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Friday, June 27,2008

Changing climate poses threat to Southwest desert ecosystems

by WLJ
Changing climate poses threat to Southwest desert ecosystems Climate changes will likely make arid desert ecosystems of the Southwest U.S. even drier and could adversely affect the native plants and animals that grow and live there. A transition to a more arid climate is already underway, according to an article in the June 2008 issue of Rangelands, published by the Society for Range Management. This change involves fewer frost days, warmer temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events, such as drought and heavy rains, and greater water demand by plants, animals and people. "The current boundaries of southwestern deserts will likely expand to the north and east," write Steven R. Archer and Katharine I. Predick in their article "Climate Change and Ecosystems of the Southwestern United States." In the article, Archer and Predick say other effects of climate change on the Southwest desert include altered vegetation, a decline of net primary (plant) production, less rainfall, reduced water availability, higher soil erosion losses and an increase of nonnative plant species. These changes will also present new challenges for resource managers and the livestock and land they oversee. Lower stocking rates, reduced livestock weight gains in summer and an increase of disease pressures are just a few of the issues that Archer and Predick envision will challenge rangeland managers. To deal with the potential problems, Archer and Predick see a need for policies to facilitate greater coordination at the regional scale to promote stocking agility and sustainable grazing in a "warmer, drier, more drought-prone world." While grazing is currently the most extensive land use in the region, recent and continuing human population increases are likely to have a large impact on the region in the future. Current observing systems are ill-equipped to separate climate change effects from other effects. in Southwest deserts and Archer and Predick propose the establishment of a coordinated network of sites with the goal of tracking ecosystem response to co-occurring changes in weather patterns, disturbance and land use. Such a network would serve as the basis for improved climate prediction tools. To read the entire study, "Climate Change and Ecosystems of the Southwestern United States," click here: http://www.allenpress.com/pdf/rala-30-03-23-28.pdf. — WLJ

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Friday, June 27,2008

Farm Bureau awards mini-grants for ag education

by WLJ
Farm Bureau awards mini-grants for ag education The American Farm Bureau (AFB) Foundation for Agriculture, in cooperation with the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee, has awarded 29 $500 mini-grants to K-12 classrooms across the nation. The grants will be used to fund agriculture education projects that create or extend agriculture literacy. They are distributed through county and state Farm Bureaus. This year sets a record for the most grants awarded in any one year through AFB’s White-Reinhardt Fund for Education program. Criteria used for selecting the winners included: the effectiveness of demonstrating a strong connection between agriculture and education; how effectively the programs encouraged students to learn more about agriculture and the food and fiber industry; and the procedures and timelines expected for accomplishing project goals. "Mini-grants effectively help counties and states promote agriculture literacy across the nation and educate students on the importance of agriculture," said Betty Wolanyk, director of education and research for the AFB Foundation for Agriculture. The White-Reinhardt Fund for Education is a project of the AFB Foundation for Agriculture in cooperation with the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee. The fund honors two former committee chairwomen, Berta White and Linda Reinhart, who were leaders in early national efforts to improve agricultural literacy. — WLJ

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Friday, June 27,2008

Reliance on unverifiable observations hinders conservation

by WLJ
Reliance on unverifiable observations hinders conservation of rare wildlife species Nearly any evidence of the occurrence of a rare or elusive wildlife species has the tendency to generate a stir. Case in point: in February 2008, remote cameras unexpectedly captured the images of a wolverine in the central Sierra Nevada, an area from which the species was believed to be extinct since 1922. But frustratingly few observations prove to be so conclusive. So what, then, are managers to make of unverifiable observations, especially those that are not diagnostic? Researchers from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain Research Stations examined three cases of biological misunderstandings in which unverifiable, anecdotal observations were accepted as empirical evidence. Ultimately, they found that this acceptance adversely affected conservation goals for the fisher in the Pacific states, the wolverine in California, and the ivory-billed woodpecker in the southeast by vastly overestimating their range and abundance. The researchers’ findings appear in the current issue of the journal BioScience. "These cases revealed that anecdotal data can be important to conservation by supplying preliminary data, such as early warnings of population declines," said Kevin McKelvey, a research ecologist based in Missoula, MT, and the study’s lead investigator, "but conclusions regarding the presence of rare or elusive species must be based on verifiable physical evidence." In their study, the researchers found that the dependability of species occurrence data depends on both the intrinsic reliability of each record as well as the rarity of the species in question, because the proportion of false positives increases as a species becomes rarer. To help managers determine the suitability of evidence in conservation decisionmaking, the researchers developed a gradient of evidentiary standards for data that increases in rigor along with species’ rarity. This "sliding scale" of standards might permit the use of anecdotal data, the least reliable form, in decision making when the species in question is common, for example, but require indisputable physical evidence for a species thought to be extinct. The authors also encourage professional societies to debate evidentiary standards for their organisms of interest and to establish rules for using occurrence data. "Over the years, many state and federal management agencies have placed a lot of emphasis on compiling sighting reports and other unverifiable wildlife observations" said Keith Aubry, a research wildlife biologist based in Olympia, WA, and one of the study’s co-investigators. "Unfortunately, the uncritical use of such observations has largely impeded conservation goals, not advanced them." — WLJ

