10 SEP

Before the U.S. biofuels boom took off in 2007, the food vs. fuel debate raged: can we afford to use

Before the U.S. biofuels boom took off in 2007, the food vs. fuel debate raged: can we afford to use corn for ethanol in a starving world? Five years later, farm bankers ask: can we afford not to? "Ethanol demand is the linchpin of the current pricing model that we have," said Michael Swanson, agricultural economist at Wells Fargo, the largest commercial bank lender to U.S. farmers. "It’s a completely different question whether it’s right or wrong." Amid the worst drought to hit the Midwest in a half century, corn prices have nearly doubled. Howls of protests have come from livestock feeders. The government has forecast food inflation to rise.  Read More

10 SEP

EPA opens 30-day comment period on RFS waivers; comments due Sept. 26

In a notice posted yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is seeking comments on letters requesting a waiver of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) and matters relevant to EPA’s consideration of those requests.  The comment period officially began on August 30 and will close on Wednesday, September 26, 2012. EPA said it is issuing this notice to solicit comments and information on the waiver requests, and the views of the public on whether the  statutory basis for a waiver of the national RFS requirements has been  met and, if so, whether EPA should exercise its discretion to grant a  waiver.  Read More

10 SEP

The great egg crisis hits Mexico

It is the Great Mexican Egg Crisis, and it will not be over easy, though there will be puns, especially in the Mexican press, which is cracking a lot of jokes.
But seriously: The public here is faced with an extreme shortage of eggs in a country that has the highest-per-capita egg consumption on the planet. Highest being 22.4 kilograms (about 50 pounds) per person in 2011, or more than 400 eggs a year, depending on the size of the egg, according to Mexico’s National Poultry Industry.

There has been hoarding, price spikes and two-hour lines to buy eggs. Some retail outlets have been forced to limit how many cartons a day a customer can buy. American hens have been called to the rescue.

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31 AUG

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announces new help for livestock producers

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announces new help for livestock producers with changes to emergency loans, crop insurance

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made a series of announcements that continue to underscore the Obama Administration’s ongoing work to help farmers, ranchers and businesses impacted by the most severe drought in 50 years. The Secretary said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) intends to file special provisions with the federal crop insurance program to allow haying or grazing of cover crops without impacting the insurability of planted 2013 spring crops, a move that can help provide much needed forage and feed this fall and winter for livestock producers. In a separate step, Vilsack will modify emergency loans, allowing loans to be made earlier in the season helping livestock producers to offset increased feed costs and those who have liquidated herds. 

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31 AUG

AMI, Temple Grandin release video on humane slaughter

The American Meat Institute and animal handling expert Temple Grandin have released a video that depicts and explains the cattle slaughter process at a large (unnamed) plant. While its release coincides with this week’s temporary closure of Hanford, Calif.-based Central Valley Meat over human handling concerns, the video has been in the works for some time, explained AMI Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Professional Development Janet Riley in a blog that includes the embedded video. "In the video, Dr. Grandin talks about many aspects of handling and slaughter and she specifically explains that after animals are stunned to make them unconscious prior to slaughter, a step that is required by law, it is normal to see some uncoordinated movement, especially of the unrestrained rear leg. She notes that this does not mean that an animal is conscious, and much research will support this," writes Riley.  Read More 

28 AUG

Mexican gov’t suspends egg import tariffs in the face of a bird-flu outbreak

The Mexican government suspended tariffs on egg imports in the face of a bird-flu outbreak that has caused the domestic price of eggs to double in the last two months, the economy secretary said. "This measure has the aim of stabilizing the market, complementing current supply, reducing the price and guaranteeing the supply of this product," Bruno Ferrari told a press conference. Roughly 400 tons of eggs were imported this week from the United States, he said.  Read More

28 AUG

Brazil’s economy to get welcome boost from farm sector

After a tough first quarter, Brazilian farmers are injecting life back into a stagnant economy at a time when manufacturers and consumers are retrenching.

Agriculture has long been known as the green anchor of Brazil’s economy, now the world’s sixth-largest. One of the world’s breadbaskets, Brazil is a major producer of soybeans, corn, sugar, coffee, oranges and beef, and has invested heavily in the past decade to keep up with surging global demand. Read More
24 AUG

California Ag Secretary Karen Ross takes tours at Foster Farms


California Secretary Karen Ross toured poultry facilities at Foster Farms last Friday, starting with the chicken hatchery, shown here with Foster Farms executives Mike Pruitt and Ron Foster. Veterinarians Dr. Charles Corsiglia and Dr. Robert O’Connor coordinated the tour and also included California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Whiteford and California Food Safety Lab Director Dr. Richard Breitmeyer. Dressed here in mandatory biosecurity clothing, the group also toured a production house and the Livingston processing facility.

A new nationwide study of key poultry states shows that California has about 20,000 direct employees in the industry and more than 85,000 indirect employees. More than 100,000 California workers depend on poultry for its livelihood. This study was a John Dunham Company report paid for by U.S. Poultry and Census of Manufacturing (Commerce Department) and the USDA.

The wholesale value of poultry shipments total $8 billion in California, almost 10 percent of the nation’s total impact. Nationwide poultry shipments account for $100 billion.

Indirect economic activity coming from poultry production and processing in California is more than $22 billion. "The poultry industry has a huge impact in the economic health of California, and, its worker-intense operations make it one of the state’s manufacturing job machines," says California Poultry Federation President Bill Mattos.


Karen Ross

Mike Pruitt (left), Karen Ross (center) and Ron Foster (right)