Daily Archives: February 9, 2006

R-CALF returns to federal court

R-CALF returns to federal court

by Pete Hisey on 2/9/2006 for Meatingplace.com

Canadian Cattleman’s Association
Ranchers-Cattlemen’s Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, has renewed its challenge to USDA’s rule reopening the U.S. market to the import of live Canadian cattle. The producer’s group notified Judge Richard Cebull in January that it intended to pursue its case.

A federal appeals court ruled last summer that Cebull’s preliminary injunction against reopening the border be thrown out, then returned the case to Cebull’s court in Billings, Mont., for a full hearing. R-CALF and USDA have filed rival documents, USDA asking that the case be thrown out and R-CALF arguing that it should go forward.

R-CALF’s new filings include information not available at the time of the original complaint, filed shortly before the border was due to open in March 2005. According to Bill Bullard, chief executive of the organization, this information includes the discovery of an animal with bovine spongiform encephalopathy that had been born 32 months after the imposition of Canada’s feed ban, “which disproves USDA’s contention that the feed ban will protect against BSE,” Bullard told Meatingplace.com.

The finding by USDA’s Office of the Inspector General that there may be widespread errors in the removal of specified risk material (SRMs) at slaughterhouses “reinforces our contention that USDA was premature in developing its rule, and should have insured that risk mitigation methods had been fully developed” before reopening the border, Bullard said. “It’s clear that policy holds a higher position at USDA than do food safety and animal health.”

Several parties, including the American Meat Institute, the National Meat Association, the Canadian government and two Canadian cattle groups, have filed amicus briefs supporting USDA’s position.

Cebull is under no time constraints as to granting summary judgment, an R-CALF request, or scheduling a trial, but Bullard said that given Cebull’s past behavior, “the wait should not be a long one.”

New cuts profitable for beef industry

New cuts profitable for beef industry

By JEAN WILSON/Telegram Assistant Editor

COLUMBUS – Beef products that were introduced to the marketplace a few years ago are starting to show their worth.

Ranch steak, flat iron steak and petite tender medallions are three of the most popular new value cuts, according to Misty Mattox, director of industry relations and compliance for the Nebraska Beef Council. She was one of the presenters at the Nebraska Pork & Livestock Industry Exposition on Tuesday at Platte County Agricultural Park.

“It takes a lot of years of continuing to work with the product to make it ready for retail as well as the food service,” Mattox said.

The new cuts are being offered at several large chain restaurants, including Olive Garden, Lone Star Steakhouse, Sizzler, and Whiskey Creek Steakhouse. And Kroger stores recently signed up to sell the meat.

It’s added about $60-$70 more per head for the price of feeder cattle, Mattox said.

About two-thirds of a beef carcass come out of the chuck and round – shoulders and back end. Traditionally, the meat was mostly used for roasts and hamburger. Muscle profiling provided the basis for the single muscle, value-added beef merchandising.

Priced between the premium steaks and ground beef, the new cuts are being advertised as full of beef flavor and very tender. The flat iron steak is ranked the second most tender cut, at a price that’s consumer friendly, according to Mattox.

“That’s why they call these value cuts,” she said.

It will most likely be a year or two before the new cuts are widely available at retail stores, although people can ask at their local lockers for the products.

Other new beef products that are meeting with success are the ready-to-eat meats that are now being paired with vegetables.

Research and promotion for the all of the new products is funding by Beef Checkoff dollars.

Darrell Mark, University of Nebraska Extension livestock marketing specialist, was also at Tuesday’s Expo.

He said cattle demand could be slightly lower this year than in 2005, which was down 3.6 percent from the previous year. But, that’s following 2003 and 2004 when demand was up 6 percent to 8 percent each of those years.

“So we settled down a little in 2005, but beef demand is still pretty good,” Mark said.

Part of the reason for the decrease in demand is due to a decline in the popularity of high-protein diets.

