Aptimmune Receives Biotech Innovation Award

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

Aptimmune Biologics was awarded this year’s Biotech Innovation Showcase’s Top Company Award at the 2017 Partnering for Growth Biotech Innovation Showcase & Forum that took place this week in Ankeny, Iowa.

At the Showcase, 12 emerging companies in four categories (agricultural technology, animal health, human health and bio materials) made formal presentations to a panel of eight business leaders from the fields of agricultural biotechnology, intellectual property, human health and small business development. Steve Berger, Aptimmune Biologic’s development director, made the award-winning presentation to the judges.

“We are pleased Aptimmune has been recognized as a bioscience leader by the Iowa Biotechnology Association. This award will only continue to inspire our employees to reach new levels of innovation in the animal health industry,” said Aaron Gilbertie, CEO of Aptimmune Biologics. “Being chosen as Top Company from this group of outstanding innovators says a great deal about the quality of work being done by Aptimmune. The Showcase was an excellent opportunity for our employees to network with other innovators and industry leaders and to highlight some of Aptimmune’s best and brightest ideas.”

Agribusiness, Animal Health, award, Biotech, Swine, Technology

Perdue Finally Gets Hearing

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Accompanied by his four children and 14 grandchildren, former Georgia Governor Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III finally had his confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday and will hopefully be confirmed shortly.

“I know there was some anxiety over whether there would be a secretary of agriculture nominee,” Perdue began. “I must say with all the humility I can muster that the president must have saved the best for last,” he joked.

Perdue’s hearing was brief and offered little drama, except a short interruption by an animal rights protester at the beginning of his opening statement. He outlined his four overall goals as agriculture secretary – to maximize opportunity of agriculture to create jobs, prioritize customer service every day, ensure a safe food supply, and protect the resources of the land.

“If confirmed, I look forward to working with the dedicated men and women of the USDA who are committed to serving the ‘People’s Department,'” said Perdue.

The nominee answered questions on a number of issues, including government regulations, trade, avian flu, and budget.

Listen to Perdue’s opening statement here: Sonny Perdue at confirmation hearing

Ag Group, Audio, usda

NCC Calls for Withdrawal of Interim GIPSA Rules

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

The National Chicken Council (NCC) filed several comments this week with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) explaining the numerous reasons why the agency’s interim final rule and proposed rules are ill-advised, would inflict billions of dollars of economic harm to American agriculture, exceed GIPSA’s statutory authority, and represent an arbitrary and capricious abuse of federal regulatory authority.

“GIPSA fails to provide an adequate justification for imposing such sweeping and detrimental changes to the poultry industry and does not explain corresponding benefits to counterbalance the billions of dollars of detrimental effects this proposal will have on the U.S. economy,” said NCC President Mike Brown in the comments. “The agency also fails even to consider the negative consequences for consumers, innovation, competition and food safety that would result from the proposal.

“We are particularly troubled that the interim final rule and proposed rules appear designed to increase uncertainty and costly litigation—GIPSA even admits that substantial litigation will ensue—with no quantifiable benefits.”

Eight different circuit courts of appeal have addressed a key issue underpinning the rules—the need to prove competitive injury to demonstrate a violation—and they have uniformly and resoundingly rejected the position advanced by GIPSA in these three rules. Rather than acquiesce in these decisions, however, the Obama administration sought to misuse the rulemaking process to achieve what GIPSA has not won in court – and in doing so, gave a gift to trial lawyers on the way out the door.

Read more on this here

Ag Group, Chicken, National Chicken Council, Policy, usda

No Tainted Brazilian Meat Entered U.S., Yet Still Re-Inspecting

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The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that while none of the slaughter or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal have shipped meat products to the U.S., they are still taking extra steps to keep food supply safe.

FSIS immediately instituted additional pathogen testing of all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil upon hearing reports of the Brazilian investigation. FSIS has also increased its examination of all these products at ports-of-entry across the country. The agency will indefinitely maintain its 100% re-inspection and pathogen testing of all lots of FSIS-regulated products imported from Brazil.

“Keeping food safe for American families is our top priority,” said Mike Young, Acting Deputy Secretary of the USDA. “FSIS has strengthened the existing safeguards that protect the American food supply as a precaution and is monitoring the Brazilian government’s investigation closely.”

