Monday, August 31, 2015

Antibiotic-free chicken gaining support

In moves reminiscent of the animal welfare lobby against sow gestation crates, pressure is being applied to restaurant chains to buy only chicken raised without the help of antibiotics.

Subway and its main supplier in the United States are not commenting on reports that it will soon buy only chicken raised without antibiotics.

The Subway policy will start next year with antibiotics important to human medicine and progress in stages from there to all antibiotics.

 “We have been working toward the elimination of antibiotics, as are many other companies, which makes securing supply challenging for a chain our size,” a Subway spokeswoman is quoted as telling a reporter for the Nation’s Restaurant News.

 “We are working with our suppliers to find a cost-effective, quality solution for our franchisees and customers,” the publication quotes her.

Other than the short-term goal for its chicken supply, the spokeswoman said, “[W]e cannot provide a date when all the work will get done as the demand is somewhat higher than supply right now.”

McDonald’sPanera Bread and Wendy's have announced plans to eliminate antibiotics from their supply chains or have begun testing antibiotic-free meat for their menus.

As with sow gestation crates, what begins in the United States is sure to migrate to Canada.

Meat improves women’s heart health

A new study out of the United Kingdom has found that women who eat meat have better heart and cardiovascular health.

Their blood pressure and the thickness and stiffness of blood vessels is better than their twin sisters who ate less of the seven amino acids in meat.

The study by scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) involved almost 2,000 twin women, all of them with a healthy body mass index.

Researchers can pick from a registry of 12,000 twins to conduct these types of studies.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Protestors oppose Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin, the leading animal welfare researcher in North America, was greeted by ugly protests when she came to Guelph to speak first to a private audience, then to a sold-out audience of 250 for a Farm & Food Care Canada fundraising event.

The first ugly incident was a spray-painted sign near the entrance to the University of Guelph pointing to it as an “abattoir”.

Philosophy professor Paul Ball told reporters he “lost it” and in a “fit of rage” painted the graffiti.
He calls meat production “this industry of murder.”

He said Grandin's work only helps the meat industry.

Grandin took it in stride saying “I have a different opinion. I think you can raise animals for meat in an ethical manner and eat meat.”

She has helped many meat packers to design better handling facilities for cattle and hogs, including the Cargill plant in Guelph.

It was her second visit to War Memorial Hall on the University of Guelph campus. In 2012 she received an honorary science degree.

She works from Colorado State University, has received many honours and awards for her animal welfare research and is a popular author of an autobiography about her autism. She is 67.

Ball has been charged with mischief and has a court date of Sept. 22.

After spray painting the university entrance stone, he was part of a protest group that gathered outside War Memorial Hall for Grandin’s speech.

Crystal MacKay, executive director of Farm & Food Care Canada, said she was not surprised by Ball’s graffiti and the protest organized by Tori Lion.

The organization she heads is at odds with a number of animal welfare organizations, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Mercy for Animals.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tough times for farmers

It will be a less profitable year for farmers as low grain, milk and hog prices cut into income, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials say.

A big grain carryover and the third-largest corn crop and second-largest soybean crop on record, but still in the fields, have kept prices below the cost of production, while the cost of seed, fertilizer and land has dropped only slightly.

Net farm income is expected to decline 36 per cent to $58.3 billion, the USDA said in a report released Tuesday. That's down from last year's $91.1 billion and the lowest in nine years.

Two years ago net farm income was at a record high of $123.7 billion. Last year, sliding grain prices were offset in part by record livestock prices. This year, both are down; crop receipts are expected to fall 6.2 per cent and livestock receipts will be down 9.1 per cent. Expenses, however, won't drop very far — less than one per cent.

Mercy for Animals costs farmer his clients

Tyson Foods and McDonald’s Corp/ cut off a chicken farmer after Mercy for Animals revealed an underground video showing egregious abuse.

The video people scooping chickens into a bucket by whacking them with spike on the end of a pole, and standing on birds' heads to break their necks.

Tyson Foods Inc. said in a statement that it was investigating the situation, but that it terminated the farmer's contract "based on what we currently know." McDonald's Corp. said it supported Tyson's decision to terminate its contract with the farmer in question.

A number for the farm identified by Mercy for Animals could not immediately be located, says Canadian Press.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Monsanto drops bid to buy Syngenta

Monsanto has given up on its desire to buy Syngenta.

