Editorial


E.U. Trends Likely to Influence U.S. Agriculture.

According to USDA-FAS GAIN report E42021-0007 released on January 12th 2021, a number of trends affecting E.U. agricultural policy emerged from the Farm to Fork Conference held in mid-October 2020.  The objective of the meeting was to create an international alliance and to develop global standards on sustainability and welfare.  The Conference was strongly supported by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission and by the Agricultural and Health Commissioners of Germany and other prominent EU states.  Items considered by the Farm to Fork conference that have relevance to the U.S. include:-


E.U. nations before BREXIT

 


E.U. Commissioner Ursala von der Leyden
  • The European Green Deal

This initiative to be enacted in the proposed Climate Law will be legally binding for all 27 European Union member states. The proposal will establish carbon neutrality by 2050 and progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The outgoing U.S. Administration has consistently denied the reality of climate change and has relaxed environmental regulations contrary to movements in the Europe and Asia.  This was exemplified by withdrawal from the Paris Accords and characterizing coal as “beautiful and clean”.  It is anticipated that the incoming Administration will reverse many of the policy decisions of the past four years and move towards commonality with the E.U. as a condition for trade.  On December 17th, all 27 E.U. Ministers of the Environment adopted the European Council position on the Climate Law incorporating a target of 55 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to the 1990 base.

  • Mandatory Nutrition Labeling

The E.U. will harmonize front-of-pack nutrition labeling by the end of 2022.  The intent is to provide consumers with information enabling health-conscious choices with adoption of the Nutri-Score labeling as introduced in France and since adopted by Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany.  Given that many U.S. producers of food products are subsidiaries of multinational corporations such as Nestle and Danone, it is anticipated that the front-of-pack nutrition labeling will eventually be adopted in the U.S.

  • Establishing Nutrient Profiles

The restrictions on salt, sugars and fat established by Regulation #1924 in 2006 will be fully implemented before the end of 2022. It is anticipated that there will be harmonization of nutritional specifications among industrialized nations of the northern hemisphere motivated by trade and health considerations.

  • Animal Welfare labeling

 A November 3rd 2020 meeting of the E.U. Platform on Animal Welfare announced a committee to produce a report by mid 2021 to evaluate consumer awareness and the economic impact of mandatory welfare standards. Julia Kloeckner, the German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture stated, "a common E.U. label for animal welfare would increase credibility and transparency in our markets and would enable consumers to make more informed choices and would help reward producers who comply with standards”.

  • Country of Origin Labeling

The European ministers of agriculture considered Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) in mid-December 2020. Given a number of foodborne health incidents associated with certain E.U. producer nations, this provision that could be regarded as discriminatory and possibly in contravention of WTO Regulations indicates concern among member nations. 

  • Product Dating

The EU will propose revisions to existing rules relating to use by and best before dates.  An improvement of presentation format or wording will be developed possibly abandoning the best before descriptor.

  • Chemical-based Pesticides

The European Commission will take action to reduce the application and by extension, exposure of consumers to chemical pesticides.  A target of 50 percent reduction by 2030 is envisaged.

  • Feed Additives

The Commission will consider the adoption of sustainable and innovative feed additives by revising current legislation.  Additives will be promoted on the basis of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to sustainable farming.

  • Promoting Organic Farming

As part of the Biodiversity Strategy, the European commission set a goal of 25 percent of agricultural land for organic farming by 2030, up from the current eight percent.  Well-meaning legislatures will have to reconcile the need for food with the inherent inefficiency of organic farming as we know it.  A legislative proposal relating to the EU Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy is expected by the end of the current year.

The EU has a long history of advancing welfare, sustainability and reducing the impact of agriculture and industry on climate change. The E.U. comprises close to 500 million in population (including the UK) and is the world's largest trading group with defined rules and procedures. Accordingly the U.S. cannot ignore trends in agriculture if we are to trade freely and enjoy political and cultural relations to our mutual benefit.


 

Egg Industry News


WEEKLY COMMODITY REPORT

WEEKLY COMMODITY REPORT: JANUARY 15th 2020.

