Chicken Industry Welcomes USTR Challenge to China Action

September 20, 2011

Statement on USTR Announcement by USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and National Chicken Council on China Anti-dumping Case on Chicken
Sept. 20, 2011

This morning United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced that his office was initiating dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization (WTO) challenging the Peoples Republic of China’s imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports of U.S. chicken (www.ustr.gov).

The U.S. industry greatly appreciates the determination that Ambassador Kirk and his staff have shown to address this significant trade problem. The action being brought is a trade remedy case that challenges the method by which China determined that the product was allegedly sold as less than normal value.

The China case used “average cost of production” to determine normal value rather than using domestic U.S. market prices for comparable sales as is customary in anti-dumping actions. The use of “average cost of production” reflects neither market realities nor the way in which companies in the industry commonly keep their accounts.

The U.S. industry agrees that the Chinese methodology was seriously flawed and that the anti-dumping proceeding did not comply with international rules. The Chinese authorities also found that U.S. poultry exports benefit from farm subsidies, such as support prices for corn and soybeans. The reality is that U.S. poultry receives no government subsidies and does not benefit from any of the government crop programs.

The U.S. industry considers it unfortunate that this dispute has to be addressed through the formal WTO process, but believes that it is necessary that this incorrect methodology be challenged and that U.S. trading rights guaranteed by WTO agreements be protected. This action is essential to demonstrate to the international community that anti-dumping measures based on average cost of production is a form of unfair protectionism that is inconsistent with multilateral trade rules. The U.S. industry also believes that this case will have direct implications for dumping cases that have previously been brought by other WTO Member countries that are also incorrectly based on an average cost of production methodology.

The U.S. industry has been cooperating with the Chinese industry and the Chinese government on other initiatives to improve conditions of two-way poultry trade that are unrelated to the issues being addressed in the case initiated today. The industry’s commitment to those initiatives will continue and not be affected by the initiation of the WTO case. The U.S. industry will continue to work in the future with its Chinese industry counterparts and the Chinese government to resolve any trade irritants that may occur in an amicable fashion, and is hopeful that future problems can be addressed without resort to formal dispute settlement.

The U.S. industry is hopeful that the case will proceed on an expeditious schedule, and that there will be a timely and satisfactory resolution that enforces U.S. rights under the WTO.

For further information contact: Jim Sumner or Toby Moore at the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (jsumner@usapeec.org or tmoore@usapeec.org) 770 413-0006 or Richard Lobb at the National Chicken Council (rlobb@chickenusa.org) 202 296-2622.

Chicken Farmers and Companies Hit Hard by Corn Prices, Council Tells Congress

September 14, 2011

WASHINGTON – September 14, 2011 — Family farmers and chicken companies alike have been hit hard by the skyrocketing price and short supply of corn, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council told Congress today.

“USDA’s report earlier this week confirmed that it will be much more difficult this crop year to secure an adequate supply of feed ingredients that can be procured at a cost that is both manageable and predictable,” Harrison Poultry chief executive Michael Welch told the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture here Wednesday. “The more than 40 vertically integrated chicken companies that comprise the broiler industry have financially struggled for the past four calendar quarters. Broiler companies have increasingly been squeezed throughout the past corn crop year between rising feed costs and declining prices for chicken products. A number of companies have succumbed to the severe cost/price squeeze by ceasing operations or having to sell their assets at fire-sale values.”

Welch said much of the squeeze results from the enormous, government-mandated demand from the ethanol industry, which will take around 40 percent of this year’s corn harvest to supply the 12.6 billion gallons of ethanol required by federal law to be blended into motor gasoline this year.

The situation is particularly hard on the family farmers who raise chickens under contract with the poultry companies, said Welch, a long-time industry executive and former chairman of NCC.

“I have outlined several critical problems, but none is more paramount than the very unfortunate situation being forced on the family farms who have lost, or are now losing, their contracts to grow broilers,” Welch said. “Disrupting or ceasing the financial flow generated by the contract payments results in not just the broiler operations being jeopardized, but in many cases results in the entire family farm being put in jeopardy.”

“I suggest that if you ask these family farmers if current ethanol policy is good policy you would not be able to find a supporter of the program,” he added.

Welch said the federal government should “stop picking winners and losers” by directing so much corn into ethanol production through its three-pronged program of mandated usage, a tax credit for blending ethanol, and a protective tariff on foreign ethanol.

