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Articles from 2014 In April

Livestock aid rolling out

After just one week of sign-ups for the new farm bill’s livestock disaster programs, the Farm Service Agency already has received a total of 10,000 applications. In a hearing April 30, U.S. Department of Agriculture chief economist Joe Glauber noted that over 13,000 applications have been started for the program that lapsed in 2011.

According to the agency, approximately 95% were for the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), which provides payments to eligible producers for grazing losses. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the high number of applicants is “no surprise considering the widespread, ongoing drought that has plagued livestock producers in the West Coast and Midwestern portions of the United States for nearly three consecutive years.”

Vilsack added while the time for application processing and review will vary depending on the complexity and type of loss, the electronic payment and application systems are up and running. “Since sign up began [April 15], we have processed nearly 60% of incoming applications and approved payments to help nearly 6,000 producers begin the recovery process,” he said.

Glauber added that an estimated $8.5 million has already been approved and of that $4.5 million has already been transferred to producers’ bank accounts. USDA estimates a total of $2 billion could be paid out under the new farm bill provisions.

FSA will provide monthly updates at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov, including data by state, number of applications, and payments issued.

House Ag Committee hears from livestock industry

Mandatory country of origin labeling, Grain Safety and Inspection Service Agency rule implementation and the Renewable Fuels Standard were some of the top-of-mind issues discussed in a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing held April 30.

Rep. Rick Crawford (R., Ark.), chairman of the subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit, shared that farmers and ranchers have endured a great deal over recent years from record droughts to higher input costs and the ongoing burden and uncertainty associated with mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

“Combined, all of these issues and others have tightened operating margins, which create challenging business conditions for our producers,” Crawford said.

Costa, who has introduced legislation to overturn MCOOL, said that law as well as the RFS endanger livestock producers’ bottom lines. “[The] hearing gave us the opportunity to highlight the natural, bureaucratic, and regulatory challenges facing the industry," said ranking member Jim Costa (D., Calif.).

U.S. Department of Agriculture chief economist Joe Glauber also gave an overview of the livestock sector and also answered questions from committee members.

He noted that tight livestock margins have constrained expansion for livestock producers, which has led to record high prices for cattle and hogs and near-record prices for broilers. He noted however, that the ability of the beef and pork sectors to expand production will be limited by non-feed cost factors.

He projected red meat production will remain constrained in the near term and forecast in 2014 to be the lowest since 2010 and 1.8% below the 2008 record.

Prospects for the beef sector, in the near term, are limited by the decline in cattle inventory, the biological lags inherent in the production system and persistent dryness in the southern plains, now in its fourth consecutive year of drought, Glauber said. He added it will be at least 2016-17 before any potential expansion could occur, but with producers who have faced repeated droughts, that may be even tougher.

“To get pastures back and get people willing to expand, that’s going to take time,” Glauber said.

Likewise, in the hog sector, positive producer returns and lower feed costs have set the stage for strong expansion. However, the spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) through the U.S. herd is expected to sharply limit the supply of hogs compared to earlier expectations, Glauber testified.

In comparison to the beef and pork sectors, the poultry industry is able to respond more quickly to market signals. Broiler production is forecast to be at record levels in 2014, up 1.8% over the previous record set last year. Egg production will likely see record levels as well in 2014.

A handful of members also expressed concern over APHIS’s proposed rule to allow fresh and frozen beef imports from Brazil and update the country’s BSE status.

Glauber said APHIS has conducted a risk analysis and will evaluate the many comments received from concerned parties. But as the U.S. continues to keep urging world trade parties to base import decisions based on sound science, the U.S. also needs to follow that same advice.

WHO issues first global report on antibiotic resistance

A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) — its first to look at antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance, on a global scale — reveals that this serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country.

Antibiotic resistance — when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections — is now a major threat to public health.

"Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill," said WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security Dr. Keiji Fukuda. "Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier and benefit from modern medicine. Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating."

The study, "Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report on Surveillance," notes that resistance is occurring across many different infectious agents but the report focuses on antibiotic resistance in seven different bacteria responsible for common, serious diseases such as bloodstream infections (sepsis), diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhea. The results are cause for high concern, documenting resistance to antibiotics, especially “last resort” antibiotics, in all regions of the world, WHO said.

WHO said the report reveals that key tools to tackle antibiotic resistance — such as basic systems to track and monitor the problem — show gaps or do not exist in many countries. While some countries have taken important steps in addressing the problem, every country and individual needs to do more.

