antimicrobial
  • Mycoplasma
  • Actinobacillus
  • Clostridia
  • E Coli
  • Bacteriology and bacterial diseases
  • Veterinary public health (food safety)
  • Miscellaneous
Abstracts can be submitted online.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Federal order on swine enteric coronavirus updated

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on January 4 issued an updated federal order related to swine enteric coronavirus diseases (SECD), including porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus and swine delta coronavirus. The order is effective immediately.
The updated order will do several things, including changing how emergency funding APHIS received in 2014 will be used. APHIS has reprioritized its needs going forward and will focus all remaining SECD funds towards diagnostic testing. With this modification, the funds should last long enough to cover diagnostic testing through this winter season.
The revised federal order will also eliminate the herd plan requirement, as well as reimbursement to veterinarians for completing those plans. And, it will also eliminate reimbursement for biosecurity actions, like truck washing.
In response to a large number of SECD cases that were causing significant hardship for the U.S. swine industry, APHIS issued a federal order in June 2014 making SECD a reportable disease. At the same time, USDA made funds available to cover specific costs associated with the disease. SECD remains a reportable disease, which means that producers, veterinarians, and diagnostic laboratories are required to report all cases of SECD to USDA or state animal health officials. The reporting criteria are unchanged in the updated federal order.
USDA is receiving more accurate and timely information about SECD affected herds and their locations, which allows animal health officials to better understand how the disease spreads and what measures are most effective in containing it. The outbreak peaked between January and March 2015. In the last 5 months, the weekly average of new confirmed positive premises has dropped 90 percent when compared to the average number of weekly cases during the peak of the outbreak.  

81 percent of Smithfield pregnant sows in group housing

Smithfield Foods is progressing with its plans to transition pregnant sows on all company-owned farms in the United States to group housing systems by 2017. The company on January 4 reported it transitioned 81.8 percent by the end of 2015, a 10 percent increase over 2014.
In the United States, Smithfield expects to be fully converted on company-owned farms by 2017, as planned.
With the progress made to date, at the outset of 2016, more than eight out of every ten pregnant sows on company-owned farms in the U.S. are within group housing systems.
"At Smithfield Foods, we are committed to keeping animals safe, comfortable and healthy," said Ken Sullivan, Smithfield Foods president and CEO. "As the world's largest pork producer, we have a responsibility to be a leader in animal care, and we view our conversion of the pregnant sow housing system as a key component of our dedication to this goal."
In addition to efforts at its company-owned farms, Smithfield Foods previously announced that the company expects all U.S. contract growers to complete a transition to group housing by 2022. To support its partners, Smithfield Foods offers guidance and expertise to contract growers throughout the conversion process.
Smithfield's international hog production operations also have a goal of converting to group housing systems on all company-owned farms by 2022, including in Mexico. Smithfield's hog production operations in Poland (AgriPlus) and Romania (Smithfield Ferme) fully converted to group housing facilities on company-owned farms a number of years ago.
"Smithfield has a robust animal care management program that guides the care animals receive at every stage of their lives. This not only supports our goals for improving the health and well-being of animals, but also provides consumers with the safest food possible," said Stewart Leeth, Smithfield Food's vice president and chief sustainability officer. "Our commitment to the transition to group housing for pregnant sows goes hand-in-hand with other pledges, such as our removal of ractopamine from feed for all company-owned animals supplied to our processing facilities, and other steps that have placed us at the forefront of the hog production industry in the United States."

Measure to support European pork producers takes effect

Difficulties for the EU pork sector go back to February of 2014 when Russia put in place a ban on imports of European pig meat (and other products) following sanctions imposed as a result of the political situation in Ukraine. The new Private Storage Aid (PSA) measures, which involve EU funding to help cover the costs of storing certain pig meat products for periods of between 3 and 5 months, took effect on January 4.
The scheme is part of a EUR500 million (US$542 million) support package for farmers announced by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, in September 2015. Because of the large volumes of lard previously exported to Russia, this product has been included in the PSA.
Aid for private storage is a market measure within the framework of a Regulation that compensates part of the storage cost for a period of time. Member States will notify twice weekly the quantities submitted into storage.
“I am aware that the pig meat sector is facing difficulties and prices have been in decline since September, and so I hope this measure will help the market,” commented Hogan.
The latest update from the European Commission on the EU pig meat market highlights the challenges in the sector. Production in 2015 is forecast at 256.8 million head or more than 3 percent above the previous year. While exports for the first 10 months of last year were 5.2 percent higher than the same period of 2014, domestic consumption has been flat and as a result, prices in the last week of 2015 were down around 6 to 8 percent from the levels one year before.

USPOULTRY plans education-packed year

USPOULTRY is sponsoring more than 14 poultry-related seminars and workshops during 2016. The programs, which cover all phases of the industry, will begin in March with the Feed Mill Management Seminar in Nashville, TN
Barbara Jenkins, USPOULTRY’s VP of education and student programs, said, “USPOULTRY’s cost-effective seminars and workshops provide members and industry representatives with tools, knowledge and technical expertise to help keep their operations running efficiently and effectively. With the help of industry leaders, our association spends numerous hours planning education programs that our members and attendees find valuable every year. We are excited to announce another robust, education-packed year full of learning and networking opportunities for the poultry and egg industries.”
Seminar topics and sessions include human resources, financial management, National Breeders Roundtable, Poultry Processor Workshop and Hatchery Breeder Clinic.
Information and registration are available at

APHIS names acting animal care deputy administrator

Bernadette Juarez has been named acting deputy administrator for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Animal Care (AC) program. As acting AC Deputy, Jurarez will lead the program’s many employees in protecting and ensuring the welfare of millions of animals nationwide that are covered under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Horse Protection Act (HPA).
She will also oversee the collaborative work done at AC’s Center for Animal Welfare, building critical partnerships domestically and internationally, while seeking to improve regulatory practices and develop training and educational resources.
Juarez is replacing Dr. Chester Gipson, who retired on January 1, after more than 13 years in the position.
Prior to this position, Juarez served with APHIS’ Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES), first as Deputy Director for 4.5 years and then as Director for 2.5 years. As director, she was responsible for leading investigations of alleged AWA and HPA violations, as well as all other APHIS-administered statutes and regulations, and pursuing enforcement actions where warranted.  She also transformed the unit’s ability to complete investigation and enforcement actions nearly 50 percent faster by streamlining its business processes and focusing on the highest priority investigations.
Her experience enforcing the AWA and HPA began prior to her joining APHIS as a trial attorney in USDA’s Office of the General Counsel from 2002 to 2009. In over six years, she represented APHIS in numerous AWA and HPA administrative enforcement proceedings.
In 1999, Juarez completed her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Mexico. She went on to earn her Juris Doctor from American University, Washington College of Law, in 2002.
“I am confident that Bernadette’s accomplished leadership and management experience, her commitment to results, her extensive knowledge and enforcement of both the AWA and HPA, and her passion for AC’s mission will prove invaluable to APHIS’ efforts to ensure more humane and healthy conditions for animals, while also working to end the cruel and inhumane practice of soring,” said Kevin Shea, administrator of APHIS.

