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Time to start managing specifics instead of averages

There’s good reason to believe the growing use of digital in grocery shopping will help, not hurt food retailers, assuming that they do a couple of key things:

• Accept that digital influence is changing how people shop and turn this to advantage.

• Move from managing averages to managing the specifics of the business.

I want to focus on the second item. If managing the specifics vs. the averages sounds abstract, consider how DSD has changed in recent years. Not long ago, retailers worked with invoice totals, and today management is done at the item level.

Our growing ability to analyze data (no matter how big or small) creates a similar opportunity in merchandising and operations. This can have a significant impact on overall performance — by doing the following for starters.

• Identifying price-sensitive shoppers and ways to make them more profitable.

• Improving the forecasts for promoted products.

These are two of 12 specific merchandising and operating opportunities where retailers can use big data to improve performance. We identified them through extensive conversations with retailing professionals active across the industry — and now we want to identify which of the 12 has the greatest near-term potential and which are easiest/most difficult to execute. You can help. Take the short survey we’re conducting at Brick Meets Click. We need your perspective.

Please take the survey NOW*. It takes less than 5 minutes to complete, and everyone who participates will receive a copy of the results. I look forward to sharing the topline findings in a future post.

*The survey will close on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014 at 10 p.m. CT.
 

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Supermarket News

Government Gets More Time to Respond to DeCoster’s No-Jail Argument

Because the defense attorney for Austin “Jack” DeCoster has raised a “novel constitutional issue that appears to be a matter of first impression,” assistant U.S. District Attorney Peter E. Deegan Jr. has asked the judge for more time to respond.

DeCoster, who is awaiting sentencing on a federal misdemeanor, claims he cannot be incarcerated or even confined to his home in Maine with so much as an ankle bracelet because the guilty plea he’s offered is for a crime involving strict liability, meaning intent was never an issue.

An issue of “first impression” is a legal case for which there is no binding legal authority, so the court is being asked to decide an original issue. Usually such issues cannot be decided by relying on precedent, and no higher court has made a ruling that might be relied upon.

Iowa U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett responded to Deegan’s request for more time by extending the government’s deadline for filing a response from today to the close of business next Thursday, Oct. 23.

The defense motion seeks to have the federal judge in Sioux City rule favorably on both the plea agreement the government entered into with DeCoster and a finding that the defendant’s incarceration or confinement would violate the U.S. Constitution.

For the 71-year-old DeCoster, getting through the criminal charges against him, his 51-year-old son, Peter, and their Quality Egg family trust without doing any time behind bars has emerged as a priority. In June, Peter DeCoster also pleaded guilty to a single “strict liability” misdemeanor.

Quality Egg LLC pleaded guilty as a corporate entity to two federal misdemeanors and the felony charge of bribing a public official. Together, the three defendants agreed to pay fines totaling $ 7 million.

However, the constitutional issue and appeals of certain information in the Presentencing Investigative Report (PSIR), which remains sealed by the court, have held up sentencing.

The charges resulted from a federal investigation of the 2010 Salmonella outbreak that saw DeCoster-owned egg farms in Iowa recall more than a half-billion shell eggs.

Food Safety News

Stenzel says new poll shows it’s not time to roll back school nutrition standards

WASHINGTON — United Fresh Produce Association Chief Executive Tom Stenzel said a new poll that shows parents overwhelmingly support new school meal standards that require more fruits and vegetables shows it’s not time to roll back the standards in the nation’s schools.

Some 500 produce representatives are in Washington, DC, this week for the group’s annual Washington Conference, and school nutrition standards are on the agenda during a session, “Why fighting for Healthier School Meals is So Important.”

The new poll, released Sept. 8 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association found 91 percent of parents support requiring schools to include a serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal.

The findings come as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Smart Snacks” standards, which took effect July 1, represent the first major update to national guidelines for school snack foods and beverages in more than 30 years. To meet the standards, a snack food must be a fruit, a vegetable, protein, dairy or whole grain; it must have fewer than 200 calories; and it must be low in fat, sodium and sugar.

Similar nutrition standards for school breakfasts and lunches already are in effect, and the USDA said they’re being met by some 90 percent of school districts.

Congressional Republicans, however, have attacked the new standards and are advocating for school districts to opt out of the nutrition overhaul, at least temporarily.