“Mandating the use of ethanol, subsidizing its cost, and protecting ethanol from competition is triple overkill,” he said. “Greater energy independence is a worthy goal for the United States, but the negative and unintended consequences of moving too far too fast with corn-based ethanol have become overly clear.”

The price of corn began its relentless rise in the fall of 2006, and since then, the broiler chicken industry alone has had to spend an extra $22.5 billion in higher feed costs, Welch said, putting companies under severe financial stress, pushing some out of business, and causing most others to reduce production.

Welch said Congress should change “the rules of the game” to permit animal agriculture producers to compete more fairly for the limited supplies of corn expected over the next few years.

“Included in this effort must be a ‘safety valve’ to adjust the Renewable Fuels Standard (the ethanol mandate) when there is a shortfall in corn supplies,” Welch said. “In addition, a plan should be implemented to allow a reasonable number of good, productive cropland acres to opt out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on a penalty-free basis.”

The CRP pays farmers to take cropland out of production, which Welch said is a vestige of the traditional federal “policy of abundance” in agriculture. According to a report from the Farm Foundation, the existing policy is “designed to reduce supply, restrict land use and increase demand to help increase and stabilize farm incomes.”

“That policy was developed because the United States has generally been blessed with the ability to produce more than could be consumed at profitable prices for producers,” the Farm Foundation report said. “A shift to a ‘policy of shortage’ would emphasize programs that stimulate supply and do not subsidize demand with taxpayer funds or political mandates.”

“I ask this Committee to support this well-reasoned conclusion of the report,” Welch said.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens and chicken products. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

“Contagion” Movie is More Fiction Than Science

September 7, 2011

A review by Richard L. Lobb
National Chicken Council

The new movie “Contagion” had its Washington preview screening Tuesday night (Sept. 6). The good news is that the disease is NOT bird flu and is not spread by birds. It seems to be some sort of influenza/encephalitis that combines a pig virus with a bat virus. It is dubbed MEV-1 and and is said to have been created when “the wrong pig met up with the wrong bat.”

At the very end, it turns out Gwyneth Paltrow got it from the chef who got blood and saliva on his hands from a pig that got it from the bats when the bats were disturbed by the bulldozers at the factory groundbreaking that Gwyneth Paltrow was in China to attend. Capitalism causes all kinds of problems, you see.

Poor Gwyneth dies ten minutes into the film but keeps popping up in flashbacks as dedicated scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization race to uncover the mystery of the virus and to develop a vaccine. Kate Winslet plays a CDC investigator who falls victim to the virus but selflessly tries to develop a contact list (“I need the names of everyone who serviced this room in the last 24 hours!”) between hacking coughs. Alas, she, too, succumbs to the raging epidemic. French actress Marion Cotillard, as the WHO’s Dr. Leonora Orantes, is kidnapped and held hostage by Chinese men intent on getting enough vaccine to save their village. Jennifer Ehle, as the CDC’s Dr. Ally Hextall, finally discovers the vaccine and tests it on herself. Fortunately, it works.

In the meantime, 25 million people around the world die in a matter of months. (Or was it weeks? Hard to tell.) Government agencies other than CDC behave with a combination of timidity, stupidity, and finally armed force as looting breaks out and riots erupt. Jude Law plays an unscrupulous journalist/blooger/activist who fakes symptoms of the disease in order to hype (and profit from) a useless homeopathic remedy.

The film is supposed to be a thriller, but I found myself looking at my watch in between trying to take notes in the dark. If you’re seen the trailer, you’ve seen most of the action parts. Much of the rest consists of meetings of U.S. and international experts and officials and earnest chalk talks on epidemiology. (It reminds me of “The Social Network,” which consisted of pre-trial depositions interrupted by wild parties.)

The film’s depiction of the epidemic agrees with the truth in one respect: it shows that direct contact with the blood of an infected animal can be dangerous. The chef in Hong Kong handles a slaughtered pig and quickly wipes his hands on his blood-smeared apron when he’s asked to go out and shake hands with the American lady who liked the pork ribs. Thus Gwyneth Paltrow becomes the American index case. (There are others in Japan, England, and other countries.)

But the movie goes off the deep end by depicting the disease being spread through the most casual sort of indirect contact. The waiter who picks up Gwyneth’s cocktail glass, and the Ukrainian lady who touches her cell phone, both quickly succumb to the virus. The disease does not so much spread as explode around the world in a few weeks. In truth, nothing spread this easily; if it did, the human race would have died out long ago.

