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From Wariness to Welcome: Engaging New England on Food Safety

(This blog post by Michael R. Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, was published Dec. 4, 2014, on FDA Voice. It is the first of two posts about state listening sessions on updates to four FDA rules proposed to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act.)

What a difference a year makes.

In August last year, my team and I visited New England to talk about the rules proposed in 2013 to implement FSMA. We were met with skepticism and some genuine fear that our produce safety proposals did not take full account of local growing practices and would both disrupt traditional practices and deter innovation. These weren’t easy conversations, but they proved instrumental in FDA’s decision to propose — on Sept. 29, 2014 — updates, or supplements, to four of the proposed FSMA rules overseeing human and animal foods, both domestic and imported. These proposals include significant changes in the produce safety proposal and related elements of the preventive controls rules for food facilities.

Michael R. Taylor

We weren’t quite sure what to expect when we flew to Vermont on Sunday, Nov. 16, for a listening session the next day on the proposed supplemental rules. But the tenor of this visit was dramatically different, and very positive, beginning with the detour we took from our FSMA mission on Sunday to visit leading players in Vermont’s local food movement and artisanal cheese-making community.

Accompanied by Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, we first toured the Vermont Food Venture Center (VFVC) in Hardwick, a regional food hub that leases space to small food businesses, providing kitchen equipment, food storage and business consultations. The goal of this modern, well-equipped facility, as Executive Director Sarah Waring explained, is to strengthen Vermont’s local food network and agricultural economy.

We then toured Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, a renowned maker of artisanal cheeses. We were welcomed by brothers Mateo and Andy Kehler, who have taken an innovative approach to making cheese using both traditional methods and the latest technology. Their goal is to establish a network of local farms that supply the milk, with Jasper Hill aging and distributing the cheeses in an effort to support small dairy operations.

Our goal was to continue the dialogue we started this year with the cheese-making community to better understand, as food safety regulators, what goes into making artisanal cheeses. We learned a lot, tasted some great cheese, and left impressed by the community-oriented commitment at both VFVC and Jasper Hill Farm and by their use of top-tier tools to strengthen Vermont’s local food system.

When we arrived back in Montpelier on Sunday night, the setting was like something out of a postcard. This picturesque town, the nation’s smallest state capital, was dusted in the season’s first snow, which only accentuated its natural beauty and charm. We were happy to be there.

On Monday morning, we drove to the Vermont Law School in South Royalton for the FSMA listening session. This school, set in the rolling landscape of rural Vermont, is renowned for its commitment to sustainable environmental practices.

We saw familiar faces. Some had come to the meeting directly from their farm — through the snow. There were people from all over the Northeast — people who had participated in our series of listening sessions throughout New England in 2013. But this time, the response and dialogue were different. We heard acknowledgement and appreciation that we had addressed many of their concerns in our revised proposals by making the proposed rules more feasible while still meeting our public health goals.

Much of the discussion focused on implementation of the rules, and, interestingly, some of the concerns echoed those we had heard in a Nov. 6 listening session in Sacramento, CA, a place not only on the opposite side of the country but so different in its production systems. Many are finding the complexity of the proposed rules daunting, such as the technical underpinnings of the E. coli benchmark for water quality and the various boundary lines and exemptions that determine who is covered. We’ve always said that we wouldn’t take a “one size fits all” approach, which has contributed to making the rules more complicated. This only underscores our responsibility to explain the rules clearly and to provide education, technical assistance and guidance.

Secretary Ross said early and often that we need to educate before and as we regulate. And he’s right. I am struck anew by the importance of our partnerships with state leaders. Vermont’s Ross and California Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross have been invaluable in helping us develop these rules, as they will continue to be as we move toward implementation.

We were grateful for the participation in the listening session by food safety advocates Lauren Bush and Gabrielle Meunier, who each spoke of the devastating effects of foodborne illnesses. Lauren almost died after eating a salad contaminated by E. coli in 2006, and Gabrielle’s young son fought, and recovered from, a Salmonella infection in 2008 after eating tainted peanut butter crackers. Their stories underscore the underlying reason for the effort that so many are making to implement FSMA — to keep people safe.

Some participants expressed the view that even though we decided to defer, pending further study, our decision on an appropriate interval between the application of raw manure and harvest, some kind of interval is needed to protect crops from pathogens. Some suggested that the 90- to 120-day intervals set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program be adopted as an interim measure.