Wendy's transitioning to 100 percent cage-free eggs

The Wendy's Company will transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs in its U.S. and Canadian locations by 2020, the company announced on January 4.
The announcement, which will involve more than 400 Wendy’s restaurants that serve breakfast, represents the next step in Wendy's overarching animal welfare program.
"Animal welfare is a core part of our company's role as a responsible corporate citizen," said Liliana Esposito, Wendy's chief communications officer. "We're proud of our commitment to move to 100 percent cage-free eggs for our breakfast items and will continue to incorporate evolving best practices in the areas of animal handling and welfare into our supply chain requirements."
Since the late 1990s, the company has worked with animal welfare experts to audit its suppliers' animal handling practices. In 2001, the company established its Animal Welfare Council and adopted a comprehensive animal welfare program covering all meat suppliers.
The company in November also committed to eliminating the use of gestation stalls from its pork supply chain by 2022 and continues to make good progress against that goal.
Wendy’s became the first major company to announce a shift to cage-free eggs in 2016, following a trend of numerous restaurants and other companies pledging a move to cage-free eggs in 2015.

Testing at egg company negative for Salmonella

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) recently conducted follow-up testing at the Good Earth Egg Company processing facility in Bonne Terre, MO. The results were negative for Salmonella bacteria. The facility has reopened after being ordered to close on Dec. 18 until remediation efforts and re-sampling could be completed.
The facility underwent cleaning and remediation efforts, and DHSS staff took new samples at the facility. Those samples were then tested at the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory and came back negative for Salmonella bacteria.
However, DHSS urges individuals that may have already purchased eggs from the Good Earth Egg Company to fully cook their eggs to 165 degrees, avoid cross contamination of raw eggs with ready to eat foods and wash their hands after handling eggs. Alternatively, consumers may choose to throw away any older products from Good Earth Egg Company.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Iowa's ban on poultry exhibitions lifted

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has announced that the order cancelling all live bird exhibitions at county fairs, the Iowa State Fair, livestock auction markets, swap meets, exotic sales and other gatherings of birds due to avian influenza has been lifted.
“This is very good news and another sign that we continue to recover from this devastating animal health emergency. We know the ban on exhibitions caused some real challenges for those anticipating showing or selling birds, but we appreciate everyone cooperating as we worked to stop the disease and then allow the industry to recover,” said Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.
The Department issued the order prohibiting poultry exhibitions on May 21 in the midst of the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The ban was put into place to minimize spread of HPAI and protect the state’s domestic bird population. Lifting the poultry exhibition ban comes as a result of no new cases of HPAI in Iowa since June and the lifting of the final quarantine on Dec. 1. Iowa is now considered free of HPAI.
A total of 77 premises and 31.5 million birds were affected with the disease in Iowa. There are 35 commercial turkey flocks, 22 commercial egg production flocks, 13 pullet flocks, one chicken breeding flock, one mail order hatchery, and five backyard flocks.

Rose Acre Farms purchases property for office space

Rose Acre Farms has purchased a 5.88-acre site in Seymour, Indiana, to accommodate the egg company’s need for more office space.
According to a report from WBIW, Rose Acre Farms purchased the property at 1541 W. Tipton Street in Seymour for a price of $1.25 million. Tony Wesner, chief operating officer for the company, said the purchase was made because Rose Acre Farms had outgrown its existing office space at its headquarters on State Road 258 between Seymour and Freetown.
Rose Acre Farms is the second largest egg producer in the United States, trailing only Cal-Maine Foods. The company had a flock of 24.8 million layers in 2014, according to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, and is progressing with plans for an $80 million egg complex in La Paz County, Arizona and a layer complex in Red River County, Texas, which is expected to include 14 layer houses.

Egyptian meeting focuses on issues facing the poultry industry

Best management practices to counter current issues facing the poultry industry in the Middle East were the topic of the fifth annual seminar held by Cobb grandparent distributor Al Watania Egypt and sponsored by Cobb Europe.
During the two-day seminar in Egypt, 70 attendees from key integrations and independent producers heard Cobb specialists talk about different aspects of management such as rearing, production and health.
“There is a long history of partnership between Cobb and Al Watania Poultry in both Saudi Arabia and Egypt to produce competitive, safe protein for consumers — our goal in serving the industry in the Middle East,” said Hosam Amro, technical manager for Cobb Europe. “Such an event is an excellent opportunity for our Cobb Europe team to listen and talk with the key producers in Egypt.
“It enables us to understand customers’ requirements to feed back to our research team, as well as to put across the best management practice to support the industry in the current difficult time with elevated local feed ingredient prices and disease challenges. Farmers and integrators need to be able to produce a competitive, profitable product.”
Tore Mercan, sales and technical director of Cobb Europe, provided a company update, followed by presentations on the genetics of today and tomorrow. Speakers were Dr. Randy Borg, European director of genetics, parent stock female management, and Mohamad Kallas, Cobb regional technical manager. Hosam Amro gave a presentation on male management to optimize fertility and brooding management.
Other Cobb speakers included Dr. Andre Derkx, senior veterinarian; Matthew Wilson, technical services manager; Dr. Andrea Pizzabiocca, technical support; Dr. Eduardo Costa, hatchery specialist; and Edward Diehl, nutritionist.

Costco committing to cage-free eggs

Costco Wholesale Corporation has announced its intent to commit to change to cage-free eggs in its stores.
While the company has not yet revealed a timeline when it would fully transition into selling only cage-free eggs, it did state that it is working with its suppliers to determine when a realistic transition goal would be.
Costco issued the following statement on its website: “Costco is committed to going cage‐free for its egg procurement. Since 2006, we have already substantially increased our percentage of cage‐free eggs: in fiscal 2006 cage‐free eggs represented 2 percent of eggs we sold and today they represent 26 percent. In calendar 2016 we expect to sell over one billion cage free eggs. We are working with our suppliers toward a complete and sustainable transition to a cage‐free supply chain. This transition, however, will take time because currently over 90 percent of the supply of eggs is from caged hens and because other retailers and restaurants are also moving to cage free requirements, placing greater demands on the limited supply.”
With the announcement, Costco joins a large list of companies announcing a transition to cage-free eggs. Others to make a commitment include  McDonald’s, Subway, Shake Shack, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jack in the Box, Qdoba, Taco Bell, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Caribou Coffee, Panera Bread, Arby’s, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corporation, General Mills, Kellogg, and Hilton Hotels.

