Editorial

OSHA Stipulations Following Plant Injuries

Following injuries to workers at the Zwanenberg Food Group USA plant in Cincinnati and inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Company was subjected to a $1.7 million fine and required to implement a safety program.

 

Zwanenberg Food Group USA is a subsidiary of the Zwanenberg Food Group in Holland that operates twelve production plants.  Zwanenberg processes hams, luncheon meats and pastas under the Southgate and private label brands.

As part of the Consent Agreement, the company will invest close to $2 million in safety improvements.  The list of required upgrades and procedural improvements serves as a to-do list for the entire industry with prevention obviously less expensive and more productive than having to record injuries. Serious cases involving hospitalization result in action by state and federal regulatory agencies, lawsuits and degradation of company image.  The Zwanenberg case is similar to other reported problem plants with deficiencies in equipment, training and the use of contract labor for cleaning and decontamination.

 

The list of requirements imposed by OSHA represents a blueprint to develop a safety culture and an acceptable working environment.

  • As a preliminary requirement, OSHA imposed an independent third-party audit of the facility and equipment including personal protective equipment, communication of hazards and specific reference to lockout and tagout procedures.
  • OSHA required the introduction of a health management system including a safety committee allowing workers to identify hazards and to work with management to resolve issues.
  • In view of the fact that injuries were in contract workers or newly employed personnel with inadequate training, OSHA has required the company to transition to permanent employees and to introduce an approved training program.
  •  All employees will be required to receive training on machine safety procedures with an emphasis on lockout and tagout procedures. 
  • With the aid of a competent, independent consultant, the company was required to develop a safety manual outlining procedures for operation, maintenance and cleaning of all equipment.  Mandatory safety training was required with appropriate records including “near-miss reporting”. 
  • All newly-hired employees will be required to undergo a safety and injury prevention program during orientation in addition to documented ongoing training,

 

The meat industry has experienced problems relating to use of contract labor for third shift cleaning.  Companies undertaking services have been subject to penalties for employing underage workers and failure to train these contract employees in lock out and tag out operations. Deficiencies including lack of training and supervision and the inherent inability of foreign workers to follow instructions in standard English have resulted in a wide range of injuries ranging from amputation of digits to death.

 

The requirements imposed on Zwanenberg by OSHA encompass the range of activities necessary to prevent injury and to promote a safe working environment.

 

Poultry Industry News

Meat Exports

U.S. Broiler and Turkey Exports, January-April 2024.

 

OVERVIEW

 

Total exports of bone-in broiler parts and feet during January-April 2024 attained 1,107,334 metric tons, 11.1 percent lower than in January-April 2023 (1,254,391 metric tons). Total value of broiler exports decreased by 4.8 percent to $1,487.9 million ($1,557.1 million).

 

Total export volume of turkey products during January-April 2024 attained 68,305 metric tons, 26.5 percent more than in January-April 2023 (54,016 metric tons). Total value of turkey exports increased by 9.9 percent to $196.3 million ($178.6 million).

 

Unit price for the broiler industry is constrained by the fact that leg quarters comprise over 97 percent of broiler meat exports by volume (excluding feet). From the first quarter of 2021 through 2022, unit value of leg quarters increased consistent with international demand followed by a decline in 2023. Leg quarters represent a relatively low-value undifferentiated commodity lacking in pricing power. Exporters of commodities are subjected to competition from domestic production in importing nations. Generic products such as leg quarters are vulnerable to trade disputes and embargos based on real or contrived disease restrictions.

 

HPAI is now accepted to be a panornitic affecting the poultry meat industries of five continents with seasonal and sporadic outbreaks. The incidence rate and location of cases in the U.S. limits eligibility for export depending on restrictions imposed by importing nations

 

Ongoing outbreaks of African swine fever in China and Southeast Asia from early 2019 and Europe from 2010 onwards reduced the availability of pork. In addition, disruptions in chicken production and logistics due to COVID restrictions decreased availability of protein with international repercussions on trade in chicken and pork. The demand for pork imports to China has diminished with restoration of domestic hog production to the extent of overproduction. Mild oversupply is evident in the white-feathered broiler sector with implications for exports other than feet extending into 2024.

