Close
Home » Articles »   By WLJ
 
 
Monday, February 28,2005

USDA allocates $9.3M for disaster recovery

by WLJ
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns last Wednesday announced $9.3 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) funding for locally-sponsored watershed protection projects resulting from recent floods and other natural disasters such as tornadoes, fires, drought and hurricanes. The funding is currently set aside for 12 states hit by natural disasters the past few months. "The Bush Administration remains committed to enhancing the environment," said Johanns. "These emergency funds will help restore critical watersheds while responding to the needs of rural communities." Through EWP, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance to protect life and property threatened by excessive erosion and flooding caused by the sudden impairment of a watershed from a natural disaster. EWP projects provide sound erosion control measures that are economically and environmentally defensible. EWP funds address public safety and restoration efforts on private lands and are used to remove debris, restore eroded streambanks, re-seed burned areas and take related steps to mitigate threats to people and property from impaired watersheds. States receiving EWP funds are: State EWP Funds Alabama $360,000 Arizona $960,000 California $1,200,000 Illinois $65,000 Indiana $1,440,000 Mississippi $240,000 Nevada $1,500,000 Oklahoma $1,200,000 Pennsylvania $540,000 South Carolina $76,800 Tennessee $1,080,000 Texas $660,000 TOTAL $9,321,800 — WLJ

Read more
Monday, February 21,2005

‘A40' agreed to by Japanese politicians

by WLJ
USDA cleared a second hurdle in trying to partially regain beef trade with Japan as the ruling political party in the Pacific Rim nation last Wednesday endorsed a proposal designed to verify the age of U.S. cattle eligible to produce beef for export. The move by a panel of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members helps move Tokyo a step closer to easing its 14-month-old import ban on American beef, which has kept U.S. beef from accessing Japan’s beef market. Prior to the LDP’s blessing, a panel of food safety and consumer health experts accepted a U.S.-proposed beef grading method that would accurately identify and separate cattle unlikely to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The LDP panel accepted that same conclusion last Wednesday. However, the final decision lies with the government's Food Safety Commission (FSC). LDP’s approval of a program was considered a “very good omen” by USDA sources who said the political party has been a vehement opponent of reopening the Japanese border to U.S. beef. Under the USDA proposal, U.S. beef would be allowed to be shipped to Japan if the cattle producing that beef fit a grading category known as ‘A40' or if they have a verifiable paper trail with date of birth information. A40 cattle are animals that can be proven to be between the age of 12-17 months, well within the 20-month-or-under restriction Japan is advocating. The determination of that age window is made through evaluating the carcass of the animal, particularly vertebrae and cartilage, USDA scientists have indicated. Japan tentatively agreed late last year to resume importing U.S. beef from cattle 20 months or younger. The two sides, however, had long argued over how to authenticate the age of cattle, but the latest meat grading system proposed by U.S. officials addresses that issue. According to Chuck Lambert, deputy under secretary for regulatory and marketing programs, the A40 proposal now needs to be ratified by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry (MAFF) and Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW). Upon that being completed, Lambert said it is up to FSC to determine changes to domestic BSE testing policy and then work on changes to import regulations. “We still have two major (regulatory) steps to maneuver in Japan,” Lambert said. “We have given them the science and what appears to be an acceptable resolution to the situation, and we have to wait on their acceptance of that now.” A timeframe for the regulatory process was not known last week. Most USDA officials indicated that it would still be early summer before the first load of U.S. beef might be on its way to Japan. Prior to BSE being found in Washington state in December 2003, U.S. beef exports to Japan totaled $1.5-1.7 billion. — WLJ