Others inquired how the FSMA rules would affect them based on very individual scenarios. We asked them, and we’re asking everyone, to comment on the supplemental rules and include those scenarios for us to consider in drafting the final rules. We don’t want to create unintended harmful consequences.

The deadline for commenting on the four supplemental rules for Produce Safety, Preventive Controls for Human Food, Preventive Controls for Animal Food and Foreign Supplier Verification Programs is Dec. 15. Visit our FSMA page on fda.gov for more information.

Our Vermont trip was followed by state listening sessions in Georgia, North Carolina and Florida. I will be filing another FDA Voice blog on what we learned in those Southern states.

Food Safety News

Researchers work to save endangered New England cottontail

Scientists with the NH Agricultural Experiment Station are working to restore New Hampshire and Maine’s only native rabbit after new research based on genetic monitoring has found that in the last decade, cottontail populations in northern New England have become more isolated and seen a 50 percent contraction of their range.

The endangered New England cottontail is now is at risk of becoming extinct in the region, according to NH Agricultural Experiment Station researchers at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture who believe that restoring habitats is the key to saving the species.

“The New England cottontail is a species of great conservation concern in the Northeast. This is our only native rabbit and is an integral component of the native New England wildlife. Maintaining biodiversity gives resilience to our landscape and ecosystems,” said NHAES researcher Adrienne Kovach, research associate professor of natural resources at UNH.

New England cottontails have been declining for decades. However, NHAES researchers have found that in the last decade, the New England cottontail population in New Hampshire and Maine has contracted by 50 percent; a decade ago, cottontails were found as far north as Cumberland, Maine.

The majority of research on New England cottontails has come out of UNH, much of it under the leadership of John Litvaitis, professor of wildlife ecology, who has studied the New England cottontail for three decades. Kovach’s research expands on this knowledge by using DNA analysis to provide new information on the cottontail’s status, distribution, genetic diversity, and dispersal ecology.

The greatest threat and cause of the decline of the New England cottontail is the reduction and fragmentation of their habitat, Kovach said. Fragmentation of habitats occurs when the cottontail’s habitat is reduced or eliminated due to the maturing of forests or land development. Habitats also can become fragmented by roads or natural landscape features, such as bodies of water.

“Cottontails require thicketed habitats, which progress from old fields to young forests. Once you have a more mature forest, the cottontail habitat is reduced. A lot of other species rely on these thicket habitats, including bobcats, birds, and reptiles. Many thicket-dependent species are on decline, and the New England cottontail is a representative species for this kind of habitat and its conservation,” Kovach said.

Kovach explained that for cottontail and most animal populations to be healthy and grow, it is important for adult animals to leave the place where they were born and relocate to a new habitat, which is known as dispersal. There are two main benefits of dispersal: an animal is not competing with its relatives and dispersal minimizes inbreeding.

“We have found that it is increasingly difficult for Maine and New Hampshire cottontails to travel the large distances between fragmented habitats necessary to maintain gene flow among populations of cottontails,” Kovach said.

However, certain landscape features such as power line rights-of-way, railroad edges and roadsides may support rabbit dispersal as they provided the animal’s preferred scrub habitat. Occasionally, underpasses and culverts also may be effective conduits for rabbit travel. The researchers hope that an improved understanding of how the cottontail moves through the landscape will assist wildlife and land managers in species recovery efforts.

Researchers used genetics to study the changes in New England cottontail populations and their dispersal patterns. To obtain the DNA of the cottontails in this study, researchers collected the fecal pellets of 157 New England cottontails in southern Maine and seacoast New Hampshire during the winters of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. Researchers believe this is the most exhaustive sampling effort in the area to date and likely documented nearly all currently occupied New England cottontail patches in Maine and seacoast New Hampshire.

Researchers identified the genetic pattern of individual rabbits and used information about genetic relatedness to make estimates of gene flow. They identified four major genetic clusters of New England cottontails in the region. A major power line connected some of these populations in the recent past — a finding which underscores the importance of restoring suitable habitat to reconnect these populations.

“If we can restore more of this habitat in our landscape and work on creating a landscape that has a mosaic of different habitats, including mature forests and young forests, we know that it is going to help a lot of species,” Kovach said.

This research, which was funded in part by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, is presented in the article “A multistate analysis of gene flow for the New England cottontail, an imperiled habitat specialist in a fragmented landscape” in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New Hampshire. The original article was written by Lori Wright. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Researchers work to save endangered New England cottontail

Scientists with the NH Agricultural Experiment Station are working to restore New Hampshire and Maine’s only native rabbit after new research based on genetic monitoring has found that in the last decade, cottontail populations in northern New England have become more isolated and seen a 50 percent contraction of their range.

