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April 17, 2014

Calling All Members!

The current edition of News and Information for Animal Agriculture, the official newsletter of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.

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NIAA Newsletter

Dr. James McKean
April 28, 1946 – April 10, 2014

"His research and grassroots efforts with pork producers and his mentorship of young industry–oriented faculty reflected his devotion to the industry and vision for its future. Our college has also lost an outstanding colleague and friend."

Dr. Lisa K. Nolan,
dean of Iowa State's College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. McKean was NIAA Past President and President's Service Award Recipient

Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine Mourns Death of Long–Time Faculty Member Dr. James McKean

"Swine veterinary medicine and the pork industry have lost a major piece of the foundation we currently stand on," said Dr. Pat Halbur, professor and chair of the Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine Department at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. "Our profession and industry have built upon and benefited tremendously from many of the things Dr. McKean has done to improve the health and welfare of pigs, the profitability of the pork industry and the safety and quality of pork," Dr. Halbur said.

Dr. McKean was internationally renowned as a tireless and effective leader in efforts to develop tools and programs for disease surveillance, and when the tools evolved he was front and center in efforts to eradicate those diseases from farms, states, regions and ultimately the U.S. pork industry. Dr. McKean was perhaps best known for his leadership in the eradication of Pseudorabies virus from the U.S. pork industry in 2004 and ongoing efforts to initiate an eradication program for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.

Prior to his passing, Dr. McKean was well into the process of designing strategies for eradicating porcine epidemic diarrhea virus that was recently introduced to the U.S. in 2013. He is also widely known for his leadership in helping establish and continuously improving the Pork Quality Assurance programs and for his collaboration in research that has advanced understanding of the opportunities to impact pork safety between the time pigs leave the farm and when they are harvested at the packing plant.

"Dr. McKean's tireless commitment to swine health and well–being will be greatly missed," said Dr. Lisa K. Nolan, dean of Iowa State's College of Veterinary Medicine. "His research and grassroots efforts with pork producers and his mentorship of young industry–oriented faculty reflected his devotion to the industry and vision for its future. Our college has also lost an outstanding colleague and friend."

Dr. McKean was named a University Professor in 2000 in recognition for distinguished service to Iowa State University. He has been the Iowa State University Swine Extension Veterinarian since August of 1974 ––a few months short of 40 years. In this role, he impacted essentially all aspects of the Iowa and U.S. pork production. He was passionate about and very good at finding and bringing the latest information on current best practices in swine health and welfare and food safety to the people who applied it on the farms and in the pork processing chain.

Dr. McKean was very gifted in presenting this information in a concise and easily understandable manner whether it was delivered at the kitchen table on an Iowa swine farm, at a county pork producer meeting, or at meetings around the world such as the International Pig Veterinary Society Congress. If the best information was not readily available in the U.S., Dr. McKean would often find the resources to take pork producers and swine veterinarians and policy makers with him to other parts of the world where the technology existed and bring that experience and new knowledge back and translate it into practice in the U.S. Since 1994, Dr. McKean also was the associate director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center where he worked with pork producers in the field.

As both an attorney and a veterinarian, Dr. McKean had a unique and highly valued perspective and skill set. "I doubt that there is any faculty member who paid more dues to professional organizations than Dr. McKean," Dr. Halbur said. "He wasn’t just a member of these organizations, he was passionate about and highly involved in the role and impact organizations such as the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, National Pork Board, National Institute for Animal Agriculture, US Animal Health Association and others played in advancing animal agriculture and particularly influencing policies that shape the future of animal agriculture."

Dr. McKean served as president of several of these organizations including the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Association of Extension Veterinarians, National Institute for Animal Agriculture. Dr. McKean has been recognized with many awards including the Honorary Iowa Master Pork Producer award from the IPPA, the Extension Veterinarian of the Year from the Association of Extension Veterinarians, the Howard Dunne Memorial Award from the AASV, the Master in Pork Production award from the National Hog Farmer Magazine, and in 2012 he received the President’s Service Award from the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.