The FSIS import inspection system (including equivalence determinations, in-country audits, and re-inspection processes) is designed to ensure that imported meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe and wholesome. FSIS works closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to ensure that these products are safe before they enter the country.

Ag Group, Food, food safety, Imports, Meat, usda

AQHA Elects New Executive Committee

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) elected a new Executive Committee on March 20 at the 2017 AQHA Convention in San Antonio. The five-person Executive Committee is responsible for implementing the decisions of AQHA members through the board of directors and governing AQHA between the annual meetings of the membership and the board.

Each member serves a term of one year until the selection of his/her successor.

Ralph Seekins of Fairbanks, Alaska, was elected as President. Seekins has been an AQHA director since 2006 for Washington/Alaska and was elevated to director emeritus in 2016. He has also served on the AQHA Marketing and Membership Committee, the Foundation Council and the AQHA Public Policy Committee.

Dr. Jim Heird was elected as First Vice President. Dr. Heird served as an AQHA director for Colorado in 2009 and became a director for Texas in 2011. He was also the chairman of the judges committee, show committee, international committee, show council, and the Animal Welfare Commission. He currently serves as executive professor and coordinator of equine initiatives at Texas A&M University.

Stan Weaver of Big Sandy, Montana, was elected as Second Vice President. He has been an AQHA director since 2011, and is a former member of the studbook and registration, public policy and Hall of Fame selection committees; Foundation, marketing and ranching councils; and served as chairman of the ranching council. He was also instrumental in developing the AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders program.

Two new Members, Butch Wise and Norm Luba, were also elected to the committee this week. Wise was named an honorary AQHA vice president in 2015, and currently serves as the Executive Committee representative on the racing council. He was the chairman of the Hall of Fame committee from 2013 to 2015 and also served as chairman of the racing council. In 2014, he was a member of the AQHA Governance Task Force.

Luba has been an AQHA life member since 1995 and an AQHA director since 2011. He has served on the AQHA Stud Book and Registration Committee for the past three years. Norm has served on the AQHA Public Policy Committee and the affiliate council.

Ag Group, AQHA, Company Announcement, Equine

SMART Farms Take Center Stage on Ag Day

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

This is the time of year things really get rolling in agriculture, making it a great time to celebrate National Ag Day. Yesterday the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) made the most of that day with a panel discussion about SMART farms and how producers today are growing sustainable, nutritious food and how to communicate that to consumers.

The panel was moderated by Greg Horstmeier, Editor-in-Cheif at DTN and included two farmers: Chip Bowling, crop farmer from Maryland, NCGA Chair and USFRA Vice Chair, and Lauren Schwab, Ohio pig producer and USFRA Faces of Farming and Ranching. Beverly Flores, Media and Communications Manager at John Deere and Andrew Walmsley, AFBF Director of Congressional Relations presented from the industry and ag group perspective.

Continual improvement was the message from the growers.  “There’s a multitude of things we’re doing different over the last five to ten years,” Chip explains.  “We’ve changed a lot of the ways we do farm.  I like to think that we are definitely doing our part when it comes to the environment, with pesticides, chemicals, soil erosion and just being a better steward of the land.”

“Really, since I can remember growing up on the farm we’ve continuously improved the way we house our pigs in order to give them better care and management,” adds Lauren, explaining the depth she goes to to provide proper nutrition and housing for the pigs in her care.

From John Deere’s perspective the technology available to growers is big; smart phone apps, connectivity between data and advisors, and the equipment itself play a big part in farming better.  “I think there are a lot of different components that you can get excited about,” Beverly says.  “I think over all the innovation and integration and the connection within agriculture is what really makes it exciting.”

All this advancement means little if we cannot communicate it effectively to consumers and policy makers, however. “Time and time again we’ve seen it in the fights where we have failed in the past, as an organization and as a whole value chain– of not communicating with the folks we need to be communicating with,” Andrew emphasizes.  “We’ve created additional headaches for ourselves that we didn’t necessary need to create.  But I think we’ve learned our lesson.”

You can listen to the full panel discussion here:USFRA Panel Discussion

National Ag Day Photo Album

Ag Group, Audio, Farming, sustainability, Technology, USFRA

Pork Checkoff Tours the No. 1 Customer for U.S. Pork Exports

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

Members of the National Pork Board spent March 13-18 in Mexico City building trade relations. The delegation invested its time immersing itself in Mexico, which is one of America’s most important export markets. During the visit, the group emphasized the safety and reliability of the U.S. pork supply.

