Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) have introduced a bill to repeal the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, saying that it would save taxpayers $6 billion. The tax credit currently provides 45 cents a gallon to blenders of ethanol. Last week, the Government Accountability Office released a report describing the tax credit as “largely unneeded today to ensure demand for domestic ethanol production,” reports Accounting Today.

“The ethanol tax credit is bad economic policy, bad energy policy and bad environmental policy,” Coburn said in a statement. “The $6 billion we waste every year on corporate welfare should instead stay in taxpayers’ pockets where it can be used to spur innovation, stimulate growth and create jobs.  I’m hopeful my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will take a stand against business-as-usual special interest giveaways and eliminate this wasteful and harmful subsidy.”

“As our economy begins to grow again, we need to bring our budget under control through a combination of smart cuts and smart investments,” said Cardin. “Cutting yet another subsidy to big oil that is making big profits is smart policy. Rather than underwriting ethanol subsidies that are causing food prices to skyrocket, we should be supporting American innovation in more sustainable alternative fuels the results of which will help create jobs, lower energy costs and strengthen our national security.”

Several groups that represent the meat industry issued statements of support for the legislation.

“With the U.S. corn supply at record lows, corn prices at record highs and ethanol production absorbing 40 percent of U.S. corn production, government subsidies for corn-based ethanol, like VEETC, continue to artificially inflate the market for corn,” said J. Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of the American Meat Institute. “As a result, the cost of feeding livestock has increased, which in turn drives up the cost of food production for everyone in the supply chain, trickling down to the consumer. This bipartisan bill is an important step in reversing that trend, and I applaud Senators Coburn and Cardin for their leadership on this issue.”

“Senators Coburn and Cardin have the right idea, it's time to end the refundable Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC),” said Barry Carpenter, CEO of the National Meat Association. “Government support for alternative energy production should not result in higher food prices.”

Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation, said, “NTF commends Sens Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Ben Cardin, D- Md., for introducing legislation to eliminate the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC). Food and energy should never have to compete with each other for key inputs because of government mandates.  The corn-based ethanol industry has received more than 30 years of support and protection at the expense of the American taxpayer and those in animal agriculture who use corn for feed. Therefore, NTF supports eliminating the tax credit for ethanol.”

Sources: Accounting Today, AMI, NMA


Congresswoman reintroduces Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, has reintroduced H.R. 965, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. The legislation would limit the use of seven classes of antibiotics currently used to treat animals and preserve their use for humans.

“Antibiotic resistance is a major public health crisis, and yet antibiotics are used regularly and with little oversight in agriculture,” she said in a statement. “As a microbiologist, I cannot stress the urgency of this problem enough, so today I’m proud to reintroduce the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. When we go to the grocery store to pick up dinner, we should be able to buy our food without worrying that eating it will expose our family to potentially deadly bacteria that will no longer respond to our medical treatments. Unless we act now, we will unwittingly be permitting animals to serve as incubators for resistant bacteria.”

The statement added that overuse of these classes of antibiotics is contributing to evolving bacteria, like MRSA, that leaves its victims untreatable by existing antibiotics.

“While we’re giving antibiotics to pigs and chickens, we’re allowing people to die. If anyone believes that antibiotic resistance isn’t a problem, consider the $16 to $26 billion that’s added into the cost of our health care system each year going to treat bacteria our antibiotics are ill-equipped to fight,” said Slaughter.

The legislation would not infringe upon the use of those drugs to treat a sick animal, she added. It would limit their use on healthy animals in order to promote growth.

Source: Office of Rep. Louise Slaughter


Bologna produces recalled due to possible contamination

 Zweigle's Inc., a Rochester, N.Y., establishment, is recalling approximately 2,997 pounds of bologna products that may be contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced.

The products subject to recall are cases containing two 10-pound packages of "Price Chopper German Brand Bologna Made With Pork & Chicken." Each 10-pound package bears establishment number "EST. 5333" within the USDA mark of inspection. The products were produced on Jan. 5, 2011, and packaged on Jan. 7, 2011. Each package also bears a white sticker including the package code "007" and a use-by date "03/08/11." The products were shipped to a distribution center in New York.

After discovering a malfunction with its smokehouse, the plant recooked the bologna products and shipped them to the distribution center. During routine inspection activities, FSIS discovered that the time delay in recooking the product created an environment allowing potential production of Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.

Source: FSIS


 Ruiz Foods Brands joins National Sodium Reduction Initiative

Ruiz Foods Inc., makers of El Monterey brand frozen Mexican foods and Tornados brand frozen snack foods, is partnering with the National Sodium Reduction Initiative (NSRI), as part of the company’s continued efforts to reduce sodium levels. To date, the company’s entire line of El Monterey Family Pack Burritos and Chimichangas, the #1 frozen Mexican food choices by America’s families, are already within the 2012 guidelines.

“While we have made considerable advances in lowering the sodium content in our products prior to our partnership with the NSRI’s initiatives, we have established a sodium reduction plan for our remaining 200 plus sku’s that aligns with the NSRI goals for 2012” says Bryce Ruiz, president and CEO, Ruiz Foods, “We applaud the focus on reducing sodium in the American diet and believe that a public, transparent and collaborative initiative together with industry and public health providers will have far greater success in improving the wellness of our country’s food supply.”

NSRI is an public-private partnership of more than 65 state and local health authorities and national health organizations and over 20 food manufacturers and restaurants from across the United States. Its goal is to reduce Americans’ sodium intake by 20% over five years by lowering the sodium in packaged and restaurant food.

“We are very pleased that the NSRI has taken a long-term strategy to join industry to form a partnership that is both open and structured with achievable goals to reduce sodium,” adds Ruiz. “While individual participation like ours is important, a collective and open dialogue with industry will be even more impactful.”

Source: Ruiz Foods