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Articles from 2020 In January


EPA issues favorable preliminary decision on neonicotinoids

Photo courtesy of Amy Toth. A bee approaches a clover plant. Iowa State scientists are studying if placing honeybee hives near prairie will help them keep up honey stores later into the winter.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its preliminary interim decision (PID) on a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids (neonics) that specifically addresses steps EPA is taking to protect pollinator health.

These chemicals -- including acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, collectively known as neonicotinoids -- are a group of insecticides used on a wide variety of crops, turf, ornamentals, pets (for flea treatment) and other residential and commercial indoor and outdoor uses. In the PID, EPA is proposing:

  • Management measures to help keep pesticides on the intended target and reduce the amount used on crops associated with potential ecological risks;
  • Requiring the use of additional personal protective equipment to address potential occupational risks;
  • Restrictions on when pesticides can be applied to blooming crops in order to limit exposure to bees;
  • Language on the label that advises homeowners not to use neonicotinoid products, and
  • Cancelling spray uses of imidacloprid on residential turf under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) due to health concerns.

Since 2015, EPA has included a pollinator risk assessment as part of its rigorous pesticide registration review process as well as for new pesticide registrations. CropLife America said in a statement it supports this process. “Once we have reviewed the full PID, we look forward to a robust public comment period,” CropLife said.

The National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) thanked EPA for following the science demonstrating the safety of glyphosate and neonicotinoids. Upon publication in the Federal Register, EPA will accept comments on the decisions in the following dockets for 60 days.

“Safety is a priority for all corn growers,” NCGA said in a statement. All products in use today have been tested by EPA, many of which have been used for decades with no findings of harmful effects to human health or the environment when used properly. Each product is thoroughly reviewed by the EPA every 15 years to ensure continued safety and account for any new information or data.

“The availability of safe products is critically important and allows farmers to continually improve the sustainability of their operations while supplying a safe, secure supply of food for a growing population,” NCGA said.

Farmers depend on and protect bees and other pollinators, which are essential for their crops. Many farmers are beekeepers themselves and go to great lengths to provide habitat and forage for bee colonies, such as planting wildflowers around their cropland. As farmers grow and protect their crops, neonicotinoids are a protective and effective tool to prepare seeds for healthy growth, CropLife explained.

In urban and suburban settings, professionals and consumers rely on neonics to protect homes, control bed bugs and manage destructive invasive insects such as the emerald ash borer.

Studies performed around the world demonstrate that neonicotinoids are effective in controlling harmful insects in agricultural and non-agricultural settings, with no unreasonable adverse effects on pollinator health when used according to label instructions.

Higher volumes of cattle grading Prime in 2020

yesimersan/iStock/Thinkstock raw beef carcass_yesimersan_iStock_Thinkstock-146789175.jpg

The percentage of cattle grading Prime appears to be continuing to grow in 2020, according the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC). U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed that the first two weeks of the year were nationally a quarter- to a half-percent higher than the same period in 2019. That’s saying, something since USDA data showed that Prime-graded beef was also considered high, ranging from 6.86% to 10.47% weekly. LMIC relayed that the five-year average range was from 4.35% to 6.80%, with the highest values in the fourth quarter.

“Genetic improvement has been on a steady march forward, but in 2018 it seemed supplies outpaced the market, as the Prime/Choice spread dropped when nationally the supply of Prime-graded beef jumped from 6% in 2017 to 7.95% in 2018,” LMIC reported, adding that it continued to move upward in 2019, averaging 8.6%.

According to LMIC, regions 1-5 in the USDA report typically produce the highest percentage of Prime beef, ranging from 10.88% to 13.80% in the five-year average. In 2019, however, this region saw 17.03% of carcasses grade Prime on a weekly average, compared to 3.72% in Region 6, 8.68% in regions 7-8 and 9.20% in regions 9-10. 

“Region 1-5 also had the largest jump in 2017 to 2018, gaining over 3% in that single year, and 2% in region 7-8, while the other two region combinations reported increases less than 2%. Last year, the increase in all regions was less than 1%,” LMIC said.

Conversely, LMIC said the percentage grading Select has dropped significantly. Last year, U.S. Select was 9.13% of carcasses, compared to the five-year average of 12.23%. Choice-graded beef has also increased in volume, but LMIC said the 2019 levels were similar to the five-year average of 69.36%.

