Editorial

 

2015 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention

Mar 20, 2015
    

The 2015 “Midwest” which ended Thursday 19th was a success despite the impact on attendance caused by the unfounded fear of spreading HPAI. Although some companies were not represented there was more than adequate participation in the educational and industry discussions, the concurrent trade show and hospitality receptions.

A few large producers withdrew from the event or requested their servicepersons not to be present. This precaution was unnecessary given the epidemiology of the few isolated and unconnected outbreaks in turkey farms in Missouri, Arkansas, Minnesota and California.

As would be expected avian influenza dominated conversation in the hallways, on booths and the educational sessions. The information provided by speakers was reassuring, authoritative and current.

The major outcome of the reviews of the unfolding situation was the increasing concern over both structural and operational biosecurity which will require investment and changes in procedures to counter a change in the type and intensity of risk.

The annual Midwest Congress caters to a broad range of interests from small-scale family farms to the major turkey and egg integrators. Broilers are less of a concern reflecting the relative production in the states comprising the Federation.

 

 

   

Egg Industry News

 

Joanne Ivy of AEB to Retire

Mar 20, 2015
    

Joanne Ivy President and CEO of the American Egg Board has announced her intended retirement effective December 31, 2015.

Her career in the poultry industry spans 40 years including 30 years with the AEB.  She has served as President and CEO since 2007.

During her tenure she introduced the Good Egg Project and was instrumental in initiating the Food Service and Egg Product Marketing Program and campaigns including Wakeup to Eggs. The most recent Wake up to Bacon campaign has gone viral and represents a valuable legacy to her successor. We wish her well in the pursuit of other activities.

   
 

EU and Asian HPAI Reports

Mar 20, 2015
    

Reuters has reported on an outbreak of H5N6 avian influenza in Viet Nam affecting poultry in a village located in the Northern Province of Thanh Hoa. The affected flock, estimated to comprise under 1,000 birds was destroyed. The consequences of losing a village flock are severe as local communities in rural Indochina depend on live bird sales and eggs from their flocks for income and sustenance.

   
 

New York Egg Producer Loses House.

Mar 20, 2015
    

Giroux’s Poultry Farm located in Chazy, NY, 10 miles North of Plattsburgh, lost a house stated to contain 50,000 hens as a result of a fire on Wednesday 19th March. None of the adjacent structures were affected and an in-line group of larger houses of more recent construction were unscathed.

Willie Giroux of the family owning the 4th Generation enterprise stated “It’s devastating to lose the birds but we are grateful no one was hurt”

Clinton County and Chazy Volunteer Fire departments responded to the conflagration.

   
 

USDA Prices and Inventory Report, March 16th 2015.

Mar 20, 2015
    

The Midwest market continued to move upwards during the past week consistent with seasonal trends. Approximately 8 percent increases were recorded for Extra Large and Large sizes. Mediums advanced by 4.4 percent in price price compared to last week reflecting the maturation of young flocks which commenced production four to five weeks ago in anticipation of Easter.

The national stock of generic eggs increased by an inconsequential 0.6 percent despite the rise in Midwest prices for Extra Large and Large sizes. This follows the trend over the past two weeks confirming the bottom to the market during the first week of March. Total stock comprised 1,430 thousand cases, of which 82 percent comprised shell eggs, the same proportion as the previous week.

This past week eggs broken under FSIS inspection decreased by 3.0 percent to 1.378 million cases. The proportion from in-line complexes attained 58.6 percent compared to 57.5 percent last week. The price of breaking stock delivered to Central plants rose 2.2 percent to a price range of 93 to 95 cents per dozen. Checks rose by 5.3 percent to a range of 77 to 82 cents per dozen.

   
 

Avian Influenza -- A Current Perspective -- Presentation by Simon M. Shane

Mar 18, 2015
    

Presentation by
Simon M. Shane, BVSc. FRCVS. Ph.D. MBL. ACPV
February 10, 2015
North Carolina State University
Department of Poultry Science

View the presentation at http://egg-cite.com/presentations/ai-ncsu/default.aspx

The slide set on AI encapsulates current issues relating to outbreaks of disease in the EU and North America. The material presented supplements the Editorial posted on March 13th 2015.

Any comments, opinions or additions are welcomed and will be posted for the benefit of subscribers and sponsors.

