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  • 23 Jan 2015 12:26 PM | Anonymous

    REGINA — As Saskatchewan’s livestock producers ride a wave of relatively good prices, the provincial government is putting $3.8 million into research intended to help keep them there.

    “Research helps us to raise livestock more efficiently and more profitably — and just better in terms of our treatment of livestock,” provincial agriculture minister Lyle Stewart, himself a veteran cattleman, said after announcing it at the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference in Regina.

    Third-party groups like SaskMilk, Sask Pork and the Western Grains Research Foundation are putting another $1.2 million into this research.

    “Every dollar spent on research is an added profit to the industry at some point,” said Paula Larson, chair of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, who added the SCA is “always happy” to contribute to such research through its industry check-off.

    The 30 research projects range from improving cow and calf performance through diet to new forage crop lines that extend the spring grazing seasons, plus options for recycling baler twine and netwrap.

    There’s also DNA genotyping for bulls and earlier diagnosis of ergot poisoning in cattle.

    Three separate projects will look at controlling porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), a virus that doesn’t pose a risk to human health or food safety, but can cause a significant number of deaths in pig herds.

    In the U.S., for example, Department of Agriculture statistics from 2013 indicate the number of hogs slaughtered fell to 92.09 million through Nov. 15, down from 97.17 million in the same period a year earlier — all because of smaller herds linked to PED.

    Around the same time, the federal and Saskatchewan governments gave $150,000 to SaskPork for the Saskatchewan Swine Biosecurity Program, which aims to prevent the spread of PED during the transport of Saskatchewan hogs. That supplemented money earlier allotted for PED prevention that focused on truck washing, transport audits by certified veterinarians, and education on transport biosecurity.

    PED was identified at about a dozen locations in Ontario last year. Stewart said it’s been found in Manitoba — though not in Saskatchewan.

    Money for the research comes from the province’s Agriculture Development Fund, which is financed on a 60-40 basis by the federal and provincial governments. Earlier this year, Stewart said the ADF would invest $6.9 million into 42 crop-related projects.

    Working on the research announced Wednesday will be the University of Saskatchewan, the Western Beef Development Centre, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, the Vaccine Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Prairie Swine Centre.

    Read more:

    Full Story Here

  • 23 Jan 2015 12:19 PM | Anonymous

    The government’s long-awaited review of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) has been released today, and according to federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, it indicates Australia is “a clear world leader in the welfare of exported live animals”.

    Mr Joyce said the report contained data which shows more than 99 per cent of livestock exported have experienced a positive welfare outcome since comprehensive welfare standards spanning the entire supply chain were introduced in 2011.

    He said it also showed that in nine of Australia’s 18 live export markets there were no incidents that impacted animal welfare.

    In the other nine markets, according to the report, the incidents involved an estimated 0.002 to 1.58pc of the animals Australia exported to those markets.

    Mr Joyce said the report also showed that since the ESCAS system was introduced, 8,035,633 livestock were exported with just 12,958 animals – or 0.16pc – experiencing a potentially adverse animal welfare outcome.

    “These are very strong results that show that the system is working,” he said.

    “However, everyone would agree that improving animal welfare outcomes continues to be a challenge.”

    Significant outcomes
    According to figures quoted in the report – recorded up to November last year - Australia exported eight million head of livestock to 18 countries in 1139 consignments, with only 22 incidents of animal welfare concern, since ESCAS’s introduction.

    “Despite the challenges ESCAS has posed and the need for improvements, it has delivered significant outcomes,” the report’s summary said.

    “Trade has continued, when it may have otherwise been limited or even phased out entirely.

    “Awareness of animal welfare issues, and of their importance, in livestock handling and slaughter facilities overseas has been improved and ESCAS has provided a valuable source of previously unreported data about the movement and the treatment of animals.

    “However, these benefits may also be able to be provided under a more efficient system than the one currently in place.”

    Further reform opportunities

    The summary cited several opportunities to implement further reforms that would meet ESCAS’s objectives while maintaining animal welfare standards and facilitating trade.

    These include clearer guidelines for describing and managing non-compliance and clarifying third-party complaint processes; allowing the sharing of audits for the same facilities or supply chains, which will remove duplication, reduce costs and improve opportunities for co-operation between individual exporters; and recognising opportunities for industry to take greater responsibility for proactively managing the risks within supply chains.

    “Implementation of these reforms, along with ongoing evaluation of export processes and identification of further opportunities for improvement may assist the Department of Agriculture to develop a more efficient and cost effective system for ensuring welfare of exported livestock,” the report said.

    A controversial system
    ESCAS was introduced into Australia’s live animal export markets following the controversial 2011 Indonesian live cattle export ban by the former Labor government.