As for this year, LMIC said the first two weeks of 2020 show that even more cattle presented for grading are Prime.

“Region 1-5 showed the second week of the year approaching 20%. These gains in percent grading Prime do not appear to be the case for all regions, though,” the center said.

Figures for regions 6, 9 and 10 are lower than last year in comparative weeks, while regions 7-8 are showing smaller gains, LMIC relayed.

“Heavier cattle weights could be a contributing factor, but within the last three years, there seems to be a clear push from cattle feeders to achieve the higher Prime grading,” it said.

Spreads between Prime and Choice have not been as low as they were in 2018, but LMIC said they also have not been maintaining historical premiums, either.

“Interest from retailers, such as Costco and now Walmart, to offer Prime cuts may be short-lived. A U.S. recession and/or contraction in the cattle industry could put pressure on future demand for Prime-graded beef moving forward, if it no longer is price competitive or consumers are watching their wallets,” LMIC explained.

Coronavirus impact on China's meat, food business unclear

Gilnature/iStock/Getty Images coronavirus written on flag of China

How the coronavirus outbreak is affecting Chinese commerce remains unclear, but Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president of the Asia Pacific region, told Feedstuffs that USMEF staff members in China have been closely following developments.

In China, Haggard said it’s "all hands on deck," with all of China’s leadership now fully engaged in trying to halt the spread of the virus. Complicating the effort, however, is the imminent end of the Chinese New Year, he noted.

“We’re going to see here a rush by hundreds of millions of migrant workers and other persons from there traditional homes back to their workplaces. This will likely place an additional strain on efforts to break these chains of contagion,” he explained.

The movement was set to begin this weekend, but Haggard said China has issued directives to lengthen the holiday period.

For now, how the disease outbreak has affected the meat and food business is still unclear and difficult to assess because the Lunar New Year holidays are still underway, according to Haggard.

Rumors that Chinese ports are closed “are just that: rumors,” he said. “Clearance of goods may have been slowed because of the holidays, and we know inspectors are focused on expediting much-needed health care materials for fighting the disease, but so far, we’re not aware of any port closures due to disease risk.”

Even during the bleakest days of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak of 2003, Haggard said the port was still loading and unloading vessels 24/7.

What really remains unclear at this point is how the overall food supply chain is functioning. “There’s no question that there have been runs at supermarkets. In most tier 1 cities, the populace is bunkering down in their homes. So, that really means they head out to the supermarket to stock up and then head back home for a lockdown,” he said.

USMEF is hearing that this is turning into a very fast weakening of foodservice sales, but Haggard said it’s hard to quantify the impact because many of the restaurants had already closed for the holiday.

Still, the new travel advisories and the decline of inbound travelers will no doubt hurt foodservice and hotel business. “It’s definitely not a positive outlook,” he said.

Further, Haggard relayed that USMEF is also watching is food transportation logistics. He said China’s ministries of agriculture, transport and public security issued a “pretty important” joint notice to ensure that so-called vegetable basket products — staples like meat and vegetables — should be circulated normally.

“This is a plea for players in the marketplace not to hoard, not to price gouge and to make sure that all efforts are being made to supply products into the market,” he explained.

There have reports of hoarding and price gouging, but Haggard said Chinese officials recently announced that many large companies, including Alibaba, COFCO and Wumart, have pledged to make sure supplies of key daily necessities are available at reasonable prices.

Importantly, Haggard said the notice also forbids locales — small municipalities up to province — from setting up arbitrary transportation blockades. “There have been reports of communities trying to shut themselves off from all visitors and traffic. We assume the government will need to work hard to ensure transportation network are functioning normally," he said.

However, until there are signs that the epidemic's growth curve is abating, he said, “It’s going to be tough on restaurant operators across the board.”

Haggard continued, “Retail logically will benefit, but it’s apparent the government feels it [needs to] issue guidance to those in the market to make sure food supply chains remain open and operating smoothly.”

On the meat side, it may be another few days or even another week before there is a sense of how meat is moving in the country or whether supply chains are getting backed up, Haggard said.

December trade numbers have not been released, but inbound shipments of all meat and poultry during November were a monthly all-time record, he relayed, adding, “Volumes that hit Chinese ports in December were likely very large, as well.”

Haggard said those products are going to need a smooth supply chain to reach consumers, “but the coronavirus and all its impacts on the way society goes out and moves around will definitely be a challenge.”

