24 MAR

Confirmation hearing goes smoothly for Sonny Perdue to become ag chief

Things could not have gone better for former Gov. Sonny Perdue at his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday even if he had tried. The Trump administration’s nominee to lead the Department of Agriculture won praise from senators of both parties during his 2 1/2-hour turn before the Agriculture Committee, including the endorsement of the panel’s influential top Democrat, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. His confirmation appears all but assured – the real question is when that vote could occur. The tone at Thursday’s hearing was friendly and upbeat, a striking departure from the fiercely partisan battles that marked the confirmation debates of some of President Donald Trump’s other Cabinet picks, including that of former Georgia Congressman Tom Price, now the health secretary.  Read more

24 MAR

Turkey Demand Project to boost consumption

One of the hot topics at February’s annual meeting of the National Turkey Federation (NTF) was the Turkey Demand Project. In 2015, U.S. consumption of turkey was 16.0 pounds per person. NTF’s goal is to increase per-person turkey consumption to 20 pounds by 2020. “We bring turkey top of mind in menu planning,” said Keith Williams, NTF’s vice president of communication and marketing. “Our strategy is to inspire a taste for new offerings from varieties of ground turkey for burgers, sausages, meatballs and meatloaf as well as turkey breast, turkey drums and turkey that may be barbecued, smoked, sautéed or grilled.”  Read more

24 MAR

Egg makers are freaked out by the cage-free future

One of the most dramatic changes in the American food production system is now underway in the egg industry. A wave of big restaurants and grocers have committed to switch entirely to cage-free eggs, setting up the industry for a broad transformation. The problem, critics say, is that while the industry is preparing to flood the market with cage-free product, what consumers still overwhelmingly choose to buy are the cheaper, battery-farmed options. Since the mid-20th century, when farmers started bringing hens indoors, the system has become so efficient that people can now buy eggs for less than 10 cents each, and the average Americans now eats an estimated 267 eggs per year.  Read more

24 MAR

Commercial flock tests positive for avian flu in Cullman Cty, AL

A flock of commercial poultry at a Cullman County farm has tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza. The diagnosis was confirmed through Auburn University and the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

State agriculture officials say the low pathogenic strain of bird flu does not pose a risk to the food supply, and no affected poultry have entered the food chain. The risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low, said State Veterinarian, Dr. Tony Frazier. “This probably means the flock will have to be de-populated. That determination is being made now,” said Daniel Autrey, chief of staff for State Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan. A “stop movement” order has been in place since March 15, banning all bird exhibitions of any kind until further notice.  Read more

20 MAR

Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) says “water grab will create valley of despair”

Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) submitted a letter to the State Water Resources Contro lBoard on Friday, urging the Board to reject the proposed update to the Bay-Delta Plan and start the study process over again. Today is the last day for public comment on the proposal to take an additional 300,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Merced, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus rivers. Gray’s letter was accompanied by several letters from local government officials and over 1,000 additional petitions from local residents calling for a rejection of the proposal.
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20 MAR

Hybrid Turkeys announces major investments in USA supply chain

Hybrid Turkeys is proud to announce plans for ongoing and future investments in the US turkey industry. In order to deliver industry leading quality products throughout the supply chain, Hybrid will invest in two new hatcheries, new egg production farms together with new contract partners, state of the art transportation, and the skilled workforce needed to support these areas of operations. “Our business is focused creating value for customers and built on strong partnerships in the industry.  As the demands of the modern consumer evolve, the stresses on a collaborative supply chain for the turkey industry have never been greater. A more transparent food system, with ever reducing use of antibiotics, means that the responsible production of high quality day old turkey poults is critical.” said Dave Libertini, Managing Director.  Read more

20 MAR

Why Trump repealed the ‘Clean Water’ rule

Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Feb. 28 ordering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to roll back the Waters of the United States rule issued by the Obama administration. During the signing Trump called the order, also known as the Clean Water rule, “a massive power grab” and said EPA’s regulators are putting people “out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands.” Federal law authorizes the EPA to regulate “navigable waters.” At issue in the objections to the Waters of the United States rule is what defines these waters. Critics say the rule gives the government the power to regulate every pond, puddle or ditch.  Read more

20 MAR

Brazilian beef and poultry industry plunged into major scandal

Authorities in Brazil have suspended over 30 government officials in response to allegations that some of the country’s biggest meat processors have been “selling rotten beef and poultry for years”, according to the reports from the BBC this morning.  The BBC has said that “three meat processing plants have been closed and another 21 are under scrutiny”. While some of the meat produced by the factories is consumed domestically, much of it is exported here to Europe. Brazil is currently the world’s largest exporter of red meat.  Read more

16 MAR

USDA Confirms Second Case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in a Commercial Flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed a second case of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.  This H7N9 strain is of North American wild bird lineage and is the same strain of avian influenza that was previously confirmed in Tennessee.  It is NOT the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia.  The flock of 55,000 chickens is located in the Mississippi flyway, within three kilometers of the first Tennessee case.

Samples from the affected flock, which displayed signs of illness and experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee’s Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

USDA is working with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on the joint incident response.  State officials quarantined the affected premises, and depopulation has begun.  Federal and State partners will conduct surveillance and testing of commercial and backyard poultry within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the site.

The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA works with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.

USDA will be informing the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners of this finding. USDA also continues to communicate with trading partners to encourage adherence to OIE standards and minimize trade impacts.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facilities to ensure that they are taking the proper precautions to prevent illness and contain disease spread. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kills bacteria and viruses.

Wild waterfowl are natural hosts for avian influenza, including H5 and H7, and can shed the virus without appearing sick.  These low pathogenic viruses can mutate to highly pathogenic forms after introduction to poultry.  People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.  Additional information on biosecurity for commercial producers can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock   Information for backyard producers can be found at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian-influenza-disease/birdbiosecurity

Additional background
Avian influenza (AI) is caused by an influenza type A virus which can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl) and is carried by free flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds. AI viruses are classified by a combination of two groups of proteins: hemagglutinin or “H” proteins, of which there are 16 (H1–H16), and neuraminidase or “N” proteins, of which there are 9 (N1–N9). Many different combinations of “H” and “N” proteins are possible. Each combination is considered a different subtype, and can be further broken down into different strains. AI viruses are further classified by their pathogenicity (low or high)— the ability of a particular virus strain to produce disease in domestic chickens.

14 MAR

USPOULTRY accepting nominations for Charles Beard Research Excellence Award

USPOULTRY and the USPOULTRY Foundation are accepting nominations for the Charles Beard Research Excellence Award through July 1. The goal of this award is to recognize outstanding completed research projects, funded by USPOULTRY or the USPOULTRY Foundation, which have made a significant positive impact on the poultry industry. The nominee may be recognized for multiple completed USPOULTRY research projects, all focused on the same subject area. Read more