   
 

Mar 18, 2015
     

USDA-FAS data as collated by Dr. Renan Zhuang of the USAPEEC, reflecting export volume and values for shell eggs and egg products are shown in the table below comparing January 2015 with January 2014:-

U.S. EGG EXPORTS, JANUARY 2015 COMPARED WITH JANUARY 2014


 

 

Jan 2015

Jan 2014

Difference

           

Shell Eggs

Volume (m. dozen)

 10.4

  14.4

+4.09

(+38.5%)

 

Value ($ million)

$10.4

$14.8

+$4.4

(+42.3%)

 

Unit Value ($/dozen)

$1.00

$1.03

+$0.03

(+3.5%)

           

Egg Products      

Volume (metric tons)

4,639

      4,809

     +170

        (+3.7%)

 

Value ($ million)

$12.8

$12.0

-$0.7

(-5.4%)

 

Unit Value ($/metric ton)    

$2,759

$2,516

-$243

(-8.8%)

Source: USDA-FAS/USAPEEC

Read the full report at http://egg-cite.com/statistics/single.aspx?contentID=3651

 

   
 

Survey Shows Eastern Shore is Polluting the Chesapeake Bay

Mar 18, 2015
    

A study recently completed by the U.S. Geological Survey demonstrated that 90 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorous entering the Chesapeake Bay is derived from agriculture and livestock.  A disproportionately large quantity of nutrients emanates from the Eastern Shore including counties in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

   
 

EU Approves GM Crops (Maybe?)

Mar 18, 2015
    

Following prolonged and delicate negotiations to avoid deadlock, the European Commission has allowed insect-resistant corn (DuPont 1507) to be cultivated.  The approval is however subject to the right of individual member states to ban any GM crops. Effectively the recent EU approval may only be window-dressing.  It remains to be seen how many nations within the EU allow GM corn and other crops to be planted.

   
 

USDA Data on Local Food Sales

Mar 18, 2015
    

In a report to Congress, the USDA reported that local and regional food sales increased from $4.8 billion in 2008 to $6.1 billion in 2012.  This represents a 6.7 per cent compound annual growth rate.

The USDA defines “local” as 400 miles from the point of sale.  There is no specific data on the volumes of strictly local farm production.

   
 

February Restaurant Sales Impacted by Harsh Weather

Mar 18, 2015
    

Restaurant News reported that growth in same-store restaurant sales during February 2015 increased by 2.1 percent over the corresponding month in 2014.  This growth rate represented a 4 percent decline from January.  The difference between the two consecutive months was attributed to severe winter weather affecting traffic in February.

   
 

American Farm Bureau Federation Joins Midwest States’ Litigation

Mar 18, 2015
    

EGG-CITE published an editorial on the appeal entered by the Attorneys General of six Midwest egg- producing states on March 9th.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has now filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit claiming that the State of Missouri et al v. Harris et al has standing to challenge California AB 1437.  The initial lawsuit was dismissed in October 2014 letting stand the regulations {1350(d)} framed in terms of AB 1437.

   
 

Dollar General Posts Improved Earnings and Announces Expansion Plans

Mar 18, 2015

Dollar General Stores achieved a 4.9 percent increase in sales during the fourth quarter.  The Company intends to expand square footage by 6 percent, opening 730 new stores and will remodel 725 existing units.  At the end of 2014, Dollar General operated 11,790 stores.  During 2014 Dollar General attempted to purchase Family Dollar but competitor Dollar Tree negotiated a merger agreement for the target acquisition.

For the Fourth Quarter of the most recent fiscal year, net sales recorded by Dollar General increased by 9.9 percent to $4.94 billion attributed to both increased store visits and the value of average transactions.  Net profit increased to $355 million from the corresponding 4th Quarter of FY 2013 ($322 million).  Earnings per share advanced from $1.01 to $1.17 in the 4th Quarter of fiscal 2014 although it is claimed that earnings were impacted adversely by the West Coast port situation.

For fiscal 2014 sales increased by 8 percent to $18.9 billion with an increase in net income to $1.07 billion compared to $1.03 billion in fiscal 2013.  Earnings per share increased to $3.49 compared to $3.17 in the previous fiscal year.

   
 

EPA Censured over FOIA Request

Mar 18, 2015
    

On Monday February 28th U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth censured the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for “suspicious handling” of a 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. This was submitted by the Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative public-interest group lead by Mark R. Levin, who previously served in the Regan Administration.

   
 

HSUS Lauds Aramark Cage-Free Decision

Mar 18, 2015
    

Josh Balk of the HSUS issued a press release on March 10th noting that Aramark, a food distributor and provider of institutional services will transition to sourcing egg liquid from cage-free flocks by 2020. The company switched to cage-free shell eggs in 2013 receiving the HSUS Henry Spira Corporate Progress Award.

