Egg Industry News

Third Riverside County Egg-production Farm Diagnosed with vvND


According to a January 10th APHIS release a commercial egg-production farm with 100,000 hens was diagnosed with vvND. The unit is located in Riverside County approximately five miles from the second case diagnosed last week.


Since the first infection in a commercial pullet-rearing farm was diagnosed during the last week of 2018 intensive surveillance has been carried out to detect emerging cases that are not readily apparent in vaccinated flocks within a week of introduction of infection. Epidemiologic studies are in progress to ascertain the factors involved in dissemination of the virus from the endemic reservoir represented by fighting cocks in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The California Department of Food and Agriculture and APHIS did little other than diagnose over 240 individual cases and keep score from May through November 2018.


Many commercial farms in California lack investment in structural biosecurity and hence function with inadequate operational biosecurity. This situation creates vulnerability to introduction of catastrophic viral diseases. “Danish entry” systems are suitable for Denmark where family-operated farms of 10,000 hens are the norm. The risks and consequences of AI or ND dictate a higher level of protection in the U.S. including shower-on-shower-off protocols, thorough decontamination of vehicles and other precautions. “Feel-good” measures are effective only as long as there is no exposure!




Based on the importance of cage-free production, the USDA-AMS issues a monthly report on volumes and prices for the information of Industry stakeholders. There is some doubt as to the accuracy of the monthly flock numbers and the question is raised whether it would not be more desirable to post accurate quarterly data in place of erratic quarterly figures with similar data for consecutive months.

EGG-NEWS summarizes and comments on data and trends in the monthly USDA Cage-Free Report, supplementing the information posted weekly in the EGG-NEWS Egg Weekly Price and Inventory Report.

The USDA Cage Free Report for the month of December 2018 released on January 7th 2018 documented constant flock sizes in hens producing under the Certified Organic seal and for cage-free flocks as compared to the values for September through November 2018. The respective numbers of hens in organic and cage-free flocks should reflect the realities of supply and demand in the market over successive quarters. Average flock production rose to 75.75 percent for both categories of non-caged hens (accepting USDA data):-

Flock size '18 (million hens)






Oct. Nov. Dec.

Certified Organic






15.7 15.7 15.7

Cage-free hens






41.5 41.5 41.5

Total non-caged






57.2 57.2 57.2

Average weekly production cases, December 2018 Δ

Certified Organic

231,042 was 230,279 Nov. +0.3%


610,819 was 608,803 Nov. +0.3%

Total non-caged

841,861 was 839,082 Nov. +0.3%

Average Wholesale Contract Price Cage-Free Brown

$1.56/doz. Unchanged from Nov.

Range unchanged at:

$1.15 to $2.10/doz. (Av. $1.41/doz)

FOB Negotiated price, grade quality nest- run, loose

Average up 19 percent from November with narrower spread

$1.20 to $1.51/doz. (Av. $1.36/doz)

was $1.20 to $1.51 (Av. 1.36/doz.)

Average Advertised National Retail Price C-F, L, Brown

$2.47/doz. (was $2.96 November)

USDA 6-Region

High: NE

$2.76/doz. $3.47 (Nov.)


Low: SC

$2.24/doz. $2.68 MW


Kindly refer to weekly USDA wholesale and retail prices posted in the EGG-NEWS Egg Price and Inventory Report E-mailed each Friday. The previous Monthly Cage-Free Report is available under the STATISTICS Tab.


Ovotrack Appoints Agent for North America Region


Matt Poole of International Egg Marketers has been newly appointed as agent for Ovotrack in North America. Matt has a long-standing presence in the North American egg industry. Initially, he operated as a plant manager for an egg-processing center and subsequently as a sales manager for manufacturers of grading installations.
Job Beekhuis CEO of Ovotrack looks forward to cooperation with International Egg Marketers, stating “Matt’s background makes him the perfect partner for us to support and expand our commercial activities in North America”. He added “during the IPPE, Matt Poole will be joining the Ovotrack sales team at booth C9314.


 Ovotrack develops and supplies traceability solutions for egg processing plants. Systems offer full traceability, labeling and control of egg and packaging material inventory. Since its inception in 2003, the company based in Amerongen, the Netherlands, has developed and installed systems at over100 egg processing centers across Europe, North America and Australia.




The following quotations for the months as indicated were posted by the CME at close of trading on Friday Jan 11th together with values for the reference months in parentheses confirming a declining market for corn, soybeans and soybean meal in comparison to the previous week.







Corn (cents per bushel)

March’19  379  (383)        

May ‘19     387     (390)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

Jan. ’19      898  (909)   

March ’19  910    (922)      

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

Jan. ‘19    311    (316)

March ’19  314    (320)



Changes in the price of corn, soybeans and soybean meal were:-



Corn:                     March’19 quotation down 4 cents per Bu.      (-1.1 percent )

Soybeans:              Jan. ‘19 quotation down 20cents per Bu        (-2.3 percent)

Soybean Meal:        Jan. ‘19 quotation down $5 per ton               (-1.6 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 0.40 cent per dozen


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



There is renewed optimism concerning the outcome of the dinner meeting at the G-20 Summit between the delegations from the U.S. and China led by their respective Presidents. The U.S. has agreed to a three-month delay ending March 31st before raising tariffs from ten percent to twenty-five percent on over $200 billion in annual imports from China. In return China has agreed to purchase an unspecified quantity of agricultural commodities in addition to energy and heavy equipment from the U.S. to offset the negative balance of payments. An initial order of 1.5 million tons was placed, three weeks ago, the first since June.  The USDA announced on January 7th that orders have been placed for an additional 3 million tons to be shipped before September 2019.


According to the November 8th 2018 WASDE Report #583, which did not affect commodity prices, 81.8 million acres of corn will be harvested in 2018 to produce 14.62 Billion bushels. The soybean crop is projected to attain 4.60 Billion bushels from 88.3 million acres harvested. The levels of production for the two commodities are based on revised projections of yield and acreage harvested. Ending stocks were revised based on anticipated domestic use and exports.


 See the WASDE posting summarizing the November 8th USDA-WASDE Report #583 under the STATISTICS tab documenting price projections and quantities of commodities to be produced, used and exported from the 2018 harvest. The January 2019 WASDE  Report #584 will be delayed by the Government shutdown


Unless shipments of corn and soybeans to China resume in volume as projected the financial future for row-crop farmers appears bleak despite the release of two tranches amounting to  $12 billion as “short-term” compensation. Farmers will not be placated by the promise of a year-round E-15 blend since the logistic problems of delivery to consumers and legal challenges will delay any positive price benefit. Oversupply of ethanol with the current 10 percent addition (=dilution) mandate is evident from the December 28th spot price of $1.30 per gallon again this past week compared with a 2018 peak in late March of $1.60. Exports have been constrained by the retaliatory tariffs imposed by China on U.S. ethanol. Some refiners are reducing production and mothballing corn-fermentation plants.


The loss inflicted on farmers by the trade war with China is a gain for livestock producers who will benefit from lower feed costs. It must be recognized that the hog and poultry industries have experienced higher costs for a decade as a result of the RFS, a gift that keeps on giving. The mandate is a boon to Midwest politicians, corn growers and ethanol refiners at the expense of anyone in the U.S. who eats or uses any form of transport.



  • December 2018 USDA Ex-Farm Benchmark Price Down 5 Percent from November, Inconsistent with Seasonal Trends Due to Oversupply.

  • USDA Average Nest-run Production Cost Fractionally Higher than November at 60.9 cents per dozen.

