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Judge Signs Forfeiture Order Against DeCoster’s Quality Egg, LLC

His company’s guilty plea for bribing a USDA egg inspector is costing Austin (Jack) DeCoster’s Quality Egg,LLC an extra $ 10,000.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett has signed a preliminary order of forfeiture ordering Quality Egg, LLC to pay $ 10,000 “representing proceeds derived from the illegal activity committed by the defendant.”

Quality Egg, LLC in June pleaded guilty to one count of bribing a federal official, a felony and the two misdemeanors for selling both misbranded and adulterated eggs. It was part of the plea bargain that included both Jack and son Peter DeCoster each also pleading guilty to single misdemeanors.

Both men and Quality Egg, LLC are scheduled to be sentenced in February. Quality Egg is expected to pay a $ 6.8 million fine, and the plea agreement has each of the DeCosters paying individual fines of $ 100,000 each.

Bennett signed the $ 10,000 cash forfeiture order on Nov. 18, the same day it was requested by the U.S. Attorney for Northern Iowa. A preliminary order of forfeiture becomes final at sentencing.

The defendants will be sentenced after an evidentiary hearing that will begin on Feb. 9, 2015. Sentencing has become tangled in a dispute over whether it can include any jail time for the two men. They’ve pleaded guilty under a so-called “strict liability” misdemeanor. Their attorneys argue it would be unconstitutional to jail corporation officials for merely taking responsibility for a company’s bad acts when they have no actual knowledge or intent concerning it.

The case against Quality Egg, LLC and the DeCosters was filed after a federal investigation into the 2010 Salmonella outbreak that was traced to two Iowa egg farms they owned. During that event they recalled over one-half million shell eggs, the largest such recall in U.S. history.

Food Safety News

California governor signs bag legislation

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday that creates a consistent statewide standard for regulation of carryout bags, effective July 1, 2015.

Under that standard, single-use plastic carryout bags will be banned, with a mandated retailer-retained charge of at least 10 cents for recyclable paper bags or reusable bags distributed to customers.

The law covers all grocery retailers, food stores and businesses with off-sale liquor licenses. With more than 120 local jurisdictions having enacted their own laws, the legislation will bring uniformity on a going-forward basis, with all areas of the state not covered by existing local ordinances governed by the new state standard.


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Commenting on the signing, Ron Fong, president and CEO of the California Grocers Association, said, “By signing [this law], Gov. Brown has helped level the playing field for our industry while at the same time helping grow green jobs through expanded use of reusable bags in the marketplace.”

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Signs of deforestation in Brazil

Multiple fires are visible in in this image of the Para and Mato Grosso states of Brazil. Many of these were most likely intentionally set in order to deforest the land. Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use. The herringbone-patterned tan lines cutting through the dark green of the Amazon Rainforest in the middle of the image are evidence of deforestation in the Brazilian state of Pará. The deforestation in Pará follows the Brazialian national motorway BR 163, passing by cities such as Novo Progresso. The lower half of the image shows the state of Mato Grosso.

The beginning of the forest loss coincides with a 1979 decision by Brazil’s Program of National Integration to build roads across the forest and offer cheap land for agriculture, thus encouraging a population boom in the area. Images of the “fishbone” deforestation in Rondônia state were widely publicized, and have become the visual shorthand for tropical deforestation worldwide as evidenced in this Aqua image.

In recent decades the locus of deforestation in Brazil has shifted east to the states of Mato Grosso and Pará (seen in this image), where large tracts of land are being cleared for mechanized agriculture, rather than small-hold farming. Even so, Brazil’s overall rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years.

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on August 15, 2014. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Signs of deforestation in Brazil

Multiple fires are visible in in this image of the Para and Mato Grosso states of Brazil. Many of these were most likely intentionally set in order to deforest the land. Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use. The herringbone-patterned tan lines cutting through the dark green of the Amazon Rainforest in the middle of the image are evidence of deforestation in the Brazilian state of Pará. The deforestation in Pará follows the Brazialian national motorway BR 163, passing by cities such as Novo Progresso. The lower half of the image shows the state of Mato Grosso.

The beginning of the forest loss coincides with a 1979 decision by Brazil’s Program of National Integration to build roads across the forest and offer cheap land for agriculture, thus encouraging a population boom in the area. Images of the “fishbone” deforestation in Rondônia state were widely publicized, and have become the visual shorthand for tropical deforestation worldwide as evidenced in this Aqua image.

