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Articles from 2014 In March


BioResource International launches of Xylamax

BioResource International Inc. (BRI) announced the launch of Xylamax, its latest high-performance enzyme created to help producers economically deliver more meat in a safe and sustainable way.

Xylamax is an intrinsically thermo-stable 1,4-beta-xylanase enzyme that delivers consistently high levels of energy release and improved digestibility in animal feed, BRI said.

"Xylamax is BRI's newest offering in a line of high performance enzymes for the animal agriculture industry," said BRI chief executive officer Giles Shih. "Consistent with our mission to develop innovative solutions to help producers feed the world, we designed Xylamax to be effective in the wide range of feed qualities and production conditions that exist around the world."

Xylamax breaks down non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) in grain cell walls, activating the release of valuable nutrients for digestion by the animal's natural enzymes, BRI explained. Xylamax also reduces the viscosity of intestinal contents by more than 50%, which accelerates nutrient digestion. These combined actions optimize energy availability to the animal, resulting in improved growth and gut health, according to the announcement.

To assist producers with in-field use of Xylamax, BRI has also developed XylaQuick, a qualitative in-feed colorimetric kit that allows easy, fast on-site testing of the Xylamax enzyme activity within feed. XylaQuick is available exclusively with the purchase of Xylamax.

BRI's products are available through global and regional animal feed distributors. For specifics please contact BRI at sales@BRIworldwide.com

U.S. farmers to plant record-high soybean acreage

Producers surveyed across the United States intend to plant an estimated 81.5 million acres of soybeans in 2014, up 6% from last year and an all-time record high, according to the Prospective Plantings report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). If planting goes well, soybeans will surpass the previous record of 77.5 million acres planted in the United States set in 2009. The surveys also revealed corn growers intend to plant 91.7 million acres in 2014, down 4% from last year, the lowest planted acreage since 2010.

The Prospective Plantings report provides the first official, survey based estimates of U.S. farmers’ 2014 planting intentions. NASS’s acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of more than 84,000 farm operators across the United States. Other key findings in the report are:

  • All wheat planted area for 2014 is estimated at 55.8 million acres, down 1% from 2013.
  • Winter wheat planted area, at 42.0 million, is down 3% from last year but up slightly from the previous estimate.
  • Area planted to spring wheat for 2014 is expected to total 12.0 million acres, up 4% from 2013.
  • Durum wheat is expected to total 1.80 million acres for 2014, up 22% from last year.
  • All cotton planted area for 2014 is expected to total 11.1 million acres, 7% above last year.

NASS today also released the quarterly Grain Stocks report to provide estimates of on-farm and off-farm stocks as of March 1. Key findings in that report include:

  • Soybeans stored totaled 992 million bushels, down 1% from March 1, 2013. On-farm soybean stocks were down 16% from a year ago, while off-farm stocks were up 13%.
  • Corn stocks totaled 7.01 billion bushels, up 30% from the same time last year. On-farm corn stocks were up 45% from a year ago, and off-farm stocks were up 15%.
  • All wheat stored totaled 1.06 billion bushels, down 15% from a year ago. On-farm all wheat stocks were up slightly from last year, while off-farm stocks were down 18%.
  • Durum wheat stored totaled 38.1 million bushels, down 10% from March 1, 2013. Both on-farm and off-farm stocks of Durum wheat were down from the previous year, 3% and 17%, respectively.

The Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks reports and all NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov.

AB Vista estimates global feed enzyme market now $1b

According to recent analysis carried out by AB Vista, the global market for non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) and protease enzymes is considerably larger than previously recognized, at around $550 million, and even larger than the $450 million phytase market.

Overall market penetration of NSP enzymes has increased markedly over the last few years, and is now estimated at around 57% of global monogastric feed.

"There has clearly been a lot of growth in NSP enzyme use in the last five years, particularly in the typically corn-soya diets of the Americas," said AB Vista managing director Richard Cooper. "Increasing numbers of swine and poultry producers are now taking advantage of the performance and financial gains available from NSP enzymes."