  • Positive USDA Benchmark Nest-run Margin Decreased 14 Percent from November to 29.0 cents per dozen



Due to the Federal shutdown some monthly reports from December 26thwere not issued. EGG-NEWS has assembled available USDA market data to produce the December report. The normal format will be posted when USDA publications resume.

Summary tables for the latest USDA December 2018 statistics and prices made available by the EIC on January 9th 2019 are arranged, summarized, tabulated and reviewed in comparison with values from the previous December 10th 2018 posting reflecting November 2018 data.


American Egg Board Annual Meeting


The AEB Annual Board Meeting will take place Monday through Wednesday March 25-27, 2019 at a resort in Scottsdale, AZ.  Details of the location, registration and reservations will be released in due course.


Plant-Based Egg Substitute Offered to Baking Industry


Food Business News reports that Renmatix Inc. has established a strategic association with the Ingredient House LLC to promote Simple Cellulose™. This plant-based additive is claimed to be a substitute for liquid egg in baking.


The producer claims that the ingredient offers emulsification, texturizing and moisture retention for breads, muffins and cookies.


The egg industry through the Egg Nutrition Center and other components of the AEB should be constantly aware of substitutes especially in food service and baking applications and should constantly evaluate alternatives to determine technical vulnerabilities and potential nutritional contribution to formulas and diets.


USAPEEC Participates in BEXCO Yoga Event


USAPEEC participated in the BEXCO Yoga Event in Busan, South Korea during late December 2018


The purpose of this promotion was to acquaint yoga instructors, many of whom are trendsetters, with the nutritional value and quality of U.S. turkey.  More than 500 yoga instructors visited the USAPEEC Korea booth to sample salads and other recipes.


National Restaurant Association Posts Increased RPI in November


The National Restaurant Association recorded a 0.6 percent increase in the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) in November.  The current Situation Index a component of the RPI increased by 1.3 percent in November compared to October to a level of 102.2.  This was based on strong same-store sales and customer traffic.


Autonomous Home Delivery in San Francisco


DoorDash an established operator in home delivery has entered into a strategic relationship with Cruise Automation.  Cruise was established in 2013 and has partnered with General Motors to develop and deploy driverless vehicles.


Trials of home deliveries will commence in mid-2019 in the San Francisco metropolitan area.  It is proposed that the driverless vehicles will delivery both groceries and restaurant meals.


E.U. Engaging in Trade Talks with U.S.


The E.U. Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to discuss reciprocal trade. This move follows a commitment by the U.S. not to impose tariffs on E.U. auto imports. The concession followed a meeting between President Trump and the President of the E.U. Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. Their deliberations opened the E.U. market for U.S. soybeans. Our farmers now have a 75 percent share of the market essentially based on lower prices from the U.S. relative to Brazil following cancellation of U.S. orders by China.

While in the U.S., Commissioner Malmstrom will engage in a three-way discussion with the U.S. and Japan. This is the first clear indication that the U.S. is engaging with traditional allies to confine the predatory trade activities of China that affect the E.U., Japan and other Asian nations.


Bilateral China-U.S. Talks on Trade


The first face-to-face talks between China and the U.S. commenced on Monday, January 7th and concluded on January 9th having been extended by a day. The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish and included Undersecretaries from the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and the Treasury. The U.S. delegation interacted with their counterparts of the Government of China.

The President tweeted on Monday that “talks with China were going very well”. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross noted that the discussions at the appropriate staff level will determine how the Administration moves forward. It is evident that the trade aspects of the dispute could be expeditiously resolved. Unfortunately the underlying structural problems will represent a more substantial challenge since resolution would require profound changes in short- and long-term policy in China which would require the authority of senior officials reporting directly to President Xi.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang agreed that the parties would hold positive and constructive dialog to resolve economic and trade disputes. The comment by President Trump that “the Chinese economy is weak and motivating Beijing to work towards a deal” was refuted by Lu. He stated “China’s development has ample tenacity and huge potential. We have firm confidence in the strong long-term fundamentals of the Chinese economy. Observers of the economy of China recognize that growth is slowing, albeit from a torrid place in past years. The Global Times of China which frequently serves as a outlet for government policy stated “Beijing would not cave into U.S. demands.” The editorial published on Sunday, January 6th included the statement “If China was going to raise the white flag, it would have done it already”.

The general impression from the bilateral talks was that progress was made on the trade issue with talks “extensive, in-depth and detailed” according to the Ministry of Commerce. The communiqué continued “a foundation was laid for the resolution of issues of mutual concern”

Further talks, hopefully at a higher level should soon resume as the March 2nd deadline for a resolution of the structural issues is fast approaching.


Arizona Lettuce Growers Facing Challenge of Waterborne E.coli Contamination


Cooperation between the University of Arizona Extension Service and various producers’ organizations will hopefully result in meaningful monitoring of irrigation water for the presence of pathogens. The FDA identified contaminated water as the vehicle of infection in the STEC outbreak attributed to lettuce grown in the Yuma Valley in 2018.

The canal supplying a number of lettuce farms has apparently been repaired in advance of planting.

More than twenty organizations and individual agencies are represented on three new committees to review factors associated with contamination of Romaine lettuce. Producers’ organizations are still attempting to improve communication with operators of feedlots and various research projects have been initiated.

At the end of the day, if STEC is identified in water, it is inevitable that Romaine lettuce from the Yuma Valley will be contaminated and that outbreaks of food-borne infection will occur in 2019. It will take more than committees and research projects to ensure the safety and ultimately the image and viability of Arizona Romaine lettuce. Electron beam pasteurization is the only practical post-harvest prevention of food-borne STEC infection from lettuce.


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, January 9th 2018.


Due to the Federal shutdown effective midnight December 24th some data required for this report was not updated by USDA-AMS. Updated data will be posted when the USDA resumes operation.

  • Hen Numbers in Production increased 3.0 million to 328.1 million from December 26th.
  • Shell Inventory Up by a substantial 9.4 Percent from Previous Week.
  • USDA Midwest Benchmark Generic Prices for Extra Large and Large Down by 11.4 and 11.5 Percent respectively. Mediums Down 16.6 Percent Compared to Past Week.



According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on January 9 th the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large were lower by 11.4 and 11.5 percent and Mediums were down 16.6 percent compared to the past week. The progression of prices during 2018 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.


Potential Spread of ASF from China to Taiwan


Taiwan has reported the recovery of a dead hog on a beach on an off-shore island presumably having drifted from mainland China. Routine sampling demonstrated that the hog had died from African Swine Fever. This represents an immediate danger to the herd of approximately 5.5 million hogs on Taiwan and has the potential to disrupt the Nation’s supply of pork.

The Government of China is more alarmed over the epidemiologic and social implications of the current ASF outbreak that now involves 100 confirmed cases in 23 provinces and municipalities. China has demonstrated typical lack of transparency with regard to the number of hogs having been depleting in an attempt to control the infection. Apart from the 80,000 hogs in a joint-venture multiplier operation in Heilojiang Province during the last week of December, as many as 700,000 hogs have either died of the disease or have been killed. This is a small number compared to the 700 million on farms ranging in size from family units to integrations.

The Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs is intensifying epidemiologic investigations as to mechanisms of spread and will punish producers who deviate from regulations relating to feeding swill, quarantine and disposal.

It will be remembered that with the advent of PED in China, disposal of dead hogs was a problem and in many cases, farmers resorted to dumping carcasses in rivers, which presumably is the origin of the dead hog which washed up on the Taiwan island.


NIR Technology to Evaluate Wholesomeness of Food


Fraunhofer is developing a near infrared (NIR) spectrum scanner to evaluate the wholesomeness of food products. Currently the scanner is suitable for homogenous products such as tomatoes and ground beef but has not yet been adapted to complex foods with numerous ingredients.