    The initial review of the enhanced animal welfare system was recommended by the extensive farmer inquiry which also resulted from the sudden trade suspension.

    Under ESCAS, exporters must establish supply chain arrangements that deliver animal welfare outcomes according to internationally agreed OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) standards.

    The ESCAS review report was originally due to be tabled on September 30 last year after gathering stakeholder feedback, including from animal welfare organisations.

    However, its release was delayed due to the volume of collaboration required, in particular with stakeholders in importing countries, to research the first review into the system's effectiveness.

    The report said 60 stakeholders from across the supply chain were invited to make submissions during its development, with thirty-six received.

    “Views were varied, but the majority of stakeholders said they believe that ESCAS has been a step in the right direction to improve animal welfare,” it said.

    “However, opinions differ about whether ESCAS is merely a good first step or has substantially resolved the problems with animal welfare, with the focus now being on continuous improvement and refinement.”

    Continuous improvement
    Mr Joyce said since the Coalition government came to office in September 2013 the value of live animal exports has amounted to $1.4 billion and “is continuing to break new ground”.

    He said government and industry are continuing to work with the nation’s trading partners to enhance animal handling and husbandry skills and improve animal welfare outcomes and has trained more than 7000 people to date.

    “Industry is continually helping to upgrade facilities in-country to meet international animal welfare standards and our shared commitment to this work is ongoing,” he said.

    The report said a total of 866 establishments in 19 countries (including facilities in one country yet to receive ESCAS livestock) had been independently audited as being OIE compliant.

    It also said the rate of pre-slaughter stunning had increased – citing the example of over 80pc of facilities in Indonesia that now receive pre-slaughter stunning, an Australian cattle processing practice.

    The report also said from implementation of ESCAS in 2011 to November 30 last year, there have been 59 incidents of non-compliance with ESCAS requirements confirmed by the Department of Agriculture.

    Of those, 47pc were detected by the Department; 31pc self-reported by exporters; and 22pc reported by others.

    It also said 37 of those incidents related to issues where there was no direct animal welfare impact “but instead were problems with control, traceability or auditing arrangements”.

    “Of these, 23 were for movement of livestock outside the supply chain nominated on the ESCAS paperwork to facilities that have been audited and are OIE compliant, with no compromise of animal welfare,” the report said.

    “While ESCAS has done much to improve animal welfare outcomes, it has not meant that every animal has been slaughtered in line with OIE standards.

    “Of the millions of animals exported under ESCAS there have been 22 identified incidents of non-compliance where the animal welfare outcome was either adverse or unknown.

    “Most of the identified incidents involved multiple animals, up to several thousand in one instance.

    “In these cases corrective action has been taken to mitigate against further incidents.”

    Compliance challenges
    The report also said extending the government’s regulatory reach internationally through ESCAS “poses challenges for compliance and enforcement”.

    “Possible breaches of animal handling standards, reports of improper slaughter techniques and loss of animals from supply chains have been difficult for the Department of Agriculture to investigate,” it said.

    “Where breaches can be traced, conditions have been imposed on exporters to mitigate and prevent recurrence within a supply chain.

    “The ESCAS framework applies a single consistent system to all importing countries, regardless of the significant differences in terms of species exported, transportation method, seasonality, and demand drivers that apply.

    “The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of ESCAS does not allow importing countries’ regulations or positive improvements made by exporters or markets to be taken into account.”

    Impact on trade
    The report also cited concerns that were raised when ESCAS was introduced about its potential impact on trade and opportunities for Australian producers.

    It said international trade is affected by numerous factors such as price, exchange rate, competition, market-specific issues, domestic policies and commercial factors.

    “Among these factors it is difficult to distinguish the impact ESCAS specifically had on trade,” the report said.

    “Cattle exports declined prior to the introduction of ESCAS but rebounded to record levels in 2013–14.

    “Total trade volume of sheep has been declining since 2005–06 and has continued to decline following the introduction of ESCAS.

    “Some difficulties in maintaining individual markets under ESCAS have been experienced.

    “The last consignment to Saudi Arabia occurred in 2012 and it has not been possible to reopen that market under ESCAS,” the report said.

    “Conversely, ESCAS has enabled the trade in live sheep to Egypt, which ceased in 2006, to recommence.

    “New markets have been opened under ESCAS including Vietnam, Iran, Cambodia, Thailand and Lebanon.

    “Despite its successes, the regulatory model for ESCAS is complex and imposes costs of over $17.6 million a year on government and the industry.

    “The question remains whether the same gains in animal welfare could have been made through a simpler, clearer and ultimately cheaper system.”