 

  • The financial and economic uncertainties of the transition to a Biden-Harris Administration are diminishing but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate. The commodity market this past week was influenced by the WASDE revisions for the corn and soybean harvests, exports and ending stocks.

 

  • The direction of agricultural and trade policy to be implemented in 2021 will emerge following the confirmation of Tom Vilsack as USDA Secretary and Michael Regan as the Administrator of the EPA together with other Cabinet appointments and their subordinates relevant to agriculture. Following the result of the January 5th Georgia runoff elections for the Senate, the cabinet and sub-cabinet nominees by President-elect Biden will likely be approved.

 

  • S producers are now receiving and conversely livestock producers are paying close to $5.30 per bushel for corn and $14.20 per bushel for soybeans plus transport and basis.

 

  • Corn and soybeans were respectively 6.8 percent and 2.7 percent above the previous week representing the highest levels in three years. Soybean meal rose by 5.0 percent, disproportionate to the price of soybeans.

 

  • According to the USDA FAS Export Report for the week ending January 7th 2021 export orders for corn amounted to 28.66 million metric tons (1,129 million bushels) with 16.72 million metric tons (657.1 million bushels) actually shipped. Over the past week export orders for soybeans attained 14.56 million metric tons (534 million bushels) with 41.15 million metric tons (1,510 million bushels) actually shipped.

 

The following quotations for delivery in the months as indicated were posted by the CME at 15H00 on January 15th 2021 compared with values posted at close of trading on January 8th 2021 (in parentheses) reflecting specified months in 2021 for delivery.

 

COMMODITY

Corn (cents per bushel)

 March 531 (497)

May 534 (498)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

 March 1,415 (1,377)

May 1,412

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

 March 462 (440)

May 457

 

Changes in the price of corn, soybeans and soybean meal over five trading days this past week were:-

 

COMMODITY CHANGE FROM PAST WEEK

Corn: March quotation up 34 cents per bushel (+6.8 percent)

Soybeans: March quotation up 38 cents per bushel (+2.7 percent )

Soybean Meal: March quotation up $22 per ton (+5.0 percent )

 

  • For each 10 cent per bushel change in corn:-

The cost of egg production would change by 0.45 cent per dozen

The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per pound live weight

 

  • For each $10 per ton change in the price of soybean meal:-

The cost of egg production would change by 0.44 cent per dozen

The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per pound live weight

 

This week the changes in the prices of corn and soybean meal would raise nest-run production cost for eggs by 2.5 cents per dozen and for broilers 1.4 cents per live pound. Over the past three weeks escalation in the price of major ingredients have added 7.4 cents per dozen and 4.2 cents per live-weight lb.

 

According to the January 12th WASDE, corn harvested in calendar 2021 will attain 14,183 million bushels with ending stocks projected at 1,552 million bushels. Final values will be modified by actual export volume, domestic use and the February WASDE, incorporating planting intentions. Compared with January 8th at 15H00 the CME quotation for corn on January 15th was up 34 cents per bushel for March delivery to 531 cents.

 

The social restrictions imposed in the U.S. as a result of COVID-19 will reduce ethanol demand by 1.5 billion gallons or 10 percent of projected 2020-2021 requirement accepting a nominal ten percent addition to gasoline. A significant proportion of the U.S. ethanol fermentation capacity is off-line or operating at lower than capacity at present and the outlook for increased demand is questionable. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency the industry produced on average 941,000 barrels per day for the week ending January 8th 2021. Ethanol stocks stood at 23.7 million barrels on January 8th 2021. Ethanol was priced at $1.63 per gallon on January 15th up 29 cents per gallon from January 8th and compared with a five-year low of $0.92 per gallon on March 26th 2020. Concurrently gasoline at $1.52 per gallon (quoted, New York Harbor) is 11 cents per gallon higher than ethanol but has a 63 percent higher BTU rating.

 

With more plants producing ethanol in the 4th quarter of 2020 and into 2021, DDGS is freely available but at a higher price than in the fourth quarter of 2020. Eastern Corn-belt product was priced at $217 per ton on January 12th 2021, $9 per ton higher than the previous week (at 4.3 percent, DDGS was higher disproportionately than the 2.7 percent increase in the price of corn) and $58 per ton more expensive than January 14th 2020.

