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Articles from 2020 In March


ADM makes ambitious greenhouse gas plan

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Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) has announced an ambitious new plan to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 25% and its energy intensity by 15% by 2035.

“Every single day, ADM is focused on keeping its employees healthy and safe while simultaneously ensuring we are continuing to support the world’s food supply,” ADM chairman and chief executive officer Juan Luciano said. “At the same time, we believe it remains vitally important that we continue to plan for the future and remain good long-term stewards of our company and our planet. We know that the health of our natural resources is critical to our future. Consumers around the world know it as well, and they are making it clear that they expect their food and drink to come from sustainable ingredients, produced by companies that share their values. We care deeply about our partners, our customers, our employees, our shareholders and the planet, and that is why we are setting these ambitious emissions and energy goals for ourselves. Our future will be stronger for these goals.”

The new goals follow up on ADM’s original “15x20” plan, unveiled in 2011, in which the company committed to per-unit improvements in energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water and waste to landfill by 2020. After meeting those goals ahead of schedule, ADM engaged WSP Global, one of the world's leading engineering professional services firms, to conduct an in-depth feasibility study to help shape a new set of commitments to combat climate change. WSP’s study identified several pathways toward success, including:

  • Purchasing renewable electricity;
  • Increasing use of biomass fuels;
  • Making transportation fleet changes, and
  • Making equipment changes in some locations.

“Our new goals are ambitious yet achievable,” Luciano continued. “The greenhouse gas emissions we’ll save will be the equivalent of those from charging every single smartphone on the planet 250 times. This is going to have a real impact and is a key way in which we’re going to continue to give our customers an edge in meeting the market challenges of today and tomorrow.”

ADM’s new goals are only one element of a wide-ranging plan to pave the way on sustainability. In 2019, ADM’s board formed a new committee on sustainability and corporate responsibility, offering guidance, leadership and oversight at the highest level for its sustainability and corporate citizenship efforts. The company is increasingly using technology – such as satellite imagery – as it maps its supply chains. In December, ADM was shortlisted as a Sustainability Champion by the Food Ingredients Innovation awards for its work promoting and supporting sustainable agricultural practices among more than 12,000 smallholder farmers in Brazil and Paraguay.

Positive signs emerging for U.S. meat in Asian markets

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Since January, the coronavirus pandemic has created significant challenges for the food industry in Asia, with in-restaurant dining suspended in some countries for several weeks. But demand for pork and beef has proven resilient at the retail level, with supermarket sales remaining very strong and consumers greatly increasing their use of e-commerce platforms and delivery services. The restaurant sector still faces a long recovery, but U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) president and chief executive officer Dan Halstrom said it is showing strong signs of improvement, with more workers returning to a normal routine and restaurant traffic beginning to rebound.

“While we’ve only been dealing with the coronavirus for the last few weeks here, they’ve been dealing with it in Asia since January. I’m happy to report that we’re actually seeing some very good signs out of Asia, specifically Taiwan, Hong Kong and China,” Hasltrom relayed. “People are getting back to work; restaurants are reopening. It is by no means normal, but it is returning at a pretty fast trendline, with people out in restaurants. It’s not the same kind of demand it was pre-coronavirus but definitely going in the right direction.”

January pork exports cooled slightly from the volume and value records established in December 2019, but still far exceeded year-ago levels. Both the January export volume of 273,603 metric tons (mt), up 36% year-over-year, and export value ($738.7 million, up 50%) were the second highest on record. Beef exports posted more modest growth in January, increasing 2.5% from a year ago in volume (107,374 mt) and 5% in value ($672.7 million).

“The dynamics and the indicators early in 2020 are very positive,” said Halstrom.

The impact of COVID-19 will be seen later in the spring, he added, “but I think the bottom line is, for everybody involved, there is still demand out there.”

Further, Halstrom said that while all of the focus is currently on COVID-19, the impact of African swine fever (ASF) is still being felt across the globe, heightening the need for high-quality protein.

“The reality is, roughly 25% of the world’s hogs are not there as compared to a year ago due to ASF, and there will be increased demand for imports globally for pork specifically, but also for poultry and beef.”

He noted that with the U.S. red meat industry in a period of record-large production, it is especially well-positioned to fill this need.

