United Poultry growers association
News & Updates
congressman scott updates upga
I grew up in South Georgia, spending most of my time picking butterbeans on my granddad’s farm. Agriculture is in my blood. At a young age, I was taught the importance of agriculture not just to our state’s economy, but to American families across the country. And now, agriculture is a big part of what I do in Washington as the Representative for Georgia’s Eighth Congressional District in the United States Congress and a member of the House Committee on Agriculture.
My granddad always said the old adage “you should thank a farmer three times a day,” and most of the time, I thought of the farmers, like my granddad, who harvested row crops or peaches. But many often forget that the “Peach” State has led the country in broiler production for the past 25 years.
As the amount of poultry consumed around the world has risen 30 percent over the past 15 years, Georgia’s top achievements in poultry production make our state a vital component to future production as a source of new innovation to keep up with the demand. A shortage in poultry production, a vital source of protein around the world, could have catastrophic effects in a world whose population is expected to reach 9 billion in roughly 30 years.
Additionally, as the average age of farmers is drastically increasing at the same time as population growth is requiring more food, so too does the need to engage young Americans not only in the agriculture industry, but also in the science and technology industries as innovators in agriculture science to help us produce more with less. Leading the nation, and arguably the world, in these efforts is the Department of Poultry Science in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ (CAES) at the University Of Georgia (UGA).
Poultry scientists from CAES have made great strides in improving feed efficiency, poultry well-being, and production in a 21st century world. With the knowledge that millennials today will become our farmers tomorrow, professors employed the one tool they knew all of these young producers would have - a smart phone.
Assistant Professor Justin Fowler’s smartphone app, FeedMix, is a resource for small farmers and poultry producers that allows for the maximization of flock health and growth by displaying a recommended ratio of feed mix to feed flocks based upon users’ data input.
FeedMix follows the app, CHKMINVENT, as the Department’s second app designed for farmers. CHKMINVENT makes it easy for poultry producers to calculate the estimated minimum ventilation rate required to remove moisture from their poultry houses during cold weather conditions.
In the last 50 years, research has significantly decreased the time required to grow a meat-type chicken to a market weight from 100 days to 45 days, and it has led to similar strides in egg production and poultry health. In Georgia, we see the economic impacts of this kind of research with thousands of jobs and millions of dollars added to the economy across the state that is directly tied to poultry production. Additionally, the work done in Georgia by our research institutions, like the Department of Poultry Sciences at UGA, and our poultry producers who embrace their innovation makes a global impact.
That is why I joined my colleagues from Georgia in working to secure full funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southeast Poultry Research Lab, located at UGA. The lab’s research on solutions to combatting poultry diseases, like avian influenza, that could be catastrophic to producers and consumers alike is utilized and implemented across the world. As a legislator on the House Committee on Agriculture, I understand the valuable role the federal government plays in targeting research dollars. However, I also understand the impediment that the federal government can be. Therefore, I am also leading the charge against inadvisable and overreaching government regulations that would harm the poultry industry in Georgia and across the country, including the recently proposed rule on organic poultry production and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States rule.
It is an honor to represent the state of Georgia, our Agriculture industry, and our world class poultry growers in Congress.
Court Sides with Producers, Against EPA Overreach
In September, the, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had “abused its discretion in deciding” to release personal information about livestock and poultry producers under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from three environmental organizations. It’s a blow to activists and the federal government’s efforts to invade producers’ personal privacy.
Reversing a federal district court in Minnesota’s ruling, the 8th Circuit also found that “EPA here is more than simply a second source for identical, publicly available information. The agency has aggregated vast collections of data from the majority of states—much of it obtained through state specific information requests—and provided it to requesters in a single response.” The court further objected, saying “CAFO owners still have a privacy interest in preventing the mass aggregation and release of their personal information by the government.” The matter is now sent back to consider the request for relief from American Farm Bureau and National Pork Producers.
Vilsack Says GIPSA Poultry Rules Coming Soon
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told the National Farmers Union in September that USDA plans to adopt final livestock and poultry standards rules prior to the end of the year. While providing no specifics, growers should take heart that Secretary Vilsack said his department is pressing forward on a new Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule to protect poultry farmers from retaliation by processors. Congress blocked the legislation through the appropriations process, but that provision was stricken from the FY 2016 omnibus appropriations bill prior to passage, prompting the department to move ahead.
When It Comes To Poultry Research, Georgia Rules The Roost
By Senator David Perdue (R-GA)
Agriculture has a special place in my heart. Growing up in Middle Georgia, the importance of hard work was engrained in me early in the classroom, and on the fields of our family farm.
