Monthly Archives: January 2006

Can the Latest Japanese Beef Ban Strengthen Trade?

Can the Latest Japanese Beef Ban Strengthen Trade?

KFAB-TV, Lincoln, NE

The latest ban by Japan on U-S- beef imports could ultimately strengthen trade, according to Nebraska officials.
Nebraska Cattlemen President Pete McClymont says the fear that progress made with Japan has been lost did come with Friday’s announcement. However, he believes the incident could strengthen trade because it brought attention to a weak spot. Japan halted imports of American beef because a recent shipment contained spinal material prohibited under agreement with the U-S-. The country had only reopened its borders to American beef nearly six weeks ago following a two-year ban prompted by mad cow concerns.

SD Certified Beef Program Helping Ranchers

SD Certified Beef Program Helping Ranchers

Governor Mike Rounds is frustrated Japan closed its borders to U.S. Beef again, especially since South Dakota’s certified beef program is gaining popularity. However, cattle producers say the program is still a big help with sales.

Marjean Warren is regular at venues like the Black Hills Stock Show when it comes to marketing her cattle. But something helping with sales this year is the new South Dakota Certified Beef program.

Warren said, “We only signed up 50 this year. We’re hoping to sign up all of our steers next year and possibly a few of the heifers we don’t want to retain.”

The program demands the highest quality in beef and has gained popularity among cattle producers and buyers.

Warren said, “Last week or the week before that we got a letter in the mail telling us that South Dakota Certified Beef was approved to go to Japan.”

But as soon as she got the news, Japan closed its borders to U.S. beef again because a shipment was at risk for mad cow disease.

South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds said, “And the reason why it’s frustrating is because you have South Dakota Certified Beef which right now meets the requirement for shipment overseas, so for us that meant it was a brand new market that was available for our producers.”

Now the program will have to be even more aggressive with sales in the United States, which is a crowded market already.

Rounds said, “We have to do more of our advertising and we do advertise South Dakota certified beef. It means more of it will be consumed in the United States.”

Despite the set back with Japan, producers still stand behind the state’s certified beef program.

Warren said, “The Japanese basically want our beef, so I think it will pass and it will take time.”

Just to give you an idea of how successful the program has been, so far, 110 cattle producers in the state have signed up 10,000 animals in the South Dakota Certified Beef Program.

Andy Harvey
© 2006 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.

Vast majority of Japanese back US beef ban


Vast majority of Japanese back US beef ban

Netscape News

TOKYO (AFP) – An overwhelming majority of Japanese support the decision to ban US beef imports for violating a food safety agreement and most want tighter restrictions if imports resume, a new poll revealed.

Some 87 percent backed the new ban, which was imposed only a month after US beef was allowed to return to the market, against eight percent who opposed it, said the Asahi Shimbun poll of 1,915 Japanese adults. However, people were sharply divided over the original decision to lift the embargo, with 48 percent believing it was too early against 45 percent who thought it was appropriate. Under intense pressure from its closest ally, Japan, formerly the top overseas market for US beef, in December resumed imports, which were suspended in 2003 after a mad-cow case was discovered in a herd in Washington state.
On January 20, however, Japan found that a US shipment that arrived near Tokyo contained spinal columns, which are forbidden as a precaution against mad-cow disease, and imposed a new ban.
Some 57 percent want the government to impose tougher conditions if resuming US beef imports against 33 percent who are satisfied with the current rules, the poll said.
Only three percent of people polled said Japan should ease the conditions — that slaughtered cattle be no more than 20 months old and risky body parts be removed.
The Asahi conducted the telephone poll over the weekend, before a new controversy over beef imports emerged in parliament.
The opposition called Monday on farm minister Shoichi Nakagawa to resign after he admitted he never sent teams to the United States to inspect beef as he promised.
01/31/2006 03:25

US meat group seeks to keep Canada border open

US meat group seeks to keep Canada border open

Mon Jan 30, 6:24 PM ET

A U.S. meat industry group said on Monday it had filed court papers backing the U.S. Agriculture Department’s decision to allow cattle and beef imports from Canada, despite attempts by ranchers group R-CALF USA to reclose the border.
The American Meat Institute submitted a brief in a Montana district court urging the continuation of cattle and beef trade with Canada. The friend-of-the-court brief said “none of R-CALF’s dire predictions about reopening the border have come true.”
R-CALF argues that live Canadian cattle pose a risk of mad cow disease to the U.S. cattle herd and should be banned. The U.S. Agriculture Department maintains that Canada has safeguards in place to prevent the spread of the deadly disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
The U.S. government imposed a ban on cattle shipments after Canada found its first domestic case of mad cow disease in May 2003. It planned to reopen the border in March 2005 to imports of Canadian cattle under 30 months of age, but ranchers group R-CALF obtained a temporary injunction from a court in Montana.
The U.S. Agriculture Department appealed to the federal appeals court in San Francisco, which rejected R-CALF’s arguments in July and reopened the U.S. border to shipments of young Canadian cattle.
The same appeals court has refused to rehear the case but Montana District Judge Richard Cebull, who issued the preliminary injunction keeping the border closed, has yet to decide whether to hold additional hearings.
R-CALF submitted a motion earlier in January asking for oral arguments in the case to be heard.
AMI was joined in its filing by the National Meat Association, North American Meat Processors, Southwest Meat Association and the Eastern Meat Packers Association.
AMI said its brief argued that the rule opening the Canadian border was working well, and that the arguments that restoration of beef trade with Canada would “undercut consumer confidence in U.S. beef and that the influx of Canadian cattle would adversely affect domestic cattle prices are not borne out by USDA economic data.”
“A fringe group is attempting to slam shut the border with our largest trading partner by using alarmist rhetoric about food safety and consumer confidence when they know that Canadian beef is every bit as safe as the beef raised in this country,” said J. Patrick Boyle, President and CEO of the American Meat Institute.