An infrared beam directed onto the surface of a product is reflected and the spectrum is analyzed by the instrument. Scanned data is transmitted by Bluetooth to a cloud-based library of spectra. By comparison against known patterns, ripeness of a fruit or degradation in quality can be evaluated. It may be possible to determine spoilage associated with bacteria or even to detect the presence of pathogens with further refinement.

Fraunhofer is continuing development and will deploy a prototype unit for testing in supermarkets in late 2019.


Campylobacteriosis Common as a Food-Borne Infection in the E.U.


According to a release from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, analogous to the U.S. CDC, there were 250,000 confirmed cases of campylobacteriosis in the E.U. in 2016. This is the most commonly encountered food-borne infection in the E.U. since 2005. Approximately 70 percent of E.U. cases are recorded in the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain and the U.K. The apparent low prevalence in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland, Portugal and Romania is possibly a function of diagnosis and reporting rather than an actual lower prevalence rate.

In 2016, the ECDPC recorded 62 fatalities with the majority in the elderly. As with previous studies, campylobacteriosis is a seasonal disease with the highest incidence during June to August.


Senator Pat Roberts to Retire in 2020


U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2020 and will retire at the end of the 116th Congress.

The announcement made in Manhattan, KS included his statement “I will be forever grateful to the people of Kansas for allowing me to represent them.” He added “You can bet I still have a very long To-Do list. You can count on me to march forward and press the battle on behalf of our great state and Nation.”

Senator Roberts is the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and he is the only member of Congress that has served as Chairman of both the House and Senate Committees with jurisdiction over the Department of Agriculture.




The following quotations for the months as indicated were posted by the CME at close of trading on Friday Jan 4th together with values for the reference months in parentheses confirming a rising market for corn, soybeans and soybean meal in comparison to the previous week.





Corn (cents per bushel)

March'19 383 (376)

May '19 390 (384)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

Jan. '19 909 (883)

March '19 922 (897)

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

Jan. '19 316 (309)

March '19 320 (314)

Changes in the price of corn, soybeans and soybean meal were:-


Corn: March'19 quotation up 7 cents per Bu. (+1.9 percent )

Soybeans: Jan. '19 quotation up 26cents per Bu (+2.9 percent)

Soybean Meal: Jan. '19 quotation up $7 per ton (+2.3 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 0.40 cent per dozen

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

There is renewed optimism concerning the outcome of the dinner meeting at the G-20 Summit between the delegations from the U.S. and China led by their respective Presidents. The U.S. has agreed to a three-month delay ending March 31st before raising tariffs from ten percent to twenty-five percent on over $200 billion in annual imports from China. In return China has agreed to purchase an unspecified quantity of agricultural commodities in addition to energy and heavy equipment from the U.S. to offset the negative balance of payments. An initial order of 1.5 million tons was placed, three weeks ago, the first since June. The USDA announced on January 7th that orders have been placed for an additional 3 million tons to be shipped before February 2019.

According to the November 8th 2018 WASDE Report #583, which did not affect commodity prices, 81.8 million acres of corn will be harvested in 2018 to produce 14.62 Billion bushels. The soybean crop is projected to attain 4.60 Billion bushels from 88.3 million acres harvested. The levels of production for the two commodities are based on revised projections of yield and acreage harvested. Ending stocks were revised based on anticipated domestic use and exports.

See the WASDE posting summarizing the November 8th USDA-WASDE Report #583 under the STATISTICS tab documenting price projections and quantities of commodities to be produced, used and exported from the 2018 harvest. The January 2019 WASDE Report #584 will be delayed by the Government shutdown

Quarterly corn and soybean stocks were estimated by USDA in the last release for 2018 on September 28th to total 2.14 Billion bushels (14.7 percent of the 2017 harvest) and 0.44 Billion bushels (10.0 percent of 2017 harvest) respectively. Of the "old soy crop" 0.10 Billion bushels are held as on-farm storage, up 15 percent from the corresponding period in 2017. Off-farm storage is up 58 percent to 0.34 billion bushels. Disappearance from June to August was 0.78 Billion bushels, up 18 percent from the corresponding period in 2017. This reflects accelerated shipments in anticipation of increased tariffs imposed by China. From August through November soybean exports to China ceased.

Unless shipments of corn and soybeans to China resume in volume as projected the financial future for row-crop farmers appears bleak despite the release of two tranches amounting to $12 billion as "short-term" compensation. Farmers will not be placated by the promise of a year-round E-15 blend since the logistic problems of delivery to consumers and legal challenges will delay any positive price benefit. Oversupply of ethanol with the current 10 percent addition (=dilution) mandate is evident from the December 28th spot price of $1.30 per gallon compared with a 2018 peak in late March of $1.60. Exports have been constrained by the retaliatory tariffs imposed by China on U.S. ethanol. Some refiners are reducing production and mothballing corn- fermentation plants.

The loss inflicted on farmers by the trade war with China is a gain for livestock producers who will benefit from lower feed costs. It must be recognized that the hog and poultry industries have experienced higher costs for a decade as a result of the RFS, a gift that keeps on giving. The mandate is a boon to Midwest politicians, corn growers and ethanol refiners at the expense of anyone in the U.S. who eats or uses any form of transport.


New Breakfast Items for 2019


The National Restaurant Association surveyed 650 professional members of the American Culinary Federation to determine food trends in 2019.  Plant-based alternatives and globally-inspired menu items will emerge in 2019. Alternative sources of protein and locally sourced meats and seafood will become more frequent in menu offerings. 


Ethnic flavored breakfast items such as shakshushka were mentioned as a “globally-inspired breakfast item”.  This dish which is traditional in North Africa includes a poached egg overlaid on tomatoes, onions and peppers.  Spices include cumin, paprika and nutmeg.


Cal-Maine Foods Reports on Q2 of FY 2019


In a press release dated January 4th Cal-Maine Foods (CALM) announced results for the 2nd Quarter of Fiscal 2019 ending December 1st 2018.

The following table summarizes the results for the period compared with the values for the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal year (Values expressed as $ x 1,000 except EPS)




2nd Quarter Ending.

December 1st 2018

December 2nd 2018

Difference (%)





Gross profit:




Operating income:




Net Income




Diluted earnings per share:1




Gross Margin (%)




Operating Margin (%)




Profit Margin (%)




Long-term Debt:




12 Months Trailing:


Return on Assets (%)



Return on Equity (%)



Operating Margin (%)



Profit Margin (%)



Total Assets




Market Capitalization



Norte 1. Q2 FY 2018 included a class action legal settlement of $81 million.

52-Week Range in Share Price: $ 39.5 to $52.3

Market Close Jan. 3rd $42.10 Jan. 4th post-release at 10H00 $41.77 Down 0.9 percent)

CALM missed consensus expectations on sales but exceeded on net profit. CALM declined 4.8 percent during the past quarter compared with 16 percent lower on the S&P.

Forward P/E: 23.0 Beta -0.2

For the first half of FY 2019 CALM posted a net profit of $34.2 million ($(42.1) during FH FY 2018) on sales of $696.6 million ($624.0 million). EPS attained $0.71 compared with a negative $0.87 for FH FY 2018.

In reviewing the CALM quarterly report the following calculated values 1 represent key data for the most recent Quarter. (Q2 Fiscal 2018 in parentheses):-

  • Dozen shell eggs sold: 262,263,000: (263,086,000: -0.3%)?

  • Average selling price of all shell eggs2: $1.33 per dozen; ($1.35 per dozen: -1.5%).?

  • Average selling price of specialty eggs calculated from data released: $1.98 cents per dozen: ($1.92 per dozen; +3.1%).?