Read more
Monday, February 21,2005

Agri-terrorism funding needed

by WLJ
Federal funding to help states prepare for and prevent terrorism aimed at food producers is less than adequate, an Iowa agriculture department official told members of Congress last week. “There's been almost insignificant funding for agriculture and we're seeing it reduced even more as we look at funds being diverted to the larger cities and away from rural states such as Iowa," said Jane Colacecchi, executive liaison to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge. Colacecchi told the Senate Agriculture Committee last Tuesday that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have not included agriculture systems as critical assets needing protection from bio-terrorism. “Up until recently they were really talking about things that you could blow up, bricks and mortar," she said. She said agriculture production should be viewed as a system that includes everything from farms, manufacturing and processing plants and transportation/distribution of products. "If you look at the corn production or cattle production systems in Iowa, no single component of that system may be identified as a critical asset, but it's a multibillion dollar industry," she said. Failure to recognize agriculture production as a critical asset has caused a lack of funding to protect it, she said. “We really need to continue to voice a strong opinion in Washington in order to get funding to the agricultural states,” she said. “It's America's food supply and the government at the federal level has really done an inadequate job of identifying that as a critical asset.” Colacecchi and Iowa State Veterinarian Dr. John Schiltz updated the committee on the state's preparedness for animal disease emergencies. Plans have been developed for veterinarians around the state to be part of a disease reporting network, Schiltz said. The Rapid Veterinarian Response Teams would coordinate a response to an incident anywhere in the state. He said more than 200 veterinarians have agreed to be part of the group. Training sessions also have been held around the state to teach mayors, county supervisors, farmers and others in how to deal with and report an animal disease emergency. The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy has incorporated information about the role of local officers in an emergency, which could include isolating hundreds of animals and closing off large tracts of land, Colacecchi said. "The state plans and what we've done with the counties up to this level really does put in place what we need to do in order to respond, but we want to continue to fine tune those responses," she said. "I'm very confident in what we have in place so far. I just think there's always room to continue to build on those plans," she said. Additional food safety experts testified that additional homeland security funding needs to be given to all states with a heavy agriculture industry, particularly those with a very heavy focus on food manufacturing and processing. Extra funds for the heavy beef producing states of Texas, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado was called a “major priority,” by several who testified in front of the committee.

