Daily Archives: February 22, 2006

Montana Beef Newsletter available

Montana Beef Newsletter available

The most recent issue of the Montana Beef Q&A is available at:

This issue’s contents include:

Alternative Winter Nutritional Management Strategies

Ask John! Answers to your nutrition questions

Producer Profile: Larsen Ranch Angus Strategies

Welcome to the Age of Ranch Biosecurity

The National Animal Identification System: Frequently Asked Questions

About the Premises ID and Registration

Archived issues are available at:

New issue of the Ohio BEEF Cattle letter is now posted

The February 22, issue # 475, of the Ohio BEEF Cattle letter is now posted to the web at: http://fairfield.osu.edu/ag/beef/beefFeb22.html

What an extraordinary Winter . . . cool season grasses have continued to grow in over 50% of the days this Winter in most of Ohio. And, it’s awfully tempting to begin utilizing this high quality new growth now. This week, Jeff McCutcheon offers thoughts on when that becomes the thing to do!

Articles include:
* Spring Turnout
* Frost Seed Now?!?!?
* Prepare for Calving: Get a Calving Book and Use It
* Age and Source Verification: Implications for Cow-Calf Producers
* Weekly Purcell Agricultural Commodity Market Report

Stan Smith
Program Assistant, Agriculture
OSU Extension, Fairfield County
831 College Ave., Suite D
Lancaster, OH 43130

e-mail: smith.263@osu.edu
voice: 740.653.5419 ext. 24
fax: 740.687.7010
Fairfield Co. OSU Extension – http://fairfield.osu.edu
OSU Beef Team – http://beef.osu.edu
Ohio Bull Test – http://bulltest.osu.edu

Anderson: Japanese group seeks insight on beef production

Anderson: Japanese group seeks insight on beef production

The Pantograph

Dan Koons may not single-handedly be able to lift the latest Japanese ban on U.S. beef, but the Shirley beef producer might have started the ball rolling.

Koons, manager of Funk Farms Trust, has entertained guests from around the world for years. Last summer, he, his family and staff hosted the Illinois Forage Expo, which attracted nearly 1,000 visitors.

So, when he got a call a couple of weeks ago from the Japanese consulate in Chicago, he didn’t hesitate to welcome nine Japanese legislators to the farm.

“Some time ago, a group of minority party members of parliament visited some beef farms and beef processing plants in Kansas. When they got home, they held a press conference and bashed what they’d seen,” said Koons, who was not asked to host the group.

Koons’ visitors belonged to the majority Liberal Democratic Party. Eager to see for themselves the ins and outs of U.S. beef production, they toured the same processing facilities owned by Tyson and Creekstone Premium Farms. They also wanted to see how beef producers raised their animals.

Nearly two years ago, the Japanese government banned U.S. beef following a case of BSE, or mad cow disease, in Washington state. The ban was lifted early last year for cows aged 20 months or younger devoid of any high-risk BSE parts, such as the brain, spine and bone marrow. Some scientists believe there may be a link between eating beef from infected cattle and a fatal human brain disorder called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The renewed ban, imposed last month, occurred when Japanese inspectors found spinal material in a shipment of U.S. veal. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said the shipment posed no human health risk, but stricter guidelines have been implemented at the meat processing plants involved.

“I was impressed with the group,” said Koons. “They were very interested in animal identification and age verification. Another big thing was the feed source. We do not feed bovine parts in the United States. I sign a documentation form to send to packers.”

In turn, Koons receives confirmation of feed quality from DeKalb Feed, where he buys the food his cattle eat. Feed mill operators test the feed, and inspect trucks arriving at the mill for any signs of contamination before loading the trucks.

When Koons buys young cattle to feed to market weight, he gets documentation from the calf producers regarding age verification and identification.

About 100 of 700 cattle raised on Funk Farms Trust are age verified. In most cases, Koons buys calves from producers who birthed the animals. So, the producers can easily verify their age.

