Close
Home  All Articles
 
 
Monday, September 3,2007

Montana pushes back EVA testing rule

by WLJ
The grace period for Montana’s new horse testing rule has been extended to Sept. 7. The Montana Board of Livestock recently approved a new rule to require all horses coming into Montana be tested for Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA), a respiratory virus that also causes abortion in mares. The new testing requirement was supposed to go into effect on Aug. 20. “That’s just too soon,” says acting State Veterinarian Dr. Jeanne Rankin. “Some of the tests are complicated and take a long time to run.” Also, a stallion could test positive because he contracted the virus naturally or has been vaccinated previously. If a horse tests positive for EVA, further complex tests that identify the specific virus must be run before the horse is allowed into Montana. The complexity of the tests require specialized equipment, so veterinarians must send samples to either the National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, IA, or the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Fort Collins, CO. EVA spreads through the air, infected semen, and through the placenta to unborn foals. Often, stallions will not show symptoms of EVA, but still transmit it to vulnerable mares. Montana’s new order requires imported stallions to test negative for EVA within 30 days before coming into the state. Or stallions can be vaccinated for at least 28 days before coming to Montana if they test negative for EVA within 10 days prior to the vaccination. The new rule holds one exemption: Stallions that are brought to Montana for exhibition only and then return to their home state are not required to be tested for EVA. EVA tests are not the only requirement for traveling horses. All horses that are transported into or out of Montana also must have a brand inspection, a certificate of veterinary inspection (a health certificate) and a negative Equine Infectious Anemia test (a Coggins test) within 12 months. Many breeders artificially inseminate mares and EVA can infect a mare through semen so the donor stallion must be tested before a breeder ships semen, too. The Department of Livestock also requires horse breeders to ship imported semen with a general health certificate and a negative Coggins test on the stallion, as well as the negative EVA test.

Read more
Monday, September 3,2007

USDA announces sign-up for disaster assistance

by WLJ
USDA recently announced sign-up dates for the new Livestock Compensation Program (LCP), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Crop Disaster Program (CDP). The three ad hoc disaster programs provide benefits to farmers and ranchers who suffered losses caused by natural disasters in recent years. Eligible ranchers and other livestock producers can apply to receive benefits under LCP and LIP beginning Sept. 10, 2007. Eligible farmers can sign up for CDP beginning Oct. 15, 2007, if they suffered quantity losses to their crops. USDA will announce and conduct CDP sign-up for quality losses as soon as possible. LCP compensates livestock producers for feed losses occurring between Jan.1, 2005, and Feb. 28, 2007, due to a natural disaster. This can include producers who suffered losses resulting from blizzards that started in 2006 and continued into January 2007. Livestock producers may elect to receive compensation for calendar year 2007 grazing season losses that are attributable to wildfire natural disasters occurring during the applicable period as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture. Producers in primary counties declared secretarial disaster areas or certain counties declared presidential disaster areas between Jan. 1, 2005, and Feb. 28, 2007, are eligible as are producers located in counties contiguous to those counties. Also, producers in a primary (or contiguous) county that received an Administrator’s Physical Loss Notice directly associated with a disaster declaration made by President Bush may also be eligible. Producers incurring a loss in more than one of the 2005, 2006 or 2007 calendar years must choose only one year for which they want to apply for benefits. LIP compensates livestock producers for livestock losses between Jan. 1, 2005, and Feb. 28, 2007, that resulted from natural disasters, including losses due to blizzards that started in 2006 and continued into January 2007. Producers in primary counties declared secretarial disaster areas or certain counties declared presidential disaster areas between Jan.1, 2005, and Feb. 28, 2007, are eligible as are producers located in counties contiguous to those counties. Also, producers in a primary (or contiguous) county that received an Administrator’s Physical Loss Notice directly associated with a disaster declaration made by President Bush may also be eligible. Producers incurring eligible livestock losses in more than one of the 2005, 2006 or 2007 calendar years must choose only one year for which they want to apply for benefits. CDP provides benefits to farmers who suffered quantity and quality losses to 2005, 2006, or 2007 crops from natural disasters if the crop was planted before Feb. 28, 2007, or, in the case of prevented plantings, for crops that would have been planted before Feb. 28, 2007. Producers who incurred qualifying losses in 2005, 2006 or 2007 must choose only one year to apply for benefits. Producers may apply for benefits for losses to multiple commodities as long as the losses occurred in the same crop year. Only producers who obtained crop insurance coverage or coverage under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for the year of loss will be eligible for CDP benefits. Producers must have suffered quantity losses in excess of 35 percent to be eligible for CDP. On May 25, 2007, President George W. Bush signed into law the “U.S. Troop Readiness, Veteran’s Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act.” The 2007 Act authorizes LCP, LIP and CDP. It also authorizes funding for the Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program (EFCRP), Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Dairy Disaster Assistance Program III (DDAP-III). USDA recently announced sign-up for EFCRP and the distribution of funds to 18 states under ECP. USDA will announce and conduct sign-up for DDAP-III as soon as possible. USDA’s Farm Service Agency is charged with administering the programs.

