The 2018 AFGA Nutrition Seminar was recently held on April 4th and 5th in Huntsville, Alabama. Just over two hundred people were in attendance this year to hear a great lineup of speakers at the Westin Huntsville at Bridge Street Town Centre. The Technical Symposium on the morning of Wednesday, April 4, was sponsored by Diamond V, and the AFGA seminar program followed on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. The meeting featured a variety of well-known speakers and industry experts discussing feed-related challenges and opportunities for the poultry industry. The event concluded with a golf scramble at the Robert Trent Jones golf trail on the afternoon of April 5th, with first place accolades going to the foursome of Bobby Crowe, Mark Bellamy, Shane Guy and Wes Sullivan.
Both attendance and financial support for the AFGA Nutrition Seminar have steadily increased since its commencement in 2012, allowing the AFGA to increase scholarship contributions to $35,000 in 2018. These scholarship opportunities are available to any deserving student in the field of agriculture. Scholarship applications are available online by clicking here, and are due by May 31 each year. Scholarship winners are typically notified by early July.
The 2019 AF&GA Nutrition Seminar is tentatively planned for April 17-18, 2019, again at the Westin Huntsville. Plan early and save the dates on your calendar. Those interested in sponsoring future technical symposiums or other sponsorship opportunities can contact Mrs. Edna Waller for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Alliance releases report from 2017 Animal Rights National Conference
Speakers focus on methods to pressure restaurant, retail and foodservice companies
August 16, 2017 – The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report today detailing observations from the Animal Rights National Conference, held August 3-6 in Alexandria, Va. The event was hosted by the Farm Animal Rights Movement and sponsored by Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and The Humane League, along with other animal rights activist groups. According to conference organizers, nearly 2,000 individuals were present at the event, described as “dedicated to the vision that animals have the right to be free from all forms of human exploitation.”
“The speakers at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference made their goals clear – ending all forms of animal agriculture, regardless of how well animals are cared for,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “Their persistent focus on pressure campaigns targeting restaurant, retail and foodservice brands is of great concern to the Alliance and our members. We encourage anyone with a vested interest in producing, processing or selling meat, poultry, eggs and dairy, to read this year’s report and hear how determined these groups are to eliminate food choices and make our society vegan.”
Activists in attendance were encouraged to be as extreme as necessary to advance their goals. “Breaking the law can often be a good thing to do,” said Zach Groff, Animal Liberation Collective. Groff spoke about the ‘nature of confrontational activism’ such as “protests, open rescues from farms without permission, vigils…” According to Groff, “this is a type of activism that can often upset people, it can rile people up.”
A major focus of this year’s conference was on pressuring restaurant, retail and foodservice brands to adopt certain policies, with the end goal of forcing them to stop selling animal products. In one session on “Engaging Institutions,” a speaker from The Humane League said the group had “basically harassed” one national sandwich chain with a campaign. When an audience member commented about ‘humane’ policies not being as good as complete liberation, Krista Hiddema, Mercy for Animals (Canada), hinted at no animal products being sold as the end goal, stating “we’re never going away.” Hiddema also stated that “we [the animal rights movement] are winning against the largest organizations in the world,” and “they are terrified of us.”
Other speakers shared Hiddema’s confidence in the movement’s success, with Jon Camp, The Humane League, stating “they [food companies] don’t make policies due to altruism, they do it because of the pressure.” David Coman-Hidy, also with The Humane League, told attendees to research companies before launching a campaign, asking “what can we use to make them look like hypocrites?” Coman-Hidy emphasized “we are not here to negotiate,” and activists “are essentially a pain in the neck for companies.” He suggested that attendees should attempt to damage companies’ brand reputations, stating “I recommend putting blood drips on their logo.”
Consistent with previous years, another key message from conference speakers was for attendees to focus efforts on eliminating farms of all types and sizes, not only the large-scale, modern operations (declared to be “factory farms”) that have historically been targeted. “Please, stop saying “factory farming” – it’s done its job,” said Hope Bohanec, projects manager, United Poultry Concerns as she emphasized that farms of all sizes are equally cruel. Bohanec continued to accuse the food industry of “humane washing” and trying to “dupe the public.” Bonahec touched on recent movements to go ‘cage-free,’ stating that all animal agriculture is bad, regardless of what labels say.
One speaker was ridiculed by the audience for his ‘Reducetarian’ approach, which encourages people to reduce, but not necessarily eliminate, meat consumption. An audience member stated that veganism is a lifestyle, not a diet, and that “’reducetarianism’ is the animal rights version of greenwashing” (trying to make an organization seem more environmentally responsible than it actually is).
Several speakers and panels also discussed animal agriculture’s impact on the environment, a talking point the Alliance has seen animal rights activist groups relying on more heavily in recent years. Jeffrey Cohan, Jewish Veg, stated that “we know animal agriculture is the leading cause of pollution on our planet.” Lisa Kemmerer, author, Sister Species and Eating Earth, said “eating hamburgers is like driving a bulldozer over the rainforest” and “being an environmentalist who is not vegan is nonsense on stilts.”
