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August 20, 2013 | Views on the News |

Summer Heat Dries Up the Flow of News

Important news for feed and grain industries still trickles through

Early this month I read a blog that said August was a notoriously slow news month.  Congress is on summer hiatus, farmers are in the field and it seems like much of the country is taking that last summer vacation before school starts. Going through the headlines this week was a struggle to find relevant information for readers, a job I take seriously. What came out of my search were stories that may not have had gripping headlines, but ultimately may be tremendously important to the feed and grain industries’ present, and may be a look at what its future has in store. 

  1. Tyson Suspends Use of Feed Supplement Zilmax
  2. USDA Survey Data Estimates Record Corn Crop
  3. Fire and Rescue Training Offered at Kansas State
  4. Brazils Second Crop Planting Shifts to Corn
  5. The FSMA Requires Neither a HACCP Plan Nor Certification

Tyson Suspends Use of Feed Supplement Zilmax

Tyson became the first of the leading four meat companies to ban the supplement Zilmax, used to add about 25 pounds of muscle per cattle carcass. Zilmax is widely used throughout the industry, and this announcement came as a surprise to many producers, who only have until Sept. 6 before Tyson stops accepting cattle fed Zilmax. Experts are concerned about the impact this will have on food prices, especially if the other large meat companies follow suit. Tyson’s official reason for banning the supplement is an increasing amount of cattle being brought to be processed that have difficulty walking, and in some cases are unable to move. Though it is unknown if Zilmax is to blame for this, Tyson's ban has attracted the attention of the FDA, who promised to look into these allegations. Merck & Co. have suspended production of the supplement, pending a scientific review of the drug. The reason behind the ban may be less benevolent than it appears, many experts are wondering if Tyson is simply trying to gain a larger share of the export market. Many nations have outlawed many, if not all, drugs used for the production of meat.

USDA Survey Data Estimates Record Corn Crop

Working for Feed & Grain has changed my life in many ways, but one of the most amusing is that as I drive along the Wisconsin country roads, I notice the fields on either side on me. And right now corn seems to be flourishing on one side and abysmal on the other. That’s why I’ve been surprised at every other USDA report. The crop looked good, for the most part, but record breaking? Well, it appears they were right now that they’ve taken farmer survey and field plot measurements into account for the first time this year and are still predicting a record crop. The USDA lowered the estimate a little, but it still looks as if there will be a lot of corn and soybeans being harvested. Now we all have to hope that nature cooperates, and the frost isn’t early this year.  

Fire and Rescue Training Offered at Kansas State

The seemingly high level of grain-related deaths this year, or at least the high profile of those that have happened, has pushed the issue to the forefront of the minds of many first responders in rural communities. Programs dealing with the types of situations that one would encounter in a grain silo are being offered by universities that are active in agriculture. This is a situation that may not have been encountered by many first responders, and one that time is of the essence. Having training beforehand may allow responders to act a few minutes early, and in the case of grain engulfment, a few minutes may be the difference between life and death. This particular course is being offered at  Kansas State University, but a reader brought to our attention a similar course being offered at Texas A&M.  If you ever have information you wish to share about an article, please feel free to post a comment!

The FSMA Requires Neither a HACCP Plan Nor Certification

The American Feed Industry Association has contacted the FDA asking whether a HACCP Plan or certification is required under the Food Safety Modernization Act. The FDA responded that the widely accepted HACCP Certification is, in fact, not required, and a facility only needs a hazard identification plan, and a written risk management/preventive controls plan. Though the AFIA still suggests a HACCP plan as the best option, it’s critical that feed facilities know it isn’t a requirement.

Brazils Second Crop Planting Shifts to Corn

Brazil is the United States’ biggest competitor when it comes to corn exports. With infrastructure problems, and acre yields well below their potential, Brazil could foreseeably exceed the United States in production if these problems aren’t addressed. The main reason is Brazil’s ability to produce a second harvest every year, while the Corn Belt is covered with snow for half the year. Since 2000, Brazil has doubled its corn production, and this may not be a terrible thing for the United States. As we all know, by 2050 the population will spike to over 9 billion people, which means there will be a lot more consumers, and with improvements to the yield per acre slowing down in most of the developed world, our best chance to meet the demand might lay in the underdeveloped tropics.

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