Daily Archives: January 20, 2006

U.S. to probe beef shipment to Japan

U.S. to probe beef shipment to Japan
BY ANDREW MARTIN
Chicago Tribune/Wichita Eagle
WASHINGTON – In what promises to be a costly blunder, a Brooklyn-based meat company sent a shipment of veal to Japan that included cattle backbones, material the Japanese consider at risk for mad cow disease.
As a result, just 5 1/2 weeks after reopening its border to American beef, the Japanese abruptly slammed it shut again on Friday.
The announcement immediately set off a round of mea culpas from the U.S. beef industry and the Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns dispatched a team of inspectors to Japan and vowed to bolster inspections at U.S. plants that export beef.
He also prohibited the company that shipped the veal, Atlantic Veal & Lamb, from exporting any more beef to Japan.
“This is an unacceptable failure on our part to meet the requirements of our agreement with this trading partner, the country of Japan,” Johanns said. “We are taking this matter seriously, recognizing the importance of our beef export market, and we are acting swiftly and firmly.
“This just simply should not have happened,” he added. “I am very unhappy about this. Our inspector should have caught this.”
While offering the Japanese government an array of measures to reassure them about U.S. beef, including a promise to reprimand the USDA inspector who checked out the problem shipment, U.S. officials – and the beef industry – sought to convince consumers that there was no public-health crisis.
FULL STORY

US takes urgent action over new Japan beef ban

US takes urgent action over new Japan beef ban
1 hour, 7 minutes ago
Yahoo News
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States, alarmed at losing its biggest beef export market once again, scrambled to placate Japan after Tokyo re-imposed a ban on US beef over fears of mad cow disease.
US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced he was sending a team of experts to Japan, after the Japanese government announced that banned spinal material had been found in a consignment of US beef.
He said there was no risk to human health from eating the vertebral meat, provided it was taken from cattle aged less than 30 months.
“However, our agreement with Japan is to export beef with no vertebral column and we have failed to meet the terms of that agreement,” he said, calling the lapse an “unacceptable failure” of controls on the US side
FULL STORY

Cashing in on money-making forages focus of seminar

Cashing in on money-making forages focus of seminar

Cattle producers shouldn’t always have to wait on their animals loin and hoof. At feeding time the ruminants can do some of the work themselves, if producers prepare pastures in advance.

Choosing forages that extend the grazing season while saving producers extra expense harvesting and packaging hay is a central topic of the Indiana Forage Council’s (IFC) annual meeting and seminar. The meeting begins at 4 p.m. (EST) Feb. 16 at Cornerstone Hall, a banquet facility located off Jim Day Road near Indiana 56, Salem, Ind. A 6 p.m. buffet dinner, keynote speaker and producer panel also are planned. Dinner is $7 for IFC members and $10 for non-members. Attendance at the annual meeting is not a requirement to attend the dinner or seminar.
The meeting’s theme is “Money-Making Annual Forages,” said Keith Johnson, Purdue University forage specialist and IFC secretary-treasurer. “Any time we can have an animal out grazing in a field instead of making the forage ourselves, it saves money,” Johnson said.
“There are places within forage production for annual forages. One example might be where we plant a crop and have some grazing in the fall and early winter following corn silage. Another example would be planting an annual crop like winter wheat or winter rye after soybean harvest. That should supply us with forage grazing opportunities in the spring and the possibility of making hay or silage in the spring, aswell.”

Annual forages also provide safe ways to move into new hay crops. “Another place where annual forages make sense is where an individual wants to transition from an old alfalfa crop to a new alfalfa crop,” Johnson said. “There’s the concern of an allelopathic effect, which is the negative growing effect of a previous crop on the next crop. In a case such as this, old alfalfa can have a deleterious effect on new alfalfa seedings. We can break the cycle of concern by planting a forage crop that might have some use, be it forage turnips or summer annual grasses like sorghum-sudangrass and pearl millet.”

The meeting’s featured speaker is Cliff Schuette, a cow-calf producer from Breese, Ill. “Cliff has done an exceptional job of utilizing annual forages following row crop production, permitting more grazing to extend the grazing season,” Johnson said. “What Cliff has been able to do by utilizing these annuals is to keep cow feed costs extremely reasonable. In the last eight years he has spent from $58 to $150 per cow, and that is a very low cost compared to most producers.”
The producer panel includes Indiana cow-calf operators Paul Hirt of Decatur County, Roger Dale Robinson of Orange County and Norbert Schaefer of Jefferson County.

The IFC meeting runs concurrent with the National Farm Machinery Show, which takes place Feb. 15-18 in nearby Louisville, Ky. Livestock producers are invited to attend the IFC meeting on their way to, or returning from, the Louisville show, Johnson said.

“Any producer whose goal is to allow the animals to harvest as much of the feed as possible or who haven’t utilized annual forages in the past, ought to consider attending this meeting,” Johnson said.

For meeting/dinner reservations, contact Lisa Metts at (765) 494-4783 or by e-mail at lmetts1@purdue.edu . Reservation deadline is Feb. 8. Additional information is available on the IFC Web site, located at http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/ifc/Index.html . A meeting brochure also appears on the Purdue Forage Information Web page, at http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/index.html .