Also speaking at the conference were: Nick Cooney (founder of The Humane League) and Vandhana Bala, Mercy for Animals; Ingrid Newkirk, PETA; Erica Meier, Compassion Over Killing; Steven Wise, Nonhuman Rights Project; Anita Krajnc, Toronto Pig Save; Bruce Friedrich, Good Food Institute; and Paul Shapiro, Josh Balk and Kristie Middleton, all with the Humane Society of the United States.
The 2017 Animal Rights National Conference Report, which includes personal accounts of speaker presentations and general observations, is available to Alliance members in the Resource Library on the Alliance website. The Alliance also has reports from previous animal rights conferences accessible to members on the Alliance website.
Media wishing to obtain copies of the full report, or for all other inquiries, please contact Hannah Thompson-Weeman, vice president of communications, at email@example.com.
Why Plant Cover Crops?
By Katie Nichols, Auburn University January 15, 2016
AUBURN, Alabama–Farmers are the ultimate stewards of the land. For years, farmers have been looking for ways to improve soil quality, increase productivity and build erosion control. Cover crops are widely used to benefit the upcoming crop as well as improving the soil.
Alabama Cooperative Extension Specialist Dr. Dennis Delaney said cover crops are important for maintaining soil fertility and quality.
“Cover crops do several things,” Delaney said. “They help scavenge soil nutrients lost through leaching and are able to slowly release nutrients to the following cash crop throughout the growing season.”
Selecting the right cover crops can improve yields, soil and water conservation and quality, and producer profitability. Cover crops can protect the soil, feed soil ecosystems, increase soil organic matter, and supply nutrients to subsequent crops.
Benefits of Cover Crops
Legumes are nitrogen-fixing, meaning the nitrogen produced through the plant becomes available to following crops as plant residue breaks down. Unused nutrients from the previous crop are taken up by the cover crop and slowly released during the next growing season.
Pest pressures are often subdued by the growth of cover crops. Thick plant residues on the soil surface suppress weed growth, while other crops produce chemicals that inhibit the growth of weed seedlings. Others are known to deter nematodes and diseases by repelling, confusing or starving them.
In addition to nutrient placement, soil fertility and pest suppressants, cover crops can also make an economic difference in a farming operation. Properly managed cover crops can reduce production costs and risks. Nitrogen production and effective nutrient use can reduce costs of pesticides and application. Reduction of erosion and soil compaction means less land preparation and tillage expense, and by suppressing pests, cover crops can reduce costs of pesticides and application.
Choosing the Right Cover Crops
Many cover crops perform well in Alabama cropping systems. In order to choose the crop best suited for your system, consider the time frame between cash crops and what the crop needs to provide.
Delaney said first and foremost it is important to determine which cash crop will follow the cover crop.
“Work backwards from the cash crop you plan to plant,” he said. “Choose a cover that can be terminated in time to plant a cash crop; and be sure to plant a crop that minimizes the risk of sharing soil diseases.”
For Nitrogen: Plant a legume cover crop. Some cereals, especially rye, are good at scavenging unused nitrogen from a previous crop. Buckwheat, mustards, radish and rye can scavenge unused phosphorous and potassium from deep in the soil and move it closer to the surface.
Weed Control: Covers that produce a lot of biomass can help. Rye, black oat, sorghum-sudangrass, sunn hemp, iron clay cowpea, radish and buckwheat can smother weed seedlings. Some of these produce chemicals that can affect crop germination and growth.
Break up Soil Compaction: Crops with deep taproots, like tillage radish or canola, can break through a compacted layer.
Nematode Suppression/Beneficial Insects: Certain varieties of some cover crops, like lupin, sunn hemp, velvet bean, sorghum-sudangrass, black oats and some brassicas, repel and starve pest nematodes and keep them in check. Others, like hairy vetch, lupin, sunflower and buckwheat, attract beneficial insects that pollinate crops and eat pests.
Many cover crops can provide quality forage and grazing early and still recover to benefit soil systems. Careful management is needed to ensure payback from planting a cover crop. Good quality seed should be planted at the recommended rate and depth. Planting dates are also critical for good stands and growth.
Buckwheat as cover crop image by USDA NRCS South Dakota.
Evonik announced Oct. 26 it has started Mepron production at its site in Mobile, Ala., putting the plant into service after 15 months, according to plan.
Mepron is a formulation of the amino acid methionine specially developed for dairy cows by Evonik’s Animal Nutrition Business Line.
“With this investment, we strengthen our position in North America as a leading company to offer innovative solutions to the market. This investment opens up new growth opportunities for the Animal Nutrition business and for Evonik in North America,” said Dr. Ralph Sven Kaufmann, member of the executive board and chief operating officer of Evonik.
“The U.S. is our most important sales market for Mepron,” Dr. Emmanuel Auer, head of the Evonik Animal Nutrition Business, said. “So, it was important for us to serve our customers out of our new own production facility.”
The U.S. has the world’s largest stock of high-yielding dairy cows and produces about 12.5% of the world’s milk.
