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Friday, August 15,2008

Livestock producer compliance with the COOL interim final rule

by WLJ
Livestock producers are not directly regulated by the Country Of Original Labeling (COOL) interim final rule as livestock are not considered covered commodities. However, only producers have first-hand knowledge concerning the origin of their animals. Definitive origin information must be provided to slaughter facilities so that meat covered commodities can be accurately labeled at retail. Presumption of origin by packers and other entities in the marketing chain is not permitted. For example, it is not acceptable to assume that if an animal has no ear tag and/or brands identifying that the animal was born and/or raised in Canada or Mexico, the animal is of U.S. origin. The COOL law provides for the use of producer affidavits to provide origin information to packers. Thus, under the interim final rule, USDA will consider a producer affidavit as acceptable evidence on which a packer may rely upon to initiate an origin claim, as long as the affidavit is made by someone having first-hand knowledge of the origin of the animal(s) and identifies the animal(s) unique to the transaction. Evidence that identifies the animal(s) unique to a transaction can include a tag ID system along with other information such as the type and sex of the animals, number of head involved in the transaction, the date of the transaction, and the name of the buyer. With regard to what is considered first-hand knowledge, a subsequent producer-buyer (e.g., backgrounder, feeder) that commingles animals from several sources is authorized to rely on previous producer affidavits as a basis for formulating their own affidavit for the origin of the new lot. Such affidavits must also identify the animals unique to the transaction. In contrast, first-hand knowledge would not include an affidavit made by someone such as a truck driver whose knowledge would be limited to where he picked up the load. The driver would not have sufficient information about the chain of custody and other information needed to provide the origin declaration. The responsible party (e.g., buyer) for commingling the animals would be the attestor to the origin of the newly formed group of animals and would retain the original affidavits, or other appropriate records, to substantiate claims made about the newly formed group. Other records that may be used to assist in a COOL verification audit include birth records, receiving records, purchase records, animal health papers, sales receipts, animal inventory documents, feeding records, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Service forms, segregation plans, state brand requirements, breeding stock information, and other similar documents. In addition, participation in USDA Quality System Verification Programs, such as the USDA Process Verified Program and the Quality Systems Assessment Program that contain a source verification component is also considered as acceptable evidence to substantiate COOL claims. These examples are not inclusive of all documents and records that may be useful to verify compliance with COOL, but they should provide a strong basis to substantiate a claim during a supply chain audit. Ultimately, the packer, as the first handler of the covered commodity (meat), may require from their suppliers records or access to records in order to substantiate COOL claims made by the packer. However, if the producer participates in the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), that is considered sufficient documentation of an animal’s origin. Participation in the NAIS program is voluntary, but does provide a livestock producer "safe harbor" for COOL compliance. The rule specifies that packers that slaughter animals that are part of a NAIS compliant system or other recognized official identification system (e.g., Canadian official system, Mexico official system) may rely on the presence of an official ear tag and/or the presence of any accompanying animal markings (i.e., "Can," "M") on which to base their origin claims. This provision also applies to such animals officially identified as a group lot. — WLJ