Budget Proposal Not Well Received in Farm Country

Budget Proposal Not Well Received in Farm Country

KNEB Radio

The Bush administration’s ag budget proposal released Monday continues to get – at best – a cool reception from U.S. ag and producer groups – including American Farmland Trust – the National Corn Growers Association – the National Cotton Council and the National Milk Producers Federation.

American Farmland Trust President Ralph Grossi (graw-see) says proposed cuts to the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program are shortsighted. He says the President proposed a 50-percent cut from the conservation program’s authorized level – undermining his commitment to farmers and ranchers.

Grossi says AFT will turn to Congress – striving to ensure those cuts don’t happen in the end. The nation’s corn growers and cotton producers will likely turn to Congress as well.

NCGA President Gerald Tumbleson says the five-percent across-the-board cuts in crop payments could harm the safety net provided by the 2002 farm bill. Woods Eastland – National Cotton Council Chairman – agrees. He says the budget would disrupt current farm programs and undercut U.S. ag. And by affecting the contract with thousands of American farm families – Eastland says the government would undermine the security of all Americans.

Tumbleson and Eastland say U.S. producers need a budget that protects the integrity and safety net of the 2002 farm bill and its programs.

NMPF Vice President of Communications Chris Galen says there are a number of reasons his group is opposed to the President’s proposal as well. He says the budget plan unfairly targets dairy with proposed reductions to the price support program – and a proposal for a new tax on dairy producers to fund the program.

Fortunately – Galen says Congress has the last word when it comes to the budget. And Senate Ag Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss himself has said he expects Congress to reject the President’s ag budget request.




UNITED STATES: USDA’s enhanced surveillance program for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) exceeds predictions on the number of cattle tested.

In June 2004, six months after the United States reported its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a cow in Washington State, the Agriculture Department (USDA) expanded its testing program for the brain-destroying disease. Up until then, other countries had criticized the United States for only testing a small fraction of the cattle presented for slaughter.

This week, USDA’s Office of Inspector General released a review of the Department’s BSE enhanced-surveillance program, which has tested more than 605,000 cattle to date.

“This is the largest BSE surveillance effort the United States has ever undertaken,” said APHIS chief veterinarian Dr. Ron DeHaven. “In a matter of just a few short months back in 2004, USDA, the states, and industry ramped up a national network of laboratories and sample collection sites and increased by more than eight times the number of samples that were tested for BSE in 2003. This has been an extraordinary cooperative effort and has succeeded because of a shared spirit of dedication on the part of all partners in the effort.”

DeHaven pointed out that the goal of the enhanced-surveillance program is to test as many cattle from the targeted high-risk population as possible in order to determine the prevalence of BSE in the United States.

“We’re proud to say that through the on-going dedication of USDA employees as well as industry and an investment of about $1 million per week since the program began, this effort has been more successful and informative than even we predicted when we started more than 19 months ago,” DeHaven continued. “On average, we test nearly 1,000 high-risk cattle per day for BSE, and only one out of more than 605,000 animals has tested positive for the disease.”

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and its Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which regulates slaughterhouses and on-site testing protocols, have taken steps to implement a number of improvements to the program. APHIS is in the process of analyzing data from the enhanced-surveillance program to determine what appropriate conclusions can be drawn about BSE prevalence.

Foot-and-mouth disease hits Argentina

Foot-and-mouth disease hits Argentina
2006-02-09 11:39:26

BUENOS AIRES, Feb. 8 (Xinhuanet) — Argentina has discovered a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in its northern Corrientes province, prompting neighboring South American countries to tighten border controls.
Jorge Amaya, head of the Argentine National Service for Food Safety and Quality, confirmed Wednesday that they had found 70 animals with foot-and-mouth disease in the town of San Luis del Palmar, Corrientes, some 960 km northeast of Buenos Aires.
Since the outbreak was detected on Saturday, Argentine authorities have cordoned off a 20-km area and ordered the slaughter of more than 3,000 animals in Corrientes, which borders Uruguay and Brazil.
Amaya said Argentina had officially reported the outbreak to the World Organization for Animal Health and health officials of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur), which groups Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Chile and Bolivia as associate states.
Argentina shares borders with all the other Mercosur members, with Chile to its west, Bolivia and Paraguay to the north and Uruguay and Brazil to the northeast.
The governments of Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay immediately strengthened their border controls on Wednesday after Argentina said it had detected the foot-and-mouth outbreak.
Uruguayan Agriculture Minister Jose Mujica told local media that the country had set up animal hygiene barriers on its borders with Brazil and Argentina to halt the possible infection of Uruguayan livestock.
The measures include sterilization at the frontier and tightened veterinary inspections at customs posts, he said.