The endangered New England cottontail is now is at risk of becoming extinct in the region, according to NH Agricultural Experiment Station researchers at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture who believe that restoring habitats is the key to saving the species.

“The New England cottontail is a species of great conservation concern in the Northeast. This is our only native rabbit and is an integral component of the native New England wildlife. Maintaining biodiversity gives resilience to our landscape and ecosystems,” said NHAES researcher Adrienne Kovach, research associate professor of natural resources at UNH.

New England cottontails have been declining for decades. However, NHAES researchers have found that in the last decade, the New England cottontail population in New Hampshire and Maine has contracted by 50 percent; a decade ago, cottontails were found as far north as Cumberland, Maine.

The majority of research on New England cottontails has come out of UNH, much of it under the leadership of John Litvaitis, professor of wildlife ecology, who has studied the New England cottontail for three decades. Kovach’s research expands on this knowledge by using DNA analysis to provide new information on the cottontail’s status, distribution, genetic diversity, and dispersal ecology.

The greatest threat and cause of the decline of the New England cottontail is the reduction and fragmentation of their habitat, Kovach said. Fragmentation of habitats occurs when the cottontail’s habitat is reduced or eliminated due to the maturing of forests or land development. Habitats also can become fragmented by roads or natural landscape features, such as bodies of water.

“Cottontails require thicketed habitats, which progress from old fields to young forests. Once you have a more mature forest, the cottontail habitat is reduced. A lot of other species rely on these thicket habitats, including bobcats, birds, and reptiles. Many thicket-dependent species are on decline, and the New England cottontail is a representative species for this kind of habitat and its conservation,” Kovach said.

Kovach explained that for cottontail and most animal populations to be healthy and grow, it is important for adult animals to leave the place where they were born and relocate to a new habitat, which is known as dispersal. There are two main benefits of dispersal: an animal is not competing with its relatives and dispersal minimizes inbreeding.

“We have found that it is increasingly difficult for Maine and New Hampshire cottontails to travel the large distances between fragmented habitats necessary to maintain gene flow among populations of cottontails,” Kovach said.

However, certain landscape features such as power line rights-of-way, railroad edges and roadsides may support rabbit dispersal as they provided the animal’s preferred scrub habitat. Occasionally, underpasses and culverts also may be effective conduits for rabbit travel. The researchers hope that an improved understanding of how the cottontail moves through the landscape will assist wildlife and land managers in species recovery efforts.

Researchers used genetics to study the changes in New England cottontail populations and their dispersal patterns. To obtain the DNA of the cottontails in this study, researchers collected the fecal pellets of 157 New England cottontails in southern Maine and seacoast New Hampshire during the winters of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. Researchers believe this is the most exhaustive sampling effort in the area to date and likely documented nearly all currently occupied New England cottontail patches in Maine and seacoast New Hampshire.

Researchers identified the genetic pattern of individual rabbits and used information about genetic relatedness to make estimates of gene flow. They identified four major genetic clusters of New England cottontails in the region. A major power line connected some of these populations in the recent past — a finding which underscores the importance of restoring suitable habitat to reconnect these populations.

“If we can restore more of this habitat in our landscape and work on creating a landscape that has a mosaic of different habitats, including mature forests and young forests, we know that it is going to help a lot of species,” Kovach said.

This research, which was funded in part by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, is presented in the article “A multistate analysis of gene flow for the New England cottontail, an imperiled habitat specialist in a fragmented landscape” in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New Hampshire. The original article was written by Lori Wright. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Researchers work to save endangered New England cottontail

Scientists with the NH Agricultural Experiment Station are working to restore New Hampshire and Maine’s only native rabbit after new research based on genetic monitoring has found that in the last decade, cottontail populations in northern New England have become more isolated and seen a 50 percent contraction of their range.

The endangered New England cottontail is now is at risk of becoming extinct in the region, according to NH Agricultural Experiment Station researchers at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture who believe that restoring habitats is the key to saving the species.

“The New England cottontail is a species of great conservation concern in the Northeast. This is our only native rabbit and is an integral component of the native New England wildlife. Maintaining biodiversity gives resilience to our landscape and ecosystems,” said NHAES researcher Adrienne Kovach, research associate professor of natural resources at UNH.