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Friday, June 27,2008

Nebraska Cattlemen seeking nominees for the Leopold Conservation Award

by WLJ
Nebraska Cattlemen seeking nominees for the Leopold Conservation Award The Nebraska Cattlemen (NC), in collaboration with Sand County Foundation, is seeking nominations for the Leopold Conservation Award. The partnership provides a $10,000 prize to a Nebraska land owner who has demonstrated responsible stewardship and management of natural resources. "We are proud to help bring the Leopold Conservation Award to Nebraska for the third consecutive year," said Dr. Brent Haglund, President of Sand County Foundation, the award’s sponsor. "Our partnership with Nebraska Cattlemen in allows us to honor the often unrecognized, important conservation work that is being done everyday by Nebraska landowners." Given in honor of Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In his book, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage—which he called "an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity." "The land ethic described by Aldo Leopold is alive and well in Nebraska," said Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of NC. "The quality of nominations received each of the past two years is strong evidence of this." The winner of the Leopold Conservation Award will be selected by a varied panel of judges that will include representatives from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and other organizations. The award will be presented during the NC Annual Convention in Kearney in December. The nomination deadline is July 30, 2008. For more information, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org, email mfitzgerald@necattlemen.org or call 402/475-2333. Sand County Foundation (www.sandcounty.net) is a private, non-profit conservation group dedicated to working with private landowners to improve habitat on their land. Sand County’s mission is to advance the use of ethical and scientifically sound land management practices and partnerships for the benefit of people and their rural landscapes. Sand County Foundation works with private landowners because the majority of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and natural resources are found on private lands. The organization backs local champions, invests in civil society and places incentives before regulation to create solutions that endure and grow. The organization encourages the exercise of private responsibility in the pursuit of improved land health as an essential alternative to many of the commonly used strategies in modern conservation. The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. The award consists of a crystal depiction of Aldo Leopold seated on a horse and a check for $10,000. In 2007, Sand County Foundation also presented Leopold Conservation Awards in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, and California. The award is presented to accomplish three objectives: First, it recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation on the land of exemplary private landowners. Second, it inspires countless other landowners in their own communities through these examples. Finally, it provides a visible forum where leaders from the agriculture community are recognized as conservation leaders to groups outside of agriculture. — WLJ

