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July 31, 2014

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Antibiotic Use In the Livestock Industry

Rural Radio Network Shalee Peters with Leanne Saunders, President of Where Food Comes From Inc., discussing antibiotic use in the livestock industry and issues they face with consumers. This coming off of Cargill's announcement to have their suppliers stop using Growth Promoting Antibiotics.

Where Food Comes From, Inc., its CEO John Saunders and President Leann Saunders are active NIAA members. Listen HERE. KRVN Radio, 07/25/14

CAFO Gets Court Win

When three high-powered trial lawyers announced four separate cases against Maxwell Farms in 2009, their goal was to wipe out concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Indiana, declaring it "ground zero" in a food fight over how Indiana farmers would produce pork and milk.

Instead, courts recently ruled in favor of the farms and backed Indiana's Right to Farm Act as constitutional. These lawsuits were seeking damages from farms for creating a nuisance with regard to odor, manure management practices and farm location. Under scrutiny were Maxwell Farms' 5,000–head sow unit, 17,000–head nursery and two contract grower finishing units with an 8,000–head capacity each.

In each of the four cases, Vorhees found that the plaintiffs failed to prove negligence in the way the farms were operated and located. Every U.S. state has a Right to Farm Act that protects farms using commonly accepted agricultural practices from being considered a nuisance in agriculturally zoned areas. Legislatures in all 50 states consider the act the U.S.'s ability to protect its own food, fuel and fiber production. By Jacqui Fatka, Feedstuffs FoodLink, 07/23/14

This Salmon Will Likely Be the First Genetically Modified Animal You Eat

If you live in the U.S., chances are you've consumed genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in the form of corn or soybeans. Now, the first genetically modified animal may soon be swimming its way to your dinner plate. A genetically modified salmon, called AquAdvantage, is awaiting FDA approval, and, when it does, the fish should be available for consumption in about two years, according to the company.

Americans consume 300,000 tons of salmon yearly, according to Bloomberg Businessweek's Brendan Borrell. And with two–thirds of that coming from farmed Atlantic salmon – the wild version of which is endangered – the market seems ripe for an upgrade of the food. By Leslie Baehr, Business Insider, 07/25/14

AquAdvantag is owned by Dr. Ron Stotish who was a closing general session speaker at the 2014 NIAA Annual Conference held in Omaha this past Spring. You can read/hear Dr. Stotish's presentations HERE.

"New" Study Repackages "Old" Anti–Beef Claims

This week, a new study was published on the environmental impact of livestock production. In reality, however, "new" isn't the appropriate word to describe this research as it's just a repackaging of the pseudo–science and false assumptions that previous studies have cited.

The researchers looked at the environmental impact of each calorie consumed of beef, pork, poultry, eggs and dairy. The report states that cattle require 28 times more land, 11 times more irrigation water, release five times more greenhouse gases, and consume six times more nitrogen than the other livestock categories. These numbers are not 100% inaccurate but are misleading due to the fact that cattle have only one offspring each year and the gestation interval is so much longer than the other species. The U.S. beef industry has made tremendous strides in improving efficiency in the amount of resources that go into beef production, but cattle's maintenance requirements are significantly higher than the competitive protein species.

The land claim is absurd, as we don't run our animals 100% in confinement settings, nor does the overall industry desire to. Ranchers are rightfully proud of the way they raise their animals and it's an amazing thing to produce such nutrient–dense, high–quality protein from land that is too marginal to produce food in any other way. These scientists consider the rumen inefficient despite that it allows sunlight to be converted into food in an incredibly effective manner. The report was like reading verbatim the propaganda that usually emanates from anti–beef groups. By Troy Marshall, BEEF Magazine, 07/24/14

Ruling On Antibiotics in Livestock Reversed

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration isn't required to hold public hearings to evaluate the health risks of widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling in 2012 by a district court that sided with several health and consumer organizations that sued the FDA after the agency decided against holding the hearings.

The health groups want the FDA to withdraw approval of using penicillin and tetracycline in animal feed to make cattle and other livestock grow faster. They say the practice has been linked to an increase to human resistance to antibiotics, while industry groups argue the issue needs more study. The appeals court found that the FDA isn't required to hold the hearings because it's made no official finding that the antibiotics pose a health risk. The agency claims it has addressed the situation by initiating a voluntary program that encourages the industry to use the drugs "judiciously," saying public hearings consume too much time and resources. Wall Street Journal, 07/24/14

What Does the Reporting Mandate for SECD Mean?

