In a letter to Congress Tuesday, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president Bob Stallman spoke out against proposed legislation that would handicap veterinarians and livestock and poultry producers in their efforts to protect the nation’s food supply and maintain the health of their farm animals. Bills H.R. 1549 and S. 619 would remove and restrict important antibiotics for veterinary and farm use.

“Antibiotics are critically important to the health and welfare of the animals and to the safety of the food produced,” Stallman stated in the letter. Supporters of the legislation claim that farmers give antibiotics healthy animals to compensate for unsanitary and crowded conditions, and promote weight gain, rather than to treat illness.

The AFBF claims that 40 years of antibiotic use in farm animals proves that such use does not pose a public health threat. Stallman says farmers, ranchers and veterinarians in fact use antibiotics carefully to treat, prevent and control diseases in animals, and that opposition of the bills would “protect the professional judgment of veterinarians and livestock producers in providing safe and healthful meat products” for consumers.

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation

Pilgrim's gets reorganization plan extension

Pilgrim's Pride Corp has been granted more time to exclusively file a plan of reorganization while operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, as reported by Reuters.

The U.S. bankruptcy court in Fort Worth, Texas, on Tuesday granted the company's request to have until Sept. 30 to exclusively file a reorganization plan. The previous deadline was March 30. The company, which was once the largest U.S. chicken producer, said in February it hoped to exit bankruptcy protection by the end of 2009. It has idled plants, laid off workers, and streamlined operations as it works to return to profitability.

Last week, it agreed to sell its Farmerville, La., production and processing facility for $80 million to Foster Farms, a privately held, California-based chicken company. The deal is awaiting federal and bankruptcy court approval.

Source: Reuters

Scientists identify Asian rust-resistant soybean genes

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and Iowa State University, in conjunction with a team of scientists in Brazil, identified a group of genes in soybeans that provide resistance to the fungus that causes Asian soybean rust (ASR), the ARS announced on its Web site.

The discovery is expected to help farmers practice more sustainable methods of fighting ASR, which first made its appearance in the continental United States in 2004. ARS reports that fungicides are effective, but the use of rust-resistant soybean cultivars is preferred. These cultivars will offer a better defense against ASR for the $27 billion U.S. soybean crop. For more of the science involved in the study, click on the link below to read the USDA-ARS story, written by Jan Suszkiw.

Source: USDA-ARS

FSIS launches Internet tools to enhance food-safety awareness

WASHINGTON (March 26, 2009) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today launched a set of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds for news and recall releases. Additionally, FSIS is making available a new capability to bookmark and share food-safety content on personal and publicly shared Web pages.

"We are excited to provide food safety information and resources in another timely and convenient manner," said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. "For issues of food safety and public health, delivering useful information to as many consumers as possible is a top priority."

RSS feeds are an effective method of summarizing the latest news and information from a Web site that can be easily read by many news readers or news aggregators.

As another means of engaging with consumers, FSIS is launching a Twitter presence to reach out to an audience that the Agency might not be reaching through traditional means of communication such as news releases and other publications. To keep up with food safety announcements and useful tips and resources, follow us at