 

EPA’s emissions update missed opportunity for ethanol

EPA’s emissions update missed opportunity for ethanol

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation on Tuesday issued the final Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for 2021-2026 vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards for Model Years 2021-2026 passenger cars and light trucks. Members of the ethanol sector said the rule represents a missed opportunity to encourage use of ethanol as a high octane, low carbon fuel source.

EPA said the SAFE Vehicles Rule reflects the realities of today’s markets, including substantially lower oil prices than in the original 2012 projection, significant increases in U.S. oil production, and growing consumer demand for larger vehicles. Under the SAFE Rule, the projected overall industry average required fuel economy in MYs 2021-2026 is 40.4 miles per gallon, compared to 46.7 mpg projected requirement in MY 2025 under the 2012 standards, and the new rule reduces the number of credits that are not associated with improved fuel economy. 

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, the final rule ignores the input of automakers, ethanol producers, farmers, environmental groups, retailers and others who called on the agencies to establish a pathway in the rule for transitioning to high-octane low carbon liquid fuels. In response to hundreds of comments calling for the inclusion of high octane fuels as a tool to help automakers meet more stringent fuel economy and emissions requirements, EPA said only that “establishing a higher minimum octane for gasoline is a complex undertaking” and “the present rulemaking is not the appropriate vehicle to set octane levels.”

In addition, EPA said in the final rule it “also is declining to adopt new incentives for flex-fueled vehicles (FFVs) (vehicles designed to operate on gasoline or E85 or a mixture), as some commenters suggested.” The agency said FFV incentives are “outside the scope” of the vehicle fuel economy rule, despite the fact that the rule includes incentives for natural gas vehicles, electric vehicles, and other alternative fuel vehicles.

As an example, EPA’s rule assumes that electric vehicles have no “upstream” greenhouse gas emissions related to their use; in other words, the agency completely ignores emissions related to producing electricity from coal, natural gas, and other sources and distributing the electricity to the vehicle. This results in a significant fuel economy “credit” for electric vehicles that is not based on any real emissions reduction, RFA said.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) chief executive officer Brian Jennings noted, “The final rule is a missed opportunity to provide a roadmap for high octane mid-level ethanol blends after EPA specifically requested comments on the role 100 Research Octane Number (RON) E30 could play to help automakers meet fuel economy and emissions standards. We are also disappointed the rule appears to give special treatment to natural gas vehicles but fails to extend much needed incentives for the continued production of flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), just another example of EPA choosing fossil fuels over low carbon fuels and rural America.”

RFA president and CEO Geoff Cooper also said the final rule was a missed opportunity and another time where EPA sided with the oil industry. “Of all the stakeholders who provided input to EPA on the topic of octane, only the oil industry voiced opposition to EPA using its authority to set standards for higher-octane fuels. Once again, EPA has sided with the oil industry over automakers, biofuel producers, farmers, environmental advocates, and consumers. This rule should have established the roadmap toward cleaner, more efficient, more affordable liquid fuels for our nation’s consumers. Instead, it sends our nation’s vehicles and fuels down yet another pothole-filled road to ruin,” Cooper said.

 

Papua New Guinea confirms African swine fever

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Papua New Guinea (PNG) has reported its first outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in free-ranging pigs in the island nation's Southern Highlands province, according to to a notice from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The finding brings the ASF virus ever closer to Australia, after confirmed recent detections in nearby Indonesia and Timor Leste.

PNG told OIE the incident was first reported by a provincial livestock officer on March 5, and its National Agriculture Quarantine & Inspection Authority dispatched an investigating team on March 11 that investigated and collected whole blood and sera for testing. Samples were dispatched to the Veterinary Laboratory in Port Moresby, PNG, as well as to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

In a statement, Australia Minister for Agriculture, Drought & Emergency Management David Littleproud noted that Australia's biosecurity is more critical than ever.

“Australia already has strict measures in place to prevent ASF from hitting our shores; however, it is important that we regularly assess and improve the measures we have in place," he said. “With the confirmation of ASF in our near neighbor, our biosecurity measures are more important than ever. We offer our assistance to PNG as they work to contain this disease.