    End the misleading attacks: Joyce
    Mr Joyce said recommendations from the ESCAS report would support continual animal welfare improvement in the nation’s live export industries.

    “What this review clearly demonstrates is that Australian livestock exported overseas are treated humanely in almost every instance and in accordance with international animal welfare standards,” he said.

    “With that in mind, critics of the live export trade should end irrational and misleading attacks on importing countries that welcome Australian cattle and sheep, and who rely on Australia as an important source of high quality, reliable and safe protein.

    “This industry is directly improving returns at the farmgate through increased domestic competition – indeed the record prices we are seeing in saleyards across the country right now can at least in part be attributed to the strong demand from our live export markets.

    “The Australian Government made a commitment to reduce red tape for primary producers.

    “Now that we know that the ESCAS system is effective, the government will work to ensure it is delivered as efficiently as possible,” he said.

    “Based on the recommendations from this report, we will examine opportunities to implement clearer compliance guidelines, remove duplication of audit activities and introduce greater industry responsibility for risk management.

    “The Coalition government is fully committed to the trade and I am proud of the fact that since we have been in office we have opened six new markets for live cattle and sheep – Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, Cambodia, Thailand and Lebanon – and we are intent on continuing that trend.”

    ESCAS was 'bold move': Crean
    The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) welcomed the government’s report into ESCAS and the significant improvements to the welfare of Australian exported livestock and local livestock in export markets.

    According to chairman of ALEC Simon Crean, in just two years of full ESCAS application the Australian livestock export trade has made huge inroads into improving animal welfare outcomes and placed the trade on a stronger footing to support its ongoing vital economic and job-sustaining role in regional Australia.

    “In 2011, the industry was in a difficult and dark place and facing its greatest challenge yet. The implementation of ESCAS – a world first attempt to manage the welfare of exported livestock along supply chains beyond our borders where significant welfare issues had been identified – was a bold move by the then government and an incredible test of live exporters relationship with downstream customers,” Mr Crean said.

    Cattle Council of Australia president Howard Smith agreed that ESCAS was a courageous plan: “The initial implementation of ESCAS, in reaction to appalling animal handling of cattle in Indonesia, seemed tough, but when you look at the overwhelming improvements of conditions for Australian cattle in market, it was a necessary step.”

    In everybody's interests: NFF
    National Farmers Federation (NFF) president Brent Finlay said the federal government’s ESCAS report showed that while the system is not without fault, it has achieved remarkable improvements in animal welfare in a short time.

    “No-one wants animals to suffer and it’s in everybody’s interest that community expectations around animal welfare are met,” he said.

    According to Mr Finlay, more than 100 countries export livestock around the world, but Australia is the only livestock exporting nation that regulates animal welfare standards throughout the entire supply chain, “all the way across the oceans”.

    “Australia is also the only one investing in delivering animal welfare skills to people working in the supply chain,” he said.

    “Live export supply chain participants have worked tirelessly to meet the standards that have been set.”

    Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA) president Jeff Murray also acknowledged the importance of the live export trade to Australian producers.

    “The live sheep export trade is essential to the livelihoods of thousands of Australian sheep meat producers. Through ESCAS and the work of the industry, the regulatory system has ensured the continuation of the trade across many international markets, which is good for our producers who rely on market competition and diversity to drive higher farmgate returns,” he said.

    Full Story Here

  • 23 Jan 2015 12:14 PM | Anonymous

    John F. Kennedy Airport in New York will be home to a $48m animal cargo facility, set to open in the first quarter of 2016.

    Air travel can be such a nightmare, but one airport is determined to improve the experience… for animals, that is.

    John F. Kennedy Airport is set to open the first privately-owned animal terminal in the world. It will be called, naturally, The Ark.
    The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has signed a 30-year lease deal with Ark Development, an affiliate of the real estate company Racebrook Capital, to design and build a 178,000-square-foot animal cargo facility at the Queens, New York-based airport.

    The $48m (£31.6m) project will create 180 jobs and generate $108m in revenues over its 30-year span, the organisers said.

    “For the animals who [will] pass through The Ark, as well as the people who own them, air travel can be stressful and confusing,” said Cliff Bollmann, an architect at Gensler, one of the firms designing the facility. “Aligning the needs of quarantine with kennelling and elevating the experience for animals and their owners, our design team sought to create a comfortable, healthy environment for them all.”

    The Ark, which is scheduled to open in the early months of 2016, will include a departure lounge with comfortable places to sit, eat and drink (Costa Coffee for critters?), individual climate-controlled bedrooms for horses and cattle, a vet, an aviary and a Paradise 4 Paws for cats and dogs.

    JFK is one of the busiest airports in the world, with some 50m people a year landing and taking off from its runways.

