AgDay Daily Recap - April 6, 2012

April 10, 2012 09:05 AM

APRIL 6, 2012

Good morning I’m Clinton Griffiths. A USDA plan to modernize poultry inspections is under fire. If implemented more than 800 inspector positions and 90 million dollars would be cut. The USDA has been testing its new inspection system since 1998 as a pilot program. It allows for fewer federal inspectors while letting plant employees watch for problems while they work. Those against the plan say it hurts food safety. The plan also kicks processing up from 140 birds per minute to 200 birds. The remaining federal inspectors would spend more time at the end of the line inspecting the final product and evaluating a plant's bacteria testing or other safety programs. While it's the first update to the system in decades Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is trying to convince legislators of the program. Food borne illnesses are what have some nay-sayers nervous about the new inspection rules. According to the CDC 1.2 million cases of food poisoning are caused by salmonella every year. Consumer and accountability groups worry line speeds are too fast and employees may not remove diseased birds for fear of reprimand.

The National Turkey Federation and national chicken council support the changes. Leaders with the NCC says quote, "We are committed to working with the USDA to ensure a science-based food inspection system works in a manner that vastly improves food safety by using modern methods in the inspection system."

The USDA is also dealing with another hot food topic. Lean finely textured beef has been under fire recently. Now the department plans to allow companies to label meat containing the trimmings. Allowing labeling lets companies continue to provide the beef in an informed consumer. USDA is working on finalizing the wording on the labels. Once finalized labels will read something like, contains lean finely textured beef, or contains lean beef derived from beef trimmings. BPI which makes the product is pleased. It says labels pave the way for lean beef to reestablish itself in the market.

U.S. beef exports pulled back last week after posting a record the week before. Net beef export sales came in a 9,600 million metric tonnes. Shipments also fell nearly 30%, but totals are still above this year's average.

That warm winter has grain storage experts warning about moldy grain. According to Ag engineers at Purdue reports are coming in about higher than normal percentages of moldy discolored kernels. The culprit may be a lazy old man winter. Experts say temperatures didn't get cold enough long enough to protect the grain from fungal infections. Purdue's Richard Stroshine says farmers need to start checking. Grain buyers often pay less or reject mold contaminated grain. Stroshine says indicators include heat, crusting or musty odors.

Working in and around grain bins is fairly common for most farmers. But accidents can and do happen. To help first responders and farmers understand some of the dangers, Indiana's Farm Bureau recently sponsored a safety training session. Mike Anthony with Indiana Farm Bureau reports.

In Agribusiness oil prices stabilized Thursday after falling earlier in the week. Prices fell about 2% earlier in the week after U.S. government data showing crude stockpiles hit a 9 month high. The surge in stockpiles is helping offset concerns about supply disruptions from tensions in the Middle East. The current national average for a gallon of regular is 3.93.

Brian Grete

In a tough economy it's been hard on many Americans to find a job. And military veterans aren't immune to the challenge. One option many may not have considered until now is a career in farming. Norm Hyde with the Virginia Farm Bureau reports there's a movement to recruit more veterans back their roots in agriculture. Thanks Norm. Finding the next generation of farmers and ranchers is a hot button issue at the USDA right now. With average ages near 60 the department is compiling new census data now and hopes to have an update soon. Food and Your Family is next.

On this Good Friday morning, we're sharing with you the good deeds of America’s egg farmers. Egg producers and the Easter bunny are donating nearly 10 million fresh eggs to food banks this Easter season. This is the fifth consecutive year producers have done this in conjunction with the United Egg Producers Association. The rooster bullets will go to feeding America’s 78 food banks in 40 states across the nation. UEP says record numbers of American's are still relying on food assistance---one in 8 will get this year. Protein like that found in eggs is vitally important to keep American's healthy regardless their financial situation.

And we finish with new curious invention for cleaning up beverages. A researcher has figured out a way to remove hazardous substances from drinks including radioactive material. The scientist at Oklahoma State University started working on the project after Japan’s nuclear disaster in 2011. He figured out a way to put nano particles in capsules that absorb everything from heavy metals, to arsenic, to radioactive elements. This technology should let consumers easily purify their own drinks. The researcher says the product is cost effective and he hopes to get it in stores in the next six months.

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