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Friday, August 8,2008

Markets

by WLJ
A good jump in the futures trade lent some support to fed cattle markets last week and was expected to push cash prices higher. Although there was only minimal trade at mid-day last Thursday, analysts were calling the market $1-2 higher at $99-100 live and $158-160 dressed basis when trade finally got started, although the bulk of the action looked to be a Friday affair. Boxed beef prices also continued to support the live trade with Choice cutout values rising at midweek on fair movement in the retail trade and very good export shipments. South Korea has jumped into the market in a major way and was among the biggest buyers of U.S. beef with a net purchase of 3,000 metric tons, exceeding all other buyers last week. That helped push Choice values to $162.09, up $1.21 at mid-day last Thursday. Select also added 31 cents to reach $155.09, with movement called moderate, with 230 loads trading hands during morning trade. Packers continued to harvest good numbers of cattle on positive margins. The week-to-date tally through last Thursday was estimated at 505,000, with 665,000 head expected for the processing week. Those numbers would be nearly even with the previous week and slightly ahead of year-earlier numbers. A rally in the up-front live cattle contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) last Wednesday pushed spot month prices over the $1 mark and spurred several deliveries against the contract. The amount of volatility in the market recently is causing many market analysts to raise caution flags. Fund trading has caused significant price swings in the relatively small commodities markets, however, analysts said the overall picture for the protein markets remains bullish going into 2009. The result should be an overall upward trend for much of the remainder of the year despite a significant decline in grain prices. The supply of beef and other meats is projected to decline while demand is picking up in the export markets, said analyst Troy Vetterkind of Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage. Although he noted the large supply of heavy grass cattle heading for placement this fall and the resulting increase in fed cattle supplies as a reason for some of the weakness in deferred contracts on CME. However, he noted that the opposite dynamic is at play in the pork and poultry markets. "Canadian hog numbers are down, pork imports are down 14 percent year-to-date, and pork exports are up 61 percent year-to-date. The same type of scenario holds true in the cattle market as we see year-to-date cow slaughter up 6 percent, year-to-date beef imports down 22 percent, and year-to-date beef exports up 33 percent. Factor in year-to-date broiler exports up 29 percent and one needs to be careful about getting too bearish meat markets going into 2009 as we clearly have an overall trend of decreasing beef, pork, and poultry production with increasing demand overseas for each of these markets going forward," he said. Vetterkind noted that the current market fundamentals, which point to short supply of fed cattle availability in the next several weeks, will support the cash market and also lend to the positive fundamentals in the futures trade. "This next leg up in cash cattle and beef prices going into the fourth quarter will eventually pull back month fat cattle futures back up in my opinion, a rally we will want to use as a hedging opportunity in Febuary and April futures. We have likely seen the highs in these contracts for the year, however, I do think we will get a better hedging opportunity this fall," said Vetterkind. "Front month August and October fats are probably going to be a sell at some point as we will likely get these contracts a little too far ahead of cash, however, we need to get this spread trade worked out first. I still think if we run into a marketing hole later this year, it is going to come in late October through November, and I continue to like December live cattle futures for this reason." Feeder cattle Changing grass conditions and hot summer weather accounted for some of the largest influences on feeder cattle purchasing trends last week, which remained steady to higher at most auction markets. As sellers begin to become more aware of trends in the cattle feeding industry which demand heavier-weight cattle for placement, earlier expectations of receiving typical premiums for lightweight feeders have waned and have adjusted to real market demands and transportation costs. DTN analyst Walt Hackney noted last week that western ranchers have had the hardest time adjusting to the new ways of doing business in light of high feed and transportation costs which have placed a burden on feeder cattle prices in many regions. He mentioned, however, that sellers have begun to adjust their asking prices to market expectations. "Ranchers in the western areas are fairly well in tune with the markets now and are selling fall delivery calves at a much more realistic level than earlier attempts, which were closer to last years’ money," he said. Hackney also mentioned that weakness during last week’s trading of corn futures has seen a number of buyers come back into the market for lighter-weight offerings scheduled for fall delivery. "Monday’s serious break in corn contracts on the CBOT [Chicago Board of Trade] appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back as calf buyer interest began in earnest on their decision to go ahead with their program to own fall delivery calves," he explained. Even as buyer attitudes improve slightly, USDA Market Reporter Corbitt Wall said that weather has begun to play a significant role in the kind of cattle purchasers seek. "Steer and heifer calf prices continue to run unevenly steady, with buyers still willing to pay the top prices of several weeks ago for larger lots of weaned calves with desirable flesh and weighing conditions," he noted. "However, there seems to be more wrong with the calf quality than with the calf market. Current conditions are simply too hot for the acquisition of fleshy or unweaned calves which can literally melt this time of year." And as Utah State University Economist Dylan Feuz points out, although competition for quality feeder cattle should keep cash prices high for some time to come, relief from slim or negative margins in the feedlot sector are unlikely to improve anytime soon. "Higher grain prices are resulting in cattle being placed on feed at heavier weights and cattle are spending fewer days in the feedlot," he observed. "Feedlots tend to be more profitable if they are operating close to full capacity. Therefore, feedlots will continue to aggressively pursue the available supply of feeder cattle and there may be another year or two of minimal or no profits in this sector." Last week’s sale at the Oklahoma National Stockyards saw a total of 8,232 head available for sale where compared to the week prior, feeder cattle moved $1-3 higher. Demand was very good for feeders, with buyers showing very little discrimination for type and kind. Limited tests of the steer and heifer calf market showed it to be steady with moderate demand. The quality of cattle offered continued to be similar to that during recent weeks, with several consignments of No. 1-2 cattle from out of state. Steers weighing 725 lbs. sold at $114.85, while heifers weighing an average of 721 lbs. sold at $109.57. There were 3,992 head received last week at the Joplin Regional Stockyards near Joplin, MO, where compared to the most recent sale, steers under 800 lbs. sold steady, with those over 800 lbs. selling steady to $1 higher. Heifers under 600 lbs. were steady to $2 higher, with weights over 600 lbs. steady. Demand was moderate to good for the moderate supply. The bulk of the calves offered were weaned, with one to two rounds of vaccinations. Temperatures of mid to upper 90s in the area with high humidity are expected to start slowing the rate of gain on grazing cattle in the region. Buyers paid $112.02 for 731 lb. steers at this sale, and $104.18 for heifers weighing an average of 719 lbs. The Winter Livestock Feeder Cattle Auction in Dodge City, KS, offered 2,180 head for sale last week where compared to the previous sale’s light test, steers from 350-700 lbs. were steady to firm, with 700-900 lb. steers steady to $2 higher. Heifers from 350-650 lbs. were steady to firm, with 650-900 lb. heifers steady to $2 higher. Steers weighing an average of 807 lbs. brought $114.44 at this sale, while 767 lb. heifers sold at $109.22. A total of 1,750 head were received for sale last week at the Bassett Livestock Auction in Bassett, NE, where compared to the previous sale, feeder steers and heifers trended fully steady. The bulk of the offerings were good quality yearlings coming off of grass. There was also good demand noted for the short list of fall-calving cows. Steers weighing 715 lbs. sold for $117.75 at this sale, while 735 lb. heifers brought $111.70. Last week’s sale at the La Junta Livestock Commission Co. in La Junta, CO, saw 1,032 head available for sale, with feeder steers and heifers steady to $1 higher compared to the previous week. Buyers paid an average of $104 for 793 lb. steers and $101.50 for 713 lb. heifers. The Riverton Livestock Auction in Riverton, WY, received 855 head for sale last week where compared to the most recent sale, there was no good comparison available for feeders, though the first test of the season on lightweight calves saw good demand. Steer calves weighing 458 lbs. sold at $126, while 477 lb. heifers sold at $107.28. — WLJ