 

EXPORT VOLUMES AND PRICES FOR BROILER MEAT

During January-April 2024 the National Chicken Council (NCC), citing USDA-FAS data, documented exports of 1,120,766 metric tons of chicken parts and other forms (whole and prepared), down 10.8 percent from January-April 2023. Exports were valued at $1,528 million with a weighted average unit value of $1,363 per metric ton.

 

The NCC breakdown of chicken exports for January-April 2024 by proportion and unit price for each category compared with the corresponding months in 2023 (with the unit price in parentheses) comprised:-

  • Chicken parts (excluding feet) 5%; Unit value $1,277 per metric ton ($1,202)
  • Prepared chicken 9%; Unit value $4,212 per metric ton ($4,259)
  • Whole chicken 6%; Unit value $1,570 per metric ton ($1,592)
  • Composite Total 0%; Av. value $1,363 per metric ton ($1,263)

 

The following table prepared from USDA data circulated by the USAPEEC, compares values for poultry meat exports during January-April 2024 compared with the corresponding months of 2023:-

PRODUCT

 

Jan.-April 2023

 

Jan.-April 2024

 

DIFFERENCE

Broiler Meat & Feet

     

Volume (metric tons)

1,245,391

1,107,334

-138,057 (-11.1%)

Value ($ millions)

1,557.1

1,482,9

-74 (-4.8%)

Unit value ($/m. ton)

1,250

1,339

-89 (+7.1%)

Turkey Meat

     

Volume (metric tons)

54,016

68,365

+14,349 (+26.5%)

Value ($ millions)

178.6

196.3

+17.7 ( +9.9%)

Unit value ($/m. ton)

3,306

2,871

-435 (-13.2%)


 


Meat Projection June 2024

Updated USDA-ERS Poultry Meat Projection for May 2024.

 

On June 18th 2024 the USDA-Economic Research Service released updated production and consumption data with respect to broilers and turkeys, covering 2023 a projection for 2024 and a forecast for 2025.

 

The 2024 projection for broiler production is 46,865 million lbs. (21.302 million metric tons) up 1.0 percent from 2023. USDA projected per capita consumption of 101.6 lbs. (46.2 kg.) for 2024, up 2.1 percent from 2023. Exports will attain 6,734 million lbs. (3.061 million metric tons), 7.3 percent below the previous year.

 

The 2025 USDA forecast for broiler production will be 47,550 million lbs. (21.614 million metric tons) up 1.5 percent from 2024 with per capita consumption up 0.5 lb. to 102.1 lbs. (46.4 kg). Exports will be 2.6 percent lower compared to 2024 at 6,825 million lbs. (3.102 million metric tons), equivalent to 14.4 percent of production.

 

Production values for the broiler and turkey segments of the U.S. poultry meat industry are tabulated below:-

 

Parameter

2023

(actual)

2024

(projection)

2025

(forecast)

Difference

2024 to 2025

Broilers

       

Production (million lbs.)

46,387

46,865

47,550

+1.5

Consumption (lbs. per capita)

99.5

101.6

102.1

+0.5

Exports (million lbs.)

7,265

6,734

6,875

+2.1

Proportion of production (%)

15.7

14.4

14.5

+0.7

         

Turkeys

       

Production (million lbs.)

5,457

5,234

5,320

+1.6

Consumption (lbs. per capita)

14.8

14.2

14.3

+0.7

Exports (million lbs.)

489

 515

515

0

Proportion of production (%)

 9.0

9.8

9.7

+8.8

Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook released June 18th 2024

 

The June 18th USDA report updated projection for the turkey industry for 2024 including annual production of 5,234 million lbs. (2.379 million metric tons), down 4.1 percent from 2023. Consumption in 2024 is projected to be 14.2 lbs. (6.5 kg.) per capita, down 4.1 percent from the previous year Export volume will increase by 5.3 percent in 2024 to 515 million lbs. (234,090 metric tons). Values for production and consumption of RTC turkey in 2024 are considered to be realistic, given year to date data, the prevailing economy, variable weekly poult placements, production levels, freedom from HPAI and inventories.