 

 Soybeans were the beneficiary of demand by China with price rising to 1,415 cents per bushel on January 15th for current month delivery. The USDA documented a 2021 crop of 4,135 million bushels. Ending stocks according to the January 12th 2021 WASDE projection will attain 140 million bushels, down from the December 2020 projection of 175 million bushels.

 

On January 12th 2021 Meat and Bone meal quoted Central U.S. attained $365 per ton, unchanged from the previous week and up $145 per ton from January 14th 2020.

 

On January 15th the BRL exchange with the CNY was 0.81, (down CNY 0.02 from the previous week). The conversion of the US$ to the CNY was set at 6.66 on January 15th, up a substantial CNY 0.18 from the previous week.

 

For consecutive calendar years 2017 through 2019 the U.S. supplied 34.4 percent of soybean requirements for China amounting to 95.5 million metric tons. This was followed by a decline to 16.9 percent of 88.5 million metric tons in 2018 and 16.6 percent of 88.0 million metric tons in 2019. The USDA anticipates that soybean imports by China will amount to 95 million metric tons during the 2020-2021 market year.

 

For the 2019/2020 market year China imported 2.1 million metric tons of corn from the U.S., 4.8 percent of total exports of 43.3 million tons, but 12 percent less than in the 2018/2019 market year. The U.S. Grains Council documented sales of U.S. corn to China through December 31st 2020 during the 2020/2021 year amounting to 11.7 million metric tons (460 million bushels) with 65 percent yet to be shipped.

 

For the 2019/2020 market year China imported 16.3 million metric tons of soybeans from the U.S., 36.2 percent of total exports of 44.9 million metric tons, but 3.9 percent less than in the 2018/2019 market year.

 

COMMENTS

Subscribers are referred to the January 12th 2021th WASDE #608 under the STATISTICS TAB. on

 

Approximately $16 billion was disbursed under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) in early 2020. An additional $14 Billion relief package was announced by the Administration on September 18th with all of the allotment having been distributed.


 

Egg Week

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, January 20th 2021.

 

  • Shell inventory was down a welcome 6.0 percent after a 2.1 percent decrease last week. This indicates a move towards balance between demand and supply with implications for prices extending through the remainder of January, given a reasonable anticipation of a reduction in flock size by depletion. There is little evidence of a return in the food service sector as liquid and dried-egg prices fall and reopening of the economy is delayed by a surge in COVID-19 incidence rates in many regions suggesting more restrictions.

 

  • The U.S. flock in production was down 0.9 million from the week of January 19th 2021 to 321.2 million, with fewer molted hens resuming production due to depletion and a lower number of pullets reaching peak against the reality that there was no seasonal December increase in demand or price increase

 

  • The USDA average Midwest benchmark generic prices for Extra-large and Large sizes were up 6.4 and 6.5 percent respectively from the previous week to 83.5 and 81.5 cents per dozen. Mediums were 1.8 percent higher at an average of 57.5 cents per dozen. During past weeks Midwest prices have sharply lagged both the corresponding weeks in 2019 and the 3-year average. It is apparent that unlike previous years the pre-Christmas rise failed to materialize. The price rise this past week reflects increased demand with only a moderate decrease in flock number.

 

  • The Midwest price of breaking stock was up 1.5 percent to an average of 37.5 cents per dozen. Checks in the Midwest were up 12.2 percent to an average of 27.5 cents per dozen.

 

OVERVIEW

Prices

According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports circulated on January 19th 2021 the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra-large and Large sizes were up 6.5 percent on average from the previous week as delivered to DCs, attaining 83.5 and 81.5 cents per dozen. Mediums were up 1.8 percent to an average of 57.5 cents per dozen reflecting an oversupply from young flocks. Prices should be compared with the USDA benchmark average 6-Region blended nest-run, (excluding provisions for packing and transport) cost of 68.2 cents per dozen in December 2020. The progression of prices during 2018-2020 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

 

The January 19th 2021 edition of the USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 68: No. 03) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $0.86 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending January 10th 2021. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.77 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $0.92 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was almost the same as the 3-year average and about 25 cents per dozen above the corresponding week in 2020.