New England cottontails have been declining for decades. However, NHAES researchers have found that in the last decade, the New England cottontail population in New Hampshire and Maine has contracted by 50 percent; a decade ago, cottontails were found as far north as Cumberland, Maine.

The majority of research on New England cottontails has come out of UNH, much of it under the leadership of John Litvaitis, professor of wildlife ecology, who has studied the New England cottontail for three decades. Kovach’s research expands on this knowledge by using DNA analysis to provide new information on the cottontail’s status, distribution, genetic diversity, and dispersal ecology.

The greatest threat and cause of the decline of the New England cottontail is the reduction and fragmentation of their habitat, Kovach said. Fragmentation of habitats occurs when the cottontail’s habitat is reduced or eliminated due to the maturing of forests or land development. Habitats also can become fragmented by roads or natural landscape features, such as bodies of water.

“Cottontails require thicketed habitats, which progress from old fields to young forests. Once you have a more mature forest, the cottontail habitat is reduced. A lot of other species rely on these thicket habitats, including bobcats, birds, and reptiles. Many thicket-dependent species are on decline, and the New England cottontail is a representative species for this kind of habitat and its conservation,” Kovach said.

Kovach explained that for cottontail and most animal populations to be healthy and grow, it is important for adult animals to leave the place where they were born and relocate to a new habitat, which is known as dispersal. There are two main benefits of dispersal: an animal is not competing with its relatives and dispersal minimizes inbreeding.

“We have found that it is increasingly difficult for Maine and New Hampshire cottontails to travel the large distances between fragmented habitats necessary to maintain gene flow among populations of cottontails,” Kovach said.

However, certain landscape features such as power line rights-of-way, railroad edges and roadsides may support rabbit dispersal as they provided the animal’s preferred scrub habitat. Occasionally, underpasses and culverts also may be effective conduits for rabbit travel. The researchers hope that an improved understanding of how the cottontail moves through the landscape will assist wildlife and land managers in species recovery efforts.

Researchers used genetics to study the changes in New England cottontail populations and their dispersal patterns. To obtain the DNA of the cottontails in this study, researchers collected the fecal pellets of 157 New England cottontails in southern Maine and seacoast New Hampshire during the winters of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. Researchers believe this is the most exhaustive sampling effort in the area to date and likely documented nearly all currently occupied New England cottontail patches in Maine and seacoast New Hampshire.

Researchers identified the genetic pattern of individual rabbits and used information about genetic relatedness to make estimates of gene flow. They identified four major genetic clusters of New England cottontails in the region. A major power line connected some of these populations in the recent past — a finding which underscores the importance of restoring suitable habitat to reconnect these populations.

“If we can restore more of this habitat in our landscape and work on creating a landscape that has a mosaic of different habitats, including mature forests and young forests, we know that it is going to help a lot of species,” Kovach said.

This research, which was funded in part by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, is presented in the article “A multistate analysis of gene flow for the New England cottontail, an imperiled habitat specialist in a fragmented landscape” in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New Hampshire. The original article was written by Lori Wright. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Researchers work to save endangered New England cottontail

Scientists with the NH Agricultural Experiment Station are working to restore New Hampshire and Maine’s only native rabbit after new research based on genetic monitoring has found that in the last decade, cottontail populations in northern New England have become more isolated and seen a 50 percent contraction of their range.

The endangered New England cottontail is now is at risk of becoming extinct in the region, according to NH Agricultural Experiment Station researchers at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture who believe that restoring habitats is the key to saving the species.

“The New England cottontail is a species of great conservation concern in the Northeast. This is our only native rabbit and is an integral component of the native New England wildlife. Maintaining biodiversity gives resilience to our landscape and ecosystems,” said NHAES researcher Adrienne Kovach, research associate professor of natural resources at UNH.

New England cottontails have been declining for decades. However, NHAES researchers have found that in the last decade, the New England cottontail population in New Hampshire and Maine has contracted by 50 percent; a decade ago, cottontails were found as far north as Cumberland, Maine.

The majority of research on New England cottontails has come out of UNH, much of it under the leadership of John Litvaitis, professor of wildlife ecology, who has studied the New England cottontail for three decades. Kovach’s research expands on this knowledge by using DNA analysis to provide new information on the cottontail’s status, distribution, genetic diversity, and dispersal ecology.