As to whether the virus may affect China's ability to meet the commitments it recently made in the phase one trade deal with the U.S., Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said “the honest answer is we just don’t know yet.”

What is known, he said, is that it's causing some general economic disruption.

“It has already dislodged a number of people. I think the last number I saw was 46 million people sheltering in place in China, so it obviously is going to have some ramifications economy-wide, which we hope will not inhibit the purchase goal we have for this year,” Perdue said.

U.S. creates Coronavirus Task Force

President Donald Trump announced Jan. 31 the formation of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force.  Members of the task force have been meeting on a daily basis since Jan. 27. During a meeting Friday, Trump charged the task force with leading the U.S. government's response to the novel 2019 coronavirus and with keeping him apprised of developments.

The Coronavirus Task Force is led by Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and is coordinated through the National Security Council.  It is composed of subject matter experts from the White House and several U.S. government agencies, and it includes some of the nation’s foremost experts on infectious diseases.

The task force will lead the Administration’s efforts to monitor, contain and mitigate the spread of the virus while ensuring that the American people have the most accurate and up-to-date health and travel information.

“The risk of infection for Americans remains low, and all agencies are working aggressively to monitor this continuously evolving situation and to keep the public informed,” the announcement said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website, there are currently 121 pending cases of coronavirus in the U.S., but of 120 cases that have already been analyzed, 114 were negative, while six were positive. States with confirmed cases include Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington state.

Names in the News: February 2020

Rawpixel/iStock/Getty Images Names in the News business people silhouettes

To submit an announcement for Names in the News, please email it to Kristin Bakker at [email protected]

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ADISSEO, Antony, France — Guy Harari has been promoted to senior global director. Harari will be responsible for development of medium- and long-term strategies for key countries, merger and acquisition projects in the Americas and scouting new technologies and startups in the Americas in the animal nutrition space. He was most recently general manager of the North and Central America region.

Jeremy Painter has been named North American regional director. Painter will lead the North America region, consisting of the U.S. and Canada.

Roger Solitao has been named Latin America director. Solitao will lead the Latin America region, consisting of Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

 

AGRI-BUSINESS CONSULTANTS LLC, Madison, Wis. — Tim Hardyman has been named a consultant. Hardyman will provide business and consulting services for dairy producers in Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, such as developing business plans for enterprise consulting, business monitoring, financial benchmarking and financial training for staff.

 

ARM & HAMMER ANIMAL & FOOD PRODUCTION, Princeton, N.J. — Kevin Arand has joined the company as ruminant account manager. Arand will work with nutritionists, producers, veterinarians and other key influencers in eastern and southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northeast Iowa. He was previously with Biozyme Inc.

Kemp Caudill has joined the company as ruminant account manager. Caudill will provide services to dairy and beef customers in nine southeastern states. He was previously with Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

Patty Sinclair has joined the company as ruminant account manager. Sinclair will serve customers in eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. She was previously with United Farmers Cooperative.

Mark Stehno has joined the company as senior region manager. Stehno will manage a team in the South-Central U.S., including Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. He was previously with Purina Animal Nutrition.

Jeff Turner has joined the company as ruminant account manager. Turner will serve dairy and beef customers in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. He was previously with Amlan International.

 

ART'S WAY MANUFACTURING CO. INC., Armstrong, Iowa — Michael Woods has been promoted to chief financial officer. Woods was most recently vice president of finance.

 

BROCK GRAIN SYSTEMS, Milford, Ind. — Tiffany Pipho has been promoted to human resources administrator. Pipho will help coordinate human resources practices, policies and programs that align with corporate initiatives while promoting a compliant, equitable environment. She will also act as a first point of contact for employee questions and concerns, help recruit and onboard employees, maintain performance management programs and coordinate wellness and safety activities, among other duties. She most recently held various positions for CTB Inc. within the accounts payable and receivable, customer service and human resources departments.

 

BUHLER, Uzwil, Switzerland — Irene Mark-Eisenring has been appointed chief human resources officer, effective Sept. 1, 2020. Mark-Eisenring is currently head of corporate personnel development.

 

CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF LLC, Wooster, Ohio — Bruce Cobb has been named executive vice president of production, effective March 1. Cobb will oversee the brand's supply development, producer communications and packing divisions while serving as the voice of the producer to the greater company. He was previously with Consolidated Beef Producers.