    John J. Cuticelli, Jr, the chairman of Racebrook Capital, said the concept tackles “unmet needs” of travelling companion, sporting and agricultural animals. The terminal “will set new international airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kennelling and quarantine services.”

    If only someone would think of a way to make the flying experience that pleasant for humans...

    Full Story Here

  • 16 Jan 2015 12:12 PM | Anonymous

    New prevention measures include ban on sale of plasma products and ban on importation of live pigs and semen

    Ireland’s National Pig Health Council (NPHC) has adopted a list of measures to limit the risk of the entry of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus into the country. The measures were adopted following a recent NPHC meeting.

    According to National Pig Health Council Chairman Pat Kirwan, the PED virus prevention measures include:

    • An initial three-month voluntary ban on the importation of live pigs or semen, including for shows and specialist breeds
    • An initial three-month ban on the export of live pigs for slaughter to infected countries
    • An initial three-month voluntary ban on the sale of plasma protein/blood plasma products or products containing these substances.
    • A recommendation that all staff returning to work after the Christmas break must prove that they have been back in the country for at least three days. These staff should also be provided with new clothing and foot ware.
    • Biosecurity on farms and feed mills to be increased.
    • The prevention plan follows the news that PED virus has entered Europe.

    “Porcine epidemic diarrhea caused enormous losses on farms in America, Canada and Mexico in 2014 killing millions of pigs and leaving farm families devastated,” said Irish Farmers’ Association Pigs Committee Chairman Pat O’Flaherty. “The disease has now been confirmed in the EU and it is spreading fast in the cold weather. Although the disease carried no public health importance, should it enter Irish farms, our industry will be completely decimated.

    “Although the industry is taking a proactive stance in terms of trying to protect itself, we are very reliant on the government taking an active role in this also. We are calling on [Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine] to set up a rapid response unit and to put a contingency plan in place that can be followed in the event of an outbreak. There are 10,000 jobs and one billion Euros worth of an industry dependent on it.”

    Full Story Here

  • 16 Jan 2015 12:08 PM | Anonymous

    The aquarium industry is facing the most serious threat it has ever had to deal with since 1999. Changes due to commence March 1st., 2015, will significantly impact the industry. If you want to help and already know about this problem, then please go straight to the bottom of this document, where there is an action plan. If you want more information then please read on …..

    What is Iridovirus?

    There is a family of viruses called Iridovirus. They include a sub-group called Megalocytivirus and one member of this sub-group is commonly called gourami iridovirus. For the sake of consistency, the term gourami iridovirus is used in this Fact Sheet.

    The gourami iridovirus is NOT recognized internationally as an OIE listed disease of significance or importance. The OIE (Office International des Epizooties) is the World Organization for Animal Health. It is therefore not considered an important disease internationally and hence there is very little background testing to see how common it is.

    History in Australia

    This entire process came about because of an illegal practice by the aquaculture industry in 2003. An outbreak of Iridovirus occurred on a Murray Cod farm that killed many young fish. This outbreak was linked to the illegal practice of feeding gourami fish to the Murray Cod broodstock (breeders).

    At the time (late-summer) the water temperature was 26 to 27oC . Murray Cod should be kept at a temperature below 25oC, and in fact prefer less than 20oC. They are a temperate fish, not a tropical fish. This high temperature for the Murray Cod was a major contributing factor with heat stress reducing their immune system and making them more susceptible to disease.

    The disease problem went away with NO Government intervention, did NOT escape into the wild and has NOT been seen since in Murray Cod or any other native Australian fish since 2003.

    Testing by researchers at the Sydney University replicated this outbreak. However, they conducted this by stressing the Murray Cod at high temperatures of 27oC. There has been no study to confirm that the virus can affect Murray Cod at their normal temperature range of below 25oC.

    There has never been a serious disease outbreak in Australian native fish in our waterways due to the importation of aquarium fish into Australia.

    The current import system is effective because up to 20 million fish are imported into Australia every year and surely by now if there was a potential for a disease outbreak it would have occurred by now. Aquarium fish are generally a dead end for disease transmission with no contact with the wild environment. Most fish owners are responsible and therefore, any fish that die are placed into the rubbish bin or are buried in the ground. Hence, direct contact with waterways is very limited.

    Current Quarantine requirements

    In Australia, there is insufficient local breeding of fish to supply the home aquarium market and so importing fish is necessary to meet the demand. The importation of fish into Australia operates within a highly regulated Federal Government framework controlled by the Department of Agriculture (previously Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry or DAFF). Only species on the National Allowable Permit List can be imported into Australia, and these fish then enter a Federal Government audited Quarantine Approved Premise (QAP). The fish are held in the QAP after their arrival for 7, 14 or 21 days depending on the species.  The fish are released from quarantine only after they have been inspected and found to be healthy by Australian Quarantine Inspection Services (AQIS) officers.