It is relevant to place the volume of shell eggs and liquid purchased by Aramark in perspective. Their 30 million shell eggs per year could be supplied by a flock of 100,000 hens representing 0.03 percent of the national flock. Their liquid volume stated to be 20 million pounds annually comprises 1.1 percent of 2014 U.S. output of 1.75 billion pounds.

   

Shane Commentary

 

Consumer Reports Continues to be Negative on GMO

Mar 20, 2015
    

In a recent article, Consumer Reports continues to unjustifiably disparage GM foods.  The article GMO Foods: What You Need to Know runs counter to established science. The technology is endorsed and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences and the USDA. There have been no deleterious effects demonstrated over the past two decades from consuming foods of GM origin.

The position of Consumer Reports, which appears to have degenerated into an advocacy organization condemning biotechnology, acknowledges that there is “no creditable evidence of people being harmed” although the Consumers Union believes that it is not possible to prove “safety”. 

The organization does refer to established literature which applies accepted statistical and analytical techniques to establish risk and to demonstrate that there is no difference in either nutritional quality or safety between foods of GM origin and conventional crops.  In fact the inherent characteristics of GM cultivars are associated with lower levels of pesticide and herbicide application, improved sustainability and yields.

Consumer Reports should confine its activities to where it does its best work.  This includes warning potential purchasers about unsafe toasters, rating TVs, condemning Yugos and highlighting value among consumer goods. It would be best to leave GMO to the recognized scientific associations and regulatory agencies-- or are they cynically playing to their readership?

   
 

Supermarkets in “Food Deserts” Apparently Not Beneficial

Mar 20, 2015
    

A study conducted by Dr. Brian Elbel of the NYU Langone Medical Center questions the benefit of establishing supermarkets in areas regarded as “food deserts.”

An initiative of the USDA, motivated by First Lady Michelle Obama posited that establishing supermarkets with available fresh fruits and vegetables would modify the diets provided to children in low-income urban areas.  Specific concerns related to consumption of high-calorie prepared foods which are regarded as contributing to childhood obesity.

The selection of food provided to children aged 3 to 10 years old was determined one year after a subsidized supermarket opened in the Morrisania area of the Bronx.  Foods consumed were compared with a control group of matched children in the Highbridge area of the Bronx where there was no open supermarket.

The controlled study did not reveal any significant change in household food availability or dietary intake one year after the government-subsidized supermarket opened. The authors noted that “food choice is complex and the availability of lower-priced processed food and pervasiveness of junk food marketing have implications for behavior change as well.”

It is evident that making fresh fruit and vegetables available to residents in low-income areas is not in itself beneficial.  It is intuitive that making healthful foods available must be accompanied by promotion of the benefits through education.  It is understood that in past years, special benefits were extended to the users of “food stamps” in New York City to encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables.  Changing dietary habits is obviously difficult but requires education, availability and incentives.

   
 

USDA to Subsidize Specialty Crop Industry

Mar 20, 2015
    

The Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the Organic Agriculture Research Extension Initiative incorporated into the 2014 Farm Bill will make available $66.5 million in the current fiscal year according to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

In a public comment on March 10th, Vilsack stated “investment in projects to help organic producers and specialty crop growers are an important way the USDA helps American farmers establish new business opportunities throughout the country.”  He added “projected funds will build on USDA support for local and regional markets and strengthening local markets growers’ economy while improving access to healthy food for millions of children.”

The USDA has issued requests for proposals.  Notices of intent are due on April 1st and full applications have a closing date of April 30th.

The application of public funds to support a narrow sector of the agricultural industry is regarded as promoting the activities of a favored few in pursuit of idealistic goals based on the principle of social engineering extending from the White House through the USDA. 

The $66 million earmarked for the initiatives could be better spent on expediting construction and operation of the Southeastern Poultry Disease Research Laboratory to achieve status as the National Diagnostic and Research Center for Poultry Disease.  Given the challenges presented by avian influenza and the potential impact on the broiler industry which generates $350 billion annually in total economic activity and supports 1.4 million jobs, it is evident that the USDA has distorted priorities.

   

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Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
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Industry Prices: Thu Mar 26
 Corn3.92 $/bu
 Soybeans9.75 $/bu
 Soybean Meal322.60 $/ton
 Eggs, Producer150  ¢/doz
 Eggs, Warehouse 162-165 ¢/doz