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Friday, August 8,2008

Coming Events

by WLJ
Coming Events Aug. 15 Aug. 27 Aug. 27 Sept. 17-19 Sept. 19 Oct. TBD Oct. 2 Oct. 7-9 Oct. 23-29 Nov. 2-4 Nov. 6-8 November 19-21 Dec. 3-4 Dec. 7-10 2009 Jan. 28-31 March 8-10 - Annual Meat Conference, Sheraton Denver Hotel, Denver, CO. - National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Annual Convention, Phoenix, AZ. For more information, call 303/694-0305. - Wyoming Stockgrower’s Association Joint Winter Convention, Parkway Plaza, Casper, WY. For more information, contact WYSGA at 307/638-3942 or email info@wysga.org. - Kansas Livestock Association Convention and Trade Show, Wichita, KS. For more information or to register, contact KLA at 785/273-5115. - California Cattlewomen’s/California Cattlemen’s Association Convention, John Ascuaga’s Nugget, Sparks, NV. For more information or to register, call CCA at 916/444-0845. - Oregon Cattlemen’s Association Annual Convention and Trade Show, Redmond, OR. Contact OCA at 503/361-8941. - Texas Cattle Feeders Association Annual Convention, The Gaylord Texan Resort & Conference Center, Grapevine, TX. For more information, contact Trent Tyson at trent@tcfa.org. - U.S. Animal Health Association Annual Meeting, Greensboro, NC, Sheraton Greensboro Hotel. For more information or to register, contact USAHA at 816/671-1144 or email usaha@usaha.org. - National Angus Conference and Tour, Oklahoma City, OK. For more information, contact the American Angus Association at 816/383-5100. – Kansas State University Stocker Conference, KSU Stocker Unit, Manhattan, KS. - National Beef Ambassador Competition, Oklahoma City, OK. - Cattle Producers of Washington (CpoW), 2008 Annual Fall Meeting and Trade Show, N.E. Washington Fairgrounds and Ag Center, 411 W. Astor Ave, Colville, WA. For more information, call 509/994-8051 or 509/855-5571. - Red Angus Association of America, National Convention, Little America Hotel, Cheyenne, WY. For more information, visit www.redangus.org or call 940/387-3502. - Southwest Iowa Feedlot Shortcourse, 10 a.m., ISU Armstrong Research farm, Lewis, IA; 712/769-2600 or www.iowabeefcenter.org. - California State Fair Cattlemen’s Day, Sacramento, CA. For more information, contact CCA at 916/444-0845. - Triennial Stocker Conference, Auburn University, Auburn, AL. Contact Walt Prevatt at prevajw@auburn.edu.