  • Average selling price of generic eggs calculated from data released: $1.13 cents per dozen; ($1.18 cents per dozen; -4.2%).?

  • Differential between generic and specialty eggs: $0.85 cents per dozen; ($0.74 per dozen; +14.9%)?

  • Specialty eggs as a proportion of volume sold: 23.5%; (22.6%; +3.9%)?

  • Specialty eggs as a proportion of sales value: 35.0%; (32.3%; +8.3%)?

  • Proportion of eggs sold actually produced by Cal-Maine flocks: 85.0%; (84.7%; +0.4%).?

  • Feed cost: 41.5 cents per dozen (38.8 cents per dozen; +7.0%)?

    NOTES 1. Assumes that 98 percent of sales value was derived from shell eggs.

    2. Based on stated proportions of volumes and revenue for specialty and generic eggs.

In commenting on results, Dolph Baker, Chairman and chief executive officer of Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., stated, "Cal-Maine Foods had solid financial and operating performance fo

Proposal to End Government Shutdown?


The incoming Democratic House majority will introduce legislation that will fund all Federal agencies through September 30th with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security.  The proposed legislation follows a similar bill that passed the Senate previously on a bipartisan vote.

The President has vowed to reject any bill not including funding for a Southern border wall for which $5 billion was requested.  By excluding the Homeland Security appropriation it would be considered reasonable to end the Government shutdown. Homeland Security appropriations could be the subject of a continuing resolution through February 8th. Sen. Mitch McConnell      (R-KY) the Senate Majority Leader has indicated that he will not place any legislation before the Senate that would in all probability not be signed by the President.


 Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated, “It would the height of irresponsibility and political cynicism for Senate Republicans to now reject the same legislation they have already supported.” 


To overcome a Presidential veto 55 Republicans would have to vote with every Democrat in the House.  Overriding a veto would also require the support of 67 Senators.


Charlotte Includes Eggs in School Lunch Menus


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, with an enrollment approaching 140,000 has incorporated hard-boiled eggs in the lunch menu.  The administrators of the school system have benefited from the AEB Eggs In Schools Protein Power PromotionBrunch4Lunch also includes cheese omelets.


AEB School menu Patties



AEB Website Generates 16 Million Visits in 12 Months


The American Egg Board counted 16 million visits to <incredible> from November 2017 through November 2018, a 14 percent increase over the previous 12-month period.  Traffic was driven by 780,000 visits per month as verified by Organic Search. 


The website ranks in the Top-100 search results among 51,000 Google keywords.  Of the pages viewed, three-quarters related to a recipe or cooking school lesson.


Cargill Reports on Q2 of 2019.


On January 3rd. Cargill Inc. a family-held multinational agribusiness enterprise reported results for the Second Quarter of Fiscal 2019 ended November 30th 2018. The report highlighted:-






  • Second-quarter revenues decreased four percent to $28 billion.

  • Adjusted operating earnings were $853 million, down ten percent from the $948 million earned during the comparative period in FY 2018.

  • Net earnings on a U.S. GAAP basis for the quarter were $741 million, a twenty percent decline from $924 million in Q2, FY 2018.

In commenting on results David MacLennan, Chairman and CEO stated "Our teams executed in a world of uncertainty to bring the best solutions to our customers and the consumers they serve," He noted the ability of Cargill to adjust rapidly to changing market conditions throughout the quarter and to deliver safe, reliable and sustainably- produced foods to their destinations.


ASF Diagnosed on J-V Farm in China


According to a Reuters release on January 3rd authorities in China have disclosed that a farm holding 73,000 hogs including 15,000 breeding stock was diagnosed with African swine fever (ASF). The operation located in Suihua, Heilongjiang Province, is a joint venture between Heilongjiang Asia-Europe Animal Husbandry a subsidiary of the Zhejiang Rural Development Group and minority shareholder IFU of Denmark. The facility had the potential to produce close to 400,000 commercial hogs annually and the loss of the parent-level stock following depletion will impact future pork output from the Province.


That the outbreak was in fact reported is attributed more to foreign equity involvement and the magnitude of the loss rather than any newfound commitment to transparency by the Government of China. To date more than 100 farms in 23 provinces and municipalities have been affected with more than 200,000 hogs depleted. This figure may represent a deliberate under-count.


China has been slow to marshal resources to control the widespread and highly contagious disease. An initial directive was to quarantine infected farms and to ban feeding of swill. These measures are considered impossible to enforce in rural areas with a large number of family-operated subsistence smallholdings. A commentator noted “policies are good but the increasing outbreaks show that there might be some problem with execution at the local government level”


More recent “control” measures are inexplicable with regard to a current understanding of the epidemiology of ASF and experience with proven control  measures. The Agricultural Ministry is requiring processing plants to “test pork products for ASF before selling them to the market” This is nonsense as ASFv is not transmissible to humans and presumes that if dead or clinically affected hogs are delivered to processing plants they were infected before consignment and resulted in dissemination of ASFv during transport. The ‘test-in-plant’ policy is a confirmation of the reality that as soon as clinical signs appear in a herd it is consigned to slaughter. The point at which hogs should be tested is at the farm before transport to an abattoir.  Other less than meaningful regulations are due to be introduced on February 1st, exactly four days before the Lunar New Year. The delay and upsurge in processing preceding the heaviest consumption period of the year will contribute to a high incidence rate and extension to as yet unaffected Provinces and jurisdictions.


Has Organic Milk a Lesson for Organic Eggs?


USDA statistics show an essentially static growth in flocks certified as Organic. For the past seven months the combined flock has increased by 100,000 hens to 15.7 million representing 9.5 percent of the shell-egg producing flock of 165 million. The USDA-AMS documented organic production attaining 230,000 cases per week in November 2018. The complement of hens at an average rate of lay equivalent to 75.5 percent would in fact produce 230,000 cases per week although there are anecdotal reports of organic eggs marketed as “cage-free” (and reputedly the reverse on occasions!) depending on regional demand. The 58 cents per dozen average retail differential between certified organic and cage free during the second and third weeks of December hardly covers the 55 cents per dozen difference in production cost resulting from a nominal premium of $300 per ton for organic feed. Generally sales of organic eggs are stimulated by a differential in shelf price of $1.00 to $1.20 per dozen over cage free.


In reviewing the growth in sales of organic foods in the U.S. the Organic Trade Association, cited by Nielsen claims $40 billion sales in 2017 representing approximately 5.4 percent of all food sold in stores, amounting to $730 million. Organic products showed a nine percent increase over 2016 in dollar value and eight percent in unit volume. Eggs and dairy collectively accounted for $4 billion in sales with a USDA estimate for dairy of $2.6 billion and by calculation, $1.4 for organic eggs, assuming $4 per dozen at retail. Organic milk sales fell by 2.3 percent in 2017 contrary to the national trend for organic food products. The average unit price for cow’s milk is $2.60 per gallon compared to $4.80 per gallon for certified organic milk. Both conventional and organic milk face competition from plant-based products selling at a 25 percent lower cost than to conventional milk.


Sales volume for a food product is limited by the price that customers are willing to pay. Wide differentials in price suppress demand unless consumers can equate perceived or real attributes with any price differential. The USDA Organic seal imposes substantial costs in sourcing certified ingredients and complying with overly restrictive National Organic Program regulations on feeding, housing and management. These impositions are reflected in cost of production and ultimately selling price. If the organic egg sector is to grow, either price must come down or a wider demographic must be persuaded to appreciate the claimed benefits associated with organic status. Organic milk is in a downward spiral contrary to the trend in organic food. Organic eggs show static growth. Changes in regulations and promotion of organic certification is required to stimulate market growth in the segment or this is as good as it gets.