 

CHORE-TIME, Milford, Ind. — Drexel Sales has been named operations manager. Sales will be responsible for overseeing the production facilities in Milford, Ind., and Decatur, Ala.

 

CMS SOLUTIONS & LOGISTICS, Gainesville, Ga. — Jim Bowling has joined the sales division. Bowling will work in sales support, assisting the sales and manufacturing divisions. He was previously with Diversified Machine Products.

 

EW NUTRITION USA, Des Moines, Iowa — Scott Moore has been named chief executive officer. Moore was previously with Hamlet Protein Inc.

 

THE FOOD INSTITUTE, Upper Saddle River, N.J. — Richard Bei has been appointed chief operating officer and head of data science. Bei will lead the efforts of the new Data Science Group.

 

FOREMOST FARMS, Baraboo, Wis. — Robert "Bob" Bascom has been named senior vice president and chief financial officer. Bascom was most recently vice president finance.

Declan Roche has been named senior vice president and chief commercial officer. Roche was most recently vice president dairy ingredients.

 

INTERNATIONAL DAIRY FOODS ASSN., Washington, D.C. — Andrew Jerome has been named director, external and member communications. Jerome will manage communications, marketing and reputation management activities for members and the broader dairy and food industries. He was previously with Michael Torrey Associates.

 

KEMIN INDUSTRIES, Des Moines, Iowa — Leo Xie-Lei has been appointed president of the Kemin AquaScience global business unit. Xie-Lei was most recently chief commercial officer and regional director for China for Kemin AquaScience and will be based in Shanghai, China.

 

LANDUS COOPERATIVE, Ames, Iowa — Matt Carstens has been named chief executive officer, effective March 9. Carstens was previously with Land O'Lakes.

Chris Robertson has joined the company as vice president of animal nutrition. Robertson will be responsible for the local feed business, which serves swine integrators and independent livestock producers throughout western Iowa with bulk and bagged feed. He was previously with Flint Hills Resources.

 

NOVUS INTERNATIONAL, St. Charles, Mo. — Dr. Alex Hintz has joined the company as North America technical service manager. Hintz will focus on providing technical services to swine customers, focusing primarily on live production challenges and animal health. He was previously with Pharmgate Animal Health.

Victor Lopes has joined the company as North America senior sales specialist for the Ruminant team. Lopes will be responsible for sales of the ruminant product portfolio and C.O.W.S. services in the California and Arizona territories. He was previously with Esmilco.

Eric Sanny has joined the company as North America senior sales manager for the central Midwest region. Sanny will be responsible for sales of the swine product portfolio and account management in the central Midwest territories. He was previously with Archer Daniels Midland.

 

PAINE SCHWARTZ PARTNERS, San Mateo, Cal. — Angelos Dassios has been appointed chief investment officer. Dassios will be responsible for stewardship of the investment team.

Justin Kern has been promoted to director on the investment team. Kern will be responsible for leading deal team activities. He was most recently a principal on the investment team.

John Novak has been appointed head of investment development and capital markets. Novak will focus on identifying new investment opportunities as well as strengthening the firm's relationships with industry stakeholders and optimizing capital markets and financing activities. He was most recently a managing director on the investment team.

 

PIGTEK, Milford, Ind. — Greg Bodak has been named vice president and general manager. Bodak will oversee all aspects of the CTB business unit and will be responsible for worldwide growth.

 

STONEHAVEN CONSULTING, Andermatt, Switzerland — Matt Dobbs has been appointed practice leader. Dobbs will head the development of digital animal health care products and services. He was previously with Westpoint Farm Vets.

Peter McCarthy has been appointed practice leader commercial and strategy. McCarthy was previously with the Henry Schein Global Animal Health Group.

 

TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY, Lubbock, Texas — Britt Conklin has joined the university as associate dean for clinical programs with the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo, Texas. Conklin will foster relationships with veterinary practices across Texas and will help enable clinical education and research opportunities for veterinary students. He was previously with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health.

 

TOPIGS NORSVIN, Helvoirt, Netherlands — Villaume Kal has been appointed chief executive officer, effective March 16. Kal was previously with NIZO.

 

VERISEM GROUP B.V., Amsterdam, Netherlands — Ibrahim El Menschawi has been appointed chief executive officer, effective Feb. 1, 2020. El Menschawi was previously with Bayer Crop Science.

