Salisbury-based Perdue Farms Inc. says it plans to lay off about 100 employees at the end of next month, according to the Associated Press.

Perdue has hired North Carolina-based subcontractor Unicon to employ chicken catchers at its processing plants in Georgetown, Del., and Accomack County in Virginia.

The company's vice president of corporate communications, Luis Luna, says the decision was made to costs. He says Perdue is one of the last poultry companies on the Delmarva peninsula with its own catching crews.

Chicken catchers at Perdue's poultry plant in Milford, Del., have already been laid off and subcontracted. Luna says the same change is being assessed at the company's site in Salisbury.

Source: AP, Baltimore Sun

NMA elects 2011 officers and directors 

At the National Meat Association's MEATXPO'11 and 65th Annual Convention, the NMA Board of Directors elected the following officers to serve for the year beginning July 1, 2011.

Executive Committee
Immediate Past Chairman - Bob Jensen, Jensen Meat Co. 
Board Chairman - Robert Rebholtz, AgriBeef
President - Larry Vad, Ideal Meat & Provision
Vice President - Marty Evanson, Jobbers Meat Packing Co.
Secretary - Mike Hesse, BPI
Treasurer - Brian Coelho, Central Valley Meat

The following member representatives were elected to the Board of Directors:
General Members: Jake Burns, Carlton Farms; Jim Cheney, Hill Meat Co.; Robert Engelhart, Englehart Gourmet; Shane MacKenzie, Superior Farms; Kevin Smith, Costco; Tim Fallon, Columbus Foods; Jon Hickerson, Custom Foods; Ken McLaughlin, Aries Prepared; John Perdue, Rite-Way; Mark Andersen, CTI; Bill Rupp, JBS; Dale Smith, Dale Smith & Sons; Don Clift, Preferred Beef; Jerry Kane, Sam Kane Beef Processors; Tim Klein, National Beef; Ron Allen, AFA; Dane Bernard, Keystone

Associate Members: Mike Botto, American Food Equipment; Mike Gangel, Chad Co.

Source: NMA

New NTF chairman calls on turkey industry to “do the right thing” 

The National Turkey Federation’s (NTF) Board of Directors elected Rick Huisinga to serve as the federation’s 2011 chairman. Huisinga is executive vice president of Willmar Poultry Co. in Willmar, Minn.

“I’m a pragmatic person and I believe that using common sense and simply doing the right thing will serve us well to mitigate the numerous regulatory and legislative issues our industry will continue to face in this strange political climate,” Huisinga said during his acceptance speech. “Whether it is talking about environmental stewardship, the responsible use of antibiotics or food safety practices, we can all do the right thing by being a part of the public affairs process.”

Huisinga discussed in detail those regulatory and legislative challenges that will confront the turkey industry – antibiotic use in animal agriculture; food safety; environmental regulations; the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration proposed marketing rule; and renewable fuels policy.

During the conclusion of his acceptance speech, Huisinga spoke about the importance of being engaged in NTF by saying, “The best way to ensure we do the right thing is to continue to collaborate, communicate and coordinate on many of the items I’ve just discussed.”

During NTF’s Annual Convention, the Board of Directors also elected Steve Willardsen, president, Cargill Value Added Meats, as vice chairman; and John Burkel, director, Northern Pride, Inc., as secretary-treasurer. Yubert Envia, vice president of turkey and prepared foods, Foster Farms, assumes the position of immediate past chairman.

Huisinga began his career at Willmar Poultry Company in 1983 in the research and development department after attending school in California and at the University of Minnesota. At Willmar Poultry, Huisinga’s passion and dedication are focused on providing the turkey industry with innovative products, technologies and techniques for the future. In addition to serving on NTF’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, Huisinga is also on Minnesota Turkey Growers Association’s Breeder Hen and Research Funding committees and is a member of the General Conference Committee on the National Poultry Improvement Plan.

During the convention, the Board also reelected Gary Cooper, Cooper Farms; Jihad Douglas, Aviagen Turkeys; Paul Hill, West Liberty Foods; Ron Prestage, Prestage Farms; John Reicks, Sara Lee Food and Beverage; Ted Seger, Farbest Foods, Inc.; and Carl Wittenburg, Protein Alliance, Inc., to the Executive Committee (EC).

The Board elected Jim Leighton, Perdue Farms, Inc., to his first term as an EC member.

After the Board meeting, the elected EC members appointed Jeff Sveen, Dakota Provisions, to the Executive Committee as at-large members.

Source: NTF

AMSA to host Student Leadership Conference on April 12 

Today’s meat and poultry students face new challenges as they enter the job market, especially on how to effectively communicate the critical role the meat and poultry industry plays in the day-to-day life of Americans. That is why, on April 12 in Chicago, IL, prior to the 2011 AMI Convention and Exposition; the American Meat Science Association (AMSA) Student Membership is offering a leadership conference designed to equip participants with the techniques needed to positively promote the meat and poultry industry to the public.

Co-sponsored by the AMSA Student Membership, AMSA Educational Foundation, and the American Meat Institute, the AMSA Student Leadership Conference “Mobilizing the Industry’s Future to Develop Soft Skills in Working with Current and Future Issues” will bring together student and young professional members to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced in today’s industry and how to overcome these.

