Feedstuffs is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Feed mill biosecurity key to disease prevention

Starflamedia/iStock/iStock mill_Starflamedia_iStock_iStock-519547671.jpg

The basic goal of a biosecurity program is to "make sure to keep pathogens away from a flock (or any group of animals) and, if a pathogen enters, to keep it from spreading," according to Dr. Bill Stanley, director of global health monitoring for Aviagen.

Stanley opened the American Feed Industry Assn.'s session on "Biosecurity in the Face of Foreign Animal Disease -- What the Feed Industry Needs to Know" at the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga.

He said biosecurity is something everyone needs to be thinking about with the goal of disease prevention, especially with current outbreaks of avian influenza and African swine fever.

"Don't wait for a disease" outbreak to happen before taking action, Stanley said.

Dr. Cassie Jones, associate professor at Kansas State University, spoke on specifics of swine feed mill biosecurity and noted that "feed is only one of many vectors" for disease transmission, but the dynamics may shift because of the structure of the feed industry -- e.g., a single feed truck could contaminate several farms with a novel virus.

Jones said the goal is to keep pathogens out of the feed mill, noting that in the U.S., swine producers have done a good job with on-farm biosecurity, but the feed mill is one of the last gaps in the system. Cross-contamination, especially in the receiving areas, is a concern at mills.

Noting that there is no single silver bullet, she highlighted several hurdles feed mills need to overcome to improve facility biosecurity, such as excluding high-risk ingredients, extending biosecurity practices from farms to mills and practicing active mitigation.

For high-risk ingredients, Jones said it is important for feed mills to "know and trust" not only their ingredient suppliers but also their suppliers' suppliers. She suggested not using grains or oilseeds from regions with foreign animal disease and, when using other ingredient types, to take steps to ensure that they are at low risk for disease transmission.

"While the focus on prevention via ingredients is key, efforts must simultaneously address feed mill biosecurity," Jones said.

She said feed delivery continues to be a weak point in biosecurity protocols. At the mill, she said just sweeping floors may not be enough, and operators could add a sanitation step to floor cleaning.

Jones also recommended not using dust from milling operations as an ingredient in feed as well as separating dust collection systems from grain handling systems. She said collected dust is often returned to corn hoppers to reduce shrink, but dust has been shown to contain high pathogen loads.

It is also important to create and maintain lines of separation at a feed mill so "outside" materials such as trucks, clothing and shoes are kept physically separate from "inside" operations.

Dean Foods, DFA sale discussions ongoing

Dean Foods, DFA sale discussions ongoing

Dairy Farmers of America Inc. (DFA) this week said discussions continue with Dean Foods regarding the potential purchase of certain assets. After reports surfaced this week, DFA also confirmed that it has had interactions with the U.S. Department of Justice and other appropriate partners.

“When the largest processor of raw milk in the world files for bankruptcy, we have an obligation to do what we can to secure those markets and work to minimize disruption to our members and farmers,” DFA executive vice president and chief of staff Monica Massey said in a statement. “As such, we have a keen interest in as many of Dean's plants continuing to operate as possible.”

If an agreement is reached with Dean for all or part of its assets, Massey said the deal will be subject to various approvals, notably by the bankruptcy court and DOJ.

“If a deal is reached, we will fully cooperate with DOJ officials, as we have done with past transactions, she said.

Dean Foods told Feedstuffs that it is unable to provide further comment at this time.

Dean announced Nov. 12 that it and substantially all of its subsidiaries have initiated voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings in the Southern District of Texas. At the time, the company also announced that it was engaged in advanced discussions with DFA regarding a potential sale of substantially all of its assets.

Since then, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas entered a final order granting the company authority to access the full amount of its $850 million in debtor-in-possession financing. The court also granted all other relief sought, including providing final approvals for certain of the company's “First Day Motions” intended to support the business.

