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August 7, 2014

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Senators to FDA: We Want More Antibiotic Information

This week, United States Senators Dianne Feinstein, D–Calif., Elizabeth Warren, D–Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D–N.Y., sent a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg requesting more information about the FDA's efforts to "curb the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production."

"The use of antibiotics in food–producing animals must be reduced as part of the effort to preserve the efficacy of antibiotics," the senators wrote in the letter, available here. "Research has shown that antibiotic resistant bacteria are most likely to develop when antibiotics are used continuously at low doses – the type of regimen used frequently in food animal production." The trio of senators called Guidance #213, released in December 2013, and the proposed rule on Veterinary Feed Directives "important first steps" but were concerned that these efforts "may not be sufficient to curtail the routine use of dangerously low doses of antibiotics for the duration of an animal's life." They don't believe veterinary oversight alone will be able to solve the problem. By Angela Bowman, Bovine Veterinarian, 07/30/14

Successful NIAA-Hosted VFD Webinar Presented by Richard Sellers Draws Members, Industry Leaders: Webinar Presentation Available to View

Richard Sellers, Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs for the American Feed Industry Association presented a free webinar hosted by NIAA.

Titled "VFD Regulations, FDA Guidance for Industry 209, Digital Documentation & the Aquaculture Industry," the webinar drew participants from across the NIAA Membership and Aquaculture industry.

Sellers gave a ninety-minute inclusive review of the laws, processes, challenges and future of VFD and how the regulations affect business.

Sellers' presentation can be viewed on the NIAA website HERE. NIAA News Release, 08/07/14

Some Key Points of Grand View Research's Report on Aquaculture

According to a recently–released study by San Francisco, California–based market research company Grand View Research, reported, the global market for aquaculture products is to reach $203 billion by 2020. Read Summary of article HERE. Fish Magazine Summary by Liz J. Xu, 07/31/14

US Reforms Poultry Inspections for the First Time in 50 Years

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday reforms to decades–old processes for inspecting poultry facilities in a bid to cut down on the number of foodborne illnesses, but dropped an industry–backed plan to speed up production.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the plan "imposes stricter requirements on the poultry industry and places our trained inspectors where they can better ensure food is being processed safely." The agriculture department said maximum line speeds for chicken and turkey processing plants operated by companies such as Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Pride, Sanderson Farms and Foster Farms would remain capped at 140 birds per minute "in response to public comment." Fox News, 08/01/14

Zoetis to Seek Approval for PEDV Vaccine

An official with animal health company Zoetis says the company is seeking U.S. approval before the end of this year for a PEDv vaccine.

There is only one other vaccine to help prevent Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in pigs – by Harrisvaccines, which was granted conditional approval from the USDA for its vaccine in June.

The CEO of Zoetis (Juan Ramon Alaix) told analysts during a quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday that the company would seek a conditional license from the USDA before 2015. By Julie Harker, Brownfield Ag News 08/05/14

Livestock Groups Find Support at County Fairs in Animal Rights Debate

The county fair proves to be a friendly audience to a group called We Support Agriculture, putting a positive face on animal welfare issues. "To be the opposition against animal extremist groups," Jolanda Junge said. "We're particularly concerned about PETA and HSUS, the Humane Society of the United States that we firmly believe has nothing to do with humane societies." HSUS has supported legislation in other states, but not in Nebraska, where the governor is the loudest critic.

Junge, of We Support Ag said, "One of our concerns right now is Gov. Heineman has been a huge opponent of extremist groups and a huge supporter of ag. With him leaving office and turnover in senators, that is of some concern. We've got to get the message out." So Junge makes the rounds at county fairs, showing thousands of Nebraskans agree with groups like the Cattlemen, Pork Producers, and Farm Bureau who fund We Support Ag. Don't be surprised if you see We Support Ag stickers showing up at fairs and other ag events, as the farm side of this debate tries to send a message. By Steve White, Nebraska TV, 08/01/14

Study Examines Animal Welfare Views, Meat Purchasing Choices

A new study from Purdue University shows that overall, the US livestock and poultry industries and other organizations affiliated with animal agriculture are less used public sources of information on animal welfare than popular animal protection organizations. In their paper in Journal of Animal Science, the co–authors state that, as consumers have become more interested in understanding how their food is produced, scrutiny and criticism have increased regarding intensified food animal production methods.

Over half of the respondents – 56 per cent – did not have a primary source for animal welfare information; those who identified a primary information source most commonly used information provided by animal protection organizations, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The Poultry Site, 07/31/14

Horse Slaughter Fight Officially Over

It's official. The controversial horse slaughterhouse in New Mexico will not be opening. "I think it's just time to stop and see what will happen now," said Valley Meat Owner Rick De Los Santos. For almost four years, De Los Santos has been trying to slaughter horses for food. He's faced court battles from animal rights groups and the Attorney General along with federal push back. Earlier this year the President signed a bill to stop funding horse slaughterhouse inspections until 2016. Friday, De Le Santos told KRQE News 13 the fight is over.

