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Monday, March 14,2005

International support for mandatory animal ID in U.S.

by WLJ
A general agreement that a U.S. cattle identification and traceability system should be mandatory with a goal of 100-percent compliance was reached by more than 200 industry leaders attending the 2005 International Livestock Congress March 2-3 in Houston, TX. The group, consisting of cattlemen, academics, trade associations, industry service providers, government representatives, and international guests, agreed that the system should be electronic with limited and controlled access to data by governments, as well as begin with the birth of calves and extend to packing plants, and should initially focus on providing the necessary information to contain animal health crises. Following presentations outlining animal identification and traceability systems in seven countries (Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Uruguay, The Netherlands, and the U.S.), six "cluster" breakout groups received background information and instructions from Dr. Gary C. Smith of Colorado State University. Smith described ten differing "purposes" for implementing animal identification and traceability systems, and outlined a method for characterizing systems (first described by the USDA Economic Research Service) that provides for delineation of the depth, breadth, and precision of animal identification and traceability systems. Depth is "how far forward or backward" in the marketing chain that traceability is maintained; breadth is the "amount" of information required to be collected by the system to be effective; and precision is the "degree of assurance" with which the tracing system can "pin-point" movement of a particular food product or its characteristics—the amount of verification that is required to instill confidence in the effectiveness of the traceability system. Cluster groups then met to develop "recommendations" for (a) international standardization, (b) marketplace expectations and economics association with animal traceability systems, (c) public versus private ownership of traceability data, (d) provisions for implementation of new traceability systems, (e) focus and definition of a country's first effort to develop an identification, traceability, and verification system, and (f) communication with stakeholders in an identification and traceability system. Dr. John Paterson of Montana State University then summarized panel consensus recommendations and conclusions. Lastly, participants heard from representatives of McDonald's, USDA and academia on current issues associated with animal identification and traceability capabilities of countries. Generally, international participants expressed that other countries perceive the U.S. beef production industry as progressive and receptive to implementation of new technologies that improve beef quality and safety. Nonetheless, participants at ILC concurred that, in general, the U.S. has fallen behind the rest of the world in adopting a strong identification and traceability system. Although some disagreement among individual participants was apparent, cluster groups conveyed general agreement that a U.S. cattle identification and traceability system should be mandatory with 100-percent compliance as the goal, should be electronic with limited and controlled access to data by governments, should begin with the birth of calves and extend to packing plants, and should initially focus on providing the necessary information to contain animal health crises. Required data fields for purposes of controlling animal health issues would include information on animal ID, premises ID, and tracking information concerning animal movement in relation to time. Participants further supported the notion that implementation of a new U.S. animal identification and traceability system should be confirmed and audited by a third party. The system also should provide many additional fields for data entry that allows private and confidential information to be added for purposes of marketing and product differentiation. That information, though, would be subjected—on a voluntary basis—to third party process verification for compliance with production management, cattle age, or any other parameter that might be included as marketing and labeling criteria with final products. Supported in part by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and managed by the International Stockman's Educational Foundation, under Chairman Russell Cross, PhD, the event also featured animal identification and traceability service providers who displayed their wares at a trade show. Twenty-five international students from 19 universities and eight countries were recognized as ILC fellows (supported by the Vivian L. Smith Foundation) during the meeting. Dr. Elsa Murano of Texas A&M University and Robert "Bob" Funk of Oklahoma were also inducted into the International Stockmen's Hall of Fame at ceremonies held during the Congress. — WLJ

