Saturday, October 31, 2015

Canadian pigs show disease at U.S. packing plant

Three Canadian pigs have tested positive for Seneca Valley virus at a packing plant in the United States.

The virus is not particularly dangerous to either hogs or people, but is considered alarming because it can easily be mistaken for foot-and-mouth disease which would be devastating.

Foot-and-mouth disease is deadly and highly contagious and if it is ever confirmed in a Canadian animal, would immediately stop all meat and livestock exports.

There would also be tight quarantine zones, including some that would stop all traffic in or out of a property.

The United States Department of Agriculture has alerted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency about its findings and further testing in Canada confirmed it’s at two Ontario hog assembly yards. It could not be confirmed at any place in Manitoba although one of the hogs detected with the virus at the U.S. packing plant was from Manitoba.

The Canadian Pork Council is informing hog farmers that they have an obligation to report any signs of a vesicular virus, such as Seneca Valley virus, to their veterinarian and veterinarians have an obligation to report to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The  council says “although SVV (Seneca Valley virus) is not a reportable disease, its detection will halt the production flow and processing as its clinical signs are similar to foreign vesicular diseases such as foot-and-mouth.

If SVV or any other type of vesicular foreign animal disease is suspected, it is important to immediately report this to your herd veterinarian and the CFIA.

“Any failure to report could lead to missing a potential FMD (foot-and mouth) infection which could have huge impacts for the industry.

Biosecurity measures should be reviewed and movement from the farm should be halted and samples need to be collected and sent out for proper analysis by CFIA laboratories.
No sick, lame or animals with active and/or healing vesicular lesions should be sent out and that includes movement to slaughter.

“The CFIA will investigate all suspect cases which may include taking samples to rule out vesicular FADs (foreign animal diseases).

“The test results usually become available within 24 hours from the time the samples reach the CFIA laboratory.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pork industry answers Subway antibiotic ban

The United States pork industry paid for a full-page ad in the largest newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, to say that Subway sandwich chain is making a mistake in declaring it will only serve pork and beef raised without antibiotics.

Subway has 27,000 restaurants in the U.S. and wants them to be meeting the new standard by early next year.

The pork industry says this is foolish because it means farmers won’t be able to use antibiotics to treat sick pigs.

“Subway is not saying ‘no’ just to those antibiotics used in human medicine. Subway isn’t saying ‘use antibiotics only when animals are sick.’ Subway is saying no antibiotics ever – even when animal health and safety could be at risk,” says the pork-industry ad.

“We think that such a policy could compromise the safety of our food system.

“Sick animals in the food system are not a good idea.

“Healthy animals help farmers produce safe food,” the ad says.

“How will a hog farmer react to a fast-moving disease outbreak that could have been prevented with medicine administered in time? The potential for thousands of animals to unnecessarily die or suffer is a real possibility. These are the consequences that farmers will have to face.”

The ad was signed “America’s Pig Farmers” and directs readers to, a website of the We Care initiative, which was launched in 2008 as a joint effort of the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council and state organizations representing farmers.

The National Pork Producers has a checkoff fund to spend on research and communications. The Canadian pork-producer industry is seeking federal government approval to set up a similar mandatory checkoff agency.

Subway’s move is a departure from recent announcements of other major retail and foodservice companies, which supported Guidance 209 and 213 and Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD) compliance and what is seen as the responsible use of antimicrobials.

“America’s pork farmers support the responsible use of antibiotics, but Subway’s decision on antibiotics use in the production of pork, beef and poultry – and urging others to make the same decision – will leave farmers without any solutions to treat animals that are sick and suffering. 

"That’s immoral and inhumane, and farmers aren’t willing to do that. Enough is enough,” the ad says.

Antibiotics panel named for U.S. pork industry

The United States National Pork Board has announced the seven members of its blue-ribbon panel on antibiotics.

The new and independent panel includes experts with specific experience and knowledge in antibiotic practices or consumer marketing.

The panel’s is to review the status of antibiotic use in the pork industry and advise National Pork Board about research and producer education.

It is being asked to offer guidance on how to improve antibiotic stewardship in the pork industry. The panel members are:

Mike Apley, food animal production medicine, Kansas State University;
Bonnie Buntain, coordinator of the veterinary medical and surgical program, University of Arizona;
Mike Chaddock, associate dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University;
Chris Cochran, senior manager, food sustainability, Walmart;
Jim McCollum, protein purchasing manager, Independent Purchasing Cooperative, Inc.;
Justin Ransom, senior director, quality systems U.S., McDonald’s restaurant chain, and
Steve Solomon, public health consultant and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s office of antimicrobial resistance.

 “The science is complicated, but we do know how to improve the use of antibiotics in both human and animal medicine,” Solomon,said in a news release.

“We need to better translate complex information about antibiotic use for the benefit of the food consumer and the medical community.”

The National Pork Board has set out a three-point plan and five research priorities:

Research – Investing $750,000 in provide data for animal and public health outcomes (pig health/welfare, human health/safety, environmental impact and pork quality).

Education – Updating the Pork Quality Assurance Plus farmer certification program in 2016 and investing up to $400,000 in education and awareness programs to ensure pig farmers understand and adopt new Food and Drug Administration rules for the use of medically important antibiotics (to treat human illness) in feed and water. 

Communications – Gathering industry leaders for meetings on responsible antibiotic use and sharing the American pork industry’s story of continuous improvement with producers and consumer media through outreach, byline articles and advertisements.

And what are we doing in Canada? Something like the Harper government attitude about climate change - i.e. wait to see what the Americans are doing, then boldly announce "Me, too!"

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Potash Corp cutting production

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan is cutting production to bolster prices and profits.

The company is closing one of two mines in New Brunswick and won’t have enough extra potash coming from the new mine to match current production in that province for some time.

It is also going to shut down three of its Saskatchewan mines for three weeks in December.

Earlier this month Mosaic announced an eight per cent reduction of its staff at the Colonsay mine in Saskatchewan. It also cited lower fertilizer prices.

Agrium, the third partner in a Saskatchewan export cartel, announced cut-backs late last year.

Jochen Tilk, chief executive officer for Potash Corp said "we have some of the best, most efficient potash assets in the world and we continue to take steps to even further improve efficiencies and lower our costs."

Tilk recalled cuts in 2013 that reduced its production capacity by 3.5 million tonnes.

It plans to permanently close its Penobsquis mine in New Brunswick at the end of November instead of next year, part of its plan to reduce production by 500,000 tonnes during the fourth quarter.

It plans to increase production at its lower-cost Picadilly mine, also in New Brunswick.

The closure at Penobsquis affects 140 contract workers employed by Vic Progressive Diamond Drilling.

"While this will reduce production levels in New Brunswick by approximately 800,000 tonnes annual until we have Picadilly fully ramped up, it aligns with market conditions," Tilk said.

Score one for shareholders and executives' compensation, zero for customers and mine workers.


Chicken appeal delayed again

The appeal the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors has filed against the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board has been adjourned until “sometime” next year.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Tribunal did not post the delay on its website before the scheduled hearing Oct. 29, but did post a notice on the door to its boardroom.

The AOCP is objecting to the marketing board’s changes in policies and regulations related to development of specialty and niche markets.

The policy opens the door to more farmers and processors to get into the Ontario chicken industry.