This unique program will be led by keynote speaker Dr. J. Scott Vernon, Professor at California Polytechnic State University. He is also the owner of Vernon Communications and the founder of "I Love Farmers...They Feed My Soul." Dr. Vernon is considered one of the nation’s leading agriculture advocates. In addition the leadership conference will feature industry experts who will share tips and their experience on how they promote the meat and poultry industry.

The leadership conference will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the McCormick Place in Chicago. All AMSA student and young professional members interested in learning more about the meat and poultry industry and networking opportunities are welcome to attend.

Additional information on the program, registration and lodging can be found at Early registration discount ends on March 15 and the deadline to book a hotel is March 11.

Source: AMSA

FSIS issues notice on inspection responsibilities for slaughter line speed process control 

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued FSIS Notice 08-11: Inspection Responsibilities and Authorities for Slaughter or Evisceration Line Speed Process Control.

This notice was issued in response to questions raised by inspection program personnel (IPP) regarding their authorities to slow or stop lines. According to the notice, Inspectors-in-Charge (IICs) or Public Health Veterinarians (PHVs) are to slow maximum line speeds when process control of line speeds is not maintained because of inconsistencies in size, weight, class of animal or bird, health, pathology, contamination, sanitary dressing or presentation (9 CFR 381.65(a), 381.67, 381.68, 381.76 and 310.1(b) (1)). PHVs or IICs are to ensure that IPP can perform a post-mortem inspection of poultry and livestock carcasses at all times.

On-line inspectors are to stop the line for safety and health reasons needing immediate intervention, such as preventing injury due to malfunctioning of automated shackles, saws, or other equipment or accidental splashing of bile or fluid in the eyes. On-line inspectors do not have the authority to slow line speeds.

The Office of Policy and Program Development, along with the Office of Program Evaluation and Enforcement Review, will conduct a web based survey within two weeks of issuing this notice to assess its effectiveness.

To view this notice, click here:

Source: AMI

Record year for beef exports, USMEF reports 

December statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) confirm that 2010 was the best year ever for U.S. beef export value. A final total of $4.08 billion breaks the pre-BSE high from 2003 of $3.86 billion by more than 5 percent and exceeds the 2009 total by nearly $1 billion. Total volume was 1.067 million metric tons, an increase of 19 percent over 2009.

Pork export value posted the second-best year on record at $4.78 billion, falling just 2 percent short of the 2008 high and besting 2009 by more than 10 percent. Total volume was 1.918 million metric tons – an increase of 3 percent over the previous year.

The global economic downturn of 2009 was particularly hard on beef exports – not only for the United States, but for all exporting countries. But despite an overall drop in global demand, U.S. beef maintained or increased its market share in most key markets and was well-positioned for a rebound in 2010.

“We knew the groundwork was in place for an excellent recovery in 2010,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “But even the most optimistic forecasts underestimated the degree to which our beef exports would bounce back. Increasing beef export value by almost one-third, and nearly $1 billion, is a critical achievement for the U.S. beef industry and a substantial boost for U.S. producers.”

Export value equated to $153.09 per head of fed slaughter, which is up 22 percent from 2009 and is 12 percent higher than in 2003. Nearly 12 percent of total beef production was exported, compared to less than 10 percent in 2009.

The pork sector also had a strong year for exports. U.S. pork exports posted the best value year ever in Japan, reaching $1.65 billion. This was the third consecutive year in which exports to Japan exceeded $1.5 billion, with value jumping 7 percent over 2009 and 6 percent over the previous record in 2008. Volume was 434,923 metric tons – an increase of 3 percent over the previous year.
Pork exports have never broken the $1 billion mark for a single year in any market other than Japan, but came very close in 2010. Exports to Mexico reached a record $986.7 million – an increase of nearly 30 percent over the previous high set in 2009. Volume was up 8 percent over the previous year to 545,732 metric tons.

“USMEF is extremely proud of the success U.S. pork has achieved in both of these mainstay markets,” Seng said. “Japan is a remarkable market that provides outstanding returns for U.S. producers. But it is exceptionally competitive, and we have to stay very aggressive to have any chance of remaining the market share leader. With Mexico, we are very pleased with the way demand help up in the face of rising pork prices. Consumers there truly appreciate the quality of U.S. pork, and it performed very well in both the retail and processing sectors.”

Source: USMEF

Canada announces new food allergen labeling regulations 

Canada Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced this week new regulations to tighten Canada’s labeling of food allergens and gluten sources.

These regulatory amendments will require that the source of a food allergen or gluten be shown on the label of most prepackaged products when the food allergen or gluten is present in the product. The food allergen or gluten source will be required to be shown on the product label in consistent and easy to understand terminology. For example, if casein is present in a prepackaged product, the word “milk” will be shown on the product label. The source of the food allergen or gluten will be shown either in the list of ingredients or in a “Contains” statement.

The industry has been given 18 months to implement the new allergen labeling regulations, with a deadline of August 4, 2012. For more information, click here:

Source: AMI