Nearly half of all “new” milk produced in this country over the last 13 years has gone to markets beyond our borders. Since 2004, the expansion in U.S. dairy exports alone added an average of $1.25 per hundredweight per year to U.S. farm milk prices. That has meant an additional $36 billion in milk revenues since 2004. In an industry where a few percentage points can make the difference between breaking even and going broke, that is a very big deal. Export gains have lent critical support to U.S. milk production growth and the expansion of the entire U.S. dairy industry over the past decade-plus.If U.S. dairy exports had remained locked at their 2003-2004 level, we would be looking at a much more fragile industry today with far dimmer prospects. Similarly, if U.S. dairy exports remain locked at their current level moving forward, there is little question it would stunt growth and erode the health and vitality of the U.S. dairy industry.
Once a rarity on global dinner tables, salmon is a staple today, thanks to a fish farming industry that has expanded at breakneck speed in recent decades, including in Norway, where in 2016 around 1.18 million metric tons were produced. But now, Norwegian fish farmers face new curbs designed to protect the country’s stocks of wild salmon, rules that have ignited anger from the industry and its opponents, prompting threats of court challenges from both sides.The wild Norwegian salmon are members of an ancient species that, early in its life cycle, heads down river, swimming through Norway’s famous fjords, and out to saltwater feeding grounds, before returning to their native rivers to spawn.In recent years, however, the wild salmon population has more than halved, partly because of the spread of sea lice, parasites that feast on the mucus and skin of the fish before moving on to the muscle and fat, making the fish vulnerable to infections and sometimes killing them. The lice problem is so bad that the worldwide supply of salmon on sale, the overwhelming majority of which is farmed, fell significantly last year, with Norway, the largest producer, especially hard hit.To contain the problem, a system came into force in Norway on Oct. 15, under which farms in regions that are judged to severely threaten wild salmon numbers will have their production frozen and potentially, in future years, cut. If the lice are brought under control, then output can be increased.
Sustainability is a hot topic across industries, but Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes told CNBC that even major food producers like his have to step up to the plate. "Here's the issue: If we're going to feed nine and a half billion people around the world by 2050, we have to be part of the solution. Big food has to get in the ballgame," Hayes told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer when asked about sustainability efforts.Tyson is the country's largest chicken producer and has a large share of the beef and pork markets. As a start, the company recently eliminated the use of antibiotics in all of its chicken products.Hayes, who took on the role of CEO in June 2016, insisted that large companies have to incite change themselves to tackle sustainability problems."These problems are not going to be solved by backyard farms. So we're taking it on. We have to be a part of the game, not only be a part of it, we want to lead it," he said.Hayes added that Tyson, which operates predominantly in the United States, has some other, loftier goals when it comes to providing protein to world markets."Our strategic intent is to be the world's best, most sustainable protein supplier, bar none. And it's because of that fact. More than 50 percent of all consumers in the U.S. are actively trying to add protein to their diets," the CEO said. "So it is not a fad. It is something that is part of the health regimen for so many Americans and people around the world, so absolutely, that is our square focus."
The effects are more insidious than any overindulgent amount of “bad food” can ever be. By fretting about food, we turn occasions for comfort and joy into sources of fear and anxiety. And when we avoid certain foods, we usually compensate by consuming too much of others. All of this happens under the guise of science. But a closer look at the research behind our food fears shows that many of our most demonized foods are actually fine for us. Taken to extremes, of course, dietary choices can be harmful — but that logic cuts both ways. Many of the doctors and nutritionists who recommend avoiding certain foods fail to properly explain the magnitude of their risks. In some studies, processed red meat in large amounts is associated with an increased relative risk of developing cancer. The absolute risk, however, is often quite small. If I ate an extra serving of bacon a day, every day, my lifetime risk of colon cancer would go up less than one-half of 1 percent. Even then, it’s debatable.Nevertheless, we’ve become more and more susceptible to arguments that we must avoid certain foods completely. When one panic-du-jour wanes, we find another focus for our fears. We demonized fats. Then cholesterol. Then meat.