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Friday, June 20,2008

BLM seeks bids for new wild horse pasture facilities

by WLJ
BLM seeks bids for new wild horse pasture facilities As part of its responsibility to manage, protect, and control wild horses and burros, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is soliciting bids for one or more new pasture facilities located anywhere in the continental U.S. Each pasture facility must be able to provide humane care for and maintain at least 500 wild horses—up to as many as 2,500—over a one-year period with an option under BLM contract for four additional one-year extensions. BLM needs additional space for wild horses placed in long-term holding facilities, all of which are currently located in Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. "The BLM is facing tough challenges as it manages and cares for wild horses and burros both on and off public rangelands," said BLM Deputy Director Henri Bisson, who noted that herds of wild horses and burros, which have virtually no natural predators, can double in size about every four years. "As a result," Bisson said, "our agency must remove thousands of animals from the range each year to ensure that herd sizes are consistent with the land’s capacity to support them. The horses and burros that must be removed, but for which no adoption demand exists, need to be cared for, and that’s why the BLM is soliciting bids from contractors who can provide a pasture for these animals on their private ranches." Bisson pointed out that the current wild horse and burro population roaming freely on BLM- managed lands in 10 western states—approximately 33,000 as of February 2008—significantly exceeds what BLM considers to be the appropriate management level. This sought-for level of about 27,300 is the number of free-roaming horses and burros BLM has determined can thrive on BLM-managed rangelands in balance with other rangeland resources and uses. "The BLM is working hard to achieve the appropriate management level so that healthy herds of horses and burros can thrive on healthy rangelands," Bisson said. "But with the herds’ reproduction rate of about 20 percent a year, at least 6,000 horses and burros must be gathered from the range annually just to keep the free-roaming population from increasing." Those wild horses and burros removed from the range that are not placed into private care through adoption (a one-year process) or direct sale (an immediate process) are fed and cared for at holding facilities. In the current fiscal year, holding costs are expected to exceed $26 million, which accounts for about three-fourths of BLM’s appropriated budget for the entire wild horse and burro program. Currently, there are more than 30,000 wild horses and burros maintained at holding facilities. In the case of long-term holding (pasture) facilities, unadopted and unsold horses live out the rest of their lives there. Animals are held between 10 and 25 years depending on their age when they enter lifetime holding. In contrast, only a small percentage of wild horses roaming public rangelands live past the age of 15 because of the harsher conditions. "The BLM is committed to fulfilling its mission under the landmark Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971," Bisson said. "That means not only providing humane care to wild horses and burros, but also managing them in an ecologically and fiscally sound manner. That includes bringing the number placed through adoption or sold each year into balance with the number removed annually from the range. By achieving this balance, fewer animals will need to be maintained in holding facilities." Details of BLM’s long-term holding facility requirements are described in solicitation NAR080108 which has been posted at http://www.fbo.gov. Applicants must be registered at http://www.ccr.gov to be considered for a contract award. The solicitation ends July 30, 2008. For further information about BLM’s wild horse and burro program, see the agency’s Web site at www.blm.gov. — WLJ

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Friday, June 20,2008

$228 million paid as compensation for lost taxes on federal lands

by WLJ
$228 million paid as compensation for lost taxes on federal lands Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced that local governments with tax-exempt federal land in their jurisdictions will receive $228.5 million this year in compensation for forgone tax revenue. Under the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program, the money is distributed to about 1,850 county and other local governments around the nation to help pay for essential services such as firefighting and emergency response, and to help improve school, road and water systems. "These communities play a key role in supporting federal lands throughout the year," Kempthorne said. "We recognize and appreciate that vital assistance and are distributing these payments to local governments by June 12 so the funds can help the counties plan their annual budgets." The Department of the Interior annually collects about $4 billion in revenue from commercial activities on federal lands such as livestock grazing, timber harvesting, and oil and natural gas leasing. Some of these revenues are shared with states and counties in the form of revenue-sharing payments. The balance is deposited in the U.S. Treasury which, in turn, pays for a broad array of federal activities, including annually appropriated PILT funding to counties. Eligibility for PILT payments is reserved for local governments (usually counties) that contain nontaxable federal lands and provide government services related to public safety, housing, social services, transportation and the environment. By law, the payments are calculated using a mandated formula based on the number of acres of federal entitlement land and the population within each county or jurisdiction. These lands include the National Forest and National Park Systems and National Wildlife Refuge System, as well as lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and those affected by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water resource development projects, and others. Payments to individual counties may vary from the prior year because of changes in acreage data, which is updated yearly by the federal agency administering the land, and population data, which is updated based on U.S. Census Bureau data. The per acre and population variables used to compute payments are also adjusted for inflation, using the Consumer Price Index, as required by 1994 amendments to the Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act. Payments are also adjusted for the level of prior-year revenue payments and the amount that a county receives under Sections 6904 and 6905 of the PILT Act. Revenue payments are federal payments made to local governments under programs other than PILT during the previous year. These include those made under the Refuge Revenue Sharing Fund, the National Forest Fund, the Taylor Grazing Act, the Mineral Leasing Act, the Federal Power Act, and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. Sections 6904 and 6905 provide additional payments for additions to the National Park System and National Forest Wilderness areas. For the 2008 payments, the per acre amounts are adjusted from the 2007 payment of $2.23 per acre (maximum) and 31 cents per acre (minimum) to $2.29 per acre and 32 cents per acre. The population variables are adjusted from $59.85 (minimum)-$149.61 (maximum) to $61.41-$153.50 per capita. The 2008 payments fund about 62.2 percent of the authorized level of $367.2 million. As a result of increases in Forest Service timber payments, reductions in PILT entitlement land, a decrease in the prorating percentage and expiration of section 6904/5 payments, the total 2008 PILT payments to the following twenty-three states will be slightly lower than the 2007 payments by more than 1.5 percent: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virgin Islands, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Of the $228.9 million appropriated for PILT in FY 2008, $228.5 million goes for payments to counties and other local governments; the balance funds the administration of the program. — WLJ