 

The 2025 forecast for turkey production is 5,320 million lbs. (2.418 million metric tons) up 1.6 percent from 2024 with per capita consumption up 0.7 percent to 14.3 lbs. (6.5 kg). Exports will be unchanged in 2025 at 515 million lbs. (234,000 metric tons) equivalent to 9.7 percent of production.

 

Export projections do not allow for a breakdown in trade relations with existing major partners including Mexico, Canada and China nor the impact of catastrophic diseases including HPAI and vvND in either the U.S. or importing nations

 

The USDA export projection takes into account declining broiler product exports to China. For 2022, China imported 622,099 tons of broiler products valued at $1,087 million including feet at an average unit price of $1,263 per ton. Feet represented 77.8 percent of volume during 2022 (483,538 metric tons) at a unit price of $1,926 per ton. Compared to 2022, exports to China during 2023 were 34 percent lower in volume to 405,343 metric tons and 34 percent lower in value to $711 million. For the first four months of 2024 broiler exports to China were down 60.2 percent compared to the corresponding months in 2023 at 66,336 metric tons. Value was down 52.3 percent to $129 million. Depending on trade and political relations between the U.S and China in 2025 exports could be substantially lower.

 

Subscribers are referred to the monthly export report in this edition and update of production data and cold storage inventories of broilers and turkeys respectively posted in each end-of- month edition of CHICK-NEWS with the previous monthly data under the STATISTICS tab.


 

Ancera Introduces Allied Company Monitoring Program

Ancera, a Branford, CT.-based technology company has introduced the Allied Company Monitoring Program.  Applying advanced biostatistics supported by machine learning, the system will allow integrators and the manufacturers of feed additives and biologics to design and implement field trials that will quantify the production and financial benefits of dietary supplementation. The Ancera program will assist suppliers of biologics, feed additives, alternatives to antibiotics vaccines and other products to demonstrate product efficacy through third-party validation.

 

Ancera operates with a dedicated team of biostatistics and field personnel including board-certified poultry veterinarians with experience in management, disease prevention and pathology.

 

The Allied Company Monitoring Program will provide benefits to integrators who are faced with claims by allied manufacturers wishing to evaluate alternative additives, vaccines or anticoccidial programs.  Progressively, profitability is data driven and Ancera provides input on experimental design, collection of data and interpretation of results to make decisions that add to the bottom line.

 

For further information access the Ancera website by clicking onto the company logo on the right side of the Welcome page.

 


 

House of Raeford Farms Awards College Scholarships


Robert Johnson CEO House of Raeford

House of Raeford Farms has awarded 32 college scholarships in their 11th annual program.  This year eligibility was extended to dependent children and grandchildren of company employees and the families of contractors.

Robert Johnson, CEO of House of Raeford noted, “Our company recognizes the importance of providing career development opportunities for our youth, so they become responsible citizens in the community.”  He added, “This educational assistance program for children of our hard-working and dedicated employees and farmers is an investment in their future success.”  Scholarships are valued at $2,500 and are awarded based on academic excellence, leadership qualities and involvement in school and community activities. 

Over the past eleven years, House of Raeford has provided $455,000 to 182 recipients in six states where the company operates.

 


 

House Agriculture Committee Fails to Include Child Protection Provision in Farm Bill

Representative Greg Casar (D-TX) introduced an amendment to the delayed 2023 Farm Bill relating to use of child labor.  The amendment would have banned the USDA from contracting with “meat packing operations found to have serious, repeated or pervasive violations of child labor regulations or other labor law in their facilities or by subcontractors within their plants”.  The measure was defeated in Committee on a party-line vote. 

 

A vote against this amendment effectively implies support of “serious repeated or pervasive violations of child labor regulations”.  The fact that the vote was along party lines exemplifies the philosophical divisions between the parties and suggests a lack of concern for the welfare of children. Many of those identified as employed underage are immigrants or refugees without documentation who are subject to exploitation.  The proposed amendment would have served as an additional incentive to comply with labor regulations and immigration requirements defining eligibility for employment.

