Firm buys Nebraska meat plant
A Florida-based hamburger company announced last Monday that it will buy the closed Armour-Eckrich meat plant in Hastings, NE, bringing 200 new jobs to the area. Billy Morris, president and CEO of Jacksonville, FL-based Bubba Foods LLC, said his company is spending more than $11 million to buy the plant and make adjustments for producing frozen Bubba Burgers. The deal was expected to close March 12, and Morris said he hoped to have the plant back in production by midsummer. The plant has been closed since February after Smithfield announced six plants would be closed.
Ohio gov. opposes humane measure
Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and his GOP rival candidate John Kasich both declared their opposition to a ballot measure being planned by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The Washington, D.C.-based animal rights organization has prepared to use paid petition gatherers to place on the November ballot a measure to overturn State Issue 2, which was approved by Ohio voters by a nearly 2-1 margin last year. Issue 2 created the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to allow broad public input into farm animal care issues. The HSUS plan would force the care board to adopt HSUS policies. Both gubernatorial candidates endorsed Issue 2 and now agree that it’s wrong for HSUS to attempt to overturn the will of Ohio voters. Referencing HSUS’ “extremism,” candidate Kasich said, “No outsiders ought to come in here and try to destroy our farms.”
Food-borne illnesses cost $12 billion
A new report released by a food safety group estimates food-borne illnesses cost the U.S. $152 billion each year in health care and other losses. The report, issued last week by the Produce Safety Project, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, examined government data on all food-borne illnesses with a known cause, such as E. coli and salmonella, as well as illnesses with no known cause. The study also looked at a broad set of costs that included medical care and quality of life losses, such as pain and suffering and death. The report comes as the U.S. Senate considers legislation that would require more government inspections of food manufacturers and give the Food and Drug Administration new authority to order recalls, among other things.
Pilot stations end HSUS support
The agricultural community appears to be gaining voice in the anti-animal agriculture debate. According to a Brownfield Network report, Pilot Travel Centers has dropped all future donations to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) after getting feedback from U.S. farmers and ranchers. Pilot Travel Centers has over 300 locations in more than 40 states, and was making donations to HSUS efforts. After producers flooded the company with opposition letters and e-mails, Pilot Travel issued a statement last week stating that it fully supports the interests of the agricultural community and “will not support any organization that has an agenda that works against agricultural interests.”
AMI supports goal of doubling exports
The American Meat Institute (AMI), along with more than 50 other food/feed agricultural organizations, is urging Congress to strongly support President Obama’s pledge to double U.S. exports within five years as a way to create millions of new jobs in the U.S. In an effort to reach this five-year objective, the organizations are urging Congress to move quickly to ensure the prompt passage of the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The organizations note that the World Trade Organization (WTO) estimates that there will be more than 600 bilateral or regional trade agreements in place by 2010. As of the end of 2008, 230 were in force, and of those, the U.S. was a party to only 17 of the agreements. The WTO also estimates that about 400 new agreements are either pending notification to the WTO, are being negotiated, or are in the proposal stage. Of those, the U.S. is a party only to the three pending agreements and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Missouri site monitors extremist attacks
The Missouri Beef Industry Council has launched a social media Web site to keep the state’s 60,000 beef producers apprised of “activist attacks” on agriculture, the council said in a news release. The site, www. farmerfreedom.com, aims to protect the ability to provide a consistent supply of low-cost, nutritious food, executive director John Kleiboeker said. The Web site includes regular blog posts about activist activities and an e-newsletter to provide frequent updates. The site eventually will equip producers with the same technological tools that activists use to disseminate their messages, Kleiboeker said