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Friday, June 6,2008

Wildfires affect forage production

by WLJ
Wildfires affect forage production The lack of rainfall across much of North Dakota has created ample fuel for wildfires this year. Dry, brittle vegetation has gone up in smoke on hundreds of acres of range and pastureland in the western half of the state this spring. Land managers must plan their grazing or haying year differently as a result of these fires, according to Kevin Sedivec, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension Service rangeland management specialist. Historically, land managers have taken different approaches to managing fire-impacted range and pastureland. Public lands once were rested for two years following a wildfire, whereas insurance agents and many ranchers believe once the rains come, the grass will regrow and forage production will be normal. "The truth lies within these two philosophies," Sedivec says. Research trials The NDSU Animal and Range Sciences Department and USDA Forest Service conducted a trial in western North Dakota from 2002 to 2005 to test the impacts of a dormant-season fire on forage production and plant species composition. The researchers also were interested in the grazing management practice (rotational grazing, season-long grazing, and no grazing) the year before a fire and if the burning impact differed by type of grazing. The researchers found that fire negatively impacted forage production, regardless of grazing history. On average, dormant-season fire reduced forage production by 40 percent during the first growing season after a fire. Forage production was affected negatively even during the second growing season following a fire. Production reductions ranged from 10 percent on the rotational grazing system and nongrazed areas to 30 percent on the season-long grazing pastures. "One interesting note: These negative impacts on forage production occurred in a year when spring rainfall was normal to above normal," Sedivec says. The NDSU Animal and Range Sciences Department and North Dakota Army National Guard conducted a trial from 1999 to 2001 in east-central North Dakota to test the impacts of spring fires on forage production of grasses and leafy spurge. As in western North Dakota, spring fires negatively impacted grass production. It was reduced by 17 percent, compared with unburned sites; however, leafy spurge production increased by 27 percent. Researchers also learned that grass production in eastern North Dakota was impacted only the first growing season following a fire, while leafy spurge production remained greater on the burned sites for two growing seasons. In both studies, plant species composition was not affected by a one-time fire event. Annual weeds usually don’t need to be controlled because range and pasturelands will recover to preburn conditions. However, if weather conditions continue to remain dry, annual and noxious weeds may become a problem. If they do, state law requires land managers to control them with the appropriate weed management strategies, Sedivec says. Tips for grazing and haying after a wildfire Ranchers and land managers can continue to graze or hay their range and pasture following a wildfire, but they need to take precautions and reduce stocking rates, sometimes substantially, depending on moisture conditions and location in the state, Sedivec says. Here are some of his suggestions: Delay the livestock turn-out date two to four weeks. Grazing should begin no earlier than late May for crested wheatgrass or smooth bromegrass and mid-June for native rangeland following an early spring burn. Reduce stocking rates by 30 percent to 50 percent in the western Dakotas, 20 percent to 30 percent in the central part of the states, and 10 percent to 20 percent in eastern areas. These stocking rate reductions will be greater if dry conditions persist into May and June. Range and pastureland in the Dakotas, Minnesota and eastern Montana grow the majority of forage in May, June and July. If rain doesn’t fall during this period, plan for substantially less forage. Use plant phenology, or stage of plant development, in determining forage-quality goals for hay production. Forage production increases with maturation, peaking at the seed set stage; however, forage quality declines. If fire impacted your hay land, maturation will be delayed slightly, forage production will be reduced, and forage quality will be improved. "Determine your forage-quality goal and harvest accordingly to optimize production and quality," Sedivec says. To learn more about forage production on land affected by wildfires, visit the NDSU drought information Web site at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/disaster/drought.html or contact Sedivec at 701/231-7647 or kevin.sedivec@ndsu.edu. — WLJ