The greatest threat and cause of the decline of the New England cottontail is the reduction and fragmentation of their habitat, Kovach said. Fragmentation of habitats occurs when the cottontail’s habitat is reduced or eliminated due to the maturing of forests or land development. Habitats also can become fragmented by roads or natural landscape features, such as bodies of water.

“Cottontails require thicketed habitats, which progress from old fields to young forests. Once you have a more mature forest, the cottontail habitat is reduced. A lot of other species rely on these thicket habitats, including bobcats, birds, and reptiles. Many thicket-dependent species are on decline, and the New England cottontail is a representative species for this kind of habitat and its conservation,” Kovach said.

Kovach explained that for cottontail and most animal populations to be healthy and grow, it is important for adult animals to leave the place where they were born and relocate to a new habitat, which is known as dispersal. There are two main benefits of dispersal: an animal is not competing with its relatives and dispersal minimizes inbreeding.

“We have found that it is increasingly difficult for Maine and New Hampshire cottontails to travel the large distances between fragmented habitats necessary to maintain gene flow among populations of cottontails,” Kovach said.

However, certain landscape features such as power line rights-of-way, railroad edges and roadsides may support rabbit dispersal as they provided the animal’s preferred scrub habitat. Occasionally, underpasses and culverts also may be effective conduits for rabbit travel. The researchers hope that an improved understanding of how the cottontail moves through the landscape will assist wildlife and land managers in species recovery efforts.

Researchers used genetics to study the changes in New England cottontail populations and their dispersal patterns. To obtain the DNA of the cottontails in this study, researchers collected the fecal pellets of 157 New England cottontails in southern Maine and seacoast New Hampshire during the winters of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. Researchers believe this is the most exhaustive sampling effort in the area to date and likely documented nearly all currently occupied New England cottontail patches in Maine and seacoast New Hampshire.

Researchers identified the genetic pattern of individual rabbits and used information about genetic relatedness to make estimates of gene flow. They identified four major genetic clusters of New England cottontails in the region. A major power line connected some of these populations in the recent past — a finding which underscores the importance of restoring suitable habitat to reconnect these populations.

“If we can restore more of this habitat in our landscape and work on creating a landscape that has a mosaic of different habitats, including mature forests and young forests, we know that it is going to help a lot of species,” Kovach said.

This research, which was funded in part by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, is presented in the article “A multistate analysis of gene flow for the New England cottontail, an imperiled habitat specialist in a fragmented landscape” in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New Hampshire. The original article was written by Lori Wright. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Researchers work to save endangered New England cottontail

Scientists with the NH Agricultural Experiment Station are working to restore New Hampshire and Maine’s only native rabbit after new research based on genetic monitoring has found that in the last decade, cottontail populations in northern New England have become more isolated and seen a 50 percent contraction of their range.

The endangered New England cottontail is now is at risk of becoming extinct in the region, according to NH Agricultural Experiment Station researchers at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture who believe that restoring habitats is the key to saving the species.

“The New England cottontail is a species of great conservation concern in the Northeast. This is our only native rabbit and is an integral component of the native New England wildlife. Maintaining biodiversity gives resilience to our landscape and ecosystems,” said NHAES researcher Adrienne Kovach, research associate professor of natural resources at UNH.

New England cottontails have been declining for decades. However, NHAES researchers have found that in the last decade, the New England cottontail population in New Hampshire and Maine has contracted by 50 percent; a decade ago, cottontails were found as far north as Cumberland, Maine.

The majority of research on New England cottontails has come out of UNH, much of it under the leadership of John Litvaitis, professor of wildlife ecology, who has studied the New England cottontail for three decades. Kovach’s research expands on this knowledge by using DNA analysis to provide new information on the cottontail’s status, distribution, genetic diversity, and dispersal ecology.

The greatest threat and cause of the decline of the New England cottontail is the reduction and fragmentation of their habitat, Kovach said. Fragmentation of habitats occurs when the cottontail’s habitat is reduced or eliminated due to the maturing of forests or land development. Habitats also can become fragmented by roads or natural landscape features, such as bodies of water.

“Cottontails require thicketed habitats, which progress from old fields to young forests. Once you have a more mature forest, the cottontail habitat is reduced. A lot of other species rely on these thicket habitats, including bobcats, birds, and reptiles. Many thicket-dependent species are on decline, and the New England cottontail is a representative species for this kind of habitat and its conservation,” Kovach said.

Kovach explained that for cottontail and most animal populations to be healthy and grow, it is important for adult animals to leave the place where they were born and relocate to a new habitat, which is known as dispersal. There are two main benefits of dispersal: an animal is not competing with its relatives and dispersal minimizes inbreeding.