Read more
Monday, February 21,2005

Beef Bits

by WLJ
123,000 pounds ground beef recalled Emmpak Foods Inc. of Milwaukee, WI, is voluntarily recalling approximately 123,000 pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated with hydraulic fluid, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Feb. 14. Nine products are subject to the recall, all of which are one-pound packages. The product’s bear sell by dates of 1/31/05, 2/1/05 or 2/2/05. Each package also bears the code, “Est. 20654" inside the USDA mark of inspection. Seven of the items were distributed to retail stores in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Two others were distributed to retail stores in Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. McD’s January sales up McDonald's Corp. recently reported that international system-wide sales for McDonald's restaurants increased 8.3 percent in January compared with January 2004. Comparable sales for McDonald's restaurants worldwide increased 5.2 percent. According to McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner comparable sales last month were up 4.1 percent in the U.S. and 5.4 percent from January 2004. Europe's January system-wide sales rose 11.6 percent. Australian beef exports down 7.3 percent in January Beef exports from Australia, the world’s biggest exporter, fell 7.3 percent in January to 42,600 metric tons from a year earlier. Beef demand from Japan and South Korea and exports to those destinations remained strong in January, but shipments to the U.S. declined. Exports to Japan fell 11 percent on year to 21.053 tons in January. Exports in January 2004 were abnormally high due to increased demand after Japan banned imports of U.S. beef. Exports to South Korea surged 79 percent to 6.393 tons in January this year, another market where U.S. and Canadian beef imports are banned. $1 million grant awarded for cattle genome research Genetic differences in reproduction, lactation, growth, bone structure, fat deposition, altitude and heat tolerance, and resistance to specific pathogens will be the subject of a study at the Center for Animal Biotechnology and Genomics at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, thanks to a $1 million grant from the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, which will allow researchers to study the differences in cattle breeds and individual cows. Genetic differences in reproduction, lactation, growth, bone structure, fat deposition, altitude and heat tolerance, and resistance to specific pathogens will be studied. This in turn can lead to the development of new treatments for both human and animal diseases. 2005 BSE cases in France at five The U.S. ag attaché in Paris on Feb. 11 reported there have been five confirmed BSE cases in French cattle since the first of this year alone. Over the last 36 months 435 BSE-positive cattle have been found in France. A total of 951 BSE cases have been confirmed in French cattle since 1991. Sara Lee unloading EU beef Chicago-based Sara Lee has announced plans to spin off its $4.5 billion branded apparel unit and three other businesses in order to concentrate on its food, beverage and household product offerings. Among the other units for sale are Sara Lee's $1.1 billion packaged meat business in Europe. The company said the restructuring will not affect fiscal 2005 earnings, which are forecast at $1.46 to $1.56 a share, before any gains or charges that may occur in the next four months. It also affirmed its second- and third-quarter profit forecasts of 29 cents and 34 cents per share, respectively. Prison sentence urged Prosecutors demanded 12 years in prison Feb. 15 for the former chairman of an Osaka-based meat-packing company who allegedly swindled the government out of more than 5 billion yen by abusing a state beef buyback program to calm concerns over BSE, reports Kyodo. At the Osaka District Court, Mitsuru Asada, 66, the former chairman of Hannan Corp. and key defendant in the high-profile case, admitted the prosecutors’ allegations in the first hearing but later argued that the farm ministry was also responsible for motivating him to commit the fraud and remain silent about it. According to the indictment, Asada defrauded the government and an industry group out of 5.03 billion yen from November 2001 through May 2002 by falsely labeling beef to qualify for the buyback program, according to the indictment. CHB reports first 1M-pound week According to Certified Hereford Beef LLC (CHB), during the third week of January, licensed packers of CHB beef sold more than one million pounds of product to the program's 400 retail locations, as well as foodservice outlets. That marked the first time in the program’s history that weekly distribution reached one million pounds or more. Doug Miller, vice president ofsales for CHB, said this sales achievement further propels the 10-year-old program towards its goal of creating an annual demand of one million head of Hereford-influenced cattle. In week four of 2005, Certified Hereford Beef's packers harvested a record number of cattle, exceeding 10,000 head.

Read more
Monday, February 21,2005

Bill limits farm payments

by WLJ
U.S. Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced a bill Feb. 15 that would place a $250,000 limit on federal farm payments. The senators introduced similar legislation in March 2003. Currently, a farmer can receive up to $360,000 in commodity payments a year. In addition, by using a marketing loan device known as generic certificates, the largest operations can receive unlimited payments. "This bill would bring sensible reform to our farm policy. Because of the loopholes in the Farm Bill, about 60 percent of farm payments go to 10 percent of producers––allowing the largest farm operations to grow with tax-payer dollars, while family farms get squeezed out. This step to level the playing field for small family farmers is long overdue," Hagel said. The bill would tighten payment limits in two ways: Strip the largest farms of the ability to receive unlimited payments by limiting generic certificates; Tighten limits for farmers under the three entity rule––from $360,000 to $250,000. In 2002, during the farm bill debate, Hagel, Grassley and Dorgan worked to implement real payment limits. The amendment received 66 votes in the Senate, and was adopted as part of the Senate Farm Bill, but was stripped from the Farm Bill conference report. — WLJ