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Monday, March 14,2005

Help offered in U.S., Japan beef dispute

by WLJ
Bernard Vallat, the director general of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), said his group would use scientific means to help settle a beef trade dispute between Japan and the United States, according to a Reuters’ news report. Vallat added that the OIE was ready to mediate talks if both countries made the request. Japan banned imports of U.S. beef in December 2003 after the United States discovered its only case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Japan insisted that the U.S. test all of the cattle presented for slaughter for BSE. In October 2004, the two countries agreed to resume shipments of beef from animals 20 months old or younger, which are considered at low risk for the disease. However, the deal stalled as the two sides debate how to accurately determine the age of the beef cattle. “The OIE will be open to help if Japan and the United States agree ... The OIE could help with the use of our scientists, but it will be a scientific mediation, not a political mediation, not an economical mediation,” Vallat told Reuters in an interview. Vallat said it was difficult to comment on the progress of the talks between the two countries. "I'm not sure whether the discussions are based on OIE standards because of other problems than science ... there are social, political and economical problems, so it's difficult to give an opinion in this context," he said. Vallat is in Japan to attend the first regional steering committee meeting of the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases. He is also scheduled to attend at a public meeting on Thursday, which is sponsored by Japan's government-affiliated Food Safety Commission to explain the standards of the OIE related to BSE. "I will explain our standards and how they are decided and what is the basis and will give details ... but it is not my objective to convince consumers or convince politicians," Vallat said. The Food Safety Commission, the body responsible for discussing policy changes, is in the process of revising current domestic policy on the testing of cattle for BSE from a blanket test on all cattle to a system that excludes animals aged 20 months or below. Political pressure is increasing in the United States as the U.S. beef industry presses for a quick end to the ban. — WLJ

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Monday, March 14,2005

Legislative meltdown costs farmers

by WLJ
On March 1, Democrats in the Indiana House of Representatives walked out, effectively bringing the legislative session to a halt and resulting in the procedural death of over 130 bills. Several key pieces of agricultural legislation were lost. Funding for a new Colts stadium and a provision to move the state to daylight savings time were also among the measures that died. The director of the soon-to-be Department of Agriculture blasted House Democrats for not showing up to do their work and, in effect, killing the bills that would have directly benefitted Hoosier farmers and ag producers. “The House Democrats played games, and Hoosier farmers and producers were among the biggest losers,” said Commissioner Andy Miller. “Do they not understand how many farmers fight to survive financially and that these bills could have helped? Do they not understand the bills they were supposed to vote on could have saved farmers money, created jobs and developed opportunities? How could they be so blind that they would not see how their grandstanding would hurt hardworking farmers across the state?” Among the farm legislation killed was House Bill 1367 which would have immediately lowered the base property tax rate on productive farmland. After property tax reassessment, farmers were hit hard with a base rate of $1,050 per acre. HB 1367 would have decreased the rate to $880 per acre; translating into a 28 percent savings in taxes paid. House Bill 1724, also lost in the House meltdown, would have provided tax incentives to agri-businesses that either invested $1 million in facilities and created five new jobs, or increased the number of full-time jobs by 10 percent. HB 1724 would have made the climate friendlier for agri-businesses to improve operations and create jobs. House Bill 1573 is legislation that would have eliminated the need for license plates on certain pieces of agricultural equipment that spend their “lives” on farm fields. Farmers would have potentially saved hundreds of dollars by not having to buy license plates for implements that never hit Hoosier roads. “Governor Daniels and Lt. Governor Skillman have made it very clear that they are committed to Indiana agriculture. We are positioning this state to become a leader in the nation, and world, in many ag-related areas,” said Commissioner Miller. “This inaction is a step backward on many levels. I am only thankful that our soy bio-diesel and ethanol legislation originated in the Senate, where Republicans and Democrats worked for the good of all Hoosiers.” House Bill 1008 that creates a new Department of Agriculture had already passed the full House before the walkout and is thus unaffected.

