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January 22, 2015




National Institute Chooses Vital Topic Theme for 2015 Annual Conference

Water. Without doubt the most important and controversial environmental issue on our planet. Water and the Future of Animal Agriculture is the featured topic for the 2015 Annual Conference of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture to be held in Indianapolis, IN in March. How can production agriculture be as sustainable as it can be? How is animal agriculture impacting water quality? Is fracking affecting water quality for animal agriculture? What water regulations need to be in place or changed?

The conversation NIAA is pursuing at the Annual Conference about water quality, quantity and the operating environment will be dynamic and complex. During the two–day conference there will be presentations and discussions focused on the issues of sustainability, water use, water regulation and water quality as it applies to animal agriculture and its place in the world today and into the future.

Outstanding keynote speakers include Dr. Jay Famiglietti, Earth Science Professor, University California, Irvine; Aubrey Bettencourt, Executive Director for the California Water Alliance; and Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.

NIAA is bringing together producers, veterinarians, researchers and other stakeholders from all industries to discuss what needs to be done through species and issue–based committees and councils.

New this year! The 2015 NIAA Annual Conference will host the National Roundtable for Sustainable Aquaculture. This workshop will begin on March 25 and conclude on March 26, and will be facilitated by Dr. Marty Matlock, Ph.D., P.E., B.C.E.E., a professor of ecological engineering at the University of Arkansas.

"The workshop is designed to stimulate stakeholder input and discussion on defining Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) for a growing, vibrant, profitable and sustainable U.S. aquaculture industry," Dr. David Scarfe, NRSA Co–Chair and assistant director of the AVMA Scientific Activities Division, said.

The National Roundtable will also work to define aquaculture sustainability in the U.S., discuss how to increase profitability and efficiency, and much more.

The 2015 NIAA Annual Conference, "Water and the Future of Animal Agriculture," is March 23–26, 2015 in Indianapolis, IN at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. For more information or to register online go to or contact the NIAA by calling 719–538–8843 or emailing NIAA News Release, 01/21/15

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Oil–Rich Fish, the Ultimate Detox Diet

Does fish, particularly oil–rich fish, form the ultimate detox diet? Menu planners at Searcys, one of the most established catering companies in the U.K., seem to think so. In an email circulated at the end of last week, the company extolled the virtues of its new Detox Menu, which is available throughout January at the St. Pancras Grand. "We can help you watch your waistline without compromising on flavor with all dishes packed full of healthy, yet tasty ingredients," it said.

On downloading the very short menu, there is one oil–rich fish starter — grilled sardines with chargrilled lettuce, lemon and thyme dressing — amongst the three on offer, and one oil–rich fish main course — salmon with butterbeans, kale and parmesan — again one of the three dishes on the menu. By Mike Urch, SeafoodSource, 01/05/15

U.S. Senators Re–Introduce a Bill to Speed Approval of Antibiotics

In the latest bid to combat antibiotic resistance, two U.S. senators have re–introduced legislation to create a so–called regulatory pathway to hasten approval of new treatments.

Known as the Promise for Antibiotics and Therapeutics for Health Act, the bill would accelerate approval for a serious or life–threatening condition that addresses an unmet medical need. The PATH act would also require labeling to include a special FDA designation indicating intended use in limited, high–risk populations.

"We need new drugs to fight antibiotic–resistant bacteria that are posing serious and unique challenges to health care professionals," says U.S. Sen. Michael Bennett (D–Co.), who co–sponsored the bill with U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R–Utah), in a statement. They had introduced the same bill last month, but re–introduced the legislation now that a different congress is in session. By Ed Silverman, Wall Street Journal, 01/16/15

First USDA Forecast Shows Normal Water Supply Forecast for Much of the West

A normal water supply is predicted for much of the West, while the Southwest, Sierra Nevada region and Pacific Northwest are beginning the year drier than normal, according to data from the first 2015 forecast by USDA's National Water and Climate Center (NWCC). California, Arizona and New Mexico as well as parts of Colorado, Utah and Nevada are experiencing prolonged drought, focusing attention again on the winter snowfall.

