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Rural economy rebounding

Rural economy rebounding

DESPITE ongoing uncertainty in the global economy, the fiscal and financial health of rural America may be at its strongest in more than five years, according to one economic index.

Even so, data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggest that workers in rural areas fared much worse than their metropolitan counterparts in 2010 and 2011.

In its monthly economic survey of rural America, Creighton University reported that the Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) climbed for a fourth straight month in December and reached its highest level since June 2007.

Surveying community bank presidents and chief executive officers in "non-urban, agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area," Creighton economist Ernie Goss said RMI presents a "snapshot" of rural America in a way that provides the "most current real-time analysis of the rural economy."

In December, the index climbed to 60.6, up from 57.5 in November. Ranging from 1 to 100, an index of 50.0 represents a growth-neutral economic status.

Among the December highlights, the survey of 200 rural communities found that nearly 25% of bankers expect shutdowns or temporary closures of ethanol plants in the future, and as a result of higher corn prices and lower ethanol prices, only 3.6% expect an increase in ethanol-related revenues in 2013.

On the other hand, bank CEOs reported significant increases in borrowing to finance farmland and equipment purchases. Goss said overall, strong agricultural commodity prices and lower energy prices boosted business activity in late 2012.

"This is the healthiest reading that we have recorded since well before the national economic recession began in 2007," he explained.

Farmland investment continues to be an area of strong business activity, with Creighton's farmland price index showing very brisk growth at 82.5. Though slightly off from November's 82.9 reading, December marked the 35th consecutive month that the farmland price index was above growth-neutral status.

"The Federal Reserve's cheap money policy is pushing agriculture land prices higher. ... Bankers were asked how much cash rents for farmland changed over the past 12 months. On average, they reported a 15% increase," Goss noted.

Along with farmland and equipment financing, banks reported that home sales remain relatively strong, with the index clocking in at 61.3. Retail sales, meanwhile, indexed at 59.0, soaring from November's 51.5, which might be expected during the holiday shopping season.

Uncertainty remains something of a watchword, however. Creighton's confidence index, reflecting respondents' expectations for the economy six months out, expanded to 55.5 from November's relatively pessimistic 45.6. Goss said improvements in retail sales and home purchases and lower energy prices all played a role in improving lenders' moods at year-end.

 

Labor market

Perhaps the most telling sign of lingering trouble in rural America is related to the labor market. The RMI showed that hiring remains well off the levels seen prior to the recession. The December index of 53.5 is still down 3% from pre-recession levels.

USDA data reinforce that concern. After two years of economic recovery, the Economic Research Service (ERS) reported in December that improvements in the non-metro labor market remained quite limited.

"While the 2007-09 recession was less severe in non-metro areas, the subsequent economic recovery appears to be slower than in metro areas," ERS noted. "Weak labor demand has put downward pressure on hourly wages, although wage declines have been smaller in non-metro than in metro areas."

ERS data showed that real hourly wages grew through 2009 but actually fell in 2010 and 2011 (Figure), with a median wage for all workers lower by more than $2.50 per hour in non-metro areas than for workers in metro areas. The median hourly wage in 2011 was $14.53 in non-metro counties and $17.04 in metro counties.

From a 2009 peak, wages were off 19 cents per hour in non-metro regions, reflecting a 0.4% decline in 2010 and a 0.9% decline in 2011. The wage data exclude those who are self-employed.

Farmers, bankers and business owners in rural America may be taking advantage of opportunities for economic recovery, but prospects for workers remain dimmer compared to the pre-recession era.

Volume:85 Issue:02

Offers to buy Canadian pork producers roll in

Offers to buy Canadian pork producers roll in

CANADIAN pork processor Olymel LP is preparing to buy Big Sky Farms, Canada's second-largest pork producer, out of receivership as no superior offers were made by the deadline last week.

Big Sky, located near Humboldt, Sask., filed for bankruptcy liquidation last year after collapsing under the weight of persistent record-high feed costs (Feedstuffs, Sept. 17, 2012). The company produces about 1 million hogs per year.

Olymel, based in Montreal, Que., bid $65.25 million (Canadian/$66.58 million, U.S.) for the company (Feedstuffs, Oct. 22, 2012) but had to wait through an auction process to effect its acquisition.