The USDA issued a federal order on June 5, 2014 requiring reporting of SECD, which includes PEDv and (PDCov). As the USDA works to implement this ruling, producers are asking what will now be required of them. Beginning on June 5, 2014 producers, along with veterinarians and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) are required to report positive PCR tests for Novel Swine Enteric Coronavirus Disease to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services office (USDA APHIS VS) or their state veterinarian's office. This requirement is for new cases or reoccurrence of the disease and will be mandatory with every positive PCR result, whether clinical signs are present or not. By Beth Ferry, Michigan State University Extension, Madonna Benjamin, Michigan State University Extension and Nancy Barr, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development via Bovine Veterinarian, 07/23/14

Manure–Burning Power Plant in Limbo

The project seemed simple enough – build a waste–to–energy plant on the Eastern Shore fueled by poultry manure, keeping it from flushing into and polluting the bay, while creating green jobs and boosting Maryland's fledgling renewable energy industry. But 18 months after it was heralded by Gov. Martin O'Malley, the $75 million project has been stymied after prospective sites and a potential partnership fell through.

"Maryland needs manure–to–energy," said Ann Swanson, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a group of state lawmakers from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia that has encouraged development of such technology. The state has to solve its farm phosphorus problem if the bay is to be restored, Swanson said, and a manure–fueled power plant "provides a very viable alternative for that excess manure." By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun. 07/27/14

Commentary: Talkin' Turkey

Is Cargill's recent announcement that the company would start selling antibiotic–free turkey a marketing ploy? Or is it the leading edge of what will soon be the standard for branded poultry?

Officials with Cargill's turkey division last week declared that the company would become the first major branded turkey producer to phase out the use of growth–promoting antibiotics from all of its flocks – without charging consumers a premium price, according to a news release. Cargill said the company worked with USDA to develop a three–part verification process for turkey production that would "exceed all current government and industry standards." By Dan Murphy, Drovers CattleNetwork, 07/23/14

USDA Announces New Programs to Assist Sheep Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced today two new programs to assist the sheep industry with the production and marketing of their products in the United States.

Through the new Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program, approximately $1.5 million in grant funds are now available to assist the sheep industry. Additionally, AMS' existing verification program for small–scale livestock producers will now include opportunities for the grass–fed sheep industry.

"USDA is committed to working with sheep producers as they continue to provide quality products and increase their returns here at home," said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Ed Avalos. "The Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program, as well as inclusion in the USDA Grass Fed Program for Small and Very Small Producers, will create new opportunities for growth and innovation within the sheep industry." The Prairie Star, 07/28/14

Breakthrough in Coccidiosis Research

Chickens are the world's most popular food animal and global poultry production has tripled in the past 20 years. The world's chicken flock is now estimated to be around 21 billion, producing 1.1 trillion eggs and 60 billion broilers every year. Coccidiosis is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Eimeria, closely related to the parasites that cause malaria in humans. The infection affects chickens' intestines and if not controlled has extremely high morbidity and mortality rates.

Domestic chickens can be infected by seven species of Eimeria, each colonising a preferred region of the intestine causing symptoms of differing severity. In a decade–long collaborative research project, biologists at the RVC have helped produce full genome sequences of all seven of these species. This is major breakthrough for the poultry production industry in its fight against coccidiosis, which puts the global economic cost of infection at around £1.8 billion. This is mainly due to production losses combined with costs of prevention and treatment. The Poultry Site, 07/23/14

Horse Virus Spreads Through Central Texas

A painful horse virus is spreading through Central Texas causing quarantines and canceling shows. Today, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) is confirming at least eight new cases in Bastrop and Travis County. Since May 28, the TAHC has quarantined at least 21 locations in eight Texas counties because of Vesicular Stomatitis (VS).

VS is a virus that can cause lesions and sloughing of the skin from the hooves to the muzzle affecting the mouth and tongue. VS is not considered deadly, but can cause complications in older horses. It can also infect livestock including cattle, bison, sheep, goats and pigs. While rare, humans can also contract the virus. KEYE TV, 07/28/14

A Horse Owner's Guide to Paying Vet Bills

Horses are unpredictable animals. The old saying that they're just looking for ways to hurt themselves can sadly ring true for a lot of horse owners who have had sky–high vet bills because of a catastrophic injury or illness.

One vitally important piece to horse ownership is determining just how much you (and your family) would be willing to financially sacrifice if your horse were to become ill or injured and require extensive veterinary care. The vast majority of horse owners can't simply write a check for a $15,000 colic surgery; for many, simply owning a horse is a financial stretch, even when things are going well. Because of this, it's very important to consider the "what–if" financial scenarios (hard as they may be) before you're ever faced with them. By Sarah E. Coleman, HorseChannel, 07/14

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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.