Read more
Monday, August 20,2007

Big picture volatility impacts cattle market

by WLJ
—Turmoil on Wall Street could spill over into the cattle market. The big picture economic status in the U.S. appeared to be playing a larger role in the beef market last week as concerns in the stock market looked to threaten commodities as well. Three straight weeks of volatility on the New York Stock Exchange, which has erased the equity market’s gains for the year, spilled over into other areas as investors moved money to safer investments. That shift in investments led to sharp drops in the live cattle contract trade last Thursday on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and at the closing bell, August contracts had fallen more than 172 points to end at $90.40. October was the biggest loser of the day, with contracts slipping 222 points to finish at $93.70, while December live contracts gave up 190 points to end the session at $97. The decline on CME erased most hope for higher fed cattle trade last week. By mid-day, fed trade was fully developed in Iowa at $142 and in Nebraska at $90 live and $142-143 dressed basis. There were also live cattle trading hands in Kansas and Texas in a narrow range of $90- 90.50, steady to slightly lower than the previous week’s trade. There was a bright spot last week in the fed cattle market as newly formed JBS-Swift announced it was making slow progress toward its planned second production shift at its Greeley, CO, plant. The company intends to hire 1,300 more workers by the time it reaches full production in January 2008. At full capacity, the plant is capable of processing 5,900 head daily, up from its current daily average of 3,700. In a report, JBS, the Brazilian-owned parent company, reported second quarter financial results that illustrate the company has the financial strength to be a major player in the marketplace. JBS reported a 25.2 percent increase in net revenue over the same period a year earlier. Total net profits were reportedly $82.9 million. Despite the solid performance of JBS, things in the U.S. domestic market last week were a little less rosy. Continued difficulty in boosting the cutout had packers slowing chain speeds last week in an effort to trim available supplies of beef and raise prices. Last Thursday, the Choice boxed beef cutout was up 5 cents to a mid-day price of $144.66, while the Select gained a penny to reach $138.85. Week-to-date harvest through Thursday was estimated at 491,000 head, lower than the same period a week earlier when the tally reached 497,000 head, and 2006 numbers of 495,000 head. Market analysts last week cautioned producers to pay close attention to the big picture during the weeks ahead. The recent downturn in the market has quickly sapped the economy and last week, a few economists were beginning to speak about the possibility of a recession if the market isn’t able to regain its footing after sharp losses. The possibility of a long-term downward trend or, worse, an actual recession, could quickly impact the beef market as consumers pull back on their spending. “The supply side of the market is pretty well established right now. We expect on feed numbers and placements to be below a year ago,” said Livestock Marketing Information Center Director Jim Robb. “What isn’t well established is the demand side. Consumer spending trends are notoriously difficult to pinpoint and the big picture is important. Some of these shocks to the market could be difficult to absorb because the economy is on much thinner ice now than it was a year ago. The livestock industry needs to pay attention to the macro-economic situation in the U.S. right now.” The impact of last week’s stock market instability could quickly spill over to other areas of the economy, scaring consumers enough to cause a cutback in household spending which accounts for two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S. Robb said that could contribute to a sharp drop in the beef cutout and, subsequently, a decline in fed cattle prices. “In other countries, consumers tend to cut back on the amount of protein they purchase when money is tight, turning to other foods. In the U.S., consumers don’t necessarily cut back on their protein intake, instead they tend to trade down for lower priced cuts of meat or cheaper proteins, so things like less expensive cuts of beef, pork or poultry become the protein of choice and that has a pretty immediate effect on the more expensive middle meats which causes a drop in the Choice cutout and the result is a drop in fed cattle prices,” Robb said. “Now, I’m not saying we’re going to drop to $80 fed cattle, but it could have an impact.” Robb said the international market, which has played a key role over the past year in supporting the market, was