Federal Market Oversight Likely
Friday’s USDA/Department of Justice “Competition in
Agriculture Workshop,” held in Ankeny, IA, was long on rhetoric, but
surprisingly balanced regarding substantive issues. A wide range of
opinions were expressed and the proceedings were far more orderly than
The first of four scheduled workshops, the original title was “Issues
of Importance to Farmers.” But the Ankeny event included discussions
on seed and pork issues. The seed discussion focused primarily on
Monsanto’s position in the soybean and corn trait market. The pork
industry discussion was much broader.
Future sessions will be held in Normal, AL, focusing on poultry issues,
Madison, WI, targeting dairy issues, and Fort Collins, CO, on beef and
lamb issues. A final workshop will be held in Washington, DC, and
concentrate on issues regarding farm-to-retail price spreads.
Management Tips to Improve Breeding Herd Performance
Last week, we listed several management areas that have an
impact on “total pigs born.” (To review, click
In addition to the number of recorded heat cycles before breeding and
the gilt’s exposure to gestation stalls before breeding, there are
additional management factors that affect gilt performance. Following
are a few additional considerations:
Level and length of lighting in the gilt development area.
Studies have documented the impact of light intensity and duration on
gilt development and cycling, especially in the fall as daylight
decreases. Light does affect onset of puberty and length of breeding
periods. We suggest having a timer in the gilt development area that
allows for a minimum of 16 hours of light per day, with an intensity of
50 lux, roughly 100 watts of light for every 100 sq. ft. of floor space.
Gilts do need a sleep period, so the lights need to be off during the
Stronger Enforcement of the Humane Slaughter Act
The House Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing concerning the Government
Accountability Office’s (GAO) report on USDA actions need to
strengthen enforcement of Human Methods of Slaughter Act. The report
indicates that USDA inspectors have been inconsistent in their reporting
of humane handling violations. GAO recommends stronger enforcement of
the act, including establishing “clear and specific” criteria for
suspending plant operations, improving standards for compliance, and
more closely examining noncompliance reports.” An inspector with
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) testified that USDA
officials not only overturned his recommendations in enforcing the act,
but agreed with slaughter plants.
House Bill Sets Requirements for Federal Meat Purchases —
Congressmen Diane Watson (D-CA) and Elton Gallegly (R-CA) have
introduced H.R. 4733, the “Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act,”
which would require federal agencies to purchase meat from sources that
raised the animals free from cruelty and abuse. The legislation
requires that food purchased for federal programs (school breakfast and
lunch, military, federal prisons, etc.) come from animals raised with
enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around and stretch their limbs.
Congressman Watson said, “Americans are increasingly demanding that we
move away from abusive confinement in tiny cages on factory farms. The
federal government has a responsibility to help lead the way on this
important issue.” The Humane Society of the United States has
endorsed the legislation.
Offers Loan Guidance To Contract Pork Operations
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced March 11 that
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will expand guidance for loans
to contract poultry operations meant to protect them from questionable
business practices to include contract pork operations.
USDA currently provides county Farm Service Agency offices analysis and
evaluation of applications for direct and guaranteed loans for contract
poultry operations, and how those loans are issued and serviced.
“Contract poultry and pork operations face increased risk in these
challenging economic times, and this additional guidance for pork,
putting it in agreement with the poultry guidance, will aid the loan
officers in county offices as they continue to make informed decisions
on loans for contracted pork operations, providing opportunities for
producers while at the same time protecting the interests of the
taxpayers who fund the loans USDA makes,” Vilsack says.
March 16-17, 2010: Second Annual Passion
for Pigs Seminar and Trade Show, Holiday Inn Select (Expo Center),
Columbia, MO; contact: Julie Lolli at (660) 651-0570 or email@example.com.
March 23, 2010: Swine Health Symposium, Der
Dutchman, Plain City, WI; contact: Dale Ricker at (419) 523-6294 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 24-26, 2010: NSF International and USDA
Co-Host 2010 Food Safety Education Conference in
Atlanta, GA; contact: Paula DeGangi at (646)-935-4029 or email@example.com.
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