Olymel does not currently grow hogs, and Big Sky has been a major supplier to the packer.

Meanwhile, Maple Leaf Foods Inc., another important Canadian pork processor, has offered $42 million (Canadian/$42.1 million, U.S.) for Puratone Corp., Canada's third-largest pork producer, which also filed for bankruptcy protection at the same time Big Sky did and for the same reasons (Feedstuffs, Nov. 5, 2012).

Maple Leaf, headquartered in Toronto, Ont., is also a major poultry processor and bread maker.

Puratone, located near Niverville, Man., grows 500,000 hogs per year and has been a major supplier to Maple Leaf.

The Maple Leaf and Olymel acquisitions cleared the Canadian Competition Bureau last year (Feedstuffs, Dec. 24, 2012).

Also last week, HyLife Group, Canada's largest pork producer, and Itochu Corp., a Japanese trading firm, announced that Itochu has acquired a 33.4% interest in HyLife for 5 billion yen ($56.7 million).

Itochu said the deal fits with its strategy to sell Canadian pork into the Asian markets, with a focus on China and Japan, where pork consumption continues to grow.

HyLife, located near La Broquerie, Man., has escaped the cost consequences that challenged Big Sky and Puratone due largely to the company's integrated structure in which it operates a processing plant, feed mills and trucking fleets. HyLife grows 1.4 million hogs per year.

Volume:85 Issue:02

Bionaturis starts oral vaccine program for fish

Bionaturis starts oral vaccine program for fish

BIONATURIS announced that it has started the Aquafly project to research more efficient vaccination alternatives for farmed fish.

Bionaturis, a biotechnology company based in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, is collaborating with the science faculty at Cadiz University in Spain and the Andalusian Aquaculture Technological Centre Foundation.

According to the announcement, the idea for the project emerged from the Bionaturis internal aquaculture research and development team after analyzing the sector's needs following recent meetings with international and national producers and veterinary companies.

The technical goal of Aquafly is to design and develop new oral therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines, based on the FLYLIFE production system -- which uses insect larva as bioreactors to produce biological drugs -- that can be used more safely and efficiently to protect farmed fish against major diseases, the announcement said.

The three-year research program will be led by Dr. Ana de las Heras with Bionaturis. The project is being co-funded by the Corporacion Tecnologica de Andalucia.

Aquaculture in Spain currently generates nearly 500 million euros, and Spain's southwestern region of Andalusia accounts for 11% of the total.

However, the greater density of farms due to this intensification has led to a greater concentration of pathogens in farmed fish, the announcement said, noting that experts have estimated 20% losses for the aquaculture industry due to disease.

The Aquafly project will work with some of the most important pathogens and fish species in Andalusia.

"Thanks to our Flylife technological platform, we will develop vaccines and other types of treatments to be administered orally ... for some of the main pathogens that currently affect aquaculture," Heras said.

She noted that, "so far, injections have been the only way that has proven to be really effective, but they are greatly limited due to the cost and handling. Not just the stress generated by handling but also the size of the fish limit the use of vaccines by injection."

Volume:85 Issue:01

Pet owners confused about pet nutrition

Pet owners confused about pet nutrition

A RECENT petMD survey on the topic of pet nutrition revealed confusion among pet owners regarding the nutritional needs of dogs and cats.

While 57% of respondents look to pet food labels for information about the ingredients in their pet's food, what is written on the labels is often misinterpreted, the announcement said.

"Understanding how to feed our pets properly is critical to their well-being," petMD spokesperson Dr. Jennifer Coates said. "This knowledge gap is worrisome but also represents an opportunity for improving the health and longevity of our beloved companion animals."

The survey's key findings include:

* Misunderstood terms. A majority of survey respondents said they believe that animal hair, teeth and hooves are included in meat byproducts when, in fact, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) expressly prohibits these body parts from being included in a byproduct used in pet food.

* The importance of feeding trials. While the majority of pet owners look to the label to learn about ingredients, they fail to look for other key quality information. According to the petMD survey, only 22% of respondents check the label to see if the food has undergone a feeding trial.

All AAFCO-approved pet foods must display a statement indicating how the pet food manufacturer determined that the particular diet would meet the needs of pets. This can be done in one of two ways: via a computer program or by actually feeding the food to dogs or cats.