"Right now, snowpack and streamflow forecasts look pretty close to normal for much of the West," NWCC hydrologist Cara McCarthy said. "A couple of major regional exceptions are the Southwest and California, which are unusually dry, once again." USDA News Release, 01/15/15

Chipotle's Pulled Pork Highlights Debate Over Sow Welfare

About a third of all Chipotle restaurants are not serving carnitas at the moment, because the restaurant chain has suspended one of its major pork suppliers. The restaurant chain has declined to identify the supplier and the exact reasons for the suspension. In its official statements, Chipotle said only that the supplier was not in compliance with the company's animal welfare standards. But when David Maren heard the news, he had a pretty good idea what the problem was.

Maren is the founder of Tendergrass Farms, near Roanoke, Va. It's an online marketer of meat and organic lard from a network of farmers. The farmers raise their pigs Chipotle–style: The animals get no antibiotics or growth–promoting drugs. They aren't confined inside buildings. In fact, most of them spend their whole life on pasture. Maren says it's not hard to persuade pork producers to adopt part of that package. They don't mind so much cutting out the drugs. But there are two technologies that many farmers cannot imagine giving up, and these are things that Chipotle does not allow: farrowing crates and slatted–floor housing. By Dan Charles, National Public Radio, 01/19/15

Livestock Mandatory Reporting – Bringing Transparency to the Marketplace

The Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting (LMR) Program was established to expand pricing information available in the livestock industry. Part of USDA Market News data, the information is distributed by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and allows analysts to dive in head first and fulfill all of their number crunching ambitions.

Here is a real life example of how it works. Last year was one for the record books. Beef cutout levels climbed at an alarming rate, and it was clear that something unusual was happening. Cattle were in tight supply, which means trimmings were also in tight supply. In the winter months, ground product and end meats – such as chuck or round roasts – are in demand as consumers prepare hot chili and stews. In order to meet this demand, packers found themselves grinding primal cuts and selling them as ground beef causing ground beef prices to reach record highs.

Suddenly, it seemed that ground beef was something everyone should have been paying close attention to all along. You asked, we answered. We now publish a section on the Weekly Cattle and Beef Summary that includes information about the effect of ground beef and trimmings on the National Boxed Beef Comprehensive Cutout. We also expanded the National Weekly Comprehensive Item Summary to include additional ground beef and trimming pricing information.

In a voluntary reporting situation like we utilized in the past in, which meatpackers voluntarily provided pricing information to AMS, finding the cause of price fluctuations would be much more difficult. The difference with Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting, however, is that by collecting and disseminating such a detailed amount of data, we are able to quickly reveal exact reasons for why changes in the marketplace are taking place. By Craig A. Morris, USDA, 01/20/15

Chr. Hansen to Present New Research on Probiotic Benefits in Poultry

New research by Chr. Hansen confirms that probiotics, or direct fed microbials (DFM), provide significant performance and economic benefits in commercial poultry production. The studies will be presented in the scientific programme at the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE), to be held on 26 and 27 January 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

David Harrington, PhD, Global Poultry Product Manager, said: "Producers today face the challenge of meeting growing demand for affordable, high–quality poultry products, while minimizing feed costs, antibiotic use and environmental impact.

