Expert urges farmers to take lead on food safety

DENVER (AP) — A food safety expert told Colorado farmers Thursday that last year’s deadly listeria outbreak traced to Colorado cantaloupe proved that they cannot rely on third-party inspections to guarantee their produce is safe.

MORE: Listeria-linked cantaloupe farm had rated high in audit
STORY: FDA cites dirty equipment in deadly cantaloupe outbreak

Larry Goodridge, associate professor at the Center for Meat Safety and Quality in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University, told farmers that they bear primary responsibility for food safety.

“Each farm or processing facility has to be able to assess their own risks,” Goodridge told the governor’s annual forum on Colorado agriculture in Denver. “Everybody who produces food has to be responsible for the safety of the food they produce. You cannot rely on third parties. You just can’t.”

The listeria outbreak traced to Jensen Farms in eastern Colorado last year was blamed for the deaths of 32 people. It infected 146 people in 28 states with one of four strains of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jensen Farms was given a “superior” inspection rating by a third-party auditor just before the outbreak.

CDC renews warning about raw milk

I’m sure I’ll get an earful from certain readers for this, but I can’t for the life of me see how any health-conscious person can think drinking raw — that is, unpasteurized — milk is a good idea.

That opinion’s bolstered by a CDC report issued Tuesday. A survey of dairy-related disease outbreaks from 1993 to 2006 found that 60 percent of reported illnesses related to dairy consumption involved unpasteurized milk. The numbers themselves aren’t huge — 1,571 cases of illness and 202 hospitalizations — but there were two deaths.

Illnesses related to consumption of pasteurized dairy products almost all involved contamination caused by mishandling after pasteurization. That’s something we consumers have little control over.

But we do have control over what kind of milk we put in our — and our children’s — mouths. The study found that 60 percent of the illnesses related to raw milk occurred among people younger than 20. The authors note that public-health agencies have a duty to protect those who are too young to make their own food choices.

The study also found that 75 percent of the outbreaks related to raw milk consumption took place in the 21 states where it was legal to sell raw milk products at the time; the study notes that seven states changed their laws during the study period.

Clean energy future racing toward reality

Maui Electric Co. and other Hawaii utilities once again were ranked among the top utilities in the country for solar power capacity.

MECO parent Hawaiian Electric Co. again was named one of the nation’s Top 10 electric utilities for the amount of solar power added to its system per customer in the the 2010 Solar Electric Power Association Utility Solar Rankings. MECO was ranked in fifth place for total solar watts per customer.

The amount of grid-connected solar is growing fast, and even a little faster than vendors had promised, if the experience of businessmen Thomas Kafsack and Josh Stone is any indication.

Both installed solar generators since the last round of SEPA solar rankings.

Kafsack, operator of Surfing Goat Dairy, just broke ground for phase two of his 43 kilowatt project, but he is pleased with phase one, which covers half his barn roof and was switched on a couple of weeks ago.

The project, designed and built by Haleakala Solar, cost more than $300,000, but after two tries Kafsack got a Renewable Energy for America grant from the Department of Agriculture to cover 20 percent of the cost.

Without the grant, he said Friday, the investment would not have made a sufficient return, but with it he will recover his costs “in under 10 years.”

The dairy farmers who returned to Fukushima’s fallout path

“The alarm is ringing. That means danger,” says Keiko Sanpei, above, with a nervous laugh as she looks at a meter which shows radiation levels, at her dairy farm, more than five times the health limit. “I was afraid when I first returned. But being with the cows, that fear goes away.”

Sanpei’s home is in Namie, a radiation hotspot 17 miles downwind of the leaking Fukushima nuclear plant. It is just outside the government’s mandatory exclusion zone, but the ground here was so contaminated during the crisis residents are now exposed to almost as much radiation as someone standing outside the plant’s west gate.

Namie has become a ghost town. The fields, normally a hive of activity in this season, are deserted. Roads are almost empty, apart from emergency vehicles and a police van that blocks the route into the 16 mile-radius exclusion zone.

Almost all of the 2,000 residents followed government advice to evacuate after the explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant on 15 March, but Sanpei and her husband were among a few dozen farmers who returned, more concerned for their cattle than their personal safety.

