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Theft of Cooking Grease Now a Felony

Sixteen new laws took effect yesterday, most technical fixes to laws already on the books, but a few are not. For example, the second phase of E-verify took effect now requiring companies with as few as 100 employees to comply, then on July 1st, companies with as few as 25 employees will be required to run verification of immigration status on all employees.

Then, there’s grease, as in used cooking oil and cooking grease. It’s now a felony to steal more than $1,000 worth of used oil, but less is still a misdemeanor. Why, you ask? Kitchen grease has become a valuable commodity because it’s also used in producing biodiesel fuel.

USDA Anticipates Leaner Budget for Fiscal 2014

Like most federal agencies, USDA is looking at more austere budget come February, according to USDA chief economist Joe Glauber:

“The budget will be a big issue, this is tied with the fiscal cliff discussions. There is no question that for a lot of the USDA budget – I don’t think anyone is thinking we will see a turn around from this path toward more austere budgets.”  

Glauber says USDA isn’t being picked on per se, it’s the new post-recession normal, and all agencies are being asked to make further cuts.

Smithfield Foods Assisting Farmer/Consumer Communication

Kathleen Kirkum, Sustainability and Social Media Manager for Smithfield Foods explains that Smithfield is working towards making food producers more comfortable talking with the non-farming public about production practices:

“We just launched a new corporate website that is focused on good food and the memories that you make when you eat good food. We are also involved in social media where we talk more about the production practices that we use for our farms as well as for our processing facilities and answer any questions people have about what we do.”

The movement of knowing where your food comes from isn’t abating and Kirkum explains that getting involved in the process of talking about farming to consumers is here to stay:

“We think that a lot of times in this industry folks end up chatting with themselves. Its great and we want to have relationships with each other, but we are losing the battle with consumers because we don’t talk to them as much as we should.”

And putting a human side to food production could go a long way says Kirkum:

“A lot of people have misconceptions about farming and some of that is because we have been such a closed business. I think we really need to open the doors and be honest about what we do and be honest about the fact that we are not perfect and that we need to make changes in the way we produce animals and process them and we need to be listening to consumer’s opinions on that.”

HSUS Abandons Search for Board Seat at Tyson’s

HSUS Chief Executive Wayne Pacelle has withdrawn his attempt to gain a seat on Tyson’s board of directors. Pacelle’s group has been trying to get pork producers to stop using gestation crates and wants to curtail normal ag production practices. Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman says their company backs farmer’s right to choose the best method for raising their hogs.

In 2012 close to 50 major food retailers have agreed to phase out purchases of pork from suppliers that rely on gestation crates. Pacelle says HSUS will continue using public awareness efforts, litigation, investigations and corporate campaigns to pressure Tyson.

New TV Show Focuses on Bacon

And, for those of you that feel that bacon should be its own food group, there’s a new TV show just for you! A television series whose theme is to showcase bacon-based restaurant dishes will debut this weekend on Discovery Communications’ Destination America network.
United States of Bacon premiered on Sunday, and will focus on Chef Todd Fisher as he travels around the country sampling bacon-centered recipes on various restaurant menus. His first stops: Milwaukee, “a city built on meat,” Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Chicago, which hosts one of the country’s biggest bacon festivals. Check your local listings for air times.

South Carolina Department of Ag Extends Survey Period

South Carolina Department of Agriculture has extended the survey period to determine disposal locations for South Carolina farmers, foresters and nurserymen. The survey is being conducted to determine disposal locations around the state for the second phase of the voluntary South Carolina Waste Pesticide Recovery Program.

The program is open to all private and commercial pesticide applicators in the state to dispose of all outdated or unwanted pesticides. To participate in the location survey, visit is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.