Read more
Monday, February 21,2005

Beef safety advancing, more to do

by WLJ
At a forum on beef safety at the Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in San Antonio earlier this month, food safety experts led a discussion of recent advancements made in BSE prevention and E.coli reduction. A common theme among the speakers was that while the beef industry can be very proud of the advancements it has made in improving food safety, it must continually strive for improvement. Ongoing beef safety research is funded by America’s Beef Producers through the $1-per-head Beef Checkoff Program. It is coordinated on behalf of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and state beef councils by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which serves as one of the Beef Board’s contractors for checkoff-funded programs. While bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has received heavy news coverage since a single case was confirmed in the United States in December 2003, E.coli remains a concern for the beef industry and its consumers. Guy Loneragan, B.V. Sc. Ph.D., provided an up-to-date look at pre-harvest research efforts addressing intervention development and approval of management steps in reducing the incidence of E. coli. Dr. Loneragan is an assistant professor of Beef Cattle Health Management at West Texas A & M University. “The beef industry has worked hard and has had many successes in reducing E. coli, helping to maintain consumer confidence in beef,” Loneragan said. “In fact, illness rates attributed to E. coli have almost reached the 2010 goal of 1 case per 100,000 people.” But Loneragan emphasized that the industry still faces challenges in reducing the presence of E.coli. He feels the industry needs to examine pre-harvest intervention options, especially with regard to hide and feces. Several pre-harvest intervention options are being evaluated. A lacto bacillus-based product that is added to feed has significantly reduced the number of animals testing positive for E. coli on both the hide and feces. Another intervention option being researched is vaccination. Studies have shown cattle that are vaccinated are much less likely to carry the bacteria, but it is unclear how effectively the vaccine reduces E. coli on the hides. Neomycin is an antibiotic not labeled for E. coli control. However, Loneragen said that two large feedlot studies have shown that it reduces E. coli in the feces by 98 to 100 percent, and in hides by 85 to 90 percent. Recent strides in reducing E. coli O157 in beef carcasses are also among the ongoing checkoff-funded research efforts highlighted in Building Demand through Research, the research annual report published recently by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. A complete copy of “Building Demand through Research” is available at http://www.beef.org/dsp/dsp_locationContent.cfm?locationId=892. At the same issues forum, Dr.Terry McElwain provided an overview of the BSE surveillance program. McElwain is a professor and the executive director with Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. McElwain reported that the goal of the program, which was initiated in June of 2004, is to test 268,500 animals in a 12-18 month period. The target population consists of animals showing some type of disorder that has compatible, clinical signs of BSE. Examples include central nervous cases, condemned cattle and downer cattle. The number to be tested is based on an estimated 464,000 possible animals that fit into the target population. By completing this number of tests, the industry can state with 100 percent confidence that five or fewer infected animals exist in the nation’s cattle population. Initially, seven labs are performing BSE testing. Biorad rapid ELISA assay was chosen as the test, in part because results can be produced in one day. All lab results are tracked through sample accession––an automated process that avoids any recording mistakes. Negative results are reported electronically to the NAHLN database and to USDA. McElwain explained that if the test yields a single well reactor, it is immediately rerun in duplicate. If it turns up negative, no more testing of that animal is needed. If the second test yields a reactive well, the sample is sent to the NADC for confirmatory testing. As of Jan. 30, more than 213,000 samples have been taken and analyzed, about 1,700 per day. Dr. Don Knowles, a professor at Washington State University, also discussed BSE risk, current research and infectious dose levels at the issues forum. “It is important that the industry and those involved in BSE research and related policy remain vigilant, but the news concerning BSE is currently positive. Transmission of BSE is understood and appropriate control practices are in place. Therefore, BSE and vCJD should continue their decline. A note of caution is necessary, however. We must remember that when dealing with biology, change and unpredictability is the rule,” Knowles said. — WLJ

