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Monday, March 7,2005

E. coli in ground beef declines more in 2004

by WLJ
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) last Monday released data showing a 43.3 percent drop in the percentage of E. coli O157:H7 positive ground beef regulatory samples collected in 2004 compared with the previous year. Of the 8,010 samples collected and analyzed in 2004, 0.17 percent tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, down from 0.30 in 2003, 0.78 in 2002, 0.84 in 2001 and 0.86 in 2000. Between 2000 and 2004, the percentage of positive samples in FSIS regulatory sampling has declined by more than 80 percent. In April 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in its annual report on foodborne illness in America, reported a 36 percent reduction in illnesses from E. coli O157:H7 in 2003 compared to 2002. The number of FSIS recall actions related to E. coli O157:H7 also continued to drop. There were six recalls related to E. coli O157:H7 in 2004 compared to 12 in 2003 and 21 in 2002. "The reduction in positive E. coli O157:H7 regulatory samples demonstrates the continuing success of our agency's strong, science based policies aimed at reducing pathogens in America's meat, poultry and egg products,” said Dr. Barbara Masters, acting administrator for FSIS. “Improvements in regulatory oversight and training have paid dividends, and we are committed to building on this strong foundation.” Packing and livestock industry sources agreed that management changes have helped lead towards successful minimization of foodborne pathogen outbreaks. “The steady decline in E. coli O157:H7 is a success story and testament to the industry’s commitment to continually improve its food safety programs,”” said James Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute (AMI) Foundation. “The continuing drop of both occurrences of illness from E. coli, and the prevalence of E. coli, are part of the pay-off for an all-out effort by the meat industry to make food safety our number one priority over the last several years. It’s rewarding to see that the pro-active measures we’’re taking in the meat industry are having direct pay-off for the American public and consumers of American meat across the globe.” Dane Bernard, food safety and quality assurance coordinator for Keystone Foods and vice president of the Beef Industry Food Safety Council, said, “This is very good news for consumers and all sectors of the beef industry. We are proud of the coordinated efforts to reduce this pathogen throughout the beef production chain, from farm to kitchen. It’s great to see such hard work paying off and we will continue toward our goal of further reducing and, if possible, eliminating the threat of E. coli O157:H7.” In 2002, FSIS ordered all beef plants to reexamine their food safety plans, based on evidence that E. coli O157:H7 is a hazard reasonably likely to occur. Plants were required to implement measures that would sufficiently eliminate or reduce the risk of E. coli O157:H7 in their products. Scientifically trained FSIS personnel then began to systematically assess those food safety plans for scientific validity and to compare what was written in plant Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans to what was taking place in daily operations. A majority of plants have made major changes to their operations based on the directive, including the installation and validation of new technologies specifically designed to combat E. coli O157:H7. Many plants have also increased their testing for E. coli O157:H7 in order to verify their food safety systems. The total number of samples collected in 2004 increased by more than 21 percent. FSIS has also taken steps to ensure that inspection personnel are anticipating problems and that enforcement is carried out promptly and consistently. FSIS launched new training initiatives for inspectors and compliance officers in 2004. Through the use of computer software, inspection actions are analyzed by district officials so trends and areas needing additional attention can be more quickly identified. FSIS has also developed review and management systems to help gauge and improve the performance of inspectors. In 2004, FSIS also held a series of teaching workshops around the country for small and very small plants to discuss new directives designed to strengthen E. coli O157:H7 prevention procedures. The workshops were a part of FSIS' continuing effort to prevent E. coli O157:H7 contamination and protect public health by providing small and very small plant operators with technical expertise and assistance. — WLJ