The AB Vista NSP analysis used data from the 500 largest global users of feed enzymes across 33 countries to reveal key trends within the NSP enzyme market. Compared to the phytase sector, the NSP market has a far greater number of suppliers and products — more than 30 brands — and is also more reliant on relatively mature products. Eight of the top 10 products have been on sale for more than 15 years.

Xylanase continues to be the most important NSP enzyme, and is generally regarded as having the most supporting evidence. Xylanase-based products account for nine of the top 10 NSP enzyme products, with five of those being single xylanase products.

Prince Agri Products opens new Animate production plant

Prince Agri Products Inc. announced March 31 that it has opened a new manufacturing facility to expand production of its unique, patented anionic nutritional specialty product, Animate, which is designed to reduce the incidence of low blood calcium in transition cows.

Prince Agri Products president Dean Warras said the new 12,000 sq. ft. facility, located at the company's headquarters in Quincy, Ill., will support a five-fold increase in Animate production to meet current and anticipated future demand by dairy operators in North America.

"The opening of our new Animate production facility not only reflects the improved performance that dairy producers have experienced by feeding Animate, but also Prince's continuing commitment to the dairy industry," Warras said. "Fresh cow health is one of the most important factors contributing to overall dairy success and profitability."

During the transition period, dairy cows can experience a significant drop in blood calcium concentrations, resulting in milk fever, or slightly below normal blood calcium concentrations, which is classified as subclinical hypocalcemia. Either of these conditions can have a negative impact on herd health and milk production.

Animate has been shown to help maintain normal blood calcium concentrations in pre- and postpartum dairy cows.

Feed groups finalize FSMA animal rule comments

Monday marked the close of the comment period for the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) rule on the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventative Controls for Food for Animals.

The American Feed Industry Assn. said in its comments that it strongly supported development and passage of FSMA, supports and provides comments to FDA, and belongs to the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance’s Feed Steering Committee.

The National Grain and Feed Assn. added “the agency’s proposal would add unnecessary requirements that cause industry to direct scarce resources towards complying with regulatory obligations that will not serve to benefit the safety of animal feed and pet food.”

The over 100-page document from the National Grain and Feed Assn. and nearly 100-page comments from AFIA highlights some of their key concerns.

A major tenant of both comments focused on how FDA’s CGMPs requirements for animal feed and pet food should differ significantly from those established for human food.

“AFIA is concerned that FDA has failed to clearly delineate the human food rules from the animal food rules as Congress intended. Both the intent and sometimes the language used in the statute require a separation of the rules,” their comments said. “FDA has created separate rules physically, but they are both philosophically driven by a human food approach, using language such as ‘sanitary’ and ‘hand-washing’ and ‘utensils.’”

The NGFA opposes the repeated use of the term “contamination” throughout the proposed regulation. Their comments said as FDA is aware, the term “contamination” is not defined and has no legal meaning.  “We strongly believe that FDA’s regulation cannot rightfully focus on avoiding and preventing ‘contamination,’ when that term has no defined meaning in a regulatory context. As such, we urge FDA to replace the term ‘contamination’ throughout its proposed regulation with the term ‘adulteration.’”

Many of the provisions look similar to HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points), but this is not supposed to be a HACCP law, which the groups also clarified.

“While the NGFA supports the use of prudent, appropriate and risk-based practices to assure the safety of animal feed and pet food, we strongly believe that FDA’s proposed preventive controls regulation clearly is not aligned with the intent of Congress when the agency was provided authority under FSMA to promulgate hazard analysis and preventive controls requirements,” their comments said. “Clearly, the statutory language within FSMA does not mandate that covered animal feed and pet food facilities implement regulatory HACCP plans.  Had Congress intended to provide FDA the authority to promulgate formal HACCP regulations through FSMA, it plainly could have done so within the statutory language it crafted.”

