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Obama plan may allow millions of immigrants to stay and work in U.S.

Obama plan may allow millions of immigrants to stay and work in U.S.

President Obama is expected to announce, as early as next week, a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan.

Mr. Obama intends to order changes that will significantly refocus the activities of the government’s 12,000 immigration agents. One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away

That part of Mr. Obama’s plan alone could affect as many as 3.3 million people who have been living in the United States illegally for at least five years, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration research organization in Washington. But the White House is also considering a stricter policy that would limit the benefits to people who have lived in the country for at least 10 years, or about 2.5 million people.

Extending protections to more undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, and to their parents, could affect an additional one million or more if they are included in the final plan that the president announces. White House officials are also still debating whether to include protections for farm workers who have entered the country illegally but have been employed for years in the agriculture industry, a move that could affect hundreds of thousands of people.

Mr. Obama’s actions will also expand opportunities for legal immigrants who have high-tech skills, shift extra security resources to the nation’s southern border, revamp a controversial immigration enforcement program called Secure Communities, and provide clearer guidance to the agencies that enforce immigration laws about who should be a low priority for deportation, especially those with strong family ties and no serious criminal history.

A new memorandum, which will direct the actions of enforcement and border agents and immigration judges, will make clear that deportations should still proceed for convicted criminals, foreigners who pose national security risks and recent border crossers, officials said.

White House officials declined to comment publicly before a formal announcement by Mr. Obama, who will return from an eight-day trip to Asia on Sunday. Administration officials said details about the package of executive actions were still being finished and could change. An announcement could be pushed off until next month but will not be delayed to next year, officials said.

Please click here to read the full article from the NY Times.

Publication date: 11/14/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Kroger cited for work with disabled

Kroger Co. said it has been named Employer of the Year by the Ohio Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities for contributing significantly to employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

“We have a long tradition of hiring people with disabilities, especially on our front lines serving customers,” said Keith Dailey, Kroger’s director of corporate communications.

Cincinnati-based Kroger was also recognized earlier this year by the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities for helping young people with disabilities transition from high school to the workforce.

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Supermarket News

Big stores still work for Kroger

While Target announced plans earlier this month for a 12,000-square-foot store, Kroger Co. is still seeing traction with its 120,000-square-foot locations.

“We’ve had good success with our Marketplace format. It is driving a lot of our sales and growth right now,” said Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen in an earnings call on Thursday. Still, Kroger is open to new smaller format possibilities.

The company has been doing research and planning around smaller formats, and carefully observing dollar store chains. McMullen pointed out that Kroger has already been in the smaller format business with its Dillons Food Stores banner.

“And, we think it will be important over time to have even a smaller store that’s part of the profile that’s probably a convenient store, not necessarily a convenience store. But it’s something we continue to work on. We haven’t figured out how to make money the way we’d like to make money there, but we haven’t given up either.”

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Supermarket News

Big stores still work for Kroger

While Target announced plans earlier this month for a 12,000-square-foot store, Kroger Co. is still seeing traction with its 120,000-square-foot locations.

“We’ve had good success with our Marketplace format. It is driving a lot of our sales and growth right now,” said Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen in an earnings call on Thursday. Still, Kroger is open to new smaller format possibilities.

The company has been doing research and planning around smaller formats, and carefully observing dollar store chains. McMullen pointed out that Kroger has already been in the smaller format business with its Dillons Food Stores banner.

“And, we think it will be important over time to have even a smaller store that’s part of the profile that’s probably a convenient store, not necessarily a convenience store. But it’s something we continue to work on. We haven’t figured out how to make money the way we’d like to make money there, but we haven’t given up either.”

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Supermarket News

New Keurig designed not to work with private label pods

Kroger, Meijer, Ahold and H-E-B are among the chains that will begin merchandising the new Keurig 2.0 hot beverage brewing system this week, according to a Keurig spokesperson.

The system  is different from earlier iterations of Keurig brewers in that it can brew a single cup or a four-cup carafe of coffee.

The brewing system was designed to take back some of the single-serve coffee business that was lost to private-label marketers when patents on Keurig technology expired two years ago. The machine leverages anti-counterfeit technology to ensure that it’s only compatible with official K-Cups, according to a CNN blog post.

Kate Binette, senior public relations specialist from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the parent company of Keurig, couldn’t tell me exactly how their new interactive technology would work — and even if she did I’d probably have to take a 40-minute nap — but I did get the basics.

“Each Keurig 2.0 brewer will have a camera that can ‘read’ a proprietary taggant material,” Binette says, adding that it’s similar to current anti-counterfeiting technology and will be “embedded on the lid of each Keurig brand pack.”