According to Coates, "feeding trials are a far superior method for determining whether or not pets will thrive on a particular diet."

* Misidentifying potential allergies. More than 40% of respondents cited grain ingredients as the most common allergens in pet food, with more than 30% specifically implicating corn. However, some studies have shown that the protein or meat source in pet food is the biggest culprit.

* An underappreciation of balanced nutrition. The survey found that 69% of respondents recognized that protein is a key nutrient for pets, yet only 2% knew that about fats, 3% about carbohydrates and less than 25% about vitamins and minerals.

"To satisfy all of the nutritional needs of dogs and cats, pet foods must provide all of these ingredients in the right balance," Coates said. "Too much of one or too little of another can be harmful to a pet's health."

* Skepticism of label accuracy. More than 70% of pet owners surveyed believe that pet food labels do not list all of the ingredients. However, AAFCO regulations mandate that every ingredient contained within a pet food be included in the ingredient list in order from the largest to the smallest contributor by weight.

"Misconceptions surrounding pet food and canine and feline nutrition can lead owners to make ill-informed choices about what to feed their companions," Coates said. "Veterinarians are the best source of information about what to feed pets. They can take into consideration a pet's unique combination of life stage, lifestyle and health to make individualized diet recommendations."

PetMD.com is the leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets.

 

Volume:85 Issue:02

JBS plans to complete XL acquisition

JBS plans to complete XL acquisition

JBS S.A. announced last week that it anticipates completing its acquisition of the Canadian operations of XL Foods on Jan. 14.

JBS said the acquisition will be conducted through JBS Food Canada Inc., a business of its U.S. division, JBS USA.

The acquisition includes the XL beef packing plant in Brooks, Alb., which can handle 4,000 head of cattle per day, and the beef packing plant in Calgary, Alb., which can run 1,000 head per day.

The acquisition also includes a cattle feedlot and 6,600 acres of adjacent farmland that are associated with the Brooks facility.

JBS reached the acquisition agreement with XL's owner, Canadian rancher Nilsson Bros., last year when JBS USA assumed management of the Brooks plant (Feedstuffs, Oct. 22, 2012) after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency closed the plant because of product that was contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 (Feedstuffs, Sept. 28 and Oct. 8, 2012).

The plant conducted the largest meat recall in Canadian history, although no one died in the outbreak that spread across Canada and into the U.S.

The agreement calls for JBS to pay $100 million -- $50 million in cash and $50 million in JBS stock -- for the Brooks and Calgary properties.

The Alberta government waived its limitations on foreign ownership of land in December to allow the acquisition to proceed (Feedstuffs, Jan. 7). Officials acknowledged that the XL operations have too much economic importance to the province not to waive the restrictions.

The agreement also provides an exclusive option for JBS to acquire an XL beef packing plant in Nampa, Ida., with a daily run of 1,000 head and a cow plant in Omaha, Neb., with a daily run of 1,200 head.

JBS said it won't exercise that option at this time, pending regulatory review, and the U.S. facilities will continue to be operated by XL. The Nampa plant currently is closed.

A number of U.S. livestock and other groups have written a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice opposing JBS's acquisition of the Nampa and Omaha plants, citing consolidation and market erosion issues. However, Nampa-area cattle producers have said they would welcome new ownership that might reopen that plant, and JBS USA does not currently have any presence in cow slaughter.

JBS emphasized that the agreement does not provide for it to assume any of XL's debts or liabilities.

JBS, headquartered in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is the largest beef processor in Brazil.

JBS USA, based in Greeley, Colo., is the largest cattle feeder in the U.S., the third-largest beef and pork processor in the U.S. and, through its majority ownership in Pilgrim's Pride Corp., the second-largest chicken integrator in the U.S.

JBS is the largest beef exporter in the world.

Volume:85 Issue:02

Study refutes parasite invasion theory

Study refutes parasite invasion theory

CURRENT thinking on how the Toxoplasma gondii parasite invades its host is incorrect, according to a study recently published in Nature Methods describing a new technique to knock out genes.

The findings could have implications for other parasites from the same family, including malaria, and suggest that drugs that are currently being developed to block this invasion pathway may not be successful.