 

The House Agricultural Committee Chair, Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA) indicated that a hearing on child labor issues in the meat processing sector would be arranged at a subseqent time. The Committee in its indifference to a pervasive problem failed to put teeth into compliance with current laws that relate to child labor in dangerous situations. Why should members of a party promoting family values be so reluctant to adopt a simple remedy to help eliminate exploitation?


 

Cargill Workers in Canada Strike

Approximately 1,000 workers have commenced a strike at the Dunlop, Guelph, Ont. beef packing plant.  Workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union rejected a negotiated settlement by an 82 percent margin resulting in a strike commencing May 27th.

 

Kelly Tosato president of UFCW Local 175 stated, “The decision to go on strike is never easy, but members are not satisfied with what the Company has brough to the table.”  The Union has called for an increase in wage rates because of higher costs of living and a decrease in income following termination of supplements provided during and after the COVID pandemic.

Cargill noted, “Our proposed agreement which the Union Bargaining Committee unanimously recommended as a comprehensive proposal, honors the tremendous skill and dedication of our Guelph workforce.”  The Company added, “We are concerned about the hardships a labor disruption will pose to our employees and our customers.  We will be working with the Union on next steps once we hear more from them.”  The Company offer, accepted by the Negotiating Committee included a 9.3 percent wage increase and backpay dating to January 1, 2024, together with enhancements of benefits and a signing bonus.

 

The Guelph workers are supported by UFCW Local 401 in Alberta. It is possible that a strike could also be called in this case-ready plant and in a third location in Calgary.

 


 

Hamlet Protein Participates in World Pork Expo

The recent World Pork Expo in Des Monies provided allied industry suppliers with an opportunity to interact with clients and colleagues. Hamlet Protein a manufacturer of a soybean meal-derived ingredient for piglets, chicks and poults arranged a breakfast meeting for producers during the event.  Dr. Steve Mayer an agricultural economist, discussed the business environment for livestock producers with future projections.

 

Pork and poultry meat are competitors in the domestic and export markets but face common challenges including fluctuation in consumer demand, ongoing escalation in production costs from feed and labor and growing pressure on welfare and management of herds and flocks.

Hamlet Protein included in diets for piglets, poults and broiler chicks provide beneficial growth and feed conversion efficiency by compensating for the inadequacies of the developing neonatal digestive system and anti-nutritional compounds in conventional plant protein ingredients.

 

For additional information click on to the Hamlet logo on the right side of the Welcome page


 

Hormel Posts Results for Q2 FY 2024

In a release dated May 30th Hormel Foods (HRL) reported on Q2 FY 2024 ending April 28th, disappointing on the top line but exceeded consensus on adjusted EPS.  For the quarter the company earned a reported (GAAP) $189.2 million on revenue of $2,887 million (Zack’s consensus of $2,987 million) with a diluted EPS of $0.34.  Comparable values for Q2 FY 2023 ending April 30th were net income of $217.2 million on revenue of $2,978 million with a diluted EPS of $0.40.

 

Compared to Q2 of FY 2023 sales declined by 3.0 percent, gross margin increased from 16.5 percent to 17.5 percent; operating margin was down from 9.9 percent to 8.7 percent. Profit margin fell from 7.3 percent to 6.5 percent for the most recent quarter.

 

Effective October 2022, Hormel reorganized their operating divisions into Retail, Food Service and International segments.  The Jennie-O Turkey Store Division was integrated among the three operating divisions.  Accordingly, releases for Fiscal 2023 and thereafter do not disclose either volume or cost data for this subsidiary as in previous years.  In reviewing the release, there was only indirect comment on the turkey business noting lower volume with a reference to the risk of HPAI that has impacted turkey flocks in Minnesota in recent weeks despite implementation of biosecurity. In previous analysts’ calls CEO Jim Snee has expressed ongoing concern over losses during November and December 2023 and more recently for 2024.