Retailers have begun selling K-Cups that are designed to work with Keurig 2.0′s brewing technology. Although Keurig 2.0 will only accept the new K-Cups (and K-Carafe packs), the new K-Cups are also compatible with older machines, according to a spokesperson for Keurig.

“The goal is to eventually have the K-Cups with the new brewing technology phase out the older type,” she said.

The larger K-Carafe packs will become available at food retail when the machines ship to stores. 

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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

Food fraud calls for knowledge of vulnerability and for detective work

Food fraud has always taken place and there are incidents on a regular basis. To combat food fraud more effectively, information is required on which factors play a role in the vulnerability of organizations and the food chain for food fraud. In addition, new unconventional fraud and special products with labels such as ‘sustainable’, ‘biological’ or ‘animal-friendly’ call for new advanced analytical methods says Saskia van Ruth in her inaugural address as Professor (by special appointment) of Food Authenticity and Integrity at Wageningen University.

“No-one likes to be deceived and certainly not when it comes to food” says Professor Saskia van Ruth in her inaugural address Voedsel met integriteit — Tussen echtheid en eigenheid (‘Food with integrity — Between authenticity and typicality’). In the past unprocessed products were purchased on the market, However, even in that time water was added to wine and harmful colorants to spices. Food fraud is going on today too, according to Professor Van Ruth: “Products are sourced from all over of the world and the food chain has become a fragile, extensive widely-branched network, vulnerable to fraud.”

In recent years there have been a number of incidents involving horse meat, melamine, fish or organic products. However, little is known about how often food fraud really occurs, how widespread it is and where it occurs. For a systematic approach to food fraud knowledge is required on the vulnerability of products, and the organizations and chains for food fraud. This is one of the lines of research by Professor Van Ruth, in which she is collaborating with criminologists of the VU University in Amsterdam.

Analytical detective work

Specific naturally occurring physical or chemical characteristics define the identity of a product. These can be used to underpin the quality of the product, but also to determine its authenticity. Fraud may concern product composition, but it may also relate to the production practice or provenance of the product produced. In some cases analysis of simple substances, for example, the moisture content, can provide the answer. But for more complex questions analytical fingerprints are required which involves the combination of analytical chemistry and statistics.

Using the example of an average breakfast, Professor Van Ruth highlights some of the authenticity questions involved. Research is being carried out into the special characteristics of products and the underlying causes for these characteristics. The researchers are also looking at the relationship with the environment where production takes place. In her example she looks at changes in the composition of dairy products, for example the addition of protein or melamine-like substances. Research is also being carried out into the characteristics of products from organic production (eggs), types of fruit juices, the origin of cocoa beans (chocolate), and the typical characteristics of a specialty coffee.

“If something seems too good to be true, then it’s probably too good to be true,” says Saskia van Ruth. To get a better grip on food fraud we need to develop expertise and technology and Van Ruth hopes to contribute to this with her new special chair in Food Authenticity and Integrity.

Professor Saskia van Ruth (1965) leads research into the authenticity and integrity of food at RIKILT, Wageningen UR’s Institute of Food Safety. RIKILT is funding her special chair at Wageningen University.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wageningen University and Research Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Industry Groups Say ‘Massive Overhaul’ of Animal Food Regs Still Needs Work

The deadline passed Monday for comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the preventive controls for animal food rule issued under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) submitted more than 100 pages of comments on what it describes as the most massive overhaul of animal food industry regulations since 1958.

Nineteen regional and state feed associations also signed on to AFIA’s letter as a statement of their support.

Although the organization was disappointed that the comment period had not been extended past March 31, AFIA was still “extremely satisfied with the comments generated,” said Richard Sellers, the group’s senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs.

“If more time had been allotted, we would have ideally provided FDA with more examples of the overall impact of the proposal. However, given our time constraints, AFIA focused primarily on how this rule would impact the many varied segments of the industry,” he said.

The organization’s comments focused mostly on the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs), stating that they should be “more practical and less prescriptive.”

AFIA wants assurance that the rule is dedicated to the animal food industry rather than the human food industry.

“It is quite clear the majority of the proposed CGMP requirements come directly from the human food rule, and it has been left up to the feed industry to prove why the requirements are unnecessary as many do not relate to animal food in the slightest,” said Sellers. “A blatant example is where the proposed rule suggests ill employees can contaminate animal food, hence making the animal sick.”

In relation to the time frames FDA offered for phasing in smaller businesses, AFIA recommended changing them to add an extra year to the implementation period for the preventive controls portion of the rule.