 

Sad Passing of Blair J. Van Zetten

EGG-NEWS regrets to record the sad passing of Blair J. Van Zetten an industry stalwart who passed on Monday, January 18th in Scottsdale, AZ.  Blair was born in Oskaloosa, IA and graduated from Upper Iowa University with a Baccalaureate degree in business.  He assumed the presidency of Oskaloosa Food Products in mid-1975, a company founded by his late father, John.

 

Blair was an active participant in the industry having served the American Egg Board, the United Egg Association, the United Egg Producers and the Farmers and Ranchers Alliances.  He was a founding member of the Iowa State University Egg Industry Center and served as the Chair from 2008 through 2011.

 

Recognition of his contributions during his productive career included the ISU Alumni Association Award, the Urner Barry Egg Person of the Year in 2016 and induction into the Iowa Poultry Association Hall of Fame in 2019.  He served many community associations including the Oskaloosa Chamber of Commerce, the Oskaloosa Community Development Board and was a past-Chair of the TruBank Board of Directors and was an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church. 


The late Blair Van Zetten

 

A funeral service will be held at 10h30 January 26th at the First Presbyterian Church in Oskaloosa.

 

EGG-NEWS joins the industry in extending condolences to his widow Wendy and sons Jason, Brandon and Travis and his sister Cheryl Van Zetten. 

He will be sadly missed.


 

COVID Vaccination-a Personal Perspective.

On Wednesday, Barbara and I received our first Pfizer mRNA vaccinations without immediate complications. Our feeling of relief is however tempered by the recognition that so many of our fellow citizens will wait for months for their protection.

 

We are deeply thankful for all who were involved in the development of the  two approved vaccines. We owe gratitude to scientists and administrators at the NIH, the CDC, U.S. Army, Federal and state public health authorities, DHSS, pharmaceutical companies, commercial carriers and the personnel involved in administration.

 

Despite the claims of development of the vaccines at “warp speed” effective products would not have been possible without the basic and applied molecular biology initiated over a decade ago in diverse laboratories on at least three continents. Science, logistics, commonsense precautions and rapid deployment of vaccines will beat this pandemic and restore our pre-COVID way of life.

 

Until 75 to 80 percent of our population is immune we cannot reduce the intensity of our personal and collective responsibility to prevent infection. This will entail continued masking, avoiding crowds, restricting travel and personal hygiene. We have sacrificed too much in illness, death, social disruption and economic loss to relent now. Today’s jabs were a reminder of what we have endured as a Nation and what we still face before we reach the “other side”. Let us hope we attain the goal of 100 million doses in 100 days.


 

APHIS Organizes HPAI E.U.-Asia Update

USDA-APHIS will present a webinar on Tuesday February 2nd at 11H00 EST to review the prevalence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Europe and Eastern Asia.  In addition wild bird surveillance in the U.S. will be considered together with biosecurity.

 

The agenda will include an introduction from APHIS Associate Administrators Drs. Jack Shere and Mark Davidson. The program will include presentations on:-

  • HPAI in Europe and East Asia by Dr. Sherrilyn Wainwright

 

  • Wild bird surveillance in the U.S. by Dr. Tom Gidlewski, APHIS Wildlife Service

 

  • Poultry biosecurity audits in North Carolina by Dr. Michael Martin, NCDA

 

The invitation to attend was extended by Dr. Burke L. Healey, Deputy Administer of APHIS Veterinary Services.

 

Registration is at www.ems8.intellor.com

 


 

Questions over Organic Certification of Products from India

On Monday November 11th the National Organic Program administered by the USDA-AMS announced that new regulations would be introduced to certify organic products supplied by India.  The Agricultural Marketing Services informed the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority that the U.S. - India organic recognition agreement established in 2006 will be terminated.  By mid-March 2021 USDA certifiers will list organic suppliers in India in a database confirming that suppliers have applied for certification under the National Organic Program.  After July 2022 USDA organic certification will only be recognized by USDA-accredited certifiers to importat organic products from India.

 

Organic producers in the U.S. purchasing ingredients from suppliers in India have the obligation to inform their suppliers that National Organic Program certification through a USDA-accredited certifier is absolutely required by July 12, 2021.

