An expert witness for the poultry industry concluded that the State of Oklahoma's report showing phosphorus pollution was incomplete, rife with errors and “not scientifically defensible.” The scientist, Victor Bierman, centered on a report by state expert Bernard Engel, a Purdue University professor who attempted to estimate the amount of poultry manure dumped in the Illinois River watershed and its effect on the environment.

Serving as an expert witness for the poultry companies being sued by Oklahoma, Bierman pointed out missing files, different versions of reports showing different test outcomes and one report that left out half of the 1 million-acre watershed, according to AP reports. He pointed out that Engel sent follow-up reports to correct the errors, but that the follow-ups had different numbers and new outcomes. Bierman told U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell that Oklahoma's model "can't tell the difference" between real amounts of phosphorous and "numbers that are completely made up."

Source: Associated Press

Taiwan beef dispute derails three other pacts with U.S.

The decision by the Taiwanese legislature to reinstate the ban on some U.S. beef products imports has derailed Taiwan's plan to negotiate three other accords with the U.S. that would pave the way for a bilateral free trade agreement.

"The Legislative Yuan's passage of a controversial amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation has also obstructed resumption of talks under the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA)," said Francis Kuo-hsin Liang, vice minister of economic affairs, in The China Post. Those talks were suspended in 2007 and were scheduled to resume next month.

Taiwan had planned to negotiate three different pacts to lay the groundwork for an eventual Free Trade Agreement deal. "However, we now have to wait until clouds surrounding the beef trade are cleared to put these plans into action," Liang said.

Source: The China Post

Advantage Capital invests $7.1 million in Allen Brothers

Advantage Capital Partners has provided $7.1 million in financing to Chicago-based Allen Brothers, Inc., a leading supplier of USDA “Prime” grade beef. The funds will be used to support the company’s continued growth, with new job creation projected in coming months.

“The Allen Brothers financing marks the first significant investment that Advantage Capital has made in connection with the Illinois New Markets Development program,” said Mark B. Lewis, principal at Advantage Capital. “We were able to provide this established Chicago business with mezzanine financing to fill a financing gap, and provide liquidity. This level of financing would not have been possible without the New Markets program.”

Founded in 1893 in Chicago’s historic Union Stockyards, Allen Brothers provides high-quality beef products to fine dining restaurants and direct-to-consumer channels. The company supplies prime aged cuts to many of the country’s top steakhouses, including Morton’s, Lawry’s and Delmonico’s.

“At Allen Brothers we have worked hard to build a brand that stands for quality, consistency and a high level of customer service,” said Robert Hatoff, chairman and CEO of Allen Brothers. “Like many businesses we have felt the effects of the economic downturn. The investment from Advantage Capital will provide Allen Brothers with the necessary working capital to ensure continued growth and profitability.”

“I’m pleased to see the Illinois New Markets Development program working in my district,” said State Senator Antonio Munoz (D), Chicago. “The investment in Allen Brothers will not only ensure the company’s continued success, but the business growth will contribute to the economic viability and revitalization of the surrounding community.”

Representative Edward J. Acevedo (D), Chicago echoed those remarks. “It is vitally important to not only create jobs, but to keep jobs in our District. This program is essential for small business growth, job retention and job creation at a critical time in Illinois.”

Advantage Capital senior managing director Scott Zajac praised Rep. Art Turner and Senator James Clayborne for sponsoring the New Markets legislation – and recognized the Quinn administration for leading the way to efficiently administer the program so soon after its passage.

Advantage Capital, in participation with Old Second National Bank of Aurora, Ill., provided financing in connection with the Illinois New Markets Development program and the successful federal New Markets Tax Credit program. Both programs are designed to stimulate economic growth in communities that historically have been underserved by traditional sources of capital.

Source: Advantage Capital Partners

El Pollo Loco adds steak items to menu

El Pollo Loco is now offering two varieties of Flame-Grilled Sirloin Steak Tacos, a Sirloin Steak Bowl and the Sirloin Steak & 3-Cheese Quesadilla.

“We’re not putting our chicken out to pasture. It still rules the roost. But when our fans shared their passion for new ways to enjoy the flame-grilled taste of El Pollo Loco, we couldn’t wait to bring the sizzling flavor of our juicy new Sirloin steak to the masses,” said Steve Carley, CEO of El Pollo Loco Inc. “El Pollo Loco has taken the bull by the horns. We are expanding our 30 years of flame-grilling expertise to Sirloin steak that is deeply marinated in a signature blend of citrus, garlic, herbs and spices and then grilled over open flames by our expert cooks. Don’t fence us in!”

El Pollo Loco’s newest additions will include several Sirloin steak specialties prepared Carne Asada style starting January 9:
* Two Steak Tacos- Citrus-marinated, flame-grilled Sirloin steak with cilantro and onion in authentic corn tortillas
* Grillmaster Steak Taco- Citrus-marinated, flame-grilled Sirloin steak layered with melted Jack & Cheddar cheeses and topped with fresh Pico de Gallo and guacamole in an authentic grilled flour tortilla
* Sirloin Steak Bowl- Citrus-marinated, flame-grilled Sirloin steak served with fresh cilantro, onions and Pico de Gallo salsa atop Spanish rice and pinto beans
* Steak & 3-Cheese Quesadilla- Citrus-marinated, flame-grilled Sirloin steak layered with three melted cheeses— Jack, Cheddar and Cotija—grilled in an authentic flour tortilla and served with guacamole and sour cream.

Source: El Pollo Loco Inc.