Senate committee backs USTR nominee: Last Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved Michael Froman's nomination to be U.S. trade representative by voice vote. Froman is currently assistant to the President and deputy national security adviser for international economics. The committee had considered Froman's nomination at a June 6 hearing. During the hearing, Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus (D., Mont.) said the U.S. needs a strong trade representative on the job as the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations continue and free trade agreement talks with the European Union ramp up. Baucus and many members of the committee stressed the need for passing trade promotion authority (TPA), which would give the President greater negotiating power during trade talks. Baucus said he also plans to introduce TPA legislation this month, and during the hearing, Froman committed to working with the committee on a bill. "Mr. Froman is the right man to lead USTR," Baucus said. "He has the experience and the knowledge to help tackle America's ambitious trade agenda. I am glad he got such strong support in committee. He now deserves that same support in the full Senate. We need to quickly approve this nomination so Mr. Froman can hit the ground running and get to work."
Animal drug user fee bill signed into law: Last Thursday, the President signed into law the Animal Drug & Animal Generic Drug User Fee Reauthorization Act of 2013. The legislation reauthorizes the Food & Drug Administration to collect and spend user fees for brand-name and generic animal drugs and was widely supported by the animal industry.
Court hears appeal on drink size ban: An appeals court panel in New York heard New York City's appeal of a court ruling earlier this year enjoining the city from implementing a ban on large-sized sugary beverages, and court observers said the four-judge panel's questions seemed to signal that it would uphold the injunction. The rule was developed by the New York City Department of Health, and the judges had questions concerning the department's authority and the rule's legal and scientific underpinnings. Justice David Friedman said the city sought to exercise "unprecedented authority" that could lead to regulations dictating not only portion sizes but "the number of donuts" or "the number of scoops of ice cream" a person could order. The rule would have prohibited delis, restaurants, street carts, movie theaters and sports stadiums from serving sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 oz. if those drinks had more than 25 calories per 8 oz. The ban was to become effective on March 12. However, a coalition of beverage, restaurant and theater interests filed a lawsuit requesting an injunction (Feedstuffs, Oct. 22, 2012), and the injunction was granted by a lower court in March (Feedstuffs, March 18). The city then appealed (Feedstuffs, April 1), and both city health commissioner Thomas Farley and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have said they are confident that the ban will be upheld. The appeals court did not indicate when it might rule.
Nevada raw milk bill vetoed: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed legislation passed by the state's assembly that would have permitted milk producers to sell raw milk anywhere in the state. He cited "significant public health risks" from consuming raw, or unpasteurized, milk. The legislation passed the state's unicameral assembly by a 40-0 vote last month, with one member absent and one member abstaining. The legislation was carried in the assembly by Paul Aizley, who introduced it to support Artesanal Foods owner Brett Ottolenghi, who wanted to open a raw milk dairy in Nye County, Nev. Aizley also said he wanted to encourage the development of a raw milk industry in Nevada — despite warnings by the Food & Drug Administration and public health officials that drinking raw milk can make people very sick and even cause death. He noted that "there are people in Nevada who want to consume raw milk, and it's not available." FDA does not permit interstate commerce in unpasteurized milk and other dairy products, but individual states can set their own regulations. Although 20 states have followed FDA's lead, the other 30 states allow producers to sell raw milk at their farms, at farmers markets or through a "cow share" arrangement in which consumers buy shares in a cow. Twelve states allow it to be sold in retail stores.
Sylvan Eisenberg: Dr. Sylvan Eisenberg, 99, died May 10 at his home in San Francisco, Cal. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and his doctorate in physical chemistry from Stanford University. Eisenberg founded two businesses: Anresco, a commercial analytical laboratory focused on foods, and Micro-Tracers Inc., a manufacturer of analytical tracers for formula feeds and other specialty feed micro-ingredients.
Foie gras video: Animal rights group Mercy For Animals (MFA) last week released undercover video filmed at Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York that the organization said shows animal cruelty. MFA called on Amazon to cease selling foie gras on its website and called on the New York legislature to adopt legislation pending in the state Senate that would ban production of foie gras. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Tony Avella and would affect Hudson Valley and one other producer. The video was recorded secretly by an MFA "investigator" who had taken employment at Hudson Valley for one month in April. It can be viewed at www.AmazonCruelty.com. Hudson Valley said the video "misrepresented" operations at the farm and showed activities that were taken out of context. Foie gras is liver from ducks and geese that are force fed large amounts of feed through pipes or tubes that are inserted into the animals' throats to enlarge the liver. Many chefs and consumers consider foie gras a delicacy. Producers have said the feeding process is not cruel, noting that ducks have no gag reflex and have thick linings in their throats to prevent injury. Foie gras production has been banned in California (Feedstuffs, July 9, 2012).
New product: Diamond V has introduced SynGenX, a feed additive for swine that naturally supports digestive and immune system health by promoting a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the pig's gastrointestinal tract. As a result, Diamond V said pigs gain weight faster, have increased feed intake and exhibit better feed conversion. A proprietary anaerobic microbial fermentation technology unique to Diamond V is used in the manufacturing of SynGenX. SynGenX is unaffected by extreme temperatures, pH or processing and does not require special storage, the company said.
Reformulated vaccine: AgriLabs announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the use of its newly formulated PULMO-GUARD PH-M vaccine, which is used in the prevention of bovine respiratory disease caused by Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida. Made with a low-reactive, water-soluble adjuvant, the reformulated vaccine is packaged in convenient, ready-to-use, 10-dose and 50-dose packages. It offers improved syringe-ability and subcutaneous administration.