 


 

Maple Leaf Foods Commits to U.S Tempeh Production

Michael McCain, President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods has announced a $100 million project to expedite tempeh production under the Light Life ® brand. 

 

Plagued with delays in establishing the Shelbyville, IN plant-protein facility, the company has acquired an existing building of 120,000 square feet in Indianapolis that will be converted to produce 10,000 tons of tempeh annually.  Installation of equipment will commence during the first half of 2021.  Subject to demand, it is possible that Maple Leaf Foods may double the projected production capacity.

 


 

Inflation Evident in U.S. Consumer Prices

On Wednesday, January 13th the Department of Labor reported that U.S. consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in December compared to November and were 1.4 percent above the comparative value for 2019.  Core prices, excluding food and energy, rose 0.1 percent from November to December and were up 1.6 percent on the year.

 

According to the Department of Labor, the price of core goods was 1.7 percent higher in November 2020 compared to November 2019.  Core services were up 1.6 percent compared to last year.

In reviewing the impact of inflation in ingredient prices on the poultry industry, the CME per bushel price of corn increased 32.9 percent from January 13th 2019 from $3.89 to $5.17 per bushel on January 13th 2020.  Soybean meal increased by 30.4 percent from $355 per ton on January 13th 2019 to $463 per ton on January 13th 2020. The collective effect of the January 2020 to 2021 escalation in prices of corn and soybean meal alone represents an increase in production cost of 10.5 cents per dozen for eggs and 5.9 cents per live weight pound for broilers.  In addition the cost of fuel, consumables and labor have risen consistent with inflation and producers have borne the additional costs of preventing COVID-19 in 2020.


CME Corn c/bushel 2020

 

Validating Feed Mixing with Micro-TracersĀ®

Article by David and Zachary Eisenberg

 

Microtracers® are used worldwide to assure quality of mixed feeds. They are used to identify the presence of additives and premixes in final feeds and to confirm the integrity of proprietary pharmaceuticals. In the poultry industry Microtracers® validate cross-contamination control procedures to prevent violative residues. This article describes the procedure to verify the accuracy of feed mixing.  

 

The cost of validating the accuracy of mixers is trivial when compared with the costs of non-uniform diets that may impact animal performance. Inefficient mixer performance will require longer mixing times or smaller batch sizes than needed, wasting resources and reducing feedmill capacity. 

 

View the rest of the article here.


 

Reassuring News on Efficacy of Pfizer COVID Vaccine in Israel

Clalit Health Services, the major HMO in Israel has determined that recipients of the Pfizer vaccine showed a lower rate of COVID-19 infection compared to non-vaccinated people over 60 year of age.  The study was based on 200,000 recipients of vaccine with a significant difference recorded 14 days after vaccination. The difference between vaccinates and those not vaccinated was apparent before the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine suggesting that effective immunity is established rapidly after receiving the first dose.

 

 


Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu receiving COVID vaccine

It is noted that the vaccination program in Israel has proceeded efficiently and rapidly with 25 percent of the total population vaccinated within three weeks of the release of the Pfizer vaccine.


 

Animal Rights Group Draws Attention to North Carolina Game Fowl Activities

Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wilderness Foundation have mounted a campaign opposing breeding and illegal export of fighting cocks from North Carolina to Mexico, Guam, the Philippines and Vietnam.

 

Animal fighting of any form is prohibited under a federal law enacted in December 2019.  It is illegal to sponsor or exhibit animals in a fighting venture, knowingly attend a fighting venue, knowingly buy, sell, possess, train, transport, deliver or receive an animal for the purposes of animal fighting and to use the U.S. Postal Service to distribute fighting animals or paraphernalia.

The organizations headed by Wayne Pacelle alerted the three U.S. Federal Attorneys General in the state of North Carolina to the existence of an active game fowl industry operating under the umbrella of the North Carolina Game Fowl Breeders Association despite the fact that cock fighting is a felony under North Carolina law.

 

Apart from the welfare considerations involved, movement of live birds absent compliance with existing health regulations represents a danger to the poultry industry with respect to persistence and transmission of both erosive and catastrophic diseases including AI and END.