“I could hear the cows in my ears mooing. I couldn’t sleep. I was so worried,” says Sanpei as one of the herd licks her arm. “We came back after a week. Even though the radiation was frightening, when we saw the cows again we had peace of mind.”

Farmers protest against Japanese nuke plant owner

TOKYO >> More than 200 farmers brought two cows to Tokyo where they shouted and punched the air Tuesday in a protest to demand compensation for products contaminated by radiation spewing from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant.

The farmers from northeastern Japan wore green bandanas and held signs saying “Nuclear disaster is human disaster” and “Stop nuclear energy” outside the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant damaged in the March 11 tsunami.

Radiation leaking from Fukushima Dai-ichi plant — about 140 miles (220 kilometers) north of Tokyo — has been found in milk, water and leafy vegetables such as spinach from around the plant.

“I could not sit still in Fukushima. I want TEPCO to understand our frustration, anxiety and worries over our future,” said 72-year-old Katsuo Okazaki, who grows peaches and apples. “My patience has run out. The nuclear crisis is totally destroying our farming business,” he said.

Dairy planned for Big Isle

The trickle of local milk in Hawaii that grew last year to a small flow could be on the verge of significant expansion again.

An industry veteran plans to establish a dairy on the Big Island, which if successful would become the third major milk producer in the state and the first established after a string of shutdowns over the last decade.

Mauna Kea Moo LLC recently received preliminary approval from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to lease 1,395 acres of state land in Hamakua for a dairy operation.

The company is headed by Kees Kea, former manager of the largest dairy in the state, Island Dairy.

Kea, who grew up on a family dairy farm in the Netherlands and owned a dairy in Oregon before joining Island Dairy in 2003, said he intends to produce cheese and yogurt as well as milk with perhaps 150 to 200 cows.

If successful, Mauna Kea Moo would be smaller than the state’s two largest dairies, which have roughly 600 to 800 milking cows each, but it would still significantly increase the supply of local milk and satisfy what people familiar with the industry say is tremendous consumer demand.


Here is the complete PDF file for the Hawaii Monthly Livestock Review Report.
CLICK HERE for Livestock Report
Please visit the website for more information:

Contact Information:
Mark E. Hudson, Director
USDA NASS Hawaii Field Office
1421 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814-2512

Office: (808) 973-9588 / (800) 804-9514
Fax: (808) 973-2909

   I own this pasture, bother you?
“HAWAII MONTHLY LIVESTOCK REVIEW” reports are available on our website and also PRINTED monthly. Subscriptions for PRINTED copies are free to those persons who report agricultural data to NASS (upon request) and available for $4 per year to all others.

Hawaii Monthly Livestock Review Partial Summary

June Egg Production Down 5 Percent
From A Year Ago

Hawaii egg production totaled 5.70 million (15,833 cases) in June 2009, down 5 percent from June 2008 due to a 3 percent decline in layers on hand and a 2 percent reduction in the rate of lay per 1,000 layers.

Cumulative egg production for the first half of 2009 totaled 34.80 million, down 7 percent from the same period a year ago.

Cattle Marketings Increased 3 Percent In June

Cattle marketings (sum of exports and local slaughter) totaled 3,900 head for June 2009, up 3 percent from May’s revised total of 3,800 head. Exports accounted for 77 percent of June’s total marketings with steers making up 53 percent of the exported cattle. Local slaughter totaled 900 head killed in June 2009, unchanged from May.

Cumulative cattle marketings for the first half of 2009 totaled 23,600 head, down 20 percent compared to the first six months of last year. Cattle exports were down 24 percent so far this year compared to last year while local slaughter was down 2 percent from a year ago.