 

Segment performance in both sales and operating profit for the most recent quarter was compared with Q2 FY 2023:-

  • Retail Segment volume -5.4%:  sales -6.7%: segment profit -13.6%.
  • Food Service Segment volume -2.9%: sales +5.7%: segment profit +2.7%.
  • International Segment volume -7.2%: sales -7.3%: segment profit +70.7%

 

In commenting on Hormel results Jim Snee, Chairman, president and CEO stated "We delivered a strong first half, with consecutive quarters of better-than-expected earnings, a significant improvement in operating cash flows, continued Foodservice strength, recovery in our International business and stable volumes across our business. "He added, "Importantly, we made further progress on our strategic initiatives, and we remain on track to deliver on our commitments to improve our business and drive long-term shareholder returns and growth."

For FY 2024 the company projected a one to three percent increase in net sales growth compared to FY 2023 and an upgraded full year diluted net earnings per share of $1.55 to $1.65.  

Hormel Foods posted total assets of $14,135 million on April 28th 2024 of which $6,677 comprised goodwill and intangibles. Long-term debt was $3,073 against an intraday market capitalization of $16,780 million on June 6th. HRL has traded over the past 52 weeks in a range of $28.81 (an 8-year low) to $41.74 with a 50-day moving average of $34.68.  HRL trades with a forward P/E of 19.1. HRL closed at $34.10 on May 29th pre-release. The share price closed down 9.7 to $30.79 on May 30th post release

 

The 12-month trailing operating margin is 9.0 percent with a profit margin of 6.4 percent. The Company has returned 4.8 percent on assets and 9.6 percent on equity.

 

Subscribers can review the financial performance of competitor Butterball by entering “Seaboard” into the SEARCH tab.


 

Mike Brown Retires as President of the NCC

Randy Day Chairman of the National Chicken Council (NCC) has announced the retirement of Mike Brown as president.  Day thanked Brown for his work “In building a strong foundation at NCC and for his years of work to promote the chicken industry.”

Gary Jay Kushner has been appointed to serve as Interim president.  He recently retired from Hogan Lovells where he served as the Outside General Counsel for the NCC.  Day observed, “Gary knows the chicken industry inside and out and the issues that will shape our future.  He is a proven leader with a steady hand and the right person to guide NCC as we select our next president.”


 

Assets of Cooks Venture Purchased by Pitman Farms

According to press reports, the assets of bankrupt Cooks Venture, comprising a processing plant, feed mill and hatchery were purchased by a subsidiary of Pitman Family Farms for $7.1 million.  The transaction was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the district of Delaware.

 

The enterprise was established in 2019 to produce slow-growing broilers marketed directly to consumers through delivery services. Information on the Company can be retrieved by entering ‘Cooks Venture’ in the SEARCH tab.

Pitman Family Farms has extended its geographic reach from California to incorporate Norbest, a producer of turkeys in Utah, and now will operate on the border between northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas.  Pitman Family Farms is anticipated to apply accepted methods of production using contractors and will market through conventional channels.

 

Hopefully, creditors will be made whole and contract growers will once more be restored to production but supporting a more substantial business model.


 

Turkiye to Restrict Chicken Meat Exports

According to USDA-FAS GAIN Report TU2024-22, released on June 12th, the Government of Turkiye will impose restrictions on the export of poultry meat to reduce cost to domestic consumers.

 

 Due to high production costs and low margins, output of chicken will decline by 3.1 percent in 2023 to 2.33 million metric tons (RTC) compared to 2022 at 2.4 million metric tons.  Concurrently chicken meat consumption in 2023 increased to 1.86 million metric tons and is anticipated to be higher at 1.9 million metric tons in 2024.  Accordingly, meat exports will decline by at least half to 270,000 metric tons following the 2024 restriction that will extend from May 1st to December 31st, 2024. 

 

 

USDA-FAS recorded a 150 percent increase in retail chicken meat prices over the past six months.  Chicken is the leading animal protein consumed and high price and lower availability have become embarrassing the ruling party that was forced to form a coalition government after the most recent general election.

 

Reduction in exports by Turkiye, principally to central Asian nations creates opportunities for competitors including Russia, Brazil and the U.S.