 

Emergence of Variant Strains of SARS-COV-2

Public health authorities and molecular biologists worldwide have intensified sequencing of SARS-COV-2 isolates following the emergence of variant strains. In the UK, mutations in the spike protein have given rise to the B1.1.7 lineage and a similar but separate mutation has been identified in a spontaneously arising strain in South Africa. The U.S. has lagged in intensity in sequencing isolates and accordingly the presence of the UK variant was not recognized before community transmission occurred. 

 

An example of “seek and ye shall find” is the demonstration of a novel variant in the Columbus OH. area identified by Dr. Dan Jones Vice-chair of the Division of Molecular Pathology at Ohio State University.  Dr. Jones stated, “We are now in a period where the virus is changing quite substantially.  This is the moment as we are starting to see changes with vaccinations being introduced and where the virus has been in the human population for some months.  We do want to be looking out very carefully for the emergence of not just single mutations but new strains that have multiple mutations.”

 

As yet there is no evidence that the variant strains that are now present in over 60 nations are any more pathogenic than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus but they are evidently more infectious.  Resulting pressure on medical facilities and on the economy is obvious since more people are contracting the infection within a limited time.  To date, studies have shown that vaccines currently evaluated and approved are effective against the variants. 


 

Thijs Hendrix Inaugurated into the French Academy of Agriculture

On January 6th Thijs Hendrix founder of Hendrix Genetics in 2005 was inaugurated as a Member of the prestigious French Academy of Agriculture.  Hendrix is the third generation involved in poultry breeding as the son of Harry Hendrix who died in 2010 and Grandfather Thijs Hendrix (1884-1954) who established a breeding enterprise in 1923 in Ospel the Netherlands. Thijs Hendrix serves as the president of Hendrix Genetics and is still active in animal breeding and life sciences.

 

In 2005, the Institute de Selection Animale of France and Hendrix poultry breeders merged and the company was expanded in 2007 by acquisition of Euribrid, then owned by the Animal Breeding Division of Nutreco, a Dutch agricultural conglomerate.  Currently Hendrix Genetics has operations and joint ventures in 25 nations and supplies genetics to egg, turkey, aquaculture and pork industries in 100 nations.


Thijs Hendrix (right) receives award from
Ambassador Jean-Francois Blarel.

 

The French Academy of Agriculture is a source of scientific, technical, legal, political and social information relating to agriculture and facilitates exchanges between scientists and the government of France.  The Academy dates back to 1761 established by royal decree and was formerly restructured by government charter in 1915.


 

Pulsed Ultraviolet Light to Decontaminate Egg Shells

Dr. Paul Patterson of the College of Agricultural Sciences, Pennsylvania State University has demonstrated the efficacy of pulse ultraviolet light to decontaminate shell surfaces.  Dr. Patterson considers that the technology could replace the use of immersion and sanitizers.

 

Pulse UV irradiation also has application in decontaminating hatching eggs.  During a 27-second period of exposure, eggs are exposed to high intensity ultraviolet light generated by a xenon flash lamp generating 90 pulses with a duration of 360 micro-seconds.

 

The economics of pulse ultraviolet irradiation has yet to be determined for commercial egg packing plant and hatchery application.  In the case of table eggs, the principle of reducing surface contamination is self-evident.  The process will however not remove fecal staining and accordingly downgrades will be far higher than with conventional washing. The cost of diverting otherwise saleable eggs to breaking should be considered in the cost of the alternative technology.


Dr. Paul Patterson

 

In the case hatching eggs, many of the pathogens involved in increasing embryonic and first- week chick mortality are motile and penetrate the shell within 30 minutes of lay.  Although subsequent shell decontamination at the hatchery will reduce bacterial load, the installation of equipment in hatcheries may not materially increase hatchability or livability.  Weekly USDA broiler data indicate an average hatch of between 81 and 82 percent of eggs set and the restraints to hatchability and broiler chick viability relate to factors other than bacterial contamination except in specific complexes.

 

Irrespective of the eventual commercial deployment of pulsed ultra violet technology, the studies conducted by Dr. Patterson represent an advance in applying a physical process to a biological system with potential improvement of food safety.


