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Federal court shuts NY cheese facility linked to Listeria outbreak that killed two

USA Today | Posted on April 10, 2018

A federal court has shut down the New York creamery linked to a multistate listeriosis outbreak in 2017 that sickened at least eight people, resulting in two deaths. Vulto Creamery LLC and its owner, Johannes Vulto, were ordered to cease all food preparation, production, and related operations at the Walton, N.Y. facility until they can ensure no listeria is present.


Checkoffs return $9 for every dollar spent on marketing

Bloomberg | Posted on April 10, 2018

Since the 1990s, the money for campaigns like “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner” and “Got Milk?” came from mandatory fees charged to producers to fund the industry organizations. Now the payments are under threat from cattle ranchers and their congressional allies who want to make them optional. They say they’d prefer that advertising not benefit rival beef producers from other countries, who also pay fees, because U.S. beef is best. On average, farmers get paid back about $9 for every dollar spent on the marketing, according to a study co-authored by Gary Williams, professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University. For example, the United Soybean Board return is $5.20 on average, while egg farmers get back $8.11. “The programs are highly effective,” Williams said. “It’s a very good return per dollar invested.”Still, some large producers balk at the fees, and some have filed suit against the USDA.


NY creamery shut down because owner did not ‘understand’

Food Safety News | Posted on April 5, 2018

A federal court has shut down the Walton, NY, creamery that last year was the source of a multistate listeriosis outbreak that infected eight people in four states with listeriosis, resulting in two deaths.


China’s tariffs on U.S. goods could put pressure on Canada’s fruit, wine prices

The Star | Posted on April 5, 2018

Retaliatory Chinese tariffs introduced this week on U.S. produce risk prompting American fruit growers to flood the Canadian market, causing wholesale prices to fall, says a group representing Ontario apple growers. The Chinese government announced tariffs on Monday ranging between 15 and 25 per cent on 128 items, including fruit, nuts, pork, wine, steel pipe and aluminum scrap in retaliation for an estimated $3 billion in U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.Ontario Apple Growers general manager Kelly Ciceran says the 15 per cent tariff on fruit such as apples, cherries, peaches, raspberries and cranberries will likely lead to more U.S. produce hitting Canadian stores.


Arizona egg bill gets unanimous Senate approval

Watt Ag Net | Posted on April 5, 2018

A bill that would change the amount of time between when an egg is candled and sold, and still be able to be labeled with the AA grade is advancing through the Arizona legislature. Presently, eggs must be sold within 24 days of being laid in order to be called AA eggs. However, under legislation presented by Rep. Jill Norgaard, R-Phoenix, an egg could still carry the AA grade for up to 45 days after it is candled.


The USDA says Crispr-edited foods are just as safe as ones bred the old-fashioned way

Quartz | Posted on April 4, 2018

the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it would no longer regulate crops that have been genetically edited. Gene editing, which includes Crispr techniques, enables researchers and now farmers, to genetically nip and tuck the DNA of living things and sell them to consumers. This could mean editing to make plants bigger, more weather-resistant, or juicier.The USDA’s decision only applies to crops that have had some genes taken out, or which have had genes that are endemic to the species added to them. This editing, the regulatory agency says, is essentially a fancy form of accelerated selective breeding, and with high upside. “Genome editing…can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers,” the press release states. Transgenic crops, which are modified to include DNA from other species like bacteria or insects to make them pest-resistant, for example, will still be closely monitored by the regulatory agency.


Farm Babe: Vandana Shiva is coming to my hometown to lie

Ag Daily | Posted on March 30, 2018

Vandana Shiva is coming to my hometown to lie. Not cool.For those unaware, Shiva is one of the world’s most famous anti-GMO activists, hailing from India. She’s giving a speech on Monday, April 16, at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where I did a year of my undergrad. I found out that the university got a “good deal” since they had flexible scheduling for her, and Shiva is being paid just under $20,000 to speak.How would you feel if someone was paid tens of thousands of dollars to lie about your occupation? As farmers, she has not been speaking the truth about what we do and claims that GMOs are poison, we are drenching our fields in chemicals, Monsanto has control over us in ag, and GMOs are killing the bees and causing farmers to commit suicide.


Egg industry challenges are a cautionary tale for the meat industry

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 30, 2018

To end animal agriculture the movement has to drive down demand and raise the costs and people will stop purchasing so much meat, thus bringing an end to the industry.”   One example of this tactic was the push in 2016 by several activist groups to pressure food companies to commit to only sourcing cage-free eggs within the next few years. A total of over 230 restaurants, retailers, hospitality companies, foodservice companies and food manufacturers ended up making such commitments. In order to meet that demand, 228 million laying hens (more than 75 percent of the U.S. flock) will need to be cage-free. Today, 16 percent of the U.S. flock (around 52 million layers, this includes both organic and non-organic) is cage-free, and that number has risen dramatically (by more than 20 million) over the past two years. That rapid pace isn’t going to be enough, though – according to the Egg Industry Center, the rate of conversion will need to be 21.5 million layers per year for the next eight consecutive years to meet the pledges (double the pace of the past two years). That conversion isn’t cheap, either – it comes at a cost of around $10 billion.   All of this is made even more complicated by the fact that consumers aren’t flocking to cage-free eggs the way brands thought they would (which further illustrates that these pledges were driven by a small but vocal minority of activists). It’s a tough pill to swallow for the egg industry to invest the needed funds to make this transition (to a higher-cost production model) when consumers are still opting to buy the lowest-cost, conventionally-produced product.


A new Monsanto-backed company is on the verge of producing the first fruit made with CRISPR

Business Insider | Posted on March 30, 2018

In a move aimed at securing its future, Monsanto has invested $125 million in a gene-editing startup called Pairwise. The alliance could tee up Monsanto, long known for its controversial dealings with farmers and its role in popularizing genetically modified organisms, to introduce some of the first produce made using the blockbuster gene-editing tool Crispr.In a call with Business Insider, the company hinted that strawberries or another type of fruit would be among the first Crispr produce to hit grocery-store shelves — a development it expects within five to 10 year


What Matters to Consumers - The Chicken or the Egg?

FFAR | Posted on March 29, 2018

In November 2017, a series of two national surveys were conducted to evaluate market potential and consumer willingness-to-pay for poultry and eggs with various labels. The study, led by Jayson L. Lusk from Purdue University, gathered responses from more than 2,000 participants to determine if consumers are willing to pay more for particular product attributes in a retail environment. Willingness-to-pay for slow growth chicken, and importance of the attribute in consumer choice, is sensitive to the information provided and is generally lower in importance than other labels, except when consumers are provided pro slow growth information. Brand labels significantly lowered the demand for additional production-centered labels, such as organic, non-GMO, and no antibiotics, with the exception of the slow growth label.There is a high degree of diversity in consumer willingness-to-pay when it comes to the cage free label.Almost 60% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for cage free eggs if that premium is less than $0.40/dozen. However, approximately one in three respondents will pay a premium greater than $1.00/dozen.


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