Category Archives: General

GLOBAL – G20: Ministers Agree To Fight Volatility Of Ag Prices – June 24, 2011

GENERAL – At the G20 Farm Ministers meeting, 20 of the most powerful economies in the world have agreed an action plan to fight against the volatility of agricultural prices.

Together, the G20 nations committed to increasing agricultural production through use of improved practices and technologies and a commitment to new and expanded research and development.

“The need for market transparency and consistency with science-based rule-making systems among our nations and the international community is stronger than ever,” said US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.

“Purposefully then, we support establishing the groundwork for an international agricultural market information system, or AMIS, that if fully supported and utilised, will mitigate volatility and reduce market distorting signals by promoting greater shared understanding of food production and price information.”

“This is a tour de force for the international community,” French Minister of Agriculture, Bruno Le Maire added.

“The consensus reached this week by the Ministers of Agriculture is a historical unity to solve the pressing challenges of hunger and the volatility of food prices,” Secretary Vilsack concluded.

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GLOBAL – G20: Farm Groups Appeal To Ministers – June 22, 2011

GLOBAL – On the eve of the G-20 Farm Minister’s meeting, farm groups from around the world are calling for coherence saying trade policy must not dictate agricultural policy.

Farm groups from 66 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe adopted a joint declaration, stressing that trade policy must not be allowed to dictate domestic agricultural policies or ignore non-trade concerns – contrary to the commitments undertaken in the Uruguay Round.

In the wake of growing world food demand, they say food security is crucial, and better coherence between World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other global concerns is required.

With less than 10 per cent of the world’s agricultural production traded on global markets, agriculture plays an important role in providing food security to local populations, maintaining viable rural communities and looking after precious land resources.

Farm groups, therefore, are insisting on the recognition of the special and strategic role of agriculture in light of the huge challenges it faces: increasing price volatility exacerbated by excessive speculation on the markets, finite land and water resources and threats posed by climate change.

Meanwhile, the high number of hungry in the world persists and world food demand is rising.

During a media conference in Brussels, Djibo Bagna, President of Roppa, representing farm organisations from West Africa said: “We are questioning if the approach of simply opening markets, without regard to these issues and how they impact farmers who produce food, is really the best way forward.”

“Better coherence is required between any agreement on agriculture at the WTO and the commitments undertaken through other major international treaties on issues such as poverty, hunger, climate change and biodiversity.”

Paolo Bruni, Cogeca President, representing farm organisations across the EU commented: “We firmly support the objective that countries respect the same clear, transparent and predictable rules for world trade.”

“But trade is a means of enabling human development, not an end in itself. Food is vital for human life and cannot be treated like other commodities.”

“The WTO Agreement on Agriculture, Article 20 c. extent of liberalisation must, therefore, be tempered by the need to provide the means and economic incentives to farmers in all parts of the world, so that they can fulfil their production potential in a sustainable way.”

The groups say that governments need to take coordinated action to ensure more stability on agricultural markets and to strengthen farmers’ position vis-à-vis highly concentrated agri-food businesses.

Ther are also calling for a more harmonised approach to protect the environment and biodiversity as well as addressing climate change.

Farm groups are pressing their political leaders to take into account the following basic principles when pursuing trade agreements:

  • all countries must have the right to produce for domestic consumption in order to improve self-sufficiency and ensure their food security, including the use of tariff measures;
  • trade rules must allow for policy measures, including supply management, which promote stability of food supplies and prices;
  • special and differential treatment and capacity-building for developing countries must enable them to address the real concerns of resource-poor, vulnerable and small-scale farmers, and;
  • all countries should have the right to meet the non-trade concerns of their citizens including food safety, the environment, animal welfare and needs of rural areas so as to promote sustainable agriculture and, help combat climate change and, protect biodiversity.

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GLOBAL – G20: FEFAC Focuses On Increasing Production – June 22, 2011

GLOBAL – The European Compound Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) President, Patrick Vanden Avenne, has called on the European Commission to focus on measures allowing the increase of production and productivity for world agricultural production at the upcoming G-20 Farm Ministers meeting on 22-23 June 2011 in Paris.

In an open letter sent to EU Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, Mr Vanden Avenne pointed to the need for Farm Ministers to emphasise the importance of developing efficient and sustainable feed and livestock production, representing the major outlet for vegetable crops and co-products from the food and biofuel industry.

He said that “Food security should become a strategic policy goal both at EU and global level”.

“Modern feed and livestock production provides key solutions to effectively deal with price volatility and supply of affordable food products for a growing world population”.