In recent decades the locus of deforestation in Brazil has shifted east to the states of Mato Grosso and Pará (seen in this image), where large tracts of land are being cleared for mechanized agriculture, rather than small-hold farming. Even so, Brazil’s overall rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years.

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on August 15, 2014. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Illinois Governor Signs Cottage Food Bill in Kitchen of 12-Year-Old Baker

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a first-term Democrat in a tough re-election campaign against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner, traveled to the town of Troy, IL, near St. Louis on Tuesday to sign the so-called “cupcake bill” in the kitchen of 12-year-old baker Chloe Stirling.

His signature made Stirling’s home baking business legal once again. It had been shut down by the Madison County Health Department before state lawmakers got involved with a legislative solution.

Even before Quinn caught up with the baker, he bought two cups of lemonade from her little sister Sophie’s lemonade stand, set up in the driveway.

The governor signed the cottage food bill before the girls’ friends and neighbors who had gathered for the historic occasion. The young baker said she was happy that she and others making cupcakes and other treats at home won’t be getting into trouble like she did.

Quinn signed House Bill 5354 over the objections of public health authorities throughout the state, including Madison County. Health officials shut down the home bakery in January, and a local newspaper story gained statewide attention.

State Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) said the bill “grew from an upsurge” of people asking: “What is it with government that this girl cannot make a cupcake and sell it?” The new law exempts home bakeries with monthly sales of less than $ 1,000 from state and local regulation as long as people are told that the products are homemade.

Since 2010, about a dozen states have passed bills to ease regulation on cottage foods. Often the measures have been promoted as economic development initiatives.

Food Safety News

Illinois Governor Signs Cottage Food Bill in Kitchen of 12-Year-Old Baker

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a first-term Democrat in a tough re-election campaign against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner, traveled to the town of Troy, IL, near St. Louis on Tuesday to sign the so-called “cupcake bill” in the kitchen of 12-year-old baker Chloe Stirling.

His signature made Stirling’s home baking business legal once again. It had been shut down by the Madison County Health Department before state lawmakers got involved with a legislative solution.

Even before Quinn caught up with the baker, he bought two cups of lemonade from her little sister Sophie’s lemonade stand, set up in the driveway.

The governor signed the cottage food bill before the girls’ friends and neighbors who had gathered for the historic occasion. The young baker said she was happy that she and others making cupcakes and other treats at home won’t be getting into trouble like she did.

Quinn signed House Bill 5354 over the objections of public health authorities throughout the state, including Madison County. Health officials shut down the home bakery in January, and a local newspaper story gained statewide attention.

State Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) said the bill “grew from an upsurge” of people asking: “What is it with government that this girl cannot make a cupcake and sell it?” The new law exempts home bakeries with monthly sales of less than $ 1,000 from state and local regulation as long as people are told that the products are homemade.

Since 2010, about a dozen states have passed bills to ease regulation on cottage foods. Often the measures have been promoted as economic development initiatives.

Food Safety News

Ahold signs off on $297 million settlement

Ahold has agreed to settle a pending class action lawsuit in respect to pricing practices of Ahold’s former subsidiary U.S. Foodservice. Ahold has agreed to make a payment of $ 297 million to resolve the issue.

Although U.S. Foodservice, now U.S. Foods, was sold in a $ 7.1 billion deal in July 2007, a condition of the sale was that Ahold maintained responsibility for damages arising out of this class action, referred to in Ahold’s annual reports as the “Waterbury litigation.”

“We are pleased to have reached this settlement, which resolves a legacy litigation since 2006 related to our former subsidiary U.S. Foodservice,” Lodewijk Hijmans van den Bergh, member of the Ahold management board and chief corporate governance counsel, said in a press release. “The settlement permits us to avoid more lengthy, time-consuming and costly litigation, and to focus our resources and attention to our current business.”

The settlement is subject to approval by the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. Ahold will be funding its payment to the settlement fund out of its available cash balances and expects this payment to take place in late 2014 or the beginning of 2015.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Ahold signs off on $297 million settlement

Ahold has agreed to settle a pending class action lawsuit in respect to pricing practices of Ahold’s former subsidiary U.S. Foodservice. Ahold has agreed to make a payment of $ 297 million to resolve the issue.

Although U.S. Foodservice, now U.S. Foods, was sold in a $ 7.1 billion deal in July 2007, a condition of the sale was that Ahold maintained responsibility for damages arising out of this class action, referred to in Ahold’s annual reports as the “Waterbury litigation.”