T. gondii is a parasite that commonly infects cats but is also carried by other warm-blooded animals, including people. In most cases, the acute infection causes only flu-like symptoms. However, women who become infected during pregnancy can pass the parasite to their unborn child, which can result in serious health problems for the baby such as blindness and brain damage.

Using a new technique to knock out specific genes in the parasite's genome, researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology at the University of Glasgow in Scotland specifically looked at three genes that are considered essential for the parasite to invade cells within its host to establish an infection.

"We found that we can remove each of these genes individually, and the parasite can still penetrate the host cell, showing for the first time that they are not essential for host cell invasion, as was previously thought," explained Wellcome Trust senior research fellow Dr. Markus Meissner, who led the study. "This means that the parasite must have other invasion strategies at its disposal that need to be investigated."

The genes the researchers examined form the core of the parasite's gliding machinery that enables it to move around. In the past, researchers have only ever been able to reduce the expression level of these genes in the parasite, which did lead to a reduction in host cell invasion, but invasion was never blocked completely, the announcement said. This was attributed to the low levels of gene expression that persisted.

However, with the new technique, the team was able to completely remove the genes of interest. Unexpectedly, they found that the parasites were still able to invade.

"One of the genes we looked at is the equivalent of a malaria gene that is a major candidate for vaccine development. Our findings would suggest that such a vaccine may not be successful at preventing malaria infection, and we need to revisit our understanding of how this family of parasites invades host cells," Meissner added.

As well as malaria, a number of other parasites that affect livestock also belong to the same family. The announcement noted that these findings could also provide clues to new treatments for these diseases, which cause substantial economic losses worldwide.

 

Volume:84 Issue:54

Solazyme tests commercial-scale renewable oil production

Solazyme tests commercial-scale renewable oil production

RENEWABLE oil and bioproducts developer Solazyme announced late last month that it successfully scaled up multiple fermentations of renewable oil at the Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) corn processing terminal in Clinton, Iowa.

Solazyme said its renewable products can replace or enhance oils derived from petroleum, plants and animal fats and are targeted to the fuel, chemical, nutrition and personal care industries.

The initial fermentation runs at Clinton were designed to test the ability to ramp up the Solazyme processes from laboratory scale to commercial scale, including the various production metrics necessary to fully commercialize the process and product.

By using the ADM facility, Solazyme was able to process fermentations in 500,000-liter vessels, roughly four times larger than the vessels available in its own facility in Peoria, Ill. Following the success of the initial fermentations, Solazyme has targeted an annual production of 20,000 metric tons of oil at the ADM facility starting in early 2014, with an expansion target of 100,000 mt.

Solazyme said it is also building comparable fermentation equipment at a facility it operates in Brazil through a joint venture with Bunge that was announced early last year. That facility is designed with a nameplate capacity of 100,000 mt and is scheduled to begin operations in the fourth quarter of 2013.

In November, Solazyme announced an agreement to expand joint venture-owned oil production capacity at Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils beyond the 100,000 mt under construction in Brazil to 300,000 mt by 2016 at select processing facilities worldwide that are owned and operated by Bunge.

The companies said they also intend to expand the portfolio of oils to be produced at the facility in Brazil to include certain tailored food oils for sale in Brazil, where Bunge is the largest supplier of edible oils through several of its retail brands.

In its arrangement with ADM at the Clinton facility, Solazyme said it was tapping an existing facility to manage a capital-efficient expansion of its North American platform by taking advantage of ADM's willingness to accept some payments via equity rather than cash.

 

Volume:85 Issue:02

Starting over on farm bill

Starting over on farm bill

THE path to passing a farm bill in 2012 appeared to lead up a hill too big for Congress to climb, and unfortunately, members now face an even more daunting road ahead to get a new bill finished in 2013.

Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) is expected to take the lead on passing a bill out of committee first, rather than the House taking it on, as in previous years.

Stabenow had indicated that she could hold a markup of the farm bill in her committee in February. However, she is not positive she can follow that schedule because Congress will be dealing with the sequester and debt ceiling legislation and will take a break for Presidents' Day.

She will team up with new ranking member Sen. Thad Cochran (R., Miss.) to shepherd a bipartisan bill to the floor in the Senate. Cochran, who criticized the Senate's handling of southern crops in its 2012 farm bill proposal, likely will help the chamber reach a compromise on the commodity title, which divided the support of southern and midwestern producers. Also, since a staggering 21% of Mississippi's population receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, settling the nutrition funding issue is also important to Cochran.

