13 MAR

USDA withdraws Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule

USDA announced today it has withdrawn the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule published on Jan. 19, 2017. The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018. Significant policy and legal issues were identified after the rule published in January 2017. After careful review and two rounds of public comment, USDA has determined that the rule exceeds the department’s statutory authority, and that the changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers. Read more

13 MAR

BRF execs barred from returning to Brazil’s top chicken exporter

Executives of major food processor BRF SA who were released by police on Friday will not be able to return to their posts at the company, the world’s largest poultry exporter, Brazil’s public prosecutor’s office said on Saturday. A Brazilian judge ordered their suspension from their activities in the company to avoid the risk of them interfering with an ongoing investigation that they engaged in fraud to evade food safety inspections. They were ordered to stay away from the company and any establishments BRF dealt with, including labs.  Read more

12 MAR

Low-path H7N1 detected at Missouri turkey farm

Veterinary officials in the United States today reported a presumptive low-pathogenic H7N1 avian influenza outbreak at a commercial turkey farm in Missouri, according to a notification today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).  The virus was detected during routine preslaughter tests on Feb 26 for H5 and H7 viruses, and no signs of clinical illness or an increase in turkey deaths were reported at the farm. Jasper County is in southwestern Missouri. The farm where the virus was detected houses 20,000 birds, which will be depopulated through controlled marketing, a strategy that allows poultry that are infected with or exposed to low-pathogenic H5 and H7 viruses to move to market on a limited basis, according to state response plans.  Read more

12 MAR

Please don’t start a global trade war, President Trump

What Donald Trump clearly cannot see through the prism of his own warped ideology is that the US is so far behind in its trade imbalance with the world that no matter how many tariffs he imposes, the retaliation will only leave it deeper in the hole with a damaged economy.  In short, he is risking kicking off a global trade war.

For trade, unlike Trump’s simplistic view, is not a zero-sum game. It’s not all about the dollars, it’s about jobs. All this flailing effort at rebalancing, imposed in an instant, could take decades to correct. Meanwhile, millions of jobs risk being lost. We may save a few hundred jobs in steel, and lose hundreds of thousands in automobiles, planes and industries critical to our survival.  Read more

12 MAR

Study suggests backyard chickens need more regulation

Historically, keeping backyard chickens was a response to economic hardship – whether it was in the Great Depression or during wartime food rationing. However, an increasing number of chickens today are roaming or are caged on small family farms and in back yards as suburban and urban poultry gains more popularity among consumers, according to an announcement from the University of California-Davis.  Read more

12 MAR

Lack of medications, veterinarians hamper U.S. turkey industry

The U.S. turkey industry continues to be hampered by a lack of approved efficacious drugs, according to a 2017 survey. Since 2005, four medications have been withdrawn, leaving the industry without any recourse to treat colibacillosis, blackhead and other diseases. As he has done annually for over 17 years, Steven Clark, DVM, Devenish Nutrition, conducted the survey, which represents 99.9 percent of the turkey industry. Read more

08 MAR

California farmers’ objections could kill conservative immigration bill

House conservatives’ effort to enact a controversial immigration bill has met a quiet but fierce foe: California farmers. Their opposition to farm labor provisions in the legislation – and their sway with influential California Republicans – are a big part of the reason the House is unlikely to move forward with an immigration bill this year.

Last week, a California Farm Bureau Federation delegation flew to Washington, D.C. for a series of meetings with members of Congress and their staff to highlight their concerns about a House Republican proposal that would protect young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” but also includes provisions they believe would gut California’s agricultural labor force. Read more

08 MAR

Trump says no Mexico, Canada steel break without fair Nafta

President Donald Trump said the U.S. won’t lower tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico and Canada unless the two countries agree to a revamped Nafta that’s fair to the U.S.  “NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs,” the president said in a tweet Monday. “Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed.” Trump, later speaking to reporters, added that he had just spoken by phone with negotiators at ongoing talks in Mexico City and that he’s under the impression that Canada and Mexico are open to a discussion. “But if they are not going to make a NAFTA deal, we’re just going to leave it this way,” Trump said at a news conference in Washington, suggesting he’d not waive the tariffs.
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08 MAR

Bill Gates calls GMOs ‘perfectly healthy’ – and scientists say he’s right

Bill Gates has a message for those advocating against genetically modified organisms: I’m disappointed.  In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread on Tuesday, Gates said that not only does he view genetically modified foods as “perfectly healthy,” but that he sees them as a promising tool in a wider array of resources in the fight to reduce world hunger.  “GMO foods are perfectly healthy and the technique has the possibility to reduce starvation and malnutrition when it is reviewed in the right way,” Gates wrote. “I don’t stay away from non-GMO foods but it is disappointing that people view it as better.”  Read more

08 MAR

The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens

Johan Land has a life that stands out even among Silicon Valley’s tech elite: He’s the lead product manager at Waymo (formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project), a job that keeps him glued to computer screens and fixated on the future.

Excelling at his work, Land said, requires an obsessive focus on it. But maintaining that passion – especially with his fourth child on the way – means knowing when to detach. Land’s secret to success: relaxing with a glass of wine in the backyard alongside his wife, kids and the family’s 13 chickens and three sheep. It’s mindless, he said, but far from banal.  “It’s a fascinating thing to sit and watch the animals because instead of looking at a screen, you’re looking at the life cycle,” Land said. “It’s very different from the abstract work that I do.”  Read more