A Georgia Senate committee on immigration heard from many business owners about how proposed immigration legislation would adversely affect the business community, worsen the economy and create difficulties for Latinos. The Georgia General Assembly is looking at legislation similar to the controversial Arizona immigration law, reports the Gainesville Times.

Tom Hensley, president of Fieldale Farms Corp., which has locations in north Georgia, told the Senate Special Committee on Immigration and Georgia's Economy that existing legislation already had a detrimental effect on the poultry industry in Hall County that would only be worsened by statewide legislation.

Hensley said despite using measures to ensure the company hired documented workers, the anti-immigrant climate in the state has driven the Latino workers he depended on away from his business.

"We were 67 percent Hispanic in 2004. Our turnover was 25 percent. Our workers (compensation) cost was $50,000 a month. Our health care cost for the whole year was $8 million. It was about that time that the federal, state and local governments let it be known that these folks are not welcome," Hensley said.

"Fast forward to 2010, we're about 33 percent Hispanic now. Our turnover is 75 percent. Workers comp costs are $150,000 a month. Our health care last year was $20 million. Those are staggering numbers, but that's the economic reality.

"We need comprehensive immigration reform in this country. It has to be a federal program, not the state ... you can't have 50 different laws in 50 different states. I implore you, don't pass any more laws."

The senators on the committee said they were impressed by the turnout of nearly 300 and heard valuable information from those spoke at the hearing.

"I was impressed we had actual members of the business community show up. So often you just get activists," said Sen. Curt Thompson, chairman of the committee.

Source: Gainesville Times

Louisiana poultry growers get $11.2 million in aid 

The Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority is distributing $11.2 million in aid to poultry growers who were adversely affected by the 2008 bankruptcy of Pilgrim’s Pride.

"The checks and direct deposit transactions are being distributed today," Strain said, reports KATC News. "These funds should provide tremendous relief for many of the growers who were damaged."

Pilgrim’s Pride closed its Farmerville, La., plant in 2009, affecting more than 300 Louisiana and Arkansas growers. Foster Farms acquired and reopened the facility, but the transition and downtime nearly ruined many local growers, Strain said.

"This money will literally help some of the growers make back payments on their mortgages that will allow them to keep their farms," Strain said.

Source: KATC News

NCBA study shows costs of regulating dust 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) current review of National Ambient Air Quality Standards of the Clean Air Act could result in the regulation of coarse particulate matter (dust) at levels as low as 65-85 µg/m3, or twice as stringent as the current standard. In anticipation of a proposed rule on this issue, NCBA contracted with Dr. John Richards, Ph.D., P.E. of Air Quality Control Techniques to study the likely effects regulating dust at such stringent levels would have on attainment and nonattainment regions throughout the United States. The study concluded that moving forward with regulating dust at anticipated levels would bring vast areas of the United States into nonattainment or to the brink of nonattainment.

NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel Tamara Thies said the current standard is 150 μg/m³ with an allowance of only one violation per year to remain in compliance. However, she added that NCBA expects EPA to propose a new standard of between 65-85 μg/m³ with an allowance of seven violations per year to remain in compliance.

“EPA claims these two standards are essentially equivalent in terms of health protection. But while both standards may protect the public’s health equally, this study confirms that changing the standard would be devastating for our economy, and particularly for rural America. Regulating dust at levels twice as stringent will wreak havoc in rural agricultural areas in the country that would have to purchase new, expensive technologies to control dust,” Thies said. “If EPA moves forward with a proposed rule as we anticipate, farmers and ranchers could be fined for driving down a dirt road; moving cattle from one pasture to the next; or tilling a field. EPA claims it’s concerned with urban dust. Yet their current efforts to regulate dust may enable urban areas to remain in attainment but will throw dusty, rural, agricultural areas into nonattainment needlessly.”

The study looked at 382 of the 990 PM10 (dust) monitors operating in the United States from 2007-2009, primarily located in the West, Southwest and Midwest, and concluded that the existing and anticipated dust standards are not equivalent in terms of attainment and nonattainment areas of the country. More nonattainment areas means more regulation and a direct hit on the bottom lines of businesses operating in those nonattainment areas. Specifically, the study found that 42 sites currently are in nonattainment. However, of the sites studied, a change to 85 µg/m³ (98thpercentile form) would increase the number of sites in nonattainment by 81 percent (from 42 to 76). A change to 75 μg/m³ would increase the number of sites in nonattainment by 243 percent (from 42 to 102). A change to 65 μg/m³ would increase the number of sites in nonattainment by 348 percent (from 42 to 146).