Milk production rises nearly 1% in December

Toa55/iStock/Thinkstock dairy cows being milked milking parlor milkers holstien
DOLLARS FOR DAIRY COMING: USDA announced $350 million as part of a broader $2 billion package under the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest “Milk Production” report showed that milk production in the 24 major milk-producing states during December totaled 17.4 billion lb., a 0.9% increase from December 2018. USDA also revised the November production number to 16.7 billion lb., up 0.9% from November 2018. The revision represented an increase of 4 million lb., or less than 0.1%, from the preliminary production estimate.

December 2019 milk production.png

Production per cow continues to rise, coming in at an average of 1,978 lb. for the 24 major states in December, 14 lb. above December 2018.

The number of milk cows also ticked higher, according to USDA figures. The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major states was 8.81 million head, 16,000 head more than December 2018 but unchanged from November 2019.

Fourth-quarter milk production climbed 0.8% year over year to 53.8 billion lb., the latest numbers showed. The average number of milking cows in the U.S. during the quarter was 9.34 million head, 18,000 head more than in the third quarter but 22,000 head less than the same period last year.

President signs USMCA at White House ceremony

USMCA White House signing.jpg

During a ceremony at the White House Wednesday morning for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which updates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), President Donald Trump said, “Today, we’re finally ending the NAFTA nightmare,” and called it a "momentous" and "historic" day for U.S. trade policy.

During his comments, Trump praised inclusion of specific agricultural provisions in USMCA that will improve market access for U.S. wheat, dairy, poultry and egg producers. He noted that dairy exports are anticipated to rise by $315 million and poultry exports by at least 50%, while egg exports to Canada could increase by 500%.

Canada and Mexico are the first- and second-largest export markets for U.S. food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion in 2018. These exports support more than 325,000 American jobs. All food and agricultural products that had zero tariffs under NAFTA will remain at zero tariffs under USMCA. The deal is expected to increase agricultural exports from the U.S. by $2 billion and result in an overall increase of $65 billion in gross domestic product.

National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) president David Herring attended the signing ceremony with seven other NPPC board members, including Dale Reicks from Iowa. In 2018, Canada and Mexico took more than 40% of the pork that was exported from the U.S., and a similar volume is expected in 2019. U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico support 16,000 U.S. jobs.

In a phone interview following the ceremony, Reicks said the deal “seals a long-term relationship” among the three countries. “We don’t want to have a dispute with our border people,” he said, explaining that the hog business was hurt significantly when Mexico enacted retaliatory tariffs in response to Trump's Section 232 actions. “It was not good,” Reicks recalled.

Bill Gordon, American Soybean Assn. president and grower from Worthington, Minn., joined leaders from agricultural groups attending the ceremony. “This final step by President Trump ensures soybean growers will maintain access to two of their top markets, and it will also support the poultry and dairy industries that are important to soy,” Gordon said.

Mexico is the number-two market for whole soybeans, meal and oil, and Canada is the number-four buyer of meal and number-seven buyer of oil for U.S. soybean farmers, making the trade agreement essential to sustaining the growth realized in those two countries during the course of NAFTA. Under NAFTA, U.S. soybean sales to Mexico quadrupled and to Canada doubled.

National Corn Growers Assn. president Kevin Ross attended the event with several state corn grower association presidents. Mexico and Canada are the U.S. corn industry’s largest, most reliable market; 21.4 million metric tons of corn and corn co-products, valued at $4.56 billion, were exported to Mexico and Canada in 2018.

“This agreement should serve as a template for opening the door to new market opportunities for U.S. corn,” Ross said in a statement following the event.

USMCA retains tariff-free access for U.S. wheat for longtime flour milling customers in Mexico -- a crucial step toward rebuilding trust in the U.S. as a reliable supplier in this important, neighboring market. In addition, USMCA makes important progress toward more open commerce for U.S. wheat farmers near the Canadian border by allowing U.S. varieties registered in Canada to receive reciprocal grading treatment.

“Wheat farmers and Mexico’s wheat buyers are very glad to see the cloud of uncertainty lifted from our trade relationship,” said U.S. Wheat Associates chairman and Paulding, Ohio, wheat farmer Doug Goyings. “Replacing NAFTA without harm to the wheat trade relationship was a priority for all of us. Mission accomplished.”