    Proposed fish quarantine changes due to Iridovirus

    Due to the iridovirus problem in 2003 and some further research, in 2008 the Federal Government elected to undertake a new Import Risk Assessment (IRA) for potential fish affected by iridovirus. The final document was released in September 2014. The PIAA attended many meetings with Government and argued on many occasions that the proposed changes were not necessary.

    The Australian Government is about to introduce dramatic changes to the current fish importing requirements. They are demanding off-shore, batch laboratory testing that will result in the killing of thousands of healthy fish. This means that every consignment of fish to be exported will need to be tested before being sent. There is no test currently available without killing fish and collecting their internal organs. The testing regime is all based upon statistics and for example if you wish to import 20 of Fish type X then you need to kill 19 of them. If they test negative the remaining one can be safely imported. If you want to import 50 of Fish type Y, then you need to kill 35 of them. If they test negative the remaining 15 can be safely imported. Finally, if you want to import 2000 of Fish type Z, then you need to kill 58 of them which if they test negative will mean that the remaining 1942 can be safely imported. So many fish will be killed unnecessarily to justify this testing requirement.

    Apart from the cost of the laboratory testing (originally estimated at $2000 per batch by the Australian pathology laboratories), the loss of healthy fish becomes a welfare issue.

    The only alternative to batch testing is to demonstrate source freedom. A process that normally takes two years, and yet in less than three months the Government expects overseas authorities to be able to somehow satisfy these requirements.

    These measures will drastically increase the cost of bringing the remaining fish into Australia and for some it will no longer be economic to import them. Estimations are that the cost of all fish will increase and up to four times for some species. This will have a major impact on many small businesses and make the keeping of fish in home aquariums prohibitively expensive for many people.

    All because of an illegal feeding practice back in 2003 by the aquaculture industry.

    The other important point to note is that research funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC – report 2009/044) in June 2013, found the gourami iridovirus on an aquarium fish farm in Queensland, indicating it is already in the country. It appears that once again, there was no eradication conducted by the government and so the disease is already present within Australian borders. The same report undertook some testing in wild fish and did not find the virus once again indicating the fact that the current quarantine controls are working.

    It is important to note here that Biosecurity Australia (part of the Department of Agriculture) has been providing the scientific advice and policy for the government to consider and then for AQIS to implement. Unfortunately, the outcome provided by Biosecurity Australia and AQIS is completely impractical, commercially unviable and also unnecessary. 

    The Future

    The PIAA fully supports the current quarantine of fish and does not see a system that is broken and needs such a radical repair. We ask you to express your concern at what is proposed by sending emails, letters, signing petitions and discussing the problem on social media. Please see below for contact details and what we ask you to do.

     I thank you in advance for your co-operation with what is the most serious threat ever to the home aquarium industry.

    Dr Rob Jones (‘The Aquarium Vet’)  
    Director of Pet Services, PIAA

    Full Story Here

  • 16 Jan 2015 12:05 PM | Anonymous

    The Chinese government has announced that it will ban all imports of US poultry and egg products because of recent detections in the US of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in backyard poultry and wild birds in the Pacific Northwest. The US industry says it expected China to take a regional approach, at the most, in line with international trade guidelines.

    In a joint announcement posted on official websites in China, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) imposed nationwide restrictions on imports of processed and unprocessed US poultry and eggs, effective on 8 January. The ban also applies to breeding stock, which includes live chicks and hatching eggs.

    The ban is in response to a detection in December of a highly pathogenic strain of H5N8 influenza in wild birds and in a backyard flock of guinea hens and chickens in Oregon, along with separate H5N2 HPAI detections in wild birds in California and Washington State. MOA and AQSIQ imposed the restrictions despite assurances by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) that the influenza virus has not been found in any commercial poultry flock in the US.

    China is a key export market for US chicken, turkey and duck products. From January through November last year, US exports to China reached nearly $272 million.

    For China to impose a nationwide ban in response to isolated incidents of HPAI goes against international guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). In its Terrestrial Animal Health Code, the OIE recommends that countries adopt a regionalised approach to HPAI incidents to minimise the impact on trade.

    APHIS notified the OIE of the Oregon detection, as required.
    “USDA expects trading partners to respond to this reported detection according to the OIE’s science-based standards,” the agency said in a statement following the Oregon H5N8 detection.

    The statement stressed that the virus was contained to the affected premises and has not been found in commercial poultry. APHIS also said that state and federal officials have increased ongoing surveillance of commercial poultry and backyard flocks in the Pacific Northwest.