Specifically, the study concludes that EPA’s expected revised standard would put some rural areas that are currently in attainment in the following states into nonattainment: Arizona; Colorado; Iowa; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; New Mexico; Texas and Wyoming. In addition, areas that are currently in nonattainment in California, Nevada and Utah would stay in nonattainment. The study also concludes that many more areas would be brought to the brink of nonattainment.

“In our industry, dust is inevitable, but if EPA moves forward, entire states could be thrown into nonattainment or be on the brink of nonattainment where slight changes in dust emissions or weather conditions could throw them into nonattainment,” Thies said. “The bureaucrats at EPA may not understand our industry, but this study is further proof that regulating dust at such unprecedented levels will be financially devastating for production agriculture.”

Source: NCBA

Misbranded chicken and noodles recalled 

Cedarlane Natural Foods Inc., a Los Angeles, Calif., establishment, is recalling approximately 1,050 pounds of chicken and noodle products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced. These products are considered misbranded because the USDA mark of inspection does not appear on the package labels that are available to consumers.

The products subject to recall include cases containing six 16-ounce trays of "Wholesome Home Chicken & Noodles." The sell-by date "09/21/11" is ink jetted on the side of each case, and the Julian date "10264" can be found on the label of each 16-ounce tray.

The establishment number "P-31673" is listed inside the USDA mark of inspection printed on each case, but the mark of inspection is not printed on the individual tray labels, which are available to consumers. The chicken and noodle products were produced on Sept. 21, 2010, packaged on Sept. 23, 2010, and distributed to retail stores in Arizona, California, and Texas.

The distributor discovered the problem and notified Cedarlane Natural Foods, who then notified FSIS. It was determined that the USDA mark of inspection was dropped from labels for this particular production day due to a printing error. FSIS and Cedarlane Natural Foods have received no reports of illnesses or adverse reactions due to consumption of these products, and FSIS has determined that the food safety risk associated with the products is remote.

Source: FSIS

Ruiz Foods launches “Ticket to Ride II” contest 

Tornados announces an on-pack consumer racing promotion featuring Tornados sponsored NASCAR Sprint Cup Series No. 39 Chevrolet driver Ryan Newman. Beginning February through the end of September, 2011, consumers will be able to enter the code printed on the inside of limited edition specially marked boxes of Tornados for a chance to win one of hundreds of prizes. Each limited-edition product box features the colorful Tornados Sprint Cup Series No. 39 Chevrolet and a photograph of Ryan Newman. Registration is completed on mytornados.com.

The grand “Ticket to Ride II” prize will feature: a VIP trip for two to Charlotte, NC to include hotel accommodations for 3 days and 2 nights; hot laps with Tornados NASCAR driver Ryan Newman; Richard Petty Rookie School driving lessons; tour of NASCAR Hall of Fame; $500 in spending money, and much more.

“The response to Tornados by the retail consumer has been excellent,” said Bryce Ruiz, President and CEO, Ruiz Foods. “And our Tornados sponsorship of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series No. 39 driver, Ryan Newman, has proven to be right on target. Both NASCAR fans and our Tornados consumers have voiced their excitement … and support. Our Tornados consumer loves convenience, convenience and more convenience. They also want bold, new and exciting flavors that challenge their tastebuds – offering excitement and variety to what was becoming a ‘ho hum’ category. This same desire for boldness and excitement holds true for NASCAR Ryan Newman fans.”

Hundreds of other prizes include, Tornados #39 remote-controlled race car models, Tornados custom skateboards, and Tornados custom cruiser bicycles. The promotion will be supported through a nationally distributed FSI, Facebook and mytornados.com.

“I’m proud to partner with Tornados and am excited about this consumer promotion,” said Ryan Newman. “Tornados is an ideal partner for us because a lot of times we have to eat quick, especially at the track. With Tornados, we don’t have to sacrifice taste for speed.”

Source: Ruiz Foods