The American Feed Industry Assn. welcomed the signing, with president and chief executive officer Constance Cullman, saying, “We have advocated for a revised agreement that preserves our duty-free market access, addresses modern issues such as sanitary and phytosanitary issues and implements science-based regulations and regulatory cooperation and coherence. These issues are of vital importance to our members and paramount to maintaining and enhancing the trade relationship our industry has with its two largest trading partners. We look forward to Canada ratifying the agreement in the near future and stand ready to participate in its implementation.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) said the signing boosts optimism. “There is definitely increased optimism on farms and ranches across America, and we’re grateful for the advances, but we’re also realists eager to see results, especially for our dairy and wheat producers,” AFBF president Zippy Duvall said. “We know it will take time for the new deals to go into effect and translate into increased sales. We’re eager to get back into full swing supplying safe, high-quality food and agricultural products around the world.”

National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson noted, “Though USMCA is a big step forward, it should be a floor for future trade deals, not a ceiling; when negotiating with other trading partners, we encourage the Trump Administration and Congress to build on this momentum to establish fair trade agreements that protect rural jobs, ensure fair prices for farmers and restore sovereignty to the United States.”

Senate Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), who was praised by the President during the ceremony for his persistent efforts to advance the trade pact, said in a statement that the next step is for Canada to ratify USMCA. In comments made earlier this week, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland urged opposition parties to work together to pass legislation to implement USMCA as quickly as possible.

“I support Prime Minister Trudeau’s objective to ratify USMCA ‘as quickly as possible.’ Once Canada has ratified the agreement, the Trump Administration will work with Canada and Mexico to ensure all parties will be able to carry out their USMCA obligations so the agreement can enter into force,” Grassley said.

Mexico has already acted on USMCA, and Canada’s Parliament is expected to follow the U.S. and approve the deal in the coming weeks, with ratification by April. The deal is expected to take effect later this year after additional procedural steps. The agreement will take effect 90 days after all countries have approved it.

Danone North America, rePlant Capital partner to support farmers

Danone North America Danone North America logo

Danone North America, a leading food and beverage company, has announced a partnership with rePlant Capital, a financial services firm dedicated to reversing climate change. Over the next several years, rePlant will invest up to $20 million to support Danone North America's farmer partners with expenses related to converting to regenerative or organic farming practices.

These practices increase biodiversity, enhance ecosystems and enrich soil and are part of the broader commitments of the company and its partners to address climate change, the announcement said.

Danone North America works with partners across its value chain to support its farmers, lessen the impacts of its business on the environment and protect natural resources for the future. This partnership with rePlant is another example of such a commitment and demonstrates how the company thinks differently about the role of business by valuing social progress and sustainability alongside business growth, the announcement said.

Danone North America is pursuing new models of working with farmers to incentivize the adoption of new sustainable farm management practices — for example, by maintaining long-term contracts with dairies to help alleviate short-term market volatility, thus allowing them to consider new ways of farming. In 2018, the company committed to investing $6 million in soil health research over five years. By gaining a better understanding of the variables and nuances across growing regions, this research will enable Danone North America to better guide its farmer partners with regard to farm management and use of regenerative agriculture practices on their farms.

"As a company that is passionate about climate activism, we are pleased to be partnering with rePlant to support our farmers and bring new, innovative financial solutions to address climate change," Danone North America chief executive officer Mariano Lozano said. "Providing these loans mitigates the financial stress that transitioning to regenerative and organic farming practices places on our farmers and allows them to focus their energy on driving sustainable agriculture on their farms."

The first of these loans has been provided to Kansas-based McCarty Family Farms, a partner of Danone North America for almost 10 years and co-owner of MVP dairy LLC, which is the International Dairy Foods Assn.'s 2020 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year award winner.

McCarty Family Farms owners and fourth-generation dairy farmers Mike, Clay, David and Ken McCarty will use the loan to install moisture probes on cropland surrounding their dairy, where water access issues are a concern, to reduce the amount of water used on crops that provide forage for the dairy cows.