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Monday, March 14,2005

Limited grassland funds available

by WLJ
Allen Green, state conservationist of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Lewis Frank, state executive director of the Farm Service Agency (FSA), recently announced the availability $2 million dollars for the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) in Colorado. The GRP is designed to help landowners protect grasslands from conversion to other uses and to support continued stewardship on viable, working ranch lands. Applications received through March 25 will be considered for the limited 2005 funding. “Land eligibility is fairly straightforward,” said Dennis Alexander, assistant state conservationist for programs. “Land to be enrolled in the program must be grassland, contain forbs or shrubland, or be land that historically has been dominated by grassland, forbs, or shrubs.” Production crops (other than hay), fruit trees, vineyards, or any activity that requires breaking the soil surface are ineligible. “The program is designed to protect our very vulnerable and fragile grasslands and their native species,” Alexander said. “Given our limited funding, we anticipate that competition for enrollment will be intense.” Landowners have several enrollment options including easements and agreements. One can enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement or choose to enroll in a 10-, 15-, 20-, or 30-year agreement. Two separate funding pools will be used for easements and for agreements. Each pool will receive 50 percent of the total GRP allocation. Landowners should consult their local conservation district, NRCS, or FSA office for further details regarding the differences between easement and agreement payments. “Funds will be targeted to native, natural grasslands that support certain plant communities and habitat types. Offers most likely to be funded will be part of a sustainable, working ranch unit and consist of natural and native grassland that are in good condition,” Alexander said. Other priorities for funding will include the existence of adequate fencing and watering facilities, as well as evidence of sustainable grazing management. Four plant communities will be targeted in 2005, including Shortgrass Prairie, Sand Sage, Sagebrush Steppe, and Sagebrush/Wet Meadow Complex. Eighty percent of the offered acreage must support one or more of these plant communities. Alexander said, “We have designed this program to be as responsive to the needs of Colorado’s land users as possible by permitting grazing that maintains viability of the grassland, as well as haying, mowing, and harvesting for seed production which is subject to certain restrictions during the nesting season.” In Colorado, GRP will target lands that are under some threat of conversion to rural residential development, as well as land that is threatened to be converted to cropland or other agricultural uses. To apply for this program and for additional information regarding it, landowners are encouraged to contact the local conservation district office or the local NRCS or FSA office that services their county. These are located in USDA Service Centers across the state. — WLJ

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Monday, March 14,2005

Last call for National Beef Cook-off

by WLJ
Time is running out to enter the 26th National Beef Cook-Off. Family chefs are encouraged to show off their “skill-ets” in the kitchen and submit their favorite beef recipes by March 31. This summer, 20 amateur family chefs will be notified that their beef recipes have made them national finalists. The finalists will compete Sept. 19-21 in Rapid City, SD for the $50,000 “Best of Beef” grand prize and eight other cash prizes. More than $100,000 will be awarded. On behalf of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Federation of State Beef Councils, the American National CattleWomen, Inc. are partnering with retail grocer Albertsons to promote the 2005 Cook-Off. The amateur beef-cooking contest has been held for nearly three decades. This year, the Cook-Off has introduced a “Family Favorites” category to showcase original beef recipes that families enjoy during the week or for special occasions. The Cook-Off, sponsored by America’s Beef Producers through their $1-per-head checkoff, comes as the demand for beef continues to increase. The Cook-Off seeks to drive awareness and purchase of undervalued beef cuts, such as those from the chuck and round. Chuck and round cuts are very affordable and offer consumers a great value, while still providing tenderness and great taste. “With Americans’ enduring enjoyment of beef, the Cook-Off offers the best opportunity for family chefs to share their beloved recipes and secrets with everyone,” said Sherry Hill, Cook- Off project manager. “And the fascinating thing is that the winning recipes always reflect and celebrate America’s changing tastes in beef.” Amateur chefs have until March 31 to enter the following four categories: Beef Market Basket, Grilled Beef, Family Favorites and “Inspired By” Beef Recipe. Each of the categories has specific requirements. Each must be prepared in 45 minutes or less and most limit the number of ingredients to eight. • Beef Market Basket participants choose from a list of beef cuts and up to five listed market basket ingredients, and no more than two “wild card” ingredients to make a main dish. • Grilled Beef includes grilled beef main dish recipes. • Family Favorites includes beef recipes that entrants’ families enjoy during the week, for special occasions or get-togethers. • “Inspired By” Beef Recipes includes entrants’ own original creative beef recipes adapted from another recipe from a friend or family member, a restaurant dish entrants have tasted, or a recipe published in a cookbook or culinary publication. More detailed information and a complete version of the Cook-Off rules is available at www.beefcookoff.org. Contestants can enter recipes through the Web site or send by U.S. mail to: National Beef Cook-Off Entries, ANCW, PO Box 3881, Englewood, CO 80155. The deadline for sending in entries is March 31, 2005. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age by March 31, 2005, and a legal resident of the U.S. or Puerto Rico. The 20 finalists will be notified in May.