Engineering pigs to beat virus

A research team at the Roslin Institute is using advanced genetic techniques to engineer pigs that are more resilient to deadly virus infections. The study at the University of Edinburgh is aimed at assessing whether changing the pigs’ genetic code at a precise point in their DNA affects their susceptibility to African Swine Fever. The next step will be to test how altering the pigs’ genes affects transmission of the virus and whether the animals fare better after infection than standard farmed pigs.
The animals have been created using an advanced genetic technique called “gene editing” to modify individual letters of the pigs’ genetic code. The change is designed to dampen the immune system’s overreaction to the virus, which is responsible for the devastating effects of the disease.
African Swine Fever is spread by ticks. When standard farmed pigs are infected, they become ill very quickly and die. In contrast, warthogs and bush pigs show no disease symptoms when infected. One of the pig genes associated with African Swine Fever Virus infection is called RELA. The role of this gene is to activate the immune response.
Warthogs and bush pigs carry a different version (or allele) of the RELA gene to that found in domestic pigs. This difference may make them resilient to African Swine Fever. The gene differs from that carried by domestic pigs that you would find on a farm by only a few letters of the genetic code. However, this may have a huge impact on the outcome of infection.
Roslin scientists have produced pigs which have a single letter of their genetic code altered. These animals produce a shorter version of RELA, which lacks a domain involved in the immune response. The team had created a separate group of pigs that have changes at several sites in their RELA gene, to make it the identical to the version that is found in the warthog.
All of the changes that have been introduced could have occurred spontaneously in nature. Researchers hope that the genetic changes will make the animals more resilient to infection with African Swine Fever Virus, but they still need to test this in controlled trials.
There has never been an outbreak of African Swine Fever in the UK, yet the virus has recently started spreading throughout Eastern Europe. There are fears that it could reach British farms.
The team plans to use the same gene-editing techniques to produce cattle, chickens and sheep that are resistant to infections; however, this research is at a much earlier stage.
Professor Bruce Whitelaw, head of Developmental Biology at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, said, “We have used a gene-editing technique to change individual letters in the pigs’ genetic code, to speed up a process that occurs spontaneously in nature.
“Our goal is to improve the welfare of farmed pigs around the world, making them healthier and more productive for farmers.”

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Funding granted to develop poultry vaccines

A U.K. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Strategic Longer and Larger (sLoLa) grant, worth GBP5.7 (US$8.38) million, will be used to design and improve vaccines for poultry. The grant was awarded to professor Mark Stevens and collaborators at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, University of Exeter, the John Innes Centre and the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory. It is one of three recently funded grants through BBSRC's sLoLa scheme, which gives world-leading research teams five years of funding and resources to address major challenges.
Chicken is the UK’s most consumed meat and the world's most popular animal-based food. The sales of chicken meat and eggs are worth over GBP7.2 (US$11.32) billion per year in the UK alone, and demand is increasing rapidly due to population growth. However, poultry has key reservoirs of foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. The productivity and welfare of poultry products are constrained by endemic diseases caused by E. coli and Clostridia. This project aims to develop and refine vaccines to protect flocks against theseinfection.
The most successful human vaccines that give long-lasting protective immunity are often glycoconjugates (proteins coupled to sugars), but these vaccines are complex and expensive to produce. This award will enable researchers to develop glycoengineering technology to produce a new generation of inexpensive veterinary vaccines.
The principal investigator of the project Brendan Wren, professor of Microbial Pathogenesis at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "Developing effective, inexpensive vaccines for livestock has multiple advantages, not just in protecting animals from disease, but also in reducing infections in humans and antibiotics in the food chain that are often used in rearing livestock. “
Stevens, director of research at The Roslin Institute, said: “We are delighted to partner with BBSRC and leading laboratories to tackle important poultry and foodborne diseases. Taken together with BBSRC strategic investment in the National Avian Research Facility here at The Roslin Institute the project will greatly help us to address the global challenge of improving food supply and safety.”

FAO welcomes agreement by World Trade Organization

FAO has welcomed an agreement by World Trade Organization (WTO) member states through the recently adopted "Nairobi Package" to move towards eliminating export subsidies involving agricultural products. However, it also noted that differences remain over other measures aimed at creating fairer global trading conditions, in particular for developing countries.
The declaration includes a number of decisions in relation to the Agreement on Agriculture. The agreement was issued on Dec. 19 at the conclusion of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
Four ministerial decisions were adopted, addressing the following:
  • Export competitiveness through the elimination of many export subsidies by all countries by 2018
  • Allowing developing countries to continue, for the time being, public stockpiling for food security
  • The Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for developing countries to make recourse to when facing a surge of imports
  • A commitment by developed countries to provide duty-free and quota-free access to cotton exporters from less developed countries from 2016, provided that this is compatible with existing agreements.
While welcoming the Nairobi agreement, FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva stressed the need for a global trade framework in which countries can balance the pursuit of their national food security and development objectives without harming their trading partners.
"The continued uncertainty on how to negotiate such a framework is worrying in a world in which global agricultural trade is likely to grow in importance in the coming decades as patterns of consumption and production continue to evolve," the FAO Director-General said.
"Greater participation in global trade is therefore inevitable for most countries, however, the process of opening further to trade, and its consequences, will need to be well managed if trade is to improve food security," he added.
Trade and food security
Graziano da Silva also referred to FAO's recently released The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO) 2015-16, which stresses how trade affects all four dimensions of food security: food availability, access, utilization and stability.
It also notes how trade and related policies affect the different dimensions of food security in ways that vary across and even within countries, and how these change over time as countries develop. Balancing short-run and long-run objectives is becoming vitally important considering that the nature of disruptions varies enormously and that market shocks will likely become more frequent due to geopolitical, weather and policy-induced uncertainties.
While efforts to intervene and shield domestic markets from global price volatility could in fact lead to increased domestic price volatility, agricultural incentives play an important role in in boosting agricultural production and efficiency and fostering broader economic growth, the report said.
Strengthening trade governance
Trade and food security concerns can be better reconciled in the multilateral trading system by improving the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture. Striking the right balance between better trade policy disciplines and the policy space sought by developing countries has however proved difficult.
In the new edition of SOCO, FAO argues that stepping back to resolve underlying national concerns and priorities may well offer the best way forward. It notes how policy coherence for food security needs to be strengthened, thus enabling governments to better design trade policies, while improving compliance with regional and global trade frameworks.