High-yielding dairy cows have particularly high methionine requirements. In conventional animal feeding, such requirements are covered by protein-containing feeds. In contrast, the use of Mepron in dairy cow rations allows the amount of crude protein in feeds to be reduced, with no loss of output. This, in turn, reduces feed costs, eases metabolism in the animals and reduces nitrogen excretion.
“In this way, we’re contributing to more sustainable milk production, from which all sides benefit,” Auer said.
Methionine counts among what are known as essential amino acids, which higher organisms must ingest with their food. Without adequate methionine dairy cows cannot optimally metabolize the protein in their feeds. In contrast to the situation for pigs and poultry, however, methionine must be specially “packaged” for ruminants so that it reaches the small intestine of the cow, where it can be absorbed. Without such a protective coating it would be degraded by microorganisms already in the first stomach.
Evonik’s Nutrition & Care Segment produces and markets four essential amino acids for advanced animal nutrition: MetAMINO, Biolys, ThreAMINO and TrypAMINO. Mepron, a protected DL-methionine for high-yielding dairy cows, and CreAMINO, a high-grade creatine source, complete the product portfolio.
The Animal Nutrition business line translates over 60 years of experience in manufacturing essential amino acids for animal nutrition into solutions that meet the evolving needs of its customers in over one hundred countries.
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RE: Proposed Rule- Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventative Controls for Food for Animals; Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0922 and Regulatory Information Number 0910-AG10
Georgia’s food and fiber production and processing is a $76.9 billion industry, and accounted for more than 375,800 Georgia jobs in 2012. In almost two-thirds of Georgia’s counties, agribusiness and directly related industries are the largest or second-largest economic engines. This is a massive, complex farm and agribusiness economic engine and is made up of many diverse interests, including those in the feed and grain sectors. These businesses are essential to providing the affordable, safe and bountiful food supply we enjoy today. Production and processing benefits are foundational to our national security and the American way of life.
It is these feed and grain agribusinesses and associations listed below that write to you today with many serious concerns about the proposed rule, “Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventative Controls for Food for Animals.” Our industry knowledge and practical application of the practices outlined will have many negative consequences, both known and unknown, on animal agriculture in Georgia and across the United States.
The undersigned recommend the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) take a “B.A.S.E” approach to achieve the goals set forth in the Food Safety Modernization Act. “B” stands for Borders, which is a critical area where FDA should be focusing their attention and resources. “A” stands for Audits, recognizing that FDA will need to actively audit the states, as well as foreign suppliers in other countries. FDA will set the Standard, the “S,” by which firms will be audited. Successful implementation of the rules is contingent on Education, representing the “E,” ensuring that all stakeholders know their roles and responsibilities required by the rules. Food and feed safety is a journey, not a destination. This journey allows us the flexibility to implement new knowledge and technology as we constantly continue to achieve food and feed safety.
We strongly urge the FDA to solicit comments on a second, concurrent, public comment period for all of the FSMA proposed rules: preventative controls for human and animal food, produce safety, third-party certification, and foreign supplier verification. All of the proposals are understandably connected because of their subject matter. It is impossible to effectively evaluate and comment on one rule proposal, while being uncertain about the content that will be included in the other final rule proposals.
In order to ensure that foreign and domestic producers compete on a level playing field, it is critical that we have the opportunity to compare the anticipated major revisions to all five rules at the same time. A second draft will better enable all impacted parties to review changes and offer feedback to help FDA ensure successful implementation of the final rule. Successful Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation is too important to food safety, and the future of food production, to hastily promulgate the final rule for one component of the FSMA without giving all affected sectors of the agricultural industry and government sufficient opportunity to participate in an open, comprehensive rulemaking process.
Regulation is a reasonable expectation of our modern society. The FDA must understand that a “one size fits all” approach to agricultural regulations is unproductive in light of the variation in production practices and economic realities of modern agricultural production across the United States. The foundational terms “crop”, “exemption”, “farm”, “harvesting”, “processing”, “raw agricultural commodity” and “same ownership” within the current proposal must be revised to reflect the realities of modern agricultural production, to clarify their meaning and their subsequent application in the regulation. Vertically integrated animal production systems need to be carefully considered and subjected to reasonable risk and science based regulations and redefined terms for “farm” and “same ownership” applied to their system. Grain handling operations need to have the terms “processing” and “raw agricultural product” defined in such a manner as to accommodate current grain storage best management practices and industry standards for commerce while maintaining food and feed safety. The FDA has an obligation to provide food and feed regulation with desired outcomes that are measurable, well defined, based on unbiased research data and that do not to place firms in an unnecessary regulatory paralysis.
It is essential that FDA conduct extensive outreach and education with local, state and federal regulatory partners and industry members before the implementation of the proposed rule to ensure the continuing affordable, safe and abundant food supply American’s and families all across the world have become accustomed to from U.S. producers. For all of the reasons mentioned above, we do not support the proposed rule.
Thank you for your consideration of our comments. We appreciate the FDA’s efforts to support public health in the United States.
Georgia Feed & Grain Association
Georgia Agribusiness Council
GAC feed & grain members
Other allied state associations