“The new national poll underscores the strong support by parents for the new healthier school meal standards that require more fresh fruits and vegetables,” Stenzel said. “We put our kids’ health first and Congress must continue to do the same. There can be no going back to water down the modest requirement that children take at least one-half cup of fruit or vegetable at breakfast and lunch.”

Stenzel added, “Instead, we should be looking for ways to reach our public health goal of half the plate being fruits and vegetables, not just half a cup.”

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

Stenzel says new poll shows it’s not time to roll back school nutrition standards

WASHINGTON — United Fresh Produce Association Chief Executive Tom Stenzel said a new poll that shows parents overwhelmingly support new school meal standards that require more fruits and vegetables shows it’s not time to roll back the standards in the nation’s schools.

Some 500 produce representatives are in Washington, DC, this week for the group’s annual Washington Conference, and school nutrition standards are on the agenda during a session, “Why fighting for Healthier School Meals is So Important.”

The new poll, released Sept. 8 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association found 91 percent of parents support requiring schools to include a serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal.

The findings come as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Smart Snacks” standards, which took effect July 1, represent the first major update to national guidelines for school snack foods and beverages in more than 30 years. To meet the standards, a snack food must be a fruit, a vegetable, protein, dairy or whole grain; it must have fewer than 200 calories; and it must be low in fat, sodium and sugar.

Similar nutrition standards for school breakfasts and lunches already are in effect, and the USDA said they’re being met by some 90 percent of school districts.

Congressional Republicans, however, have attacked the new standards and are advocating for school districts to opt out of the nutrition overhaul, at least temporarily.

“The new national poll underscores the strong support by parents for the new healthier school meal standards that require more fresh fruits and vegetables,” Stenzel said. “We put our kids’ health first and Congress must continue to do the same. There can be no going back to water down the modest requirement that children take at least one-half cup of fruit or vegetable at breakfast and lunch.”

Stenzel added, “Instead, we should be looking for ways to reach our public health goal of half the plate being fruits and vegetables, not just half a cup.”

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

California May Soon Require Paid Sick Time for Restaurant Workers and Others

California is poised to become the second state in the country to require paid sick leave for workers, an issue that has serious food safety implications for the restaurant industry.

Under the just-passed legislation, which is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature (and he has already expressed support), California workers as of July 1, 2015, would be guaranteed at least three paid sick days a year.

More precisely, the bill requires businesses to grant employees one paid hour off for sick time for every 30 hours worked.

“Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians,” Brown said in a statement after the bill was passed on Aug. 30. ”This bill guarantees that millions of workers — from Eureka to San Diego — won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”

Campaigners for restaurant worker sick pay say that many employees in the restaurant industry are more likely to work while sick if they do not have the privilege of paid sick time. In turn, sick restaurant workers have a higher chance of causing foodborne illnesses due to their contact with food.

In 2010, 88 percent of restaurant workers in a survey reported not receiving paid sick leave, according to Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC). ROC’s report, “Serving While Sick,” also found that 63 percent of workers reported cooking or serving food while sick at some point.

Another ROC report, “Backed into the Corner,” found that 48 percent of restaurant workers in the Miami-Dade area of Florida reported working while sick at some point, with 11 percent saying they experienced diarrhea or vomiting during a work shift. That report also found that workers were twice as likely to work while sick if they did not have paid sick time.

Once the bill is signed, California would be joining the state of Connecticut and cities such as Washington D.C., Seattle, WA, and Portland, OR, in requiring paid time off for illness.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) and other business groups have lobbied against paid-sick-time legislation at the state and local level, saying that the one-size-fits-all legislation hurts businesses and threatens jobs.

Groups, including the NRA, have successfully helped pass laws to prevent new local paid-sick-leave legislation in 12 states.

Food Safety News

Packaged produce means less time, less waste, more variety

U.S. Market Trends:
Packaged produce means less time, less waste, more variety

More than 70% of U.S. households consume bagged/packaged salads. Considering the hectic pace of the average American’s daily routine, reliance on the convenience and variety offered by bagged salads and other types of ready-to-eat vegetables and fruit will be a key factor spurring the U.S. market for these products from $ 5.5 billion in 2013 to $ 7 billion by 2018, according to Branded Packaged Produce and Salads: U.S. Market Trends, a recent report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.

Consumers can incorporate these healthy bagged foods into their diets without the washing, peeling, trimming, chopping, and other steps often required when preparing fresh produce. Waste and spoilage are minimized. Value-added products packaged with condiments or toppings that complement the specific blend of fruits or vegetables take the guesswork out of how to serve the dish or the meal.