Michigan poultry exhibition ban lifted

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) lifted the statewide ban on poultry exhibitions on Dec. 23. MDARD implemented the ban as a precautionary measure in June 2015 in response to the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak happening across the U.S.
MDARD evaluated the disease risk and current national status and decided it’s appropriate to lift the ban on poultry exhibitions. MDARD continues to monitor the national HPAI situation and may reinstate the poultry exhibition ban if the disease re-emerges. Although not limited to the following situations, these are some specific situations in which MDARD would consider reinstating the ban:
  1. Detection of HPAI in a wild bird in the Mississippi flyway.
  2. Detection of HPAI in domestic flocks in states surrounding Michigan or nearby areas of Canada.
  3. Cases of HPAI in wild or domestic birds in other flyways, if the cases appear to be spreading.
The ban prevented the commingling of birds from different locations, including exhibitions, swap meets, petting zoos at fairs, game bird and waterfowl fair displays, and Miracle of Life exhibits. MDARD partnered with Michigan State University Extension 4-H, Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, and other partners to inform youth of the announcement and identify ways to engage Michigan’s youth poultry exhibitors and allow them to showcase their knowledge and experience.
“I would like to thank MSU Extension and our youth leaders who created a meaningful educational experience out of an unfortunate situation,” said Dr. James Averill, MDARD’s state veterinarian. “Their partnership was invaluable in protecting all of Michigan’s poultry flocks statewide from this devastating disease.”
Concern for the possibility of a return of HPAI in the U.S still remains. Generally, heightened findings of influenza viruses in wild birds will begin in winter and go through spring as birds comingle and migrate south, and cold weather helps keep the virus alive. The last case of HPAI in domestic birds was documented in June; however, the domestic population is always at risk of influenza infection from wild waterfowl which may spread the virus in their droppings. MDARD continues to encourage poultry owners to practice proper biosecurity and contact their local veterinarian if they have sick birds. However, if a flock is experiencing severe illness or multiple death losses, contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 or for after-hours emergencies call 517-373-0440.

Why use a starter feed?

Chicks grow and develop at an incredible rate during the first week of hatching. With just 34-42 days from the beginning to end of the broiler production cycle, that makes the right choice of starter feed particularly critical.
The key consideration for the producer is the digestibility of the feed. Both the digestive tract and immune system are highly immature at hatching. So, unless the feed is easy to digest, most of the nutrients will pass through the digestive tract unabsorbed and be excreted in the droppings.
Resorting to the yolk sack
The chick will then draw energy from the immunoglobulins and unsaturated fatty acids in its yolk sack, leaving little for development and immunity. This is a serious problem for a chick that needs to develop vital organs and quadruple in weight by the time it is seven days old. The fact that chicks can go up to 48 hours from hatching to their first intake of feed is an added pressure.
For all these reasons, a sub-optimal feed will only add to the challenges a chick has to overcome. Apart from impairing growth due to poor nutrient absorption, it will increase vulnerability to pathogenic bacteria and viruses, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.
The importance of tailored feed
The concern that feed should be specially tailored to the needs of chicks up to the age of ten days cannot be understated. The same goes for broilers during the grower and finisher phases. Producers will experience that broilers fail to reach their growth potential and that feed efficiency is compromised.
Many nutrients are necessary to ensure proper growth. One of the most essential of them is protein. Due to its high quality and lower cost than proteins from some animal sources, soy protein is a popular choice. Here, again, digestibility is the key to success.
Optimizing soy protein digestibility
The issue with soy protein in its untreated form is its content of anti-nutritional factors (ANF). Though not a problem for older broilers, in the immature digestive system of a newly hatched chick ANF have a direct negative impact on protein absorption – and the chick’s potential for healthy growth.
The answer is reduction of the anti-nutritional factors to a very low level, while maintaining the nutritious protein components intact. Today, this has been made possible by a processing technique developed at HAMLET PROTEIN, the company behind HP AviStart – a specialty soy protein for chick starter feed. Much has happened to improve the efficiency of broiler production since the 1970s, when the average lifecycle was a much longer 60 days. An optimized starter feed that takes the immature digestive systems of hatchlings into account is another step in the ongoing optimization process.

EuroTier will include the World Poultry Show

EuroTier, the world’s leading trade fair for animal production, will once again include the World Poultry Show in 2016. This means next year’s EuroTier will be the only international exhibition for animal producers to include all livestock sectors – poultry, pigs, beef cattle, dairy, sheep and aquaculture – in such a comprehensive fashion. The event will take place from Nov. 15 – 18 at the Hanover Exhibitions Grounds.
EuroTier will also include exhibition areas for EnergyDecentral, German Biogas and Veterinary Medicine. Scheduled meetings are the BIOGAS Convention and the Congress of The Federal Association of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (BPT).
EuroTier 2014 set a new benchmark for the fair, with 156,500 visitors – 30,000 of whom came from outside Germany. Solutions and products were displayed by 2,368 exhibitors, and 1,145 of these were also based outside the host nation.
Decision makers with investment intentions from agribusinesses made up the majority of visitors, but purchasing specialists, consultants, dealers, veterinarians and professionals from research and development organizations were also among the key visitors at EuroTier.

Western Foods achieves SQF Level 2 Certification

Miguel Reyna, CEO of Western Foods, has announced that the company’s Woodland, CA, facility has become SQF Level 2 Certified.
SQF Code Edition 7.2, Level 2 Certification is a certified Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) – based food safety and quality management system that is benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Products produced and manufactured under the SQF Code certification retain a high degree of acceptance in global markets by retailers, recognized private labels, consumer brands, and food service providers.
Even though Western Foods has always been based on excellence through continuous improvement and have maintained strong quality and food safety standards, their processes are now designed to meet the strictest requirements of the GFSI.
“At Western Foods our team fully recognizes the importance of achieving this certification. By applying the programs mandatory standards, we are able to better manage all potential product and food safety risks for our customers” says Luis Sanchez, director of Operations. “We are thrilled to add SQF Level 2 to the list of our numerous certifications such as California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), Whole Grain Council, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Gluten-Free and Orthodox Union Kosher.”

#tbt: An analysis of the top animal feed companies in 2014

In 2014, global compound feed production rose by 1.6 percent in 2014 — in part driven by the growing volumes of the world’s leading animal feed manufacturers.
101 animal feed companies produced 1 million metric tons or more of compound feed in 2014.
An analysis on in September 2015 reviewed the regional growth of feed-producing companies and highlighted a few of the major developments with key players in 2014 and the first half of 2015:

  • When breaking down the regional makeup of companies, Asia accounts for the greatest representation on the Top Companies list, boasting 47 companies in total, 23 of which are located in China.
  • A broad look at the production developments by continent shows that Europe claims the second largest number of high-volume feed producers and North America ranks No. 3.
  • Sorting the information by country reveals that the United States possesses 11 of the top companies; Brazil, France, Thailand and Japan each have five companies in the top 101; Germany, the Netherlands and South Korea are each represented by four companies; and India and Denmark have three.
  • U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill bumped the New Hope Group out of the No. 2 position after the Chinese company saw a notable decline in its 2014 production volume.
  • Wen’s Food Group (No. 5), China’s West Hope Group (No. 26) and Easy Bio (No. 48) each report nearly doubling their production in 2014 over 2013 numbers.
  • Several multinational corporations increased their momentum on the world stage through major acquisitions, sales and mergers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Neogen reports 16 percent increase in net income