Hawaii House Blog: Agriculture

The Rodney Dangerfield of the Economy

The room was packed, and the message came through loud and clear at the informational briefing this morning on the state of Hawaii’s agriculture industry. It was a joint meeting of the Committees on Agriculture and Water, Land & Ocean Resources.
The industry faces its more critical period ever, and without significant changes, agriculture as we know it, may cease to exist in Hawaii in the near future. Here are some of the highlights from the briefing:

Dean Okimoto – President of Hawaii Farm Bureau, Owner of Nalo Farms

Nalo Farms is at great risk. Okimoto has been working on an expansion project for a few years which he hopes to open on Monday. He has poured much of his savings into the project as he has had to pay off a loan with no incoming project revenue for the past 15 months. He says that it feels like he is losing business, not gaining business, and even the farm itself is not doing well.
The danger for the industry is that once we lose a farm, it never comes back. Nalo Farms is not alone. Several farms have closed in recent months. Part of the problem is that agriculture is like "the Rodney Dangerfield of the economy" – it gets no respect. In particular, Hawaii’s tourism industry is highly dependent on agriculture, but Okimoto believes that there is little recognition from the tourism industry, nor collaboration between the two industries.

Buddy Nobriga – President of Nobriga Ranch

Nobriga contends that the Hawaii Department of Agriculture is one of the smallest Ag Departments in the nation. The state needs a larger, stronger department that can help the farmers and ranchers. There are not enough inspectors to monitor the quality of imported milk. We don’t have strong relationships with the USDA. We don’t have the land to establish dairies.
We need agriculture in order to be sustainable. In a way, agriculture and farmers are like the "security" of the state.

Meredith Ching – Alexander and Baldwin (large landowner)

Large landowners face the same problems as small farms. The lack of rainfall in the past decade has had a cumulative effect on island crops. 2008 was the driest year over the past 85 years. In addition, the state has been in a prolonged drought for the past decade, with the past two years being exceptionally dry.

Yvonne Izu – Hawaii Farm Bureau, former state water commissioner

The legislature needs to amend the state water code law. The East Maui decision is a perfect example of how the water code does not support agriculture. This is one way the legislature can help farmers without spending money. Farmers do not have hope that agriculture can survive in this state.

Richard Ha – President, Hamakua Springs

The world has changed. He has had to lay off 20 workers recently. He says you can tell that farming is bad when fertilizer sales go down. Fertilizer sales have been going down since last spring. There is, however, an opportunity to use agricultural lands for energy crops. A bill passed last year allows farmers to finance loans for energy projects, although this may not be quite enough incentive to bring more people into farming.
He has a blog now. "These days, you gotta blog if you’re a farmer."

Eric Tanouye – Greenpoint Nursery
Tanouye’s 20-year-old son is in college and has said that he wants to work in the family business. This excites Tanouye because it would mean three generations working in the business. Tanouye is also the President of the Florists and Shippers Association and he has visited members across the state on all the islands. All of them face very difficult times. It is unprecedented.

Kylie Matsuda – Matsuda and Fukuyama Farms in Kahuku

She represents the 4th generation of farmers in Kahuku. She has a degree in Tourism Industry Management, but wanted to go back and be part of the family farm business. Her parents did not want her to do it, but she wanted to use her tourism expertise and expand the business into agri-tourism. She had to fight to get her job at the farm. She feels that farming can become viable again if you consider value-added products which will bring additional dollars.
For example, tourists can’t take home fresh fruits and vegetables, but they take back dried fruit, jams and jellies, and other products. There are also farm-related activities to market.
What can be done? Some suggestions:
*Clarify the state policy on water. The East Maui decision seemed to put farmers at a lower level of beneficiary than others. The water commission needs to understand the importance and value of the agriculture industry to the state.
*Provide tax credits for new farmers. Incent farmers to start farming.
*Support more farmers’ markets. It provides more revenue and forces farmers to interface with their market and the public, and through dialog, they can improve their product and have fun talking to people.
*Dean Okimoto summarized: He wanted to make it clear that the farmers are not looking to the legislature to solve all their problems. However, the legislature can be helpful in making other industries and the general public more aware that farming is critical to our state. Right now, tourism does not appreciate or support agriculture. Someone needs to hold their (tourism’s) feet to the fire in helping agriculture.
Chair Clift Tsuji and Chair Ken Ito expressed their appreciation to the farmers for coming today; they understood the gravity of the situation. They will be using the information from the briefing to propose legislation for the 2009 session.

Hawaii House Blog: Agriculture

Hawaii Monthly Livestock Review

Here is the PDF file for the *Hawaii Monthly Livestock Review *Report.