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Friday, August 8,2008

Beef Bits

by WLJ
Experts doubt meat/cancer link A panel of government, university and industry experts speaking at a leading food safety conference last week cast serious doubt on widely reported claims of a meat and cancer connection. David Klurfeld, Ph.D., national program leader in human nutrition at USDA, provided an extensive critique of the 2007 World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) report which made dramatic claims about a "convincing link" between red and processed meat and colorectal cancer. According to Klurfeld, the systematic literature review said that, "Overall, mechanisms explaining the data linking meat intake and colorectal cancer are far from plausible biological mechanisms." He also said the literature review found a statistically significant 26 percent protective effect against rectal cancer for the highest meat consumption level—a finding not referenced in the final WCRF report. North Dakota to close beef plant Bismarck, ND-based North Dakota Branded Beef Inc. will close its processing plant in Harvey, ND, for financial reasons and because it now has alternatives to sourcing beef products raised and processed within the state, according to KFYR TV in Bismarck. "Now we have another option that is opening up, that will be to be working with the New Rockford Dakota Farms North Dakota Natural Beef slaughter facility in New Rockford, ND, and then the processing facility that they’re going to be opening up in Fargo, ND," company owner Juanita Braun told KFYR TV. According to the company’s Web site, the two-year-old plant processed fewer than 100 animals per day. Buyers hit spot market for meat With input costs increasingly unpredictable, meat suppliers are balking at locking in prices with long-term contracts with foodservice companies, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Where six months to a year was a typical contract length just a year or so ago, suppliers such as Tyson Foods Inc. and Pilgrim’s Pride have brought that down to a mere 90 days and have added clauses for additional fuel and feed costs. Restaurant companies are responding by rolling the dice with the spot market for meat and other commodities rather than locking in prices, the Journal reported. Even chains such as Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings are buying their key ingredients, beef and chicken, on month-to-month contracts or paying floating rates. U.S. beef helps JBS margins JBS S.A., parent of Greeley, CO-based JBS-Swift & Co., said earlier this month that results for its U.S. unit helped offset the fourth straight quarterly loss overall for the Brazilian beef producer. The Sao Paulo, Brazil-based company reported a net loss of $233.4 million for its second fiscal quarter, ended June 30, on expenses related to U.S. acquisitions and currency losses. The loss compares with net income of $24.8 million for the same quarter a year ago. Sales for the quarter, meanwhile, increased more than six-fold, to $4.57 billion, mostly due to the acquisition of Swift & Co. in July 2007. Beef operations earned $132.9 million on sales of $2.63 billion in the second quarter, a turnaround from a loss of $900,000 on sales of $1.98 billion for the business in the first quarter of 2008. Whole Foods reports earnings slide Whole Foods Market Inc., which sells organic and naturally raised meats as part of its broad natural foods offering, reported last week that its third-quarter net income dropped more than 30 percent due, in part, to the cost of acquiring Wild Oats and a tough economy that is hurting consumer spending. Whole Foods earned $33.9 million, or 24 cents a share, for the three months ending July 6, down from $49.1 million, or 35 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. Whole Foods also sharply cut its outlook for 2009, saying it now expects sales growth of 6 percent to 10 percent for the year and it said its comparable-store sales are expected to grow 1 percent to 5 percent, down from the previously anticipated growth of 7.5 percent to 9.5 percent. The company cut all capital expenditure budgets related to new stores by 50 percent. Producers buy Canadian plant Natural Prairie Beef Inc. announced last week that it has purchased a former Winnipeg, Manitoba, meat processing plant and begun to upgrade and redevelop it to produce premium-branded Manitoba beef. Following a new business model for the Canadian beef industry, the producer-owned company will target niche markets and own more parts of the value chain from gate-to-plate. The first phase, which is expected to begin operations by the end of 2008, will employ 15-20 people and focus on processing value-added beef products for local markets. The company plans to renovate and upgrade the plant completely over the next two years to create a federally-inspected beef slaughtering and processing facility that will market premium beef products across North America and into Asia and the European Union. The plant is expected to employ about 80 people when complete.