Neogen Corp.’s net income for the second quarter of its 2016 fiscal year, which ended Nov. 30, increased 16 percent to $9.07 million or $0.24 per fully diluted share, from $7.81 million, $0.21 per share, in fiscal 2015. Current year-to-date net income was $18.4 million or $0.49 per share, compared with $16.7 million, or $0.45 per share, for the same period a year ago.
Revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 increased 16 percent to $79.6 million, from the previous year’s second quarter revenues of $68.5 million. This increase was aided in part by recent acquisitions completed by the company. The quarterly revenue and net income results represent second quarter records for the 33-year-old company. Year to date, FY 2016 revenues increased 14 percent to $154.5 million from FY 2015’s $136.1 million.
“We are pleased to report that broad-based increases in the second quarter, throughout Neogen’s varied market segments, led us to reach our often stated goal of producing double-digit organic growth for the quarter,” said James Herbert, Neogen’s CEO and chairman. “We recorded these organic increases in revenues in many of our product lines, including animal genomics, pharmaceuticals, biosecurity products, and food safety diagnostics. The second quarter was yet another quarter when Neogen delivered results by both creating and capturing opportunities within its food and animal safety market segments.”
The second quarter was the 95th of the past 100 quarters that Neogen reported revenue increases as compared with the previous year — including all consecutive quarters in the last 10 years.
“The recent publication of three additional rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, and numerous well-publicized food recalls, have helped to create an environment where food companies are scrutinizing their existing food safety plans,” said Richard Calk, Neogen’s president and chief operating officer. “Neogen is well positioned with a comprehensive line of products, including tests for pathogens, allergens, general sanitation and more, that are market leaders in helping food companies ensure the safety of their products.”
Expressed as a percentage of sales, operating income was 18.4 percent for the quarter, compared to 18.8 percent recorded in the company’s second quarter of its 2015 fiscal year. Neogen’s gross margin was 48 percent of sales in its second quarter of the current year, compared to the 50 percent recorded in the same quarter of the previous fiscal year. The change in gross margin was primarily due to product mix, acquisitions, and adverse currency translations.

US Grains Council releases corn harvest quality report

In December 2015, the U.S. Grains Council released its fifth annual Corn Harvest Quality Report. This report showed that 94 percent of U.S. corn samples were rated at U.S. grade No. 2 or better. The high quality was largely the result of a favorable corn growing season with earlier-than-normal planting; a cool, wet summer; and a warm, dry fall. The report showed that the 2015 U.S. corn crop entered the market channels with the following key characteristics:

Grade factors and moisture

  • Average test weight of 58.2 pounds per bushel (74.9 kilograms per hectoliter), with 94.2 percent within the range for U.S. No. 1 grade corn. This test weight indicates good kernel filling and maturation.
  • Low levels of broken corn and foreign material, with 98 percent within the range for U.S. No. 2 grade, indicating little cleaning will be required.
  • Low levels of total damage, with 96.1 percent within the range for U.S. No. 2 grade.
  • No observed heat damage.
  • Average elevator moisture of 15.7 percent, which will decrease the potential for stress cracking.

Chemical composition

  • Average protein concentration of 8.2 percent (dry basis).
  • High average starch concentration of 73.6 percent (dry basis), indicating good growing conditions and excellent kernel filling and maturation, which will be beneficial for wet millers.
  • Average oil concentration of 3.8 percent (dry basis).

Physical factors

  • Extremely low percentage of stress cracks and low stress crack index, which is likely due to excellent field dry-down conditions at harvest with little artificial drying.
  • High average kernel volume of 0.27 cubic centimeters.
  • 100-kernel weight average of 34.34 grams, signifying larger kernels than in previous years.
  • Lower than average kernel true density of 1.254 grams per cubic centimeter, indicating softer kernels compared to 2014 and the four-year average.
  • Whole kernel percentage, on average, of 94.9 percent, which indicates corn should have fewer broken kernels and more resistance to molds than in previous years.
  • Average percentage of horneous (hard) endosperm of 79 percent.


  • One hundred percent of the samples tested below the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) action level for aflatoxins.
  • One hundred percent of the samples tested below the FDA advisory level for deoxynivalenol (DON).

2015-16 corn crop production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report released in November 2015 estimates U.S. corn production at 346.8 million metric tons (13.654 billion bushels) in 2015-16, a 4 percent decrease in production from the record 2014-15 crop year. The United States is the top exporter of corn, responsible for an estimated 38 percent of global corn exports during the 2015-16 marketing year.

Chicken Caucus: Promoting US poultry exports globally

Meet the Congressional Chicken Caucus: The group making sure that the poultry export market is fair and serving as the voice of the U.S. poultry industry on Capitol Hill and around the world.
The caucus, organized in the House of Representatives in 2011 and in the Senate in 2013, is a bi-partisan group of legislators representing chicken-producing states and districts around the country. Like other congressional caucuses, the group exists to help like-minded lawmakers communicate about issues facing the poultry industry and organize legislative actions to promote and protect the industry.
The Congressional Chicken Caucus, the 57-member group in the House, is currently lead by Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., who serve as the co-chairs. In the Senate, the 11-member Senate Chicken Caucus is lead by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. Together, the caucus includes representation from Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma , Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
The group was organized, and continues to operate, with the help of the National Chicken Council (NCC). At October 2015’s Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. National Meeting on Poultry Health, Processing and Live Production, the Washington, D.C.-based trade group’s president, Mike Brown, said the caucus helps the NCC keep key lawmakers informed about political issues affecting the poultry industry.
Brown said the caucus was instrumental in opening the door for the U.S. to export poultry to South Africa – the largest potential market for U.S. poultry in Africa – after being blocked from the nation since 2000. Tom Super, a spokesman for the council, said Isakson and Coons’ efforts helped the U.S. review its trade and foreign aid policies toward South Africa and put pressure on the nation to drop some of its restrictions on importing U.S poultry products.
“In June (2015), we were able to announce that the American and South African poultry industries reached an agreement to end South Africa’s duties on U.S. poultry, thanks to negotiations led by the United States Trade Representative, the Department of State, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard and trade experts from industry. South Africa must now implement this agreement and end its separate, complete ban on U.S. poultry due to avian flu before U.S. product can enter the market,” Isakson said in a statement provided by his office. “In August (2015), the U.S. Trade Representative announced the start of the out-of-cycle review process to determine whether South Africa should remain eligible to benefit fully from the African Growth and Opportunity Act preference program in light of ongoing trade violations. I am extremely encouraged that the U.S. Trade Representative is taking enforcement of AGOA seriously by quickly conducting the required review of South Africa’s eligibility for benefits.”