Koons noted that bovine parts thought to harbor mad cow disease were banned from feed in the United States in 1997. That means only 6 million of 90 million cattle in the nation were born before the feed ban.

“We should be fast closing in on eradication of BSE,” said Koons, noting the U.S. oversees an extensive surveillance program for suspect downer cattle – animals that cannot stand, meaning they exhibit possible disease symptoms.

Koons said the Japanese legislators also wanted to know his honest opinion about a number of issues, including the 20-month age restriction for U.S. beef entering Japan.

“I told them I believed in a science-based system. It’s been proven that a 30-month age restriction is in order. I said the 20-month restriction was just political,” said Koons.

Where’s the beef?

Illinois beef producers had 1.3 million head of cattle on farms as of Jan. 1. Of the total, 446,000 were beef cows, 255,000 steers and 25,000 bulls. The rest were heifers.

About 500,000 calves were born on Illinois farms in 2005 compared to 510,000 in 2004. Nationally, 37.8 million calves were born last year, up about 1 percent from the previous year.

U.S. beef producers had 97.1 million head on farms Jan. 1. There were 33.3 million beef cows, 16.9 million steers and 2.3 million bulls with the remainder as heifers.

Pantagraph Farm Editor Chris Anderson writes about agriculture every Wednesday. Contact her at canderson@pantagraph.com.

Japan Seeks Assurances for U.S. Beef

Japan Seeks Assurances for U.S. Beef
Feb 21st – 8:08am

By KANA INAGAKI Associated Press Writer
WTOP Radio, Washington, DC

TOKYO (AP) – Japan will resume imports of U.S. beef only if Washington can convince Tokyo that it will implement effective safeguards against mad cow disease, a top Japanese official said Tuesday.

Japan’s Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa points to reporters as he attends a regular press conference at his ministry in Tokyo, Tuesday, Feb 21, 2006. Japan closed its doors to American beef last month after the discovery of banned backbones in a shipment of U.S. veal, a violation of the pact that reopened Japan’s market to the meat after a two-year ban over mad cow disease fears. (AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said the government was still examining a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on the faulty veal shipment that prompted Japan to close its markets to American beef last month.

Japan’s agriculture minister said on Monday that the report was insufficient and raised a lot of questions, and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said a quick resumption of imports was unlikely.

Abe, who said he hadn’t read the 475-page report and couldn’t comment on its contents, said Japan would ask the U.S. for clarification if needed.

“If, after all that, the U.S. can convince us that preventive measures will be firmly taken from the perspective of food safety and security, then we will resume the imports at that point,” Abe told reporters.

Japan closed its doors to American beef last month after the discovery of banned backbones in a shipment of U.S. veal, a violation of the pact that reopened Japan’s market to the meat in December.

The U.S. had hoped that the report on the mishap issued last week would quickly lead to steps to allow the resumption of imports to what was once U.S. beef’s most lucrative overseas market.

Japan eased a two-year-old ban on U.S. beef in December, limiting imports to meat from American cows 20 months old or younger, and banning brains, bone marrow and other parts thought to be high risk for mad cow disease.

In the report on the veal shipment, submitted to Japan late Friday, Washington acknowledged that workers and government inspectors involved didn’t understand the rules governing beef exports to Japan.

The report also pledged to increase the number of inspectors carrying out checks on Japan-bound beef, and improve inspector training.

The study followed numerous apologies by U.S. government officials for the embarrassing mishap, which raised suspicions among Japanese consumers that Washington was not taking their concerns seriously.

Kroger quits stocking gas-packaged beef

Kroger quits stocking gas-packaged beef

Red color – FDA petitioner says shoppers can’t gauge the freshness of meat packaged with carbon monoxide

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
The Orgonian

The nation’s largest grocery chain said Tuesday that it has decided to stop carrying ground beef products packaged with minute amounts of carbon monoxide designed to keep meat an appealing pink color.