AFIA also said it is concerned about the reference regarding employee’s illnesses beingtransmitted to animals via handling of the animal food by such employees. Their comments cited Dr. Tim Goldsmith, Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, University of Minnesota, who determined that the scientific literature has not documented such transmission, and it is unlikely.

Another similarity between the comments is a request to adjust compliance dates to phase in CGMP’s first and then the preventative control rules. The two groups urged FDA to adopt one year for businesses other than small and very small businesses; 2) two years for small businesses; and 3) three years for very small businesses, respectively for CGMPs and two, three and four-year, respectively for the preventive controls.

U.S. hog and pigs inventory lowest since 2007

U.S. hog and pigs inventory lowest since 2007

As of March 1, there were 62.9 million head of hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, the lowest inventory since 2007, according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report published today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Other key findings in the report were:

  • Of the 62.9 million head of hogs and pigs, 57.0 million were market hogs, while 5.85 million were slated for breeding.
  • Between December 2013 and February 2014, 27.3 million pigs were born on U.S. farms, down 3 percent from the same time period in 2013.
  • U.S. hog producers intend to have 2.88 million sows farrow between March and May 2014, and 2.96 million sows farrow between June and August 2014.
  • On average, 9.53 pigs were born per litter from December 2013 through February 2014.
  • With 19.8 million head, Iowa hog producers had the largest inventory among the states. North Carolina and Minnesota had the second and third largest inventories with 8 million and 7.8 million head respectively.
  • While the national hogs and pigs inventory decreased since March 2013, growers in South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska increased the number of hogs and pigs in their states.

Market Notes:  Pre-report projections were conservatively estimated at average 5.5% lower for total hog herd from last year. The USDA report was 3.3% less than 2013 as of March 1.  Therefore the report is viewed bearish for the hog market and friendly for the corn markets.

Many market analysts concluded the report is unrealistically portraying the PEDV impact on future pork supplies.

Steve Meyer and Len Steiner, authors of Daily Livestock Report said, “depending on how individual producers filled out the USDA survey, the extent of the death losses may not be completely reflected in pig numbers.”

Europe examines eco-friendly pig, poultry industries

Europe examines eco-friendly pig, poultry industries

SLOWING the rate of climate change and improving energy use efficiency while also feeding the growing global population are key targets for the livestock sector, policy-makers and scientists alike.

Through a better understanding of the interactions among animal genetics, gut characteristics and the attributes of feed, a major European Union-funded initiative aims to develop strategies to improve feed conversion efficiency (FCE) in pigs and broiler chickens while also reducing their ecological footprint. Although there is plenty of existing research on these issues, it could be argued that much is currently underutilized.

The ECO-FCE project, funded by the EU's Seventh Framework Program and launched in Belfast, Ireland, in February 2013, is compiling this information into one easy-to-use warehouse. This will be available for use by the pig and poultry industries to predict the effect of management and feeding practices on FCE and environmental pollutants.

Using cutting-edge technologies known as "-omics," ECO-FCE will also identify characteristics of the gut structure and microbiome that promote "good" and "poor" FCE in pigs and broiler chickens. Using this knowledge, the gut will then be manipulated to promote a good gut microbiome in compromised animals.

Industry tools that will be developed include the ECO-FCE hub (developed from the ECO-FCE warehouse) that will allow end users to extract information specific to their personal query, an ecological calculator and genomic models.

At the same time, the impact of FCE on product quality and animal health and welfare is being monitored.

As Austria-based project member Doris Wibmer-Falch pointed out, the pig and broiler chicken industries are key contributors to the European economy, and one of the main ways in which sustainability can be achieved is through improving FCE.

"ECO-FCE will substantially advance animal nutrition and feed science in both pigs and broiler chickens," she said. "Precision feeding of pigs and nutrient restriction of broilers will be key areas of the research. In addition, the efficacy of feed additives in improving FCE and reducing the ecological footprint will be assessed."