“We are pleased to have reached this settlement, which resolves a legacy litigation since 2006 related to our former subsidiary U.S. Foodservice,” Lodewijk Hijmans van den Bergh, member of the Ahold management board and chief corporate governance counsel, said in a press release. “The settlement permits us to avoid more lengthy, time-consuming and costly litigation, and to focus our resources and attention to our current business.”

The settlement is subject to approval by the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. Ahold will be funding its payment to the settlement fund out of its available cash balances and expects this payment to take place in late 2014 or the beginning of 2015.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

US (WA): Cherry season’s early signs are promising

US (WA): Cherry season’s early signs are promising

If Mother Nature does her part, it could be a good year for Washington cherries.

Cherry trees are still blooming, so detailed data about the crop won’t be available for a few weeks, said Dan Kelly, of the Washington Growers Clearinghouse in Wenatchee. But the early signs are a little encouraging.

“Great bloom,” Kelly said. “We are expecting a large crop but not a ‘monster crop,’ as there are fewer flowers per bud this year,” said B.J. Thurlby, president of the Washington Fruit Commission in Yakima.

So far the weather has cooperated, with temperatures above freezing but not hot enough to influence maturity, Kelly said. Bloom is five days to a week ahead of schedule, he said.

“The crop is early, which means there is great potential for Fourth of July promotions,” Thurlby said.

“We expect the first cherries to be picked on or near June 4 this year,” commented Thurlby.

Most cherries are sold within a few days or weeks after being picked.

The length of the growing-selling season is critical — it helps make the difference between a year like 2012 and a year like 2009. In 2012, the largest cherry crop in state history sold out at excellent prices, Kelly said. In 2009, prices dropped dramatically.

The cherry-growing region stretches from the Tri-Cities in the south to Brewster, Okanogan County, and Omak in the north, and fruit maturity comes first in the south and moves north, Thurlby said.

“It appears there will be a nice harvest progression from south to north,” he said. “We do not expect to see growers in north and south harvesting at the same time this year.”

That’s in contrast to 2009, when the first cherries weren’t picked until June 17. “The growing districts were compressed, and we were forced to ship 18 million boxes in 45 days in 2009,” Thurlby said. That contributed to a disastrous drop in prices, he said.

“We hope to get 90 days, at least, of shipping this year on a crop that might end up being 18 million 20-pound equivalent boxes,” he said.

California is Washington’s chief competitor in the cherry market, and California’s weather hasn’t cooperated. The California crop is estimated at 5 million to 6 million boxes, Thurlby said. California cherries are expected to mature early, so “We do not expect a large crossover of volume between the Northwest and California,” he said.

But Mother Nature has to do her part. “All indicators look good,” Kelly said, “but what does that mean? There are lot of bumps in the road between now and then.”

It still could get too cold or too hot; it could rain or hail at the wrong time, he said. “We have to wait and see how the weather treats us.”

“We are running promotional programs in 18 countries, and expect to have most of our promotions in place by the last week in May,” Thurlby said. If conditions remain positive through June, that should “result in the critical momentum required in moving the late-season crop,” he said.

Source: seattletimes.com

Publication date: 4/29/2014


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Valentine Warner signs as Ambassador for London Produce Show

Grosvenor House hotel, London on June 4-6
Valentine Warner signs as Ambassador for London Produce Show

Cook, writer & broadcaster Valentine Warner will act as Ambassador for the inaugural London Produce Show and Conference in June.

Presenter of several hit TV programmes – including ‘Valentine Warner Eats Scandinavia’, ‘Coast To Coast’ and BBC series ‘What To Eat Now’, Valentine has made a huge impression on the British public in the last few years.

As Show Ambassador, he will take part in the opening cocktail reception at the Grosvenor House hotel on Park Lane on June 4, before officially opening the show’s main event, an exclusive exhibition in the 5-star venue’s Great Room on June 5. He will also participate in chef demonstration around the show floor and will be available for interview for the national, consumer and trade media.

A keen fisherman who is also renowned for his work with game, Valentine has also been extensively involved with the produce industry, including the soft-fruit, onion and mushroom sectors. “I’m thrilled to be involved with the London Produce Show and Conference, which is the first event of its kind ever staged in the UK,” said Valentine. “Everyone knows the value that increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables in this country could bring to the health of the nation and this event aims to achieve precisely that, by strengthening the relationships between buyers and sellers of fresh produce from all over the world.

“I look forward to seeing many of my own colleagues at the Grosvenor House, as well as buyers from a wider field of the retail, wholesale and foodservice sectors.”