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Monday, March 7,2005

False bangs test prompts possible change

by WLJ
A false case of brucellosis from cattle in Campbell County, WY, could lead to a review of how laboratories nationwide handle tests for the cattle disease in the future, a veterinary official said. I'm quite confident there will be a review of that protocol at a national level," said Sam Holland, chairman of the U.S. Animal Health Association's (USAHA) committee on brucellosis. Holland, who is also the South Dakota state veterinarian, said he requested USDA review federal protocols for culturing brucella nationwide, "in light of the recent event and information gleaned from that experience." Four months ago, the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory in Brookings, SD, determined that two Campbell County cattle tested positive for brucellosis, which causes cattle to abort. The news caused much concern among ranchers in northeast Wyoming, where brucellosis had never been found before. Extensive testing of the rest of the herd, surrounding herds and more than 130 elk in the region turned up no sign of the disease, raising the possibility that the lab mistakenly contaminated the samples. However, the South Dakota lab had destroyed the tested samples, leaving no way to double check its findings. The Wyoming State Veterinary Lab stores its positive brucellosis tests. "So if someone wondered if we screwed up in some way, we could send them the tissues, and then they could try and repeat what we did to try and be sure," said Donal O'Toole, director of the Wyoming lab. Brucella abortus is considered a "select agent" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meaning the substance could be used in bioterrorism and thus is subject to strict federal regulations for storage. "It's easier to destroy the sample than it is to lock it, archive it, mark it, account for it, store it, sign in and out for it," Holland said. The talk of changing lab procedures isn't much comfort for the owners of the Campbell County herd involved in the original testing by the South Dakota lab. Justin and Heather Edwards and their family lived with the stigma of brucellosis for more than three months. Their 400 head of Angus were quarantined and tested, and 2,500 cattle in surrounding herds were also tested. "Our name's been drug across every paper in the western United States," Edwards said. "If someone said McDonald's had (BSE) in their hamburgers, and three months later they said, ‘Well, we might have made a mistake,’ there would be a certain number of people who would never eat at McDonald's again. It's the same way for us.” The quarantine on Edwards' herd was lifted in late November. The whole experience has left Edwards feeling a bit exasperated, but not enough to put him off ranching. "As producers, we're at the mercy of the labs," Edwards said. "We don't get the samples when our cattle are processed. It's all out of our hands. You have to put your faith in the system and hope it doesn't fail you like it did in this case." — WLJ

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Monday, March 7,2005

First wild horses sold under new law

by WLJ
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last Tuesday announced the sale of 200 wild mares to a Wyoming company, the first transaction under new sale authority for wild horses and burros. The new law, which was formally implemented this past December 2004, directs BLM to offer for sale those wild horses and burros that are more than 10 years old or have been unsuccessfully offered up for adoption at least three times. The agency estimates that about 8,400 animals are affected by the new law, this year alone. “As we implement the new sale-authority legislation passed by Congress, we are committed to finding long-term care for these wild horses and burros,” said BLM Director Kathleen Clarke. “We are working to place as many of these animals as we can in good homes, and we are appealing to wild horse advocacy groups, Indian Tribes, and humane organizations, as well as the general public, to help us in this effort.” The 200 mares were sold to Wild Horses Wyoming, LLC, a southeastern Wyoming company committed to protecting wild horses. Ron Hawkins, ranch operations partner in the Wyoming company, said, “I'm very pleased and proud that Wild Horses Wyoming is the BLM’s first buyer of wild horses under the legislation recently passed by Congress. Our company is committed to the long-term care of these historic animals, and I urge the public to support us in our efforts to ensure good homes for those horses facing an uncertain future under the new law.” There are about 37,000 wild horses and burros roaming on public lands managed by the BLM in 10 Western states. Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes on the range can double about every five years. As a result, the current free-roaming population exceeds by some 9,000 the number that BLM-managed rangelands can sustain. BLM has determined that 28,000 is the number of wild horses and burros that BLM-managed rangelands can support in balance with other resources and other approved uses of the public lands. Federal law authorizes the BLM to remove wild horses and burros from the range to control herd sizes; those animals removed are cared for in holding facilities and thousands are placed into private ownership through adoption each year. Since 1973, the BLM’s adoption program has put more than 203,000 animals into private care. Currently there are about 24,000 wild horses and burros cared for in short-term facilities in the West and long-term facilities in the Midwest. The cost of holding and caring for wild horses and burros in both short- and long-term facilities is projected to be about $20 million in Fiscal Year 2005, which will be more than half of what the agency expects to spend on the wild horse and burro program in the current fiscal year. The cost of caring for and feeding a wild horse in a long-term facility is about $465 per animal per year. BLM manages wild horses and burros under the authority of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Congress has amended that law three times, in 1976, 1978 and most recently in December 2004, when it directed the BLM to sell wild horses and burros after certain stipulations were met. BLM has set up a toll-free number for those interested in buying a wild horse or burro at 800/710-7597. — WLJ