In addition to reducing water usage on their own farm, McCarty Family Farms is working with local feed partnerships as well as the local watershed authority to see how this program may be expanded to other farms in the region to improve water consumption and aquifer longevity within the Ogallala aquifer.

"Our livelihood depends on the health of our natural resources," said Ken McCarty of McCarty Family Farms and MVP Dairy. "We've always made caring for our land, air and water a top priority, so we are excited to receive the rePlant loan to help us continue to reduce water consumption on our farms and make a real impact in water conservation efforts in northwest Kansas."

As one of the first funds of its kind, rePlant brings together a range of impact investors and family foundations to tackle some of the greatest challenges created by climate change. At an event held at MVP Dairy — co-owned by the McCarty and VanTilburg families — in Celina, Ohio, earlier this month, the company's senior leaders gathered farmer partners and rePlant's investor network to discuss how these groups can further collaborate on funding opportunities that help farms during the transition period to regenerative or organic practice adoption.

"At rePlant, we are dedicated to investing integrated capital into food companies operating from soil to shelf in order to reverse the effects of climate change. When we look at the work Danone North America and its network of farmers are already doing in the area of regenerative agriculture, it is clear they share our commitment to improving soil health," said Robyn O'Brien, rePlant Capital co-founder, director of partnerships. "We are very excited to work together to make conversions to regenerative and organic farming practices more accessible for Danone North America's farmer partners and drive sustainability across American farms."

Danone North America has a portfolio of dairy and plant-based foods, with brands that include: Activia, DanActive, Danimals, Dannon, Good Plants, Horizon Organic, International Delight, Light + Fit, Oikos, Silk, So Delicious Dairy Free, STōK, Two Good, Vega, Wallaby Organic and YoCrunch. It has more than 6,000 employees and 13 production locations across the U.S.

RePlant Capital is a new financial services firm based in Boulder, Colo., and Oakland, Cal., that is focused on addressing the climate crisis with innovative financial products and services. The company empowers farmers to convert to regenerative, organic agricultural practices by supplying low-cost loans to finance the transition.

With more than $426 billion in U.S. farm debt and 900 million-plus farmable acres, rePlant is engaged with some of the world's largest consumer packaged goods companies to address supply chain challenges and soil health, water conservation and biodiversity concerns.

Source: Danone North America, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Texas adopts bovine viral diarrhea rule

Debibishop/iStock/Getty Images beef cattle cow-calf pair in grass

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) adopted a rule to mitigate the risk of uninfected cattle being exposed to bovine viral diarrhea virus persistently infected (BVDV-PI) cattle.

The rule was passed at the December commission meeting and will go into effect Feb. 2, 2020.

The newly adopted rule defines which cattle are classified as BVDV-PI and requires the seller of a BVDV-PI animal to disclose the status in writing to the buyer prior to or at the time of sale. The new rule also establishes a BVDV program review working group that will meet annually to evaluate and review the current rules.

Bovine viral diarrhea is an economically significant communicable disease of cattle that is endemic in most states. It is caused by BVDV, a pestivirus, and can affect cattle of all ages, the TAHC news release said.

The major reservoir responsible for the disease spreading geographically is the persistent infection syndrome (BVDV-PI) seen in calves. Persistent infection can occur in calves if a female is infected during the early stages of pregnancy. BVDV-PI animals shed the virus for life and expose pen mates and adjacent cattle to the virus, TAHC said.

BVDV can result in impacts to stocker and feedlot operations by causing immunosuppression and contributing to bovine respiratory disease complex, or “shipping fever.” This can lead to reduced feed conversion and weight gain and increases in days on feed, morbidity, treatment cost and mortality. For cow/calf and dairy operations, all of these effects may occur, along with decreased conception rates, abortions, weak calves and congenital defects, the TAHC explained.

The new rule will be published in the Texas Administrative Code under Title 4, Part 2, Chapter 44.

Learn more about BVDV at https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/ranching/understanding-bovine-viral-diarrhea-in-beef-herds.

Source: TAHC, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Chipotle launches accelerator to empower next generation of farmers

Chipotle Aluminaries Project Chipotle Aluminaries Project logo

Chipotle Mexican Grill announced the Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0, an accelerator program designed to support ventures from across the country that are advancing innovative solutions to empower the next generation of farmers.