There’s nothing in the film about chicken or poultry except for a fleeting shot of a market in Hong Kong where workers are busily chopping animal parts that could be chicken or could be pork, or something else for all I could tell. But the virus is fairly soon identified as originating in swine, although it is specifically stated that it is not H1N1. No live birds are depicted as playing a role in causing or spreading the epidemic. This is not a movie about bird flu. When a man from Homeland Security asks if the virus could be “weaponized,” Lawrence Fishburne, a top official with CDC, says, “The birds are weaponizing it for us,” but birds are not in fact depicted as carriers of the virus. Those winged things in the ads are bats, not birds. Bats are not birds at all but flying mammals. The species barrier is intact.

The most important thing to remember, however, is simply that the film is a work of fiction and should be appreciated as such. It’s just a movie.

Dr. Ashley Peterson Joins NCC as Vice President of Science and Technology; Mary Colville Named VP Government Affairs

August 1, 2011

Dr. Ashley Peterson

Dr. Ashley Peterson


WASHINGTON – August 1, 2011 — Dr. Ashley Peterson has joined the National Chicken Council staff as Vice President of Science and Technology, succeeding Steve Pretanik, who retired, NCC President Mike Brown announced today. Previously she served as Vice President of Government Relations for the United Egg Producers (UEP).

“Dr. Peterson has forged a record of excellence in scientific, technical, and governmental matters, and we are pleased she is bringing her talents and energy to NCC,” Brown said. “Her responsibilities will include food safety, poultry inspection, and animal welfare as well as keeping her finger on the pulse of initiatives within the regulatory agencies,” he said.

Brown also announced that Mary Colville has been promoted from Director of Government Relations to Vice President of Government Affairs.

“Mary Colville has helped navigate many tough issues on Capitol Hill this year and over her 24 years with NCC,” Brown said. “She is relied upon and viewed as a seasoned veteran by policymakers and our members.”

At UEP, Dr. Peterson worked with Congress and the regulatory agencies on a variety of issues including organic egg production and food safety. She has also served both as the Director of Legislative Affairs and Director of Regulatory Affairs at the American Meat Institute, where her responsibilities included environmental and sustainability issues, animal welfare, and lobbying Congress.

Dr. Peterson came to Washington, DC, as a Congressional Science Fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives, working on agriculture, energy, and environment issues. She earned her Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Maryland, her Master of Science in Animal Science from Michigan State University, and her Bachelor of Science from the University of Kentucky.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens and chicken products. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

WASDE Report Marks Turning Point as Ethanol Gobbles Up Corn, NCC Says

July 13, 2011

WASHINGTON — July 13, 2011 — This week’s report on corn and other grains by the U.S. Department of Agriculture marks an important turning point in the evolution of agriculture, according to the National Chicken Council: for the first time, the government is predicting that more corn will be used in this crop year for motor fuel than used for animal feed to help produce food for people.

“Raising poultry and livestock as food for people is taking second place to putting ethanol derived from corn into America’s gasoline tanks,” said Bill Roenigk, senior vice president and chief economist for NCC. “Because of an arbitrary federal mandate, larger and larger amounts of ethanol will be produced from the corn crop, and less will be used to feed the animals needed for America’s dinner plates.”

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) from USDA predict that 5 billion bushels of corn will be used for feed and related purposes in the 2010/2011 crop year, which runs through September, while 5.05 billion bushels will be used for ethanol and byproducts. The report marks the first time that ethanol usage will exceed feed usage, Roenigk said. The disparity will grow next year as 5.05 billion bushels are used for feed and 5.15 billion bushels go into the ethanol category, USDA predicts. Ethanol will claim 37 percent of corn usage next year, USDA says.

“USDA’s overall estimates of corn production are thought by many analysts to be somewhat optimistic,” Roenigk noted. “They expect that less corn overall will be produced. If that is correct, than even less corn will be available for poultry and livestock feed because the ethanol sector will always get enough to fulfill the mandate. Ethanol producers will always be able to outbid livestock and poultry producers because the fuel industry is required by law to buy ethanol.”

The mandated demand for ethanol has contributed to the skyrocketing cost of corn, which now carries a price tag nearly three times as much as the cost five years ago, when the ethanol demand began to move the market, Roenigk noted. Chicken companies have spent more than $20 billion in added feed costs since then, he said.

WASDE accounts for the fact that the ethanol industry throws off a certain amount of byproducts, such as dried distillers’ grain with solubles (DDGS), which can be used as a feed supplement for livestock and poultry. However, it lacks the nutritional and energy values of corn.