Interestingly enough, bagged/packaged salad consumers are exceptionally likely to exhibit foodie attitudes and behaviours, notes Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle. Consumers with adventurous palates have the opportunity to sample foods they may be unfamiliar with, such as quinoa, soba noodles, edamame, and especially greens like those often found in spring mix (e.g., mizuna, tango, arugula, radicchio, lolla rosa, tatsoi, chicory, frisee, mache).

Furthermore, the report reveals that consumers of branded packaged produce and salads are well above average in many health-related respects. They are trend-setters as well, trying any new diet or health food, and knowledgeable, as friends seek their advice about health and nutrition.

For more information on Branded Packaged Produce and Salads: U.S. Market Trends and other reports in Packaged Facts’ industry-leading catalogue of food and beverage market research reports please visit: www.packagedfacts.com/.

Publication date: 8/22/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Sales of Expired Meat in China May Have Started Some Time Ago

Expired meat was probably being sold to McDonald’s and KFC restaurants in China for at least a year before the practice was caught for a report aired by Dragon TV.

A former quality-control officer for Shanghai Husi Food Co. Ltd., an affiliate of the Aurora, IL-based OSI Group, sued the company last year for allegedly requiring him to falsify production dates on meat packages. Wang Donglai, who worked at Shanghai Husi from 2007 through 2013, wanted to have his contract terminated because he said he was being required to engage in “unethical” practices and was risking his health through exposure to chlorine used to clean the meat. A demand for $ 6,100 was also included in his claims.

This “whistleblower” not only went unheeded by Shanghai Husi, but the district court dismissed all of his allegations after the company presented records showing Donglai’s health was OK.

Only when Dragon TV reported that Shanghai Husi was selling expired chicken and beef did the government shut down the company’s operations.

As in other food safety scandals involving local suppliers to Western companies, Chinese consumers have responded by blaming McDonald’s and the Yum! Brands-owed KFC’s for not paying close enough attention to where they were purchasing products. Many also suspect that the expired meat was purposely sold to restaurants.

Chinese food safety authorities, however, have responded with the arrests of five Shanghai Husi employees, including the quality manager.

The $ 6-billion OSI Group Inc. announced over this past weekend that all products made by Shanghai Husi are now being recalled. Although no illnesses have yet been attributed to eating the expired meat, OSI took the action to avoid seeing its fast-food business completely melt down in China, Hong Kong and Japan.

“To help rebuild the trust of customers and consumers, as well as to cooperate with the official investigatory process, we are compelled to withdraw all products manufactured by Shanghai Husi from the marketplace,” said OSI in a statement released Saturday on the company’s website in China. OSI also promised to undertake a “thorough internal investigation.”

Yum! Brands, owner of KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants, said it would no longer buy meat from OSI in China, Australia, or the U.S. McDonald’s, which has a relationship with OSI going back to founder Ray Kroc, said it would cut its orders from China for Japan.

Food Safety News

Time is Short for PCA Pre-Trial Motion Since Jury Selection Begins Monday

Mary Wilkerson’s motion to have charges against her dismissed before the scheduled July 28 start of the trial of former Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) executives has both the clock and the government running against it.

U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands let Wednesday pass without taking any action on her motion. Only today and Friday remain available should Sands opt to conduct a hearing on it.

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys tore into Wilkerson’s request, which suggests that government charges should either be dismissed or her trial separated from that of Stewart and Michael Parnell, the brothers who hail from a Virginia family that has long made peanuts their business.

Writing for the government, DOJ attorney Patrick H. Hearn pointed out that Wilkerson joined in an earlier motion to dismiss that Sands denied. As for the request to sever her trial from the two others, Hearn cited precedent.

“The Supreme Court has explained that ‘there is a preference in the federal system for joint trials of defendants who are indicted together,’” he wrote, from the 1993 case of Zafiro v. United States. Hearn said the rule of trying co-defendants together “is particularly true in conspiracy cases.” Conspiracy and fraud charges are the centerpiece of the government’s criminal litigation against the former PCA executives.

Wilkerson is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, a pair of felonies that carry the possibility of 10 years in jail. She began working for PCA as a receptionist at the company’s peanut processing facility in Blakely, GA, in April 2002, eventually being promoted to office manager. She became the quality assurance manager in March 2008, just in time for the Salmonella outbreak that would bring down the company less than a year later.