The industry-leading program is sponsored by the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, in partnership with Uncharted, both nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. From now until March 11, 2020, farmer-focused companies may submit applications to join a new cohort of ventures that will receive eight months of customized support, including mentorship from industry leaders.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farm debt is projected to hit a record $416 billion, up almost 40% since 2012. Many small and midsize farmers committed to farming in an ethical and sustainable way need help to have a chance to succeed — both for the sake of the future of real nutritious food and the communities that rely on those farms, the announcement said.

Chipotle Aluminaries ProjectChipotle Aluminaries Project farmer holding pig

The Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0 is an accelerator program designed to support ventures from across the country that are advancing innovative solutions to empower the next generation of farmers.

In December, Chipotle announced that it was implementing a scalable solution to these challenges via three-year contracts through approved suppliers, seed grants and increased local sourcing. Over the last month, Chipotle has donated over $385,000 to the National Young Farmers Coalition to help farmers during this steep agricultural downturn.

"As an organization that prioritizes corporate citizenship, Chipotle acknowledges that no one individual or company can cultivate a better world on their own," Chipotle chief corporate reputation officer Laurie Schalow said. "American farming is at a crossroads, and we must work together to identify solutions to overcome its great challenges."

The Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0 is seeking applicants (both for-profits and nonprofits) that provide a solution to one of the top challenge areas faced by young farmers, including access to land, finance and labor. Solutions in agricultural technology, education and wellness — with a focus on the next generation of farmers — will also be considered. Companies interested in applying for project can find more information and apply at uncharted.org/program/chipotle-aluminaries-project-2.

The selected ventures will receive support and mentorship from industry leaders, including Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea; Ken Meyer, former global vice president of Whole Foods Market; Robyn O'Brien, co-founder of rePlant Capital, and Brian Irving, chief marketing officer of Eventbrite, as well as Chipotle executives, the announcement said.

The selected ventures will participate in a five-day, in-person summit hosted by Chipotle in Newport Beach, Cal., with direct access to mentors who will focus on key areas of scale, like strategy, leadership, finances and systems. Attendees will also receive individualized investor introductions throughout the program and Chipotle VIP cards.

In 2019, Chipotle selected eight growth-stage, food-focused ventures to participate in the inaugural program: AgVoice, American Ostrich Farms, Asarasi, GrubTubs, ImpactVision, Novolyze, Rex Animal Health and Sophie's Kitchen Plant-Based Seafood.

"The Aluminaries Project is the first accelerator program we've seen that emphasizes the accelerations of sustainable business practices," said Eugene Wang, founder of Sophie's Kitchen Plant-Based Seafood. "As mission-driven entrepreneurs, we believe this program helped us strengthen our value and stay true to our purpose."

Submissions for the Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0 become the property of Chipotle and will not be returned. Finalists will be selected by Uncharted in its discretion, the announcement said.

Chipotle Mexican Grill serves responsibly sourced, classically cooked food with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Chipotle has more than 2,500 restaurants in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France and Germany and has more than 80,000 employees.

The company established the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation in 2011 to extend its commitment to making real food accessible for all. Since its inception, the foundation has contributed more than $5 million to organizations committed to cultivating a better world through food.

Uncharted is a social impact accelerator that scales solutions to the most pressing problems of our time. Its programs connect problem solvers to the resources and support they need to scale their solutions using a multidisciplinary approach that mobilizes a diverse network of mentors, funders, partners and communities. To date, alumni of Uncharted have collectively raised $315 million, created impact in 96 countries and benefitted 55 million lives.

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Partnership brings safe drug disposal to rural communities

Partnership brings safe drug disposal to rural communities

Stericycle, the leading provider of compliance-based solutions, including award-winning solutions for safe medication disposal, and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), a nonprofit network focused on improving water quality for rural and small communities across the U.S., have partnered to pilot a program focused on improving water quality and combatting the opioid crisis in rural America.