“Our visit to Mexico was eye opening. As board members, we were able to witness why Mexico is such an important trading partner,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a North Carolina pig farmer. “The average Mexican family spends 30 to 40 percent of its income on food, so they appreciate the ability to access safe, nutritious and affordable U.S. pork.”

Within the next five years, economists predict Mexico may become the largest market for all U.S. goods, surpassing both Canada and the European Union. The key objectives of the trip were to discuss and define areas of mutual interest, to extend appreciation to Mexico’s trade industry for the high volume of U.S. pork purchased and to emphasize the reliability and availability of U.S. pork and the next steps needed to support expanding trade.

In 2016, Mexico was again the No. 1 importer of U.S. pork in terms of volume. Mexico imported more than 730,000 metric tons of U.S. pork last year. In terms of value, Mexico was again No. 2 at $1.4 billion. In January 2017, which is the most recent data available, Mexico became No. 1 in both volume and value. The U.S. accounts for more than 90 percent of the total pork imported to Mexico.

Ag Group, Export, Livestock, Meat, Pork, Pork Checkoff

NMPF Stresses MPP Must be Priority for Farm Bill

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Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) testified before the House Agriculture Committee sharing priorities for the next farm bill and stating improvements to the dairy Margin Protection Program must be a top priority.

Mulhern told committee members, “While MPP was, and is, the right approach for the future of federal dairy policy, the program in its current form does not provide meaningful safety net support to the nation’s dairy farmers.”

The MPP is designed to allow farmers to insure the gap between milk prices and the cost of purchasing feed for dairy cattle. Farmers can choose to pay higher premiums for additional levels of margin coverage, although a decreasing number have elected that approach as they saw the program underperforming.

Since its creation in the 2014 farm bill, the MPP has offered little effective support to dairy farmers, resulting in dwindling participation in the program. To rectify that problem, Mulhern shared with the committee members the recommendations to improve the MPP that NMPF’s Board of Directors unanimously approved earlier this month.

Ag Group, Dairy, farm bill, Milk, National Milk, Policy

USDA Aids $6 Million to Farmers & Ranchers Hit by Wildfire

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U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, announced that the USDA has designated $6 million in aid to help farmers and ranchers affected by recent wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

“I am pleased USDA has acted swiftly to aid producers recovering from the largest wildfire in state history,” said Roberts. “For many Kansans, the impacts are devastating because the fires not only consumed livestock, grazing lands, and fencing – but in some cases, homes, machinery, and equipment, too.”

The $6 million in available funding, delivered through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), will assist farmers and ranchers as they attempt to restore grazing lands, rehabilitate devastated landscapes, rebuild fencing, and protect damaged watersheds.

“We are still learning lessons from the response to the Anderson Creek fires from last year that can be applied to this response and recovery effort,” Roberts said.

Roberts also talked about how the wildfires impacting his home state of Kansas and it’s neighbors while addressing attendees of the Agri-Pulse Farm Bill Summit held March, 20.

Listen to his complete remarks here: Announcement from Senator Pat Roberts

Ag Group, Audio, Government, usda

NPPC Farm Bill Priorities

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

The U.S. pork industry’s top priority for the next Farm Bill aligns with testimony from other animal ag groups – establishing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank. The National Pork Producers Council’s (NPPC) Vice President David Herring, a pork producer from Newtown Grove, N.C. also testified before the House Agriculture subcommittee this week.

“If this country ever had an FMD outbreak, it not only would devastate my farm and the whole livestock industry but the entire U.S. economy,” said Herring.

To address a potential FMD outbreak, which would cost the beef, corn, pork and soy bean industries alone an estimated $200 billion over 10 years, NPPC wants the 2018 Farm Bill to direct the USDA to:
– Contract with an offshore, vendor-maintained vaccine bank that would have available FMD antigen concentrate to protect against all 23 of the most common FMD types currently circulating in the world.
– Maintain a vendor-managed inventory of 10 million doses of vaccine, which is the estimated need for the first two weeks of an outbreak.
– Contract with an international manufacturer or manufacturers for the surge capacity to produce at least 40 million doses.

Ag Group, Animal Health, Disease, farm bill, NPPC, Policy, Pork