 

Questionable Defense Department Funding of Cell-Cultured Meat

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has condemned a Department of Defense research grant to BioMADE, an aspirant producer of cell-cultivated meat. It is obviously within the remit of the DoD to fund research leading to enhanced nutrition of service members and for convenience in meal preparation and improved food safety.  It is difficult at face value to ascertain the objective or to justify the grant since venture capital funds have supported, albeit without success, the development of cell-cultured meat that has yet to achieve commercial viability.

 

The purpose of the grant was for BioMADE to address “conversion of waste streams into bio- products using fermentation and cultivation of protein”.  The position of the DoD would be more acceptable if the specific purpose of project were to be explained providing this does not conflict with the national interest.

 

Ethan Lane, Vice-president of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association noted, “This misguided research project is a giant slap in the face to everyone that has served our country.  Our veteran’s and active-duty troop deserve so much better than this.”  It is presumed that Ethan Lane has at his disposal the terms of reference and conditions of the grant and has confirmed that the BioMADE project either does or does not contribute to military readiness or the national interest.


 

Proposed Poultry Grower Payment Systems and Capital Improvement Systems Rule

In an example of déjà vu Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has introduced the third in a series of rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act.  The intention is to create “fairer markets which ultimately can lead to lower grocery prices.”  In the first instance there is little evidence that poultry integrators are applying the tournament system to the detriment of integrators.  It is also unfathomable how a rule that has as its ultimate effect of increasing the cost of production will lower prices to consumers.

 

Under the Obama Administration, Secretary Vilsack was instrumental in introducing restrictions on integrators that he approved within hours of the expiry of his term in office.  This may well happen again.

 

According to Andy Greene, USDA senior advisor for Fair and Competitive Markets, “this proposed rule is intended to provide growers with a clear base-price contract, a contracting partner that designs and operates any comparisons fairly and with access to the information that growers and the USDA need to identify and to halt coercive investment demands before growers take on large debits.  The proposed rule will allow bonuses for performance but will not allow any reduction for suboptimal production parameters.  Greater transparency will be required if contractors are obliged to make improvements that increase efficiency.

 

The National Chicken Council representing integrators noted that the proposed rules that modify the existing relationship between contractors and integrators are designed to “address a problem that does not exist.”

 

Recent events including closing processing plants in areas where contractors have no alternative integrator has created hardship.  Contractors operate with long term loans but are susceptible to the actions by integrators with respect to reducing volumes of production or even closing entire complexes.  Under these circumstances, contractors unable to grow for other integrators, are obliged to find alternative uses for housing such as occurred with the failure of Townsend’s and the recent Dexter, MO. closure by Tyson Foods.  In both cases, growers were able to convert housing to produce table eggs for Cal-Maine Foods.

The question of enhancements requiring capital expenditure should be subject to negotiation between the contractor and integrator with either guarantees of continuation or some form of financial support.  During the 1970’s when separate male and female feeding was introduced offering advantages to both contractor and integrator, farmers were required to make the appropriate capital investment with payback over an extended period.

 

The contractor-integrator system has served both parties and consumers over many decades.  This is evidenced by the waiting list to acquire contracts and evidence that broiler contractors have a higher income than livestock and crop farmers operating similar acreage. Tom Vilsack, the longest serving USDA Secretary, has continually exhibited a socialistic trend and has demonstrated opposition to large-scale and efficient poultry, hog, and beef production.  This is exemplified by attempting to support alternatives to existing production using the resources of the Commodity Credit Corporation and federal funding that has contributed to both inflation and the national debit.  Problems that have arisen in the past year could be resolved using existing rules under the Packers and Stockyard Act.  Introducing a far-reaching new rule will only add to production costs ultimately borne by contractor, shareholders and consumers.


 

USAPEEC Participates in China SIAL Exhibition

The 2024 SIAL Exhibition was held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center over May 28 to 30.  The show attracted more than 5,000 exhibitors and more than 180,000 professionals from 75 countries and regions around the world and extended over two million square feet.

 

USAPEEC members Globex International, Intervision Foods, Metafoods, and Global Food Solutions USA participated at the USAPEEC booth. Both the USAPEEC China team and participating member companies met with Chinese customers during the three-day event.