In early 2020, RCAP will be distributing 10,000 of Stericycle’s Seal&Send medication mail-back envelopes to rural communities in multiple regions across the U.S. The envelopes can be used to safely and sustainably remove leftover medications from home medicine cabinets and the environment – allowing people to mail back their unused drugs for destruction and disposal by regulated medical waste incineration, thus removing potentially harmful pharmaceuticals from water systems and sources and landfills in these communities. 

“The strength of our network is relationships with communities,” RCAP chief executive officer Nathan Ohle said. “We are founded on the belief that partnerships make our work and impact better, and this is the perfect example of finding innovative partnerships that benefit the communities we serve.”

This first-of-its kind pilot will include an innovative approach to reaching and connecting with rural communities on the issue of safe drug disposal. RCAP will be working with its six regional partners to distribute Stericycle’s Seal&Send envelopes -- along with educational information about safe drug disposal -- in water utility bills or other solid waste programs the agency is coordinating in these communities. RCAP regional partners are located in all 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This pilot is being launched to assess the viability of further expanding the program across the country.

“From leftover prescription drugs in the home fueling the opioid crisis to pharmaceutical contamination of water ways and drinking water, safe medication disposal is critical to protect people, the public and the planet,” Stericycle CEO Cindy Miller said. “We are proud to partner with and support the important work that RCAP is doing to protect rural communities from the negative impacts of improper medication management in the home.”

“Our mission at RCAP is to serve rural communities in addressing whatever issues they might face,” Ohle added. “Our work focuses on assisting communities in providing safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater services, and we know the harmful effects that prescription drugs can have on water sources and systems. This innovative approach is a small way to combat a powerful issue confronting communities across the country, and by partnering with Stericycle through their Seal&Send solution, we can help communities protect water systems and sources while also preventing opioid abuse in the home.”

If the pilot is successful, RCAP will be working with grant funders and regional partners to expand this water protection program to all 50 states across the U.S.

Nutreco invests in Kingfish Zeeland

Shutterstock shutterstock_91269113.jpg

Nutreco announced Jan. 28 that it has invested in Netherlands-based company Kingfish Zeeland, which aims to bring supplies of yellowtail kingfish to U.S. and European markets through a proprietary recirculating aquaculture system (RAS).

Nutreco said the investment underlines its ongoing commitment to "Feeding the Future" -- the company’s mission to contribute to producing enough nutritious and high-quality food for a growing population in a sustainable way.

Yellowtail kingfish is a premium fish species, traditionally used in Japanese and Italian cuisine. In the U.S. and Europe, supplies of the species are constrained with negligible local production, Nutreco said. Established in 2015, Kingfish Zeeland offers locally produced, ultra-fresh, certified yellowtail kingfish raised through RAS.

“Nutreco’s ambition is to continue to invest and partner with leaders in sustainable protein production around the globe,” Nutreco chief executive officer Rob Koremans said. “This investment fits well with our strategy to play a leading role in the development of sustainable solutions to fulfil our mission. Over the past few years, it has become clear that the growing demand for seafood calls for development of alternative farming models such as RAS to complement the existing aquaculture methods.”

Nutreco chief innovation officer Viggo Halseth added, “Kingfish Zeeland has successfully gained a first-mover position in the premium RAS farming sector, producing high-value yellowtail kingfish in a sustainable way. We believe that full-cycle RAS is a very relevant way of fish farming, which builds on the existing knowledge of on-land farming. Kingfish Zeeland is the kind of innovative and technologically knowledgeable partner we want to be working with.”

Doubling production

This strategic funding round will enable Kingfish Zeeland to double its current production capacity of 500 metric tons per year as well as prepare for its next steps toward large-scale production across both the U.S. and Europe. Nutreco is taking part in this investment round together with several other investors (including France-based Creadev and Netherlands-based Rabobank Corporate Investments).

In addition to the investment made in Kingfish Zeeland, the companies will also cooperate on further development of best-in-class RAS feeds.