Please visit the website for more information:

Contact Information:
Mark E. Hudson, Director
USDA NASS Hawaii Field Office
1421 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814-2512

Office: (808) 973-9588 / (800) 804-9514
Fax: (808) 973-2909

HAWAII MONTHLY LIVESTOCK REVIEW” reports are available on our website and also PRINTED monthly. Subscriptions for PRINTED copies are free to those persons who report agricultural data to NASS (upon request) and available for $4 per year to all others.

Hawaii Monthly Livestock Review

August Egg Production Down 17 Percent From A Year Ago
Hawaii egg production totaled 6.8 million (18,889 cases) in August 2007, down 17 percent from August 2006. The average number of layers on hand during August 2007 was estimated at 368,000, down fractionally from July 2007 and down 14 percent from August 2006. The average rate of lay during August 2007 was 1,848 per 100 layers (59.6 percent rate of lay), down 3 percent from August 2006.

August Cattle Marketings Up 12 Percent From 2006
Total cattle marketings for August 2007 is estimated at 3,800 head, up 12 percent from August 2006. Cumulative cattle marketings for the first eight months of 2007 totaled 35,500 head, down 2 percent from the same period a year ago.

August exports up 13 percent from a year ago
Exports of steers and heifers totaled 2,700 head in August 2007, up 13 percent from a year ago. Exports of steers totaled 1,100 head during August 2007, down 31 percent compared to a year ago. Total export of heifers increased in August 2007 to 1,600 head, double the amount of heifers exported a year ago. Cumulative exports of steers and heifers through August 2007 totaled 28,100 head, down 3 percent from the same period a year ago. Cumulative exports of steers for 2007 stands at 15,800 head, down 8 percent from 2006. Exports of heifers were 2 percent ahead of a year ago for the first seven months of 2007 at 12,200 head. Exports of other classes of cattle were not included.

Average live weight tops 430 pounds
The average live weight of steers and heifers exported from Hawaii in August 2007 was 433 pounds, up 4 percent from August 2006?s average live weight of 418 pounds.

Commercial Beef Production Down Fractionally From Year Ago
Hawaii commercial beef production (local slaughter) during August 2007 totaled 609,000 pounds, down fractionally from August 2006. Cumulative beef production (local slaughter) through August 2007 totaled 4.3 million pounds, up 4 percent from a year ago. Commercial kill totaled 1,100 head in August, up 10 percent from August 2006. Average live weight per head was 1,045 pounds in August 2007, down 6 percent from the average live weight per head in August 2006.

Commercial Pork Production Down 11 Percent
Hawaii commercial pork production during August 2007 totaled 298,000 pounds, down 11 percent from August 2006. Cumulative pork production for the first eight months of 2007 totaled 2.3 million pounds, down 10 percent from a year ago. Total hog kill was 1,900 head in August 2007, down 5 percent from a year ago. Average live weight per head was 209 pounds in August 2007, down 7 percent from the 224-pound average a year ago.

Milk Cows and Milk Production

August Milk Production Down 48 Percent From Year Ago
Hawaii?s dairy cows produced 2.5 million pounds of milk in August 2007, down 48 percent from a year ago. Cumulative milk production for the first eight months of 2007 totaled 26.8 million pounds, down 33 percent from the same period in 2006.

August?s Cow Herd Down 36 Percent From Year Ago
Hawaii?s cow herd, both dry and milking, numbered 2,700 head in August 2007, unchanged from July 2007 but down 36 percent from August 2006.

Milk Per Cow Decreases
Average milk per cow is estimated at 940 pounds for August 2007, down 18 percent from last August?s average of 1,145 pounds per cow.

Average Farm Prices

Livestock Farm Prices Generally Higher Than Year-ago Averages

Steers and heifers
The average dress weight farm price for steers and heifers is estimated at $1.00 per pound for August 2007, up half-a-cent from July and a penny per pound higher than a year ago.

The average dress weight farm price for cows is estimated at 54.0 cents per pound in August 2007, down a penny from July. The August average dress weight farm was identical to that of a year ago.