A pair of bills that Republicans say will reduce fraud in food stamp, Medicaid and welfare programs, but Democrats say are misguided, easily passed the House on Wednesday. The goal is “to protect the integrity of the entire SNAP program,” and “get the benefits to people who need them,” Rep. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, said of House Bill 50, which requires adults to have a photo ID on cards issued under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the former food stamp program.“SNAP cards used fraudulently are being used to feed the drug crisis in Ohio,” he said.Analysis of the bills by the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission estimate that neither one will produce savings from reducing fraud — an estimate Schaffer disputes. It also estimates the photo ID bill will cost up to $2 million for new photo cards, and up to $3 million to operate the photo ID program. But critics say food-stamp cards are issued for an entire household, so a photo would not represent all authorized users of a card. They also note that with self-serve checkouts, cashiers often won’t see the pictures — and aren’t required to report abuses even if they do. “Not only does it lack evidence of its effectiveness, it also lacks transparency in relation to the actual cost our state agencies will have to shoulder with its implementation,” Lisa Hamler Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, told a House committee.
Dairy Farmers of America, a national dairy cooperative owned by family farmers, announced Nov. 2 the acquisition of Cumberland Dairy; a family-owned processor of ultra-pasteurized dairy products located in Bridgeton, N.J.
Veggie legend Sir Paul McCartney, as part of his successful ‘Meat Free Monday’ campaign, yesterday released a new short anti-meat film, featuring a previously unreleased song from Paul himself! The rock icon has previously commented that if all slaughterhouses had glass walls we would all be vegetarian and more recently he encouraged a move to veganism: “I can say to people, ‘Just try it’ and show that it can actually be quite fun when you look at what you do, what you eat, how you live and think, ‘is this what I’m gonna do for the rest of my life or would it be interesting to try making a change?’”
Cargill said it will launch an initiative this month in Canada to test new technologies for tracking cattle with the goal of developing a verified sustainability standard to give consumers more information about the beef they eat. Called the Cargill Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration pilot, the effort should move the company’s customers -- by the end of 2018 -- a step closer to providing consumers with beef from operations that have been audited from ‘birth to burger’ using an industry developed sustainability standard, Cargill said.
Enter the Clean Label Project, which made a splash after releasing a study on Wednesday alleging that many of the best-selling baby food and infant formula products on the market (determined by Nielsen data) contain arsenic, lead, acrylamide and other “contaminants.” Sounds scary, if these contaminants in our precious babies’ tummies were a justified fear. They’re not. Fact-checking site Snopes published an analysis on Friday, explaining that the project hasn’t published data to substantiate its claims, and has not subjected its study to peer review. Despite omitting critical details like the levels of arsenic and other substances it says are in baby food products, the Clean Label Project wields its vague information in classic FUD form.
“I think Maine is leading the way,” said State Senator Troy Jackson, the Maine Senate Democratic leader and original sponsor of the bill. “I think we’re really the first state to empower our local municipalities this way.” But in a special legislative session October 23 to address federal concerns about the new law, lawmakers added some clarification: When it comes to meat and poultry inspections, all farmers, regardless of where they conduct business in the state, must follow federal and state meat and poultry regulations. Moreover, they must adhere to all food safety guidelines when conducting third-party business, such as wholesale sales.When the legislature in June passed the food freedom law, it noted that the law was not declaring all local food sales free of any state or federal regulation, but that it recognized the right of local municipalities to establish their own food ordinances. The thrust, according to Jackson and other supporters, was to support the local food economy and encourage local food sales.But before Governor Paul LePage’s signature was even dry on the law, a new issue cropped up not about raw milk, but about meat and poultry processing. According to LePage, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue informed the state that if the new food sovereignty law was not clarified to indicate how state meat-inspection programs would remain “at least equal to” federal rules, the USDA would seize control of the state’s meat and poultry operations. LePage promptly called a special legislative session to address the matter.