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Friday, June 6,2008

Research focuses on predicting steaks' tenderness

by WLJ
Research focuses on predicting steaks’ tenderness University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) scientists have developed a way to predict steak tenderness before the consumer takes that first bite. The technology could be a boon to the beef industry as it would allow retailers to charge a premium for a "guaranteed tender" label. "Beef tenderness is a primary factor in consumer satisfaction," said Jeyamkondan Subbiah, the UNL food engineer who heads the research. "However, a sufficiently accurate, nondestructive method of on-line evaluation of tenderness continues to elude the beef industry." Current USDA grading standards classify beef carcasses into quality and yield grades but do not assess tenderness. Since carcasses are not priced on the basis of tenderness, producers don’t have a financial incentive to supply a tender product. The beef industry long has sought technology that could scan fresh meat at two to three days postmortem and predict its tenderness when cooked by the consumer about two weeks later. "There is a growing recognition that beef tenderness must be incorporated into the USDA quality grading process if true, value-based marketing is to be developed," Subbiah and other authors wrote for a recent presentation on the issue. UNL is developing that technology. Its approach uses a hyperspectral imaging, a novel technology that combines video image analysis and spectroscopy. The system consists of a digital video camera and spectrograph to capture the two key qualities that affect beef tenderness—muscle structure and biochemical properties. In the research, two-day aged, one-inch thick ribeyes were placed on a plate and scanned by the system, which captures multiple images at hundreds of wavelengths with regular intervals. The combination of the video images and spectroscopy is key, Subbiah said. The video technology captures the muscle profile. Tender beef has fine muscle fibers, while tough beef has visibly coarser muscle fibers. The spectroscopy measures biochemical properties that indicate how much the steak will become tender during aging. After scanning, the steaks were cooked and tested. Results so far are promising. The system predicted three tenderness categories—tender, intermediate and tough—with about 77 percent accuracy and two tenderness categories—acceptable and tough—with 93.7 percent accuracy. "Beef is expensive. Consumers expect it to be tender. One bad experience can make them not buy beef for awhile," Subbiah said. "We think consumers are willing to pay a premium for a guaranteed-tender product." Subbiah said that premium could be $1 to $2 per pound. Hyperspectral imaging is not new. Previously, it’s been used to determine nutrient deficiency in plants, fecal contamination in chicken, and fungal/bacterial contamination in fruit. Researchers will continue to hone this process. In the meantime, UNL is patenting the technology and hopes to identify a business interested in partnering on commercialization. Critical to commercializing the technology will be finding a way "to take it from the lab to the plant," Subbiah said. The industry must be able to use it to evaluate a carcass, not individual steaks, and do it in about 10 seconds per carcass. "It has to be done in the current mode of operation," without any additional, time-consuming steps, Subbiah added. Such commercialization is likely two to three years away, he added. — WLJ

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Friday, June 6,2008

Tyson chickens test positive for avian influenza

by WLJ
Tyson chickens test positive for avian influenza Tyson Foods announced on June 3 that a flock of chickens at a farm in northwest Arkansas have tested positive for a mild strain of avian influenza. The company said that they are working cooperatively with USDA and the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission to manage the exposed flock of breeder hens. Preliminary tests on the flock indicate the presence of antibodies for H7N3 avian influenza, however, there is no indication the birds currently have the virus. The 15,000 chickens involved show no signs of illness and the situation poses no risk to human health. News of the virus caused Tyson’s shares to fall 7.9 percent lower, to $17, during afternoon trading. Market analysts fear that while the outbreak may be harmless, the economic effect to the U.S. poultry industry could be large if other countries ban U.S. poultry. Russia has taken similar measures in the past, and if countries such as Japan join in banning poultry from Arkansas, there could be significant effects. The discovery came as part of routine, pre-slaughter surveillance conducted by the company. The strain involved is low pathogenic H7N3. It is not the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus that has previously affected birds in Asia, Europe and Africa. Even though the affected birds do not currently have the virus, the flock is being depopulated as a precautionary measure and will not enter the human food chain. While the birds’ exposure to this strain of avian influenza poses no risk to human health, USDA’s policy is to eradicate all H5 and H7 subtypes. As a preventative measure, Tyson is also stepping up its surveillance of avian influenza in the area. The company plans to test all breeder farms that serve the local Tyson poultry complex, as well as any farms within a 10-mile radius of the affected farm. The increased surveillance is in addition to Tyson’s existing testing program which involves the company checking all flocks for avian influenza before they leave the farm. The test results are known before the birds are shipped to a Tyson plant for processing. — WLJ