“Producers would rather have corn, but since sufficient quantities are not available at reasonable prices, they will use some DDGS to try to stay in business,” Roenigk said.

Chicken companies are under tremendous pressure from the price of corn, which is by far the largest single factor in the cost of producing a live chicken, he said. At least one chicken company went bankrupt and sold its assets recently, contributing to consolidation within the industry, while others have announced production cutbacks and laid off workers, all because of the rising cost of production driven by the high cost of corn, he said.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens and chicken products. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

National Chicken Council Statement on Suspension of 3-Nitro

June 8, 2011

Chicken is safe to eat. The Food & Drug Administration says it is NOT raising any alarms about consumption of chicken.

3-Nitro has been used to maintain good health in chicken flocks for many years. It is used in many, but not all, flocks. When used, 3-Nitro is given according to label directions approved by FDA.

Chicken companies will continue to safeguard chicken flocks because healthy flocks are needed to produce healthful food for people. Consumers can continue to buy and eat chicken as they always have.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

147 Members of Congress Urge Vilsack To Withdraw Proposed GIPSA Rule

May 18, 2011

WASHINGTON – May 18, 2011 – More than one-third of the members of the House of Representatives have called on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to go back to the drawing board with a rule on the marketing of livestock and poultry proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

“Withdrawing the June 22, 2010, proposed rule and re-proposing a revised rule once the Department completes its economic analysis would allow stakeholders the opportunity they deserve to comment on what we hope will be substantial changes to the proposed rule more consistent with the intent of Congress outlined in the 2008 Farm Bill,” said a letter signed by 147 members.

Letter to Vilsack
Members Signing Letter

“I am grateful for the action taken by so many members of Congress in urging the Secretary of Agriculture to withdraw and re-propose the GIPSA rule,” said Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council. “This would allow dialogue to resume between affected industries and the USDA, a dialogue that was cut off by the end of the comment period in November. The GIPSA rule clearly needs more careful review in light of its impact on economic growth, jobs, and the Administration’s stated goal of doubling exports.”

The rule proposed by GIPSA would make profound changes in the relationship between ranchers and farmers who produce cattle, swine, chickens, and turkey and the companies that bring meat and poultry products to market. GIPSA wrote the proposed rule in response to four specific mandates in the last Farm Bill after debate in which several other proposed mandates were rejected.

“Congress provided a narrow set of issues for the Department to address,” the letter said. “It is troubling that the Department appears to be using the rule-making process to accomplish objectives specifically rejected by Congress, and we are confident any such rule will not be looked upon favorably by Congress.”

USDA published the proposed rule last year with only a cursory economic analysis, and Vilsack has agreed to conduct a more detailed analysis before a final rule is published.

“Particularly in a climate in which additional scrutiny is being applied to regulations seen as overreaching or overly burdensome, we urge the Department to proceed in a transparent manner that allows for those most impacted by this action a chance to comment on not only pending changes to the proposal but the accompanying economic analysis as well,” the letter said. The members also asked for an update from Vilsack on the timeline for completion of the economic analysis and further action on the proposal.

Those signing the letter include both Republicans and Democrats and a majority of the members of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Dairy Livestock, and Poultry.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

NCC Protests “Outrageously Untrue” TV Report on Chicken Nuggets

May 6, 2011

5 May 2011

Mr. Mike Shipley
News Director
KSDK-TV
1000 Market Street
St. Louis, Mo. 63101

Dear Mr. Shipley:

I am writing to protest the outrageously untrue report by Jamie Allman on your air concerning chicken nuggets. I know where Mr. Allman got his “facts,” and they are wrong, wrong, wrong.

He said on your air:

— “But have you ever thought about what really goes into a chicken nugget? It all starts on a chicken farm. (VIDEO OF CAGED LAYERS). Usually, only retired egg layers are destined for nugget fame, since their meat is dirt cheap.”

Absolutely untrue. “Retired egg layers” are NOT used for chicken nuggets, at least not for any brand I’m aware of. There is so little meat on the caged layers depicted in the story that many of them are not processed for meat at all. The birds that produce the eggs that become broilers (which are not kept in cages and do not produce eggs for the table) usually become “stewing hens” or go into soup or other products that involve long cooking.

Chicken nuggets are in fact usually made of the same meat that you see in the supermarket, that is, broiler meat.

— “Tendons, tissue, cartilage, organs, and other chicken extras are ground up into a fine poultry paste.”

