20 FEB

USDA offering free webinar to promote Bird Health Awareness Week

The week of February 24 – March 2, 2013 is Bird Health Awareness Week. Activities and programs offered throughout the week will give students, bird lovers and poultry owners the opportunity to learn simple steps to keep their flocks healthy. Bird Health Awareness Week is part of the USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Biosecurity for Birds campaign to promote awareness of and ways to prevent the spread of infectious poultry diseases.  USDA will be offering a free webinar during Bird Health Awareness Week, called, Growing Chicks into Healthy Chickens: Getting Ready for Spring. The webinar will feature Andy Schneider, The Chicken Whisperer; Dr. Martin Smeltzer, USDA poultry veterinarian; and Dr. Claudia Dunkley, University of Georgia poultry scientist. The webinar will provide information and tips on raising healthy backyard poultry. Click here for more information and registration information.

20 FEB

Customs Union agrees veterinary certificate for U.S. poultry product

The Customs Union and U.S. veterinary service have coordinated a veterinary certificate for poultry-farming products from the United States. The certificate was approved following negotiations with the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) applies to the export from the United States of newly hatched chicks, turkeys, ducklings, goslings, ostrich chicks, and the incubated eggs of these birds, the EEC website says. The document has been forwarded to the authorized agencies in the Customs Union and United States for signing.  Read More

15 FEB

US poultry groups express support for US-EU trade pact

 Following the White House announcement yesterday that bilateral negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union will be launched, the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association jointly expressed strong support for the new international trade initiative. "U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk and the other officials at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have not only worked long and diligently to reach this point, but USTR also listened-to and accepted recommendations that agriculture and unwarranted non-tariff barriers, especially non-science based sanitary and phytosanitary provisions, be an important part of the negotiations and that any final trade agreement successfully address these issues," the groups said.  Read More

15 FEB

ETHANOL: Republican plans Senate bill to put brakes on E15 approval

Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker this week plans to introduce a Senate bill targeting U.S. EPA’s decision to increase the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent, according to a spokesman for the senator.

An oil industry source said the legislation is expected to freeze the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline at 10 percent and prohibit the agency from approving E15 going forward. Wicker spokesman Rick Curtsinger didn’t provide additional details about the bill. The measure would essentially nullify EPA decisions last year to provide partial waivers from the Clean Air Act for E15. Those waivers allow cars with model years 2001 and newer to use the fuel, which has been slow to make a dent in the marketplace. Gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol is currently the norm.

Oil industry groups, automakers, food producers and environmental groups have complained about EPA’s decision to expand the market for ethanol, calling the decision premature and warning that E15 has been shown to damage car engines. There are also widespread concerns that the fuel will be used in vehicles not approved for its use, such as motorcycles and boats. The ethanol industry has disputed those claims, pointing to extensive testing by EPA and the Department of Energy before the fuel’s approval. In the last Congress, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) led efforts to slow the introduction of E15; the Wicker bill would represent the first Senate legislation to limit its use.

Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013

15 FEB

On trade, California Republican Nunes is an Obama critic turned ally

 New plans for a big European trade deal put President Barack Obama and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on the same page, for now. Obama wants the deal covering trade and investment with the European Union. To get it, he must navigate the House of Representatives’ trade subcommittee chaired by Nunes. What happens next will test the cooperation of two men who, until now, have rarely agreed on anything.

"I’m optimistic at this point," Nunes said in an interview Wednesday. "This is an area were we can work together in a bipartisan way." Read More 

15 FEB

Ban on flea-market animal sales proposed by California lawmaker

 Puppies, kittens and other live animals could not be sold at flea markets or swap meets under legislation proposed this week by a Sacramento legislator.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson’s measure, Assembly Bill 339, would make first offenses an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $250. If an animal suffers or is injured, however, the charge can be hiked to a misdemeanor and the fine to $1,000.

Dickinson, D-Sacramento, said that puppies, kittens, baby rabbits, turtles, exotic birds, reptiles and birds commonly are sold at swap meets and flea markets, often in close proximity and sometimes in crowded pens lacking adequate food or water. Read More 

14 FEB

NCC, broad coalition urge USDA to uphold its commitment to food safety inspection

 The National Chicken Council today, along with 37 organizations representing various aspects of animal agriculture, livestock and poultry producers, food processing and manufacturing, retail, international trade and transportation, wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to express strong concerns with the possibility of furloughing the nation’s federal meat, poultry and egg products inspectors in the event sequestration goes into effect. "We understand USDA is considering implementing a sequestration plan that would result in furloughing all the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS’s) meat, poultry and egg products inspectors for 15 days," the groups wrote.  "Because of the importance of federal inspection to the production of meat, poultry and egg products, we do not believe furloughing FSIS inspectors to be an appropriate response to sequestration within the framework of the federal meat, poultry and egg products inspection laws.  It certainly would not be in the public interest."
A copy of the full letter, along with a list of organizations signing it, can be viewed by clicking here. 

14 FEB

USDA food inspection threatened by automatic U.S. budget cuts

As Congressionally mandated budget cuts move closer to their Mar. 1 launch, reports are surfacing that the nation’s food inspection operations will be forced to undergo serious changes that will impact food safety and prices. A memo distributed by the White House last week indicated that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will be forced to shut down operations for as long as 15 days, a finding USDA officials confirmed to Meatingplace today. The so-called sequestration would force meat processing to shut down for the period when FSIS inspectors are idled, resulting in about $10 billion in losses for the more than 6,200 plants affected.  Read More 

14 FEB

Are plant-based diets environmentally friendly?

 A nutritious diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables might not be the greenest in its environmental impact, according to a new study from France. After analyzing the eating habits of about 2,000 French adults, and the greenhouse gas emissions generated by producing the plants, fish, meat, fowl and other ingredients, researchers concluded that widely embraced goals for the health of people and for the health of the planet are not necessarily perfectly compatible.  Read More

14 FEB

USDA broiler production forecast for 2013 increased again

The forecast for USDA’s broiler production for 2013 was increased again this month and is now expected to be 36.901 billion pounds, 495 million pounds above the department’s estimate last month, and 0.7 percent more than the slightly revised upward estimate of 36.640 billion pounds for 2012, according to the "World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates" report released today from the World Agricultural Outlook Board. USDA’s current broiler production estimate for 2012 at 36.640 billion pounds is 0.4 percent below the 36.803 billion pounds in 2011. Increased broiler production is likely USDA said because hatchery data point to continued expansion and slaughter weights have been increasing.  Read More