The Cost of the China Trade War on U.S. Agriculture Becoming Apparent


Reuters reported on the economic impact of the ongoing trade war with China in an article quoting Dr. Wally Tyner, an agricultural economist at Purdue University. He stated “it’s a lose-lose situation for both the United States and China” with losses to both nations of $2.9 billion to date following imposition of 25 percent tariffs on soybeans, wheat, corn and sorghum. In June China switched soybean purchases to Brazil, resulting in an escalation in FOB prices increasing the cost of imported beans to crushers and feed producers.


U.S. farmers have not been compensated adequately for the decline in CME-based unit revenue for soybeans and other commodities. U.S. agricultural exports to China fell by 42 percent over the first 10 months of 2018 compared with the corresponding period in 2017. It must be appreciated that China forward-ordered in anticipation of increased tariffs and only ceased purchases in June, during the second half of the 10-month period. Soybean futures averaged $8.75 per bushel from July to December 2018 compared to $9.76 for the second half of 2017. The president of the North Dakota Farmers’ Union estimated losses for his state’s membership to exceed $380 million for the 2018 crop season.


Despite a promise of “substantial quantities of imports” apparently pledged by China, only 1.5 million bushels were ordered and shipped. These December consignments were subject to the 25 percent tariff, limiting additional purchases from the U.S.


The economy of China is also hurting which is no comfort to U.S. farmers but may result in concessions in talks that have presumably commenced. Hopefully most issues will be resolved by the March 2nd deadline. Farmers must have some sense of future demand and prices to plan their crop allocations.


Amazon to Expand Presence of Whole Foods Market Chain in Western States


Amazon is banking on its Prime operation to generate synergy for Whole Foods Market, acquired in August 2017 for $13.7 billion. It is understood that since the Amazon takeover, sales have increased, but margins have declined due to Prime discounts.

Amazon, which earned $2.9 billion on sales of $57 billion during the most recent quarter, can afford to invest in growth and forego short-term profits. The behemoth now intends to expand into Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, especially in areas that are underserved by supermarket chains. Stores will not only display traditional Whole Foods’ products, but will also serve as pick-up and distribution centers for Amazon Prime.

A serious problem facing Amazon is disaffection of workers following the acquisition. Wage  rates have been increased to $15 per hour as a minimum although workers are agitating for unionization, a prospect which should concern the holding company.

The Wall Street Journal noted that John Mackey, co-founder and currently token CEO of Whole Foods noted that in 2019, the company would “pivot back to team member growth and happiness.” Hopefully Jeff Bezos shares this sentiment.


Plastic Packaging Creates Concern Among Consumers


In 2018, China ceased importing low-grade and single-use plastic used to package foods. This has created a break in the chain of production and disposal of plastic packaging since China was previously the end-point for 45 percent of plastic discarded by consumers. It is estimated that global production of raw plastic now exceeds 400 million tons annually with only a small fraction being recycled.

Activist investors including Aviva, Hermes and Third Point are pressuring food companies in which they hold equity to substitute alternatives to single-use plastic.

The December 31st edition of The Wall Street Journal highlights the dilemma of manufacturers of foods and consumer products including Unilever, Nestle and Proctor and Gamble. Many companies have made commitments to displace single-use plastic. Coca Cola intends converting to recyclable containers by 2025 with similar intentions by Unilever and Nestle.

At the present time, margins are impacted by higher fees for disposal of waste plastic. A possible solution lies in recycling applying innovative technology. Manufacturers of paper and fiber packaging have experienced an upsurge in demand as alternatives to plastic are introduced.


FDA Warns Over Homemade Eggnog


The staff of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition of the Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about using raw eggs to produce homemade eggnog. Both raw eggs and unpasteurized milk represent potential health risks to consumers. The FDA suggested the use of pasteurized egg liquid and milk as ingredients for homemade eggnog.

Although commercial eggs produced in accordance with the FDA Final Rule on Prevention of Salmonella and various state egg quality assurance programs (EQAPs) should be free of Salmonella Enteritidis, eggs from backyard flocks and non-compliant farms may be contaminated with a range of pathogenic Salmonella. It is noted that the FDA has no jurisdiction over flocks with less than 3,000 hens. Eggs from these flocks are sold at farmers’ markets or at farm stalls without statutory testing or supervision of production standards to ensure freedom from infection.


Contribution of AVMA Foundation


The American Veterinary Medical Association Foundation made extensive contributions to education, research and charity during 2018.

  • The Foundation contributed $150,000 in disaster relief following hurricanes Florence and Michael and following the wildfires in California. Reimbursement grants were provided to veterinarians and allied veterinary organizations to help treat and shelter animals.
  • The Foundation awarded 145 veterinary scholarships totaling $470,000 during the past academic year.
  • A total of $113,000 was provided to support research in veterinary medicine including diagnosis and treatment.
  • The Charitable Fund dispersed assistance to support therapy of animals for owners unable to pay for treatment.



USDA Functions Impacted by Federal Shutdown


Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue has indicated that non-critical activities of the USDA would be discontinued for the duration of the “lapse in Government funding.” These include:

  • ERS commodity outlook reports, data product research reports
  • NASS statistics, including World Agricultural Supply And Demand Estimates
  • Provision of new grants or processing of payment for existing grants to support research
  • Cessation of ongoing research activities except for care of animals, plants and infrastructure
  • Investigation of complaints under GIPSA
  • Farm loans and some farm payments

Critical functions will continue including:

  • Meat, poultry and egg inspection services
  • Inspection of grain, including weighing and grading for export
  • Continuation of SNAP payments and the Child Nutrition Programs including school lunches
  • Continuation of market assistance loans, market facilitation payments over the first week of the shutdown of market facilitation program payments

It is hoped that the shutdown will be of short duration, but is expected to continue until after the swearing in of the 116th Congress.


U.S. Faces Loss of Agricultural Markets in Japan


On December 30th, Tokyo eased tariffs and quotas on partners in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPATPP). The U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in 2017 allowing the eleven members of the CPATPP to benefit from the Agreement to the disadvantage of U.S. exporters. In February 2019, the provisions of the European Union-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement  (EU-JEPA) will provide competitive benefits for the 28 nations who are eager to displace U.S. exports.

In 2017, Japan imported agricultural products to the value of $12 billion. The U.S. currently supplies 48 percent of the wheat and beef markets and 31 percent of pork. U.S. farmers supply 52 percent of nuts and up to 20 percent of vegetables and fruits.

With the CPATPP and the EU-JEPA in  operation, participants will enjoy lower tariffs on chilled and frozen beef, prepared pork and other meat products, placing U.S. exporters at a competitive disadvantage.

The problem could be resolved by rapid negotiation and conclusion of a U.S.-Japan trade partnership, but the Administration is concerned over an automobile and parts trade surplus and as with China, alleged currency manipulation. It is hoped that a trade agreement will be reached with Japan certainly within the first quarter of 2019. Even if a level playing field is restored, the U.S. will have lost markets, especially in egg products, beef, pork and wheat.

For the first ten months of 2018 Japan imported 8,985 metric tons of egg products valued at $38 million. This trade represented 34 percent of volume and 41 percent of value. The unit value of egg products exported to Japan attained $4,207 per metric ton compared with an average of $3,192 per metric ton for the five other significant importers.


Legal Challenge to Massachusetts Housing Ballot Restrictions


On November 6th 2016, Massachusetts voters adopted Question #3 in a ballot which passed by a 3 to 1 margin. The measure closely followed  California Proposition #2 enacted in November 2008 placing restrictions on housing of poultry and livestock. `The law restricted not only Massachusetts producers from confining livestock according to specifications but as with California AB 1347 enacted in 2009, prevented the sale of veal, pork, and eggs not produced in conformity with Massachusetts regulations.