Super said South Africa still has a few more steps to take, but the chicken caucus’ actions in Congress will likely allow the U.S. to export 65 metric tons annually, worth about $65 million, to the rainbow nation in the near future. The group is also pushing to ensure scientifically unfounded avian influenza-related bans on chicken imports are reversed to ensure the U.S. can continue to export about 20 percent of its poultry products around the world. Super said the caucus will continue to focus on international trade agreements, including the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement between the U.S. and Pacific rim nations, in the near future.
“(The caucus has) a funny name that brings a smile to your face, but they do real serious work,” Brown said.

Free activities planned for IPPE

The International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) is planning a variety of free Meat Me in @LANTA activities and networking opportunities for IPPE attendees. IPPE will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta from Jan. 26 – 28.
A Poultry History Museum / Hall of Fame display can be viewed in Booth A-27 in the A-Lobby. Go back to the beginnings of the American poultry industry and follow how the industry became the world's largest producer of poultry products.
Stop by Booth B-7075 in the B-Hall to see firsthand the iconic Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. Dating back to 1936, the vehicle has evolved through several generations of design to provide a reflection on the styles of the times.
IPPE is welcoming back Steve Olson and Chef Francesco Abbinanti, C.E.C., for an encore “Specialty Cuts and Recipes: The Latest in Pork and Beef” presentation as they demonstrate and prepare the latest trends in cuts of meat products for creating convenient meals. Join them from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Booth B-8849 on Jan. 26.
The 4th Annual Chili Cook-off contest is planned for 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 26. A group of highly competitive Atlanta chefs will prepare their favorite chili recipes featuring beef, pork and poultry. Attendees can sample and vote on their favorite chili at Booth B-8849, the Meat Me in @LANTA ring. The “Best Chili” award will be presented by 2016 Miss America Betty Cantrell at 4:30 p.m. to the winning chef. At 4:35 p.m., Cantrell will sing in the event area.
The Welcome Reception at the Georgia Aquarium will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 with Bock Industries and Georgia Poultry sponsoring the event. Complimentary tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis to all IPPE attendees, and they will be distributed at a special desk in the registration lobby on Monday and Tuesday of the Expo. Miss America will be greeting attendees of the Welcome Reception, who can get their picture taken with her as time allows.
IPPE will be hosting a “Creations with Chicken and Tantalizing Turkey Tips” demonstration at Booth B-8849 from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 27. Experienced chefs will showcase healthy and convenient ideas on how to cook poultry.
Enjoy playing “bean bag toss”? This year’s Hot Dog Toss is the same but with a twist. Teams of four will dress a hot dog and then toss it through the board to earn points. The Hot Dog Toss is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 at Booth B-8849. Winners will receive Visa gift cards, and other souvenirs will be distributed.
On Jan. 26 – 27, IPPE will offer cooking demonstrations featuring nationally and locally recognized chefs preparing and cooking chicken, turkey, beef and pork products. The demonstrations will be held in Booth B-8849, so plan to stop by for some enjoyable chef interaction and entertainment.

Bates Mountain Farm earns accumulative safety award

One of the Cobb-Vantress farm complexes in Arkansas – Bates Mountain – has won a Seven-Year Accumulative Safety Award presented by The Arkansas Department of Labor.
The farm has 53 employees that have all achieved seven years without a day lost from work due to a work-related injury or illness between September 2008 and September of 2015.
Additionally, there are 14 Cobb farm, hatchery and feed mill locations in Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina that have gone four years with no lost time injuries (NLT), and five of those have at least seven years with NLT. The Siloam Springs feed mill has achieved 11 years with NLT.
“We have extensive safety and health training programs and policies at all Cobb facilities,” said Chris Sherron, Cobb senior manager for Environment, Health and Safety. “Team members have detailed safety training and orientation at the beginning of their career, and then receive ongoing safety education and training, available in multiple languages, to keep them informed of important safety requirements, enhancements and best practices for the work they perform. Facilities have safety committees, which include the participation of hourly-paid team members.
”Cobb-Vantress is committed to providing a safe workplace for all team members and requires them to report any work-related injury or illness.”
The Arkansas Department of Labor, the Arkansas Insurance Department and the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission make this award to Arkansas companies who excel in on-the-job safety.

Myanmar avian influenza outbreak resolved

An outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza that hit Myanmar earlier in 2015 is over, according to a report received by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
The outbreak was first reported by Dr. Ye Tun Win, Myanmar’s chief veterinary officer, in May, after active clinical and serological surveillance began several weeks prior to that. A total of 90 chicken farms and 51 quail farms in Myanmar were infected and all poultry within the infected zone was immediately depopulated and movement of poultry and poultry products within the infected area was restricted.
Since the control measures – stamping out, movement control inside the country, disinfection, dipping and spraying, quarantine, and zoining – were implemented, surveillance activities conducted at 8,600 farms and wet markets were found to be clinically healthy and no evidence of highly pathogenic avian influenza was observed. The surveillance included backyard poultry, broilers, layers, breeder chickens and ducks.
Because three months have passed since the disinfection of all affected establishments has been completed with no new evidence of avian influenza, Myanmar now considers itself to be free of the virus. The OIE deems the avian influenza situation in Myanmar resolved and will no longer submit reports relating to it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Cresta Roja protests end after violent confrontation

A peaceful resolution has been reached after violence broke out between employees of bankrupt Argentine poultry company Cresta Roja de Grupo Rasic and government security forces.
On December 22, there was a violent confrontation outside of Buenos Aires between the poultry company’s workers, leftist activists and security forces after the groups blocked access to Ezeiza International Airport, the Argentine capitol’s airport. The motive for the blockade is the reclamation of the workers jobs, in what seems to be the first social conflict for the new government of President Mauricio Macri.
According to published reports from various Latin American newspapers, the incidents began when the gendarmerie, fulfilling a judicial order, advanced on hundreds of protesters that blocked the flow of traffic on the highway connecting the city to the airport located about 40 kilometers southeast of Buenos Aires.
For days, the Cresta Roja workers had been demanding back pay and governmental assistance to stop the closure of the company and the loss of more than 3,000 of its workers’ jobs.
The gendarmerie attacked with rubber bullets and military trucks equipped with water cannons and the demonstrators threw back rocks and sticks. At least one of the workers was arrested and some were wounded.
According to the protesters, the order to advance came from Macri. The incidents possibly originated from the new, center-right government’s announcement that is meeting to develop a special protocol for controlling protests, especially to avoid roadblocks on streets and highways – a popular way for dissatisfied groups to protest in Argentina. This in itself has generated criticism from union and social leaders.
Macri, formerly the head of Buenos Aires’ provincial government, was elected president in late November and took office on December 10. He succeeds the twelve-year-long leadership of President Néstor Kirchner and his wife Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and is the South American nation’s first non-Peronist president since 1916.
Newspaper reports from Buenos Aires indicate Macri’s government and the protesters reached a temporary agreement to end protests near the airport. The Buenos Aires Herald reports, workers will continue to collect government subsidies, Cresta Roja is now formally bankrupt and authorities are looking for a potential buyer for the company.
The crisis of Cresta Roja’s downfall is not new. According to Watt Global Media’s news archives, until 2014 Rasic was the second largest poultry company in Argentina. Cresta Roja enjoyed good times in the middle of the last decade thanks to commercial exchange agreements with Hugo Chavez’s government in Venezuela which swapped raw materials for oil. The company began its fall in 2013. Some connect this with the lack of corresponding payments for the sales to Venezuela. In 2014, Cresta Roja suspended its operations, and later the provincial government of Buenos Aires intervened to provide partial payment of the company’s salaries.
According to newspaper reports, the conflict was revived with the changes in the provincial and national governments in December. Additionally, Cresta Roja’s executives were advised to pay their debts or sell the company.