    The agency noted that commercial producers “follow strict biosecurity practices and raise their birds in controlled environments,” which lessens the possibility of an outbreak HPAI in commercial flocks, and that poultry is safe to eat if properly handled and cooked.

    Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, said: “There’s absolutely no justification for China to take such a drastic action. In fact, these isolated and remote incidents are hundreds if not thousands of miles away from major poultry and egg production areas.

    “Most all of our other trading partners have taken some sort of regionalised approach, and have limited their restrictions to the state or, in some cases, to the county. We would have expected China to do the same.”

    China’s nationwide restrictions could also have a negative impact on its domestic poultry industry.

    Mr Sumner added: “Since the ban also includes US breeding stock, China is cutting off its industry’s main source of hatching eggs and chicks, which will curtail the industry’s ability to replenish and maintain its production.”

    Full Story Here

  • 16 Jan 2015 12:04 PM | Anonymous

    After a mixed year in 2013 due to the difficult global economic situation, freight transport saw a return to growth at Liege Airport in 2014.

    Liege Airport has confirmed its position as the number one cargo airport in Belgium with 590,579 tonnes passed through the gateway in 2014, against 560,949 tonnes in 2013, an increase of 5.3%.

    The airport says all companies with a presence at Liege have played a part in this growth with TNT Airways, Ethiopian Cargo and CAL all improving, and the decision of Ana Airline Management to base its cargo fleet in Liege from late May has also contributed to this result it explains.

    The number of aircraft movements increased by 2.66% from 41,047 movements in 2013 to 42,140 movements in 2014, meanwhile, passenger traffic showed a slight decrease (-3.95%) with 302,847 passengers handled in 2014 against 315,293 in 2013.

    The closure during 2014 of the regular airline serving Tel Aviv and a decrease in the seating made available by tour operators are the two main reasons for this slight decrease.

    Liege says, however, airlines on offer have all been very successful, as have the three new destinations available since summer 2014 (Casablanca by Jetair Fly, Ajaccio and Bastia by Air Corsica).

    With regard to real estate, Liege says it is also successfully pursuing its diversification strategy through its subsidiary Liege Airport Business Park, and 668sqm of new office space has been built in the passenger terminal hall and are already fully leased.

    At the end of December 2014, Liege Airport Business Park had a 95% occupancy rate of offices and warehouses.

    The outlook for 2015 for passenger traffic the airport says is encouraging, as Air Corsica is to develop and improve its services to Corsica and nearly 20 destinations are available for the summer.

    Reflecting Liege’s expertise in transporting medicines and animals, expansion will include the current pharma centre being enlarged in 2015 and a reception centre for horses will be built.

    This equestrian centre will optimise the infrastructure and the various welfare-related services for horses. Liege is the European leader for horse transportation by air and over 3,000 horses passed through the airport in 2014.

    The 8th busiest cargo airport in Europe. says it remain “committed to its ambition and role as a major economic player at the service of the entire region”.

    Full Story here

  • 16 Jan 2015 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Australia's live sheep exports in the first ten months of 2014 totaled 1,947,000 head, worth A$202 million, according to data from Meat & Livestock Australia. China accounted for only a very small part while Kuwait and Qatar took the largest share, with 663,004 head and 489,250 head shipped.

    However, as China and Australia have concluded free trade agreement talks in November 2014 and 95 percent of Australian exports to China will finally be tariff-free, this situation may change.

    On Jan 12, a livestock company in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Northwest China, imported 1,438 sheep for crossbreeding with local sheep. The transportation cost for each sheep was around 2,000 yuan ($322).

    Likewise, on the early morning of Jan 14, a total of 1,431 Australian sheep arrived in Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan province, where the Chinese importer Zhonghe Group was based, reported.

    The cheapest sheep costs 30,000 yuan, while the most expensive one costs 150,000 yuan.

    Another 1500 head will follow on Jan 21.

    Full Story Here

  • 16 Jan 2015 11:58 AM | Anonymous

    ARK Development, LLC, an affiliate of leading real estate company Racebrook Capital, announced today it has signed a 30-year lease with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to develop, finance, construct, operate and manage The ARK at JFK, a $48-million, 178,000 s/f  state-of-the-art animal handling and intelligent air cargo facility.

    The ARK will be the world’s only privately owned animal handling cargo terminal and USDA-approved, full-service 24-hour airport quarantine facility for the import and export of horses, pets, birds, and livestock.

    The ARK at JFK will be constructed at the current site of Cargo Building 78 at JFK, with 14.4 acres of surrounding ground area, which includes direct airside access to the taxiway and large aircraft ramp parking. It will be divided into three complementary sections: the air cargo wing, a central administrative and business center with 24-hour veterinary hospital, and the main animal handling facility with pet boarding, animal import and export center, and livestock export handling system.