Other important actions include preventing infections from happening in the first place — through better hygiene, access to clean water, infection control in health-care facilities and vaccination — to reduce the need for antibiotics. WHO is also calling attention to the need to develop new diagnostics, antibiotics and other tools to allow healthcare professionals to stay ahead of emerging resistance.

This report is kick-starting a global effort led by WHO to address drug resistance. This will involve the development of tools and standards and improved collaboration around the world to track drug resistance, measure its health and economic impacts and design targeted solutions.

Pork Checkoff updates its transport quality assurance program

Since 2001, the pork industry's Transport Quality Assurance program (TQA) has promoted responsible practices when handling and transporting pigs. In that time, TQA has undergone five revisions - always striving to offer the most current, science-based information on humane handling, biosecurity and proper transportation of swine.

The mission of the TQA program remains unchanged: to continuously build a culture of protecting and promoting animal well-being through training and certification of animal handlers and transport personnel. In that process, TQA uses the most current industry-proven techniques in an effort to build consumer confidence and understanding of the high-quality pork products delivered to market every day.

"Consumers are hungry for information on how their pork is raised - from the farm to the table," said Sherrie Webb, animal welfare director at The National Pork Board. "That need for information is about more than what happens on the farm and extends to how that animal is safely and humanely transported from farm to market. That's why keeping current on transportation trends is so critical."

Staying current on transportation trends requires continuous evaluation and commitment. The Pork Checkoff's pioneering TQA curriculum focuses not only on safe handling, but also emerging diseases such as PEDV and biosecurity. In 2014, each was a major focus in revising the program.

"Everyone involved in pork production - from producers, their employees, veterinarians and transporters - needs to develop a biosecurity plan that helps them to make good decisions and take sound action that reduces the risk of disease spread," said Brad Knadler, director of hog procurement, Triumph Foods. "The Pork Checkoff's TQA program specifically addresses the need for serious biosecurity protocols to be in place and helps the pork industry further fight and reduce the spread of these industry-impacting diseases."

The updated program also provides a new approach to understanding basic pig behavior and body language, and how it contributes to a safe and positive experience for both the pig and the handler.

"Calm pigs are easier to handle than excited, agitated pigs. Handling will be easier, and pigs less likely to become agitated and bunch together, if handlers use basic pig behavioral principles," said Webb. "An important part of effectively using pig behavior during handling procedures is learning how the pig perceives and responds to the handler in different situations and environments."

Additionally, adapting to changes in weather, especially temperature extremes, costs the U.S. pork industry millions of dollars annually. Handlers and transporters must understand the affect weather can have on pigs during transport, and how best to protect them during extreme weather. The revised TQA program teaches transporters the importance of planning ahead and properly bedding and boarding trailers.

Uruguay grants full market access for U.S. poultry products

On April 21, 2014, Uruguay granted final approval for importing U.S. fresh and frozen poultry and poultry products, including U.S. fresh chicken.

Following several years of technical discussions, U.S. Department of  Agriculture (USDA) representatives from Animal an d Plant Health Inspection Service and Food Safety and Inspection Service reached agreement with Uruguay on the sanitary measures for U.S. poultry products. Access to Uruguay had been previously limited to U.S. fresh and frozen turkey meat for a seasonal market and U.S. cooked (processed) chicken meat.  U.S. poultry exports to Uruguay were valued at $250,000 in 2013 -up from $130,000 in 2012-, with potential to expand further under this new agreement.

Buckeye Nutrition introduces EQ8 Senior

Buckeye Nutrition introduced EQ8 Senior, a scientifically formulated feed designed to help keep the digestive system of a senior horse healthy. Backed by independent university studies, EQ8 Senior promotes the gut health of senior horses while meeting their dietary needs at the same time.

"Many senior horses are able to maintain body condition and good health on normal maintenance rations. However, some begin to show signs of aging and require special dietary considerations," said Amber Moffett, manager of research and development, Mars Horsecare US Inc. "EQ8 Senior provides highly digestible ingredients that are nutrient dense in a lower starch and sugar formula."

Featuring this new formulation, EQ8 Senior is designed specifically for senior horses, including those with metabolic issues that require restricted levels of starch and sugar. EQ8 Senior helps keep the digestive system healthy through a combination of:

* Steamed and pressure-cooked grains to minimize risk of sugar and starch reaching the large intestine;

* Guaranteed live probiotics to help protect the intestine from harmful bacteria;

* Guaranteed levels of lysine, methionine and threonine, and

* Additional selenium plus vitamin E and balanced sources of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

"With 70% of a horse's immunity coming from the digestive system, EQ8 Senior features live probiotic species to help senior horses create a barrier of protection against harmful bacteria," Moffett said. "Along with the live probiotics, EQ8 Senior is different than other senior feeds because it features guaranteed levels of antioxidants, additional selenium and vitamin E and important fatty acids aimed to help reduce inflammation and support a horse's immune function."