 

U.S. heat-processed poultry products are becoming more popular in China despite weaker demand resulting from the economic situation in the nation. After 18 months of product development and quality improvement, some importers in southwest China are becoming familiar with the product-range while others are learning about it at events such as the SIAL Show.


 

Light Duration Experiment Challenges Continuous Illumination During Brooding

A study conducted by Dr. Brian G. Fairchild at the University of Georgia challenges the presumption that 23-hour continuous light is required during the first week of brooding broiler chicks.  The investigation was carried out with funding from the USPOULTRY Foundation as Project 732. 

The trial compared four-and six-hour dark periods during brooding.  First week weight was significantly reduced although there was no difference in body weight compared to continuous lighting at the time of harvest denoting compensatory growth.  It is generally accepted that during early brooding, a dark period ranging from 30 minutes to an hour should be allowed each day to prevent piling in the event of power failure.  The results of the trial including data on feed conversion, mortality and the response of flocks with respect to corticosterone, melatonin levels and tibial breaking strength will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. 

 

The initial conclusion from the evaluation of light duration during brooding was that there was no negative effect on performance at the time of harvest with the potential for improved skeletal development and lower locomotory defects and reduced cost of energy.


 

2024 USPOULTRY Hatchery-Breeder Clinic

The 2024 Hatchery-Breeder Clinic organized annually by USPOULTRY will take place July 9th to 10th at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in downtown Nashville, TN.  Topics to be included will include hatchery automation, robotics, pullet uniformity, data utilization, maximizing hatch of fertile eggs and managing chick quality in single-stage and multi-stage incubation in the same facility.  Additional topics will include management of cockerels to optimize hatchability, suppression of bed bugs and sanitation. 

 

Additional information on registration and hotel bookings is available on the USPOULTRY website <www.uspoultry.org>.

 



 

Munters Executive Appointments

Susann Johnsson was appointed to the position of Group Vice-president for Communications and Brand effective July 1st. She joined Munters in 2021serving as Vice-president for Communications. She has extensive experience in communications and marketing.

 

Kaspar Kirchmann was appointed to the position of Group Vice-president responsible for legal affairs and will also serve on the Executive Management Team. 

 

Klas Forsstrom, President and CEO of Munters welcomed both Vice-presidents to the Executive Management Team based on their experience and strong personal qualities.

 

Munters is a major manufacturer of ventilation equipment and installations for agricultural and industrial applications. Their range of products can be reviewed by accessing the company website by clicking on to the Munters logo on the right side of the Welcome page


 

Purdue University Study Shows Consumers Satisfied with Diets

The Purdue University, Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability recently released results of surveys with diets currently consumed. Combining the two categories, 55 percent were very satisfied with their current diets with 30 percent “rather satisfied” and 15 percent “non very satisfied”. There was little difference between urban and rural residents.

The report noted that given acceptance of the range of foods consumed, introduction of an innovative source of protein including vegetable based or cell-cultured meat would have to offer distinct advantages for adoption even at price parity.

 

Advocates of cell cultured meat have posted results of surveys showing that consumers would potentially “try” cell cultured meat if it were commercially available.  Even if large-scale production in bioreactors were to become a reality, product would have to correspond to the current prices for ground beef and be equivalent in texture and taste. 

 

Despite considerable investment estimated in the low billions in cell-cultured meat over a decade, no recipient of funding has been able to consistently market a product in commercial quantity through supermarket or food service channels.  Venture capital investors are questioning the optimistic projections for the technology and are tightening their purse strings.  This is evident in the failure of start-ups. Companies with high cash burn rates that have been in existence for a number of years and have claimed successful production in pilot-scale production are now laying off staff.  No company has yet transcended the barrier between laboratory scale and commercial production despite unsubstantiated claims intended to generate funding.  Passage of restrictive legislation either as outright bans on sale of cell-cultured meat or onerous labeling requirements have inhibited ongoing investment in the sector.

The Purdue University Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability characterize their consumer research confirming satisfaction with the present range of foods as “if it ain’t broke don’t try and fix it.”