 

ZINPRO CORP., Eden Prairie, Minn. — Matt Douglas has been promoted to regional business enterprise leader — North America. Douglas will be responsible for leading the U.S. and Canada sales and the North American regional marketing teams to drive success and sales growth across North America. He was most recently central district sales manager for North America.

Takeyuki Harada has joined the company as marketing and sales support specialist in Japan. Harada will provide customers in Japan with technical support for animal nutrition products and business solutions offerings for improved animal wellness and performance.

Eric Pi has been promoted to regional business enterprise manager—China. Pi will be responsible for leading and managing territory sales managers to increase the company's market share in China and provide business and nutritional solutions to customers. He was most recently North China sales director.

Dr. Flore Suter has joined the company as senior regional marketing associate — Europe and South Africa. Suter will implement marketing strategies and communication plans that support sales across multiple markets in Europe and South Africa. She also will help develop business and animal nutrition communications aligned to meet customer needs and boost market share in the region.

Shuntaro Tsumaki has joined the company as sales manager in Japan. Tsumaki will provide customers in Japan with technical support for animal nutrition products and business solutions offerings for improved animal wellness and performance.

Testing feeds for mold helps manage mycotoxin concern

Shutterstock milling corn for cattle feed

For many farmers and ranchers, the weather has made it challenging to obtain animal feed.

Yuri Montanholi, North Dakota State University Extension beef cattle specialist, explained, “Whether dealing with drought and/or excessive moisture, both can impact livestock feed with the development of molds. Molds are generally in the agricultural environment all of the time. The problem occurs when molds invade developing plants or stored feeds and grow under stress, producing mycotoxins.”

Not all molds are bad, he said, noting that some are not toxin producers but are filamentous mold that can reduce the nutritional value of the feed. Also, mold spores in feeds that are agitated -- for example, when feeding hay -- can be irritating to the respiratory system.

The toxins usually are consumed in feed or possibly inhaled, causing harm. Often, the problem is long term, and cattle eat the affected feed before producers realize they have a problem, Montanholi said.

North Dakota State veterinary toxicologist Michelle Mostrom added that producers can’t judge a mold toxin problem by the color of the mold. Certain molds such as Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp. are green, while Alternaria spp. and Cladosporium spp. are black, and Fusarium spp., Diploidia spp. and some Penicillium spp. can be white.

However, Mostrom said mold growth does not always mean that toxins were produced. On the other hand, molds can grow and die and not be visually detected, yet they may have produced toxins that are in the feed.

Montanholi and Mostrom urged producers to be aware of feed conditions for livestock, particularly this winter. If molds are present in livestock feeds, the best approach is to discard the moldy portions of the feed and provide animals with what appears to be the normal portion -- although this may not completely avoid problems, because while the mold may be gone, the mycotoxins may remain in the feedstuff.

“As a veterinary toxicologist, I would say to be proactive and test a feedstuff that appears to be moldy for mycotoxins before feeding to animals, particularly pregnant animals,” Mostrom said.

“Try to collect a representative sample of the feed,” she added. “The best is to collect multiple samples of grain while transporting the feed from the field to bins or to a truck, or collect multiple samples of hay (e.g., probe) or silage during feeding.”

If the feed is positive for mycotoxins, certain animals may not be affected by that particular contamination level or may be capable of metabolizing the mycotoxin. Under some situations, the mycotoxin-contaminated feed can be diluted to a safe level in the final ration.

“This is a great opportunity for producers to minimize issues with mycotoxins while saving feed,” Montanholi said. “The exception is aflatoxin-contaminated feed, which is potentially carcinogenic.”

Different mold toxins can cause a variety of clinical signs in different species. An initial clinical sign of toxic feed can be feed refusal, poor weight gain and diarrhea. With continual mycotoxin exposure or exposure to high doses of toxins, damage can occur to the animal’s liver, kidneys, brain, fetus and other organs.

Mostrom said a producer cannot test for all mycotoxins and call a feed “safe.”

“Scientists have discovered that these molds can produce hundreds to thousands of mycotoxins, and we do not know how all of the toxins affect animals and do not have standards or tests for all toxins,” she noted. “Laboratories can test for the more common mycotoxins that are known to cause harm in animals and provide some guidance for feeding contaminated feeds. This is certainly a good start to minimize problems with mycotoxins.”