    “We developed The Ark concept to address the unmet needs for the import and export of companion, sporting and agricultural animals,” said The ARK at JFK Founder and Racebrook Chairman John J. Cuticelli, Jr. “The animal terminal will set new international airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services.”

    The $48 million project will create more than 180 jobs and generate revenues for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey estimated at $108 million over the span of the project’s 30-year lease. The completed facility will significantly increase cargo throughput at the airport.

    “Redeveloping cargo infrastructure and growing the cargo pie at New York and New Jersey’s airports is vital to supporting thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for the region,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “ARK’s investment of $48 million into JFK will transform an airport structure that has been vacant for nearly 10 years into a world-class specialty cargo facility, and the agreement guarantees the Port Authority more than $100 million in revenue without any additional capital investment.”

    Financing will be facilitated by Build NYC, the City’s conduit bond issuer, which will issue bonds underwritten by Goldman Sachs, as well as equity partner Westport Capital Partners LLC, and construction lender The Union Labor Life Insurance Co., Real Estate Investment Group. “Build NYC bonds are a crucial tool in the City’s overall efforts to drive the economy, encouraging business growth and job creation in all five boroughs,” said Jeffrey Lee, Executive Director of Build NYC. “The Air Cargo industry at JFK is an important component of New York City’s greater economy, directly responsible for over 17,000 jobs, and The ARK at JFK will help bolster JFK’s competitive advantage as an international air cargo gateway, a major New York City Economic Development Corporation priority.”

    The ARK at JFK has been designed by leading architects, designers and engineers, including master architect Gensler, equine-specialty architect Gralla Equine Architects (GH2), construction manager Holt and Grandin Livestock Handling Systems (GLHS), with guidance from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    “Gensler is accustomed to designing airports with an eye to fostering wellbeing for people, yet The ARK at JFK posed a unique design challenge for us: to create a place that could ease and simplify the sometimes complex process of transporting animals by plane,” said Gensler Architect and Senior Associate Cliff Bollmann.

    “For the animals who pass through The Ark, as well as the people who own them, air travel can be stressful and confusing.” He added that, “aligning the needs of quarantine with kenneling and elevating the experience for animals and their owners, our design team sought to create a comfortable, healthy environment for them all.”

    Holt Construction has been intimately involved in the construction planning of The ARK at JFK for the past several years. Holt’s President Christopher Asaro is “thrilled to be part of this unparalleled project. The importance of this project cannot be overstated, as it is the first of its kind. The ARK will stimulate the local economy while providing a wider range of services to a variety of animals, its benefit to the airlines as well as the local and global communities makes this a model project in our industry.”

    “The ARK at JFK represents an enormous leap forward in the care and comfort of horses and cattle that travel through the airport,” said Ms. Lachlan Oldaker, RA, Specialty Practice Leader/Senior Equine Architect, GH2 Gralla Equine Architects. “The design allows planes to taxi directly to the building, so horses can be transported in a seamless fashion that reduces stress.”

    Oldaker added that there is a large animal departure lounge, where horses for export have access to comfortable stalls, food and water. There is also an arrival area where the horses’ vitals are taken before they are placed in individually climate controlled units equipped with bedding and natural light. The cattle handling facility is similarly designed for optimal ease.

    “This really is a worry-free, one-stop shop for passengers and animals, thanks to the various on-site offerings, including Paradise 4 Paws, an aviary and a veterinarian,” she said.

    The ARK at JFK will provide both airside and landside services to board, kennel, quarantine, import, export and transport large and small animals. Additional services will include transportation in dedicated climate controlled vehicles from aircraft, terminals, cargo facilities and other airport locations. A livestock export handling system designed by Professor Temple Grandin, the leading authority on livestock movement, will allow for the safe and efficient handling of cattle, goats, pigs and sheep from truck to aircraft.

    Racebrook is subleasing approximately half of the facility to Consolidated Aviation Services (CAS), North America’s leading air cargo ground handler, which will serve as the anchor tenant. CAS will handle non-animal airfreight for the terminal including the receipt, storage and distribution of air cargo.

    “We are excited to partner with Racebrook on such a monumental and visionary project that will utterly transform the way other airports approach their animal handling responsibilities,” said Mike Duffy, CEO of Consolidated Aviation Services, which will serve as the exclusive ground handler for the ARK and Sky team, including Air France, the French flag carrier headquartered in Tremblay-en-France; Alitalia, the national airline of Italy; and KLM, the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands.