“We have found that it is increasingly difficult for Maine and New Hampshire cottontails to travel the large distances between fragmented habitats necessary to maintain gene flow among populations of cottontails,” Kovach said.

However, certain landscape features such as power line rights-of-way, railroad edges and roadsides may support rabbit dispersal as they provided the animal’s preferred scrub habitat. Occasionally, underpasses and culverts also may be effective conduits for rabbit travel. The researchers hope that an improved understanding of how the cottontail moves through the landscape will assist wildlife and land managers in species recovery efforts.

Researchers used genetics to study the changes in New England cottontail populations and their dispersal patterns. To obtain the DNA of the cottontails in this study, researchers collected the fecal pellets of 157 New England cottontails in southern Maine and seacoast New Hampshire during the winters of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. Researchers believe this is the most exhaustive sampling effort in the area to date and likely documented nearly all currently occupied New England cottontail patches in Maine and seacoast New Hampshire.

Researchers identified the genetic pattern of individual rabbits and used information about genetic relatedness to make estimates of gene flow. They identified four major genetic clusters of New England cottontails in the region. A major power line connected some of these populations in the recent past — a finding which underscores the importance of restoring suitable habitat to reconnect these populations.

“If we can restore more of this habitat in our landscape and work on creating a landscape that has a mosaic of different habitats, including mature forests and young forests, we know that it is going to help a lot of species,” Kovach said.

This research, which was funded in part by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, is presented in the article “A multistate analysis of gene flow for the New England cottontail, an imperiled habitat specialist in a fragmented landscape” in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New Hampshire. The original article was written by Lori Wright. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

AG of New England promotes 2 in finance

Associated Grocers of New England on Wednesday said it had promoted Cindy Caldwell to VP of finance and Chris Lyle to comptroller.AGNE VP of finance Cindy Caldwell

Caldwell joined AGNE’s accounting group in 1988, and later become manager of the accounting department. She then added responsibilities for the credit area and retail bookkeeping as well. In her new role as VP of finance, Caldwell takes on the additional responsibility of loss prevention as part of the senior management team.

AGNE comptroller Chris LyleLyle joined AGNE in 1989 and worked her way up the department ladder while earning an undergraduate degree in accounting. She was promoted to assistant controller in 2006. She is currently working on obtaining her MBA.


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“These promotions demonstrate AGNE’s commitment to building and maintaining a strong and dynamic financial management team,” said Steve Murphy, AGNE SVP, treasurer and CFO. “It’s especially gratifying to me that both of these women were promoted from within, having each been with the company for over 20 years. To me, that speaks volumes about opportunity and dedication.”

AGNE is a retailer-owned wholesaler based in Pembroke, N.H.

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AG of New England promotes 2 in finance

Associated Grocers of New England on Wednesday said it had promoted Cindy Caldwell to VP of finance and Chris Lyle to comptroller.AGNE VP of finance Cindy Caldwell

Caldwell joined AGNE’s accounting group in 1988, and later become manager of the accounting department. She then added responsibilities for the credit area and retail bookkeeping as well. In her new role as VP of finance, Caldwell takes on the additional responsibility of loss prevention as part of the senior management team.

AGNE comptroller Chris LyleLyle joined AGNE in 1989 and worked her way up the department ladder while earning an undergraduate degree in accounting. She was promoted to assistant controller in 2006. She is currently working on obtaining her MBA.


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Join SN’s LinkedIn Group to network with industry professionals.


“These promotions demonstrate AGNE’s commitment to building and maintaining a strong and dynamic financial management team,” said Steve Murphy, AGNE SVP, treasurer and CFO. “It’s especially gratifying to me that both of these women were promoted from within, having each been with the company for over 20 years. To me, that speaks volumes about opportunity and dedication.”

AGNE is a retailer-owned wholesaler based in Pembroke, N.H.

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AG New England sets warehouse expansion

Associated Grocers of New England said Tuesday it plans a major expansion of its Pembroke, N.H., distribution center that will “dramatically increase the scope and speed-to-shelf” of the products and services it offers.


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The expansion will add 105,000 square feet to the 380,000-square-foot facility, with ground-breaking scheduled for the spring and construction expected to be completed by the end of 2014, the company said. The original distribution center opened in 2006.