The 6 million-euro project will last 48 months, until 2016, and is being coordinated by Queen's University Belfast, with various partners including the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute in the U.K., the Teagasc Agriculture & Food Development Authority in Ireland and the University of Technology & Life Sciences in Poland.

A special network has been established that will allow interested parties to become more involved in the project. Members will receive regular updates on the progress of the project and its findings and will also be able to direct suggestions, comments and ideas to the ECO-FCE experts.

Volume:86 Issue:13

Demand for educated agriculturalists soars

Demand for educated agriculturalists soars

ON National Agriculture Day March 25 — a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance agriculture provides — John Floros, dean of the Kansas State University College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research & Extension, said modern agriculture is not what it used to be.

"Today, only about 1% of the population works at the farm or the ranch to really produce the food that the rest of us consume," Floros said.

Not only are there fewer farmers and ranchers today, but resources are also dwindling at a time when the world population is growing by billions.

Floros said the industry has become very science, technology and business driven. Today's graduates majoring in an agriculture-related field use a combination of physics, chemistry, biology and engineering.

"The way the agricultural system and the food system work today requires a lot of science and technology," Floros said. "It requires a lot of knowledge in order to be able to deal with all the uncertainty and all the risk that a farmer or a rancher has to deal with today."

For example, according to Floros, most of Kansas State's agricultural students come from urban backgrounds and have no knowledge of farming. The demand is so high for these educated agriculturalists that almost 100% of the college's graduates land jobs before or once they graduate.

 

More needed

A study released by the Coalition for a Sustainable Agriculture Workforce (CSAW) found that too few scientists are being trained in agricultural areas of science.

This challenge is all the more critical due to the need to double the current global food supply to meet the needs of a growing population over the next few decades. The agriculture field is also constrained by limited water and arable land availability, climate variation and reduced budgets for research.

The study found that life science and agricultural industry companies anticipate increasing the number of trained scientists they hire over the next several years, but there is growing concern that they will not be able to find suitable candidates for the jobs available, according to the announcement.

The research shows that companies expect to hire more than 1,000 scientist-level employees through 2015, representing 13% of their current agricultural scientist workforce. The largest number of scientists, 84% of the total, are needed in the disciplines of plant sciences, plant breeding/genetics and plant protection. Nearly half of those hired will need doctoral degrees.

Specifically, the CSAW survey aggregated responses from the top six life science companies, including Bayer Crop Science, Dow Agro Sciences, DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred, DuPont Crop Protection, Monsanto and Syngenta, which represent 97% of the U.S. private sector's scientific workforce in biotechnology, crop protection and seeds.

A summary report as well as the full census are available from CSAW through www.sustainable-ag-workforce.org.

CSAW is a novel partnership of professional scientific societies and agricultural industry leaders formed to promote the education and training of future generations of the agricultural workforce.

Volume:86 Issue:13

Controversy continues over GM corn traits

Controversy continues over GM corn traits

LAST week, China's Tianjin municipality rejected another corn shipment from the U.S. after finding traces of the genetically modified (GM) trait MIR162, which is not approved by the country's agriculture ministry.

According to Xinhua News, the 21,800-ton shipment from the U.S. was to be used as animal feed.

The first traces of the trait were found in October in Shenzhen in China's Guangdong province, but this was the first case in Tianjin.

Syngenta's Agrisure Viptera, which has been on the market since 2011, contains the MIR162 trait, but Syngenta recently sparked controversy with the release of Agrisure Duracade, a new GM variety for 2014.

National grain companies and industry groups asked the company to stop sales of the product, saying it could create serious trade disruptions if traces of the trait continued to be found.

Syngenta instead announced a joint marketing program with Gavilon Grain for producers using the new variety (Feedstuffs, March 3).

In the latest development, Syngenta recently sent a letter to the National Grain & Feed Assn. (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Assn. to address their concerns.

In the letter, Syngenta explained that advancements in biotechnology have allowed U.S. corn growers to remain globally competitive and that the new Agrisure Duracade variety is particularly in high demand because of its "unrivaled control of corn rootworm."