    In addition, Paradise 4 Paws will bring award-winning service in the form of a 20,000 s/f 24-hour pet resort with overnight accommodations for cats and dogs, dog daycare, grooming, training, and airport parking.

    “Paradise 4 Paws has been expanding significantly over the past year, with our most recent opening at Denver International Airport, and we are thrilled to now be able to offer our services to travelers out of JFK Airport,” said Saq Nadeem, Top Dog and CEO at Paradise 4 Paws.

    A key component of The ARK at JFK will be state-of-the-art veterinary services available 24/7, 365 days per year, including general medicine, emergency, critical care, internal medicine, surgery and advanced diagnostics provided by LIFECARE, a new veterinary hospital system committed to providing the most advanced medical care options and treatments to pets across the country.

    The LIFECARE Veterinary Health System also includes several renowned veterinary specialty practices in the northeast, including Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey, VRC in southeastern Pennsylvania and East End Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center in Long Island, NY.

    “LIFECARE’s partnership with The ARK at JFK is a perfect fit for our growing organization as we are committed to providing state-of-the-art and comprehensive veterinary care for pets whenever and wherever life takes our clients,” said John Payne, CEO and Founder of LIFECARE.

    “We are excited to embark upon such a game-changing development, which will revolutionize the care of animals in an aviation environment,” said Dr. Aaron S. Perl, Founder and Managing Director of The ARK at JFK and General Counsel of The Racebrook Portfolio Companies. “We are proud to have brought together one of the most prestigious project development teams in the field to bring this vision to life.”

    Full Story Here

  • 09 Jan 2015 4:21 PM | Anonymous
    Armed with lessons learned from last year's polar vortex, the U.S. transportation and shipping network faces its first big test of the winter this week as harsh cold and dangerous wind chills buffet the Plains to the East Coast.

    Moving people and products has proved tedious but not impossible as upper Midwest temperatures topped out in the single digits to below zero Fahrenheit on Wednesday, with gusty winds making it feel like 20- to 40-below. Snow blanketed much of the eastern United States, with lake-enhanced accumulations of more than a foot in northwest Indiana and western New York.

    It is the coldest weather since the region was hit last year by a polar vortex, which is a mass of frigid air that typically only resides over the north pole.

    Midwest farmers delayed grain deliveries while hog farmers kept swine in warm barns. Plains feedlot operators sold cattle at higher-than-expected prices in weekly auctions early this week as beef packers scrambled to secure livestock struggling to retain weight in the bone-chilling cold.

    Commuter railroads warned passengers of service delays and advised riders to allow for extra travel time, while freight rail carriers prepositioned needed equipment and shortened trains to keep air brake systems working effectively.

    Chicago's Metra commuter line upgraded its passenger alerts system and spent more than $2 million on additional rail switch heaters and equipment to clear snow and ice from tracks. Still, the carrier warned of delays this week due to "temperature-related speed restrictions."

    Major freight railroads appeared more prepared after unprecedented service issues last year that impeded shipments of coal, grain and other goods.

    CSX Corp moved extra equipment into position ahead of the cold snap and had no problems, a company spokesman said on Wednesday. BNSF Railway Co is running shorter trains to ensure air brake systems work properly, a practice introduced after the western U.S. carrier experienced the brunt of service issues last winter, its spokesman said.

    Barge shippers hauling goods on the Mississippi River and its tributaries moved fleets further south to avoid getting stranded on ice-clogged waterways, shippers said.

    Ice is building on the Illinois River, which typically remains partially open to commercial navigation year round. "By the end of the week it will become an issue that will deter most barge lines from heading back into the river," one barge broker said.

    The Mississippi River at St. Louis has receded more than three feet since Monday because of upriver ice, prompting concerns that shippers may soon be forced to lighten loads or risk groundings.

    Midwest farm belt elevators and agricultural processors saw a slowdown in truck deliveries of grain, although no spot shortages were reported as many had accepted grain contracted for January delivery in late December.

    A Cargill Inc corn mill in Eddyville, Iowa, with the capacity to unload more than 500 truckloads a day reported daily deliveries of around 300 trucks on Monday and Tuesday.

    Many farmers kept swine buildings closed to conserve heat, which has contributed to heavier animal weights, an Iowa dealer said. But some processors were still working through a glut of animals following year-end holiday plant closures.

    Beef packers on Tuesday spent more for cattle and bought them earlier in the week than usual. Feedlots have been holding animals which have been losing weight due to cold and snow.

    "Weather has become an issue in feedlots from Texas through Nebraska. The extreme cold will cause cattle carcass weights to decline at a much faster rate than in prior years," said Hales Cattle Letter author David Hales in Amarillo, Texas.

    Full Story here:

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