According to Mike Burgoine, president and CEO of AGNE, the central element of the expansion will be an automated product movement solution — a multi-shuttle system that will take up less than 5,000 square feet while providing more than 10,000 pick facings, “which is equivalent to approximately 60,000 square feet of traditional warehouse space.

Read more: AG New England to acquire Bi-Wise store

“With the increase in SKU’s over the past decade, we needed to reduce the number of ‘touches’ to increase our efficiency and maximize the use of our square footage,” Burgoine explained. “This automated technology will help to support additional item growth in a small footprint, offering our customers a vastly expanded selection of food products.”

“It will create logistics results while supporting additional specialty food items and improve service to store customers,” said Ken Ruehrdanz, manager of the distribution systems market for Dematic, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company that is supplying the logistics system. “With the implementation of modern methods such as high-density staging of inventory, along with ergonomic Put Wall work stations, AGNE will realize the benefits of a compact system footprint along with efficient and accurate order processing.”

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AG New England to acquire Bi-Wise store

Bi-Wise Market of Allenstown, N.H., said it has agreed to be acquired by Associated Grocers of New England. Terms were not disclosed.

Bi-Wise Market acquired by AG New England“Bi-Wise has been a member store customer of AG New England for over 35 years, and it is a logical transition to pass the reins of the business to a company that is fully dedicated to the success of the independent retail grocers who are the owners of the cooperative,” said Bi-Wise owner Marc Genest. “This is the best thing that could have happened to the grocery store, its employees and the community.”


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The store was founded in 1966 by “Mighty” Mike Genest. It will be rebannered under the Sully’s name, AG New England said.

“Our plans are to keep the same great quality products and the Bi-Wise dedicated team of employees in place in Allenstown,” Mike Bourgoine, president and CEO, AG New England. ”We’re extremely pleased to be acquiring this successful business from Marc Genest.”

AG New England, a retailer-owned cooperative, supplies over 650 stores across New England and into the Upstate New York/Albany area from its distribution center in Pembroke, N.H. In addition to supplying independent stores, AG New England owns and operates several stores under the names Harvest Market of Bedford, Hollis and Wolfeboro, as well as Vista Foods in Laconia, N.H., and Newport, Vt., and Sully’s in Goffstown, N.H.

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Specialty Grocer ‘Shares’ New England Craft Beer

JAMAICA PLAIN, Mass. — City Feed and Supply is curating New England craft beers and complementary fare as part of its craft beer share program. Members can sign on for a 3-month ($ 120), 6-month ($ 230) or 12-month ($ 455) subscription to receive four 22-ounce or larger bottles of regionally brewed craft beer. Monthly selections are made by the two-store independent’s beer monger and paired with local foods like pretzels and mustard, cheese, and savory and sweet spreads. The …

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Supermarket News

UK: East of England Potato Day 2013

UK: East of England Potato Day 2013

More than 140 potato growers, advisors and agronomists met at Frederick Hiam Ltd, Tuddenham, Suffolk at the end of August, 2013, for Potato Council’s East of England Potato Day. Sponsored by Albert Bartlett, Branston, Fenmarc, Greenvale AP, McCain Foods and QV Foods the day comprised short technical presentations, followed by machinery and plot demonstrations.

Opening the event, Potato Council’s director Rob Clayton, urged attendees to talk to board members as part of Potato Council’s ‘Direction Through Dialogue’ process (www.potato.org.uk/dtd).
 
“Direction Through Dialogue is the good, the bad, and the ugly exercise. We’ve already had feedback covering 45% of the GB area and 70% of the volume traded. This gives a real sense of what industry wants and will result in sharpened, improved and reshaped services.  But there’s still a month to go and now’s the opportunity to put forward your views,” explained Rob.

 
Adrian Briddon

Kicking off the presentation sessions, Potato Council’s, Adrian Briddon from Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, described lessons learnt from CIPC exceedances and how to achieve best practice for the 2013 season. “CIPC labels are changing, we know that the maximum total dose rate per season, will be reduced to 36g/tonne,” explained Adrian.

The new, ‘Be CIPC Compliant’ campaign (www.cipccompliant.co.uk) promotes best practice and raises awareness of the issues surrounding CIPC use. The aim is to reduce the levels of residue found on crops, to safeguard its availability for future use. “It’s vital to get CIPC on early,” urged Adrian. “It needs to be within three weeks of harvest. This gives the best chance of controlling sprout growth with the least amount of CIPC. For cold stores with a holding temperature of 5C° or below, only one application should be used for the whole season.”