also starting to show signs of weakness. “Exports to Mexico, which had been one of the only bright spots, are increasingly a concern in the meat complex. The June numbers continued to show a downward trend in the amount of all meats being shipped to Mexico,” Robb said. According to USDA data for the month of June, the latest statistics available showed that beef exports were down 20 percent from the same period in 2006. Likewise, pork exports dropped 43 percent and broilers were down 11 percent from June 2006. Feeder cattle Western Video Market (WVM) held their video auction with a 90,000-head run in Cheyenne, WY, last week and saw strong sales and good demand. Heavy feeders sold mostly for immediate delivery, though some sold a few dollars higher with later delivery dates, mostly in September. The north-central region saw 1,015 head of 850-875 lb. steers sell for an average of $113.64, with an Aug.-Sept. delivery date attached. The same region also saw 4,655 head of five-weight steer calves selling for as much as $134.50, with an average of $127.91 with an Oct. delivery date. Ellington Peek of Shasta Livestock and co-founder of WVM, said the sale demonstrated an extremely strong calf market, with good sales on the yearlings across the board. Peek also explained that heat and drought in some areas made a few calves tough to sell. “The calf market is just excellent, but they were a hard sell on the West Coast,” said Peek. “We had probably 92 percent of the calves sell, which is still good demand, but anything for near delivery wouldn’t sell. It’s so dry in the far western states that you just can’t believe it. There’s a lot of guys out there that just flat don’t have any grass to go to,” he explained. Peek also mentioned that sale attendance was very strong, and that somewhat dry conditions in other areas didn’t seem to hamper overall demand. “We had a packed house there in Cheyenne,” he said. “I think we served close to 400 meals on one day. For most areas of the West, everything just sold really well. Even the Intermountain West, where places had been dry, there seemed to be some fair demand,” said Peek. Extreme heat and humidity continue to take their toll on auction markets in other areas of the country, mostly affecting receipts, but also depressing prices in some cases. The effect of USDA’s 13.1 billion bushel August corn report has mostly been mitigated by the low movement of cattle due to the high temperatures. Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist Derrell Peel said last week that cow/calf producers need to look closely at the market when making decisions about whether or not to feed their own calves this year. He said high demand for heavy weight feeder cattle and a cost of gain in the 75 cent per pound range for steers presents an opportunity to add weight before selling calves, which remain in high demand due to short supply. “What this means for stocker and cow/calf producers is that there is an opportunity to look at putting additional weight on animals before they go to the feedlot. Rather than selling calves at weaning or turning over stocker cattle at lighter weights, producers should evaluate the potential for additional time and gain in stocker or retained ownership programs,” Peel said. “Obviously, it will depend on having viable production programs, feed resources and other management considerations, but the incentive is quite strong. When feed grain prices are high, the returns to forage-based gains improves. Responding to this incentive is precisely the mechanism by which the cattle industry exercises the flexibility we have to utilize less grain and increase the competitiveness of beef relative to other meats.” Meanwhile in the cash market at El Reno, OK, last week, feeder steers were $1-2 higher than during the previous week’s sale, with feeder heifers $1-3 higher. Demand continues to be very good as the number of feeders remains low this summer. Steer calves were steady, while heifer calves were steady to $2 lower. Demand was moderate for calves. Feeder cattle were in thin to moderate flesh conditions. In Bassett, NE, 3,400 head were sold last week and the bulk of feeders trended steady, with a higher undertone noted on seven-weight fall calves. The run consisted of average to good quality fall calves and yearlings. Demand was good on all classes and weights. Compared with the previous sale, feeder steers and heifers sold steady in Hub City, SD, last week. Demand was good with several consignments offered in load lots. Supply was 98 percent over 600 lbs. In Davenport, WA, last week, 625 head sold, and compared to the last sale, feeder cattle remained firm in a light test. Trade was active with good demand, with feeders making up only 25 percent of total receipts. — WLJ  