Dr. McKean was born in New York City and grew up in central Illinois. He received his veterinary degree from the University of Illinois (1970) and a master's degree in veterinary pathology from Michigan State University (1973), and the Juris Doctor degree from Drake University (1988).

"There are likely few other veterinarians in the United States that have a better understanding of global pork production and perhaps no one who is better networked with international leaders and innovators in swine health and production," Dr. Halbur said. “Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the stakeholders we serve have lost a great friend and scholar who will be missed dearly by our faculty and the veterinary profession and pork producers we serve." Iowa State University News Release, 04/14/14

Plant Exploring Poultry, Meat Waste Recycling

A New Castle–based business wants to recycle processed animal waste in an area covered by Coastal Zone Act restrictions, in the Riveredge Industrial Park along the Delaware River just south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Green Recovery Technologies LLC applied for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control ruling to cover an operation. The plant would extract feed–type proteins from poultry or meat plant wastewater skimmings.

Officials with the company could not be reached on Monday, but their application estimated that the plant could extract two tanker trucks of fats and a partial truckload of protein and water from about two truckloads daily of "dissolved air flotation" wastes from poultry plant wastewater.

That category of waste has ranked at times as an environmental headache, especially on the Delmarva Peninsula, one of the country's larger poultry producing regions. Producers often arrange for use of the materials as a farm field fertilizer or compost ingredient, sometimes at significant cost, or send it to rendering plants.

Although the company's Coastal Zone application focused on poultry wastewater, its website included more general terms and said that an effort is underway to assemble a network of suppliers for the operation. Its mission statement included work to supply "novel proteins and fats to the pet nutrition market." By Jeff Montgomery, Delaware Online, The News Journal 04/15/14

UDSA and HHS Disagree over Poultry Rules

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) disagree over recent changes to poultry inspection procedures, according to an article by The Hill.

USDA's proposed rule aims to implement new poultry inspection standards that would speed up production and lessen regulatory oversight, but critics say the rule would compromise worker protection and food safety.

HHS criticized USDA for "misleading" the public about its research at a poultry plant which was part of the pilot program to test the proposed rule.  The director of the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH), John Howard, wrote a letter expressing the department's concerns.

NIOSH reviewed the poultry plant in South Carolina, where USDA tested the new rule and issued a report in March. The report concluded that 42 percent of workers had evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome and 41 percent or workers worked in jobs involving "hand activity and force above the recommended limits for activity and force."

USDA, however, points out that NIOSH did not find an increase in the rate of carpal tunnel syndrome over the 10 month study.  "NIOSH found that working conditions, injury rates, and the number of birds processed per employee did not change between the baseline and the follow–up evaluations," UDSA wrote. "It also made several recommendations to improve worker safety at this facility, but slowing the evisceration line speed was not among them."

NIOSH said that USDA misinterpreted the results, responding, "The truth of the matter is that the HHE Report draws no such conclusion."

Agri–Pulse reports that USDA intends to finalize the proposed rule by the end of the year.  The rule would allow poultry plants to increase their line speeds up to 175 carcasses per minute with a single inspector on the line. Ag and Food Law Blog, American Agricultural Law Association, 04/14/14

US Pork Deal Earns Two China WH Group Executives $600 Million Bonus

Two senior executives of China's biggest pork producer WH Group Ltd received a combined $600 million payout for helping the Chinese company seal last year's record $4.9 billion takeover of U.S–based Smithfield Foods Inc, an unusually high incentive for an acquisition.

The bonus, disclosed in a public filing, is equivalent to just over 12 percent of the amount WH Group paid for Smithfield, a purchase that was key to turning it into the world's largest pork company. The deal had initially faced stiff political opposition in the United States.

"This is very unusual – normally you would incentivise management for overall long term performance and not simply for executing a transaction– which is part of their job," said David Webb, a Hong Kong–based corporate governance advocate.