For more information, visit http://goo.gl/7E3eit.

Zoetis opens IMPROVEST demonstration farm

Zoetis has announced the opening of a demonstration farm in Greensburg, Ind., to broaden understanding on the use of immunological castration (IC) in U.S. pork production systems. The 500-head, nursery-to-finishing facility, owned by veterinarian Larry Rueff, provides a real-world setting for pork producers to see IMPROVEST (gonadotropin releasing factor analog — diphtheria toxoid conjugate) in practice to better assess its merits as a production option.

"IMPROVEST offers pork producers and meat packers a new and more sustainable way to manage the issue of off odors in pork," said Gloria Basse, vice president, U.S. Pork Business Unit, Zoetis. "Because this is so revolutionary, Zoetis is committed to educating people across the entire pork chain to better understand the value that can be gained."

Zoetis introduced IMPROVEST in the U.S. market in 2011 following more than a decade of successful, widespread international use in more than 60 countries. This veterinary prescription product, which is approved by the Food & Drug Administration, uses the pig's own immune system to temporarily provide the same effect as physical castration, but much later in a male pig's life. IMPROVEST expands production options while offering economic benefits favorable to producers, the company said.

"We've long known about the inherent performance advantages of raising intact males," said Rueff, a 30-year practicing veterinarian who co-manages Swine Veterinary Services out of south Central Indiana. "IC technology now allows producers to take advantage of these benefits while still ensuring the same high level of pork quality and great taste consumers have come to expect."

Rueff is jointly supporting the demonstration farm by extending the use of an existing livestock barn on his 120-acre corn and soybean farm.

As part of the experience, visitors will explore important production topics such as pre-weaning mortality, feed efficiency, split sex feeding and nutritional requirements. In addition, visitors will learn about recent research and field data specifically examining the economic benefits of IMPROVEST. The intact males' growth efficiencies offer opportunities for optimizing production due to feed savings, reduced piglet mortality and improved market weights.

Through this farm experience, Zoetis hopes to instill confidence that pig performance and meat quality attributes can be maintained through IC technology, which allows producers to deliver a consistent pork supply to U.S. and global markets. It is effective in any production system, as demonstrated by the more than 200,000 IC pigs that have been harvested in the U.S. with IMPROVEST.

Zoetis welcomes visitors to the farm and encourages interested individuals to plan visits around key farm activities. These activities include a two-dose product administration, review of quality assurance protocols certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an evaluation of IC barrow market weight characteristics. To schedule a tour, call your local Zoetis representative.

World's largest pork supplier withdraws IPO deal

The WH Group Ltd. ditched its initial public offering (IPO) plan to raise $1.9 million to reduce debt incurred after purchasing U.S. pork company Smithfield Foods Inc. for the price tag of $4.7 billion last year.

On April 14, WH Group had announced details of the IPO in addition to the particulars of its proposed listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Last week, WH Group cut back the scope of the IPO immensely, reducing the original offering from $5.3 billion to $2 billion.

After negative response from investors, the company decided to delay the IPO without releasing a timetable for future actions.

Brazilian ag policy could cut global GHG emissions

Brazil may be able to curb up to 26% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation by encouraging the intensification of its cattle production, according to a new study from researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and international collaborators, including the University of California-Berkeley.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that by subsidizing semi-intensive pasture-based cattle production or taxing conventional pastures, Brazil may be able to deliver a substantial cut in global greenhouse gas emissions, even in the absence of a global agreement to prevent deforestation.

Brazil is the world's second largest producer of beef and the world's largest exporter of beef. Cattle pastures occupy one quarter of the land surface in Brazil, including as much as 80% of recently deforested land. Brazil has lost more forestland than any other country in the past 20 years, IIASA said in its announcement. Worldwide, deforestation contributes to as much as 20% of human-caused GHG emissions.

"Climate policies are an investment for governments. One of the major concerns that governments have about making climate policies unilaterally is that the benefits will be canceled out by increased emissions in other countries," said Tufts University researcher Avery Cohn, who led the study.

Previous studies of Brazilian agriculture have warned that policies to intensify cattle ranching could lower beef prices and increase beef consumption or raise beef prices and increase beef production. Either effect could drive more deforestation in other countries, canceling out any overall reduction in emissions, IIASA said.