Under this proposal, GMPs and preventive controls would be in place within two years for large firms, three years for small businesses and four years for very small businesses.

The idea has already been positively viewed by FDA.

“In many ways, that, I would say, makes sense,” Dan McChesney, director of FDA’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance, told Food Safety News last December. “If you look at the human food industry, what we’re asking them to do is implement just the preventive controls in one year, two years or three years. They’ve been implementing GMPs for many years already, so they don’t have to do that part.”

Other requests in AFIA’s comments were to simplify terms and concepts used throughout the rule such as replacing “utensils” with “tools” or “sanitation” with “cleaning,” differentiating among various types of animal food facilities, and for FDA to “remove all HACCP references and requirements throughout the rule, including references to ‘hazards that are reasonably likely to occur’ and return to the statutory language of ‘known or reasonably foreseeable hazards,’” Sellers said.

In another regulatory area, the Beer Institute and the American Malting Barley Association filed joint comments requesting that FDA exempt brewers from the rule. Their concern is about putting additional regulation on the byproducts of brewing. (Food Safety News published a separate story today about how Colorado brewers pushing back against the proposed rules.)

“For centuries, brewers, large and small, have disposed of their spent grain by giving or selling them to farmers and ranchers,” reads a statement from the Beer Institute. “This recycling process supports community green initiatives, but could end if this FDA rule is upheld. Instead, some brewers will be forced to throw away this valuable feed, a cheaper option than complying with the costly proposed regulations, which the Beer Institute estimates may cost a single brewery more than $ 13 million in one-time and reoccurring costs.”

Others are also supporting the proposal for exemption. The National Milk Producers Federation filed comments that referenced and included support for the Beer Institute’s comments.

And U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) even brought up the issue at last week’s House appropriations hearing with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. She asked for evidence that a cow has become sick after eating spent grains and for the exemption to protect the brewer-farmer partnership.

“It’s one of those examples of something where there is a reasonable solution that can be found,” Hamburg responded. “We certainly understand why it makes economic and sustainable agriculture sense. … I hope we can find a meaningful, viable solution.”

FDA has stated its plans to publish revised language for the proposed rule on preventive controls for animal food early this summer, alongside the revised produce safety and preventive controls for human food rules. The final animal food rule is required to be published by Aug. 30, 2015.

Food Safety News

Work Continues on Antimicrobial Solutions for Food Safety

Antimicrobial solutions are used to reduce contaminants on raw foods such as meats, vegetables and fruits. This is analogous to washing food prior to using it in one’s own kitchen, although these compounds enhance the washing action, says Martha Ewing, director of technical services at Sanderson Farms Inc. of Laurel, MS.

Antimicrobial solutions have proven to be very good at treating certain contaminants on animal carcasses and on primal and subprimal cuts, says Jim Dickson, professor in the Department of Animal Science, Inter-Departmental Program in Microbiology at Iowa State University in Ames.

“It’s one of the more significant introductions … in meat and poultry in the last 25 years,” he says. The statistics support that fact as well: Antimicrobial solutions are working.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data for poultry, the Salmonella incidence rate has been reduced 26 percent from the beginning of 2013 and 55 percent compared to five years ago. Further, data indicate that the number expressed as a Most Probable Number of Salmonella is very low – fewer than 10 microorganisms when a positive result is enumerated, Ewing says.

One of the biggest challenges for processors of ready-to-eat (RTE) products that are exposed to the environment at packaging is the potential for Listeria monocytogenes contamination, explains Lynn Knipe, extension processed meats specialist and associate professor in Food Science and Technology, and Animal Sciences at Ohio State University in Columbus.

“For intact fresh cuts and for ready-to-eat products, surface contamination has been the greatest concern for processors, and I don’t see that changing in the near future,” Knipe says. “Since this is a surface contamination, sprays and dips can have the greatest impact on the surface contamination.”

Gaining ground

Newer compounds and application strategies are being developed for antimicrobial solutions. Lauric arginate, for example, was introduced in the United States a few years ago as an effective antimicrobial spray against Listeria.

“Lauric arginate may be sprayed directly on to RTE meat products prior to packaging, or sprayed inside the pouch before the meat product is inserted into the package,” Knipe says. “The latter option relies on the vacuum to distribute the lauric arginate uniformly around the packaged product. More recently, it has been shown to be effective as a surface treatment to eliminate Salmonella on chicken.”

Peroxyacetic acid is a new chemical that’s been widely used, especially in the beef industry, Dickson says. In the poultry industry, carcass washers apply sprays to both the inside and outside of the body cavity, as well as to the external surfaces, he says. One of the newest advancements in some poultry plants has been the use of a wash after the carcasses come out of the chiller.