A brief petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Massachusetts Question #3 was filed on Wednesday December 19th. The petitioners in the case include the Attorneys General of 13 states.  At issue is the Commerce Clause of the Constitution that denies states the right to impose restrictions on interstate transport of goods.


According to an article by Daniel Flynn in the December 21st edition of the American Spectator, the brief requests the Court to intervene to prevent Massachusetts from imposing restrictions on the petitioning states and also “to resolve the broader question of where the Commerce Clause permits states to close their markets to products created under disfavored conditions having no relation to the quality of the product itself.”


Gary Baise an attorney representing Protect the Harvest, a nonprofit dedicated to support the freedom of consumers and livestock producers, regards the Massachusetts law as unconstitutional.  Quoted in The American Spectator article he stated, “In 1787, we were an agricultural society.  The Commerce Clause countered the states putting up barriers and we created a national free-trade zone.


What remain to be seen is whether the Supreme Court will issue an opinion concerning their willingness to hear the case that has been litigated without resolution in lower courts.


Brucellosis from Raw Milk Produced in Pennsylvania


A resident of New York State has been diagnosed with the RB51 vaccine strain of Brucella abortus.  Traceback has demonstrated the source to be Miller’s Biodiversity Farm located in Quarryville, PA.  Raw milk from the farm is distributed in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.


Brucellosis is essentially a third-world disease eliminated in industrialized nations with serious implications for the young, elderly, pregnant and immunocompromised.  Infection can persist for the life of the patient and treatment requires sequential cycles of antibiotic therapy.


Responsible public health authorities constantly warn consumers against raw milk that has recently been implicated in outbreaks of STEC, Campylobacter and Salmonella infection.  Brucellosis was eliminated from commercial dairy herds in the U.S. and Canada through a decade’s long program of testing and eradication of reactors similar to the eradication of pullorum disease in poultry. In June 2000 44 states were declared brucellosis-free. The six states classified under Category A had a prevalence rate lower than 0.25 percent of herds tested.


It appears that cows on Miller’s Biodiversity Farm, now under quarantine, were vaccinated or infected with the strain and in the absence of pasteurization, milk containing the pathogen was the vehicle of infection.  There is no justification for consuming raw milk based on nutritional content or organoleptic properties.  Feeding raw milk to children is a form of abuse.


Rose Acre Farms Dedicates Rail Terminal and Ingredient Receiving Depot


As a key component of the master plan for the Lone Cactus complex in La Paz County, AZ, Rose Acre Farms has dedicated the facility in the presence of county and state officials. Speakers included Mark Killian, Director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, State Representative Leo Biassucci, State Senator Sonny Borrelli and Penny Pew, representing U.S. Representative Paul Gosar.


House Introduces Legislation to Retain ERS and NIFA in Washington, DC Area


Democratic members of the House have introduced Bill HR 7330 to permanently keep the USDA-Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in the Washington, DC area.


In early August, Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue announced plans to relocate both agencies to an area outside Washington, DC.  The motivation was to save money on housing these agencies and to and to move them “closer to the constituencies they serve”.  In addition, it was proposed that the ERS would be moved from the jurisdiction of the Head of Research Education and Economics to the Office of the Chief Economist.  


It is anticipated that the 116th Congress seated on January 3rd will pass the Bill negating the intent of the USDA Secretary. Dr. Perdue intends to announce the location of the two agencies from among 136 bids from communities offering to host the agencies.  The Bill would also block the plan to move the agencies to the office of the Chief Economist.


The intention to move the two agencies is widely opposed by academics and economists in addition to retired USDA officials based on disruption, and separation from existing Federal agencies, universities and other resources which are closely interlinked in the Washington, DC area.


The intent by Dr. Perdue to move the agencies is partly based on a Presidential directive to restructure the Federal government but is also predicated by Senate Bill S2592 introduced by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) to redistribute Federal agencies outside the Washington, DC and her parochial interest in relocation to either Des Moines or Ames, in her Iowa constituency.


Those in favor of the move are reminded of the adage “If it ‘aint broken don’t try and fix it”


Moba Introduces Top-lidder Modules


Moba now offers two top-lidder modules to accommodate innovative pack presentations.


The Model TL10 is positioned between the tray stacker and tray palletizer.  Every stack of six trays passing the TL10 will place a tray on top of the stack.  The top tray protects eggs on the upper tray especially when fiber trays are used.  The TL10 operates at a rate of 27 top-trays per minute.  The TL10 facilitates the action of shrink wrapping and reducing manual handling. 


The Model TL20 is designed to process ‘tray packs’ comprising a large plastic consumer pack with a separate lid.  The bottom part of the pack is processed on a regular lane and the TL 20 top lidder is placed over the filled tray and locked into place.  The TL20 is capable of handling three types of tray packs holding from 20 to 30 eggs and will match the maximum throughput of an Omnia packing lane.




The following quotations for the months as indicated were posted by the CME at close of trading on Friday December 28th together with values for the reference months in parentheses confirming a relatively static market for corn, soybeans and soybean meal in comparison to the previous week. There is continuing disappointment that China has placed orders for only 1.5 million metric tons of soybeans. This was lower than the 3 to 5 million metric tons anticipated as part of the "substantial quantity" arising from the December 1st dinner meeting between the two Presidents.









Corn (cents per bushel)

March'19 376 (378)

May '19 384 (386)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

Jan. '19 883 (883)

March '19 897 (896)

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

Jan. '19 309 (306)

March '19 314 (310)

Changes in the price of corn, soybeans and soybean meal were:-


Ethanol Producers Concerned Over Low Price


U.S. ethanol producers led by POET LLC have requested the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to change the pricing method for a swap contract used for hedging. The CME currently calculates the contract value by averaging the daily settlement price over a month in the physical market based on prices collated by Platts.

Traders are apparently reluctant to use the CME Chicago Ethanol Swap Contract as further declines will result in losses. Apparently ADM has embarked on a program of predatory pricing which has impacted ethanol refiners.

The market for ethanol has steady declined during the second half of 2018 after a peak of $1.60 per gallon in March down to a range of $1.23 to $1.28. The drop is attributed to lowered demand, cancellation of orders from China and competition from natural gas.

It is understood that a number of ethanol refiners have reduced throughput and mothballed plants. The only bright side of ethanol production is that cellulosic ethanol has not materialized in any volume despite billions of dollars invested in research and development and erection of dedicated plants.


Delisting of Blue Apron?


Blue Apron (APRN) has sunk into penny-stock territory. At 13h30 on Wednesday, December 19th, stock declined to $0.85. The 52-week high for APRN is $4.56 having attained $10 at the July 2017 IPO. The Company has 30-days to rise above $1 and then stay above this threshold to avoid delisting.

On November 13th, the company reported a 3rd quarter loss of $34 million for the period ending September 30th. This value was “less bad” than the corresponding 3rd quarter in 2017. Comparing the 3rd quarter of 2018 with 2017, orders declined by 27 percent and the number of customers by 16 percent. The company posted revenue of $150 million. Although achieving a 67 percent gross margin, operating margin attained negative 21 percent of revenue. A sharp fall in share price was attributed to release of information confirming large sale at $1.11 by the founder and by other executives. As of December 27th, 24 percent of the float was short.

An agreement between Blue Apron and WW Inc. (formerly Weight Watchers) was announced on December 26th boosting shares by 16 percent. On December 27th at market open APRN traded at $0.83 with a market capitalization of $161 million. A previous strategic partnership between WW and Chef’d foundered in July due to logistic restraints.


