Beef with oversight
The Barre Montpelier Times Argus
There are Americans who seriously, even passionately, believe that the lowest possible level of government regulation is the most desirable level. Given their way, these advocates would have the smallest possible United States government (and, of course, the lowest possible taxes), although they probably would accept an expensive exception for the Pentagon.
However, it’s one thing to keep government’s pesky nose out of business, but quite another to allow commercial priorities to run over the public’s best interests, unimpeded by sensible regulation. In fact, there are countless arguments that favor stricter rather than less rigorous government interference in the marketplace. For example, just consider all the made-in-China products (including countless drugs) that enter our economy without the benefit of adequate safety inspections.
Bringing home the beef
Bill Tripp stood outside a meat locker where a dozen slabs of frozen beef dangled upside down, waiting to be carved into steaks, ground into hamburgers or stuffed into sandwiches.
“I talk to a lot of kids and ask them where they think a hamburger comes from,” he said.
“They say from the back room at the Grand Union.”
Tripp is the owner of Locust Grove Farm, a slaughterhouse and smokehouse in Argyle. The six-employee operation slaughters about 10 cows and two dozen pigs in a given week.
Beef Recall Highlights USDA Staff Shortages
Inspectors: Food Safety Threatened
Sometimes, government inspectors responsible for examining slaughterhouse cattle for mad cow disease and other ills are so short-staffed that they find themselves peering down from catwalks at hundreds of animals at once, looking for such telltale signs as droopy ears, stumbling gait and facial paralysis.
The ranks of inspectors are so thin that slaughterhouse workers often figure out when “surprise” visits are about to take place, and make sure they are on their best behavior.
Minn. TB outbreak causes ND to tighten cattle import regs
North Dakota is imposing tougher testing requirements on Minnesota ranchers who want to bring beef cattle into the state.
It’s in response to an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis in northwestern Minnesota. Since October 2007, four beef cattle herds in the region have tested positive for tuberculosis.
North Dakota’s Board of Animal Health ordered the new rules to take effect immediately. The U.S. Agriculture Department is likely to impose tougher rules of its own. But they may not take effect for weeks or months.
National Animal Identification Workshop Set For April 3
Discussions on the opportunities and challenges of the USDA-generated “A Business Plan to Advance Animal Disease Traceability” and pending implementation of Country of Origin Labeling are two key topics on the agenda of the 2008 ID•INFO Workshop slated for Thursday, April 3, in Indianapolis, Ind. This year’s one-day workshop will be conducted in conjunction with the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s (NIAA) annual meeting.
“In respect of everyone’s time, this year’s ID•INFO Workshop is being condensed into one day,” states Glenn Fischer, Planning Group Chair of the ID•INFO Workshop. “With this tight time frame, we’re going to hit topics hard and fast and depart the workshop with solutions and more answers than questions.”
USDA’s Business Plan to Advance Animal Disease Traceability kicks off the morning’s discussion with National NAIS coordinator Neil Hammerschmidt delivering an update on the Plan. Hammerschmidt will be followed by a healthy discussion on the Plan’s challenges and opportunities from three perspectives: state, industry and information systems.
Angus Association Releases Docility EPDs
The American Angus Association® recently released a new research docility genetic evaluation. Differentiating cattle temperament is a likely topic of discussion for many producers. In Angus cattle, a factual means to describe temperament variation is now a reality.
The research report includes sire docility expected progeny differences (DOC EPDs). These EPDs are a tool to increase the chance of a sire’s calves having calm behavior compared to calves of other sires. “Docility EPDs can be used as part of a complete selection program in the event that a producer needs to make improvement in a herd’s cattle temperament. Angus breeders have submitted nearly 40,000 yearling temperament scores to allow genetic differences to be identified in sires for docility,” says Sally Northcutt, genetic research director for the Association.
ZigBeef Offers Ranchers a Long-Distance Cattle Head Count
The long-range RFID system promises to provide ranchers, their commercial interests and rodeos an easier method for tracking their animals, through ZigBee technology.
A new active RFID system is set to help ranchers and rodeos track animals from a distance, as well as measure an animal’s movement during a rodeo competition, for instance, when it is difficult to track exactly when a bull came out of its gate, or when it was roped and immobilized. The solution, provided by a startup company called ZigBeef, is being developed to allow cattle ranchers and their financial backers to track each head of cattle on a daily basis. The system became commercially available two weeks ago.