JAPAN – Japan Declared Free of Avian Influenza – June 28, 2011

JAPAN – Japan declares itself free from notifiable avian influenza with effect from 25 June 2011.

This date results from the three-month period specified in Article 10.4.3 of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code after the last outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, which occurred on 16 March 2011.

Following this outbreak, a stamping-out policy, including the destruction of all susceptible animals and the disinfection of the affected farm, was completed on 24 March 2011.

However, the cause of the outbreak has still not been determined.

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PHILIPPINES – New Order Raises Concerns over Meat Imports – June 30, 2011

PHILIPPINES – Concerns have been raised ove an Administrative Order issued by the Philippine Department of Agriculture that imposes new technical requirements on retail sales of frozen meat.

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Exporters are concerned that it could seriously affect exports of US and third country meat and poultry products.

The regulation does not apply to meat never refrigerated, or to meat sold in restaurants or for processing.

According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Servvice, industry sources estimate that the regulation could affect 25 to 30 per cent of meat and poultry imports.

To date, however, enforcement has focused on open or ‘wet’ market vendors of lower value organ meat and by-products.

Traders assert that the order – A.O. 22 – unfairly targets imports, since it applies only to frozen meat and not to fresh.

The industry also has criticised the short 15 days between announcement and implementation of the order and the lack of infrastructure to comply with it.

Governments of major supplying countries have expressed concerns over the order and have encouraged the Philippine Government to suspend and notify this new regulation to the World Trade Organization for comment.

The USDA FAS said that while industry sources say the order is a response to calls from producer groups for trade restrictions in the wake of record pork and chicken imports in 2010, the price impact from these imports is unclear.

Though chicken prices for both producers and consumers declined in 2010, hog and pork prices were at record levels.

US meat and poultry exports to the Philippines exceeded $100 million in 2010, up 40 and 50 per cent, respectively, over 2009 levels.

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PHILIPPINES – DA Shelves SRP, Import Orders for Chicken – June 29, 2011

PHILIPPINES – The Department of Agriculture has shelved a proposal to set suggested retail prices (SRP) for dressed chicken. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala also said the DA will not issue, at least until 31 December, any import order for chicken because the country has ample supply.

“Chicken prices have steadily been going down. We figured it will be useless to set an SRP,” Mr Alcala said in a news briefing yesterday right after he consulted with poultry stakeholders.

According to the latest daily monitoring of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, dressed chicken sells within the P115 to P150 per kilogram range.

The Union of Broilers and Raisers Association made the SRP proposal in March last year in a bid to address the price gap between farm gates and retail outlets. Dressed chicken back then was at around P130 per kilo.

GMA News reports that this month, the country’s inventory of frozen chicken is at 7,642 MT of which 4,846 MT is imported.

“We have enough chicken (supply) until yearend. There is no need to import beyond MAV (minimum access volume),” Mr Alcala also disclosed.

MAV is the minimum volume for specific agriculture products that members of the World Trade Organization have agreed to import at lower-than-regular tariff rates.

This year, the MAV volume is about 23,490 metric tons (MT), and as of 21 June, about 52 per cent or 12,000 MT has been imported.

DA figures showed that chicken imports zoomed by 565 percent to 87.88 million kilos in 2010 from only 13.24 million kilos a year earlier.

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PHILIPPINES – DA Sets Emergency Meet with Chicken Producers – June 28, 2011

PHILIPPINES – Concerned over high prices of chicken, the Department of Agriculture will hold an emergency meeting with chicken producers today (Tuesday) afternoon to discuss the matter.

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said he wants to find out why chicken prices are high even if the normal “barometers” indicate chicken prices should be normal.

“We understood a slight increase in chicken prices due to increased demand caused by a recent fish kill. But now, demand for fish is going back to normal and so is demand for chicken. So prices of chicken should have gone back to normal,” Mr Alcala said in an interview on dwIZ radio.

But he cited reports reaching him indicating some vendors sell chicken at P135 to P140 per kilo instead of the normal P130 per kilo.

“The reason for a price hike should have been low supply or high prices of feeds, or high demand. But our three barometers show prices should be normal. The only conclusion we can reach is that some people are trying to exploit the situation. And the DA’s obligation is to protect consumers,” Mr Alacala said.

According to GMA News, he said he has scheduled the emergency meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

He said he expects producers and vendors to explain the high prices of chicken.

If no satisfactory explanation can be given, he said he will be forced to allow the importation of chicken to bring down prices.

“I may be forced to allow the importation of chicken to boost supply and lessen the price of chicken in the market. I don’t want to do this but I may have to, just to counter the overpricing,” he said.

