A coalition of meat companies, including Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Pride, Sanderson Farms, Seaboard Corp., JBS SA. Smithfield Foods Inc. and Hormel Foods Corp., have called for the United States to end its ban on Chinese poultry imports, claiming that it is unfair to single out China for its poultry. U.S. law allows for any of the other 152 countries in the World Trade Organization to import poultry, Reuters reports.

"We will not be able to avoid a serious trade confrontation with China if Congress does not reconsider" its ban, trade lawyer Kevin Brosch said, speaking for the coalition. He added that the USDA should not be barred from evaluating the safety of China's poultry. "We do not prejudge the outcome of that process and we respectfully suggest that this committee should not, either," Brosch said in his testimony.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro argued that trade concerns play too great a role in what should be a public health issue and that the USDA should review its system for approving meat imports, because it cedes too much control over food safety to foreign countries. "When you grant equivalency, you lose most of the control of the process," said DeLauro, who has proposed that the ban continue through 2010.

Source: Reuters

U.S. pork production to drop 23 percent next Monday

Several companies will be closing pork processing plants this week and early next week due to floating holidays and slow pork sales, dropping pork production in the country by 23 percent. Reuters reports that two plants may be closed on Friday and up to six on August 3.

Dealers have reported that Smithfield plants in Souix Falls, S.D., and Sioux City, Iowa, are scheduled to be closed on Friday. Smithfield plants to be closed on Monday include Clinton and Tar Heel, N.C., and Smithfield, Va. Hormel has confirmed that its plants in Austin, Minn., and Fremont, Neb., will also be closed next Monday. Reuters is reporting the JBS-Swift plant in Worthington, Minn., will also be closed. Neither Smithfield or JBS-Swift had confirmed those reports.

Source: Reuters

Horses in Florida being killed for meat

As many as 17 horses have been found slaughtered in Florida since January of this year, with the majority of them showing signs of having been butchered and meat removed, according to theMiami Herald. The most recent attack came on Sunday, when an American Quarter Horse was found dead in its stable, with its rump and front legs hacked.

Capt. Scott Andress, commander of Miami-Dade police department's Agricultural Patrol Section, said the attacks were being motivated by money. "We've received anecdotal information from horse and livestock owners that there's a black market demand [for horse meat]," Andress said. "We're attempting to confirm that such a market exists and, if so, to what extent."

An investigator for the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that volunteers have had people come to their homes, offering to sell horse meat for anywhere from $7 to $20 a pound. In Florida, it is legal for a person to slaughter his or her own horse for consumption, but it is illegal to sell horse meat.

Source: Miami Herald

Supervalu sells majority of Utah Albertsons stores

Supervalu has reached an agreement with Associated Food Stores for the sale of the majority of its Albertsons stores located in Utah. The sale will include 36 Albertsons stores in Utah and their respective pharmacies and fuel centers, with the exception of three St. George-area stores which will remain Albertsons and continue to be operated by Supervalu. In connection with this transaction, Supervalu is also seeking a buyer for its two Albertsons stores in Orem, Utah and two Albertsons stores in West Jordan, Utah, and will continue to operate those stores while a buyer is identified. Associated Food Stores intends to rename the 36 purchased stores, and expects to interview and offer employment to most Albertsons associates.

Supervalu’s Salt Lake City distribution center will remain part of Supervalu and will remain open to serve Albertsons stores in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close this fall. Supervalu will realize approximately $150 million in after-tax net proceeds from the sale.

”While this was a difficult decision due to the impact on our associates and the Utah community, the sale of these stores will allow the company to focus on our greatest growth opportunities while at the same time monetize non-strategic assets for debt paydown,” said Craig Herkert, Supervalu CEO. “Albertsons has a long history of serving the Utah marketplace, and the decision to sell these stores was made only after careful analysis and deliberation. We are pleased that Associated Food Stores plans to interview and offer employment to most Albertsons’ associates.”

Source: Supervalu Inc.