Again untrue. Mr. Allman is referring to what is known as “mechanically separated poultry” (MSP) or “mechanically separated chicken” (MSC) if only chicken is used. MSP is the pink paste that is depicted in the video you got off the Internet. (I’ve seen it a dozen times already.) It is more often made from turkey meat than chickens. Frames (the skeletons after the meat has been removed) and sometimes larger parts such as turkey thighs, are put through a high-pressure sieve that gets the edible meat off the bones. The “organs” have long since been removed, and screens are used to keep out other parts. The resulting product is then used in products such as turkey franks, bologna, and other “pegboard” products.

If MSP is used is used in a food product, it has to be stated as such on the label. MSP is simply not used in the major brands of chicken nuggets as far as I know. I can’t say it is never used in nuggets because there are many formulations of nuggets, but to suggest that nuggets are usually made from MSP is simply untrue. It is also untrue to suggest, as Mr. Allman did, that all nuggets are the same. There are in fact hundreds of variations.

– “Because that paste is typically crawling with bacteria, it’s washed with ammonia, and treated with an artificial flavoring.”

I understand there is some sort of ammonia treatment that can be used in red meat. We do not have it in chicken.

Raw chicken can always have bacteria on it. However, products containing MSP are fully cooked, which destroys the bacteria. Chicken nuggets sold at retail (which, again, usually do not contain MSP) are also cooked and all the consumer has to do is heat them up. There is no need for this ammonia treatment, whatever it is, which isn’t used in chicken processing anyway.

— “To get rid of that pink color, the paste is dyed.”

The pink color is there because of the dark meat that is used.in MSP. Nuggets are not pink because they are typically made from white meat, and there is no MSP in them, anyway.

You might wonder, how could anyone get things so wrong? The answer is simple: Mr. Allman ripped it off a web site. Here is a blog posting of September 28, 2010:

“Say hello to mechanically separated chicken. It’s what all fast-food chicken is made from—things like chicken nuggets and patties. Also, the processed frozen chicken in the stores is made from it.

“Basically, the entire chicken is smashed and pressed through a sieve—bones, eyes, guts, and all. It comes out looking like this.

(still photo from video also used on KSDK)

“There’s more: because it’s crawling with bacteria, it will be washed with ammonia, soaked in it, actually. Then, because it tastes gross, it will be reflavored artificially. Then, because it is weirdly pink, it will be dyed with artificial color.

“But, hey, at least it tastes good, right?

“High five, America!”

http://early-onset-of-night.tumblr.com/post/1206666159/say-hello-to-mechanically-separated-chicken-its

Google it and you’ll find that this yarn has been all over the Internet and has been corrected on http://www.snopes.com among other sites. I have no doubt that the blogger cited above ripped it off from somebody else.

I understand that bloggers tend to have very low standards of accuracy, but I am surprised to find that a journalist for a major TV station would stoop to simply ripping off a blogger. What kind of reporting is that?

As for your nutritional analysis, the percentage of meat in a nugget simply depends on the requirements of the customer for which the nuggets are being made. You can tell by looking at a nugget that it is not all meat. Nuggets sold at retail have both an ingredients panel and a Nutrition Facts panels, and we encourage customers to read them so they can get what they want.

But a story about now much meat is in a nugget would not be very interesting. It was Mr. Allman’s recycled falsehoods that gave the story its punch. On behalf of our industry (and we represent nearly all chicken producer-processors), I demand a correction with at least as much length and prominence as the original falsehoods.

Also, Mr. Allman’s story is being printed in newspapers, and I want to know what service is used to syndicate his story so that corrections can be requested there as well.

Sincerely,

Richard L. Lobb
Director of Communications

Chicken Industry Urges Congress To Cut Ethanol Mandate

April 13, 2011

WASHINGTON – April 13, 2011 – The chicken industry called on Congress today to slash the amount of ethanol required to be added to motor gasoline as a way of cooling the red-hot demand for corn that has driven the industry’s biggest single cost to unprecedented highs.

“The National Chicken Council (NCC) recommends a plan be implemented that would reduce the Renewable Fuels Standard when the stocks-to-use ratio for corn drops to low levels, as the situation is now,” industry executive Michael Welch said on NCC’s behalf at a hearing held by the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee.

Corn is the primary component of chicken feed, which accounts for 55 percent of the wholesale cost of whole, ready-to-cook chickens. Corn has rocketed from about $2 per bushel in 2006 to more than $7.50 per bushel today, which Welch said resulted largely from the fact that 40 percent of the corn crop is being diverted into federally mandated ethanol usage. Ethanol makers benefit from the mandate, a tax credit on usage of ethanol, and a protective tariff on imports.