"We fully recognize that the global trade in corn has been challenged by inconsistent timing mechanisms for approval of new traits, notably in countries which have recently emerged as importers of U.S. corn," the letter said in reference to China's slow progress in accepting the GM traits.

Syngenta estimated that between 250,000 and 300,000 acres of Duracade could be planted in what it has termed a "launch zone" that encompasses all or portions of 19 states in the eastern and western Corn Belt, with the launch zone boundaries representing either state lines or highways.

NGFA said Syngenta's response raises questions about how rigid those boundaries will actually be since, according to the letter, Syngenta is merely "encouraging" licensees, resellers and farmers to sell and plant Agrisure Duracade in only this region.

NGFA also expressed concern that the letter clearly placed legal responsibility on producers and grain handlers for stewarding Duracade to domestic users and export markets that have approved the trait for food, feed and further processing.

Specifically, the letter states: "The grower remains responsible for planting, harvesting and stewardship of seed and grain, just as members of the grain handling industry purchasing grain and reselling it remain solely liable for any risks or liabilities arising from their commercial activity."

The Agrisure Duracade trait has been approved for cultivation in the U.S. and Canada — although Syngenta recently stopped commercial sales in Canada — and has received import approvals from Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.

Syngenta has submitted and still is working to obtain import approvals for Agrisure Duracade in China, all 28 states of the European Union and, according to the letter, a "number of other markets, such as Colombia, the Philippines, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Switzerland."

Volume:86 Issue:13

Avian flu takes North Atlantic route

Avian flu takes North Atlantic route

THE North Atlantic region has been discovered to be an important pathway for avian influenza to move between Europe and North America, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report.

USGS scientists and their partners in Iceland found avian flu viruses from North America and Europe in migratory birds in Iceland, demonstrating that the North Atlantic is as significant as the North Pacific in being a melting pot for birds and, therefore, avian flu.

A great number of wild birds from Europe and North America congregate and mix in Iceland's wetlands during migration, where infected birds could transmit avian flu viruses to healthy birds from either location, USGS said.

By crossing the Atlantic Ocean this way, avian flu viruses from Europe could eventually be transported to the U.S., and this commingling could also lead to the evolution of new influenza viruses, USGS said. These findings are critical for proper surveillance and monitoring of flu viruses, including the H5N1 avian influenza strain that can infect people.

"None of the avian flu viruses found in our study are considered harmful to humans," said Robert Dusek, USGS scientist and lead author on the study. "However, the results suggest that Iceland is an important location for the study of avian flu and is worthy of special attention and monitoring."

The study also highlighted the new finding that gulls play an important role in moving avian flu viruses across the North Atlantic.

During the spring and autumn of 2010 and autumn of 2011, the USGS and Icelandic researchers collected avian influenza viruses from gulls and waterfowl in southwestern and western Iceland (Map). By studying the genomes of the viruses, the researchers found that some viruses came from Eurasia and some originated in North America. They also found viruses with mixed American-Eurasian lineages.

"For the first time, avian influenza viruses from both Eurasia and North America were documented at the same location and time," said Jeffrey Hall, USGS co-author and principal investigator on this study. "Viruses are continually evolving, and this mixing of viral strains sets the stage for new types of avian flu to develop."

The partners on the new study include the Southwest Iceland Nature Research Institute, the University of Iceland's Snaefellsnes Research Centre, the University of Minnesota and the J. Craig Venter Institute.

This study was funded by USGS and the National Institute of Health's Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research & Surveillance.

Avian flu takes North Atlantic route

ATLANTIC FLYWAYS: Arrows show generalized movements of birds in particular flyways, with the red arrows showing general movements in the East Atlantic Flyway and the yellow arrows showing general movements in the North American Atlantic Flyway. The red dots show the locations of where birds were sampled in a recent U.S. Geological Survey study. Reykjavik, Iceland, is shown for reference. Source: U.S. Geological Survey.

Volume:86 Issue:13