Read more
Monday, July 23,2007

Ag land tax breaks threatened in California

by WLJ
—Funding for Williamson Act dollars faces veto threat. Williamson Act payments to California counties, which offset tax decreases on agricultural land, could disappear if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger carries out his plan to axe the estimated $40 million in funding during this year’s budget negotiation. His initial budget contained no money for the program, however, after an uproar, the California Legislature added funding for the program to its budget package. However, the program remains in jeopardy; the governor could still use his line-item veto power to remove the funds. The Williamson Act is a program, similar to a conservation easement, which allows California producers to guarantee that their land will remain in agricultural production for a period of 10 or more years in exchange for a tax break on property enrolled in the program. Funding of just $40 million for the Williamson program represents a small fraction of the state’s enormous $103.7 billion budget. For the state’s producers however, it represents a substantial savings in terms of property tax assessments. In all, according to the California Department of Conservation, 16 million of the state’s 29 million acres of agricultural land in 54 counties are enrolled in the conservation program. But John Gamper, director of taxation and land use at the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF), said administration officials are indicating that the governor might go ahead with the cut, even if it means overriding the Legislature with a veto. Proponents of the Williamson Act argue that it is important to maintain land protected under the act for conservation and land use reasons. CFBF said funding the program encourages more responsible planning to protect “our members right to farm,” according to Gamper. He said in the most recent poll of landowners who participate in the Williamson Act program, 85 percent of participating landowners are “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with the benefits brought to them by enrolling in the Williamson Act. It is estimated the Williamson Act can save agricultural landowners from 20 to 75 percent in property tax liability each year, or approximately $150 million statewide, according to Gamper. “A survey of landowners in Williamson Act contracts concluded that one in three would not be farming or ranching without the act’s benefits,” said Gamper. As an example of how the cuts would impact counties, in 2005, Amador County received roughly $110,000 in subvention funds from the Williamson Act, according to county auditor Joe Lowe, who said the county puts the money into the general fund to cover property tax losses created by Williamson Act enrollments. Currently, Amador county has 94,000 acres, a third of the total acreage in the county, covered by the Williamson Act. The total appraised value of that property, if assessed at the Proposition 13 value and not with the tax break from the Williamson Act, is $133 million. This means the county would receive $1.3 million in property tax revenue from those areas, according to the county assessor. But, while those lands remain under the Williamson Act, they are assessed at $42.5 million and the county collects about $426,000 in property taxes plus the $110,000 in reimbursement funds from the state, the assessor’s office said. — John Robinson, WLJ Editor  