Read more
Monday, February 21,2005

CattleWomen install new president

by WLJ
— Remaining officers, new mission statement approved. Marlene Strickland, Sarasota, FL, was installed as the 54th president of the American National CattleWomen (ANCW) during the 2005 Cattle Industry Annual Convention, held February 2-5 in San Antonio, TX. “We are really looking forward to the discussion results that will be compiled from the input we received from members and cattle women who participated,” Strickland said. “This input will be a catalyst for meeting the needs of women in our industry.” Strickland brings years of commitment to the beef industry at the county, state and national level to the position of ANCW president. She is a past president of the Florida CattleWomen, and since 2000 has served on the executive committee of ANCW as a Region II director, president-elect and vice president. Strickland has enjoyed many years working with youth in 4-H, and especially with the National Beef Ambassador Program. Strickland and her husband Don, raise Angus cattle and have been 4-H leaders for 30 years. They have two children and four grandchildren and this past year celebrated 40 years of marriage and 20 years as owners of Land Electric, Inc. Other officers and region directors were installed at ANCW’s annual meeting. Remaining members of the 2005 executive committee are president-elect, Nancy Stirling-Neuhauser, South Dakota; vice president, Wendy Pettz, Arkansas; secretary, Kim Strickland, Florida; parliamentarian, Trudy Carey, Florida; historian, Karen Andrle, Florida; Region I director, Bonnie Bargstedt, New York; Region II director, Doris Teeter, North Carolina; Region III director, Leslee Lohrenz, Wisconsin; Region IV director, Rosemary Brizendine, Texas; Region V director, Leslie Hendry, Wyoming; Region VI director, Joan Hemsted, California; and Region VII director, Nanci Agnew, North Dakota. The new leadership will be working with the Advisory Team, an ad hoc committee created in 2004 to develop “recommendations and concrete ideas that will guide our national association” by addressing the needs of cattle women involved in the beef industry. The 2005 leadership will operate in a year of transition, as organizational strategies are being discussed and crafted for 2006. In setting priorities for ANCW, the mission statement adopted by the general membership states, “The American National CattleWomen, Inc. is a voice for women who share a passion for the U.S. beef industry. Our mission is to promote and support the beef industry as well as encourage women in beef and related agribusiness.” The leadership believes this statement articulates what ANCW does and why, and who the organization is intended to serve. Award winner The group also remembered one of its most active members with a award for her lifelong contributions and commitment to the U.S. cattle/beef industry. Frances Raulerson, New Smyrna Beach, FL, was named the Outstanding CattleWoman of the Year for 2004, during the annual awards banquet. Bayer Corporation sponsored the award, which is given to a cattle woman that has excelled at continued beef promotion on the local, state and national level, while contributing dedication, commitment and support to ANCW. This year, the Outstanding CattleWoman of the Year Award was given posthumously, as Raulerson passed away March 25, 2004, after an automobile accident. Along with her husband, Sam, survivors include three daughters—Teresa Clancy, Lisa Farher and Elaine Figueroa; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Raulerson was an active member of the Volusia County CattleWomen, Florida CattleWomen and ANCW since 1967. She held every office and head every committee possible for her state and local CattleWomen chapters since 1967, including 13 years of service on the Florida CattleWomen Executive Board. She also found time to attend and participate in six National Beef Cook-Offs and served as ANCW’s 2003 National Beef Cook-Off Chair. She has received both ANCW’s Prime Beef Educator Award and Beef Promotion Award. Frances and Sam, her husband of almost 50 years, bought acreage and built a house in Samsula in 1960. Over the years, she and her husband gradually expanded their ranch, raising horses and cattle. She was a tireless worker for the beef industry for over 37 years on a local, state and national level, according to ANCW leaders. — WLJ

Read more
Monday, February 21,2005

Budget shift opposed

by WLJ
Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), sharply criticized the Bush administration’s proposal to transfer $300 million out of a program for U.S. farm commodity donations. The proposal, presented in the fiscal year 2006 budget for the U.S. Department of Agricu1ture, would shift the funds from USDA’s P.L. 460 Title II foreign food assistance program to a U.S. Agency for International Development program that doesn’t rely solely on U.S. goods for donations. Goodlatte, in a statement released Feb. 14, said the funds should be kept for the USDA program because it helps American farmers since the money is used to purchase American agricultural products and thereby stimulate the U.S. economy. This proposal would pull $300 million out of taxpayers’ pockets and drop it into foreign markets.” An official with USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service said the proposal to shift the funds to USAid that can use the money to buy foreign food closer to disaster victims, was made in response to the tsunami that hit Asia this year. But Goodlatte said: “In the rare case that American products cannot reach the hands of the recipients quickly and efficiently, I think it is acceptable, after consultation with the agriculture committee, to use the money in local markets to ensure the aid is delivered swiftly. It is absolutely foolish to set aside a large portion of the budget for such limited occurrences.”