Japan halts U.S. beef imports due to contaminated shipment

Japan halts U.S. beef imports due to contaminated shipment
by John Gregerson
on 1/20/2006
for Meatingplace.com

Japan’s Agriculture Ministry has announced it will reinstate a ban on all U.S. beef imports following the discovery of parts of a vertebral column in a product shipment from the United States to Narita International Airport, near Tokyo. The Agriculture Ministry indicated the ban would remain in place until it receives more information from the United States. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns immediately dispatched a team of USDA inspectors to Japan to work with Japanese inspectors to reexamine every shipment currently awaiting approval, and to confirm compliance with the requirements of the U.S. agreement with Japan. “We take this matter very seriously,” Johanns said. “We are conducting a thorough investigation. Under U.S. regulations, the backbone, or vertebral column, that was exported to Japan is not a specified risk material because it was in beef under 30 months. However, our agreement with Japan is to export beef with no vertebral column and we have failed to meet the terms of that agreement.” Johanns said USDA inspectors are being sent to every U.S. plant approved to export beef to Japan to review procedures and ensure compliance with export requirements. He also has ordered unannounced inspections at every plant approved for beef export. Johanns indicated the government inspector who cleared the shipment may be disciplined, and that the meatpacker that exported the product has been “delisted,” meaning the company, based in New York, can no longer export beef to Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi indicated that Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa wanted the United States to act firmly.A total of 860 pounds of beef imported from the unnamed New York meatpacker was found to contain parts of a vertebral column when it was inspected on arrival at Narita International Airport.

STATEMENT BY AGRICULTURE SECRETARY MIKE JOHANNS REGARDING U.S. BEEF EXPORTS TO JAPAN

STATEMENT BY AGRICULTURE SECRETARY MIKE JOHANNS REGARDING U.S. BEEF EXPORTS TO JAPAN

January 20, 2006

“We take this matter very seriously. We are conducting a thorough investigation. Under U.S. regulations, the backbone, or vertebral column, that was exported to Japan is not a specified risk material because it was in beef under 30 months. However, our agreement with Japan is to export beef with no vertebral column and we have failed to meet the terms of that agreement.
“The processing plant that exported this product has been de-listed and therefore can no longer export beef to Japan. We will take the appropriate personnel action against the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service employee who conducted the inspection of the product in question and approved it to be shipped to Japan.
“I am dispatching a team of USDA inspectors to Japan to work with Japanese inspectors to reexamine every shipment currently awaiting approval, to confirm compliance with the requirements of our export agreement with Japan.
“I have directed that additional USDA inspectors be sent to every plant that is approved to export beef to review procedures and ensure compliance with our export agreements and I am requiring that two USDA inspectors review every shipment of U.S. beef for export to confirm that compliance. I have also ordered unannounced inspections at every plant approved for beef export.
“We are in communication with Japanese officials and we will continue that dialogue to assure them that we take this matter very seriously and we are acting swiftly and firmly.
“These additional inspection requirements in the U.S. will be applied to all processing plants approved for beef export and all beef shipments designated for export from the U.S.”
Click to View: http://www.usda.gov/2006/01/0019.xml
Release No. 0019.06 Contact: Ed Loyd (202) 720-4623

Japan to Stop All Imports of U.S. Beef

Japan to Stop All Imports of U.S. Beef

By CARL FREIRE
The Associated PressFriday, January 20, 2006; 8:18 AM

TOKYO — Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said on Friday Japan would halt all imports of U.S. beef after a recent shipment was found to possibly contain material considered at risk for mad cow disease.
“This is a pity given that imports had just resumed,” Koizumi told reporters. “I received the agriculture minister’s report over the telephone with his recommendation that the imports be halted and I think it is a good idea.”

When asked by a reporter if this meant that all U.S. beef imports would be stopped, Koizumi answered, “Yes.”

The U.S. Embassy issued a statement expressing its deep regret that the incident had occurred, and said it looked forward to the results of an investigation it expected the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct.
“The United States has every intention of living up to the letter of our recent agreement in regard to beef imports into Japan,” the statement said. “We will work closely with the appropriate authorities here in Japan and in the United States to ensure that there is no repetition of this mistake.”
Koizumi said he directed the agriculture and health ministers to talk with the U.S. side to put measures into place that would guarantee the safety of the beef sent to Japan.
Mad cow disease is the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, a degenerative nerve disease in cattle that is linked to a rare but fatal nerve disorder in humans, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

Inspector general blasts GIPSA; Johanns promises changes

Inspector general blasts GIPSA; Johanns promises changes

by Pete Hisey
on 1/20/2006 for Meatingplace.com

Phyllis Fong, the Agriculture Department’s inspector general, issued a report on Wednesday criticizing the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) for sloppy management policies and oversight of its investigations. In particular, the report accused GIPSA of:

  1. an inability to track investigations because it classified all activities related to the Packers and Stockyards programs as investigations;
  2. weak management control, with 50 investigations up to three years old stalled because a senior management review panel had not set standards for conducting investigations;
  3. no decision-making on policy, in that requests for guidance and policy decisions from P&SP staff went unanswered, making timely investigations impossible. Even a new policy group set up in summer 2005 had no real mandate;
  4. failure to implement prior recommendations, in that earlier advice to better manage resources to monitor the market for anti-competitive behavior was not followed. Specifically, P&SP did not, as it agreed to, integrate economists into investigations, empower legal specialists to consult with OGC, hire experienced managers to oversee P&SP investigations, and develop a teamwork approach among the mentioned economists and legal experts.