Read more
Monday, July 23,2007

Television horse source

by WLJ
Handsome Stranger Productions announces the premiere of their newest production, TV Horse Source. This 30-minute television program will air on RVD-TV starting in December 2007. Nancy Stober, president of Handsome Stranger Productions, stated: “We believe this program will change how people market their horses! In the past, a buyer would spend countless hours going through publications, searching Web sites and networking through friends and trainers. Then after making contact with a seller, the buyer would wait days and weeks for photos and video, only to find the horse did not meet their needs. Our program will save both the buyer and seller time and money.” Adding, “Our viewing audience will include people who want to buy, sell, breed, learn about, and people who just love looking at good horses.” The program will showcase horses for sale from every discipline. Each horse will be featured with video clips or photographs, with breeding, training, and show or race earnings announced. The price and seller contact information will appear at the bottom of each page. The program will have a corresponding Web site where potential buyers can access more information, photos, and watch up to seven minutes of additional video. Web site features will include past episodes of the program as well as horses for sale not featured on the show. Additional segments will feature a Stallion Show Case, Breeders Showcase, and information segments from some of the top trainers in the country. Equine industry news will also be a program highlight. The individual with one horse, as well as the breeder, will find TV Horse Source a useful tool in their marketing program. The program will also be a platform for a national campaign to reduce the unwanted pet population by asking viewers to spay and neuter their own pets. Studies show that in two years, this platform could reduce the 5 million dogs and cats euthanized in our animal shelters by up to 1 million a year. The show will be hosted by the current Miss Rodeo California, Kadee Coffman.

Read more
Monday, July 23,2007

Summer means watching cattle for heat stress related problems

by WLJ
With temperatures forecast to hit 90 degrees and above, cattle producers need to take steps to ward off heat stress in their herds, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) beef specialist said. It’s important producers make sure their cattle have plenty of water, said Terry Mader, beef specialist at UNL’s Haskell Agricultural Laboratory near Concord, NE. “Cattle do not handle heat stress as well as humans,” Mader said. “Sunny days with temperatures above the mid-80s can be stressful, particularly if there is no wind and humidity is above 50 percent or higher due to a recent rainfall.” Water is probably the best avenue to dissipate heat, Mader said. “The cattle don’t have to be thirsty, but as cattle drink water and pass it through their body, it removes a lot of heat in the process,” he said. Cattle normally take in about five to six gallons of water per day. However, when temperatures rise, that amount can double or even triple. “It’s important to have plenty of available water,” he said. “When there is competition for water, it creates problems because the dominant animals will occupy waterer space and not allow other animals access.” In an emergency, cattle can be sprayed with water to cool them down. However, once producers do that, they need to continue spraying. Spraying cattle with water will allow the animal to rapidly dissipate heat through evaporative cooling processes but this may limit the animal’s ability to adapt to the heat. “That’s why it should only be used as an emergency step,” Mader said. Producers also should have an emergency plan in case water supplies are low or cut off, Mader added. In addition, producers should avoid handling cattle when it’s hot and never after 10 a.m. Cattle body temperatures can rise .5 to 3.5 degrees during handling. Also, producers should feed cattle most of the day’s feed several hours after the day’s peak temperature in the late afternoon or evening. Avoid filling cattle up with feed late in the morning when added heat generated by digestion will peak around the hottest time of the day, he said. Cattle yards also should be inspected so there aren’t any structures that restrict airflow. Cutting down vegetation around pens and moving cattle away from windbreaks can all help. Building earth mounds in pens also can increase airflow by preventing cattle from bunching together. For more information about managing heat stress in feedlots, consult UNL Extension NebGuide G1409, Managing Feedlot Heat Stress, available from local UNL Extension offices or on the Web.