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Monday, March 7,2005

First CAFO compliance date a year away

by WLJ
— Second important date in December ‘06. Producers need to plan now to meet two key compliance dates for confined livestock operations next year, a University of Nebraska livestock bioenvironmental engineer said. Both deadlines result from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA’s) recent update on rules dealing with concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. These rules deal mainly with how manure is managed to protect water quality. The updated rules place more of an emphasis on proper management of animal manure both at the confinement site where it is produced and on farmland where it is applied. By Feb. 13, 2006, all large CAFOs must apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, said Rick Koelsch, livestock bioenvironmental engineer in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. That includes large CAFOs that already have a current state operator's permit. The updated CAFO rules came about in 2004 after the Nebraska legislature updated state rules to meet federal standards of the EPA's CAFO regulations. This update combined the state and federal permits into a single permit enforced by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. "Under the updated rules, both animals housed under a roof and on open lots are potentially CAFOs," Koelsch said. "Many poultry, dairy and swine facilities where animals are housed in barns will now need this federal permit, where historically it was applied only to outdoor feedlots." Confined operations with a maximum one-time capacity of 1,000 beef cattle, 700 dairy cattle, 2,500 swine weighing more than 55 pounds, 55,000 turkeys or 125,000 broilers are automatically considered large CAFOs. Some medium-sized animal feeding operations with fewer animals may need a permit if there is a direct connection between the animal housing and surface water. Beef feedlots with 300 to 999 head can become defined as a CAFO if surface water runs through the feedlot or the lot is located near intermittent or continuous streams, Koelsch said. Another key compliance date is Dec. 31, 2006. By then, all large CAFOs will need a fully implemented nutrient management plan for farming operation. These management plans address how the nutrients in manure are stored and used to fertilize crops to prevent water pollution. "The environmental regulatory community is very serious about industry compliance with these regulations," Koelsch said. "That's why it's important to begin compliance with these rules immediately." While these deadlines seem far off, applying for the federal permit and bringing production facilities up to required standards can take at least a year, he said. In addition, as soon as possible, large operations that house livestock in open lots, most commonly beef feedlots, should apply for their federal permit to reduce current legal liabilities, Koelsch said. Open lot facilities have been required to have a federal permit since the 1970s. Operations with a current federal permit need not reapply assuming it is current. Federal permits generally must be renewed every five years. "I would anticipate we will see some examples made of producers who don't meet these deadlines," he said. "That's why it's important to use the available resources to apply for these permits and comply with these environmental regulations." — WLJ

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Monday, March 7,2005

January slaughter, red meat output down

by WLJ
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service recently reported that commercial red meat production in the U.S. totaled 3.65 billion pounds in January, down two percent from the 3.71 billion pounds produced in January 2004. Beef production, at 1.92 billion pounds, was slightly below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.53 million head, down two percent from January 2004. The average live weight was up 13 pounds from the previous year, at 1,262 pounds. Veal production totaled 13.3 million pounds, 17 percent below January a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 67,700 head, down 14 percent from January 2004. The average live weight was seven pounds below last year, at 329 pounds. Pork production totaled 1.70 billion pounds, down three percent from the previous year. Hog kill totaled 8.48 million head, four percent below January 2004. The average live weight was one pound above the previous year, at 270 pounds. Lamb and mutton production, at 14.4 million pounds, was down seven percent from January 2004. Sheep slaughter totaled 208,500 head, five percent below last year. The average live weight of slaughter sheep was 138 pounds, down three pounds from January 2004. — WLJ

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Monday, March 7,2005

Information to crimestoppers solves livestock offenses

by WLJ
The shooting of four cows in north-central Montana was recently solved with information provided through the Montana Livestock Crimestoppers program and the local sheriff's office. The shooting of domestic livestock is just one of the crimes Montana producers face, according to Jack Wiseman, Brands Enforcement Administrator with the Montana Department of Livestock. Others include the alteration of a brand on an animal and theft of livestock from the field or from a sale written with a bad check. The Livestock Crimestoppers program can help solve many of these types of crimes if people are aware of the program and report suspicious activity. Initiated in 1983, the Montana Livestock Crimestoppers was the first Crimestoppers program focused on livestock crimes. "Similar to other Crimestoppers programs around the country, this one relies on citizens to help halt the incidence of theft and vandalism on farms and ranches," Wiseman said. Another component to fighting livestock crimes is proper branding. In eastern Montana, livestock producers reported cows missing when they removed them from leased pasture. Upon investigation, the cows were discovered with altered brands mixed in with another herd. "The main reason livestock should be branded is to prove ownership," Wiseman said. "Branded livestock provide law enforcement with a permanent mark that helps them determine ownership and trace back missing or stolen livestock." Hot iron branding is a permanent means of identifying ownership. Attempts may be made to alter a hot iron brand, but it cannot be removed. There are 15 states with brand enforcement programs, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Theft of livestock is greatly reduced in Montana because of the strict regulations in place for movement of livestock. The Brands Enforcement division of the DOL includes 18 district investigators who are law enforcement personnel. The DOL has 26 certified law enforcement personnel. In Montana, livestock must be inspected or permitted before crossing a county line, at change of ownership or at slaughter. "Selling livestock isn't much different than selling a car or pickup," Wiseman said. "The owner has to prove ownership in order for the transaction to take place." Stray cattle that bear unreadable brands are sold and the proceeds are held at the DOL pending proper proof of ownership. If the owner cannot be identified, the money goes into the estray account to be used for the Montana Livestock Crimestoppers program. Brands are recorded in the offices of the DOL, and a brand usually remains in the same family for generations. Currently, there are approximately 60,000 brands in Montana. Brands must be recorded and renewed every 10 years. The next re-record year is 2011. "There are some things that livestock producers can do to help limit crimes," Wiseman said. "Watch for strange vehicles in your area and get descriptions, license plate numbers and the time and date you observed these vehicles; brand livestock clearly; keep a close count on your livestock and post the property that livestock are branded and can be identified; check your herd frequently and place catch pens away from the road." Producers and others are encouraged to report suspicious activities regarding livestock to Montana Livestock Crimestoppers 1-800-503-6084. — WLJ