Her Albany, GA attorney, Thomas G. Ledford, renewed Wilkerson’s request for dismissal because he claims the government has violated his client’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.

Ledford, who has consistently charged the government with leaving the defense “buried in millions of useless documents,” reiterated his concerns over the late arrivals from both the prosecution and DOJ’s independent “taint team” which is reviewing documents from business law firms that did work for PCA before the outbreak occurred.

Late delivery of prosecution documents already delayed the start of the trial by two weeks. The government now says its June 30 document delivery involves 3,710 “unique documents,” not 100,000 documents as the defense figured.

In his response, Hearn provided guidance for searching DVDs for specific documents. However, Ledford pointed out that even after getting “taint team” evidence, it took several more days to obtain passwords.

If there is no action, or if the judge denies her motion, Wilkerson will join former PCA chief executive officer Stewart Parnell and his peanut broker brother, Michael Parnell, at the defendant’s table in the Albany, GA, federal courthouse on Monday.

Stewart Parnell is charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and introducing food into interstate commerce that was misbranded and adulterated. All together, he’s facing 69 federal felonies.

The 43 felony charges against Michael Parnell include multiple counts of conspiracy, interstate shipments fraud, wire fraud, and introduction of food that was misbranded and adulterated into interstate commerce.

If the trial gets underway Monday with jury selection, it will end 75 weeks of pre-trial sparring between the three teams of defense attorneys and government prosecutors.

The criminal charges were brought four years after a Salmonella outbreak associated with PCA products sickened more than 700 people and killed nine. The trial is expected to take eight weeks.

Food Safety News

Government: Document Delivery Time Shouldn’t Halt PCA Trial

Ahead of today’s pre-trial hearing in the Peanut Corporation of American (PCA) criminal case, government attorneys took 20 pages to explain how they’ve done a good job of providing documents for the defense.

However, the defense team today wants U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands to focus on the timing of the latest discovery product — a hard drive containing 95,966 images or pages produced just two weeks before the jury trial scheduled to begin on Monday.

Athens, GA, attorney Edward D. Tolley, who represents defendant Michael Parnell, says that government attorneys have “not addressed the substance” of a joint defense motion calling upon Sands to dismiss the entire case over the late submission of the documents on the hard drive.

“The Government’s late discovery puts defense counsel in the untenable position of having less than two weeks to review at least 95,000 pages of new discovery while also preparing for trial of this case, and there, the ‘process’ of the trial is affected, i.e., the late production violates Due Process of Law pursuant to the 5th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and obviously affects ‘the assistance of counsel’ pursuant to the 6th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” Tolley writes.

In contrast, prosecutors assert that the government “has complied, is complying, and will comply with all its discovery obligations in these cases.” They charge that the defense team is taking a “dystopian view” of the state of discovery when just the opposite is the fact of the matter.

“This grim fiction, however, could not be further from the truth, “ writes K. Alan Dasher, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. He contends that the government’s document submission to the defense has been “timely and comprehensive.”

While insisting the prosecution’s record on discovery is clean, the government’s trial team led by Dasher says it is ready to proceed with the trial on Monday, July 14.

“Indeed, the pressure for dismissal stems largely from Defendants’ refusal to consider whether they, independently of any action by the Government, need further time to prepare for trial,” Dasher’s response motion states.

Dasher said the government has fulfilled its obligations prior to trial, and the defense motion to dismiss the case should be denied. He says the court has plenty of other remedies if any discovery violations did occur.

Stewart Parnell, former chief executive officer of the now-defunct PCA; his brother Michael Parnell, a peanut broker, and Mary Wilkerson, quality control officer for the company’s Blakely, GA, plant are being tried in the case that began in 2013 with a 76-count federal felony indictment.

However, the government does not find another defense team remedy acceptable — excluding 26 witnesses from testifying, along with related evidence. In that instance, Dasher said the government would suffer “undue prejudice and irreparable harm.”

Among the witnesses the defense wants excluded from the trial is Dr. Ian Williams, one of the nation’s top food safety experts, who heads up multi-state outbreak investigations at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Sands has decided Stewart Parnell’s mental soundness is sufficient for the trial. The judge denied a government motion asking for the right to subject the top defendant to a mental evaluation. That motion had been hanging around ever since Parnell asked that his Virginia neuropsychologist be admitted as an expert witness to tell the jury about his alleged Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Sands ruled June 24 that testimony from the ADHD expert witness was inadmissible.