Market hogs

The average dress weight farm price for market hogs is estimated at $1.25 per pound for August 2007, unchanged from July 2007. Compared to a year ago, the dressed weight for market hogs was down 4.5 cents per pound this August.

The average farm price for milk was $29.90 per hundredweight during August 2007, unchanged from July 2007. Compared to a year ago, the August 2007 average farm price for milk was $3.50 per hundredweight higher.

The average farm price for a dozen eggs was 98.0 cents in August 2007, down 7.0 cents from July 2007. Compared to a year ago, the average farm price for a dozen eggs was up 4.50 cents in August 2007.

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.33 billion pounds in August, up 2 percent from the 4.26 billion pounds produced in August 2006.

Beef production, at 2.45 billion pounds, was slightly above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 3.13 million head, down slightly from August 2006. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 1,279 pounds.

Veal production totaled 10.3 million pounds, 20 percent below August a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 65,400 head, down 2 percent from August 2006. The average live weight was down 54 pounds from last year, at 268 pounds.

Pork production totaled 1.85 billion pounds, up 4 percent from the previous year. Hog kill totaled 9.39 million head, up 3 percent from August 2006. The average live weight was up 1 pound from the previous year, at 263 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 14.7 million pounds, was up 1 percent from August 2006. Sheep slaughter totaled 227,500 head, slightly above last year. The average live weight was 129 pounds, unchanged from August a year ago.

U.S. egg production totaled 7.57 billion during August 2007, down 1 percent from last year. Production included 6.44 billion table eggs, and 1.13 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.07 billion were broiler-type and 65 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during August 2007 averaged 339 million, down 1 percent from last year. August egg production per 100 layers was 2,229 eggs, down slightly from August 2006.

All layers in the U.S. on September 1, 2007 totaled 339 million, down 1 percent from last year. The 339 million layers consisted of 281 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 55.9 million layers producing broilertype hatching eggs, and 2.73 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on September 1, 2007, averaged 71.7 eggs per 100 layers, down 1 percent from September 1, 2006.

Excerpts from Livestock Slaughter (September 21, 2007) and Chickens and Eggs (September 21, 2007) releases.

Beef/cattle: Weather is still the dominant feature in the cattle/beef industry landscape. Some precipitation fell in the Southwest, Southeast, and Corn Belt, providing some relief for grain and hay crops and pastures. However, hay and other supplemental feeding continues in these areas, and beef cows continue to be sold as a result.

Pork/hogs: The fourth quarter pork export forecast was raised by 60 million pounds, following an announcement by a major U.S. packer of a sales agreement with China, to take place by December 2007. Total U.S. pork exports in 2007 are expected to be 2.97 billion pounds, about 0.8 percent lower than in 2006. U.S. pork exports next year are expected to be almost 3.1 billion pounds, or 3.8 percent above 2007. July 2007 exports to China and Hong Kong, combined, offset year-over-year declines in shipments to major U.S. foreign pork markets. Second-half production is expected to be about 11.1 billion pounds, about 3.4 percent above a year earlier, with live equivalent prices of 51-52 percent lean hogs expected to average between $50 and $51 per cwt in the third quarter, and $45 and $47 per hundredweight (cwt) in the fourth quarter. Commercial pork production next year is expected to be about 22.1 billion pounds, about 100 million pounds larger than forecast last month. The increased production forecast largely reflects revised expectations for U.S. swine imports from Canada, both in the second half of 2007 and in 2008.

Dairy: Domestic demand for dairy products, especially cheese, combined with global demand and tight world supplies, will keep milk and dairy product prices high this year and next. The upturn in milk production will moderate 2008 prices somewhat compared with 2007.

Poultry: Broiler meat production continues to slowly expand. The slow expansion and strengthening exports have allowed prices for most broiler products to remain considerably higher than in the previous year. The generally higher prices are expected to continue through the second half of 2007 and into 2008. Although turkey production and stocks of whole birds have been above a year earlier, prices for whole turkeys are expected to remain higher than the previous year through the third quarter. With a small laying flock and a strong export market, egg prices are expected to range from $1.14 to $1.15 per dozen at the wholesale level in the third quarter and to continue higher than the previous year in the fourth quarter.