House Agriculture Committee chair Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) earlier indicated that he, too, would hold a markup at the end of February. However, he recently said he may delay that markup.

Complicating matters, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Rep. Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) sent letters to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio) and majority leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) asking for their assurances that the full House would act on any bill the agriculture committee approves. Without those assurances, Peterson has said he sees no reason for his committee to begin the process of writing a new bill.

Collin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn., said Cochran's priorities for the committee could be different. Woodall expects the 2012 farm bill proposals to be the starting point in 2013 but said they likely will be quickly dismissed, and the committees will start from scratch.

Andrew Novakovic, professor of agricultural economics at Cornell University, said a 2013 farm bill could look quite different from the 2012 farm bill that emerged from the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee discussions.

"Educated guesses are that the 2013 conditions will be less favorable for agriculture and food programs," he said.

Craig Jagger, a principal at Legis Consulting and a former Capitol Hill staffer, noted that some key questions remain unanswered.

The agriculture committees tried several times last year to hitch the farm bill to another bill, such as the Super Committee and fiscal cliff deals.

Jagger explained that, because of the savings agriculture committee leaders touted, there are opportunities to attach the farm bill to other bills that address raising the debt ceiling or modifying the sequesters. A continuing resolution pushed the appropriations bill for 2013 to March, so that offers another potential vehicle.

An agreement dealing with spending levels could settle exactly how much the agriculture committees are expected to cut in the next farm bill. Last year, the gap in nutrition spending alone ranged from $4.5 billion in the Senate farm bill to $122 billion in the House budget plan.

Jagger also noted that the March 2013 Congressional Budget Office scoring baseline for agriculture committee programs could be significantly different from its March 2012 scoring baseline.

Volume:85 Issue:02

Cows that eat juniper risk losing calves

Cows that eat juniper risk losing calves

COWS that eat the bark, berries or branches of western juniper trees late in pregnancy are more likely to abort their calves or give birth early, according to Oregon State University researchers.

The tree's harmful effect on pregnant cattle was unknown until an eastern Oregon veterinarian noticed a pattern of lost calves and asked the Oregon State University Extension Service about it.

"People had always wondered what happened to the 5-10% of cows with lost pregnancies," said Tim Deboodt, an extension range management specialist based in Crook County, Ore. "So, we started our research from scratch on a tip."

Oregon State researchers pinpointed that western juniper contains toxins known as labdane acids, which constrict the flow of oxygen to a fetus. In the early 1970s, labdane acids, specifically isocupressic acid, were identified in ponderosa pine needles, which also trigger premature birth in cows in a condition called pine needle abortion.

Two of the six heifers Oregon State researchers monitored lost calves after eating western juniper during the last 30 days of their pregnancies. Only a small percentage of calves born early because of juniper or pine needle consumption are likely to survive without intensive care, said Cory Parsons, an extension livestock specialist in Baker County, Ore.

Oregon State researchers are now conducting a larger study to examine juniper's effect on more than 20 cows in late pregnancy. Results are expected by this summer.

The researchers will also analyze if juniper consumption inhibits conception or bears any consequences early in pregnancy. Based on prior knowledge about pine needles, the researchers said they suspect that juniper is likely to cause cows to abort during the last trimester of gestation -- when fetuses need the most oxygen.

Oregon State's juniper research has been supported through a number of grants from the Oregon Beef Council and was published in a handful of academic journals, including Rangelands and the International Journal of Poisonous Plant Research.

Western juniper-caused calf abortions have not registered a large economic impact so far, Parsons said. Although some grazing cattle are in contact with juniper on a daily basis, cattle do not naturally seek it out as food.

In recent decades, juniper trees have been piled up as riprap to stabilize the banks of creeks and streams being restored in western states. Cows may come into contact with these trees when they use these watering holes.

"If cattle have plenty to eat, they have no desire to chew on juniper," Parsons said, cautioning, however, "When cows are hungry and bored, they're going to eat to fill up their bellies, especially during times of drought and heavy snow."

