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Perdue outlines 4-point plan to clarify commitment to animal welfare

Perdue outlines 4-point plan to clarify commitment to animal welfare
Hi-Tech Farming: Animal welfare issues find their way into company boardrooms.

Jim Perdue, chairman of Perdue Farms Inc., issued a four-part plan that makes the company’s commitment to animal care clear for the foreseeable future. Pressure from animal welfare and environmental groups continues to mount on producers and companies in the animal production business.

The four-part plan addresses the wants and needs of animals; improved relationships with farmers who actually raise the chickens; openness to criticism of current practices and transparency about policies and procedures; and a commitment to continuing to improve practices based on ongoing learning and advancements.

FASTEST TRACTOR EVER: If you accept that this machine is still a tractor, it’s the fastest tractor in the world. Jack Donohue recently set a world speed record for a tractor at over 100 mph.

What does the plan mean? Here is a concrete example: One criticism by the opposition is that chickens are raised in barns without natural light. The plan calls for retrofitting 200 chicken houses with windows by the end of 2016. Bird health and activity will be compared to bird health and activity of chickens in traditional houses without natural light.

Another part of the plan actually suggests tying the level of animal care provided by growers to pay and incentive packages.

Fast tractor!

What happens when you take old technology and update it? If you’re Jack Donohue, you wind up with a tractor that is faster than any other tractor in the world — ever! The former NASCAR driver recently eclipsed his own world record for a tractor, and broke the 100-mile-per-hour speed barrier.

Starting with the basic components of an 8N Ford tractor, Donohue put together a machine that was clocked at more than 101 miles per hour on a world speed record try in Wilmington, Ohio, in June. The Airpark there includes the "Ohio Mile" where Donohue proved that the 8NCREDIBLE is the fastest tractor in the world. 

Opposition groups active

Food & Water Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity, two environmental-leaning groups, released a joint press release recently. It related how the groups had filed a "friend of the court" brief to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a lower court that struck down an Idaho law. Called an "ag-gag" law by the groups, they say the law criminalizes undercover videos.

Food & Water Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity contend the videos simply document food safety, worker safety and animal welfare violations “inside industrial animal agricultural facilities.”

An Idaho district court struck down the law as unconstitutional last year, and an appeal is underway.

EPA presents award to ag company

The U.S. EPA doesn’t seem to pass out praise — and especially not for agricultural products — very often. That’s why it’s noteworthy that Instinct nitrogen stabilizer from Dow AgroSciences was awarded a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award by EPA recently. Dow AgroSciences was the only ag company to receive one of these awards this year.

EPA officials say the award promotes environmental and economic benefits for a company that develops and markets novel "green chemistry." Instinct helps farmers reduce the loss of nutrients into the environment.

In usual fashion, EPA was rather slow in recognizing the environmental value of Instinct. On the market for several years, Instinct II was reformulated in 2013, and the product hasn’t been changed since, spokespersons say. The active ingredient is nitrapyrin.

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