FULL STORY

Commentary: THE VOCAL POINT: Tearing down the ‘factory farm’ fallacy

Commentary: THE VOCAL POINT: Tearing down the ‘factory farm’ fallacy

by Dan Murphy
on 1/20/2006 for Meatingplace.com

Of all the epithets and appellations applied to various aspects of modern food production, “Frankenfoods” is the cleverest. But for visual impact, the label with the most enduring power — and thus the concept most difficult to counter — is factory farming.Thanks to a couple decades of concerted propagandizing, the phrase has entered the popular lexicon, becoming in some journalistic quarters an ill-informed synonym for all of modern agriculture.Wikipedia, the authoritative online encyclopedia, states that “Factory farming describes a type of intensive commercial agriculture that employs extreme growing techniques to produce the greatest output in the least space, usually with heavy use of agrichemicals and veterinary drugs.”More to the point for food industry leaders, the phrase is now bandied about by a variety of radical and even mainstream organizations as a convenient catch-all for everything deemed unacceptable in meat production and food processing.

FULL ARTICLE

Japan Raises Mad Cow Doubts Over U.S. Beef

Japan Raises Mad Cow Doubts Over U.S. Beef – By LIBBY QUAID, AP Food and Farm WriterFriday, January 20, 2006
(01-20) 04:08 PST WASHINGTON, (AP) –
Just as U.S. officials were talking optimistically of selling more beef in Asia despite some lingering import restrictions related to mad cow disease, word came from Tokyo that Japan’s agriculture minister suspects the problem has resurfaced there.
The Agriculture Department here announced Thursday that Singapore had officially ended a ban on American beef, following Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea, all of which reopened their markets in the past six weeks.
“This decision adds momentum to our goal of resuming normal beef trade throughout the world,” exulted Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.
But in an unexpected setback Friday, Japan’s agriculture minister said he believes U.S. meat producers have already violating the agreement that allowed American beef back into Japan. Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa recommended a total halt to American beef imports if officials confirm a recent U.S meat shipment contained material at risk for the disease, a ministry spokesman said.
The Kyodo News agency reported that Japan would halt all U.S. beef imports.
Nakagawa, said recently that imported beef from the U.S. may have included material from cattle backbones. Including parts of the cow thought to be at high risk of containing mad cow disease — such as spines, brains and bone marrow — would violate terms of an agreement that last month partially lifted a 2-year-old ban on American beef.
“A thorough investigation needs to be conducted,” Nakagawa said.
U.S. officials will continue to push trading partners to lift restrictions and allow the full range of beef considered safe under international guidelines, Johanns said.
Singapore is allowing only boneless beef shipments and still will prohibit ribs and other bone-in products. Likewise, South Korea and Hong Kong are accepting only boneless cuts of beef from animals 30 months and younger.
The restrictions remain because officials fear that marrow and other bone tissues might be dangerous, although international guidelines say those tissues can be traded safely.
Japan is not allowing beef from cattle older than 21 months, a restriction more stringent than the international 30-month guidelines.
Singapore was worth nearly $5.9 million to American producers in 2003, the year before the ban. It represents a smaller market than Japan, worth $1.4 billion in 2003.
The U.S. sold beef to 95 other countries before the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in December 2003; today, 70 countries are now open to U.S. beef. A second U.S. case was confirmed in June 2005.
Mad cow disease is the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, a degenerative nerve disease in cattle that is linked to a rare but fatal nerve disorder in humans, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

New US beef import ban in Japan

Japan says it will reimpose a total ban on US beef imports after a shipment contained carcass parts that could have posed a risk of BSE (mad cow disease).

BSE was found in US cattle at the end of 2003, and Japan agreed to partially lift the ban after intense lobbying.

Japan is the US’s most lucrative beef export market, and farmers argued that their meat was now safe and BSE clear.
Eating beef from infected cattle can cause a fatal human brain disorder, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Close checks
The US said it would launch an investigation into how the problem with the shipment from New York occurred.

“We deeply regret the incident occurred,” a US embassy spokesman said.
“We expect that there will be a full investigation by the US Department of Agriculture and we look forward to the results of that investigation.

“We will work closely with the appropriate authorities here in Japan and in the United States to ensure that there is no repetition of this mistake.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that he “received the agriculture minister’s report over the telephone with his recommendation that the imports be halted and I think it is a good idea”.

“This is a pity, given that imports had just resumed,” he added.
In December, Japan said it would allow imports of beef that was less than 21 months old.
Since then, the US has been arguing for a complete lifting of the ban.