“Biosecurity measures in place in the Torres Strait have been ramped up as a result of COVID-19 and are being re-assessed to ensure they effectively manage the risk that ASF in PNG poses to Australia," Littleproud said. “While ASF is not a public health concern, it could devastate Australia’s pork industry if it were to arrive here."

The Torres Strait, at approximately 150 km at its narrowest point, separates PNG from Cape York in northern Queensland.

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World leaders call for food trade to keep flowing

World leaders call for food trade to keep flowing

The heads of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a joint statement March 31 calling on governments to minimize the impact of COVID-19-related border restrictions on trade in food.

QU Dongyu, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Roberto Azevêdo, directors-general of FAO, WHO and WTO, respectively, said, “Now is the time to show solidarity, act responsibly and adhere to our common goal of enhancing food security, food safety and nutrition and improving the general welfare of people around the world.”

Millions of people around the world depend on international trade for their food security and livelihoods, the agency heads noted. “As countries move to enact measures aiming to halt the accelerating COVID-19 pandemic, care must be taken to minimize potential impacts on the food supply or unintended consequences on global trade and food security.”

When acting to protect the health and well-being of their citizens, countries should ensure that any trade-related measures do not disrupt the food supply chain. Such disruptions, including hampering the movement of agricultural and food industry workers and extending border delays for food containers, result in the spoilage of perishables and increasing food waste. Food trade restrictions could also be linked to unjustified concerns on food safety.

“If such a scenario were to materialize, it would disrupt the food supply chain, with particularly pronounced consequences for the most vulnerable and food insecure populations,” the agency chiefs added.

Uncertainty about food availability can spark a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage on the global market. Such reactions can alter the balance between food supply and demand, resulting in price spikes and increased price volatility. “We learned from previous crises that such measures are particularly damaging for low-income, food-deficit countries and to the efforts of humanitarian organizations to procure food for those in desperate need,” they said.

“We must prevent the repeat of such damaging measures. It is at times like this that more, not less, international cooperation becomes vital. In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdowns, every effort must be made to ensure that trade flows as freely as possible, specially to avoid food shortage,” they added.

Similarly, it is also critical that food producers and food workers at processing and retail level are protected to minimize the spread of the disease within this sector and maintain food supply chains. Consumers, in particular the most vulnerable, must continue to be able to access food within their communities under strict safety requirements.

The agency heads said countries must also ensure that information on food-related trade measures, levels of food production, consumption and stocks, as well as on food prices, is available to all in real time. “This reduces uncertainty and allows producers, consumers and traders to make informed decisions. Above all, it helps contain ‘panic buying’ and the hoarding of food and other essential items,” they explained.

“We must ensure that our response to COVID-19 does not unintentionally create unwarranted shortages of essential items and exacerbate hunger and malnutrition,” they said.

AABP provides COVID-19 resources for cattle veterinarians

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Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, veterinarians serve a critical role in assisting their livestock clients to continue to produce safe, wholesome milk and meat and care for their animals during times of isolation and self-quarantine, according to the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP).

AABP is offering its members and all veterinarians who work with cattle several resources as they are part of a critical infrastructure industry.

“By developing easily accessible resources for our members, AABP is helping members navigate through the current COVID-19 epidemic,” said AABP president Dr. Calvin Booker. “While the priority for all of us is to make sure that everyone stays safe and healthy, it is also our responsibility to maintain animal health and welfare and try to make sure that clients are able to keep producing an ample, safe and secure food supply."

AABP executive director Dr. Fred Gingrich II added, “AABP recognizes the need to communicate to our members on the COVID-19 outbreak and how it might affect producers and veterinarians in the cattle industry. We have worked with allied organizations to ensure that the services our members provide are determined ‘essential’ and do our part to protect the nation’s supply of beef and dairy during this crisis. We will continue to monitor the situation and ask our members to communicate with producers and others in their community to decrease the spread of this disease.”

Booker noted that there are three main roles of AABP and organized veterinary medicine during this crisis:

  1. To provide easily accessible guidance and resources to cattle veterinarians.
  2. To answer questions through forums on organization websites or social media and/or provide links to other organizations for more information.
  3. As members of veterinary organizations, to advocate for yourselves, your employees and your clients. As an association, AABP will also advocate for veterinary medicine.