He pointed to FEFAC members’ involvement in a series of public-private partnership seeking to increase sustainability and resource efficiency of livestock and feed at national, EU and international level.

The increase of feed efficiency is a key tool to improve performance of livestock production. He welcomed the EU Farm Ministers conclusion at the May Farm Council meeting that access to competitive raw materials is the key for a competitive sustainable development of EU livestock production.

He said that FEFAC fully supports any efforts of EU and global regulators to increase market transparency on financial markets as well as on physical commodity markets but strongly advises EU and national government authorities to associate the private sector both regarding exchange on market information on production and stocks as well during the management of crisis situations.

FEFAC is calling on the EU Farm Ministers to systematically tackle and review regulatory burden and remove measures which may hamper the fluidity of markets for agricultural raw materials, without compromising feed and food safety standards. These measures raise legal uncertainties leading to lower predictability of agricultural markets, which amplifies normal market price volatility (e.g. the EU GMO policy).

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GLOBAL – Global Science Network Tackles Animal Diseases – June 17, 2011

GENERAL – In an innovative approach for the animal health sector, a global research network aimed at tackling some of the world’s most devastating animal diseases has been launched.

Bringing together thousands of scientists from research organisations across five continents, as well as the pharmaceutical industry and international animal health bodies, the network seeks to improve co-ordination of research activities to improve the control of the major current challenges and future disease outbreaks.

The Global Strategic Alliances for the Co-ordination of Research on the Major Infectious Diseases of Animals and Zoonoses (STAR-IDAZ) is funded by the European Commission and co-ordinated by the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Dr Timothy Hall, Head of Unit for Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, European Commission, said as global trade and livestock movement becomes more prevalent, the risk of disease spread and associated economic, environmental and health consequences also increases.

“We need to initiate a co-ordinated, global approach to disease research so that we are tackling existing and emerging diseases in the best possible way. Through the STAR-IDAZ network, we hope to align our efforts and share the knowledge gained from research bodies and institutions across the globe.”

Dr Alex Morrow, Veterinary Science Team at Defra, said by having a formalised network the group can share information, establish common goals and collaborate on research needed to control current and emerging disease challenges.

“By working in partnership we can achieve much more than we would in isolation, where resources can often be quite limited. A global co-ordinated approach means that new research and new technologies can be identified quickly and made a reality as soon as possible to improve animal health and well being.”

Diseases of major concern include: Avian Influenza; Foot and Mouth Disease; new strains of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV); and African Swine Fever.

The €1million EU-funded network will include the USA, Russia, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, China, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the UK. Other countries will feed in through regional networks being established in the Americas, Asia and Australasia, and in the future the Middle East and Africa. (Relevant international bodies such as the World Organisation for Animal Health – OIE – will also be associated.)

Pharmaceutical industry representatives in the STAR-IDAZ network will assist in identifying likely solutions that could prove viable for the animal health industry.

On behalf of the animal health industry, Pfizer Animal Health’s Peter Jeffries said the network launch represents a milestone in international disease research. “The global scope of this project will allow us to make significant progress in terms of infectious disease research, and bring about targeted and tangible control methods. We’re proud to be working alongside other animal health research bodies to ensure we are in the best position to tackle existing and emerging diseases around the world.”

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GLOBAL – New feed additive to help cows with heat stress – 10 Jun 2011

Animal nutrition company Trouw Nutrition International is launching MaxCare CelSius, a new mineral supplement to relieve the effects of heat stress in dairy cows.
Added to feed during the summer months, MaxCare CelSius supports rumen health and maintains rumen fermentation. It also helps the animal to cope with stress induced by respiratory alkalosis (increased blood pH levels) as a result of panting.  Maxcare CelSius aims to reduce the onset of heat stress symptoms by helping the cow to cool down through respiration. The economic impact of heat stress can be considerable: in the US, for example, the cost is estimated to be $800 million annually1.
Heat stress is caused by interlinking factors during hot weather. When cows overheat, they respond by sweating and reducing their dry matter intake (DMI), which leads to the loss of specific minerals and the reduction of saliva to the rumen. This, in turn, causes the rumen pH to drop, affecting the delicate balance of the rumen micro flora, a fundamental element of the ruminant digestive system. Heat stress can cause serious health problems such as mastitis, laminitis and acidosis and can even result in death.
Peter van Dooren, Global Technical Manager at Trouw Nutrition International, comments: “Heat stress is a common and serious problem for dairy farmers, but there are precautions that can be taken to minimise the risks. Adequate provisions of water and shade are important, and farmers can also adapt ration formulations to account for metabolic changes during heat stress. Adding MaxCare CelSius is a good idea as it is specifically developed to ensure the electrolyte balance and helps the rumen to remain healthy. The product counteracts the effects of heat, significantly reducing the risk of cows suffering from heat stress.
To be fully effective,administration of MaxCare CelSius should start before the period of heat stress,and continue for four weeks afterwards. MaxCare CelSius can also be used in combination with a number of complementary products: Selko TMR to improve DMI intake and GlucoLac 40 or GlucoLac 40 Plus to support the intake of feed and glucogenic energy sources.
[1] St. Pierre, N.R., B. Cobanov, and G. Schnitkey. 2003. Economic losses from heat stress by US livestock industries. J. Dairy Sci. 86:E52-E77
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GLOBAL – Development Towards A Sustainable Dairy Sector – June 07, 2011