Approach to residues without established public health tolerances being standardized

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced that it is standardizing the approach it will take in instances when sample results from livestock or poultry carcasses reveal chemicals for which neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have set tolerances or regulatory levels. Such instances are rare and previously have been addressed on a case by case basis. The Agency’s new policy will better protect public health when they do occur.
“Improved testing methodology in recent years has made it possible for FSIS to collect more information about each meat or poultry sample analyzed in our labs, including the presence of compounds that we previously could not detect,” said Deputy Under Secretary Al Almanza. “The new, structured approach we are announcing today [Dec. 23] is part of FSIS’ ongoing modernization efforts to implement science-based measures that fill gaps in existing public health policy.”
FSIS administers the National Residue Program (NRP), an interagency effort that identifies, ranks and tests for chemical contaminants in meat, poultry, and egg products. FDA and EPA establish the maximum legal limits of chemicals that may be present in foodstuffs, and FSIS then administers the NRP by testing a statistical sample size of meat, poultry and processed egg products for the presence of certain chemicals and compounds.
In addition to animal drugs and pesticide chemicals, there are other chemicals that do not have established tolerances or regulatory levels and that, because of improvements in testing methodologies, are occasionally found in FSIS-regulated products. This group of chemicals includes, but is not limited to, environmental contaminants, heavy metals, industrial chemicals and mycotoxins. Unlike animal drugs or pesticide chemicals, these chemicals are usually not intentionally administered to food-producing animals, but animals are exposed to them through their presence in water, soil or the air.
Under the new approach, FSIS will derive a de minimis level (DML) for the given chemical, below which FSIS is confident that any public health concern is nonexistent or negligible. If FSIS testing finds carcasses to contain levels of a chemical above the de minimis level, FSIS will notify the slaughter or processing establishment, as well as suppliers of the source animals, about the presence of the chemical. FSIS will also notify the FDA, EPA, or other appropriate federal partners for possible trace-back investigations and consideration of potential mitigation actions.
If FSIS begins to find chemicals above the de minimis level on a more than occasional basis, the Agency will consider conducting regular, routine sampling for that chemical and will not apply the mark of inspection to that product until test results at or under the de minimis level are received by the Agency.
FSIS has taken this approach on ad hoc basis during chemical exposure incidents and is implementing it now on a regular basis in order to better address the potential human health risks that may be associated with the presence of environmental contaminants and other potential chemical hazards without tolerances in meat and poultry products.
This change builds on other recent FSIS efforts to improve its approach to residue testing. On July 6, 2012, FSIS announced that it was restructuring the NRP with respect to how samples are collected and analyzed for chemical compounds. The new methods and procedures that FSIS has adopted have strengthened the NRP by making it into an integrated chemical hazard identification, prioritization, and management program that supports the Agency’s ability to ensure that the U.S. supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe to eat. FSIS has implemented new, more efficient analytical methods in its laboratories that enable the Agency to detect a greater number of chemicals than had been the case, and, at the same time, FSIS has streamlined its process for collecting samples for analysis.
FSIS requests comments on the approach discussed in this document, and on how FSIS can further improve its management of environmental contaminants and other chemical hazards in meat and poultry products. Comments may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: or by mail addressed to: Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Patriots Plaza 3, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Mailstop 3782, Room 8-163A, Washington, DC 20250-3700.
The Federal Register notice can be found online at:

More than 700 dozen eggs delivered to Indiana food banks

“HATCH the Holidays” delivered 720 dozen eggs to food banks in Lafayette and Bloomington, IN, after the two communities participated in a Twitter contest that raised awareness about the "HATCH for Hunger" program.
With many holiday recipes calling for eggs, their absence in food banks is acutely felt during this season. Not only do eggs make the perfect pumpkin pie, but they are also a source of high-quality protein and nutrients.

HATCH the Holidays is an extension of the HATCH for Hunger program, which already has brought more than 104,000 eggs to food-insecure families throughout Indiana and is facilitating egg donations in grocery stores throughout Indiana. HATCH for Hunger is a program run by Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly & Co. and was launched this spring in partnership with Rose Acre Farms and The Kroger Co.

So far, HATCH – with the help of HATCH the Holidays donations – have given 412,080 eggs to families in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Ohio this December.

"When we heard about HATCH, we were eager to get on campus and tell more people," said Katie Nobbe, the Indiana University Panhellenic Council Vice President of Community Involvement. "Helping people in our community to have access to proper nutrition, like the quality protein and nutrients eggs have, is a passion for many of our sororities on campus. HATCH the Holidays is a wonderful way we can give back to families in Bloomington this winter."

During the Twitter competition, fans and friends of Indiana University and Purdue University competed virtually over the weekend of the IU vs. Purdue football game in Lafayette to win eggs for their local food bank. The school that received the most tweets that included both #HATCHtheHolidays and the hashtag of their school name won the egg drop. Total number of tweets from the Purdue community were 702, with IU enthusiasts tweeting 407 times. Due to the broad reach of the promotion, HATCH decided to thank both communities for their participation with an egg drop for both of 720 dozen eggs.

“One in seven Hoosiers is food-insecure, meaning they do not have access to enough nutritious food,” said Katy O’Malley Bunder, CEO and president of Food Finders Food Bank in Lafayette. “Our food bank serves more than 86,000 residents who currently struggle to know where their next meal will come from. Eggs are a nutritious product that everyone wants, but they are not often found in food pantries. We are so happy that HATCH is working to provide us with eggs for the holiday season and beyond so that we can help families access the nutritious food that they need.”

Food Finders Food Bank and the Hoosier Hills Food Bank has distributed eggs to more than 1,800 families from the Twitter competition.

