An excuse to increase trade barriers? South Korea has tightened its quarantine checks on U.S. beef imports after USDA’s announcement that an atypical case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in Alabama. The diagnosis of BSE in an 11-year-old animal in Alabama should have “very little material impact” on domestic or export demand for U.S. beef, the Daily Livestock Report said today. U.S. government agencies and trade groups are stressing the steps the U.S. beef industry has taken to prevent BSE from spreading since the last case was reported in April 2012. Industry analysts are concerned, however, that some foreign markets could use the new case as an excuse to increase trade barriers, DLR said. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

As sea waters warm up, Vibrio thrives: For the second time in a week Seattle health officials report that people who consumed raw oysters there became sick with vibriosis, caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus. The local health department said inspections of both restaurant showed sufficient refrigeration and no evidence of cross-contamination. Vibrio occurs naturally in seawater, multiplying when waters are warm. The oysters served at both restaurants were harvested at multiple sites. Researchers say they are not surprised; they have been tracking rising water temperatures in the North Atlantic and the Pacific Northwest along with increasing cases of vibriosis. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

An Amazon subsidy? Amazon is starting to challenge local food markets, and the company intends to dominate this market in coming years. This could have a profound effect on local economies, beyond what has already occurred. Competition in this venue has always been fierce, but grocery stores do not have the same government-funded subsidy that is being afforded by the U.S. Post Office, giving advantage to one commercial entity to the exclusion of others. The postal service is an independent agency of the federal government. READ MORE

‘Sleepwalking’ into a food supply crisis: Academics are warning the UK could “sleepwalk” into a crisis over food supply post-Brexit, with little signs that the government understands the scale of change and has a plan to cope with it. Three leading UK food academics on Monday published a paper that warns Brexit could disrupt supply and prices for food in the UK on a scale “unprecedented for an advanced economy outside of wartime.” READ MORE

High Plains drought decimates fields: Drought in North Dakota is laying waste to fields of normally bountiful food and hay crops and searing pastures that typically would be home to multitudes of grazing cattle. Some longtime farmers and ranchers say it’s the worst conditions they’ve seen in decades — possibly their lifetimes — and simple survival has become their goal as a dry summer drags on without a raincloud in sight. READ MORE

USDA releases plan to ID emerging animal diseases: Emerging diseases may negatively affect animal health, public health, and trade. Examples of emerging diseases in the U.S. in the past 20 years include porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, infectious salmon anemia, West Nile virus, and more recently porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. That’s why the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released a plan to identify, evaluate, and respond to emerging diseases in animal populations. READ MORE

Foreign ownership of U.S. farmland raises concerns: In 2013, the Chinese firm Shuanghui purchased U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods. In an overlooked part of the deal, Shuanghui also acquired more than 146,000 acres of farmland across the U.S., making it one of the biggest foreign owners of U.S. agricultural land. That purchase was  part of a continuing surge in foreign investment in American farmland and food that has raised concerns in Congress and among rural advocacy groups. who say the  more control foreign interests have in our food system, the less control we have. That could be a national security concern. READ MORE

When cows fly: Call it the biggest bovine airlift in history. The showdown between Qatar and its neighbors has disrupted trade, split families and threatened to alter long-standing geopolitical alliances. It’s also prompted one Qatari businessman to fly 4,000 cows to the Gulf desert in an act of resistance and opportunity to fill the void left by a collapse in the supply of fresh milk. It will take as many as 60 flights for Qatar Airways to deliver the 590-kilogram beasts that Moutaz Al Khayyat, chairman of Power International Holding, bought in Australia and the U.S.(Contributed by Dr. Stephanie Ostrowski) READ MORE