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Monday, March 14,2005

McCraine named AZ Cattleman of 2005

by WLJ
Arizona cattleman, Swayze McCraine of Prescott was named 2005 Cattleman of the Year by the Arizona Hereford Association at ceremonies opening the organization’s 31st annual bull sale during Cattlemen’s weekend. McCraine, raised in Baton Rouge, LA, and a Louisiana State University animal science degree graduate, worked for Great Plains Western Corporation a mutli-faceted company with ranches in six states. He became vice president in five years. In 1978 he took over his family’s ranching operation in Mississippi, raising registered Brangus and commercial cattle. Six years later he moved to Prescott to be involved with his wife’s family ranch. In 1986 the Arizona Hereford Association asked McCraine to manage its annual bull sale. He was instrumental in adding a ranch horse sale to the bull sale, and in 1988 he and Richard Smyer of the Prescott Livestock Auction put on the first Prescott All Breed Sale. McCraine’s vision turned it all into Cattlemen’s Weekend 14 years ago. It has become northern Arizona’s largest livestock event. McCraine and his wife Kathy own and operate Camp Wood Cattle Company at Prescott and raise commercial cattle and quarter horses. — WLJ

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Monday, March 14,2005

Moseley leaves USDA

by WLJ
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced March 4 that the number two man at the department will be leaving. “Deputy Secretary James Moseley has informed me that he is resigning as Deputy Secretary effective today. He has served American agriculture well throughout an extensive and diverse career and I wish him well in his future endeavors,” Johanns said in a statement. Moseley was asked to join USDA by Ann Veneman and, since her resignation speculation has been running high on Moseley’s future. In January, Moseley said he planned to stay on through the transition, but “my future is uncertain.” During that interview, Moseley praised the selection of Johanns as Secretary of Agriculture, and in announcing Moseley’s departure Johanns was equally complementary. "Jim has accomplished many things for agriculture both domestically and around the world. One of those accomplishments has been to foster a working relationship with the Afghan government and its people to help them rebuild the agricultural infrastructure in Afghanistan. This partnership not only is helping feed and clothe Afghan citizens, but it also is helping spread democracy.” While Moseley’s resignation becomes effective immediately, Johanns has asked him to stay on until June 1 as a special advisor to complete some critical aspects of the Afghan project. He will continue in this capacity until June. — WLJ

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Monday, March 14,2005

Obit

by WLJ
Paul L. Good Paul Good, 89, a renowned livestock auctioneer died March 6. From Van Wert, OH, Good was born Feb. 23, 1916, to George Lewis and Dora Leota Haines Good. He married his highschool sweetheart Alice Marie Poling in 1938; she died May 7, 1989. Good graduated from Ohio State where he was a member of the Collegiate Livestock Judging Team and Meats Team, and started as an auctioneer in seventh grade during a school pageant depicting the Jamestown slave auction. Colonel Good is best known for his robust and quick-witted selling of Angus cattle, presiding over some of the most notable auctions including selling for President Eisenhower, J.C. Penny and Armand Hammer. He played a major part in the Angus expansion in the 1960s, ‘70s and early ‘80s. In 1984 he was inducted into the American Angus Association Heritage Foundation, which recognizes major contributions to the improvement and advancement of the Angus breed. His portrait hangs in the Ohio State University Animal Science Hall of Fame for his contributions and efforts, along with brothers Byron and Don. Survivors include son Arthur L. Good (Joan), Manson, MI, daughters Ann Good (Robert), Fortine, MT, and Ava K. Good, Van Wert, brothers Don Good (Jane), Manhattan, KS, and Fred Good (Judy), Charlotte, MI, five grandchildren, one great grandchild and a great great grandchild. A memorial service will be held in 11 a.m April 2 at Kingsley Methodist Church, Van Wert County, OH. Memorial contributions may be given to the charity of the donor’s choice.