GLOBAL – The International Dairy Federation (IDF) announced last week that laboratory management systems can contribute to a sustainable dairy sector.

Over 190 experts gathered at the IDF/ISO Analytical Week (23-27 May) in Lyon, France, to discuss the latest developments and future projects for methods of analysis in the dairy sector, in expert meetings and a mid-week symposium.

Hosted by the IDF French National Committee (FIL France), the joint IDF/ISO event provided a platform for experts to work on topical analysis issues, such as the need for a reference system for somatic cell counting in milk, and initiatives underpinning food safety testing.

The mid-week symposium explored the theme “How can analysis promote sustainability in the dairy chain?”. IDF and ISO experts presented new initiatives and recommendations that showed for the first time that the analysis sector makes significant contributions to the advancement of a sustainable dairy industry.

Speakers demonstrated that within-laboratory initiatives reduce the burden on the environment through the use of the ISO 14001 standard as well as through innovative means of recycling or reducing of laboratory consumables and reagents. Furthermore, specifically-developed new testing methodology was shown to also underpin wider sustainability initiatives by the dairy sector such as improving waste water management practices, and animal feeding practices.

Dr Jaap Evers, Chair of the IDF Methods Standards Steering Group, commented on the significant progress being made in many areas of work:

“The joint IDF/ISO programme of work clearly creates value to all stakeholders in the dairy chain as well as the consumer by developing internationally harmonised and globally accepted testing methods that contribute to the production of nutritious and safe dairy products in a sustainable manner. On the basis of the many advances in analytical technology, I anticipate that developments in analytical testing will create further win-win outcomes in the near future.”

IDF President Richard Doyle congratulated FIL France and the organising committee for planning the 2011 IDF/ISO Analytical Week. He commented: “The IDF/ISO partnership in developing joint testing methods is going from strength to strength. Participating experts accumulated new information and ideas from this event, which they benefit from in their jobs. IDF is certainly committed, as is ISO, to furthering its activities in the field and be at the forefront of the development of analytical methods that are of global relevance, e.g. through adoption by the Codex Alimentarius”.

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GLOBAL – New Guidelines On Integrity Of Suppliers’ Milk – May 27, 2011

GLOBAL – Recent food crises have highlighted the sharp need for the prevention of possible adulteration of suppliers’ milk through the implementation of integrated chain management principles.

As part of the dairy sector’s commitment to food safety, the International Dairy Federation (IDF) has just released a new publication on “Integrated Supply Chain Management”.

This new IDF Bulletin provides principles on Integrated Chain Management, guidelines on the integrity of suppliers’ milk and examples of approaches and means.

These tools, procedures and methods can be used separately or combined to counteract systematic and/or large scale adulteration of suppliers´ milk. Widespread use of this guide will further reinforce consumer confidence in the milk industry’s ability to guarantee safe and nutritious products.

Commenting on the IDF guide, Richard Doyle, IDF President said: “I am very pleased with the leadership role IDF is playing in addressing the need to put in place more robust procedures and systems. These guidelines provide a practical approach from dairy experts throughout the dairy chain.”

The development process of the guide follows a rigorous and science-based approach. Claus Heggum, leader of the Task Force in charge of the publication said: “After the melamine crisis in 2008, IDF launched two initiatives in parallel.

“The first one directly addressed the immediate concern regarding the development of an International Standard for the Determination of melamine and cyanuric acid in milk, milk products and infant formula (ISO/TS 15495|IDF/RM 230:2010).

“The second one aimed at anticipating other actions that could compromise the integrity of milk in the supply chain in the future, with the development of these guidelines.

“A specific Task Force was quickly set up, gathering experts from the whole dairy chain. “These guidelines, which fit into IDF principles for integrated chain management for food safety, are partly illustrated by a paper on Fourier Transform Infrared technology for routine milk screening, identified as one of the measure to prevent possible adulteration of milk.”

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