Agriculture is also the single-largest industry in Georgia, contributing over $70 billion annually to our state’s economy. Of that, more than $25 billion comes from poultry production, making Georgia the top broiler-producing state in the country. In fact, if the Peach State were a country it would rank 7th internationally, only behind the United States, China, Brazil, India, Russia, and Mexico.
There is no denying the important role the poultry industry plays in our state’s economy, which is why it is imperative our producers take the threat of infectious diseases like avian influenza very seriously.
Historically, avian influenza occurred naturally in migratory waterfowl and is spread through direct contact with fluids from infected birds. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) categorizes avian influenza by threat level: low-pathogenic avian influenza, which may only cause mild illness in domestic birds, and highly-pathogenic avian influenza, which causes severe disease and high mortality among domestic birds.
While avian influenza has not been contracted in Georgia, state partners first made initial preparations in 2004 with the development of a response plan. This plan is reviewed and tested by tabletop and field training exercises multiple times a year.
If something similar to the 2015 outbreak in 21 states – which resulted in the loss of millions of chickens and turkeys – were to occur in Georgia, it could rack up to $38 billion in economic damages.
Fortunately, Georgia is a leader in agriculture innovation, affording our poultry farmers with cutting-edge research and preventative options. Leading this effort is Dr. David Swayne, a renowned avian influenza expert and Director of the National Poultry Research Center in Athens, Georgia. Last year, I invited Dr. Swayne to speak to the Senate Agriculture Committee about the research he is working on to prepare Southeastern farmers for potential outbreaks.
For fiscal year 2015, Congress provided $45 million towards the replacement of the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory located in Athens. The laboratory is USDA’s major facility for conducting research on exotic and emerging poultry diseases. This research provides regulatory agencies, such as USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control – as well as the industry itself – with improved intervention strategies against poultry diseases. The poultry industry accounts for nearly half of all farm income in Georgia, so the importance of these efforts to our state is apparent. The lab’s work goes beyond our state’s borders, too, impacting the entire poultry industry across the nation.
Our poultry community works closely with experts like Dr. Swayne, our state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, and the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network (GPLN) to prevent the spread of avian influenza. In fact, every flock raised in Georgia is tested at GPLN—that’s about 1 million birds a year.
Undoubtedly, preventing contact with the disease is the most important step in preventing an outbreak, and Georgia farmers are working hard to keep their flocks healthy.
Poultry producers follow key preventative measures to protect our state’s leading agriculture commodity. Farmers have adopted biosecurity practices and participated in continuing education programs outlined by the USDA and industry partners. The "All In or All Gone" partnership has joined with 11 states to share information and updates about potential avian influenza outbreaks.
Additionally, our poultry producers are active in the GPLN, which is not only the first line of defense to stop an infection from becoming an epidemic, but also where our state’s response plan is being coordinated should an emergency arise. The lab routinely practices how to respond to an infection—from communication to the disposal of contaminated broilers.
Overall, these preparedness efforts have helped safeguard the poultry industry. While we prepare for the worst case scenario, we are fortunate in Georgia that Commissioner Black, and our poultry community, are taking every preventative measure possible to stop an outbreak so our state and nation can keep producing—and eating—more chicken.
Bio: U.S. Senator David Perdue is the junior senator from Georgia and serves on the Senate Agriculture, Budget, Foreign Relations, and Judiciary Committees. Previously, Senator Perdue was the CEO of Reebok Brand and Dollar General. Senator Perdue is currently the only Fortune 500 CEO serving in the United States Senate.
UPDATE: Avian Influenza/Biosecurity
By Robert M Cobb Jr DVM State Veterinarian Georgia Department of Agriculture
In 2014 and 2015, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) caused the largest animal disease event in the history of the United States. This disease outbreak cost over three (3) billion dollars nationwide, interfered with interstate and international trading of poultry and poultry products and identified weaknesses in disease prevention strategies. This outbreak identified and confirmed wild waterfowl as the reservoir for Avian Influenza viruses. It forced the establishment of improved biosecurity procedures, new testing capabilities, better epidemiology investigative techniques, more efficient quarantine, permitting, animal/product movement and depopulation procedures and helped bring regulatory and producer entities together to fight this Foreign Animal Disease.
Twenty-one states were affected in 2014/2015 and the outbreak involved all segments of the poultry industry – commercial, backyard/free range, captive wild birds and wild birds. Working together with USDA, states were able to eventually contain the outbreak and with hastily developed processes safely move poultry and poultry product. However, many countries prohibited poultry imports. These prohibitions ranged from the total ban of poultry from the whole USA to more localized prohibition such as affected states or counties. The restriction of movement was very costly and caused much disruption to all parts of the poultry industry.