Fame Ag Broadcaster Tells Cattlemen, "You Can’t Dream Big Enough!"

Fame Ag Broadcaster Tells Cattlemen, “You Can’t Dream Big Enough!”

The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Macomb: 400 juicy ribeye steaks were grilled outside the Western Illinois University’s Student Union Saturday evening by Tri-County Cattlemen’s very active board members.
Over 350 cattlemen, spouses, and friends of the beef industry gathered inside Western’s Ballroom for the Tri-County Cattlemen’s Association’s annual feast and special speaker.
Orion Samuelson, hall of fame Ag broadcaster on WGN, delighted the crowd with his stories of farming, salt and peppered with Norwegian jokes of Ollie and Olie.
Samuelson, #1 Agricultural Broadcaster in the country, has served as Agricultural Services Director of WGN Radio since 1960. His straight forwardness and knowledge has taken him around the world.
Samuelson said the “beef check-off program” is one of the best programs. People had been convinced that beef wasn’t good for you, but now beef is in demand and prices are up.
Samuelson said Canadians stopped eating beef after the first Mad Cow case in May 2003 hit North America, and the stock fell. In December 2003 was “the cow that killed Christmas.” Your association had watched the Canadian problem and when it hit here, it hardly made a bleep.


Animal ID Makers in Hog Heaven

Animal ID Makers in Hog Heaven
By Mary Zanoni, Ph.D. (Cornell), J.D. (Yale)
Feb 6, 2006, 18:25

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Comments on NAIS “Draft Program Standards” and “Draft Strategic Plan”

I have carefully examined the Draft Program Standards (Standards) and Draft Strategic Plan (Plan) issued by the USDA (the Department) on April 25, 2005, in furtherance of the Department’s proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Many aspects of the Standards and Plan appear to create insurmountable legal, fiscal, and logistical problems. The comments below address five categories of problems:

1. Constitutional infirmities of the proposed program;
2. An enormous economic cost to animal owners, the States, the Department, and, ultimately, to American taxpayers and consumers for a program likely to be ineffectual;
3. Weaknesses in the stated rationales for the program;
4. A lack of consideration of alternative, far cheaper and more easily administered measures which would more effectively protect animal health and food security; and
5. A lack of notice and an opportunity to be heard for medium-scale, small-scale, and home farmers, and for other citizens owning livestock solely for their own use or pleasure, in the Department’s process thus far.

1. The Standards and Plan Violate Many Provisions of the Constitution.

First Amendment Violations – Many Christians (as well as persons of other religious beliefs) cannot comply with the Department’s proposed program because it violates their First Amendment right to free exercise. For example, the Old Order Amish believe they are prohibited from registering their farms or animals in the proposed program due to, inter alia, Scriptural prohibitions.

The way of life of these devout Christians requires them to use horses for transportation, support themselves by simple methods of dairy farming (most ship milk to cheese producers, since their faith prohibits the use of the technologies required for modern fluid milk production), and raise animals for the family’s own food.

The proposed NAIS would place the Amish and other people of faith in an untenable position of violating one or another requirement of their most important beliefs. Further, it is not unlikely that enactment of the NAIS as presently proposed would force the Amish and other devout people to seek migration to another nation. It would greatly injure the status of our country among the community of nations if the Department’s actions were to result in the forced migration of such simple, devout, and peaceful people.