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Monday, March 7,2005

Letters

by WLJ
Clarifying OCM article Pete, I saw your reference to my OCM article and I wanted to clarify a few things. First, you mentioned that fed cattle prices usually make a big break by August. That is basically true and that was the whole point of my article. With the Canadian border being closed, prices have been much better than normal and we didn’t see the big break in prices in the summer. When the border is opened, fundamentals will return to normal and you had better be prepared for a break in the market. August live cattle have only been over $80 when the Canadian border has been closed and the 10-year average of contract lows in the August live cattle is $62.28. That seemed rather ominous to me when I wrote the article and August futures were between $80-$81. To quote myself exactly from my article to the OCM “Looking back at August live cattle prior to closing the Canadian border, things aren’t pretty. In 2003 the contract low was $65.40 and the market never broke $72 until the border was closed. In 2002 the contract high was only $75.20 and the low was $59.75. Currently the August live cattle are between $80-$81. By the time we get to August, the fundamentals of the cattle market will be similar to 2002 and 2003 so you can’t tell me that a $5-$10 break isn’t likely. You also can’t tell me that a $20 break isn’t possible. Remember, we had the Asian export market then and the mid to lower $70’s proved to be good resistance to the market.” You also mentioned that the reputable economists that you spoke to thought that a $60 per head negative impact would be about the most we would see. I hope they are right, but I think that they are a bit optimistic. You could make the case that we are already seeing a $60 per head loss just in anticipation of the border opening, because last year in SW Kansas cash cattle averaged about $84 in August and right now August futures are at $79. That is a $5/cwt difference, which is $60 per 1,200 lb. animal. Lastly, regarding the “awful good” feeder cattle market in Canada, 700-800 lb. feeder cattle in southern Alberta last week averaged $85.52. Compare that to similar Montana feeder cattle bringing $95-$107. Fed steers in Alberta brought $73.38 compared to $86.75, which was the U.S. average. (These prices are all in U.S. dollars, so there is no conversion to calculate.) There may not be holding pens of Canadian cattle aimed at the U.S., and the process of getting them to the U.S. may be slow at first, but there is an undeniable economic incentive to move cattle south of the border. Thank you, Bret Crotts Schwieterman Marketing, LLC Garden City, KS Impossible to build dams Editor: I would like to comment on an article that appeared in your Feb. 14, issue, “Water Scarcity Looms.” We have made it almost impossible to build reservoirs and dams along our rivers and streams to capture and store or slow down flows. Instead, we allow this “diminishing fresh water” supply to run out to sea for reasons I fail to either understand or agree with. The solutions are out there. Sincerely, Vaudine Cullins Alturas, CA NCBA, WLJ misinformation Dear Pete, It seems rather odd you didn’t admit all the mis-information you and NCBA. have been passing on to those of us who are producers that the producers and feeders were running NCBA. You had Steven Vetter write the comments stating “the cow calf producers and feeders finally had their concerns heard and addressed through the policy making process at the NCBA convention.” It has been a flip flop process and it shows a few controlled NCBA and not for the best interest of producers and feeders. If NCBA had been using their present policy about opening the Canadian border from the beginning things would be a lot different. While I was on the Beef Checkoff Board, I was part of the foreign trade committee for one year and we spent a lot of time with Phil Sing, of the Meat Export Federation. It has always been a tough battle dealing with Japan and if we wait until we have a full export market with Japan before we open the Canadian border it will be a long time. Pete, you have stated opening the Canadian border to cow beef from Canada wouldn’t be as bad as the dairy buyout. The dairy buyout was short lived if Canada is allowed to send 250,000 cows to the U.S. for processing or if the cows are processed in Canada and the meat is sent here it will have a very negative effect on our cull cow market. Not only that, consumer groups could challenge cow beef in the U.S. from Canada and ruin our domestic market. COOL could be quite simple, as choice beef if is already separated from select. Schools, the military and McDonald’s use domestic beef so it could be easily labeled. You recently stated that Canada needs more time to study the blue tongue and anaplasmosis issue. How much time do they need? I was on a Foreign Trade Committee for WCA over 20 years ago, and they have and are still using these issues as trade barriers. I have been president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, a director for WCA, and spent six years on the Beef Checkoff Board. I sold more memberships to WCA in 1979 than anyone else in the United States. I canceled my membership to NCBA last year after a membership that extended for over 35 years. If I am convinced feeders and producers are running it I will join again. In the mean time Pete you and NCBA will have to eat crow. Sincerely, Don McClure Nespelem, WA