Read more
Friday, July 20,2007

BEEF BITS

by WLJ
4, 2005 Austria discovers second BSE case A second confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Austria appears to be an isolated case as all other cattle at the affected farm tested negative for the deadly brain-wasting disorder. Austria’s health and agriculture ministers said an 11-year-old cow from a small farm of seven cattle near the German border in the province of Vorarlberg had tested positive for the disease. All seven animals were slaughtered. Kosher plant opens in Nebraska Meat company, Local Pride, opened a kosher beef, lamb and bison packing plant in an existing but shuttered facility in Gordon, NE, in late January. The plant has stood idle since 1996. Local Pride is owned by the Rubashkin family, which also owns Agriprocessors, a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, IA, that has drawn fire from animal-rights activists for its slaughter practices. Boston Market adds sirloin items Boston Market recently added sirloin meals to its dining menu. The new items are a five-ounce and eight-ounce lean steak entree, a barbecue-sirloin-and-cheddar-cheese sandwich, and a sirloin-dip sandwich. Average prices for the steak meals meals are $7.99 and $10.99. A la carte, the sirloin retails for $10.49 for a one-pound entree. The barbecue-sirloin sandwich sells for approximately $4.29, and the sirloin dip for $5.99. As part of the product introductions, Boston Market is partnering with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to distribute coupons for the new items at blood drives throughout the U.S. Packers’ employment falling According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the meat packing industry has declined by almost 10,000 jobs since May 2003, with the majority of those layoffs being from cattle and beef processing facilities. Packing industry sources cited the U.S.’ cessation of Canadian cattle imports as the primary reason for the fall. In May 2003, meat packing employment was 153,100 people. But by April 2005, employment declined to 143,300. Russia reports HMD outbreak All the livestock in the village of Busse in Russia’s Amur region were slaughtered following an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease(HMD). A total of 236 cattle have been destroyed. A total of six hundred kilos of napalm has been brought to Busse to incinerate the corpses. The outbreak has been caused by the Asia 1 virus. Recently, 20,000 doses of a polyvalent vaccine were sent to the Amur region. “Russia has not seen this type of virus so far. It has penetrated from China. This is an entirely new virus and the local cattle have not adapted to it yet,” Aleksandr Nesterenko, head of the agro-industrial department of the Amur administration said. Security measures in the southern part of Russia’s Far East have been stepped up due to the HMD outbreak. Czech Republic may have 20th BSE case Preliminary tests indicate another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the Czech Republic, the country’s second such case this month and its 20th thus far, according to the state veterinary authority. The last Czech case was confirmed 11 days ago, reports Meatingplace.com. Final test results from the second animal will be available next week. In all previous cases, initial positive results were confirmed in final testing. The Czech Republic’s first case of BSE was reported in June 2001. Pincher Creek to house plant Designs are underway to build a beef processing plant in Pincher Creek, Alberta. The plant is said to be worth $3.1 million U.S. New Generation Processors, a co-op planning the facility, is in the process of getting local municipal approvals before it moves to scheduling construction. The plant will be located on a 22-acre site in Pincher Creek and will slaughter between 200 and 325 cattle per day. At present, all investors are Albertan, but the facility is convenient to British Columbia, and New Generation plans to market shares to B.C. cattlemen. The co-op hopes to open its doors within 12 months. New Generation can be contacted at 403/627-3301.   China opens its first Burger King Burger King opened its first Chinese outlet in Shanghai on Monday, hoping to take a bite out of the rival McDonald’s profits in the booming Chinese fast-food market, according to the Associated Press. Along with famous menu offerings such as the Whopper, the outlet will also sell items customized to Chinese tastes, including a hamburger seasoned with the spicy mala sauce of southwestern China, the company said. Burger King has a lot of catching up to do in an already crowded Chinese fast-food market dominated by U.S. chains McDonald’s Corp. and KFC Corp. McDonald’s plans to open about 100 more restaurants in China this year, adding to the 600 plus it already operates there. © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