“If you spray an organic acid on a poultry carcass and then you put it into a chiller, then it pretty much washes all of that off,” Dickson says. “There have been some that are using a wash or spray cabinet after carcasses come out of the chiller, and that seems to be pretty effective.”

The compounds commonly used today are considered processing aides and do not have a residual effect. If a residual effect was present, the compound would be considered an ingredient and would have to be included on the label.

Nevertheless, some clean-label products, which involve vinegar and lime juice, have been developed that are effective in eliminating surface contamination of both Listeria monocytogenes and Clostridium perfringens on RTE meat products, Knipe says.

“With the consumer pressure for clean labels, these products provide the product safety needed [for processors and consumers], without chemical names that concern consumers,” he says.

Additionally, much work is being done in spices, botanicals, phyto-antimicrobials and phyto-chemicals to see if compounds can be isolated from various plants and/or seeds to have great antimicrobial effects, says Robert Gravani, a professor of food science in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

“Certainly one of the areas that is being actively researched is the synergies that may develop between antimicrobials that are used in concert with each other,” he says. Research also needs to continue on antimicrobials to make sure they are still effective against the organisms to which they are targeted, he adds.

“Clearly one of the things in people’s minds is, ‘Will there be new compounds coming in the future that will be even more efficacious than what we have now?’” Gravani says. “We’ve got to be constantly prospecting toward new compounds that will work that are as effective or more effective than the ones we have today.”

In addition, Ewing says, multiple points in each process are being evaluated for application effectiveness.

“The majority of these revolve around a water-based application, but other technologies are also being evaluated, such as UV light and high-pressure pasteurization,” she says. Antimicrobial solutions are being applied in more points during processing as well.

For example, when organic acids first came out for beef carcass washes, they were only applied at the end of the process after the final carcass wash, Dickson says. Then some companies started applying them pre-evisceration, which is now pretty standard in the industry, he says. Now, companies are spraying carcasses when they come out of the coolers.

“In some cases, they are getting treated as many as three times with some of these antimicrobial solutions,” Dickson says. “It’s all with the idea of reducing the potential of contamination on the surface of the animal.”

However, the cost of some of these antimicrobial products may be keeping some processors from using them on their products, Knipe adds. Still, the industry continues to look for new compounds and methods of antimicrobial wash application. As technology improves, so will the ability of these compounds to reduce microbial contamination.

However, Ewing reminds that, while antimicrobial compounds can help reduce the level of microbes to almost undetectable levels, the product is not sterile. Safe food-handling techniques must be employed at all times when handling raw food.

(“Work Continues on Antimicrobial Solutions” by Elizabeth Fuhrman first appeared in The National Provisioner on December 6, 2013.  Courtesy of The National Provisioner.)

Food Safety News

Publisher’s Platform: Congressmen, San Francisco Foodies, Let the Process Work

Congressmen, and the reporters who cover them, love to be in the know, and when they do not have that insider information they feel a bit weak and vulnerable – I get it.  I also get that the San Francisco foodie community is upset that they are having trouble getting its fix of grass-fed, organic beef.  I also get that ranchers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers are likely being caught-up in this mess.

However, as frustrating the lack of information is there are good reasons that the owners of Rancho and the FSIS are limiting their comments on the recall of nearly 9,000,000 pounds of meat stretching over a year – its third recall of 2014.

USDA’s Office of Inspector General is investigating.  Because it is a potential criminal investigation, Rancho’s owners and employees are wise to limit what they say without the benefit of a lawyer.  FSIS is also holding things close to the vest, because it risks interfering with OIG’s investigation.  The lack of information is frustrating, but to do otherwise risks due process.

FSIS maintains that Rancho “processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out these activities without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection.”  That is a serious charge, and although there have been no reported illnesses linked to this recall, processing animals under these conditions carry food safety risks, and are against the law.

FSIS is also caught between a rock and a hard place.  If no one becomes ill, and the recall is possibly deemed unnecessary, it will be criticized for over-reacting.  However, if the evidence went the other way, and FSIS did not issue a recall, they would be criticized for not doing its job.

In my view public safety has to trump business interests and transparency cannot overtake due process.  As frustrating as it is, we all have to let the investigation play out.

Food Safety News

Women need to find balance between work and personal life, panelists say

Women in the grocery business have to figure out how to balance work and family more so than men do, a panel of women acknowledged during a workshop session Tuesday at the annual convention of the National Grocers Association in Las Vegas. “It’s hard for a woman to advance in the grocery business and take an opening or closing shift when she’s trying to raise a child as a single parent, and that often can hold women back from promotions,” Lauren Johnson, COO for Newport …

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Supermarket News

Retail View: Commodity promotions work

The latest research on the effectiveness of commodity promotion programs has once again shown that advertising works.