"Our study shows that greenhouse gains from pasture intensification policies considerably exceed the losses. Brazil could act alone and still make a major dent in global greenhouse gas emissions," added IIASA researcher Aline Mosnier, a co-author on the study, which Cohn started as a participant in IIASA's Young Scientists Summer Program while completing his doctorate at the University of California-Berkeley.

The two policies — subsidizing more intensive cattle ranching or taxing conventional pastures — would both reduce deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by about 50% between 2010 and 2030. This would lead to a 25% reduction in global GHG emissions from deforestation during that time. Combining the two policies could provide a revenue-neutral way for the Brazilian government to reduce GHG emissions.

The researchers expanded IIASA's Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM) to examine the effects of the two policies both within and beyond Brazil's borders. GLOBIOM is an economic model of global land use, which is being applied to questions of agriculture, deforestation and REDD policies around the world.

Previous work by IIASA researchers has shown that more efficient livestock production methods could be an effective method to reduce GHG emissions worldwide, while improving food security. The new study was carried out in collaboration with Tufts University, the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of California-Berkeley, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization, IIASA's Australian National Member Organization, and University of Natural Resources & Applied Life Sciences in (BOKU) in Vienna, Austria.

Projects explore postharvest loss

Projects explore postharvest loss

A JOINT research project is underway between the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Chinese Research Center for Rural Economy (RCRE) that aims to explore the full extent of postharvest loss in China.

Each year, China produces 20% of the world's food, yet more than 50 million tons of food are lost or wasted along agricultural supply chains.

"With global demand for food rising rapidly, finding ways to preserve what is already grown, especially in China, is critical for achieving food security," said ADM Institute director Dr. Prasanta Kalita.

Photo: ADM Institute/Grace Kenney

The project examines wheat postharvest loss issues by comparing measured losses with estimated losses — an approach that, experts believe, has not been used before.

The project was initiated in October 2013 after the two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding in August 2013. It has two survey components: a questionnaire and the collection of field measurements of loss.

The surveys will be conducted in China's Henan province over the next several months. Researchers will also document components of the wheat supply chain and postharvest loss issues in Henan and compile results in a number of case studies.

The survey involves asking approximately 600 farmers how much postharvest loss they experience. Researchers will measure physical losses of the same survey region, giving them a picture of the differences between farmer perceptions of loss and actual loss.

"I'm very excited about this because if we had both actual measurements and estimates of the same situations, this might be the first time that a correlation has been investigated between these two approaches to gain data," explained Steve Sonka, University of Illinois agricultural economist and researcher at the ADM Institute.

Postharvest loss prevention efforts lack reliable and comprehensive data, which inhibits the development of effective solutions.

RCRE is a publicly funded think tank in China that has an extensive survey network of 23,000 households in 31 provinces and 1,200 leading agricultural processing companies in all provinces. RCRE will lead the project and conduct the survey, measurement and case studies.

ADM Institute faculty affiliates will contribute by defining the framework, designing the survey instrument and assessing the findings of the project.

With a focus on loss prevention of staple crops in developing nations, the ADM Institute was established at the university in 2011 with a $10 million gift from Archers Daniels Midland Co.


Tour of India

The ADM Institute is also collaborating with the International Rice Research Institute on postharvest activities as part of the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia Project.

Focusing on locations in Bihar and Odisha in eastern India, the institute is providing funding to target drying and storage, mechanical threshing, training and demonstrations and establishing pilot sites to test innovations and collect data.

This particular approach will emphasize the importance of sustainable business models and farmer training through technical and business learning activities. Farm-level postharvest loss assessment data on both physical and quality losses will also be measured and estimated against improved technology options, where feasible.

In January, 15 students from the University of Illinois' College of Business Supply Chain Management program traveled to India to observe and understand the extent of postharvest losses in agricultural supply chains. Over the course of their 10-day trip through southern and northern parts of the country, the students visited farms, grain mills, storage facilities, wholesale markets, non-governmental organization offices and a university campus specializing in environmental research.

This year's trip marks the third time the ADM Institute, in collaboration with the John Deere Foundation, has supported this study tour in India. This trip was the first to involve on-site communications, which provided the students with the unique opportunity to raise awareness for an important global issue while making a meaningful contribution to the process of solving it.

The U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization has estimated that 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or wasted around the world each year. Postharvest loss prevention is recognized by leading development experts as an important means to achieve global food security.

Volume:86 Issue:15