In Georgia, leaders at the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the poultry industry worked together with multiple state and federal agencies to establish an emergency Incident Management Team (IMT) and develop emergency procedures, training, documents and agreements. Poultry importation requirements were made to establish Avian Influenza testing requirements for all poultry entering Georgia. Equipment and supplies were inventoried and new equipment/supplies purchased as deemed necessary. Logistic procedures were established, practiced and utilized to strategically locate equipment and supplies around the state. Robust IT and communication capabilities have been established. The Department continues to provide training on a regular basis for our IMT and work closely with the Poultry Industry and other state and federal agencies.
Working with the poultry industry, educational meetings were held with poultry growers, allied poultry industry businesses, law enforcement, Public Health, other state agencies and related interested parties all over Georgia to raise biosecurity awareness and provide helpful information and contact information. Biosecurity recommendations were made for outdoor poultry to minimize their contact with wild birds, especially wild waterfowl. Nationally, avian influenza testing of wild waterfowl is ongoing by USDA.
The result of the HPAI awareness campaign, preparation, educational meetings, training events and testing has been prevention of HPAI in Georgia. Not only has HPAI not been found in Georgia, but the increased biosecurity practiced by producers, vendors and poultry workers has reduced the incidence of all poultry disease. The grower education meetings and biosecurity awareness meetings seem to have stopped a five (5) year MS outbreak. The number of cases went from 5.4 per month in 2014 to 1.6 in 2016. This is the lowest number of cases since 2008. Continued biosecurity awareness and practice is essential to prevent Avian Influenza and maintain the low disease prevalence among our domestic poultry.
It is important to realize that Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) is found in the wild bird populations, especially water fowl, at all times as has been demonstrated by USDA wild bird testing. However, not until 2014/2015 had HPAI been found in the wild. Avian Influenza is classified by proteins on the surface of the virus – H and N. It is the H5 and H7 type viruses that are known to become highly pathogenic. LPAI causes a mild illness, but HPAI causes rapid widespread illness and death of susceptible birds. As happened in 2016 in Indiana, LPAI can mutate, or change, into HPAI. This small outbreak was quickly contained and eliminated due to prior planning and the use of good biosecurity.
Biosecurity is the key. We cannot prevent the Avian Influenza virus from coming to Georgia; however, by continued practice of good biosecurity at all times on our poultry farms, we can prevent the introduction of the virus into our domestic poultry. It takes a continuous effort by all aspects of our Georgia Poultry Industry. All poultry allied industries must practice good biosecurity when they come onto poultry sites – even relatives and the family dog must help.
Georgia has an established LPAI and HPAI response plan that is practiced and updated yearly. It is important to be prepared. Georgia is the number one poultry producing state in the country and as such must be the best prepared for disease prevention and control.
WHAT IS the UPGA?
The United Poultry Growers Association is an organization for broiler, breeder, pullet growers, financed by growers and working for growers throughout Georgia. UPGA serves as an independent voice to advance your interests.
UPGA also monitors policy issues that affect the poultry growers' bottom line and engages the legislative and administrative bodies that can impact them.
Our mission is to improve the economic and social well-being of contract poultry growers and their families. We believe we can achieve our goals through open, honest and sincere communication between the grower and the integrator. The result: more profits and long-lasting, positive relationships between all parties.
shaping public policy
UPGA has identified four key areas to shape effective public policy for poultry growers:
- Government affairs
- Public Relations and Communications
- Research and Development
- Political Action
As a team gives us the clout to get the attention of legislators, the media and the public at large. That is why it is vital to organize and focus grower advocacy ... and why it is important to present ourselves in a professional and consequently, credible manner.
Message from UPGA President
Wow, what a summer it’s been both on the farm and on the campaign trail! With tropical storms and drought hitting the geographically diverse state of Georgia, we’ve had some growers looking for water and conversely, some running from it. Meanwhile, the 2016 General Election looms on the second Tuesday in November (8th) and at press time counties are already mailing their absentee ballots. The whirlwind of the last few months has produced some strange turn of events. While I can’t begin to adequately explain what is going on in the political arena, it may well be that the tumultuous weather patterns have impacted migratory bird patterns and thus our biosecurity environment. Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black has been vigilantly watching this and inside explains some of his departments activities to address one of the greatest threats to our livelihoods. In addition, Congressman Austin Scott relays his experiences growing up in a farming community and stresses the importance of agricultural research to the Growers bottom line.
Finally, as I began this column I will finish with a nod to this year’s elections. While the presidential campaign has consumed the media limelight, don’t forget thatit’s our local and state elected officials thatcan have the biggest impact on our day to day lives on the farm. With over one third of the state House of Representatives possibly changing and half of the state Senate, this is a pivotal election year in Georgia. Please exercise your constitutional right to vote and support those candidates who understand and support poultry production, the largest component of Georgia’s largest economic sector of Agriculture.