U.S. to challenge EU ethanol tariffs: The European Commission is officially imposing a tariff of $83.03 per metric ton on U.S. ethanol entering the European Union. The 9.5% tariff was approved because EU officials claim that the U.S. is selling ethanol at unfairly low prices due to subsidies. However, the U.S. no longer receives production subsidies as it did prior to 2012. The U.S. ethanol industry announced its intentions to challenge the tariff. The Renewable Fuels Assn. and Growth Energy issued a strongly worded statement saying, "This tariff is outrageous and based on absolutely no facts or evidence of harm. An extensive investigation was conducted, and there was no proof to substantiate the European Union's protectionist claims of dumping. Imposing a country-wide antidumping tariff is unprecedented and unfounded. This is blatant protectionism at its worst. This is absolutely not the final chapter. We will challenge this policy in every manner possible."
Mexico reports new case of avian flu: The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) announced Feb. 18 that Mexico's animal health agency (SENASICA) reported to the international animal health body that it had identified nine outbreaks of highly pathogenic H7N3 avian influenza in Mexico's state of Guanajuato. SENASICA said the outbreaks occurred in seven breeder farms and two commercial layer farms and affected 647,742 birds, 34,889 of which died and 53,553 of which became ill. OIE said, in addition to the depopulation activities, SENASICA launched a preventive vaccination program on breeder and layer farms in Guanajuato. The epidemiological investigation is ongoing, and the first results suggest that the virus had been introduced through fomites and biosecurity failures. Mexico also reported outbreaks of H7N3 avian flu in the states of Jalisco and Aguascalientes in January.
Bloomberg seeks polystyrene ban: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on polystyrene foam, a common substance used for making takeout food containers. The mayor, who most recently championed a ban on the sale of large-sized sugar-sweetened beverages (Feedstuffs, Oct. 1, 2012), said polystyrene clogs landfills, does not biodegrade and may be harmful to human health. "We can live without it. We may live longer without it, and the doggie bag will be just fine," he said in proposing the ban in his "State of the City" speech Feb. 14. The proposal likely will be opposed by restaurant interests since alternatives to polystyrene cost two to five times as much as the foam product.
Seaboard removes care statement: The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that its complaints to the Federal Trade Commission and Securities & Exchange Commission "over false and misleading statements" by Seaboard Foods have forced Seaboard to remove the statements from its website. Seaboard, the third-largest pork producer in the U.S., continues to use gestation stalls for pregnant sows, a form of housing that HSUS regards as inhumane. However, HSUS said Seaboard had maintained on its website that the company uses "the most humane practices throughout the animal's life." HSUS noted that Seaboard has now removed the statement.
CRP signups: The U.S. Department of Agriculture will conduct a four-week general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) beginning May 20 and ending June 14. Additional signups for continuous CRP programs, such as the Highly Erodible Land Initiative and the Initiative to Restore Grasslands, Wetlands & Wildlife, will be announced in the spring. Currently, about 27 million acres are enrolled in CRP, which is a voluntary program designed to help agricultural producers safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and enhance wildlife habitat. CRP contracts on 3.3 million acres are set to expire on Sept. 30. USDA is encouraging producers with expiring contracts or with environmentally sensitive land to evaluate their options under CRP.
U.K. raw milk: The U.K. Food Standards Agency plans to prosecute the department store Selfridges Retail Ltd. for installing vending machines that offer raw milk in its store in London, England, according to an announcement. The agency also plans to prosecute the dairy farmer who supplies the raw milk. A magistrate court has set a hearing on the matter for Feb. 6. Under current regulations, dairy farmers in England, Ireland and Wales are permitted to sell raw milk at farms or farmers markets, but such sales are banned in Scotland. Selfridges said it provides the product because it supports "unique products" and "a variety of choices" for its customers.