Attorneys for defendants Stewart Parnell and Mary Wilkerson also weighed in Thursday with reply briefs to the government.

“The Defendants do not seek to punish the government for its discovery abuses; rather, the Defendants seek an order of this Court to meaningfully remedy the due process violations that have already occurred and will continue to occur if relief is not provided,” they wrote.

“The government views the Defendants’ invocation of their constitutional rights as an affront to the government, because the government has seemingly forgotten that its mission is to ‘win its point whenever justice is done its citizens,’” they continued. “The Defendants in this case, no matter how much maligned by the government, Congress, and the press, are also the citizens to whom justice must be provided.”

The judge will hear arguments on the motion to dismiss the case at 10 a.m. Friday at the federal courthouse in Albany, GA.

Food Safety News

Payback time for soil carbon from pasture conversion to sugarcane production

The reduction of soil carbon stock caused by the conversion of pasture areas into sugarcane plantations — a very common change in Brazil in recent years — may be offset within two or three years of cultivation.

The calculation appears in a study conducted by researchers at the Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA) of the University of São Paulo (USP) in collaboration with colleagues from the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (Esalq), also at USP. The study also included researchers from the Federal Institute of Alagoas (IFAL), the Brazilian Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory, the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in France and Harvard University, Colorado State University and the Shell Technology Center Houston in the United States.

Findings from the project “Soil carbon stocks on land-use change process to sugarcane production in South-Central Brazil,” carried out with funding from FAPESP, were described in an article published in the online version of the journal Nature Climate Change.

“The study indicates that the soil carbon balance of pasture areas converted for the cultivation of sugarcane designed for ethanol production is not as negative as originally estimated,” said Carlos Clemente Cerri, project coordinator and researcher at CENA.

According to Cerri, soil from pasture areas has a carbon stock whose volume varies only slightly over the years. However, the process of preparing this type of soil for conversion to sugarcane plantations causes part of the carbon stock to be emitted into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2).

In contrast, depending on the type of management, the introduction of sugarcane to pasture areas could compensate for, or even add to, the initial soil carbon stock when the organic matter and plant residue penetrate the ground.

Moreover, the ethanol produced from sugarcane grown in these areas over time ultimately offsets the CO2 emissions that occur during the conversion process because biofuel contributes toward reducing the burning of fossil fuel, explained the researcher.

The researchers conducted measurements and collected 6,000 soil samples from 135 regions in south-central Brazil, which is responsible for more than 90% of Brazil’s sugarcane production.

At each of the sites, soil samples were collected from areas of sugarcane cultivation and from other areas to be used as reference. These reference areas included pastures, annual cropland (soybean, sorghum and corn) and Cerrado native vegetation.

According to the researchers, the study findings could contribute toward guiding expansion policies for sugarcane production aimed at producing ethanol to ensure the biofuel’s sustainability — Ethanol demand in Brazil is expected to jump from an annual total of 25 million liters to 61.6 billion liters by 2021.

The professor indicated that to reach this number, the area of sugarcane production in Brazil would need to expand from the current 9.7 million hectares to 17 million hectares.

Cerri notes that among the options for reaching the target area, the priority for expansion of production is expected to be the conversion of degraded lands, principally those used as pastures, into sugarcane plantations.

Between 2000 and 2010, three million Brazilian hectares were converted to sugarcane cultivation areas. More than 70% of this land consisted of pastures, and 25% had been used for growing grains, said the study’s researchers.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo. The original article was written by Elton Alisson. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Payback time for soil carbon from pasture conversion to sugarcane production

The reduction of soil carbon stock caused by the conversion of pasture areas into sugarcane plantations — a very common change in Brazil in recent years — may be offset within two or three years of cultivation.

The calculation appears in a study conducted by researchers at the Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA) of the University of São Paulo (USP) in collaboration with colleagues from the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (Esalq), also at USP. The study also included researchers from the Federal Institute of Alagoas (IFAL), the Brazilian Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory, the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in France and Harvard University, Colorado State University and the Shell Technology Center Houston in the United States.

Findings from the project “Soil carbon stocks on land-use change process to sugarcane production in South-Central Brazil,” carried out with funding from FAPESP, were described in an article published in the online version of the journal Nature Climate Change.