Many countries, including the U.S., have regulatory limits or advisory guidelines on contamination of mycotoxins in human and animal feeds. These mycotoxin limits in food/feed can vary significantly with susceptible species, the age of the animal and production status. The mycotoxin guidelines are available on the Food & Drug Administration website or by contacting a local veterinarian or veterinary diagnostic laboratory.

Consumers to spend $17b on Super Bowl LIV

National Chicken Council chicken wings FDS.jpg

This may be one of the strongest Super Bowls yet, with nearly 194 million adults saying they have plans for the big game, according to a 2020 Super Bowl survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. These days, though, the game is about more than just football: The survey revealed that those watching the event expect to spend an average of $88.65 on food and beverages, merchandise and party supplies, for total spending of $17.2 billion nationwide.

The National Chicken Council (NCC) also recently released its annual "Chicken Wing Report," which projects that Americans will consume a record-breaking 1.4 billion chicken wings during Super Bowl LIV weekend.

Americans’ love for wings only continues to grow. This year’s wing consumption estimate is a 2% increase over 2019, meaning Americans will eat 27 million more wings during this year’s big game weekend versus last year’s.

To get a better idea of just how much Americans love their chicken wings, NCC asked wing eaters from around the nation to say a little bit more about how they “wing it.” Roughly two-thirds of Americans (65%) who eat chicken wings claim that they like to do so while watching a major sporting event like the Super Bowl. Half (51%) say they believe chicken wings should be the official food of the Super Bowl.

“Football is great. Wings are great, but they’re even better together,” NCC spokesman Tom Super said. “Sure, you can have your chips, your guacamole, your pizza, but when it comes to Super Bowl menus, wings rule the roost. So, grab a wet nap, dive in and help put a dent in that 1.4 billion.”

Speaking of pizza, Domino’s, the largest pizza company in the world, said it sells approximately 2 million pizzas on Super Bowl Sunday, a 40% increase in pizza sales compared to an average Sunday. For reference, the company said its stores sell an average of 3 million pizzas a day globally.

Online marketplace Bid-on-Equipment analyzed Google searches across the country to determine the most popular type of Super Bowl food in every state. Here are the findings:

Bid-On-EquipmentSuper Bowl Food Map.png

African swine fever continues slow creep across EU

EFSA EFSA ASF pigs.jpg

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its latest annual update on the presence of African swine fever (ASF) in the European Union in which it notes a slow progression of the disease.

EFSA said during the period covered by the report — November 2018 to October 2019 — Czechia became officially ASF free, but the disease was confirmed as present in Slovakia, meaning that nine European Union member countries continue to be affected.

In 2019, the area of the EU affected by ASF expanded progressively, moving mainly in a southwestern direction, EFSA said.

According to the report, all phases of the epidemic are now represented in the EU: areas recently affected following either an isolated introduction or geographic expansion from affected areas; affected areas that are expanding; areas where ASF infection has been present for some time, including areas where ASF seems to be fading out, and non-affected areas.

The situation varies substantially among EU member states due to multiple influences, including the structure of domestic pig production (in particular, the proportion of backyard holdings), geographical conditions and the characteristics of the wild boar population, EFSA said.

Backyard (non-commercial) farms present particular challenges for an ASF eradication program, such as uncontrolled movements of pigs and people, poor biosecurity and the identification of holdings, the agency said.

For this year’s report, a case study was conducted in Romania to identify the particular factors that contribute to the spread of the disease in non-commercial holdings, EFSA noted.

The report also:

  • Describes seasonal fluctuations in the detection of ASF-positive samples since the disease was first detected in the EU;
  • Reviews the measures applied by affected member states for controlling the spread of ASF in wild boars;
  • Assesses the effectiveness of artificial or natural boundaries in controlling the spread, with a particular focus on the combination of control measures that have been applied in Belgium, and
  • Assesses measures for managing wild boar populations in different geographical areas of the EU, based on the latest science and epidemiological data.

The report, "Epidemiological Analyses of African Swine Fever in the European Union (November 2018 to October 2019)," is available on the EFSA website.

Dairy & specialty livestock markets, 1/31/2020

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Saskatchewan awards $7m to livestock research

University of Saskatchewan USask LFCE researchers.jpg
Masters student Caleb Eidsvik (left) and USask cattle nutrition researcher Greg Penner at the USask Livestock & Forage Centre of Excellence. Penner's research was among projects receiving funding.