AABP is working with the American Veterinary Medical Assn., National Milk Producers Federation and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. on communications to stakeholders and members about COVID-19. “These organizations are asking what cattle veterinarians need now,” Gingrich said. “We are having these conversations with our members and advocating that veterinary medicine is an essential service in the bigger food industry, and that we want to keep our employees and clients safe as well during this time.”

AABP COVID-19 resources

  • * AABP COVID-19 Recommendations Document. To facilitate getting information into veterinarians’ and producers’ hands, AABP has developed a set of recommendations for cattle veterinarians and their clients. The document, “Resources for Cattle Veterinarians Regarding the COVID-19 Outbreak”, is available on the AABP website at https://aabp.org, or directly at https://aabp.org/members/resources/AABPcv19info.pdf. These recommendations include COVID-19 prevention in veterinary practices as well as on client farms. Also included in the recommendations are suggestions and resources for identifying stress or mental health issues in practice or with clients on-farm.
  • * ABP COVID-19 Have You Herd? podcast. A new AABP Have You Herd? podcast featuring Gingrich, Booker, AABP treasurer and dairy veterinarian Dr. Brian Reed and dairy veterinarian Dr. Eric Rooker discussing financial aspects of rural practices during this pandemic, working with clients under new biosecurity recommendations, keeping practice and farm/ranch employees safe, telemedicine opportunities and more, all while helping clients continue to do “business as usual” as well as they can. Search "AABP" on the platform you use to listen to podcasts (Google Podcast, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio, etc.). Or find it directly at https://www.buzzsprout.com/814177.
  • * AABP online continuing education for veterinary schools. With the closure of post-secondary institutions to in-person teaching activities in response to the current COVID-19 epidemic, veterinary schools across the U.S. and Canada are working to develop online resources to augment teaching materials to meet student needs. In response, AABP is offering its resource of recorded RACE-approved scientific sessions from AABP annual conferences, recent veterinary graduate conferences and webinars, to veterinary schools to help bridge the gap.

“Veterinary students are the future of our profession; we all need to do our part to help them complete their formal education in these difficult times,” Booker said. “By making AABP’s member-only online (continuing education) sessions accessible to veterinary schools, the organization is once again demonstrating its commitment to the future of the veterinary profession.” The online sessions are available through a cooperative agreement with the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University.

Bayer settles false ad lawsuits

By Jef Feeley

Bayer AG agreed to pay $39.5 million to settle allegations that its Monsanto unit ran misleading ads about the controversial Roundup weedkiller and its potential health risks to humans and animals.

As part of the deal, language will be removed from Roundup Weed and Grass Killer’s label saying that glyphosate -- the product’s active ingredient -- only affects an enzyme found in plants. Consumers alleged that the chemical attacks an enzyme found in humans and some animals.

The settlement comes as Bayer is feverishly working to resolve more than 13,000 lawsuits blaming exposure to glyphosate in Roundup for cancer in users. The company denies glyphosate causes cancer.

After losing three cancer trials in California that resulted in combined damages of $191 million, Bayer agreed to postpone the next round of Roundup trials to provide more time for negotiations. At least a half-dozen trials scheduled to start in the first quarter of this year have been put on hold. Bayer is appealing jurors’ Roundup verdicts against the company.

Bayer shares fell under siege after the company acquired Monsanto in June 2018, losing as much as 47% of their value as trial losses mounted and new cases multiplied. The stock price began edging up again with the prospect of a settlement drawing closer, yet such an agreement might still cost Bayer $10 billion to $12 billion, according analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence.

Chris Loder, a U.S.-based spokesman for Bayer, based in Leverkusen, Germany said the settlement had nothing to do with ongoing negotiations over the cancer suits. “The parties continue to mediate in good faith,” in hopes of settling those suits, he added.

The proposed class-action, filed in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, zeroed in on advertising for Roundup Weed & Grass Killer, used by gardeners to eradicate weeds in flower beds and patios. Consumers alleged glyphosate targeted an enzyme in humans and animals that bolsters the immune system, digestion and brain function. They disputed Monsanto’s claims that glyphosate only impacted plants.

The case is Jones v. Monsanto Co., 19-cv-102, U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri (Kansas City).