 

NIFA Funding Research on SE

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has funded a project at Ohio State University relating to Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) in relation to shell-egg pasteurization.  The study will investigate transcription of genes encoding for stress regulators and virulence when SE is cultured in shell eggs and exposed to a range of heat and ozone treatments.  The virulence of SE derived from in-shell treatments will be evaluated using a mouse model.  The project designated OHO 03057-CG will be concluded in 2023.


 

FDA Commissioner Reviews 2020 Agency Achievements

In an address to the Alliance for Health Policy on January 6th, Dr. Stephen Hahn, outgoing Director of the FDA outlined achievements of his agency following a one year tenure in 2020.  These included:-

 

  • The Smarter Food Safety Blueprint that will create greater traceability.
  • 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan in response to recurring episodes of infection attributed to produce contaminated with irrigation water.
  • Approval of 28 drugs to prevent or treat livestock and companion animal diseases.
  • Approval of various therapeutic agents and emergency use authorization for two COVID vaccines.

Dr. Stephen Hahn

Despite the fact that Dr. Hahn emphasized the science-based decision-making process for the FDA, the reputation of the Agency has been degraded by perceptions of political interference. This is evidenced by  emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine and antibody therapy to treat COVID, both unproven “quick-fix” interventions.

 


 

Status of Science in the Biden Administration

President-elect Joe Biden announced on January 17th that Dr. Eric Lander will be appointed as Science Advisor and Head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and will also serve as a cabinet member.  Currently Dr. Lander is the president of the Broad Institute jointly operated by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He is both a mathematician and molecular biologist and served for eight years in the Obama Administration as Co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Dr. Lander, regarded as a polymath was the co-leader of the Human Genome Project before founding the Broad Institute. The appointment of Dr. Lander was met with approval from the scientific community.

 

Dr. John Holdren, the Science Advisor in the Obama administration stated, "he's incredibly good at explaining complex scientific issues and he is a fabulous choice with his breadth of knowledge across many disciplines".

 

In developing objectives, President-elect Biden has instructed Dr. Lander to address the future of science and technology with regard to public health, climate change, innovation, social equity and to work "broadly and transparently with the diverse scientific leadership of American society and engage the broader American public".

 

It is generally accepted that the present director of OSTP Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier has maintained a low profile during his two-year tenure and was essentially silent during political interference in scientific aspects of policy involving the Census Bureau, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the EPA.

 

Concurrently with the announcement of the appointment of Dr. Lander, President-elect Biden named Nobel Prize winner Dr. Frances Arnold to serve as co-chair of PCAST together with Dr. Maria Zuber.

 

Dr. Francis Collins, a Nobel Prize winner and Director of the National Institutes of Health since 2009 will continue in his current position, given the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and involving his coordination of projects involving development and evaluation of vaccines and therapeutics.


 

Pressure on Incoming Biden Administration Over Small Refinery Waivers

Six senators representing corn-production states addressed a letter to President-elect Biden urging rejection of small refinery exemptions, currently the subject of litigation and delay by the EPA.  The Senators led by Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) are requesting the incoming administration to release the renewable volume obligations and restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard.


Sen. Tammy Duckworth

 

Dr. Jewel Hairston Bronaugh Appointed as USDA Deputy Secretary

Dr. Jewel Hairston Bronaugh has been nominated to serve as the Deputy Secretary of USDA.  The position is the second-highest executive official in the USDA and involves responsibility of running the day-to-day operations of the Department.

 

Dr. Bronaugh is currently the 16th Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, a position she has held since 2018. Dr. Bronaugh earned a Baccalaureate degree in education from James Madison University and completed both Master’s and Doctoral degrees in technical education from Virginia Tech.  During her career she served as the Dean of the Virginia State University College of Agriculture before being appointed to her current position by Governor Ralph Northam.


Dr. Jewel H. Bronaugh
 

In commenting on the appointment, Gov. Northam noted, “as Commissioner of the VDACS, Dr. Bronaugh has been a true leader - promoting the Agency’s core mission while taking on new challenges including our COVID-19 pandemic response and farmers’ mental health, focusing economic development to improve food access in underserved communities and engaging youth in the field of agriculture.”