“Mandating the use of ethanol, subsidizing its cost, and protecting ethanol from competition is triple overkill,” said Welch, who is president and chief executive officer of Harrison Poultry in Bethlehem, Georgia, and a former chairman of NCC.

Less than 700 million bushels of corn are expected to be left at the end of this crop year, he said, meaning there is virtually no margin for error in the crop to be harvested in the fall.

“There is no cushion, no extra bushels in inventory to carry the needs of the users of corn through the next crop year in the event of a shortfall in this fall’s corn harvest,” Welch said. “To assume an adequate number of acres will be planted to corn this year and the next few years and to further assume favorable weather conditions for crops this year and the next few years are not assumptions the U.S. chicken industry is prepared to make, nor should prudent U.S. government policymakers be willing to make.”

Welch urged Congress to adopt a contingency plan or “off-ramp” from the Renewable Fuels Standard, which is the law requiring that a fixed amount of ethanol be added to motor fuel every year.

“Unless there are perfect crop conditions this year to plant, grow, and harvest a record quantity of corn, animal agriculture will experience major disruptions while ethanol producers will continue to outbid non-subsidized buyers of corn,” he warned.

The mandate should be reduced to allow non-ethanol users greater access to corn, he said. Farmers should also be allowed to withdraw non-environmentally sensitive acres from the Conservation Reserve Program without penalty.

“More acres are needed, not just for corn, but also for soybeans, wheat, cotton, and other crops that compete with corn for acreage,” he said.

On other topics, Welch said the U.S. Department of Agriculture should withdraw the widely criticized rule proposed by its Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) on the relationship between poultry companies and the farmers who produce chicken under contract to them. The rule also covers meatpackers and cattle and hog producers.

“The rule as proposed would cost the broiler industry over $1 billion during the first five years, and further, would change the way companies and growers do business that has been successfully conducted for more than five decades,” Welch said. “The rule would put the U.S. chicken industry at a global disadvantage, as other countries would not have to face these onerous requirements, and create uncertainty and cause unnecessary and costly regulatory and legal burdens in the marketplace by making it much more difficult for companies and contract growers to get competitive financing.”

He said USDA should revise the rule to more closely track the intent of Congress as expressed in the 2008 Farm Bill.

He also urged Congress to approve proposed trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama, which he said would boost U.S. poultry exports to those countries from a combined $74 million to $225 million.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

Michael Welch testifying to Congress

Michael Welch urges ethanol cutback

Chicken Industry’s “Tremendous” Food Safety Efforts Will Continue, NCC Advisor Says

March 16, 2011

WASHINGTON – March 16, 2011 — The chicken industry will continue its “tremendous efforts” to meet the challenge of food safety, an advisor to the National Chicken Council said today as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service announced that it will change microbiological standards that have been in effect since 1998. The standards address Salmonella and Campylobacter prevalence on raw chickens, or the percentages of raw chickens being processed in a particular plant that have Salmonella or Campylobacter on them to any detectable degree.

“Industry has already done an outstanding job of improving the microbiological profile of raw products and will strive to do even better,” said Dr. Scott M. Russell, a microbiologist and professor of poultry processing at the University of Georgia and science advisor to NCC. “I personally have witnessed and been part of the tremendous efforts the industry has made to meet the challenge of ensuring food safety, and I know these efforts will continue.”

USDA has monitored poultry plants for Salmonella since the 1990s. In the most recently published reports, for the third quarter of 2010, an average of 7.4 percent of chicken carcasses at processing plants nationwide tested positive for detectable levels of Salmonella. The actual experience in processing plants is believed to be somewhat lower since the government tends to conduct more sampling in plants with higher Salmonella results. The new USDA performance standard is 7.5 percent.

The FSIS notice adopts a Campylobacter standard for the first time. The new standard is that no more than 10.4 percent of raw chickens sampled should have Campylobacter jejuni, C lari, and/or C. coli on them. The samples will be taken at the same time as the Salmonella samples are collected.

“For consumers, the bottom line is that chicken is safe when properly cooked and handled, and that the chicken producers and processors are continually working to make them safer.” Dr. Russell added. “Instructions for safe handling and cooking are printed on every package of meat and poultry sold in the United States.” Additional food safety information is available from sources such as http://www.fightbac.org and http://www.befoodsafe.gov

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.


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