"Especially given there's no evidence yet that the transaction is value accreting," he added. "Let's hope they don't continue that kind of remuneration policy after they go public."

WH Group, previously known as Shuanghui International Holdings, is preparing for a Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) that could raise up to $5.3 billion in what is set to be the second–biggest ever listing by a food and beverage company. The rewards were disclosed in the IPO prospectus. Reuters, 04/14/14

New Poultry Vaccine Delivery System Developed in the United States

An alternate vaccine delivery system for new born chicks has been developed by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists to improve vaccination against intestinal diseases like coccidiosis.

A common and costly poultry disease, coccidiosis is caused by tiny, single–celled parasites that belong to the genus Eimeria. Infected birds spread disease by shedding oocysts, the egglike stage of the parasite. The infected birds are slower to gain weight and grow, and sometimes die.

Traditional poultry vaccine methods involve vaccinating chicks in trays on a conveyor with an electronic sprayer. However, some chicks may be missed by these methods and consequently have little defense against diseases.

The alternate system, developed by scientists at the Agricultural Research Service involves putting low doses of live Eimeria oocysts inside gelatin beads, which are fed to birds.

Microbiologist Mark Jenkins and zoologist Ray Fetterer examined the gelatin bead vaccine effectiveness in chicks of layer hens and broilers. One–day–old chicks were immunized by ingesting gelatin beads or with a hand–held sprayer. The group that swallowed the gelatin beads had a greater vaccine uptake than the group that received the vaccine in spray form, and was better protected against coccidiosis. By Richard Halleron, Agriland News, 04/13/14

Walking Horse Industry Won't Regulate Itself

It's seldom that a bill in Congress boasts a substantial majority of members as co–sponsors and still is in a precarious position. But that is the case with the only real attempt before Congress to protect Tennessee Walking Horses from soring and other abuse.

The bill in question is Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST), introduced by U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R–Ky. The companion legislation in the Senate was introduced by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R–N.H. On Wednesday, the bill was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and it has 50 Senate co–sponsors. Whitfield's bill has 268 House co–sponsors.

However, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee have introduced their own measures to head off the PAST bill, and their bills have the strong support of the largest horse industry organizations.

PAST would enable true enforcement of the Horse Protection Act of 1970, with an independent horse inspection process before and during walking horse competitions. It would further ban the use of chains, pads and other devices on the horses' legs and hooves to produce the "Big Lick" gait the industry prizes. These devices also often help abusers hide traces of caustic chemicals used to "train" the horses through excruciating pain.

Blackburn's and Alexander's bills allow the devices and both largely leave enforcement to the industry, which counts among its leaders numerous individuals with multiple citations for soring offenses stretching back years. Alexander's bill differs slightly, with provisions for suspensions for soring.

Often, industries can be trusted to enforce rules as a matter of self–interest; not so in the show-horse world. For decades, exhibitors and trainers have repeatedly broken the rules and have received only a slap on the wrist. The blows to the horses are far more injurious.

The Blackburn and Alexander bills, clinging to a sad past, perversely proclaim that they are preserving the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. The Whitfield–Ayotte bills, supported also by major veterinary organizations, represent the future, where brutality toward animals is not tolerated for any reason. The Tennessean, 04/10/14

Wild Horses Targeted for Roundup in Utah Rangeland Clash

A Utah county, angry over the destruction of federal rangeland that ranchers use to graze cattle, has started a bid to round up federally protected wild horses it blames for the problem in the latest dustup over land management in the U.S. West.

Close to 2,000 wild horses are roaming southern Utah's Iron County, well over the 300 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has dubbed as appropriate for the rural area's nine designated herd management zones, County Commissioner David Miller said.

County officials complain the burgeoning herd is destroying vegetation crucial to ranchers who pay to graze their cattle on the land, and who have already been asked to reduce their herds to cope with an anticipated drought.

Wild horse preservation groups say any attempt to remove the horses would be a federal crime.