Welfare Concerns Limit Exotic Animals in Traveling Shows


According to a December 19th article in the Philadelphia Enquirer New Jersey will ban elephants and other exotic animals from traveling performances. It is expected that restrictions placed by Rhode Island and California on handling of exotic show animals will be expanded to an outright ban with New York and Illinois already prohibiting the use of elephants. One hundred local municipalities have banned elephants or exotic species.

Representative Dwight Evans (D-PA) has introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act which would prohibit wild and exotic traveling shows nationwide. The New Jersey legislation was the subject of a pocket veto by outgoing Governor Chris Christie. Under the Murphy Administration the state senate passed the bill 36 to 0 in October and the Assembly approved it 71 to 3. There have been a number of incidents of injury to circus workers and spectators and inadvertent release of animals in urban areas.

Following extensive litigation, in May 2016 Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey retired touring elephants to a conservation center.

The New Jersey legislation was hailed by animal welfare groups including the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Defenders International Group in Los Angeles and Animal Welfare Institute. 


Dr. Patricia Griffin Appointed to the Board of Stop Foodborne Illness


Dr. Michael Taylor, Board Co-Chair of Stop Foodborne Illness, formerly the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine has announced that Dr. Patricia Griffin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been appointed to the Board of the organization.

Dr. Griffin obtained her MD qualification from the University Of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, interned at the University of Pennsylvania, Teaching Hospital and served as a Fellow in gastroenterology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston followed by the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Fellowship.

Dr. Griffin is a leader in the research and investigation of foodborne disease, co-authoring more than 235 journal articles, book chapters and other publications.

Amanda Craten, an educator and food safety advocate from Arizona has also been appointed to the Board. The youngest of her three children, Noah, succumbed to salmonellosis in 2013 as a result of consuming chicken produced by a West Coast integrator contaminated with                     S. Heidelberg.


H9N2 AI Virus Diagnosed in China.


A posting on ProMED Mail documents two sporadic cases of H9N2 avian influenza in infants resident in Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces respectively. The virus is transmitted from infected flocks to humans usually with a history of exposure to live chickens or to poultry in wet markets. Infants, the elderly and the immunosuppressed are most likely to demonstrate clinical signs and frequently require hospitalization.


The ProMED moderator posted the following commentary:-


H9N2 influenza viruses of the Eurasian lineage have been shown to contribute the six internal gene segments of the highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus after the first human case was reported in 1997. Phylogenetically, the Eurasian H9N2 influenza viruses can be classified into three groups represented by prototype viruses, namely A/Quail/Hong Kong/97 (G1 lineage), A/Duck/Hong Kong/Y280 (Y280 lineage), and A/Chicken/Korea 38349--p96323/96 (Korean lineage).


The H9N2 viruses of the G1 lineage have spread throughout the poultry industry of Eurasia and are particularly prevalent in chickens, causing low-pathogenic inapparent infections unless the birds are coinfected with other poultry disease agents.

According to the WHO monthly risk assessments until November 2018, 38 human cases of avian influenza A/H9N2 had been reported. One of the two most recent incident cases had a history of direct contact with live poultry.

Due to the constantly evolving nature of influenza viruses, WHO continues to stress the importance of global surveillance to detect virological, epidemiological, and clinical changes associated with circulating influenza viruses that may affect human (or animal) health, especially over the coming winter months. Continued vigilance is needed within affected and neighbouring areas to detect infections in animals and humans. Collaboration between the animal and human health sectors is essential. As the extent of virus circulation in animals is not clear, epidemiological and virological surveillance and the follow-up of suspected human cases should remain high.


Depleted Delmarva Flock Confirmed Negative for AI


The December 26th edition of CHICK-NEWS reported on pre-emptive depletion of a contract flock near Powelville, MD in mid-December as a result of a suspicious but inconclusive assay for AI. Without waiting for confirmation the Integrator concerned elected to depopulate and dispose of the flock of 40,000 broilers housed in two adjacent houses.

Specimens were submitted for confirmatory assay to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory. Results were negative for virus on PCR assay.  The intensive surveillance initiated in the area surrounding the farm failed to demonstrate any evidence of AI in flocks.

Maryland Secretary of Agriculture, Joe Bartenfelder commented “we are all relieved by the negative test result, and I am proud of the rapid and collaborative response to this event,” He added “this has demonstrated that our Department is prepared to work with Federal, State and Industry partners to protect the chicken industry, which is a vital part of the Delmarva economy.”

Again EGG-NEWS and CHICK-NEWS commends the Company concerned for an appropriate decision, albeit at their expense to avoid the risks and consequences of a potential case of AI based on a preliminary and inconclusive laboratory assay.


India Reports AI Outbreak


HPAI has reported the most recent cases since the series of March outbreaks caused by H5N1 affecting backyard flocks.  In this outbreak, reported on December 13th flocks in three villages are affected and involve at least one farm of 20,000 hens in what has been described as the “Brahmagiri Block”. 


Diagnostic procedures are now progress at the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal. Culling has commenced within a radius of one kilometer of the affected commercial farm and surveillance is in progress within a 10 km radius. 


Inappropriate termination of serving of eggs in schools has deprived children of nutrients. This does not seem to be a valid precaution since avian influenza is not vertically transmitted through eggs and in any event the school supply could be obtained from non-infected farms of which there are hopefully many.


Release of Food Labeling Requirements for Bioengineered Foods


On December 20th, the UDSA released the National Disclosure Requirements for food that has been “bioengineered”.  This term replaces “genetically modified” and the status of food will have to be disclosed on a label as plain text, as a symbol or a digital link.  The USDA guidelines follow a Federal disclosure law enacted in 2016 setting a mandatory compliance date of January 2022 but with the anticipation of labeling commencing on January 1st, 2020. Distributors of bioengineered food can include a QR code on the label allowing consumers to scan for more information. In the event of disclosure by a digital-link, a telephone number will also have to be provided. 


As with any compromise, the USDA requirements pleased neither proponents nor opponents of bioengineered food. In a CNBC interview, Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety characterized the use of digital labeling as “irresponsible”.  Kimbrell amplified, “It’s a terrible precedent,” adding, “labeling under these regulations is anti-consumer, discriminatory and illegal.”


The guidelines exempt highly-processed foods such as beet-derived sugar and high-fructose corn syrup from mandatory bioengineered labeling since modified DNA cannot be detected in these ingredients. A prominent industry consultant indicated that the national guidelines will assist manufacturers to select ingredients and direct either bioengineered or conventional food to specific demographics. 


At the end of the day, there is still a range of certified organic products that by definition do not contain bioengineered foods.  The guidelines will probably introduce stability and remove uncertainty as to future labeling.  The USDA proposal satisfies the need for consumer awareness without imposing unnecessary cost on low-income consumers who are content to purchase foods of acceptable nutritional value and who ignore the non-issue of bioengineered status.


USDA to Enforce Existing Work Requirements for SNAP Recipients


Despite the fact that mandatory work requirements, more stringent than existing regulations were not included in the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (“the Farm Bill”), the USDA announced that it intends to strictly enforce existing work requirements by restricting waivers extended by states.


Current regulations relating to abled-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) will apply to 3.8 million of the 40 million SNAP beneficiaries.  The current regulations requires all ABAWDs to receive food stamps for only three months during any three-year period and also demand either involvement in an educational training program for at least 80 hours a month or that recipients actively seek employment.  A number of states waived the time limit in areas of high unemployment creating a population of permanent SNAP recipients.