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Monday, March 7,2005

Manure on field caused trout deaths

by WLJ
—Incident Comes Months After River Cleanup Manure spread on a frozen field is blamed for killing dozens of brown trout in southern Wisconsin—just two weeks before public hearings start on proposed new rules that would streamline the process for expanding livestock farms in the state. The West Branch of the Sugar River, near Mount Horeb in Dane County, had been removed last October from a federal government list of impaired waters after more than $900,000 in state and federal grants and thousands of volunteer hours turned a shallow, muddy stream into prime trout habitat. But officials said Monday that the stream was damaged because a farmer last week spread liquid cow manure on an icy field. A thaw Friday sent the waste running into the stream, said Michael Sorge, a water resources specialist with the state Department of Natural Resources who was on the scene. He said the trout were killed by ammonia from the manure. By late Monday, workers with the DNR had recovered more than 100 dead trout, some as long as 19 inches. DNR fish biologist Kurt Welke said many other dead fish remain on the stream bottom or stuck under the banks. He added that much of the manure is still on the frozen ground and could flow toward the stream with another thaw. “If there is a gradual warmup in temperature, then there may be a chronic but lesser amount of manure discharging to the river,” he said. “A quick jump in temperature may spell trouble in that a major slug could impact the river.” Over the weekend, workers built earthen berms in the field to hold back the manure. Sorge said heavy construction equipment was used Monday to break through the frozen surface of the field and allow the manure to soak into the soil. “One landowner making a poor decision may have undone 30 years of work in this watershed,” said Frank Fetter, who serves as executive director of the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association. According to DNR conservation warden David Wood, the farmer, whose name was not released, may have violated a law against polluting waterways. He said a violator could be subject to a fine of about $430 and restitution costs of about $26 per trout. Welke said the farmer was being cooperative in the cleanup and was among landowners who worked to restore the stream. He said the spill should focus attention on the problem of farmers spreading manure on frozen ground—a legal practice that nonetheless is a big environmental problem. “It seems to me that its time to have a frank discussion between the agricultural community and the regulatory community about certain practices that have long been viewed as normal,” he said. “We cannot winter-spread manure.” He suggested that alternatives be developed, such as providing a regional manure digester for farmers to use in winter. “I would certainly hope that the high profile of this raises the eyebrows of my administrators and also of the legislative community,” Welke said. State agriculture officials scheduled hearings in six cities this month—starting with a hearing in Jefferson March 14—on proposed rules implementing a new law on expansion of livestock farms and management of manure. The proposed rules would affect farms with 500 or more “animal units,” or about 350 or more milk cows or the equivalent. The rules “will provide producers with greater predictability when they’re making decisions about modernizing dairy operations,” said Rod Nilsestuen, state agriculture secretary. “The livestock siting law strikes a balance between growing animal agriculture, protecting the environment, and respecting local decision-making,” he said. — WLJ