On Thursday county workers, accompanied by a Bureau of Land Management staffer, set up the first in a series of metal corrals designed to trap and hold the horses on private land abutting the federal range until they can be moved to BLM facilities for adoption.

"There's been no management of the animals and they keep reproducing," Miller said in an interview. "The rangeland just can't sustain it."

The conflict reflects broader tension between ranchers, who have traditionally grazed cattle on public lands and held sway over land-use decisions, and environmentalists and land managers facing competing demands on the same land.

The Iron County roundup comes on the heels of an incident in neighboring Nevada in which authorities sent in helicopters and wranglers on horseback to confiscate the cattle herd of a rancher they say is illegally grazing livestock on public land. Reuters, 04/13/14

Focus on Health to Increase Seafood Consumption

If it's been said once, it's been said a thousand times –– the key to increasing U.S. seafood consumption is consumer education. At the Seafood Expo North America in mid-March, a conference on increasing seafood consumption focused on the health benefits of seafood as the key educational point.

It was at this conference that one of the most inspiring moments I've seen in seven years of attending the event (formerly the International Boston Seafood Show) took place. Attendees of the conference applauded a nurse practitioner from Brigham and Women's Hospital Cardiovascular Wellness Service in Boston when she stood up and passionately advocated for consumer education to increase seafood consumption.

"The American Heart Association has documented scientific evidence that seafood is the only protein that can reduce the risk of heart disease, and that message is not getting out there," Aileen Sauris said. Not only was it exciting to hear the applause Sauris received, but more so it was encouraging to see someone from outside the seafood industry so passionate about increasing seafood consumption. Sauris is working with Seafood Nutrition Partnership on a program that will help educate lower income families on seafood nutrition, how to cook and prepare seafood and inexpensive seafood options. The program is still in the design process. By April Forristall, 04/08/14

USDA Helps Open and Expand Export Markets for U.S. Agriculture through 2014 Farm Bill Programs

Funding Supports More than 60 Organizations; Applications Now Available for 2015 Export Development Programs: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) awarded funding to more than 60 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for American products. The funding was made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA will begin accepting applications for 2015 export development program funding on April 17, 2014.

"Now that Congress has passed the Farm Bill, USDA is moving quickly to implement our trade promotion programs to help open and expand opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses and build on the past five years of record agricultural exports," said Vilsack. "These programs are an important investment in rural America. Every dollar we invest in trade promotion provides $35 in economic benefits."

Through the Market Access Program (MAP), FAS partners with U.S. agricultural trade associations, cooperatives, state regional trade groups and small businesses to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. The program, which focuses on consumer promotion, including brand promotion for small companies and cooperatives, is used extensively by organizations promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, processed products, and bulk and intermediate commodities. Through MAP, FAS will provide $171.8 million to 62 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives. Participants contribute an average 171–percent match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar–for–dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives.

The Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program focuses on trade servicing and trade capacity building by helping to create, expand and maintain long–term export markets for U.S. agricultural products. Under FMD, FAS will allocate $24.6 million to 22 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers. FAS partners with U.S. agricultural producers and processors, who are represented by non-profit commodity or trade associations called cooperators. The organizations, which on average contribute nearly triple the amount they receive in federal resources, will conduct activities that help maintain or increase the demand for U.S. agricultural commodities overseas. USDA News Release, 04/16/14 2014

Sign–Up Begins Today (April 15) for USDA Disaster Assistance Programs Restored by Farm Bill

More than 2,000 Farm Service Agency Offices Across the Country Stand Ready to Assist: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting today, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

"We implemented these programs in record time and kept our commitment to begin sign–up today," said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "To ensure enrollment goes as smoothly as possible, dedicated staff in over 2,000 Farm Service Agency offices across the country are doing everything necessary to help producers that have suffered through two and a half difficult years with no assistance because these programs were awaiting Congressional action."

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires. USDA News Release, 04/15/14

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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.