The USDA maintains that with low unemployment after the Great Recession, there are too many ABAWDs receiving SNAP benefits by virtue of their residency in waived areas concentrated in California, Florida, Texas and New York.  The USDA estimates that there are 570,000 ABAWDs receiving SNAP benefits in California alone.


Cooper Family Foundation Funds Boy Scout Camp


The Cooper Family Foundation has donated $750,000 to Camp Lakota in Defiance, OH serving the Boy Scouts of America in Northwest Central Ohio. Greg Cooper representing the family-owned enterprise stated “We believe in Scouting and we believe in tradition.” He added “We have three generations of Eagle Scouts in our family and we are proud to be able to provide this donation to such a great organization.” The donation will provide a new hall at the camp to be named “Cooper Lodge.”


Joint Marketing Venture Between Giordano and INDIV


INDIV Companies and Giordano Poultry Plast have announced a joint marketing agreement to distribute products in the Asia Pacific region.

Veronica Desenzani will be responsible for commercial activity on the Asian continent for both companies effective January 2019.


Ovotrack Introduces Hatchtrack


Ovotrack B.V. developed the Hatchtrack system in 2012 installation for a facility in Holland.  The system is based on the proven Ovotrack management program but was adapted for hatcheries.  It is possible to document the production chain from fertile eggs as produced by a contractor or company farm through the hatchery and then forward as day-old chicks to grow-out.  This makes possible recall given the unique barcode identification of egg racks and chick conveyors. 

The Hatchtrack system can be used as a stand-alone management program but can be integrated into existing electronic reporting systems or financial databases compatible with Microsoft® and NetSuite™.  The Hatchtrack system includes:


  • Labeling of egg racks with a barcode label and scanning at both the time of collection and then delivery to the hatchery. 
  • Barcodes are scanned during transfer of eggs.  Each individual set of trolleys link to a setter and position within the setter. 
  • Hatching baskets are linked to specific dollies and record designated hatchers and positions within the hatcher. 
  • Dollies are scanned before chick processing and chick counts are correlated to automated vaccination. 
  • Labels designating batch information for chick boxes are printed
  • Chick containers are scanned before shipment and correlated with delivery information.


Alltech Reports on Prevalence of Mycotoxins


Alltech conducts sophisticated assays for mycotoxin using Alltech 37+® GLC installations in Lexington, KY. and in Dunboyne, Ireland.  The Company has examined more than 26,000 samples of animal feed and ingredients during the past few years assaying for 50 mycotoxins.  Initial results from the 2018 U.S. crop show high levels of mycotoxins and especially deoxynivalenol (DON) zearalenone, fumonisins and HT-2, a Type-A trichothecene.


On average Alltech detected 6.8 mycotoxins per sample examined, compared to 4.6 in the fourth quarter of 2017. 


Dr. Max Hawkins, Nutritionist with the Alltech® Mycotoxin Management Program stated, “These mycotoxins can affect animal performance and health, due to lower feed intake, disturbance of gut function, reproduction and immune response.”


Novogen Appoints Deputy Director


Stephane Lemoine has been appointed as deputy director of Novogen and head of business development.  In this position he will support Managing Director Mickael LeHelloco.


Lemoine was previously managing director of Nutrilia and has considerable international experience in the livestock sector.  LeHelloco stated, “His in-depth knowledge of several markets including Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe will be a major asset to provide opportunities for Novogene to strengthen our presence within these markets.”


Prevalence of Pathogens in Avocados and Peppers


In accordance with a legislative mandate, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has initiated a program of proactive sampling for the three major foodborne pathogen genera, Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli in selected foods, both domestic and imported.


Of 1,615 hot pepper samples tested, three percent were positive for Salmonella and one positive for an E. coli STEC strain.  Among 1,615 domestic and imported avocado samples less than one percent were positive for Salmonella and only three out of 1,254 avocado pulp samples yielded Listeria.  In contrast of 361 avocado-skin samples, 18 percent were positive for Listeria indicating the need to carefully wash produce before food preparation and also to apply hygienic practices including frequent hand washing during food preparation. 


Previously herbs have been implicated in foodborne infection.  In 2011, an extensive STEC infection in Germany was attributed to fenugreek sprouts contaminated with E.coli O104:H4. In the FDA survey, 683 fresh herb samples, nine tested positive for Salmonella, six for STEC and four for Cyclospora.  Eleven of 474 processed guacamole samples yielded Listeria.


Iowa Poultry Association Winter Issues Conference


The Iowa Poultry Association representing the owners of approximately 50 million egg-production hens will take place on January 28, 2019 in Des Moines.


Speakers at the event will include Dr. Frank Mitloehner, University of California-Davis who will consider “Facts and Fiction: Debunking Myths about Environmental Impact”.  Other speakers will include Dr. Paul Plummer of Iowa State University who will address antimicrobial resistance.


Dr. Ted McKinney Asst. Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs is expected to be the dinner speaker.


Precautionary Recalls of Green Produce


A sandwich company in Spokane WA has recalled sandwiches containing green leaf lettuce sourced from Adams Brothers Farming Inc. Lettuce cultivated by the Company was identified as being infected with E. coli O157: H7.  As noted previously, a contaminated ingredient distributed widely will result in consequential recalls of further-processed and packaged products. 

In a related report, a producer of pre-made salads located in Guadalupe, CA has recalled pre-packed items as a result of detecting Listeria monocytogenes.  Product was distributed to eleven states and five Canadian provinces.  The incidence of recalls due to Listeria contamination is attributed to introduction of routine assays by distributors and manufacturers.  It is far better to detect Listeria, Salmonella and STEC at source than to contaminate a food chain.


USPOULTRY Awards $30,600 to NC State for Student Recruitment


The USPOULTRY Foundation awarded $30,642 to North Carolina State University Prestage Department of Poultry Science for recruiting.  The grant was made possible from an endowing Foundation gift from the Stanley & Dorothy Frank Family Foundation.


North Carolina State University is one of the six institutions in the United States with a dedicated department of poultry science.  Dr. Lynn Worley-Davis, undergraduate teaching coordinator at NCSU Department of Poultry Science stated, “The USPOULTRY Foundation grant allows the Prestage Department of Poultry Science to fund events that engage and recruit future students and help retain our current students.”  She added, “Once students choose us, we want to keep them. Since students are the best advocates for our department and industry.”


The USPOULTRY Foundation has awarded recruiting grants totaling $328,300 for the 2018-2019 school year to 34 colleges and universities across the United States with either a poultry science department or a poultry studies program.


Pre-emptive depletion of bird populations in Southern California


Message from State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones for Residents in VND-affected areas in Compton, Muscoy, Mira Loma, and Perris

Due to progression and duration of a virulent Newcastle Disease (VND) outbreak in parts of Southern California, the State Veterinarian has ordered mandatory euthanasia of birds in neighborhoods in

Compton (Los Angeles County)

Muscoy (San Bernardino County)

Mira Loma/Jurupa Valley (Riverside County)

Perris (Riverside County)


Unfortunately, even if birds and flocks have previously tested negative but now fall within a designated mandatory euthanasia area, the birds must be euthanized. USDA/CDFA staff will contact affected bird owners.

While this action is difficult for all involved, it MUST be done to eradicate VND. Otherwise, the disease will continue to spread and kill additional flocks.

For more information please refer to: Virulent Newcastle Disease FAQs or call the Sick Bird Hotline at 866-922-2473

Since most of the flocks involve game fowl and are considered as valuable by their owners it is highly probable that dispersal will occur prior to compulsory euthanasia resulting in further dissemination of virus. This will defeat the intention of the attempt at limiting vvND which must be regarded as endemic in this category of chickens


View More