“The study indicates that the soil carbon balance of pasture areas converted for the cultivation of sugarcane designed for ethanol production is not as negative as originally estimated,” said Carlos Clemente Cerri, project coordinator and researcher at CENA.

According to Cerri, soil from pasture areas has a carbon stock whose volume varies only slightly over the years. However, the process of preparing this type of soil for conversion to sugarcane plantations causes part of the carbon stock to be emitted into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2).

In contrast, depending on the type of management, the introduction of sugarcane to pasture areas could compensate for, or even add to, the initial soil carbon stock when the organic matter and plant residue penetrate the ground.

Moreover, the ethanol produced from sugarcane grown in these areas over time ultimately offsets the CO2 emissions that occur during the conversion process because biofuel contributes toward reducing the burning of fossil fuel, explained the researcher.

The researchers conducted measurements and collected 6,000 soil samples from 135 regions in south-central Brazil, which is responsible for more than 90% of Brazil’s sugarcane production.

At each of the sites, soil samples were collected from areas of sugarcane cultivation and from other areas to be used as reference. These reference areas included pastures, annual cropland (soybean, sorghum and corn) and Cerrado native vegetation.

According to the researchers, the study findings could contribute toward guiding expansion policies for sugarcane production aimed at producing ethanol to ensure the biofuel’s sustainability — Ethanol demand in Brazil is expected to jump from an annual total of 25 million liters to 61.6 billion liters by 2021.

The professor indicated that to reach this number, the area of sugarcane production in Brazil would need to expand from the current 9.7 million hectares to 17 million hectares.

Cerri notes that among the options for reaching the target area, the priority for expansion of production is expected to be the conversion of degraded lands, principally those used as pastures, into sugarcane plantations.

Between 2000 and 2010, three million Brazilian hectares were converted to sugarcane cultivation areas. More than 70% of this land consisted of pastures, and 25% had been used for growing grains, said the study’s researchers.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo. The original article was written by Elton Alisson. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

APHIS proposing upping fees, for first time in a decade

APHIS proposing upping fees, for first time in a decade

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is announcing proposed changes to the fees it charges to recoup the costs of conducting agricultural quarantine inspections (AQI) at U.S. ports of entry. The adjustments APHIS proposes, the first changes to AQI user fees in nearly a decade, will ensure that the AQI program will have the financial stability it needs to continue the critical work of keeping U.S. agriculture safe and productive Agriculture, our country’s largest industry and employer, accounts for more than $ 1 trillion in annual economic activity. As volumes of international trade and travel both increase, so do the risks that foreign animal and plant pests and diseases can enter and establish themselves in the United States.

AQI activities include inspections conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of conveyances, cargo and passenger baggage entering the country as well as APHIS’ analytical and scientific work to track pests overseas, focus inspections at ports of entry, and develop the import regulations that protect U.S. animal and plant health from foreign pests. The fees should fully fund the actual costs of running the AQI program and be borne by those using the services. However, revenue from fees charged has been insufficient to cover all costs and compelled DHS to use appropriated funds that should be available for other important homeland security functions and initiatives.

APHIS is concurrently proposing to adjust the hourly rates charged when APHIS employees perform work associated with AQI activities on Sundays, holidays or other after-hours periods so APHIS can recover the true cost of providing the services. The overtime rates would be raised commensurate with the anticipated cost of providing AQI services through 2018. This proposed rule includes clarifying regulations so that AQI inspections performed by DHS can be billed in accordance with DHS overtime regulations. This proposed rule will also be available for a 60 day comment period. This is the first proposed change to overtime rates since 2002.

The proposed AQI fee structure ensures that no one party pays more than the costs of the services they incur. Because the proposal aligns fees with actual program costs, some fees will be lowered under the proposed structure. APHIS is proposing to lower fees for international air passengers from $ 5 to $ 4 per passenger and fees for railroad cars from $ 7.75 to $ 2 per railroad car. The current fees for these services generate more revenue than needed to cover their costs.

APHIS also proposes to raise user fees for inspections of commercial aircraft from $ 70.75 to $ 225, commercial maritime cargo vessels from $ 496 to $ 825, commercial trucks with a transponder (a sticker that contains an electronic chip that transmits information about the vehicle’s user fee payment status) from $ 105 to $ 320 a year, and commercial trucks without a Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service transponder from $ 5.25 to $ 8 per crossing. In each of these cases, current fees do not generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs of the services. APHIS is also proposing to add a $ 2 fee per sea passenger to recover costs associated with inspecting cruise vessels and passenger baggage, and to add a $ 375 fee to recover the costs of APHIS services for monitoring the application of or providing treatments to imported car go to minimize pest risks.