Scientists Spot Mad Cow Protein’s ‘Good Side’

Scientists Spot Mad Cow Protein’s ‘Good Side’

Mon Jan 30, 11:47 PM ET

MONDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) — The same protein that causes mad cow disease and its human equivalent also plays an important role in helping certain kinds of adult stem cells maintain themselves, a new study finds.

“For years, we’ve wondered why evolution has preserved this protein, what positive role it could possibly be playing. With these findings, we have our first answer,” study co-author Susan Lindquist of the Whitehead Institute, of Cambridge, Mass., said in a prepared statement.

PrP (prion protein) can be found throughout healthy human bodies. It’s especially abundant in the brain. It’s common in many kinds of mammals, but only rarely does it cause disease.

In research with mice, the Whitehead researchers found that PrP is critical to the ability of blood-generating stem cells to generate new cells. They published the finding in this week’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Clearly, PrP is important for maintaining stem cells. We’re not sure yet how it does this, but the correlation is obvious,” study co-author Harvey Lodish said in a prepared statement.

“PrP is a real black box,” Lindquist noted. “This is the first clear indication we have of a beneficial role for it in a living animal. Now we need to discover its molecular mechanism.”

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about prion diseases.

Tons of U.S. Beef Piled Up in Japan


Tons of U.S. Beef Piled Up in Japan

By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press Writer

More than 2,000 tons of U.S. beef has piled up at Japanese customs warehouses after this month’s renewed import ban, an industry official said Tuesday.

Tokyo eased its ban on U.S. beef imports on Dec. 12, but halted imports again this month after a beef shipment arrived in Japan containing banned spinal bones, which considers to be at risk for mad cow disease.

Some 1,380 tons of beef products imported from the United States have been held up at Japanese ports since Jan. 20, when Tokyo halted the imports for the second time, or are currently in shipment, according to Tatsuo Iwama, executive director of Japan Meat Traders Association.

By adding those imported by companies outside the association’s 17 U.S. beef importers, the amount of stranded beef products could reach as much as 2,300 tons, Iwama added.
Beef and shipping costs for the importers were as much as 2 billion yen, or $17 million, he said.
Most of the intended U.S. beef imports were high quality chilled beef, with the consumption date expiring within two months, Iwama said.

The association plans to ask the government’s help to arrange a deal so they can have the U.S. exporters take them back and cover the entire cost, he said.
“The problem was caused by the U.S. side, so we would like the party with primary responsibility to take care of the cost,” Iwama said. “It’s so unfortunate that we’re going through the trouble immediately after the import resumed.”

According to Japanese customs inspector Koichi Tsunokami, goods subject to import suspension are usually returned to senders, sent to a third country or disposed of, because keeping unwanted goods only costs importers storage fees.

“The U.S. beef products cannot go through customs and there will be no quarantine for them,” Tsunokami said. “They will have to be returned to senders, sent to a third country or disposed here.”

When Japan banned American beef products in December 2003, most Japanese importers sent them back to exporters, he added. Many others burned them at their own expense.

According to a poll released by the Asahi newspaper Tuesday, 62 percent of the Japanese said they don’t want to eat American beef when it returns to Japanese stores, compared to 30 percent who said they would try it. The Asahi, which surveyed 1,915 adults through telephone interviews over the weekend, gave no margin of error.

The U.S. beef products issue on Monday also brought chaos to the Diet, or parliament, as Agricultural Minister Shoichi Nakagawa admitted Tokyo failed to inspect U.S. cattle facilities before easing the ban, inviting a flurry of criticism and prompting opposition lawmakers to walk out of a session.

The Food Safety Commission approved lifting the previous ban on conditions that imports be limited to meat from cows aged 20 months or less and that parts of cattle thought to be at particularly high risk of containing mad cow disease be removed.

Beef results torpedo Tyson profits

Beef results torpedo Tyson profits

by Pete Hisey
on 1/31/2006 for Meatingplace.com

Tyson Foods missed Wall Street profit projections by a substantial amount in the first quarter ended Dec. 31, in large part because of “ugly” results in its beef business.The company earned 11 cents per share in the quarter, down from 14 cents a year ago, and far below the 16 cents predicted by Wall Street analysts. Its stock immediately dove nearly 8 percent on the news, down $1.20 to $14.17 early Monday.Sales for the quarter were flat at $6.5 billion, while net profits sank to $39 million from $48 million a year ago. According to John Tyson, chief executive, results in chicken and prepared foods improved from a year ago, but “pork struggled and beef further deteriorated, producing significant operating losses. Recent declines in international demand for chicken coupled with greater than expected domestic supply will dramatically impact the projected performance of our chicken segment, [and] lower than projected cattle supplies, along with unanticipated interruptions in export market access, will slow the recovery we expected for beef later in the year.” Beef produced a loss of $64 million in operating income, compared to a loss of $16 million a year ago. That more than offset a gain in operating income in the chicken segment, to $123 million from $104 million. Pork showed a decline in operating income, to $11 million from $14 million, while prepared foods, despite a drop in gross sales, doubled its operating income to $24 million from $12 million.