News Update
Jan. 15, 2007

FSIS to Extend Comment Period on Term ‘Natural’

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has extended the comment period on how to define the term “natural” until March 5.

FSIS conducted a public meeting Dec. 12, 2006, to discuss a petition to establish a definition for the voluntary claim “natural.” The agency also gathered comments on conditions under which the claim should be allowed to be used on the labels of meat and poultry products.

The original comment period closed on Jan. 11, 2007; however, FSIS has taken this action to respond to requests that were made at and after the Dec. 12, 2006, meeting.

To view a transcript from the public meeting, visit FSIS’ web site at

Corn Prices Surge

Ethanol plants and foreign demand pushed corn prices as high as $3.40 per bushel (bu.) Friday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Farmers haven’t seen prices this high for more than a decade, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Exports are forecast to claim 2.25 billion bu. of corn from last year’s crop, up from last month’s forecast of 2.2 billion bu.

AP reports the overall corn crop came in at 10.5 billion bu., slightly under last month’s forecast of 10.7 billion bu. Anticipated yields were 2.1 bu. lower per acre, and the area planted and harvested was slightly smaller than expected.

The amount of corn used for ethanol, forecast at 2.15 billion bu., was unchanged from last month. Nationwide, supplies of corn are expected to drop to 752 million bu., a drop from last month’s forecast of 935 million bu. and a steep decline from last year’s supply of 1.967 billion bu.

New Swine Disease Emerges

A new disease has taken swine producers, veterinarians and scientists across the country by surprise and left them searching for solutions, Kansas State University (K-State) reports.

Formerly known as Post-weaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome (PMWS), Porcine Circovirus Associated Diseases (PCVAD) was discovered in the early 1990s by two Canadian veterinarians, John Harding and Ted Clark, said Lisa Tokach, an Abilene, Kan., veterinarian. Harding and Clark associated the disease as an increased mortality rate in weaning pigs.

“The first PCVAD case in Kansas was discovered in November 2005, and now we’re seeing new cases almost every week,” Tokach said. “It is highly contagious and is spreading fast.”

Unlike diseases such as West Nile Virus, PCVAD is species specific, meaning it doesn’t spread to other species, but other types of circoviruses have been found in birds, Tokach said.

Scientists expect to have the vaccination study finished in about a month, but they are not sure when a vaccine will be available in sufficient amounts for producers to purchase.

A brochure from the National Pork Board and the AASV, available at, recommends some management practices producers can follow to reduce the risk of a PCVAD outbreak.

USDA Proposes Updates to Export Regulations

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to amend its livestock exportation regulations to eliminate the U.S. requirement for pre-export tuberculosis (TB) and brucellosis testing.

The proposed changes would no longer require pre-export testing for cattle from any TB accredited-free or brucellosis class-free state and for exports to countries that do not require testing.

Currently all states are designated accredited-free for TB except Minnesota, Texas and portions of Michigan and New Mexico, and all states except Idaho and Texas are designated as class free for brucellosis.

Notice of this proposed rule was published in the Jan. 10 Federal Register.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before March 13. Send an original and three copies of postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0147, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Rd., Unit 118, Riverdale, Md. 20737-1238. If you wish to submit a comment using the internet, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal at, select “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service” from the agency drop-down menu; then click on “Submit.” In the Docket ID column, select APHIS-2006-0147 to submit or view public comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically.

— compiled by Crystal Albers, associate editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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