Read more
Friday, July 20,2007

BSE case spurs testing changes

by WLJ
4, 2005 In addition to confirming the presence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow first tested for the disease last November, USDA on June 24 also announced plans to change its testing protocol for the disease. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said two different confirmatory tests were performed by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) testing facility in Weybridge, England, and that additional tests were also conducted by U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service scientists. All those tests came back positive for the disease. “Last November we had an inconclusive report from a rapid screening test. USDA then conducted two IHC (immunohistochemistry) confirmatory tests, and both came out negative. A few weeks ago, an additional confirmatory test was conducted, and that test is referred to as the Western blot test,” Johanns said during his June 24 announcement. “On June 10 I learned that test was reactive and shared those results at that time.” “We now have the test results from the lab in Weybridge, England, as well as the results from additional testing in our own lab....The results confirm the presence of BSE in this animal....” Johanns and APHIS chief veterinarian John Clifford both reiterated that the suspect animal was a downer cow that was condemned from entering both the human food or livestock feed chains and that there was no opportunity for the disease to spread to the U.S. human or livestock population. “It is critically important to note that this animal was identified as a high risk animal,” said Johanns. “A sample was taken, and the carcass was incinerated.” Despite that fact, Johanns still announced that the testing protocol for the disease would be changed to include utilizing both the IHC and Western blot processes as confirmatory tests on “preliminary inconclusive” rapid test results. If results from either confirmatory test are positive, the sample will be considered positive for BSE. “I want to make sure we continue to give consumers every reason to be confident in the health of our cattle herd,” Johanns said. “By adding the second confirmatory test, we boost that confidence and bring our testing in line with the evolving worldwide trend to use both IHC and Western blot together as confirmatory tests for BSE.” He added that he was made aware of some variations in the IHC test between England and the U.S. However, Dr. Danny Matthews, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy program manager for VLA, said the variations do not result in either one of the countries’ BSE testing protocol being less effective or accurate than the other. “There are no two laboratories around the world that are using identical IHC methods and not a single test that you can take off the shelf,” said Matthews. “And, in fact, there's been quite a lot of resistance in Europe when there was an attempt to see if there was any scope for having a common protocol. In some cases, just variations in water content can actually mean that your test does not perform equally. So it really is appropriate for each laboratory to develop the test that works best for them.” Johanns said USDA will work with other international scientists to see if any additional changes to BSE testing protocol are necessary. Johanns and Clifford both remained confident that the U.S.’ BSE testing program is effective in ensuring both producers’ and consumers’ confidence in the health and safety of U.S. beef. According to USDA statistics, as of June 26 a total of 394,613 “most at risk” cattle have been tested for BSE under the stepped up testing protocol which was implemented June 1 of last year. There have been three preliminary inconclusive results and only one cow has been confirmed to have the disease under that program. On a weekly basis, the volume of testing has dropped off the past couple of months with only 5-6,000 tests being conducted per week. The peak season for testing was this past March and April when 10,000-11,000 tests were done weekly. Officials close to the testing program said the drop off in numbers is simply a matter of seasonal trends in the amount of “most suspect” cattle available for testing and that the “most at risk” population has almost been exhausted. When the program was first announced, APHIS Administrator Ron DeHaven said that there were around 450,000 head of cattle that were considered to be at higher risk for being infected with the disease. There are still several months before the maximum 18-month testing program time frame is reached. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

