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Influence Feed: New Year, New Perspectives

12 January 2018
Zoetis Influence Feed

Stay current on the latest food and agriculture issues impacting your business with Influence Feed by Zoetis. Influence Feed tracks the top 1,500 most influential voices across all segments of food and agriculture to bring you insights in a convenient bi-weekly report.

Subscribe to Influence Feed to receive more content, in-depth analysis and links to source materials at www.InfluenceFeed.com. It’s free and offers content that is not available anywhere else.

1. 2017 in Review:

Influencers marked final weeks of 2017 with numerous recaps of the year.

  • Meatingplace editor Lisa Keefe penned (login required) a review of major events in the meat industry.
  • The Washington Post declared “2017 was the year of chicken nuggets,” and BuzzFeed chimed in that the year “Spelled The End Of The Hippie Food Era.”
  • Food Dive named Sanderson Farms “company of the year,” while PETA bestowed the title upon Netflix.
  • Rabobank shared results from its “We Didn’t See That Coming” survey of industry leaders.
  • Meat+Poultry looked at the changing names and faces in the meat industry.

2. Ringing in the New Year:

Hand-in-hand with 2017 reviews, influencers were keen to guess how 2018 will play out.

  • Food & Wine reported that USDA projects record per-person meat consumption in 2018. Purdue University agricultural economist Jayson Lusk responded that the numbers reflect a higher supply of meat, rather than demand.
  • Agri-Pulse reported (paywall) that NAFTA and the Farm Bill are top industry concerns in 2018.
  • Chris Clayton of DTN/The Progressive Farmer added a dash of humor to his outline of 2018 policy predictions.
  • National Restaurant Association and McCormick offered their annual trend predictions, both featuring Asian flavors.
  • Activist organizations, such as Center for Food Safety and The Humane League, outlined their agendas for the year.

3. Tax Reform:

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 22, drawing broad reaction from influential members of the agriculture community. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Texas) cheered the “bill that acknowledges the unique tax challenges faced by those in agriculture.” However, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson worried, “This tax bill leaves a $1.5 trillion hole in the budget — a hole that some members of Congress will want to fill with farm program and entitlement spending cuts. At a time when rural America is experiencing the most severe economic downturn in a couple generations, we cannot afford to take away their safety net.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Craig Uden applauded the bill, but they considered that several measures will phase out in the next seven years. Uden said, “fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-generation cattle producers tend to think about things in the long-term, and in that tradition, we will continue to fight to reduce the tax burden on family ranchers in the months and years to come.”

4. Defining Organic:

On Dec. 18, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service opened comments on plans to withdraw organic livestock standards proposed under the Obama Administration. National Pork Producers Council President Ken Maschhoff underscored, “We’d like to thank Sec. Perdue and the Trump administration for listening to our concerns with the rule and recognizing the serious challenges it would have presented our producers.” Organic Trade Association countered, “USDA ignores growing consumer demands for food transparency. Consumers trust that the Organic seal stands for a meaningful difference in production practices.”

In the same period, Rep. John Faso (R-N.Y.) proposed a bill to combat organic fraud. The Washington Post quoted Faso, “Because you can get a premium price, there are inevitably going to be people who will try to trick the [organic] system … Under the terms of this bill, we will gradually increase the funding that’s available to the [USDA] and the regulators, so that we can better track and monitor these products.”

5. Alternative Meats:

A number of stories regarding lab-grown meat and plant-based meat alternatives sizzled in the headlines over the last few weeks. Beyond Meat announced a collection of new plant-based sausages as well as a partnership with TGI Fridays nationwide. Meanwhile, The Humane Society of the United States Vice President Paul Shapiro published a new book on lab-grown meat — Clean Meat — on Jan. 2.

In an interview with Modern Farmer, Shapiro noted, “I don’t have an aversion to animal products because of their molecular structure, I have an aversion because of the way in which they’re produced. … If eating clean meat makes me not a vegetarian, I’m not really that concerned.” Noting a broader trend, NPR argued, “Together, clean meat and plant protein make a formidable combination for the future of food because they both move us away from the harms to animals, to our health, and to our planet as a whole of conventional animal agriculture.”

 

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