Twenty University of Saskatchewan (USask) projects have been awarded nearly $7 million through a joint federal/provincial government funding program to advance cattle, swine and poultry research.

Investment from Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF), supplemented by contributions from industry partners, will help researchers improve health and safety for animals, reduce the environmental impact of livestock farming and provide promising researchers of tomorrow with invaluable experience, USask said in an announcement.

“This major funding commitment from our partners supports agricultural research essential to food security in Saskatchewan, Canada and the world,” Karen Chad, USask vice president, research, said. “This stellar livestock research helps increase agriculture value-added revenue, grow our agri-food exports and address climate change while training tomorrow’s skilled workers in this sector.”

The funding includes a $3.2 million investment in the USask Livestock & Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE) for the center's management and operations. Seven of the 20 USask research projects awarded ADF funding will be conducted all or in part at the LFCE, which has a mandate to improve the sustainability of the livestock and forage industries through research and education in five key areas: soil, forage and crop systems, cow management, feedlot operations and alternative livestock, including bison, USask said.

Projects announced Jan. 29 involving USask animal health research include:

  • Developing a universal vaccine for influenza A in swine. Influenza A virus in swine is highly contagious and has the potential to cause significant economic loss and to “jump” to humans. USask molecular biologist Yan Zhou at the Vaccine & Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) will improve an existing vaccine so it can provide broad protection against all dominant strains of the virus in swine, increase production and reduce costs, helping farmers across Saskatchewan and throughout North America.
  • Tracking antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli in chickens. Infections in chickens caused by E. coli can kill up to 20% of a flock and are the leading cause of economic loss in the industry in Canada. Using whole-genome sequencing, USask microbiologist and VIDO-InterVac scientist Aaron White will lead a research team to track and predict virulence and antimicrobial resistance in different strains of E. coli to better understand the cause of the infections. VIDO-InterVac scientist Jo-Anne Dillon and veterinary microbiologist Dr. Joe Rubin are part of the team.
  • Testing for Salmonella dublin in dairy herds. S. dublin, a commonly multiple-drug-resistant variety of salmonella bacteria, poses significant risks to cattle health and is increasingly prevalent in western Canadian dairy operations. While infections in people are rare and associated with consuming unpasteurized milk products and undercooked meat, the symptoms can be severe: S. dublin causes more frequent and longer hospital stays than other strains do. USask cattle researchers Dr. Christopher Luby and Dr. Kamal Gabadage are aiming to improve existing testing methods to increase accuracy in identifying which cows carry the bacteria.

Examples of livestock research projects with potential to reduce environmental impact include:

  • Using pea starch for swine feed. Increased global demand for pea protein has led to a surplus of pea starch that's leftover from the extraction process. USask researcher Rex Newkirk, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture endowed research chair in feed processing technology, will determine safe levels of the starch to include in pig feed to increase efficiency and help producers.
  • Hybrid fall rye as a new forage source for beef cattle. Hybrid fall rye, a new variety developed in Germany, is a hardy winter crop with the potential to dramatically increase yields, protect the environment, increase resistance to disease and improve farmers’ bottom lines. USask cattle researcher Greg Penner will study the rye for suitability to feed cattle and inform producers of the results.
  • Strategies to address mineral nutrition in the face of poor-water quality. Sulfate-contaminated water is a major potential problem for livestock in Saskatchewan, causing nutrient deficiency and reproductive problems in cows. Penner has also been awarded an ADF grant to test whether supplementing cattle with the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol or other dietary additives may be a solution.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cattle feedlots. USask engineering professor Terry Fonstad will determine the most environmentally friendly, efficient way to store, transport and fertilize soil with cattle manure, examining the economics and total environmental footprint of various practices. Fonstad will also measure greenhouse gases in a closed cattle barn in order to compare different strategies.

Read a backgrounder from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture with details on all the livestock projects, including those at other institutions.

Stringent food safety standards require innovative solutions

At the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga., we caught up with Dr. Jack McReynolds, director of research and development at Arm & Hammer Animal & Food Production to talk food safety at the processor and live production levels. Dr. McReynolds leads an innovative systems approach to help meat packers and processors develop practical solutions that consistently meet stringent food safety standards. He also is co-founder and chief scientific officer for Passport Food Safety Solutions, which was acquired by Arm & Hammer in 2018.