Nigel Jenney, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium, which is presenting the London Produce Show alongside US publisher Produce Business, added: “Valentine is a great addition to our first event and his passion for all things food will resonate with every exhibitor, sponsor and delegate. We are currently finalising the remainder of our programme for the show, which runs from June 4-6, and we will have many more exciting developments to report to you throughout the rest of this month.”

More about the London Produce Show and Conference

A showcase to celebrate the very best of the global fresh produce industry in one of the iconic cities of the world, The London Produce Show and Conference will offer a new perspective on the world of fresh produce and flowers.
Presented by the Fresh Produce Consortium and organised in collaboration with Produce Business magazine, the inaugural event will take place at the 5-star Grosvenor House hotel, London on June 4-6.

A boutique one-day exhibition will allow 150 exclusive exhibitors and a wide range of produce buyers from the retail, foodservice and wholesale sectors to network and create new business opportunities.

A series of events within the main event, including workshops and seminars, chef demonstrations and bespoke programs for horticulture and culinary students and the consumer and trade media, will run alongside the exhibition, delivering every participant the opportunity to meet, share and learn with their counterparts from the global fresh produce industry.

For more information, including details on how to register, exhibit and sponsor:
Go to www.londonproduceshow.co.uk
Call Tommy Leighton on T: +44 (0)20 3143 3222
Or email: [email protected]; [email protected]; or [email protected]

Publication date: 3/11/2014


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Idaho Gov. Signs “Ag-gag” Bill into Law

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter Friday signed into law a controversial bill to protect animal production facilities from outside interference. It took effect with the governor’s signature.

Otter signed Senate Bill 1337 just after Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya broke with the rest of the $ 2.4 billion Idaho dairy industry by asking the governor to veto the bill. He told the governor that S 1337 “would limit transparency and make some instances of exposing the mistreatment of animals in the state punishable by imprisonment.”  The governor, in signing the bill, said Idaho agricultural producers must be “secure in their property and their livelihood.”

Idaho is the seventh state to adopt so-called “ag-gag” provisions into their agriculture protection laws. They include prohibitions on falsifying employment applications and surreptitiously taking pictures or making videos.  Animal rights activists say the prohibitions are deliberately designed to silence or “gag” anyone attempting to collect evidence.

Idaho joins Iowa, Utah, and Missouri in passing recent “ag-gag” laws. Three other states, North Dakota, Montana, and Kansas, adopted the first generation of such measures during the 1990-91 legislative seasons.

The Gem State dairy industry was stung in 2012 when Los Angeles-based Mercy for Animals sent an undercover operative into Idaho’s Bettencourt Dairy and produced videos showing animals being abused and sexually molested. Five hourly dairy employees were quickly fired and ultimately charged and convicted on animals abuse charges.

In pushing back, the Idaho Dairymen’s Association said the 2012 incident was not just about prosecuting animal abuse. Dairymen testifying for the bill said the vegan animals rights activists were more interested in hurting the dairy and its brands than helping animals.

Idaho’s new law came together very quickly. It was first introduced on Feb. 11 and was signed into law on Feb. 28. More than 100,000 animal rights advocates from around the country signed a petition asking Otter to veto the bill. They are not happy.

“Not only will this ag-gag law perpetuate animal abuse, it endangers workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees, and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply,” said Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy for Animals. “This law is bad for consumers, who want more, not less, transparency in food production.”

Chobani opened the world’s largest yogurt plant last year in southern Idaho. In demanding Otter  veto S. 1337 Ulukaya said it “could cause the general public concern and conflicts with our views and values.”

Food Safety News

President Obama signs farm bill

President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 Feb. 7 at a ceremony at Michigan State University in East Lansing in an event hosted by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The signing of the farm bill follows passage of the bill by the House and the Senate last week and includes an overall increase in investment of 55 percent over the 2008 farm bill funding levels in critical produce industry initiatives and programs, such as the State Block Grant Program, Specialty Crops Research Initiative, a new fruit and vegetable incentive grant program for SNAP recipients, and the pest and disease prevention program.

The bill also maintains funding for the Market Access Program and the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program, which provides fresh produce snacks in schools.

“Congress passed a bipartisan farm bill that is going to make a big difference in communities all across this country,” Obama said in a statement. “Investing in the communities that grow our food, helping hardworking Americans put that food on the table — that’s what this farm bill does. By giving Americans more bang for their buck at places like farmers markets, we’re making it easier for working families to eat healthy foods and we’re supporting farmers who make their living growing it. That’s creating new markets for produce farmers and it means that people have a chance to directly buy from their farmers the kind of food that will keep them healthy.”