It offered $47 billion, but Syngenta’s shareholders wanted more.

Had the takeover succeeded, Monsanto would have sold Syngenta’s seed business because adding that would have been too much market share.

Dow AgroSciences said it would make an offer to buy the seed business, but that was conditional on Monsanto succeeding.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hybrid Turkey pleads guilty, fined $5,600

Hybrid Turkeys Ltd. has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges laid in 2014 after Mercy For Animals released an underground video taken in the company’s barns near Bright.

Mercy For Animals president Nathan Runkle said in a press release Monday this case graphically illustrates the cruel, inhumane and illegal abuses that turkeys and other farmed animals endure on Canada’s factory farms.

“While we praise law enforcement for securing a landmark cruelty conviction in this case of horrific animal abuse, the meagre fine doesn’t fit the crime,” Runkle said.

“This factory farm got a slap on the wrist for clubbing animals over the head. We must do more to protect animals on factory farms from sickening cruelty.”

Hybrid Turkeys says it took immediate action to investigate the incident and the employees involved when made aware of the situation.

“Our company has zero tolerance for animal abuse,” said Hybrid Turkeys managing director Dave Libertini.

“We took immediate steps to address this situation. We have a solid record of investment of time and resources into all aspects of animal welfare – including research and advocacy as well as policy, procedures and training. This will continue in the future.”

Dr. Helen Wojcinski, manager of science and sustainability for Hybrid Turkeys, said the isolated incident made their internal programs even stronger.

Mercy for Animals is now pressuring Farm and Food Care to update the codes of practice to require video recordings of all employees working in livestock and poultry barns.

Chinese are buying more pork

Chinese buyers have increased Canadian purchases by 45 per cent this year, according to Martin Rice of the Canadian Pork Council.

It’s helping to put the brakes on a profit-killing slide in hog prices.

Rice says that he expects the increased demand to continue despite the recent plunge in China’s stock-market prices.

Thieves hit farm twice, taking calves

For the second time in nine days, calves have been stolen from the same Perth County farm, reports the Waterloo Region Record.

Police said the theft of two Holstein calves was reported this week by the farmer in the Atwood area, southwest of Listowel.

It's believed the calves were stolen between midnight and 9 a.m. and were likely loaded onto a covered pickup truck.

One of the calves is a heifer weighing about 150 pounds, with tags bearing the number 272 in each ear.

The second calf is an untagged bull weighing about 200 pounds.

Two calves were previously stolen sometime between 9 p.m. Aug. 14 and 10 a.m. Aug. 15.

Police are urging farmers to be vigilant.

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call Perth County OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Sustainable beef deemed safer

Consumer Reports says its national survey in the United States found sustainable beef had half as many samples with antibiotic-resistant bacteria as conventional beef.

Of 300 samples gathered from retail outlets in 26 cities, 18 per cent of conventional beef had bacteria resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics whereas nine per cent of sustainable beef had those bacteria.

Other findings:
More than 80 percent of the conventional beef samples contained two types of bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

Nearly 20 percent of the beef samples contained C. perfringens, bacteria that causes almost a million cases of food poisoning annually.

Ten percent of the beef samples contained a strain of S. aureus bacteria that can produce a toxin that can make people sick – and cannot be destroyed even with proper cooking.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Frost in Saskatchewan

Several farming communities in Saskatchewan have already been hit by frosts.

Environment Canada says the coldest place was Val Marie in the Cypress Hills region, which dipped down to -2.4 C.

Freezing temperatures were also reported in Meadow Lake and Eastend.

It’s too early to know whether claims will be filed with the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation.

Saskatchewan Agriculture spokeswoman Shannon Friesen says it is unusual to see frost this early in the season.

“Our thirty-year average for the first fall frost typically doesn’t happen until mid-September to late September,” she said Monday.

Syncrude ranch bison have anthrax

Three bison have tested positive for anthrax as officials began testing after four died.
One of the four carcasses has not yet been tested.

The ranch is on reclaimed land owned by Syncrude in the Fort McMurray tarsands.

Syncrude closed off the area, contained the animal carcasses and shut down a public viewing point.

Parks Canada confirmed several anthrax cases in Wood Buffalo National Park over the summer, but it's the first time it has been detected in the Mildred Lake herd.

There's an average of about 300 bison in the Syncrude herd, and usually up to five workers on the ranch.