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Friday, August 1,2008

Carbon credit program generates $8 million for farmers and ranchers

by WLJ
More than 2,300 farmers and ranchers will receive checks in the mail soon for capturing and storing carbon dioxide in their soil through the National Farmers Union Carbon Credit Program. National Farmers Union (NFU) President Tom Buis said total earnings from no-till and seeded grassland offsets generated $5,876,825 in income for 2006 and 2007 practices. To date, $8 million has been earned by producers since the voluntary program began in late 2006. "As conservation leaders, we know agriculture can play an important part in offsetting greenhouse gases in our environment today," Buis said. "Now, through innovative soil stewardship activities and the carbon offsets market through the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), producers are being rewarded for their environmental stewardship." This pool of enrollments sequestered carbon dioxide from 2.8 million acres using no-till cropping practices and by converting cropland to long term grass stands, as in Conservation Reserve Program acres. After third-party verification of the enrolled acres, the tons were registered and sold on CCX over the last several months. That amount of stored carbon dioxide offsets the estimated annual emissions of 320,000 automobiles. "We believe the role agriculture and forestry can play in combating global warming is enormous. The National Farmers Union and CCX share a common vision in creating market-based incentives that promote long term sustainability of America’s farmland. We are honored and proud to work with them through efforts of NFU to build this environmental market," said Dr. Richard L. Sandor, chairman and CEO of CCX. NFU was approved as an aggregator for CCX to pool and market carbon offsets in 2006 and has since become one of the largest providers of agricultural soil carbon offsets to CCX. CCX is the world’s first greenhouse gas emissions registry, reduction and trading system, trading more than 86 million tons of carbon offsets to date. Over the next three to five years, these farmers and ranchers will receive annual payments based on the acres they have enrolled and the price of the offsets traded. In addition to no-till and seeded grass offsets, credits can also be earned with prescribed grazing on native rangeland, tree planting projects, and methane capture projects. Additional pools of these offsets will be marketed in the coming months, he said. While enrollment is ongoing, the next pool deadlines will be Aug. 1 for the prescribed rotational grazing offsets and Aug. 15 for no-till/seeded grass offsets. The program is entirely voluntary, but contracts are considered legally binding once signed. The NFU Carbon Credit Program is available in all states where various offset projects are determined to be eligible by CCX. More information on the program can be found at www.nfu.org. — WLJ

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Friday, August 1,2008

Nebraska and Iowa producers promote U.S. beef in Tokyo

by WLJ
Two beef producers from Nebraska and Iowa took part in a U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) U.S. Beef Checkoff-sponsored promotion, made possible through the financial support of the Nebraska Beef Council and the Iowa Beef Industry Council, that helped boost weekend sales of U.S. beef tenfold at a key store in Japan’s largest retail grocery chain. U.S. beef producers Bill Rhea of Arlington, NE, the Nebraska Beef Council’s treasurer, and Scott Niess of Osage, IA, and a member of the Iowa Beef Industry Council’s board of directors, witnessed and participated in a large-scale USMEF U.S. beef promotion for Japanese consumers at an Ito Yokado supermarket in Tokyo on July 12. Funded by the Nebraska and Iowa state beef councils, the U.S. beef retail promotion at four of Japan’s major supermarkets—Aeon’s Max Valu outlets, Ito Yokado, Daiei and York Benimaru—were part of USMEF’s continuing campaign to rebuild Japanese consumer confidence in U.S. beef by reestablishing its presence in supermarkets and reacquainting target consumers with its positive attributes—taste, consistency and value. "It is a great opportunity to see this U.S. beef promotion," said Rhea, "and to talk with consumers and buyers in Japan." USMEF is conducting a series of U.S. beef storefront events in its July-August "Beef de GENKI" (energy from beef) campaign at the four supermarket chains. This campaign is tied to USMEF’s strategic "We Care" theme and is targeted toward families with children to show that "We Care" about their health and vitality so they can enjoy life to the fullest. The campaign aims to increase sales, enhance consumer perception of U.S. beef, and rebuild trust by handing out samples, educating customers through information panels, and entertaining families with games. Since Japan reopened its market, the main supermarket chains have started offering U.S. beef one by one. Aeon, Japan’s largest supermarket chain, was the last to do so in December 2007. Its supermarkets have a reputation for high quality products at fair prices. One of the more innovative retailers, Aeon allows its customers to trace the origin of its domestic beef through in-store computers and cell phones. The U.S. producers also joined in the fun by participating in USMEF games with Japanese families. Their particular outlet increased its weekend U.S. beef sales tenfold, selling more than 500 U.S. steaks. The presence of U.S. ranchers showed consumers the real "face of the industry" and allowed them to gain a much deeper understanding of the Japanese market through a market debriefing, meetings with U.S. beef importers/buyers, and a visit to a Japanese Wagyu processing facility. "The customers’ reaction to U.S. beef is very positive," said Ito Yokado’s senior buyer. "This event proved very effective and I’d like to hold it again and expand it." "One of the things that is pretty remarkable about this whole trip," said Niess, "was that it was the first time that the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Nebraska Beef Council came together in a joint effort to promote beef in Japan. And anyone that we talked to that had tasted or had sold American beef is wanting more—wanting more availability, wanting more volume, to be able to sell more American beef." Besides enthusiastic responses from consumers and supermarket buyers, USMEF garnered even more publicity for U.S. beef by securing articles in three major Japanese publications: Meat Journal, Chikisan Nippo and Nikkei. Chikusan Nippo The Meat Journal jointly quoted Rhea and Niess: "Japan is an important partner for the U.S. beef industry. We visited several retailers and distributors in Japan this time, and they want American beef. We wish the current problems, including age limitation, will be cleared and beef exports to Japan will increase." — WLJ quoted both Bill Rhea—"We’ve received very good reactions from consumers, and felt that U.S. beef was trusted by them,"—and Scott Niess—"Japanese consumers willingly tasted American beef with smiles. The safety, healthiness and reasonable price are the best attributes of American beef products."