Read more
Friday, July 20,2007

New logo signifies push for mCOOL

by WLJ
4, 2005 The Cattlemen’s Competitive Market Project (CCMP) last week officially launched a “public awareness” campaign concerning mandatory country-of-origin labeling (mCOOL), including the unveiling of a new USDA RAISED BEEF logo. CCMP is a consortium of various state, regional and national livestock organizations who have been in favor of mCOOL ever since it was first passed by Congress in 2002. Among the CCMP member organizations are South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, Montana Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon Livestock Producers, Cattle Producers of Washington, R-CALF USA and the Organization for Competitive Markets. “The USA RAISED BEEF ‘Ask For It’ initiative is designed to increase consumer awareness and to encourage consumers to ask for USA Raised Beef at the point of sale,” CCMP said in a statement last Tuesday during a press conference in Washington, DC. “By educating consumers, and soliciting their involvement, mCOOL will be given the importance it deserves. When consumers are made aware that they cannot determine where their meat comes from, they immediately question grocers and political representatives urging that the information be included on product labels in their local stores.” The group added that the “Not Just Any Beef” portion of the logo is a key component of the educational process informing consumers that the USDA inspection stamp deceives consumers and misleads beef purchasers who believe it means beef raised and processed in the U.S. “In reality, the federal stamp is applied to cheap imported and unidentified beef. Currently, the U.S. accepts imports of beef into the food chain from more than 30 nations, all of which is sold to consumers under the guise of the USDA grade stamp of approval,” the group said. CCMP officials cited results of a recent survey that shows 85 percent of consumers surveyed want COOL; 74 percent support the idea of Congress making the program mandatory; and 55 percent have “little or not much trust” in the meat, seafood, produce and grocery industries to voluntarily provide country of origin labeling. The 1,000-person poll was conducted June 9 - 13 by Lake Snell Perry Mermin and Associates. A proposal recently approved by the full House delays funding for mCOOL until at least the beginning of fiscal year 2007, which means Sept. 1, 2006. No similar language has yet been introduced in the Senate, and senator staffers indicated that such language would be included in their version of the Ag Appropriations Bill for FY 2006. The Senate is expected to discuss and vote on an ag appropriations package sometime during mid-July, according to lobbyists. Once that is done, the House and Senate will send both proposals to a conference committee, where a compromise ag appropriations bill will be hammered out. Sources from both houses were uncertain as to whether the funding delay for mCOOL would be included in the conference version of the bill. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

Read more
Friday, July 20,2007

Infected cow native to U.S.

by WLJ
4, 2005 — Animal born and raised on Texas ranch. Officials with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) last Wednesday confirmed that a cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was U.S. born and raised. It is the first domestic case of the disease confirmed in the U.S. According to John Clifford, chief veterinary officer for APHIS, the Brahma-cross cow was 12 years old when she was shipped to a pet food plant in Texas last November. She was born and raised on the same ranch in Texas all her life. When she arrived at the plant, the cow was not able to stand or walk and was condemned from entering the animal feed chain. Instead, brain samples were collected and the animal was incinerated. APHIS is currently working on tracking down any cohorts or herd mates that would be considered most at risk for BSE. “The source herd is under a hold order as we identify ‘animals of interest’ within the herd,” Clifford said. “Animals of interest include animals that were born the same year as the infected animal, as well as those born the year before and the year after. We may expand our inquiry to include all animals in this herd that were born before the feed ban went into place in 1997.” In 1997, a federal regulation was put in place that eliminated the use of ruminant meat-and-bone meal (MBM) in ruminant feed. MBM could include bits and pieces of central nervous system tissue, which is thought to carry the malformed proteins responsible for the disease. Clifford also said his department is interested in any of the animal's offspring that were born within the last two years, which means the last two calves. Last week’s announcement was several days after USDA announced the confirmation of the disease in the animal, but officials said they had to do DNA analysis to trace back the animal to its herd of origin. When the sample was first collected last November it was mislabeled with the wrong breed of the animal and was also commingled with at least four other animals that were being tested for the disease, Clifford said. In addition, Dr. Bob Hillman, state veterinarian for Texas, said that the laboratory from College Station that did the original testing on the infected cow’s sample conducts tests on cattle from states other than Texas, and that extra time was needed to gather the information concerning the cow’s origin and path of movement, if any. The name and specific location of the quarantined ranch has not been released. Clifford added that information would probably not be released through their office. He said releasing that information could violate the producer’s individual right to privacy. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

Read more
 
 
User Box (click to open)
 
SEARCH IN WLJ
Get WLJ In Your Inbox!
   
 
S M T W T F S
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18* 19 20 21 22 23
24 25* 26 27 28 29 30*
31
 
 

© Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use, without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. 2008 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.