 

Matt Lohr of Virginia, who previously was the Director of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service under the outgoing Administration, observed, “America’s farmers and ranchers can be sure they have a true friend, an advocate working for them in DC.”

 

 

 In remarks announcing the appointment, President Elect Biden stated, “Our Administration will hit the ground running to deliver immediate, urgent relief to Americans; confront the overlapping crises of COVID-19, the historic economic downturn, systemic racism and inequality and the climate crisis, and get this Government working for the people it serves.” 


 

Kemin Partnering with CSS to Recycle Supermarket Waste

Kemin Nutrisurance will partner with CSS, a specialist in food recovery technology to repurpose supermarket waste into pet food.

 

CSS will apply Harvest to Harvest Technology to recover organics from supermarket waste. The purpose of the joint venture is to reduce food waste, provide innovative products for pets and to contribute to sustainability.


 

Mexico Issues Ban on Imported GM Corn for Human Consumption

A December 31st 2020 decree published in the Diario De La Federacion banned the importation of genetically modified corn for human consumption. The decree was noted in the USDA-FAS GAIN Report MX 2021-004 released on January 14th. There is uncertainty over the exact definition of ‘human consumption’. Mexico imports yellow corn from the U.S. to be used mainly for livestock feeding and industrial applications. The decree has created considerable concern in the agribusiness sector. 

 

According to the GAIN report, Mexico will harvest 27.8 million metric tons of mainly white and completely non-GM corn for the 2020/2021 season with an average yield of 149 bushels per acre. Mexico will import 16.5 million metric tons of corn or 35 percent of total supply. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (“Amlo”) is firmly opposed to GM technology and issued the edict in an autocratic manner without considering the consequences or advancing an alternative program of supply.  Jose Cacho President of the Mexican Corn Industry Chamber considers the decree as "completely diverse from reality"


"AMLO" el Presidente

 

Importance of Mexico as an importer of U.S. corn


 

Commentary


Dairy Industry Subject to Negative Publicity on Welfare: Implications for Egg Production

The U.S. dairy industry, impacted by declining sales of liquid milk and competition from alternatives is now coming under scrutiny for alleged violation of welfare standards. Having achieved a measure of success in forcing egg producers to transition to alternative housing systems, animal rights advocates have transferred their opposition to milk production.

 

As with eggs, pork and beef production there will always be “bad actors” that provide activists with images that are disseminated on the internet.  It is axiomatic that management practices that cause pain and stress reflect adversely on performance.  In competitive livestock industries achieving genetic potential is critical to both margin and ultimately survival.  Accordingly dairy farmers should practice sound stockmanship and provide housing consistent with the needs of their herds.

 

 

 

Practices which are coming under scrutiny include debudding and castration without anesthesia; rearing in calf crates; artificial insemination; confinement in barns frequently with shackling.  The most extreme of animal rights activists consider any form of farming including gathering of eggs or collection of milk as “species exploitation”.

 

Animal scientists are now evaluating management systems based on the analysis of behavior displayed by dairy cattle and are providing recommendations especially in the area of group housing of calves and abolishing invasive procedures.  Given the benefits of improved housing and management, adoption of recommendations by progressive farmers is evident. Current financial realities in addition to innate resistance to changing practices considered standard by generations of farmers are impediments to progress.

 

The dairy industry would be well served to heed the experience of egg producers since activists influence politicians and consumers.  Given the internet, immense funding and media support, the decline in consumption of dairy products based on negative welfare perceptions will continue.  Ballot initiatives primary directed against egg production have included housing practices used in both pork and veal production.  Restrictive legislation will be a reality except in the most intensive dairy-production states, although a trend towards more concerted opposition is evident.

 


Disbudding calf following administration of local anaesthetic

The dairy industry is advised to intensify their responses to unjust demands but also to recognize deficiencies and implement corrective action on a national scale.  A number of progressive dairymen are leading the way and should serve as ambassadors for change.  The U.S. egg industry has changed for the better over the past two decades and has made strides in improving sustainability, welfare, product quality and image.  The pork and dairy segments of livestock agriculture should follow.


 

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Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
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