Arby’s US egg supply to be all cage-free by 2020

Quick service restaurant chain Arby’s has committed to transitioning into serving only cage-free eggs at its U.S. restaurants. The company stated that it intends to complete the transition by 2020.
“While eggs are a small part of our menu and less than 400 of our restaurants serve breakfast, Arby’s believes this is an important commitment and means that our eggs will be sourced from hens raised in a cage-free aviary system, which allows hens to roam freely through open spaces,” the company said in a statement that was released earlier in December.
With the announcement, Arby’s joins a growing list of restaurant chains to commit to serving only eggs from cage-free hens. Other restaurant chains to reveal plans to transition to serving cage-free eggs include Subway, Shake Shack, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jack in the Box, Qdoba, Taco Bell, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Caribou Coffee, Panera Bread and McDonald’s.
Other companies, including General Mills, Kellogg, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corporation, have committed to similar pledges to sell and serve cage-free eggs.
Arby’s, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is the first nationally franchised sandwich restaurant brand in the United States, with more than 3,300 restaurants worldwide. The company was founded in 1964.

Big food animal protein buyers talk consumer trends

Like their customers, animal protein buyers for General Mills Inc. and ARCOP Inc. are keeping an eye on the latest global consumer food trends.
In a presentation at the October 2015 Oilseed & Grain Trade Summit in Minneapolis, Drew Lein, markets manager for global dairy sourcing at General Mills, and Rohil Shah, a senior buyer at the Arby’s supply chain cooperative, discussed how changing consumer preferences for sustainable farming practices and pressure created by the 2015 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza are influencing the way they do business.
Minneapolis-based General Mills is one of the largest food manufacturers and marketers in the world, with $17.6 billion in net sales in the company’s fiscal 2015 and $8.6 billion in net sales through the first two quarters of fiscal 2016. ARCOP, an Atlanta-based nonprofit supply chain co-operative for Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc., spends about $1.3 billion annually keeping the fast-food chain’s more than 3,400 stores in the continental U.S. supplied.


Around the world, consumers are becoming more concerned with where their food is coming from, Lein said.
“Consumers want to know more about their food. There’s a perception that, at companies, it is bad. We get a bad rap for that,” Lein said. “Consumers want their food to be more sustainable.”
In response to the demand, Lein said General Mills is pushing to have its top 10 ingredients – corn, cocoa, wheat, dairy, sugar beets, oats, sugarcane, vanilla, palm oil and fiber packaging – sustainably sourced by 2020. Specifically, the company is aiming to have liquid milk to demonstrate continuous improvement in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy usage.
A slide from Lein’s presentation said 20 percent of the liquid milk General Mills purchased in its fiscal 2014 was sustainably sourced.
Shah said ARCOP’s leadership shares General Mills’ concerns about sustainability, and its leadership is involved in the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, a recently formed industry group focused on improving beef sustainability.

Organic, antibiotic, hormone and GMO free

Scrutiny on sustainable practices is also raising questions about the introduction of antibiotics, hormones and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in animal feeds and how that affects the composition of the food that finds its way to the table. In reaction, consumers are turning to organic products.
When asked which of these four issues are most persistent among U.S. consumers, Lein said demand for organic is pervasive, but it’s a small segment of consumers who are pushing for organic products.
Shah said addressing antibiotic use in animal feed is a high priority. In September, Arby’s, along with a host of other fast-food chains, was issued a failing grade in a report on antibiotic policies authored by environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also taking steps to eliminate antibiotics in animal feed.
The use of GMOs is harder to stop. Shah said GMOs are already present in animal feed, and his organization cannot drive its use through its current supply chain.
Additionally, Shah said changing the supply chain to match up with these trends creates concern about whether there is enough product to go around.
“If we were to go antibiotic free on chicken or on poultry, is that a sustainable supply? If there was a hiccup, what do we do? Do we go back to something that’s not sustainable?” Shah said. “We can’t really go back on our core consumers as well.”
Shah said he sees organic as something the company will need to consider in the future. Lein said the growing demand in the organic segment is putting pressure on the company to vertically integrate its supply chain to increase the availability of organic options.

Market volatility

As usual, the volatile pricing of protein commodities is a concern for ARCOP, Shah said. He said the 2015 outbreak of avian influenza obviously affected his company as it influenced the availability and pricing of turkey and eggs. Arby’s, he said, had to react quickly to find new suppliers and change its product formulas to ensure the company could still serve turkey and egg products at its restaurants.
“Market volatility is always going to be a factor. If it wasn’t, I am sure us commodity guys would be out of a job,” Shah said. “So, the reality is price volatility is always going to be an integral part in our lives and what we do.”
The past few years, he said, have been dubbed a “perfect storm” of factors, where poultry, pork and beef all saw strong year-to-year pricing gains while the supply was limited. The steadily increasing prices, coupled with the shortages caused by avian influenza, have pushed ARCOP to continue on its mission to find new markets and look for new suppliers who can provide a product, and a consistent price, as consistently as possible.

Zimbabwe poultry industry deemed self-sufficient

Poultry producers in Zimbabwe are now capable of meeting domestic demand for poultry, and will not need to rely on imports, an industry leader said.
“We won’t have shortage of day-old chicks again (and) prices of day-old chicks have gone down by almost 30 percent,” Zimbabwe Poultry Farmers’ Association Chairman George Nare told NewsDay. “We are not going to talk about shortage of chicken anymore. Demand is good and what producers need to do is to look for the market and secure it.”
However, Nare said the Zimbabwe poultry industry was at a recovering stage adding that stock feeds remained a problem.
In July 2015, players in the poultry industry in Zimbabwe cut chicken prices by 23 percent, with indications that the market had been flooded by cheap imports, mostly from South Africa and Brazil.
Last year, the Zimbabwe government introduced a law requiring importers of selected agricultural products, including poultry and sugar, to apply for licenses in a bid to control imports flooding the local market.

Husi Food Co. food safety case goes to trial

A criminal trial centered around a food safety scandal tied to OSI Group’s Husi Food Co. has gone to trial, with two company units and ten people being accused of selling food unfit for consumption.
The case dates back to 2014, when employees of Husi Food Co., allegedly repackaged outdated chicken and beef, then allegedly sold the expired products with false labels to restaurant chains in China and Japan, including McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Dico’s. The ten defendants were formally charged at the end of September.
According to a Channel News Asia report, the trial began on December 28 and is expected to last several days.
OSI Group has not publicly commented on the trial proceedings, but did offer this brief statement after the ten suspects were charged: ““We have confidence in China’s legal system and believe that the judicial authority will come to a fair and reasonable judgment with full respect to the facts and laws.”
Since the scandal took place, OSI Group made substantial changes to the organizational and management structures for its China operations. The company also closed the plant under investigation and removed Husi products from the marketplace.
OSI Group CEO Sheldon Lavin has also publicly apologized for the scandal.