A nonpartisan group of 30 U.S. Senators have written a letter to Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislak, calling on the country to implement “without further delay” a June agreement that would resume shipment of U.S. poultry imports into Russia.

The senators expressed their concern on Russia’s failure to honor its agreement with the United States allowing poultry imports back into the country. An agreement to resume poultry exports hit a last-minute snag in early August, when Russia added a demand to send inspectors to verify that the U.S. poultry plants met the agreement’s protocols.

"These actions are a setback to our countries' trade relations. We ask you to honor the commitment our two presidents made less than two months ago and implement the agreement without further delay," they wrote.

Source: AFP

Dorada Poultry formally announces plan to open plant

Dorada Poultry of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma announced it will occupy the former 180,000 square foot Tyson Foods facility located at 2000 Hall Boulevard in Ponca City, Okla. The plant, which is scheduled to become operational in mid-2011, will provide chicken products to McDonald's U.S. restaurants and is expected to employ approximately 350 employees, five days per week, 24 hours a day.

Dorada Poultry is a joint venture between the principals of Lopez Foods Inc. of Oklahoma City, Okla., the nation's largest Hispanic-owned meat manufacturing company, and Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, Ark., one of the world's largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork products.

"We are proud to become members of the Ponca City business community and look forward to becoming a model of corporate citizenship," said Dorada Poultry Chairman and CEO Ed Sanchez. "With an anticipated economic impact of $7 million per year in payroll, we will make a major economic contribution to the region where our employees will live, work and play. We want our workforce to be proud to call Dorada Poultry their employer."

"This innovative venture will enable us to expand Tyson's involvement in providing a reliable supply of safe, consistent quality chicken that meets McDonald's high standards," said Donnie Smith, president and chief executive officer of Tyson. "We look forward to supporting Dorada Poultry's production of great food for a very important customer." An economic impact model developed by the Ponca City Development Authority, (PCDA) forecasts the Dorada Poultry plant will contribute $217 million to the Ponca City community over the next ten years.

"Projects of this magnitude provide not only significant employment opportunities, they also reach deep within a community," said PCDA Executive Director David Myers, referring to the 350 jobs projected for the project. "This is an extremely important project for Ponca City and we could not have asked for a better result," he added.

Source: Dorada Poultry

China imposes anti-subsidy duties on US chicken

China has imposed anti-subsidy duties for five years on U.S. chicken imports after determining that producers received improper support, said the country’s Commerce Ministry. Importers must pay tariff rates from 4 to 30.3 percent on U.S. broiler or chicken products starting August 30, reports the Associated Press. The Commerce Ministry said that producers benefited from government subsidies that lowered feed prices and hurt Chinese competitors. The tariffs apply to chicken parts and whole birds but not to live chickens or cooked products such as chicken sausage.

Among major producers, Tyson Foods Inc. is required to pay 12.5 percent duty, Pilgrim's Pride Corp. 5.1 percent and Perdue Farms Inc. 7.4 percent, the ministry said.

Source: Associated Press

NMA announces scholarship winners

The NMA Scholarship Foundation announced last week the seven undergraduates chosen as recipients of scholarship grants for the 2010-11 academic school year. The awards will be presented at the NMA Meatxpo’11 Suppliers’ Exposition and 65th Annual Convention Feb. 13-16 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The following donor advised scholarships will be presented this year: Frank DeBenedetti Memorial Scholarship, Edie Schmidt Memorial Scholarship, Al Piccetti Memorial Scholarship, Lou Gast Memorial Scholarship and in honoring their passing, the Ben Goehring Memorial Scholarship and Wayne Keener Memorial Scholarship.

NMA Scholarship Foundation President Ron Gustafson is pleased to announce the winners for this year:
* Tricia Harlan, Cal State Polytechnic University of San Luis Obispo
* Emily Arkfeld, University of Nebraska
* Jordan McHenry, Colorado State University
* Erin Karney, Colorado State University
* Diana Pezza, University of Illinois
* Kyla Clawson, Kansas State University
* Mary Hunt, Oklahoma State University

These $2,000 to $2,500 merit-based awards are presented annually to undergraduate students studying Animal/Meat/Food Science and considering a career in the meat industry. NMA would also like to extend its gratitude to its scholarship review committee, which consisted of Bob Delmore, California State Polytechnic University of San Luis Obispo; Ron Richard, University of Idaho; Jeff Sindelar, University of Wisconsin; John Henson, California State University of Fresno; and Henry Zerby, California State Polytechnic University of Ponoma.

Source: NMA

Restaurant Performance Index stayed flat in July

As a result of soft sales and traffic levels and a deteriorating outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association's comprehensive index of restaurant activity remained essentially flat in July. The Association's Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) - a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry - stood at 99.4 in July, down 0.1 percent from June and its fourth consecutive decline. In addition, the RPI stood below 100 for the third consecutive month, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators.

"While there were signs in recent months that the short-term outlook may be improving, the latest figures indicate that the restaurant industry's recovery has yet to fully gain traction," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. "Restaurant operators continued to report declines in same-store sales and customer traffic in July, and their previously-optimistic outlook for sales growth and the economy softened in recent months."

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 98.8 in July - unchanged from its June level. In addition, the Current Situation Index remained below 100 for the 35th consecutive month, which signifies contraction in the current situation indicators.

Restaurant operators reported negative same-store sales for the fourth consecutive month in July, with the overall results similar to the June performance. Thirty-nine percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between July 2009 and July 2010, matching the proportion of operators who reported higher sales in June. Meanwhile, 44 percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in July, compared to 43 percent of operators who reported negative sales in June.

Restaurant operators also reported a net decline in customer traffic levels in July. Thirty-five percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between July 2009 and July 2010, up slightly from 33 percent of operators who reported higher customer traffic in June. Forty-six percent of operators reported a traffic decline in July, up from 43 percent who reported lower traffic in June.

With sales and traffic levels remaining soft, restaurant operators reported relatively steady capital spending levels in recent months. Forty-five percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, up slightly from 43 percent who reported similarly last month.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 100.0 in July - down 0.1 percent from June and its lowest level since December 2009. In addition, the Expectations Index declined for the fourth consecutive month after reaching a three-year high in March.

Restaurant operators have become less optimistic about their prospects for sales growth in recent months. Thirty-eight percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down from 42 percent last month and the lowest level in six months. In comparison, 20 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, compared with 21 percent who reported similarly last month.

Restaurant operators are also much less bullish about the direction of the overall economy. Twenty-six percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, down from 28 percent who reported similarly last month and the lowest level in 13 months. In comparison, 21 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, matching the proportion who reported similarly last month.

Despite the deteriorating outlook, restaurant operators reported a slight uptick in plans for capital expenditures. Forty-three percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up slightly from 41 percent who reported similarly last month.

The full report is available online at www.restaurant.org/pdfs/research/index/201007.pdf. A video of the July RPI is available at www.restaurant.org/pressroom.

Source: National Restaurant Association

California egg farm to be powered by poultry waste

The Olivera Egg Ranch, located in French Camp, Calif., is planning to use methane gas from more than 1 million pounds of poultry waste a week to power its operations. It is installing a 1.4-megawatt fuel cell that will produce enough power to run the facility, reducing both its electricity bills and waste disposal costs.

The Ranch has previously been sued by its neighbors, reports the Los Angeles Times, who complained about the noxious emissions coming from the manure lagoons that it currently uses for waste disposal. Installation of the anaerobic manure digester will begin in October.

Source: Los Angeles Times