Russia has agreed to reopen its borders to U.S. pork, after restrictions had closed the market to all but a handful of pork plants.

Talks between the two countries have "led to the development of a new veterinary certificate to ensure that pork exports from the U.S. meet specific Russian microbiological and tetracycline-group antibiotic residue requirements," the USDA said in a statement, according to AFP News.

"Exports are extremely important to the U.S. pork industry," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "Reopening the market with Russia -- our fifth largest market last year -- is excellent news for American hog producers."

Russia imported 257 million dollars worth of U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports last year. U.S. plants wanting to export to Russia must apply for approval under an export verification program "to address specific product requirements," the statement said.

Source: AFP

China may open border to U.S. pork

China may become the next market to open fully to U.S. pork imports, which had been banned nearly a year ago, ever since the H1N1 scare from 2009.

"There is a tremendous effort by the U.S. government to work with the Chinese -- we're looking for the Chinese market to open up very soon," Phil Seng, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, told Reuters on the sidelines of the National Pork Forum being held in Kansas City.

"There's a delegation of USDA folks that will be in China and we're expecting this (final OK) to come very soon, as far as the opening of China. We're looking at the USDA being there in the next week," Seng said.

China had reopened its market to North American pork imports in December, but problem finalizing export certificate language has kept U.S. products from entering the market. So far, only Canada has met the certification requirements. Seng noted that China considered the market as open to U.S. pork, but that all sectors of the U.S. pork industry are working to get the language in the certificates to a point that is acceptable to both sides.

“We expect for us fully to get back in that market very soon," Seng added.

Source: Reuters

Roof fire leads to temporary shutdown of Tyson plant

A fire on Friday morning forced the temporary shutdown of a Tyson Foods pork plant in Logansport, Ind. There were no injuries at the plant, which employs 1,900 workers and can process more than 15,000 hogs a day, Reuters reports.

"We're still investigating the cause, but can tell you the fire involved part of the roof over the slaughter area. The plant was immediately evacuated and we're thankful no one was hurt," Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said in an email.

The plant was to do some processing on Saturday and Monday, but it was not known precisely when the slaughter operations would resume.

Source: Reuters

K-State to host symposium on beef cattle welfare

Kansas State University’s Beef Cattle Institute will host the 2010 International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare May 19-21 on the K-State campus in Manhattan.

“Beef cattle well-being is the foundation to any beef cattle operation. Ranchers and farmers strive to provide the best care possible for their animals. Today, 97.4% of Americans eat meat. This symposium is an example of how the beef industry and its researchers continue to find new advances in animal well-being for the cattle they raise for beef. The beef industry has nothing to hide from the American public. Nobody cares more for the well-being of cattle than the 700,000 beef producers who spend their lives raising them,” said Dan Thomson, K-State associate professor and director of the Beef Cattle Institute.

“This symposium will provide everyone who is involved in the beef cattle industry – from producer to veterinarian to feedyard manager and transport specialist to processor – the opportunity to have constructive discussion on well-being issues facing our industry,” Thomson said. “The speakers we have lined up for this are the leading experts in the field. Their depth, range and unique focus will provide all attendees with networking and problem solving opportunities.”

Some of those speakers include Temple Grandin, a Colorado State University professor of animal science who has earned a reputation for not only designing livestock handling systems, but for her overall in-depth understanding of animal behavior. Joseph Stookey, an Applied Ethologist and sustainable beef systems research expert from the University of Saskatchewan, Mike Siemens, Leader - Animal Welfare and Husbandry for Cargill Animal Protein; Janice Swanson, director of Animal Welfare at Michigan State University; Glynn Tonsor, assistant professor of agricultural economics at Michigan State; Ron Gill, professor and extension livestock specialist for Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Tom Noffsinger a cattle handling expert and beef cattle veterinarian.

Conference presentations will include such topics as: Answering public questions about beef production; How to set up and implement an auditing system in beef cattle operations; How can the beef industry better communicate to governmental entities; Teaching beef cattle welfare in the field; Analgesic pharmacology and management of pain associated with dehorning, castration and lameness; Management of culled dairy cows; Animal welfare at the beef packing level; How do we benchmark animal welfare progress in our industries; What are the economics associated with welfare; and more.

A similar symposium hosted by K-State in 2008 drew about 700 on-site and webcast participants from 31 states and 4 countries. For those who are unable to attend in person, a live webcast option is available again this year.

The conference will be preceded by a half-day session on emergency preparedness for those involved in the beef industry. That session, which begins at 1 p.m., May 19 in Weber Arena, will cover such topics as handling loose cattle after an accident; moving downed animals, humane safety and handling fractious animals; humane euthanasia techniques and choices in the field and emergency response techniques for wounded cattle.

The early registration fee of $30 for the half-day Emergency Preparedness Session and $100 for the on-site Symposium, is due by April 1. Early registration for the live webcast at an individual’s location is $100 and $500 for a live webcast group. The fee covers participation in all symposium sessions, one lunch, refreshment breaks and symposium proceedings. More information, including online registration, is available on the Web:

Source: NCBA

Pennsylvania plant gets state loan for expansion

Governor Edward G. Rendell today said new state investments will help an international company to locate in Chambersburg and companies in Northampton, Trevose and Philadelphia to expand and create new jobs.

On March 4, the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority approved $4.5 million for the four projects in the form of low-interest loans that will leverage $5.6 million in private investments.

"Making strategic investments in small businesses that create jobs is a solid investment for the commonwealth," said Governor Rendell. "Even in a sluggish economy, we're still able to encourage business to relocate here, expand their operations and create jobs by offering the vital investment capital they need to augment and leverage their own efforts."

One of the new approved projects is a $1.4 million, 15-year, 3.75 percent loan to E. G. Emil & Sons Inc., for its agri-business, which produces turkey, chicken, pork, and beef products. The $3.5 million project will allow the company to expand its existing operations by an additional 13,868 square feet for cold storage, a loading dock, and receiving and shipping areas. E. G. Emil & Sons Inc. will retain its 32 employees and is expected to create an additional eight jobs within the next three years. The PIDC Financing Corp. is the sponsoring agency.

Source: Pennsylvania Office of the Governor