Wisconsin’s Kerrygold butter ban makes headlines
Stricter enforcement of old consumer protection legislation in the US state of Wisconsin has left consumers scrambling for the popular Irish butter brand.

The ban is currently making headlines in Wisconsin, with local media outlets reporting on how “regulation madness” had been “forcing ‘illegal butter’ off store shelves” and one commenting: “I can’t believe it’s not legal.”

"Under Wisconsin legislation, retail butter for sale in Wisconsin must bear either a Wisconsin or federal grade mark. This effectively excludes Kerrygold butter being sold in Wisconsin because Kerrygold butter is graded, produced and packaged in Ireland," Ornua told the Irish Farmers Journal in a statement on Wednesday.

While this was not enforced in the past, local authorities have recently revived the grading obligation. Ornua made a first public mention of the ban in April 2015 in social media interactions with customers finding it harder to buy Kerrygold butter.

Ornua added that no other states were affected.

It is only in recent days that a blanket ban has come into force in application of the 1970s legislation, with stores facing fines for stocking the flagship Irish butter. This has prompted consumers to take to social media again and exchange addresses of retailers defying the prohibition or tips to order Kerrygold online. Others said they were driving to neighbouring states to constitute stockpiles.

Some were quick to notice that Wisconsin happens to be the leading dairy producer in the US, giving the revival of old consumer protection law a whiff of protectionism. The state has largely contributed to the ongoing US dairy expansion.

"We are currently working with the Wisconsin authorities on a solution which will enable consumers throughout the state enjoy the great taste of Kerrygold butter," Ornua's statement said.

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Royal warrant awarded to ABP subsidiary
The British royal household is a supporter of “closed loop” food chains, it would seem.

ABP Renewables Division, Olleco, has been granted a royal warrant by the Queen of England. Olleco operates a “closed loop” supply chain to supply the royal household with cooking oils and fats.

The closed loop in this case reduces carbon miles by using the return journey to take back used cooking oils. These are then processed at Olleco’s bio-refinery to create biodiesel.

Warrants are awarded as a mark of recognition to people or companies that have regularly supplied goods or services to members of the Royal Family for at least five years.

"This is a huge honour and we are delighted and proud to be recognised for our service, helping the royal household to tackle climate change,” Robert Behan, CEO of Olleco, said. “If we are to achieve the UN’s goal of keeping global warming below 1.5°C, every household, community, organisation and nation in the world has to change the way they operate."

Olleco has a network of 19 sites across the British Isles to supply a number of food and hospitality brands. The company supplies fresh oils and fats and takes back used oils, it also collects food waste, which is then converted to renewable energy and fed back into the national gas and electricity grids.

Image by Paul Michael Hughes

Olleco was formed by ABP Food Group in 2006.

Closed loop

The Glanbia-Kepak dairy calf to beef club known as the Twenty20 club includes a "closed loop" supply chain. All inputs to rear the calves in the group, such as fertiliser and meal, must be sourced from Glanbia.

This was questioned at the Oireachtas agriculture committee meeting on Tuesday this week. TDs asked whether it was anti-competitive to lock farmers into this closed loop.

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Listen: Irish food exports to China to hit €1bn soon – Creed
Aidan Brennan reports from the Bord Bia-led trade mission to China this week.

Irish agri-food exports to China will soon hit the €1bn mark, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said while visiting the SIAL food fair in Shanghai.

“Since 2010, the exports have gone from €200m to €800m and I think the billion mark is well within our reach in the short term,” Minister Creed told the Irish Farmers Journal. “Whether it is dairy, beef or pork, this is a really important market.”

However, he placed a caveat on that, in that regulatory requirements must be met to build a long-term export market in China for Irish produce.

Irish meat and dairy exporters attended SIAL along with Bord Bia. Trade wars with the US and a looming African swine fever crisis are going to upset the balance of trade between China and the rest of the world.

Minister Creed spoke to the Irish Farmers Journal about how this will impact Ireland:

On Wednesday, the minister and his officials will attend meetings in Beijing on the issue of meat plant export approvals. A number of plants are awaiting approval to export.

“In the longer term, the spec that is available to come into the market here as well is something we are looking to improve,” he said. “The pork sector at home has been on its knees for a substantial period, the pickup in the market will be sustainable in the Chinese market for the near future.”

The minister added that the shortage of protein due to African swine fever in China will not only benefit pork producers in Ireland, but demand will spill over into the beef sector.

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Bayer loses €1.8bn Roundup court case
A third jury in California has found the manufacturer of glyphosate-based herbicides responsible for causing cancer.

A US jury has ordered German-based chemicals manufacturer Bayer to pay €1.8bn in damages after finding that its Roundup herbicide had caused the cancers of an elderly couple.

A superior state court in California heard the trial following legal action by Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who testified that they had used the glyphosate-based herbicide for decades before both becoming ill with lymphoma-type cancers.

Arguments centred on insufficient warnings given to users of Roundup about its potential risks.

The product was then made by Monsanto, which has since merged with Bayer.

This is the third jury finding against the manufacturer in cancer cases in California. All are subject to appeal.

Environmental Protection Agency

Bayer said in a statement following the verdict that the latest verdict "conflicts directly with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s interim registration review decision released just last month, the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favorable conclusions are based".

The company added that Mr and Mrs Pilliod had long histories of illnesses known to be substantial risk factors for their cancers.

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