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Commodity Communicator Weekly

December 13, 2013

ANNUAL SOYBEAN RESEARCH SUMMIT
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture will hold their Annual Soybean Research Summit on December 17, 2013 at the Northeast Arkansas District Fairgrounds in Jonesboro. Registration is free and begins at 8 a.m. with the program beginning at 8:30 a.m.  The program will cover topics ranging from high-yielding soybeans, including those farmers that won the Race for 100 contest, to variety performance, weed control and diseases.  The conference is sponsored by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board through the soybean checkoff and will conclude with a catfish lunch.

 
FDA TAKES SIGNIFICANT STEPS TO ADDRESS ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today is implementing a plan to help phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food animals for food production purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency. The plan would also phase in veterinary oversight of the remaining appropriate therapeutic uses of such drugs.

 
POULTRY LAB NOT CHICKEN ABOUT DEVELOPING VACCINE FOR CATTLE
Poultry science isn’t just for chickens anymore.  The Poultry Science Lab for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, run by Billy Hargis, has already developed vaccines to battle several diseases in poultry. Now, Hargis says, a pharmaceutical company recently contacted him about producing a vaccine to combat mastitis in cattle. Mastitis is a potentially fatal udder disease in dairy cows. "Chickens don’t lactate," Hargis said. "But the concept is the same." He said a pharmaceutical company that has licensed the poultry vaccines met with him and representatives from several countries recently to discuss the possibility of developing the mastitis vaccine.

 
TYSON TO REQUIRE ANIMAL WELFARE STANDARDS ON ALL ANIMALS PROCURED FOR THE COMPANY

As consumers grow more concerned with animal welfare issues, Tyson says beef producers will have to follow on-farm requirements for animal treatment next year if they want to work with the major meat processor. Tyson made the decision as it’s received customer feedback from major food companies including Whole Foods and McDonald’s. Tyson already requires its hog producers to follow specific guidelines and will now enforce its higher animal welfare standards on beef and poultry producers. The animal-handling practices will be implemented by a third-party auditor who will visit farms to ensure compliance. The auditor will review animal handling practices and confirm animals have access to adequate feed and water.  Many of the practices are already practiced, so the change will be in the requirement for producers to document practices. Following the audit, producers will learn if their practices are approved, in need of improvement, or unacceptable.  Tyson Foods’ FarmCheck program was implemented for all of its pork producers. The audit system has yet to give a hog farm a rating of ‘unacceptable,’ but did remove an Oklahoma producer from its supply chain after an undercover video found incidents of animal cruelty. The company’s FarmCheck program ensures the best practices for the farm which are reviewed by a panel of 13 animal welfare experts.

 
FARM BILL UPDATE
Yesterday afternoon, the House approved an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill until Jan. 31, 2014. The bill was approved by voice vote. Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said that the possibility of dairy prices rising significantly on January 1 was a significant motivator to move on an extension.

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) stated that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack assured her there would be no impacts on dairy prices in January. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that any extension the House passes is dead on arrival in the Senate.
This morning, the two chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees announced this week they are closing in on a framework farm bill deal they hope to complete next week. Both Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said they were very pleased with the scores they have received from the Congressional Budget Office. Those scores are not public at this writing.


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