“This farm bill makes landmark investments in the competitiveness of the produce industry and continues support for increasing access to fresh fruit and vegetables in our nation’s schools,” Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the United Fresh Produce Association, who was in attendance at the signing ceremony, said in a press release. “United appreciates the steady leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Agriculture Committee in getting the farm bill passed.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Obama Signs Farm Bill Into Law

President Barack Obama signed the Agriculture Act of 2014 — better known as the farm bill — into law at Michigan State University in East Lansing Friday.

In his speech before the signing, Obama called the long-awaited bill a “Swiss Army knife” that acts as a jobs bill, innovation bill, infrastructure bill, research bill and conservation bill.

The legislation will help rural communities grow, give farmers some certainty, put in place certain reforms, and help make sure America’s children don’t go hungry, Obama said.

“It doesn’t include everything that I’d like to see, and I know leaders on both sides of the aisle feel the same way,” Obama said, “but it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come through with this bill, break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven, partisan decision-making and actually get this stuff done.”

The conference report passed the House of Representatives on Jan. 29 by a vote of 251-166 and the Senate on Feb. 4 with a 68-32 vote.

For more detailed information on food safety aspects of the farm bill, read Food Safety News coverage of country-of-origin labeling and catfish inspection.

Food Safety News

After Closures, Signs of Life at Star Market

Star Market has skated into high-profile new development at the site of the former Boston Garden arena. Officials in Boston late last month approved a plan that would allow Star Market to serve as a retail anchor of a $ 950 million development that will include residences, office space and a hotel. The planned 45,000-square-foot store would be the first new Star Market location in four years, according to Shane Sampson, president of West Bridgewater, Mass.-based Shaw’s and Star Market. …

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Supermarket News

Australia signs free-trade deal with South Korea

TGF-FruitImageagreement big win for Australia’s exporters and growers:
Australia signs free-trade deal with South KoreaAgriculture could be the big winner of Australia’s free-trade deal with South Korea, announced by the Federal Government today. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the House of Representatives today Trade Minister Andrew Robb had completed negotiations.

As a result tariffs would be eliminated on Australia’s major exports and there “will be significant new market openings in services and investment”, he said.

Mr Abbott said it was good news for exporters, jobs, farmers and the country at large. “Under this agreement tariffs will be eliminated on Australia’s major exports to Korea and there will be significant new market openings in services and investment,” he said.

As part of the agreement, tariffs of up to 300 per cent will be eliminated on key Australian agricultural exports such as beef, wheat, sugar, dairy, wine, horticulture and seafood, as well as resources, energy and manufactured goods.

The government says the deal will make a difference at the farm gate, “from mango exporters to macadamia and potato growers”.

It said agricultural exports to Korea will be 73 per cent higher after 15 years as a result of the deal and overall exports to Korea will be 25 per cent higher resulting in the creation of more than 1700 jobs.

“It’s a great outcome for Australia’s farmers and producers and achieved within the first 100 days of the Coalition Government,” Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said.

“The Korea-Australia FTA will provide important new opportunities for Australian agricultural exporters and give our producers and exporters a more level playing field on which to build our market share.

National Farmers Federation president Brent Finlay said the deal recognised agriculture as one of the nation’s export strengths and will open opportunities for the sector in Korea.

“While the deal doesn’t deliver everything the Australian agricultural sector had advocated for, it is a strong step towards securing Australia’s important trading future with Korea and in improving international market access for
Australian agricultural goods,” Mr Finlay said, speaking from Indonesia where he has been chairing the Cairns Group Farm Leaders trade discussions.

“The NFF is heavily involved in all of Australia’s trade negotiations regarding agriculture, so we understand how complex and challenging it is to secure agreement.

The free trade agreement with Korea is a win for Australia’s 2,000 potato growers, who will now be able to access a developing market without the restrictions of tariffs.

“Potatoes will see an immediate elimination of tariffs into Korea, which means that growers will be able to reap the benefits of the new agreement in the early months of 2014,” said AUSVEG spokesperson, Hugh Gurney.

He said in 2012-13, $ 7.4 million of vegetables, including $ 6.3 million of potatoes, were exported to Korea.

Joining the list of vegetables now eligible for trade with Korea under the FTA are cherries, dried grapes, fruit and vegetable juice, apricots, mangoes, peaches and plums.

Source: weeklytimesnow.com.au

Publication date: 12/5/2013

 

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