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Friday, June 6,2008

Beef Bits

by WLJ
Tyson removes antibiotic-free label Under pressure from regulators and competitors, Tyson Foods Inc. recently withdrew its antibiotic-free chicken label awarded by the Agriculture Department barely a year ago. The company said in a recent news release that it was "voluntarily" withdrawing the label "due to uncertainty and controversy over product labeling regulations and advertising claims." Soon after USDA approved the label in May 2007, Tyson’s competitors cried foul. In September, Tyson was notified by the agency that it had made a mistake in awarding the label because Tyson was using ionophores, an antibiotic widely used in the industry. Australia eyes entry into Chinese beef market A recent delegation led by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to China has visited with more than 140 importers and retailers over the course of the 10-day visit. The trip is designed to create connections in the country, where Australia is pushing strongly to expand its exports of red meat. Glen Thompson, MLA’s regional manager for Southeast Asia and China, said the market is almost 100 percent supplied by domestic product, but that the sheer size alone offers marketing opportunities for Australia’s red meat industry. More burgers appearing on menus Whatever they’re calling it, however they’re dressing it up, restaurants are putting burgers on the menu with increasing frequency, according to market research company NPD Group and Datassential, a foodservice research firm. The two firms found that 7 percent more restaurants, from quick service to fine dining establishments, offered burgers on their menus in 2007 than two years earlier. In fact, burgers comprised 14 percent of all restaurant orders last year, or the equivalent of 8.5 billion burgers. In many cases, the ingredients have become more exotic. For example, cheddar cheese has been replaced in some cases by pepperjack, Parmesan and Tillamook. Restaurants with pepperjack burgers on the menu grew by 25 percent last year over the number in 2006. USDA on inspection trip to Brazil USDA officials will depart for the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina this month to assess fresh beef and pork production conditions there. The trip is a result of discussions which were recently completed by the U.S. and Brazilian delegates at the Consultative Committee on Agriculture held in Brasilia. The U.S. hopes to export cattle and beef to Brazil, and Brazil hopes to send fresh beef and pork to the U.S. USDA will determine the risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the state of Santa Catarina. It has been one year since the state received official recognition from the World Organization for Animal Health as being FMD-free, though many in the U.S. fear that the country’s regionalization efforts are not effective. Global beef trade may expand 40 percent World trade in beef and pork is expected to grow by more than 40 percent by 2017 while poultry trade expands by just below 40 percent, according to the latest Agricultural Outlook from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Increased import demand for beef and pork will be dominated by OECD countries while Asian developing countries will drive poultry import gains, the study predicts. Between now and 2017, average global prices for both beef and pork are expected to rise by about 20 percent, while wheat and corn prices rise 40 percent to 60 percent, and oilseed prices increase by more than 60 percent, as compared to average prices from 1998 to 2007. AMI to host two webinars on COOL The American Meat Institute (AMI) will host two webinars in June about implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL), which is scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 30, 2008. AMI Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel Mark Dopp will discuss what meat products must bear origin information, how labeling should be written, as well as record-keeping and other requirements. The first webinar will be held June 10, 2008, at 2 p.m. EST, and will be an informational presentation, with Q&A as time allows. Participants may submit questions to AMI and these questions will be addressed in a second, follow-up webinar June 12, 2008, at 2 p.m. EST. To register, visit: http://www.meatami.com/ht/d/MeetingDetailsMO/mid/00000016. Australia’s beef exports to Russia more than doubled in May, from April, making it the second-biggest buyer, overtaking the U.S. and South Korea. Exports to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), chiefly Russia, in May rose to 17,557 boneless metric tons from 8,426 metric tons in April, both up from 87 metric tons in May last year, according to figures supplied by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Exports to CIS in the first five months of this year rose to 30,749 tons, compared with 532 tons in the year-earlier period, figures show. Total Australian beef exports in May totaled 93,933 tons, up 6.4 percent on the month and up 5.4 percent on the year.   Australia doubles beef exports to Russia

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