 


 

Legal Protection for Compliant Oklahoma Poultry Farms

In accordance with a recently enacted Oklahoma law, farmers in the state are protected from civil liability with respect to environmental claims providing they function in accordance with a nutrient management plan.  This includes application of poultry waste on agricultural acreage.  The law was enacted following a ruling of a federal court that the state poultry industry was responsible for pollution of groundwater from run-off from land on which poultry litter was spread as fertilizer. 

The law was actively opposed by the Cherokee Nation. The official statement included “When corporate polluters find safe harbor in this new law, we will all suffer including those who supported this industry-written legislation.  Generations unborn will pay the price”.


 

HK Cooperative Recipient of OSHA Citations

Following the accidental exposure of two workers to ammonia, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an intensive evaluation of worker safety during January 2024.  The Agency identified 40 serious violations in addition to other minor problems.  Items noted by OSHA and are possibly common to other packing and processing facilities included: -

 

  • Inadequate lock out/tag out procedures.
  • Failure to implement a hazard communication plan.
  • Unmarked exits.
  • Unsafe electrical equipment and installations.
  • Exposure to noise.
  • Lack of PPE.
  • Unsafe walking surfaces and lack of protection from falls.

 

HK Cooperative employs 370 workers in the J.H. Routh Packing Company plant in Sandusky, OH. OSHA assessed more than $500,000 in penalties for violations with the amount to be appealed.


 

Arbitrator Declares in Favor of Cargill in Canadian COVID Dispute

A case was filed by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401 concerning he death of three workers from COVID was arbitrated in favor of the employer Cargill Inc.  The Union alleged that Cargill failed to protect their workforce at the High River plant.  During April, Cargill closed the plant for a two-week period since there were insufficient employees to maintain operations.

 

The UFCW demanded that Cargill pay each employee CAN$10,000 and the Union CAN$100,000 amounting to approximately CAN$20 million The arbitrator, James Casey, noted the limited scientific information available as to the transmissibility and routes of infection of SARS-CoV-19 in April 2020.  Initial advice issued by medical authorities in the U.S. and Canada was based on the assumption that the disease was analogous to seasonal influenza requiring distancing and cleaning of surfaces.  It was not until a few months into the pandemic that scientists were able to demonstrate that the disease was transmitted by airborne droplets.  This route played a role in transmission among workers not only in plants but during commuting, social gatherings and in homes.  Epidemiologic investigations ultimately identified 1,500 cases linked to the outbreak in the plant with 951 employees seroconverting to SARS-CoV-19, representing half of the plant workforce.

 

James Casey noted, “It is not appropriate to second-guess Cargill’s decision based on current scientific knowledge about COVID-19 and current regulatory advice.”  Casey did criticize Cargill for failing to communicate with the Joint Health and Safety Committee in the plant to address hazards. Damages were not awarded for this failure characterized as a “narrow but important deficiency”. 

The decision by an arbitrator in Canada does not establish case law in either that nation or the U.S.  Courts will, however, follow the same logic in determining that packing plant operators cannot be held responsible for actions taken based on available scientific knowledge and the advice of health authorities.


 

Aquifers Depleted by Large Volume Water Abstraction

A recent press report noted the 23 percent drop in groundwater levels in areas contiguous with the Guymon, OK. pork-packing plant operated by Seaboard Foods.  Although a major local employer and contributor to the regional economy, the consumption of water by the pork plant will have a deleterious effect on the community.  Similar depletion of subterranean water has occurred in areas adjacent to ethanol plants that use a disproportionate quantity of water.  Agricultural enterprises in California including almond groves and even large egg production complexes and dairies compromise local water supplies by abstraction at rates that are not replenished by precipitation and inflow.

 

In the short term, packing plants and users of large volumes of water should evaluate reduction and reuse.  This will conserve water for future generations.

 

In 2022, irrigation of alfalfa fields became an issue in the gubernatorial campaign in Arizona.  A company owned by investors in Saudi Arabia was cultivating and packing alfalfa for export while operating under a “sweetheart” lease allowing ground water abstraction at a low price.

 

In evaluating local conflicts, especially in arid regions, militant activity is less a function of acreage than the availability of water vital to life.


 

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