Mr Alcala also rejected the possibility that the damage caused by Tropical Storm Falcon (Meari) could have prompted an increase in chicken prices.

He said that of the P692 million damage to agriculture in 13 provinces, livestock suffered “only” P1 million.

Mr Alcala said today’s meeting will also take up ways to ensure supply of meat for the holidays, at least up to January 2012.

He said he will call another meeting next week, this time with pork producers.

“Filipino growers can meet supply demands for chickens in 35 days, but hog growers need four to six months,” Mr Alacala said.

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MALAYSIA – Malaysia Looking to Produce Poultry Vaccines – June 28, 2011

MALAYSIA – Malaysia is exploring opportunities to produce vaccines for the Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza poultry diseases which cause huge losses to the national livestock industry, said Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said Malaysia wants to collaborate with any research institution which could come up with the vaccines as there was a dire need for them.

Mr Muhyiddin, who was given a briefing on seven types of research related to biotechnology, agriculture and veterinary services during a visit to the University of Maryland here Monday, said Malaysia was keen to establish collaboration with institutions which had undertaken research on the Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza poultry vaccines.

“There is a dire need (to produce the vaccines). We have yet to overcome this problem. Perhaps, with this collaboration (with the University of Maryland), we can benefit. They have started projects in which we share an interest,” he told Malaysian journalists after the visit.

The University of Maryland, which Mr Muhyiddin visited as part of his four-day visit to Washington beginning Sunday, is recognised as a leading public research university in the United States.

Eighteen Malaysian students are pursuing their Masters degrees at the university, Bernama.com reports.

Mr Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, proposed a framework of collaboration or memorandum between Malaysia and the university to enable relevant agencies in Malaysia to establish collaboration in research, such as the production of animal vaccines.

He said the University of Maryland had forged collaboration with many countries, which had benefited from its research projects, such as the production of animal vaccines in Indonesia, Mexico and African countries.

“It is necessary to have a memorandum for us to identify areas of collaboration so that it can yield much benefit for Malaysia,” he said.

He said he was informed that the University of Maryland had begun collaboration with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) on vaccines, and he wanted it to progress to a more concrete stage.

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INDIA – Govt Seeks to Control Egg Quality – June 27, 2011

NAGALAND, INDIA – The state government wants to put in place a quality regime for trade in eggs and other poultry products.

Even as the Animal Welfare Board of India has recently directed all poultry farms in the country to discontinue immediately forced moulting by starvation, stating that the practice is in violation of the country’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and is a punishable offence, the Nagaland government wants to put in place a quality regime when it comes to trade in eggs and other poultry products.

Morung Express reports that Nagaland currently gets its egg supply mostly from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa. What is worrying is the fact that the state has no committee or board to check and monitor the quality of the eggs coming into the market.

Speaking to the nwspaper, Dr Temsu Jamir, Additional Director from the Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Department, said that since 2005, the Department took responsibility for monitoring egg quality, for which a certain nominal fee was taken from the egg traders. However, this led to disagreement between the Department and the traders, the latter stating that since an ‘egg’ is not a meat, the department should not levy any fee/taxes on them.

The court gave no ruling for six years but on 14 June this year, the Department received the final order which favoured the petitioner. The Veterinary department is now on the stance that the ‘token’ is not the issue but the ‘quality’ is. Unless a Government body is given the full rights to monitor, traders obviously cannot be relied upon for ‘quality’ control.

Morung Express reports that eggs can carry numerous diseases. Salmonella is probably the most common disease one can get from eating eggs. Chicken eggs become infected before the shell is created during incubation. The bacteria can actually be passed on from hen to egg or it can be caused by improper handling. This disease is called by its bacteria called Salmonella enteritis, which can be found inside raw eggs. Disease is spread by eating eggs that have these bacteria. Symptoms begin two days after eating and include diarrhoea, vomiting and fever.

Starvation force moulting, widely practised on egg production facilities throughout India, deprives laying hens of feed in order to manipulate their laying cycles. Feed is often withheld for up to 14 days and may be combined with one or two days of water deprivation.

Following the recent ban by the Animal Welfare Board of India on moulting regimes on poultry farms, the Morung Express spoke to the Veterinary Department Poultry Farm manager, Dr B. Lama.

He said that the question of this moult regime or cruelty to animals does not arise as there are no established large-scale laying farms in Nagaland. As of now, Nagaland only has breeding and hatching farms, which do not practice any form of cruelty to animals.

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NEW ZEALAND – No Antimicrobial Resistance Fears in NZ – June 23, 2011

NEW ZEALAND – A new Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) survey has shown no human health implications from antimicrobial resistance in the country’s food-producing animals and fresh produce. Antibiotic sales have also risen in the latest data (for 2008/09).

Antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria – which do not respond to antibiotics – are increasingly associated with human illness and death. While the large majority of cases are due to antimicrobial use in human medicine, there is also a potential for transmission via the food chain.

The year-long baseline survey carried out in 2009-2010 focused on antimicrobial resistance to important and commonly used antibiotics among E. coli, Enterococcus, Campylobacter and Salmonella bacteria found in freshly dressed carcasses of calves, pigs and broiler poultry from New Zealand abattoirs and processing plants. It also included samples of Salmonella and E. coli isolated during a survey of fresh produce in 2008-2009.

MAF public health principal adviser, Donald Campbell, says the survey indicates that our farming community is using antibiotics responsibly in compliance with veterinarian advice, and the little resistance found has no direct implications for human health.

He said: “Although the survey detected some resistance to certain antimicrobials from particular bacteria found in the targeted foods, it is pleasing to see that the resistance has no direct implications for human health.”

Dr Campbell says that comparing results from this survey with the limited data available from earlier New Zealand studies on bacteria isolated from animals suggests there has been no increase in resistance in food-producing animals in New Zealand.

Compared with 2009 data from the Danish DANMAP surveillance system, which uses a similar methodology to that used in this survey, resistance among bacteria from New Zealand pigs and poultry was either lower or not significantly different.

Dr Campbell added: “Denmark is seen as a world leader in controlling antimicrobial resistance so that’s a good benchmark to measure ourselves against.”

MAF’s baseline survey was carried out to determine the current status and whether there is a need in New Zealand to implement an ongoing surveillance programme for antibiotic resistance in food-producing animals.

As part of the management of antibiotic resistance, registrants of restricted veterinary medicines containing antibiotics must provide an annual report of sales by month to MAF. Along with the antimicrobial resistance survey, MAF has released an overview of antibiotic sales and use from 2004-2009. This report shows that total antibiotic sales decreased from a peak of 62,883kg in 2005/6 to 53,031kg in 2007/8. Sales increased by five per cent between 2007/8 and 2008/9.

A report containing a review and update on New Zealand’s regulatory control of antimicrobial agricultural compounds with regard to antimicrobial resistance has also been released this week.

To see the full reports, click on the links below:

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CHINA – China to Import More US Soybeans – June 23, 2011

CHINA – Soybean imports are expected to rise by five per cent this year, increasing the attraction of the country to US soybean farmers.

The statement was made by Alan Kemper, president of the American Soybean Association, report official sources in China.

The increase in the soybean trade may help promote China-US relationships, indicating a way to balance bilateral trade, Chinese experts said.

Mr Kemper said: “China is the most important market for US soybeans, and the soybean trade will play a large role in improving the balance of China-US trade.”

China is the largest importer of US soybeans. It imported a quarter of the country’s domestic production last year, according to the association.

Zhang Monan, a researcher at the Economic Forecast Department of the State Information Center, said soybean trade between the two countries will help maintain a stable development in bilateral relations.

The US has heavily subsidised its agricultural sector so it is important for the country to ensure profit margins in the global food market, Mr Zhang said.

Given constraints over land and water resources, it is difficult for China to meet growing demand for agricultural products such as soybeans domestically. It can buy agricultural products with its bulky foreign reserves, she added.

If imports are to increase, it is not because of a decline in domestic production but because of growing demand, said Liu Denggao, vice-president of the China Soybean Industry Association.

Mr Liu said: “The size of the area where China’s soybeans are grown remains largely unchanged from last year.”

Even with the fresh demand in China’s market, the competition is growing fiercer in the international market, as imports from South American countries such as Brazil and Argentina have also increased in recent years.

To consolidate its position, the US soybean industry will invest more than $2 million this year in China’s market, Mr Kemper said.

The investment will finance programmes teaching Chinese farmers efficient ways of using soybeans to improve the production of swine, poultry, dairy and other agricultural sectors, according to the association.

Marc Curtis, chairman of the United Soybean Board, said: “These programmes have been carried out for the last 30 years since we arrived in China. We will continue our efforts to serve China’s market.”

China imported a historic 54.8 million tons of soybeans in 2010, compared with 15.2 million tons of domestic production, General Administration of Customs data showed. The country’s self-sufficiency rate currently stands at 22 per cent.

The imported soybeans are all genetically modified and mainly used as animal feed or for oil crushing.

Imports of soybeans to China declined by one per cent year-on-year to 4.56 million tons in May. China’s soybean imports during the first five months of this year remain largely the same compared with the same period last year.