To reduce the risk of exposure to juniper during a cow's last trimester of pregnancy, Parsons recommended slowly introducing cattle to areas where juniper exists if they have not already been acclimated to the site. He also suggested cutting lower branches off of trees, if possible, and providing adequate feed daily to reduce the animals' desire to graze juniper.

 

Volume:85 Issue:02

FDA releases rules for produce safety

FDA releases rules for produce safety

THE Food & Drug Administration released much-anticipated proposed rules detailing standards for produce safety and preventive controls for human food production.

Releasing these rules is a major step in implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which President Barack Obama signed into law two years ago. The law is the first significant overhaul to the nation's food safety laws since the 1930s.

Key players said they intend to move forward very aggressively in implementing the new rules, although many have already done so after FDA issued guidance in recent years or industry guidelines like it did for leafy greens after a major foodborne illness outbreak was linked to spinach, according to Kim Walker, leader of the Faegre Baker Daniels national food and agriculture industry team.

The rules follow extensive FDA outreach to the produce industry, consumers, other government agencies and the international community. Since January 2011, FDA staff have toured farms and facilities nationwide and participated in hundreds of meetings and presentations with global regulatory partners, industry stakeholders, consumer groups, farmers, state and local officials and the research community.

The Grocery Manufacturers Assn. welcomed the proposed rules and said "FSMA and its implementation effort can serve as a role model for what can be achieved when the private and public sectors work together to achieve a common goal."

The first rule proposed would require makers of food that's to be sold in the U.S., whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illness and to have plans for correcting any problems that arise.

FDA is seeking public comments on this proposal. The agency is proposing that many food manufacturers be in compliance with the new preventive control rules one year after the final rules are published in the Federal Register, but small and very small businesses would be given additional time.

FDA also is seeking public comments on the second rule, which proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms. This rule proposes science- and risk-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables.

Sarah Brew, attorney at Faegre Baker Daniels specializing in food litigation and regulatory practice, commended FDA for not requiring a one-size-fits-all approach within the food industry but instead focusing on science-based risk analysis and placing different requirements on different commodities.

Brew noted that each commodity will have certain requirements based on historic risks such as previous outbreaks, how it is produced and what's done after it is harvested, e.g., whether it's cooked or canned. For example, potatoes are exempt, and green beans are exempt if they are going to be sent to a canning facility.

Walker added that the rule also identifies different pathways where contamination might occur and seeks to minimize the risk, whether from equipment and tools, agricultural water on site or animals in the growing area.

FDA is proposing that larger farms be in compliance with most of the produce safety requirements 26 months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register. Small and very small farms would have two to three years to comply, and all farms would have additional time to comply with certain requirements related to water quality.

Recordkeeping will be crucial in the new system and sometimes may simply require formulizing what companies are already doing, Brew said.

FSMA does provide FDA with heightened enforcement powers, which means more inspector visits at facilities.

"This will be a real change for many food companies, creating a much closer relationship with FDA in the nuts and bolts of what's going on in the plants," Brew said.

"With the aim of improving food safety through FSMA, Congress rejected a one-size-fits-all approach to food safety regulations," said Ariane Lotti, assistant policy director with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). "A one-size-fits-all approach would put small and midsized farm operations out of business, consolidate agricultural markets and eliminate opportunities for food and farm entrepreneurs in emerging sectors of agriculture, including organic and local and regional food systems. NSAC will be closely reading the rules to determine whether FDA followed congressional intent."

Walker said midsize to smaller companies may require additional resources internally for additional training or may reach out to third parties for help meeting the new guidelines. FDA also recognized these potential industry needs and formed an alliance to help develop some training programs, Walker added. He expects FDA to continue actively helping the industry, especially small companies.

FDA said the proposed rules build on significant strides made during the Obama Administration, including the first egg safety rule protecting consumers from salmonella, stepped-up testing for Escherichia coli in beef and enhanced existing voluntary industry guidelines for food safety, which many producers, growers and others currently follow.

To fully implement FSMA, FDA will issue more than 50 regulations aimed at improving food safety. Walker explained that the agriculture industry will be closely watching rules for feed and pet food facilities and importation of feed and food ingredients.

Editor's Note: Listen to the full interview with Walker and Brew in the Jan. 14 "Feedstuffs in Focus" podcast at www.Feedstuffs.com.

Volume:85 Issue:02