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Monday, March 14,2005

Letters

by WLJ
Support for AFBF waning Dear Editor: We are very disappointed with the American Farm Bureau Federation for their opposition to the ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana that imposes a temporary injunction on re-establishing trade with Canada for live cattle younger than 30 months of age. Our fourth generation family ranch has been very active with Farm Bureau for over 60 years and we feel that they have really let the U.S. cattle ranching industry down! The Canadian border needs to be closed until we have ALL our beef export markets are open and the safety of the beef supply from Canada is not questioned for having BSE. Why doesn’t Canada find other countries to send their beef to instead of forcing the U.S. to take their beef with no country-of-origin labeling? The Farm Bureau seems to think that the sooner we open the Canadian border to all beef imports, then the sooner our trading partners such as Japan will follow suit. But in all reality, we imported 22 percent more beef, 1,196,569 metric tons of beef in 2004, of which 355,243 metric tons was Canadian. During this same time, our beef export markets were down 75 percent, to 321,675 metric tons, roughly a $3 billion dollar deficit for beef trade, according to R-CALF. So, I ask Farm Bureau this: How much more imports do we have to take, before our trading partners open their markets due to the Canadian BSE problem? Our overall ag trade surplus has also evaporated from 27.3 billion in 1996, to a projected balance of zero in 2005. What a shame! We hope Farm Bureau will poll their livestock members and start representing the grassroots of their organization. We feel Farm Bureau has been very supportive in protecting our property rights, Farm bill, disaster aid, but they need to support mandatory COOL, reject free trade agreements such as CAFTA, and to support the continued closure of ALL Canadian beef products from entering the U.S. Neil Glennie Tom Glennie Ranch Judith Gap, MT Tunnel vision regarding the border issue You should have been at the Federal Court hearing in Billings. What you don’t realize is: right always prevails over wrong, good overcomes bad, and truth is established by honest court judges. I was there and I was impressed at how knowledgeable Judge Cebull was on the BSE subject. You accuse the judge of having his mind made up before the hearing. If you didn’t have tunnel vision you would also see the importance of delaying the border opening. Pete, you were on the NCBA Canadian Trade Delegation, didn’t you realize they only showed you what they wanted you to see? Did they ask you what feed processing plants you wanted to see or just show you the big Cargill feed processing plant? Don’t you think you should have gone to see cowherds and dairies in Alberta instead of flying over feedlots? You were on a fact finding mission and I don’t believe they showed you the facts. Your U.S. Justice Department lawyer Lisa Olson, stated that there was "virtually no risk" opening the border to young Canadian cattle. There has only been four cows diagnosed as having BSE, even though two have tested positive in 2005. Minimal risk, "virtually no risk." Judge Cebull asked Lisa Olson how that compared to the outbreak of BSE in Great Britain. Lisa said "Oh that was an epidemic." Judge Cebull reminded her that the epidemic started with one cow and several hundred people lost their lives to vCJD. Pete, you made reference to R-CALF’s war chest of $750,000. Then you stated that the U.S. Justice Department has pretty deep pockets. Do you understand that the U.S. Justice Department is using tax payer funds to fight our own livestock producers and consumers, concerning the food imported into the USA? Pete, R-CALF has raised these funds because producers, consumers, and small business in rural America are ready to stand up and fight for their life. I am amazed that you are so blind to what’s really happening in America, that you are willing to take the side of multi-national trading companies and corporate America to launder American agriculture to the rest of the world. By the way, R-CALF’s warchest has been voluntary contributions by producers and consumers who desire to see U.S. Agriculture persevere and produce USA (COOL) products. Let me tell you, these USA citizens have only begun to fight! Tom Connelley Beefman Belle Fourche, SD

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Monday, March 14,2005

McCraine named AZ Cattleman of 2005

by WLJ
Arizona cattleman, Swayze McCraine of Prescott was named 2005 Cattleman of the Year by the Arizona Hereford Association at ceremonies opening the organization’s 31st annual bull sale during Cattlemen’s weekend. McCraine, raised in Baton Rouge, LA, and a Louisiana State University animal science degree graduate, worked for Great Plains Western Corporation a mutli-faceted company with ranches in six states. He became vice president in five years. In 1978 he took over his family’s ranching operation in Mississippi, raising registered Brangus and commercial cattle. Six years later he moved to Prescott to be involved with his wife’s family ranch. In 1986 the Arizona Hereford Association asked McCraine to manage its annual bull sale. He was instrumental in adding a ranch horse sale to the bull sale, and in 1988 he and Richard Smyer of the Prescott Livestock Auction put on the first Prescott All Breed Sale. McCraine’s vision turned it all into Cattlemen’s Weekend 14 years ago. It has become northern Arizona’s largest livestock event. McCraine and his wife Kathy own and operate Camp Wood Cattle Company at Prescott and raise commercial cattle and quarter horses. — WLJ

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