News and Notes

USDA ready to issue voluntary grassfed standards

27 August, 2007
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service will issue voluntary standards for grassfed livestock in the next few weeks, AMS Assistant Deputy Administrator Bill Sessions told "We're talking within a month or so," he said of the standard that would verify that livestock has been 99 percent fed on a grass and forage diet. Once AMS issues its voluntary standard, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) would recognize producers who meet the standard and grant them the right to use the grassfed label claim on meat from those animals. Currently, FSIS approves such labeling on a case-by-case basis. Sessions said meeting the grassfed standard would include putting a system in place that substantiates how the animals were fed and being subject to periodic USDA audits. USDA first proposed the grassfed standards in May 2006, reflecting consumers' increasing demand for a variety of information about how animals are raised and fed. SOURCE:

Canada: Bans likely for sockeye season in southern British Columbia

17 August, 2007
Sockeye salmon runs to the Fraser River are in shocking decline this summer and are threatening the season for many native communities. "It's looking bad," Grand Chief Doug Kelly of the Sto:lo Tribal Council said Wednesday, CBC reports. "I think there are going to be a lot of unhappy first nations when the Department of Fisheries closes down the fisheries." SOURCE:

UK: Major Fish Finger Producer to give up Cod for Pollock

14 August, 2007
Long-time United Kingdom fish finger producer, Birds Eye, has announced it will substitute pollock for cod in its products, a staple in British children's meals. Beginning in September, the company, which accounts for 80% of Britain's fish finger products, will switch to the Alaskan white fish out of concern for dwindling stocks of Atlantic Cod, The Financial Times reports. Pollock is similar to cod in texture yet more plentiful in stock. SOURCE:

Rendering plant wasterwater spill kills 10,000 fish

14 August, 2007
Wastewater that spilled from MoPac rendering plant in Franconia Township, PA, killed 10,000 fish in a mile-long stretch of Skippack Creek, the Morning Call reported. A failed motor pump station that handles plant wastewater prompted the spill, according to MoPac spokesman. A spokeswoman from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said most of the fish killed were minnows, and other fish were returning to the affected part of the creek. However, she added that the company would likely face a fine. SOURCE:

US: Alaska governor urges tough federal scrutiny into Japanese seafood firms merger

13 July, 2007
Alaska governor Sarah Palin has requested increased federal scrutiny over a pending merger of two giant Japanese seafood companies with major operations in Alaska. She deems the merger may lead to further consolidation of Alaska processing plants, and lower fish prices for local catches harvested by local fishers. Palin wrote a letter to the top officials with the US Justice Department. SOURCE:

JBS completes Swift acquisition

12 July, 2007
JBS S.A., Latin America's largest beef processor, on Thursday announced it had completed its acquisition of Greeley, Colorado-based Swift & Co. The all-cash transaction, announced at the end of May was valued at approximately $1.5 billion. As a result of the deal, the consolidated JBS Swift Group will be the largest beef processor in the world. Wesley Mendonca Batista, who was recently executive director of operations at JBS S.A., will lead JBS Swift Group. Swift CEO Sam Rovit announced he would step down effective the sale's completion. In the second half of 2006, Swift received several unsolicited inquires regarding a sale, leading the company to retain JPMorgan Chase & Co. in January to review options for the nation's third-largest beef and pork processor. Earlier this week, federal agents arrested nearly 20 people at Swift plants nationwide in a follow-up to December raids at six Swift plants in which some 1,300 workers were charged with immigration-related offenses. SOURCE:

US: Chile leads in fresh Atlantic salmon fillet imports

9 July, 2007
Between January and April this year, the US imported a total of 26,630.4 tons of fresh Atlantic salmon fillets from Chile, worth USD 215.89 million, according to data by the Division of Fishery and Economic Statistics of the National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS). Chilean Atlantic salmon fillets rose 28% regarding the same period 2006. SOURCE:

US: Clammers anticipate fishery ban due to red tide

21 June, 2007
A bout of red tide has halted the blue mussel season from Maine to Gloucester and is widely expected to do the same for the clam fisheries this week, to the chagrin of local fishers. Normally at this time of year, the mudflats in the Great Marsh-stretching from Ipswich to Newburyport-are heavily dug for the soft-shelled popular clams, emphasised Jack Grundstrom, Rowley's shellfish constable. "This is really bad news," said Grundstrom. SOURCE:

Researcher criticizes 'consumerism' of North American organic industry

15 June, 2007
Organic food is straying from many of its core principles as big business takes it over, according to a researcher from Toronto's York University.

Most major organic brands in North America now are owned by large corporations such as Kraft and ConAgra, says Irena Knezevic, who will present a paper on the subject to the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan on Friday. She contends that organic products are becoming "a marketing tool more so than an assurance of quality, let alone assurance of a fair and sustainable production process."

Knezevic says consumer demand is driving the trend, leading to increased mass production of organic products that results in only a slightly "greener" version of the conventional food system. "Organic foods have less and less to do with the ethics of environmentalism, anti-globalization and social justice," she writes in her paper, "but more and more with hip consumerism, cultural and economic capital and the moral pedestals of those who have the luxury to make such purchasing choices. The core problems of the global food system remain unaddressed." SOURCE:

US: Bottom trawling banned in Bering Sea

12 June, 2007
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) on Sunday voted to ban bottom trawling in 180,000 square miles of the northern Bering Sea. The agency delivered its unanimous decision at a meeting in Sitka, AK after weighing public commentary on some 330,000 square miles of the entire Bering Sea. The decision is set to go through the regulatory process with the National Marine Fisheries Service. SOURCE:

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