During the fields sessions attendees visited machinery displays by George Moate, Grimme and Standen and saw a working demonstration of a new vision system, which is part of a LINK project co-funded by Potato Council. The machine can control potato volunteers in carrots, onions and leek crops.

Trial plots with the leading varieties and new developments available from Branston, Caithness, Cygnet, Fenmarc, Greenvale, Grampian Growers, IPM and KWS were a popular aspect of the day.

During the field site session David Hudson Potato Services Ltd demonstrated fertiliser application methods and timing; Barworth Agriculture and Branston showed their Biofumigation and trap crop trials; Syngenta demonstrated different defoliation and seed treatments; and Bayer, Frontier and Hutchinsons evaluated in-furrow treatments.

Potato Council would like to thank Frederick Hiam Ltd for hosting the event.  Nick Gilford, commercial director said “It was great to see so many of our customers and suppliers, and also to catch up on the latest technical developments. We really enjoyed hosting the event and our business is committed to doing so again in September 2014.”

For more information:
Jim Davies
Potato Council
Tel: 0044 24 7647 8786
Mob: 0044 7581 628819
www.potato.org.uk

 

Publication date: 9/10/2013


FreshPlaza.com

New England Farmers Don’t Much Care For Produce Rule

Local farmers filed into the Augusta State Armory in Maine and onto New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College campus in the past couple of days to register their opposition to the produce rule the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is promulgating as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for food, was present at both events as part of his own national listening tour to hear how the produce-safety standards are going over with fruit and vegetable farms.

In Maine, where the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry estimates that only a very small percentage of farmers would be subject to the new rule, the balance of the testimony was decidedly negative. Maine farmers called the new regulations onerous.

FDA’s road tour took testimony on both the produce rule and another on processing.

Exemptions in the FSMA, signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, are broad. Excluded from the law are growers with less than $ 25,000 worth of sales annually and those with sales of less than $ 500,000 if half of the sales are to stores, restaurants or other customers within 275 miles of their location.

Maine farmers expressed concerns about the costs of complying with the new rules, especially as they apply to water quality, manure application, hygiene and separating animals from crops. FDA estimates a mid-sized farm would spend $ 13,000 in compliance costs, while a large farm with sales of more than $ 500,000 might spend $ 30,000.

Maine State Rep. Brian Jones, D-Freedom, said it’s more likely someone would be struck by lightning than get sick from locally grown produce.

Taylor, who is blogging about his listening tour, wrote that: ”Just as we saw in the Pacific Northwest, some growers are worried that the cost of meeting food safety regulations will be excessive and could even put them out of business. Our pledge in working toward the final rules is to make them as practical as possible so that we achieve food safety in a way that is workable across the great diversity of American agriculture, from the Pacific Northwest to New England.”

Speaking at Hanover, Taylor said FDA is committed “to the idea that one size fits all does not work.” In addition to extending the official comment period for another 60 days, FDA also recently announced it was doing an environmental impact statement on the produce rule.

The mother of a boy sickened by foodborne illness spoke up at the hearing to say that the vast majority of foodborne illnesses “goes underground.”

Food Safety News

Comeau Joins AG of New England Board

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Associated Grocers of New England here said Tuesday that Michael Comeau has been elected to its board of directors and Thomas Rath has been named director emeritus.

In addition, Robert George has retired from the cooperative wholesaler’s board.

Michael Comeau of Associated Grocers of New England“While we are sorry to see Bob leave the board, we are extremely pleased to have Mike’s added enthusiasm and expertise and Tom’s renewed involvement on our board,” said Thomas Bradbury, chairman of the board.

Comeau opened his first store — the Richmond Corner Market — in 2004 in Richmond, Vt., and a second store in 2011 in Waterbury, Vt. A third location is set to open this month in Johnson Vt.


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Rath, a founding partner of law firm Rath, Young and Pignatelli, in Concord, N.H., is a former Attorney General of New Hampshire and has been actively involved in government relations since entering private practice in 1980.

George has been involved in the food industry since becoming the manager of Fedele’s Market of Newport, Vt., in 1988. He assumed ownership of Fedele’s Market in 1994 and re-named it RJ’s Friendly Market. In 2007, George sold RJ’s Friendly Market in Newport, Vt., and purchased a store in Waterbury, Vt. — which he has since sold to Comeau. He is now retired from the retail food business. The Vermont Grocers Association named him Grocer of the Year in 2001.

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