"To help producers meet these challenges, we regularly test our products as both alternatives and supplements to antibiotics in commercial conditions. The research we're presenting at IPPE confirms meaningful, sustainable benefits of DFM in broiler and turkey production, including higher weight gain and feed efficiency, reduced mortality and enhanced intestinal performance." The Poultry Site, 01/14/15

FDA to Conduct Antiparasitic Drug and Resistance Survey

The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine plans to survey members of veterinary professional organizations using an Internet–based survey instrument. The questions in the survey are designed to elicit professional opinions regarding the use of antiparasitic drugs and the awareness of antiparasitic drug resistance. The results will provide FDA information that can be used to make decisions about future approaches to antiparasitic drugs. American Sheep Industry Association Weekly Newsletter, 01/16/15

More Efficient Food Systems Needed

Increasing competition for natural resource and emerging resource bottlenecks mean that global agriculture can no longer operate using a "business as usual" approach – the input–intensive agricultural development model used for the past 40 years is no longer sustainable, and a "paradigm shift" in food production is needed, said FAO Director–General José Graziano da Silva at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture.

The topic of the forum, held in Berlin as part of Green Week observances, is The Growing Demand for Food, Raw Materials and Energy: Opportunities for Agriculture, Challenges for Food Security? "Business as usual would mean a huge and simultaneous increase in the need for food, energy and water in the next decades: 60 per cent more food, 50 per cent more energy and 40 per cent more water by 2050," Mr Graziano da Silva said during his remarks.

FAO estimates point to the need to increase food production by 60 per cent by 2050 to feed a population that will top the nine billion mark. The Poultry Site, 01/19/15

Poultry Has the Power to Feed the World

Chicken has become a staple foodstuff, affordable within the developed world, largely as a result of efficiencies driven across its supply chain, from primary genetics to processing facilities. For this reason, Claire Bragg, who herself grows some 850,000 broilers a year in partnership with husband, Nick, decided to examine its suitability to feed an expected global population of 9.5bn by 2050.

With the backing of a Nuffield scholarship, Mrs Bragg spent 18 months touring countries that are "industry leaders" when it comes to poultry. The list comprised the UK, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and America, and she visited some of the top poultry companies within them. "Having travelled far and wide, I'm pleased to report that there's confidence that the broiler industry will continue to provide quality protein for such a dramatic increase in the population," says Mrs Bragg. She adds there are many reasons to be positive about the broiler industry, but acknowledges there are ways production can be improved to better meet future demand. Farmers Weekly UK, 01/16/15

Genetically Engineered Cattle May Be Key to Ebola Cure

Genetically engineered cattle on a farm outside Sioux Falls, S.D., may help researchers cure the Ebola virus. Researchers hope the group of 50 genetically engineered, cloned cattle will create blood plasma that could be used to treat the Ebola virus, which has killed 8,500 of the more than 21,000 people that it has infected in West Africa. The group of cattle has been genetically engineered to contain human DNA and are able to produce human antibodies, instead of cattle antibodies, Meredith Engel reported for the New York Daily News.

The cattle receive vaccinations against serious diseases and then create large quantities of antibodies as a response to the disease. Using blood plasma from Ebola survivors in transfusions to Ebola patients may help the patients recover, because the blood from the survivors contains antibodies that fight Ebola. The plasma from the cattle might work in the same way, Engel reported. Cattle might be able to produce more plasma, which would make the project larger–scale. By Chelsea Miles, Drovers CattleNetwork, 01/19/15

Genetically Engineered Animals Could Ease World Hunger

Genetically engineered food animals could provide a sustainable means to feed a fast–growing world population, yet regulatory hurdles keep such animals off the market, according to an award–winning scientist who recently spoke at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The world can ill afford the delay, said Alison Van Eenennaam, professor of animal science and a cooperative extension specialist at the University of California, Davis. "The world's food demands in the rather near future won't allow us to waste time," she said. According to the United Nations, more than 25,000 people die of hunger every day around the world, Van Eenennaam said.

Genetic engineering, which could significantly boost food production, faces tough scrutiny though it has not harmed anyone, she said. New technologies do need to be regulated for safety, she said. But "in a world facing burgeoning demands on agriculture from population growth, economic growth, and climate change, overregulation is an indulgence that global food security can ill afford." Drovers CattleNetwork, 01/19/15

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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.