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CHINA – Mitsubishi Invests in Meat and Livestock in China – June 23, 2011

CHINA – Mitsubishi Corporation (MC), Itoham Foods Inc. (Itoham) and Yonekyu Corporation (Yonekyu) are to invest livestock and poultry breeding, slaughtering, processing and meat products trading and importing business of COFCO in China.

The three companies will acquire 33 per cent of the shares issued by COFCO’s subsidiary, which is a holding company of COFCO’s meat business through MIY Corporation (MIY), an investment vehicle jointly established by them, by July.

COFCO, Mitsubishi, Itoham and Yonekyu will expand meat products and processed foods business in China by spending a total of 10 billion Chinese yuan (CNY; approximately ¥125 billion) by 2017.

With regard to meat products business, there are plans to open seven new plants, giving a combined total of 12 plants, which will increase slaughter capacity from 50 million to 300 million birds for poultry and from 0.5 to 5 million pigs a year.

As for processed foods (including processed pork and poultry products), the number of plants will be increased from four to 11, which in turn will lead to an increase in production capacity from 20,000 tons to 210,000 tons.

When combined with meats, such as beef, pork and chicken, imported from overseas, annual sales will increase to CNY18.1 billion (approximately ¥226.3 billion) from CNY2.3 billion (approximately ¥28.8 billion).

MIY will subscribe for the capital increase needed for business expansion of the Holding Company in proportion to its shareholdings to maintain its 33 per cent shareholding ratio and then MIY’s total investment is expected to be approximately CNY3.3 billion (approximately ¥41.3 billion) by 2017.

Mitsubishi said that consumption of meat products and processed foods in China has increased following China’s economic expansion and is expected to continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

Despite the fact that the Chinese livestock and meat market is one of the biggest in the world, that industry is currently operated by small and medium-sized players.

With growing demand for stable supplies of high quality and safe products, COFCO’s mission, as a corporation owned by State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), is to establish a system to ensure supply of more high quality meat products and processed foods.

Under a Business Alliance Agreement formulated in 2009, Mitsubishi, Itoham and Yonekyu have been investigating opportunities to jointly strengthen their respective businesses. In particular, there have been many discussions focusing on the participation of COFCO’s meat business in China.

Mitsubishi, Itoham, Yonekyu and COFCO have agreed to work together to achieve each company’s objective and to establish a stable supply of high quality and safe meat products and processed foods in China.

In order to achieve this, Mitsubishi, Itoham, and Yonekyu will look to combine the skills and know-how that they have developed in these industries with COFCO’s strong business foundations in China.

They say that this project will effectively promote each company’s growth strategy while also contributing to the development of China’s meat industry and the stable supply of food products.

In July 2010, Mitsubishi released its Midterm Corporate Strategy 2012, in which it designates China as one of its strategic regions for investment.

Mitsubishi and COFCO have enjoyed a strategic alliance since 2004 and will look to strengthen their ties through the forthcoming project.

Mitsubishi will also be looking for opportunities both to expand its business in the rapidly growing Chinese market and to develop new businesses in food-related and other fields.

“To be one of the most reliable meat processors in Asia’ is the key vision on Itoham’s midterm corporate strategy, CNV2015, which was announced in January 2011. One of Itoham’s growth strategies is to expand sales in growing Asian markets. The forthcoming project in China is an example of this strategy being put into action,” a spokesman said.

One of the key growth strategies of Yonekyu’s fifth mid-term corporate strategy, which was announced in April 2011, is re-entering the overseas market. Following this project, Yonekyu will seek opportunities to expand business in other regions.

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INDIA – End to Starvation Force Molting of Laying Hens – June 21, 2011

INDIA – The Director of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry for the Government of Nagaland in India has directed all egg producers in the state to stop starving laying hens to force them into a molt.

This development follows the March 2011 order of the Animal Welfare Board of India, which directed all poultry farms in the country to immediately discontinue starvation force molt regimes, stating that the practice is in violation of India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and is a punishable offence.

“Humane Society International is grateful to the government of Nagaland,” said N.G. Jayasimha, manager of HSI’s factory farming campaign in India.

“Farmers who continue to starve birds to induce molt should be prosecuted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.”

Starvation force molting, widely practiced on egg production facilities throughout India, deprives egg-laying hens of food in order to manipulate their laying cycles.

Food is often withheld for up to 14 days and may be combined with one or two days of water deprivation. During a force molt, hens suffer greatly and may lose up to 35 per cent of their body weight.

This practice of food withdrawal has been widely questioned throughout the world and is already prohibited in Australia and the European Union, and prohibited in the United States by the egg industry’s animal husbandry programme.

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