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Friday, August 1,2008

Evocative, emotive "marbling"

by WLJ
To start a lively discussion amongst a group of cattlemen, just utter the word "marbling." It’s been called one of the most emotive words in the beef industry. From those who dismiss it as unimportant to the staunch defenders, opinions will vary. A presentation at the American Society of Animal Science annual meeting earlier this month focused on the science behind the word. Larry Corah, vice president of Certified Angus Beef LLC, shared research related to the value of marbling. "Nearly all beef scientists and connoisseurs indicate that there are three key attributes to beef palatability: tenderness, juiciness and flavor," he said. If it’s not met, tenderness is the most important. "It is clearly a threshold trait," Corah said. "The good news it that most researchers agree the beef industry has made great progress in both understanding and improving tenderness issues." Studies show marbling accounts for between 8 percent to 18 percent of the variation in tenderness, but Corah said it’s more significantly tied to juiciness and flavor. Two separate multi-city studies proved that when tenderness was held constant, consumers buy meat based on flavor. "Data out of Texas Tech University tells us that flavor is 2.5 times as important as tenderness when it comes to consumer acceptability," he said. "The taste they look for is a direct result of at least 80 to 90 days on a high-concentrate diet." The consumer preference for marbling isn’t isolated from the market price of beef, said Corah. "In the last 10 years, market differentiation has developed as a result of the demand for enhanced beef quality," he noted. "Colorado State University studies show that if beef tastes great, people are not only more likely to buy it, but more likely to pay more for it." That’s why over 40 percent of all fed cattle are marketed on quality-based grids, and those that make Premium Choice add more than $500 million per year to the industry. "The research not only says that marbling is important, but it’s also complicated," he said, noting factors like genetics, nutrition, breed and environment. "I would argue that there have been three major technologies in the past 50 years in our business: implants, ionophores and beta-agonists," Corah said. None have a positive effect on marbling, and a few—aggressive implants and Beta-II agonists—can be detrimental. "We really need more research to understand the mechanism in which these management practices affect marbling," he suggested. "The National Beef Quality Audit says we’re leaving $26.81 per head on the table in lost quality. That’s a lot. "As we continue to make great strides in tenderness, the ultimate driver for beef demand will be flavor," Corah predicted. — WLJ

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Friday, July 18,2008

GIPSA cites JBS/Swift

by WLJ
GIPSA cites JBS/Swift USDA’s Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced two weeks ago that it had cited Greeley, CO-based JBS/Swift and Company with violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA). According to a release from GIPSA, the company "inaccurately weighed hot carcasses for the purposes of payment to livestock sellers; used a dynamic monorail weighing system which was not accurate; reported inaccurate hot carcass weights to livestock sellers and paid livestock sellers on those inaccurate hot carcass weights; failed to pay the full purchase price for the livestock purchased within the time period required by the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act; and failed to pay the full amount due to livestock sellers for hot carcasses weights." According to one industry source, the allegations regarding inaccurate weights benefitted producers. The weights recorded by company scales were reporting weights in excess of actual hot carcass weights, which were used in turn as pay weights by the company. On June 18, 2008, GIPSA filed a complaint against Swift. If the allegations are admitted, or proven in an oral hearing, Swift may be ordered to cease and desist from violating the PSA and assessed a civil penalty. — WLJ

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