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware at [email protected]
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
David Glovin at [email protected]
Peter Blumberg, Anthony Lin
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Europe reports high compliance with veterinary drug rules

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Data on the presence of residues of veterinary medicines and contaminants in animals and animal-derived food in Europe show high rates of compliance with recommended safety levels in the European Union, according to a recent report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that summarizes monitoring data collected in 2018.

The percentage of samples that exceeded maximum levels was 0.3%, EFSA said, noting that this figure is within the range of 0.25-0.37% reported over the previous 10 years.

Compared to 2017, non-compliance increased slightly for antithyroid agents and steroids, EFSA said. Small decreases were noted for antibacterials, other veterinary drugs (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and other substances and environmental contaminants (such as chemical elements and mycotoxins).

EFSA reported that 657,818 samples were checked by 28 EU member states in 2018.

The data are available on Knowledge Junction, EFSA’s curated, open repository, which was set up to improve transparency, reproducibility and reusability of evidence in food and feed safety risk assessments.

According to EFSA, food-producing animals may be treated with veterinary medicines to prevent or cure disease, but these substances may leave residues in food derived from treated animals.

Food may also contain residues of pesticides and contaminants to which animals have been exposed. For this reason, EU countries must implement residue monitoring plans to detect the illegal use or misuse of authorized veterinary medicines in food-producing animals and investigate the reasons for residue violations, EFSA noted.

Ag groups seek harmonized truck weight limits

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More than 60 national agricultural groups urged each state to increase truck weight limits on highways within their jurisdiction to a “minimum harmonized weight” of 88,000 pounds.

“Increased truck weights improve the food and agriculture industry’s efficiency and capacity to deliver essential food, feed and key ingredients which sustain our food supply chain,” the groups said in a March 30 letter to all state governors, lieutenant governors, transportation directors and agriculture commissioners. “This will become more critical if the availability of truck drivers is impacted adversely by COVID-19.”

The federal “Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security Act” signed into law last week expressly clarifies the U.S. Department of Transportation’s authority to allow states to increase truck weight limits on U.S. highways and Federal Interstate Highways within their jurisdictions during the COVID-19 emergency.  

“Establishing a minimum truck weight limit of 88,000 pounds would ensure that a minimum harmonized weight exists across the country and help protect against essential shipments adhering to this common increase from being impeded at state borders,” the letter notes. 

In a release from the National Grain and Feed Assn. (NGFA), the organization said it has been working to encourage consistency among state, federal and local rules that affect business operations and COVID-19 emergency response efforts. In a March 25 letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) spearheaded by NGFA and signed by more than 50 other agricultural groups, NGFA urged the agency to grant relief from federal drive time hours-of-service rules for all truck drivers hauling agricultural goods.

 

JBS reduces production at Pennsylvania plant

JBS Purchases Canadas XL Foods

The JBS Souderton, Pennsylvania beef processing plant became the first U.S. plant to have altered production due to the spreading COVID-19 virus. The company announced March 30 that it is temporarily reducing production after several senior management team members have displayed flu-like symptoms. Prior to the reduction, the plant was processing 2,200 head per day. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, these team members have been sent home to self-monitor their health in light of the continued spread of coronavirus (COVID-19),” JBS spokesperson Cameron Bruett stated.

The facility is expected to return to normal operations on April 14, 2020, the company said.

“We wish our team members a speedy recovery and salute the health care professionals who are tirelessly working to protect us all. We also thank our team members and everyone who is helping to keep food on tables during this challenging time.”

Sanderson Farms, Foster Farms, and Perdue Farms have all had a small number of employees test positive for COVID-19 but so far, no plants have been shut down.

In Canada, Olymel announced March 29 the temporary closure of the hog slaughter and cutting plant in Yamachiche for a period of 14 days due to the growing number of cases of COVID-19 among plant employees, which has reached nine. Harmony Beef, an Alberta packing plant, had to halt cattle slaughter last Friday after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) pulled its inspectors due to a plant employee testing positive for COVID-19. The union representing the federal meat inspectors said inspectors would only return if Harmony could assure CFIA that the plant is safe for operation. CFIA told Feedstuffs it worked with Alberta Health Services and the company over the weekend to prepare for the resumption of slaughter inspection and operations were resumed on March 31, 2020.