Groups file in support of COOL: Attorneys filed documents Aug. 9 on behalf of the U.S. Cattlemen's Assn., National Farmers Union, Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and American Sheep Industry Assn. with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to intervene in the litigation started by nine plaintiff groups against the U.S. Department of Agriculture's regulation on country-of-origin labeling (COOL). If granted intervention, the four organizations intend to defend the COOL regulation. The court has scheduled a hearing on the preliminary injunction motion for Aug. 27. The COOL lawsuit challenges the rule's constitutionality, provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Act and administrative procedures with the labeling law that was rewritten after the World Trade Organization determined the original language to be trade distorting. According to a recent CFA study, 90% of a representative sample of 1,000 American adults favored, either strongly or somewhat, requiring food sellers to indicate on the package label the country of origin of fresh meat they sell, and 87% strongly or somewhat favored requiring food sellers to indicate on the label the country or countries in which animals were born, raised and processed.
New bee pesticide labels developed: In an ongoing effort to protect bees and other pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has developed new pesticide labels that prohibit the use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present. "Multiple factors play a role in bee colony declines, including pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency is taking action to protect bees from pesticide exposure, and these label changes will further our efforts," said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention. The new labels will have a bee advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. The announcement affects products containing the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. EPA said it will work with pesticide manufacturers to change labels so they comply with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act safety standard.
Cargill sells California feed facility: Cargill's animal nutrition business announced last week that it has completed the sale of its Hanford, Cal., feed manufacturing facility to Pitman Family Farms, a family-owned poultry farm. The sale includes the land, buildings and machinery. Terms of the agreement were not made public. Cargill said it will maintain a presence by offering specialty ingredients, products and services to animal producers in this market.
History of beef checkoff chronicled: The partnership between state beef councils and national beef checkoff efforts over the past 50 years are chronicled in a new booklet available through the Federation of State Beef Councils and online. The booklet explores beef industry volunteers that made beef checkoffs possible, provides a timeline for actions that moved checkoffs forward and establishes the foundation for grassroots-oriented initiatives that made the beef checkoff program what it is today. "It's important to understand where we've been in order to successfully develop a strategy for where we're going," according to federation chairman Richard Gebhart, a beef producer from Claremore, Okla. "This walk through our history is an important step in our journey to the future." The 16-page booklet contains text and historical photos. It is divided into three sections: 1922-70, 1970-88 and 1988-2013. A digital copy of the booklet is available at www.beefusa.org under the Federation tab.
Energy projects: The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced funding for 631 projects across the nation that will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. USDA is making investments of more than $21 million in energy projects. Grant and loan funding is made available through USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Under the terms of REAP, up to 25% of eligible energy production or a conservation project can be funded through a grant, and additional support can be provided in the form of a loan. Also included are almost $300,000 in grants to 19 agricultural producers and rural businesses to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems.
MRSA origin: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a strain of bacteria that causes skin and soft tissue infections in people, originally came from cattle, according to a study to be published in mBio, the online, open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. However, the researchers who conducted the genetic analysis of strains of S. aureus known as CC97 said these strains developed resistance to methicillin after they crossed over into people around 40 years ago. The researchers sequenced the genomes of 43 different CC97 isolates from humans, cattle and other animals and plotted their genetic relationships in a phylogenetic tree. Corresponding author Ross Fitzgerald of the Roslin Institute and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland said strains of CC97 found in cows appear to be the ancestors of CC97 strains from humans.