Therese Log Bergjord, chief operating officer of Nutreco and CEO of Skretting, Nutreco’s aquaculture division, said, “Skretting is a world leading partner for RAS producers. Kingfish Zeeland’s knowledge of farming yellowtail kingfish in RAS, coupled with our expertise on high-quality RAS feeds, will help further integrate farming and feed solutions towards optimal fish performance and will help further develop this highly sustainable form of aquaculture.”

Kingfish Zeeland CEO Ohad Maiman added, “As we enter the scale-up phase of our mission to advance a first-mover position in the sustainable production of premium seafood, we see strong alignment with Nutreco’s mission and values, and are grateful for their strong support and vote of confidence. This partnership will help Kingfish Zeeland accelerate large-scale production of yellowtail through RAS across the U.S. and European markets and is a critical milestone in our development.”

Skretting is currently delivering juvenile feed to Kingfish Zeeland operations, and the companies will be working toward broader cooperation on the feed moving forward.

Nutreco is a global leader in animal nutrition and aquaculture feed. Nutreco employs more than 12,000 people in 37 countries and had net sales of 6.4 billion euros in 2018. Its two global company brands Skretting (aquaculture feed) and Trouw Nutrition (animal nutrition) have sales in more than 90 countries. Nutreco is a wholly owned subsidiary of SHV Holdings N.V.

Based in the Dutch province of Zeeland, Kingfish Zeeland taps into the pristine marine estuary water of the Eastern Scheldt, a Natura 2000 nature reserve, to deliver a healthy, antibiotic-free premium delicacy: the Dutch yellowtail (Seriola Lalandi / Pacific yellowtail / Hiramasa -- often used interchangeably with close cousin Hamachi).

Cow DNA offers clues to longer life

SRUC SRUC cow DNA age.jpg
The telemere study was done using data from SRUC’s famous Langhill dairy herd in Dumfries, Scotland.

Researchers with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) has determined that the telomeres — which protect the end of chromosomes — of cows deteriorate most in the weeks and months after birth, indicating how long an animal may live and how healthy it may be.

The research also looked at how factors such as illness and stress can affect a telomere, and the results can help inform human geneticists looking at human life expectancy.

SRUC professor Mike Coffey and his team studied the lives of 700 cows from the Langhill herd of cows housed at Crichton Royal Farm in Dumfries, Scotland, taking more than 2,000 blood samples.

“The data we have collected is the biggest in the world on repeat measure of telomere length on the same animal over time, so it is very valuable. We can inform the human geneticists,” Coffey said.

According to SRUC, the study of telomere deterioration is helping scientists prolong life. Telomeres reduce every time a cell divides because the repair mechanism that puts the DNA strands back together is not 100% effective, meaning a little bit is lost each time.

Professor Melissa Bateson from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University added, “I think the animal work is really important for helping us make sense of what is going on.”

She said the animal research is important because it can also include experiments, unlike human research into telomeres.

“If you show that stress is causal in shortening telomeres in animals, it gives more credence to the idea that something similar may be going on in humans," Bateson said.

“There is a certain amount of evidence to show that humans and animals that have shorter telomeres have shorter healthy life expectancy. It is telling you something over and above your chronological age," she added. “If we think that telomeres are a measure of biological age, ... it can contribute to our understanding of what kind of lifestyle factors are going to make you live a long, healthy life and which ones might be going to make you die young.”

Coffey said he will use the research to find ways of producing better dairy and beef cattle.

“We found that most of the loss of telomere length takes place early in the animal’s life. Cells divide rapidly early in life, so the argument is that animals who are born with longer telomeres have a greater chance of survival before the shorter telomeres limit their lives,” Coffey said.

The easy-to-obtain biological marker can be used for selection in animals — i.e., longer telomeres mean the animals live longer and, thus, would be better for dairy or breeding, while those with shorter telomeres would be better used for fattening up for beef. Tests can also look at the lengths of telomeres in the offspring of specific bulls to decide which ones are best for breeding.

“That would provide information for a farmer to make an appropriate decision early on in the animal’s life,” Coffey said.

"The Genetic Architecture of Bovine Telomere Length in Early Life & Association with Animal Fitness” appeared in Frontiers in Genetics.