"It's great news for New Mexico," said Laura Bonar with Animal Protection of New Mexico. "Horse slaughter is cruel, horse slaughter is dangerous and horse slaughter is not supported by Americans." By Emily Younger, KRQE TV, Albuquerque, 08/01/14

No El Niño in 2014? Drought-Weary California in Trouble

As of July 29, nearly 60 percent of California is considered in exceptional drought, the highest level of drought reported by the Drought Monitor report. This is significantly higher than the 37 percent reported last week. Both rural and urban Californians are desperate for a wetter weather pattern; however, relief doesn't appear to be coming anytime soon. Earlier this week, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology announced Pacific Ocean temperatures have eased and an El Niño event, originally forecast for later this year, could be pushed back to the spring – if it comes at all.

El Niño was originally hailed as California's saving grace from the grips of the drought, but a recent report on the staggering cost of California's drought warned that even if El Niño did arrive, it would likely fail to bring enough moisture to quench the drought. "Statistically, the drought is likely to continue through 2015 – regardless of El Niño conditions," the report said. "A continued drought also increases the vulnerability of agriculture, as urban users with largely adequate supplies in 2014 will likely buy water from agricultural areas." So far, the drought has cost the state's agricultural industry more than $2 billion and will put some 17,000 agricultural workers out of a job by the end of the year. By Angela Bowman, Drovers CattleNetwork, 07/31/14

Grass–Fed Lamb Finds Niche in Eastern Idaho

Grass–fed is a trending sector industry leaders expect to grow, as it already has in beef, as more producers seek to capture a roughly 20 percent price premium. John and Lori Anne Lau have paid no attention to the highs and lows of the lamb market since they switched to grass–finished production about a decade ago. Lori Anne Lau explained customers, both of her ranch's lamb and beef, consider grass–fed to be more healthful and tastier than conventional, grain–finished meat, and most will accept no substitute. Therefore, they can set prices based on actual production costs and aren't at the market's mercy. Capital Press, 08/05/14

USDA Programs to Benefit Sheep Operations of All Sizes

During his visit to the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) office July 28, Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Marketing and Regulatory Programs Ed Avalos announced the availability of two programs that will create new opportunities for growth and innovation within the sheep industry.

This $1.5 million in grant funds was secured by ASI in the Farm Bill approved last February. ASI had the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC) in mind when seeking congressional approval of the program and, in fact, the center has confirmed it will be applying for the funds on behalf of the sheep industry. The use of the dollars and the purpose of the center run parallel in the authorization to strengthen the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products in the United States. The focus of the grant will be on infrastructure, business and resource development and NSIIC has a proven delivery system for grant funds to the sheep industry making it a great fit. American Sheep Industry Association Weekly Newsletter, 08/01/14

Commentary: Setting the Record Straight on 'Waters of the U.S.'

Americans expect straight talk from their government. If our government says something, you ought to be able to take it to the bank, as the saying goes. The Environmental Protection Agency is not meeting that expectation. Instead of making things clear when it comes to how the proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule would affect farmers and other landowners, the EPA is muddying the waters.

Two Supreme Court rulings have limited EPA's and the Corps of Engineers' authority under the Clean Water Act to waters that are navigable or have a "significant nexus" to navigable waters. EPA claims the rulings "complicated" the permitting process. The reality is not all that complicated: The agencies dislike the rulings and are simply trying to write regulations that allow them to do what the Supreme Court has said they cannot do–regulate nearly all waters. By Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, via PORK Network, 07/30/14

New Law Is a Historic Triumph for Veterinarians, Animal Care

In a major victory for the veterinary profession and the healthcare of our nation's animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) would like to thank President Barack Obama for signing into law a crucial bill that makes it legal for veterinarians to provide complete medical care to their animal patients beyond their clinics and across state lines. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (H.R. 1528) amends a restrictive provision within the Controlled Substances Act, which previously barred veterinarians from carrying and using controlled substances–necessary for pain management, anesthesia and euthanasia– beyond their registered locations, often their clinics.

"By passing and signing this legislation, the president and our legislators recognize the critical role veterinarians play in treating sick animals and relieving their pain and suffering. The health and welfare of our nation's wildlife, food animals, and even our companion animals depend on veterinarians being allowed to do their jobs wherever the need arises," said Dr. Ted Cohn, president of the AVMA. AVMA via Drovers CattleNetwork, 08/04/14

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The National Institute for Animal Agriculture provides a forum for building consensus and advancing proactive solutions for animal agriculture-the beef, dairy, swine, sheep, goats, equine and poultry industries-and provides continuing education and communication linkages for animal agriculture professionals. NIAA is dedicated to programs that work towards the eradication of disease that pose risk to the health of animals, wildlife and humans; promote a safe and wholesome food supply for our nation and abroad; and promote best practices in environmental stewardship, animal health and well-being. NIAA members represent all facets of animal agriculture.