The Cow that Didn't Steal the Meeting

By Tina Caparella

Glitzy Las Vegas, NV, didn’t distract renderers while attending the National Renderers Association (NRA) spring meetings in late April, nor did an announcement that a dairy cow had tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in California.

The BSE news broke the first day of the three-day meeting, and renderers calmly digested the information as it trickled in. Yet more pressing matters took precedence, from export markets to environmental regulations to grease theft.

The NRA International Market Development Committee (IMDC) got things started with Kent Swisher, vice president, NRA International Programs, sharing the committee’s vision: To create a better world for the next generation by providing environmentally sustainable, socially responsible, and economically viable renewable materials to the global animal nutrition, energy, and oleochemical markets. He pointed out that energy was not in the mix 10 years ago.

NRA regional director Peng Li focused on the Chinese market, which recently “opened” its borders to import tallow from Canada. However, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) is still finalizing registration procedures and requirements for importers and unloading facilities and according to renderer Rob Jones, West Coast Reduction in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the draft conditions look challenging to meet. He explained that AQSIQ will have to issue a permit number to importing companies (Canadian customers) before they can import Canadian tallow.

Another difficult issue in China is a feedstuffs and feed additives catalog proposed by the country’s feed industry association and approved by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and AQSIQ that needs a definition of recycled restaurant grease. NRA staff is working to educate the Chinese feed association that the American Fats and Oils Association’s definition is perhaps the most appropriate at this time.

Li then informed committee members that the United States (US) Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services office in Indonesia has closed and the agency’s Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS’s) counselor is leaving the country soon.

“This is a very complicated and important market for rendered products,” Li commented. The Indonesian market is so important that NRA and some of its members sponsored a feed industry delegation to the United States and Canada following the spring meeting. Fifteen customers representing several large feed companies will tour rendering plants and laboratories, and meet with North American renderers to ensure they are getting the best quality and safest feed ingredients.

Li added that the FAS counselor in Vietnam is also departing and there is strong competition for US rendered products in Vietnam and Thailand as both countries are importing less expensive European Union (EU) product that is labeled “fertilizer.”

The committee’s focus shifted to Latin America where regional director German Davalos noted that under Mexico’s new import requirements, ruminant blood meal from the United States can now be imported. In addition, US feather meal will be easier to import now that it’s listed under the correct code number. Davalos then announced that Chile is the second largest salmon producer in the world after Norway, and the second largest importer of US feather meal after Indonesia.

“Besides aquaculture, Chile is a growing market for pet food as the country has more pet dogs per person than in any other country in Latin America,” Davalos stated. NRA plans to conduct feeding trials in Chile using feather meal in dog food.

The challenging European market was the focus for Bruce Ross, Ross Gordon Consultants, who had mixed news on the region’s animal by-products regulations. He reported that the European Commission is “radically” changing its interpretation of its own laws, which would mean that North American tallow could not be exported to the EU. The commission is now insisting on “processing method 1,” as described in the regulations, for all category 1 and 2 material (not fit for human consumption), which US and Canadian renderers could not meet due to different processing methods. Prior to this announcement, tallow from approved plants using processing method 7 and a marker could be exported to the EU.

The same scenario is playing out for US and Canadian used cooking oil, which is currently exported to the EU under bilateral agreements for use in biofuels production. According to Ross, a 2011 proposal allows used cooking oil to be imported under these conditions: a specific certificate that looks undemanding; no particular processing requirements and no marker; and paper controls at the EU level to ensure used cooking oil goes for biofuel. These are the current arrangements until new rules are agreed upon.

“But the commission is now saying something different, although it’s not yet in writing,” Ross revealed. A new approach could involve used cooking oil to be processed by method 1 if material is category 1 or 2 (processing method 7 would be okay for category 3 material, which is fit for human consumption), a marker could be required, and the importer would have to be a biodiesel manufacturer.

“The commission says it’s still reflecting,” he commented, pointing out that the United States exported approximately 200,000 metric tons of used cooking oil to the EU in 2011 for biofuel use.

Committees Congregate
The NRA business meetings followed the international discussions beginning with the Animal Protein Producers Industry Committee. Dr. David Meeker, senior vice president, NRA Scientific Services, said the new alternative testing method, Enterobacteriaceae, for the rendering process is a lot more informative than prior Salmonella testing methods, and that the food and feed industries are still awaiting the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rules for the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA).

Environmental Committee Chairman Bob Vogler, Valley Proteins, Inc. addressed quite a few topics, starting with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) greenhouse gas regulation, which now requires anaerobic waste digesters at rendering facilities to report emissions by September 30, 2012. He next informed renderers that the NRA submitted comments in response to EPA’s reconsideration of its Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology Standard adopted in 2011 and a related rule on solid waste incinerators, seeking favorable treatment for boilers that burn animal fat as a fuel. The standard, which applies to all but the largest emissions sources, lays out specific requirements for new boilers and for existing boilers of all sizes that burn fuels other than gas at industrial, commercial, and institutional facilities. These requirements include certain notifications, performance testing, tune-ups, and energy audits. While some aspects of the rule are under reconsideration, EPA has suspended enforcement of the deadline for initial compliance tune-ups for existing boilers until October 1, 2012, or until the finalization of the new rules, whichever comes first.

Biofuels Committee Chairman Chuck Neece, Farmers Union Industries, LLC, mentioned that the tax credits for biofuels expired at the end of 2011 and so far, no new legislation has been introduced to reinstate them. He explained how the EPA is treating companies who bought fraudulent renewable identification numbers (RINs) to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements as if they had counterfeit money. Neece said the cost to these companies could be close to $20 million in fines and repurchase of RINs. He then announced that renderers who produce biofuel from biomass could be eligible to become a “biofuel producer” and RIN generator under the RFS program. Renderers must have a professional engineer visit the plant, be audited, and then be confirmed as a RIN generator. One such non-biodiesel company that was recently approved is Changing World Technologies.

The Legislative Committee tackled the ongoing problem of grease theft that the rendering industry is battling. Committee Chairman David Kaluzny II, Kaluzny Bros., Inc. said some thefts are highly organized while others are “fly-by-night” operations. Michael Koewler, Sacramento Rendering, said his company is doing an educational program with the local sheriff’s department and insisted that it’s important to file a police report to go on record that theft is occurring. John Setchell, Mendota Agri-Products, Inc. shared his company’s experiences, including hiring an investigator eight months ago that resulted in one theft conviction. Ross Hamilton, Darling International, noted that under the 2002 Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, any product going into food must have traceability, and that this could be the law under the new FSMA. After a bit more discussion, the committee decided to create a task force to further address the problem.

 The NRA Board of Directors meeting rounded out the week. Jones commented that there was a strong consensus among IMDC members that the US and Canadian governments need to band together and have one opinion relating to the EU tallow situation. He reminded the board that BSE began in the EU and that the European Commission is dictating how rendered products should be processed and traded. The opinion of the committee is that science should prevail and if tallow meets the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, standard of 0.15 percent impurities, then the product should be allowed to be imported into the EU, no matter the processing method.

Regional associations were generous at the board meeting, with the Pacific Coast Renderers Association donating $13,000 to the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF) and $14,000 to the IMDC, and the Eastern region renderers donating $10,000 to FPRF.

June 2012 RENDER | back