USDA updates poultry website: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service announced that it has enhanced the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) website to provide updated information regarding NPIP-approved slaughter plants, NPIP participants by state, official state agencies of NPIP and the shell egg layer flocks/plants approved for export. NPIP was established in 1930 as a cooperation among industry, state and federal programs to provide diagnostic technology for the improvement of poultry and poultry products. Its initial target was the elimination of Pullorum disease, which was rampant in poultry at the time. Later, NPIP incorporated testing and monitoring for additional poultry diseases and was expanded to include commercial poultry, turkeys, waterfowl, exhibition poultry, backyard poultry and game birds. Today, NPIP plays a key part in domestic and international trade in poultry and poultry products. The website is at www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_dis_spec/poultry.
Senate confirms two USDA nominees: On Aug. 1, the Senate confirmed President Barack Obama's nomination of U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy secretary Krysta Harden and undersecretary for natural resources and the environment Robert Bonnie. Harden will succeed Kathleen Merrigan in the number-two post at USDA. Harden has served as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's chief of staff and assistant secretary for congressional relations. Bonnie, who has been a senior adviser to Vilsack, succeeds Harris Sherman. Earlier in July, the Senate Agriculture Committee held hearings for both nominees and gave them high marks.
Latin American chlortetracycline licenses: Pharmgate LLC of Ramsey, N.J., announced the acquisition of a number of chlortetracycline product registrations in Latin America. As the majority-owned U.S. subsidiary of Jinhe Biotechnology, the largest manufacturer of chlortetracycline in the world, Pharmgate will become a significant supplier of its branded chlortetracycline products in the Latin American market. At the same time, Pharmgate announced the appointment of Alfonso Rueda as business manager, Latin America, to manage its growing business in these markets. Rueda, based in Colombia, has a strong background in the Latin American animal nutrition and health industry with companies such as American Cyanamid, Roche, DSM and Provimi. Pharmgate will continue to market the products through the existing distributor network utilizing both commercial and technical synergies, the announcement said.
FDA to regulate gluten-free labeling: The Food & Drug Administration published a new regulation defining the term "gluten free" for voluntary food labeling. This will provide a uniform standard definition to help those who have celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive condition that can be effectively managed only by eating a gluten-free diet, the agency said. In order to use the term "gluten free" on a label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the federal definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims "no gluten," "free of gluten" and "without gluten" to meet the definition for gluten free. Under the FDA definition, oats may be used as an ingredient in a food labeled as gluten free, provided that the food contains less than 20 ppm of gluten. In a statement, the North American Millers' Assn. said it appreciates FDA's thoughtful consideration of the nutritional contribution of oats in the diets of celiac patients and commended FDA for not including oats on the list of prohibited grains.
FAO food index: Food price inflation in 2013 has fallen far short of initial forecasts, with the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Food Price Index declining for a third consecutive month. The index averaged 205.9 points in July, four points (nearly 2%) below its revised value for June and seven points (or 3.3%) lower than in July 2012. According to FAO, last month's decline was largely driven by lower international prices for grains, soy and palm oil. FAO's cereals index was off 3.7% from June, and its oils and fats index was down 3.3%. Prices for sugar, meat and dairy products were also down from the previous month.
CRP acres: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced July 22 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will accept 1.7 million acres offered under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general signup. USDA received nearly 28,000 offers on more than 1.9 million acres of land. USDA has enrolled nearly 12 million acres in new CRP contracts since 2009. Currently, there are more than 26.9 million acres enrolled on 700,000 contracts. This year, farmers and ranchers have already offered more than 370,000 acres under continuous CRP signup, an impressive figure given that the lack of a farm bill extension last fall meant that CRP enrollment only reopened in May. USDA said the lack of a comprehensive farm bill this year has resulted in uncertainty for achieving further enrollment objectives under continuous CRP.
Railcar repair: The Andersons Inc. announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Mile Rail LLC, a railcar repair and cleaning provider based in Kansas City, Mo. Mile Rail repairs and cleans virtually all types of railcars containing a comprehensive range of nonhazardous, hazardous and food-grade products and wastes from its headquarters in Kansas City and its three satellite locations in Nebraska, Kansas and Indiana. The firm maintains a central Midwest footprint with its mobile units as well. "The acquisition of Mile Rail will expand our capabilities to include tank car repair, for which there is a need for additional capacity in the industry, and is expected to increase our railcar repair revenue by 25%," Rasesh Shah, president of The Andersons' Rail Group, said. "In addition, with the growth of our fleet, as well as the geographic diversity of our customers, it was becoming strategically important for us to add a second, full-service facility centrally located in the U.S." The acquisition remains subject to certain customary closing conditions and is expected to be finalized in the third quarter.
Liquefied carbon dioxide: POET is installing liquefied carbon dioxide facilities on site at two of its biorefineries in Ohio. POET Biorefining-Marion and POET Biorefining-Fostoria will operate in the Greater Ohio Valley liquid carbon dioxide marketplace. The plants will be able to serve the traditional food freezing and beverage carbonation markets as well as secure new carbon dioxide customers. With the latest two plants coming online this year, nine of POET's plants will be producing liquefied carbon dioxide.