Kroger, the parent company of Fred Meyer and QFC stores in the Pacific Northwest and Fry’s, Smith’s and Ralph’s across the country, said its decision late last week arose from uncertainty over the pros and cons of using the gas. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004, carbon monoxide use faces a challenge by one company and consumer organizations.

Feds sued over approval of genetically engineered alfalfa

Feds sued over approval of genetically engineered alfalfa

San Francisco (AP) – Several environmental groups and organic farmers concerned with “genetic contamination’ of conventionally grown crops by biotech varieties sued the federal government Thursday in an attempt to reverse the approval of genetically engineered alfalfa.

The lawsuit alleges the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t adequately investigate environmental affects such as cross-pollination of the biotechnology crop with conventional alfalfa, which is used mainly to feed cows. The USDA approved the alfalfa last June after the EPA said it had no objections.

Organic farmers and conventional growers are concerned genetically engineered plants will accidentally mix with their crops and scare away customers who pay premiums for organic goods and otherwise refuse to buy biotechnology crops.

“Consumers will reject organic products that are contaminated with genetically engineered material,’ according to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court against the USDA and EPA by the Sierra Club, Center for Food Safety and five other nonprofit groups and two farmers. “For example, milk and meat from cows fed with genetically engineered alfalfa will be unattractive to the organic consumer.’

The lawsuit said farmers are concerned about losing alfalfa export sales of $480 million annually in biotech-adverse countries like Japan and throughout Europe.

The lawsuit asks a judge to overturn the USDA’s approval and order the agency to conduct an extensive study on the consequences the biotech crop will have on the environment.

USDA spokeswoman Karen Eggert said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Some alfalfa farmers also are concerned that biotechnology behemoth Monsanto Co. will force them to pay technology fees if the genetically engineered crops mix with their conventionally grown crops. Monsanto, which controls the biotech alfalfa patents, requires farmers to pay a premium to use its seed and sign contracts promising not to save seeds from year to the next.

“As a producer of organic alfalfa seed and hay, there is absolutely no way I will be able to protect my crop from contamination,’ said Rugby, N.D. farmer Blaine Schmaltz, who is not part of the lawsuit.

The St. Louis-based Monsanto has successfully sued farmers it caught purposefully planting its genetically engineered corn, cotton and soy seeds without paying the company’s technology fee.

Monsanto spokeswoman Mica DeLong said the company, which is not named in the lawsuit, had no comment.

San Jose Mercury News

Alfalfa is the fourth most widely grown U.S. crop behind corn, soybean and wheat. Most of the nation’s 115 million pounds of alfalfa seed grown each year comes from California. Most alfalfa is turned into hay and used for animal feed, though about 7 percent of the annual crop is used for sprouts eaten by people. The market remains for biotech alfalfa, which is genetically engineered to resist a popular weed killer.

About 1 million pounds of the biotech seed were sold last year and about twice that is expected to be sold this year, said Mark McCaslin, who is president of Idaho biotechnology company Forage Genetics International, which codeveloped the genetically engineered alfalfa with Monsanto. McCaslin declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The USDA has approved dozens of biotechnology crops in the last 10 years, mostly related to corn, soy and cotton seeds.

ERS Issues Livestock, Feed Outlooks

ERS Issues Livestock, Feed Outlooks

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) has released its latest round of statistical updates.

For the latest timely livestock, dairy and poultry information, focusing on current and forecasted production, price, and trade statistics, visit www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/LDP.
Printed copies are also available for purchase from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) by calling 1-800-999-6779 (specify SUB-LDPM-4042).
The latest ERS feed outlook has also been released. The report examines supply, use, prices and trade for feedgrains, including supply and demand prospects in major importing and exporting countries. The outlook focuses on corn but also contains information on sorghum, barley, oats and hay.

Visit www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/SO/view.asp?f=field/fds-bb to view the entire report.