Richard Sexton, an agricultural marketing economist and professor at the University of California-Davis, recently completed an extensive project with a colleague measuring the effective of the promotions done under the auspices of the Hass Avocado Board. These promotions include those done by the board as well as the California Avocado Commission, the Mexican groups that were forerunners to Avocados from Mexico and the Chilean Avocado Importers Association.

Sexton and Professor Emeritus Hoy Carman, also of UC-Davis, looked at almost two decades of data from 40 metropolitan markets across the country and compared it to five years of data in selected markets where the vast majority of the promotion has taken place. They also looked at the market price and volume of avocados over that time period to establish trends and create predictive economic models concerning the movement of Hass avocados.

Sexton recently told The Produce News that, not surprisingly, the project revealed that the Hass avocado promotions effectively create a return on investment of two to nine times the money spent. He said the wide range is a measure of the disparity in results and of the desire to produce results that covered virtually all circumstances studied.

He said the range reflects the level of confidence the researchers have in the ROI on a sliding scale. At a return of two times the financial benefit vs. the money spent, Sexton said, there is a very high level of confidence supporting that result. At an ROI of nine times the money spent, the level of confidence drops.

“I feel very comfortable saying the typical return is somewhere in the middle,” he said.

Most important, he said the researchers were trying to determine if avocado commodity board promotion dollars were well spent. And on that front, he indicated that the answer is a resounding yes.  

Sexton was not surprised by the results, as he said there have been dozens of studies over the years trying to validate the effectiveness of commodity-specific promotions and the “vast, vast majority” have shown that they do work.

He personally has done several of these studies involving other fresh products, including almonds and prunes. Sexton said that the enabling legislation creating these commodity boards often has a provision mandating that the effectiveness be studied to determine if the typically mandatory assessments are well spent. He said the supposition is very measurable and he has a high level of confidence in the results achieved by this avocado research.

In discussing the research, Sexton said the economists looked at 40 different metropolitan areas and at weekly sales numbers for the reporting supermarkets in those areas for a period of time going back 19 years. This created thousands of data points for the control markets. Next, they took the five years during which Hass avocado promotions were taking place, and again took weekly measurements for each targeted market. That means each target market had 250 data points for each year.

Sexton said the research was not designed to determine the relative effectiveness of each campaign but rather the overall effectiveness of promotion.

In a nutshell, the research showed that promoting avocados does increase demand and produces an increased market price because of it.

The researcher said that estimating a demand model for avocados by using the non-promotion markets and time period results in a different demand model than has been the case since promotions began.

Sexton said if one takes into consideration of the increased volume of avocados marketed in the United States during the five-year period (which saw basically a doubling in volume), any logical economic model would have predicted a decrease in price as the volume increased. That did not occur. Demand for the product increased, volume increased and market price remained stable.

Thus, he concluded that promoting the product works and accomplishes its goal of creating a better economic situation for the producers of the product than would exist without promoting.

“We found a statistically significant increase in sales [in the markets that had promotion],” Sexton said.

Because of the supply-and-demand nature of produce pricing, he said promoting and increasing sales in specific markets of the country does have a rising tide effect and all producers do benefit, even those that are selling to markets that are not involved in promotion.

Does the avocado marketing research and other commodity-specific marketing research have broader implications about the advantage of advertising, and specifically advertising fresh produce?

In the first place, Sexton said one only need look at the billions of dollars spent each year promoting and advertising products through the media.

He suspects the return on investment for fresh produce advertising is higher than that for the typically heavily advertised consumer goods, simply because fresh produce advertising is relatively rare.

It is easier to get a two- to nine-times return on a few millions dollars of advertising than it is to get that same return when you are saturating the market with hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising as the top consumer brands do.

He added that fresh produce typically has a very good story to tell that tends to resonate with current thinking about eating healthier, which should also boost the effectiveness of advertising.

Though Sexton’s research did not look at how individual retailers benefited by participating in commodity-specific promotions, there does appear to be a connection.

The research found that the cities that had avocado promotions sold more fruit than cities without promotion. It would seem to follow that the retailers promoting avocados, building big displays and participating in commodity board promotions would also benefit.

Sexton said that might be true but it would require further research as it is also possible that non-promoting retailers in a promotion-laden market would get a piggyback effect from the promotion going on around them.

In any event, the research by the UC-Davis team did show once again that advertising works.

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