APHIS worked with an independent accounting firm to review the AQI fee structure and carefully considered a number of alternatives for revising the user fees. Much of the additional revenue from fees will cover the costs of ongoing CBP inspection activities that are now supported through taxpayer funds. This user fee rate update will allow us to recover the costs from those that benefit from the services associated with importing goods into the country, while minimizing impacts to U.S. employment and the economy.

This is the first major adjustment to AQI fees in nearly 10 years. Other than minor adjustments for inflation from FY 2000-FY 2010, the fee rates have not changed even though the program has hired several hundred additional inspectors and incurred other costs to meet the increasing need caused by a large increase in arriving international passenger and cargo traffic.

Having adequate revenues means that the AQI program will have the financial stability it needs to continue the critical work of keeping U.S. agriculture safe and productive. The proposal will be available for a 60-day comment period and APHIS will consider all comments as it works to finalize the changes to the fees.

Publication date: 6/18/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita’s contract at the Port of Gulfport expires next month. However, WLOX News has learned Chiquita needs a bit more time to pack up its containers and move to New Orleans.

Chiquita has asked for a lease extension that runs through the end of the year. But the port director says because of expansion plans at Chiquita’s current dock, he’s not sure commissioners will agree to a six month extension.

The Chiquita lease will be taken up at the Port of Gulfport’s June 26th meeting.

Source: wlox.com

Publication date: 6/13/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita’s contract at the Port of Gulfport expires next month. However, WLOX News has learned Chiquita needs a bit more time to pack up its containers and move to New Orleans.

Chiquita has asked for a lease extension that runs through the end of the year. But the port director says because of expansion plans at Chiquita’s current dock, he’s not sure commissioners will agree to a six month extension.

The Chiquita lease will be taken up at the Port of Gulfport’s June 26th meeting.

Source: wlox.com

Publication date: 6/13/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita’s contract at the Port of Gulfport expires next month. However, WLOX News has learned Chiquita needs a bit more time to pack up its containers and move to New Orleans.

Chiquita has asked for a lease extension that runs through the end of the year. But the port director says because of expansion plans at Chiquita’s current dock, he’s not sure commissioners will agree to a six month extension.

The Chiquita lease will be taken up at the Port of Gulfport’s June 26th meeting.

Source: wlox.com

Publication date: 6/13/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita’s contract at the Port of Gulfport expires next month. However, WLOX News has learned Chiquita needs a bit more time to pack up its containers and move to New Orleans.

Chiquita has asked for a lease extension that runs through the end of the year. But the port director says because of expansion plans at Chiquita’s current dock, he’s not sure commissioners will agree to a six month extension.

The Chiquita lease will be taken up at the Port of Gulfport’s June 26th meeting.

Source: wlox.com

Publication date: 6/13/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita’s contract at the Port of Gulfport expires next month. However, WLOX News has learned Chiquita needs a bit more time to pack up its containers and move to New Orleans.

Chiquita has asked for a lease extension that runs through the end of the year. But the port director says because of expansion plans at Chiquita’s current dock, he’s not sure commissioners will agree to a six month extension.

The Chiquita lease will be taken up at the Port of Gulfport’s June 26th meeting.

Source: wlox.com

Publication date: 6/13/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita’s contract at the Port of Gulfport expires next month. However, WLOX News has learned Chiquita needs a bit more time to pack up its containers and move to New Orleans.

Chiquita has asked for a lease extension that runs through the end of the year. But the port director says because of expansion plans at Chiquita’s current dock, he’s not sure commissioners will agree to a six month extension.

The Chiquita lease will be taken up at the Port of Gulfport’s June 26th meeting.

Source: wlox.com

Publication date: 6/13/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita to ask for more time at Port of Gulfport

Chiquita’s contract at the Port of Gulfport expires next month. However, WLOX News has learned Chiquita needs a bit more time to pack up its containers and move to New Orleans.

Chiquita has asked for a lease extension that runs through the end of the year. But the port director says because of expansion plans at Chiquita’s current dock, he’s not sure commissioners will agree to a six month extension.

The Chiquita lease will be taken up at the Port of Gulfport’s June 26th meeting.

Source: wlox.com

Publication date: 6/13/2014


FreshPlaza.com