Read more
Monday, February 21,2005

Brazilian beef production expected to rise

by WLJ
Production of beef and pork in Brazil is estimated to increase in 2005 by six and three percent, respectively, reflecting a rebound in domestic demand and higher exports, although at a lower pace than last year due to a less competitive exchange rate relative to the U.S. dollar, according to an attache report posted Feb. 15 on USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service Web site. Economic analysts foresee economic growth in 2005 in the range of four-five percent, lower inflation rates around 5.6 percent, a further decline in the unemployment rate, and higher real income. These indicators are likely to influence consumer confidence as domestic consumption supports economic growth in 2005. Last year, exports accounted for most of the growth in the GDP. However, market analysts are also cautious about this optimistic outlook for the economy in 2005 because of the Central Bank's tight monetary policy with higher interest rates (currently the prime rate is fixed at 19.5 percent) and the appreciation of the Brazilian currency relative to the U.S. dollar (currently averaging 17 percent). Brazilian beef production is projected to increase six percent in 2005. Higher consumer confidence and purchasing power will increase demand for beef and higher beef exports, although at a lower rate than last year, will both contribute to increase in beef production in 2005. However, some analysts estimate that the current Real/U.S. Dollar exchange rate (a US$1 equals R$2.60 at the moment the report was written) could adversely impact exports of beef in 2005. Pork production is also expected to increase by nearly three percent in 2005, due to a combination of higher domestic demand and higher exports. However, pork producers are expecting lower profitability due to the relative increase in production costs and the appreciation of the Brazilian currency relative to the U.S. dollar. The increase in production will come mostly from new investments in production. Beef production is expected to reach nearly 8.5 million metric tons in 2005. The revised estimate foresees an increase in domestic demand for beef due to higher consumer confidence and purchasing power; another record in beef exports, although the increase in exports will be at a lower pace than last year due to problems with Russia, a less competitive exchange rate relative to the U.S. dollar, and a combination of domestic economic factors. Some of these constraints may be minimized with increased exports to China and other markets. Beef exports are projected to increase by an average of 14 percent in 2005 and to set another record. However, the increase in beef exports will be at a lower rate than last year because Brazilian meat exporters are facing some impediments. Those include a less competitive exchange rate and a Russian ban on most Brazilian meat imports. Except for the state of Santa Catarina, which is not a beef producing state but is a main pork and poultry producer, Brazilian beef from other major states is not allowed to be exported to Russia. The ban is due to the outbreak of FMD in the state of Amazonas, but has mushroomed into an ongoing political dispute between the two nations. Pork production is expected to reach nearly 2.7 million metric tons in 2005, slightly higher than our previous estimate made in the annual report, and nearly 3 percent higher than last year. The increase is the result of higher demand from both export and domestic markets. Pork exports are expected to increase by 3 percent in 2005, and set another record, despite the problems of related the appreciation of the Brazilian currency and the Russian ban on Brazilian meat in general. The Russian ban was partially suspended on November 20, 2004 to allow exports from the State of Santa Catarina, which partially benefits pork exports. — WLJ

Read more
Monday, February 21,2005

Cheeseburger bill in

by WLJ
Last week, the Wyoming House passed a bill that would shield restaurants, advertisers, ranchers and other form lawsuits by obese people claiming their weight and health problems were caused by the long-term consumption of food or drink. Fourteen states have enacted so-called “common sense consumption” acts, dubbed “cheeseburger bills” by some, that bar people from seeking damages in court from food companies for weight gain and associated medical problems. Wyoming is one of 18 additional state considering such legislation. The U.S. House approved a similar bill last year, but the Senate did not act on the legislation. — WLJ

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

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