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Monday, March 7,2005

Meat case trends shifting

by WLJ
A nationwide study of the retail meat case last year revealed rising demand for processed meat, natural products, protein variety, case-ready meats, and on-package information, according to the groups involved with the survey. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Board (NPB), and food packaging supplier Cryovac Food Packaging conducted the 2004 National Meat Case Study (NMCS), which found that despite an increase in retail meat prices, consumer demand for meat remained strong. However, there were some noteworthy shifts in meat purchases, according to the study’s findings. Part of the study evaluated the size and composition of the self-serve fresh meat case in which beef, pork, and chicken were prominently displayed. According to the study results, these three core meat types represented 90 percent of the fresh meat and poultry linear feet and 91 percent of all packages. The study’s findings included an increase in case ready packaging of fresh meat products, a growing trend in boneless products, and evidence of increasing opportunities in consumer communication in the meat case. The research also showed, to varying degrees, that allocation of the meat case space is shifting, with fresh meat and poultry’s share of linear feet decreasing six percent since 2002. The big gainers from this shift included processed meats, particularly sausage, ham, and heat-and-serve products, which all up two percentage points. Ready-to-cook, value-added products and self-serve seafood were all up one percent. “We are very pleased to be a part of this coalition, along with the National Pork Board and Cryovac, to take a close look at key trends in meat cases across the country,” Randy Irion, director of retail marketing at NCBA, said. “The study’s findings are one way for us to gain a better understanding of what consumers want, and also work with the industry to meet those needs and ultimately help increase meat case sales.” The study also took a look at boneless products, the leader in share of packages sold in meat cases. According to the study, boneless packages represented 57 percent of packages displayed in the meat case. Also of note, natural and enhanced products had equal share in the meat case, with 22 percent of all packages carrying a “natural” claim and 21 percent of products being enhanced. “To a great extent, the NMCS 2004 results indicated strong consumer demand for variety in protein selection, a simplified shopping experience and quick and easy meal options from their meat departments,” the release said. “Specifically, the 2004 audits attested to a continuing opportunity for retailers to use point of purchase materials in order to communicate with consumers more effectively and sell more products in the meat case. The percent of packages with nutrition labeling, for example, increased by 10 percent in 2004 to 44 percent. Conversely, cooking information on-package decreased by three percentage points.” Karen Boillot, NPB director of retail marketing, said, “The NMCS’ 2004 findings clearly indicate that consumer communication can play a key role in meat case merchandising. The study supports our belief that efforts such as nutritional labeling and on-pack cooking information or recipes can help consumers make educated purchasing decisions in the meat case.” The study also showed a strong shift from in-store packaging of fresh meat products to packages prepared off-site, or “case ready” packages “ a convenient option for retailers. In 2004, case-ready represented 60 percent of self-serve meat case packages, which is an increase of 11 percent since 2002. “The merchandising changes seen in this study are only the beginning of more long-term trends that will continue to be observed in future studies,” Jerry Kelly, national coordinator of Cryovac’s retail task force, said “The meat case must continue to evolve to meet the growing demands consumer place on one of the most popular grocery store destinations “the meat case.” The NMCS 2004 was benchmarked against the same study conducted in 2002 to help provide further insights into emerging trends on a national basis. Texas Tech University conducted a majority of the in-store audits, and Lee and Co. analyzed the data. The study looked at 104 retailer stores in 43 key metropolitan markets across 29 states. — WLJ

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Monday, March 7,2005

Meat exports to increase

by WLJ
U.S. meat exports will increase markedly during the next 10 years, according to an article on cattlenetwork.com. The increase in U.S. meat exports will help the beef and chicken industries recover from disease-related market losses. Improved global economic growth and rising demand for meats will contribute to the gains in U.S. exports. The gradual recovery in beef exports to markets such as Japan and South Korea is also critical to the projections. The predictions assume that Brazil and Argentina will not be recognized as free of hoof-and-mouth disease (HMD) by key meat-importing countries, such as Japan, the cattlenetwork.com article said. U.S. beef exports primarily reflect demand for high-quality fed beef, with most U.S. beef exports typically going to markets in the Pacific Rim. With the loss of those markets following a bovine spongiform encephalopathy case in the United States in late-December 2003, U.S. beef exports were sharply lower in 2004. However, U.S. beef exports are projected to rise slowly as the October 2004 beef trade framework agreement between the United States and Japan facilitates the resumption of beef trade between the two countries, the article said. U.S. imports of processing beef from Australia and New Zealand are expected to decline as more, lower quality beef comes from domestic sources with the rebuilding of the U.S. cattle herd. The United States is now a net beef importer on a volume basis. U.S. pork exports will benefit somewhat from reduced beef exports as import demand shifts among competing meats. Pacific Rim nations and Mexico remain key markets for long-term growth of U.S. pork exports, cattlenetwork.com said. Canada continues to be a strong competitor in these markets. Brazil also is a major pork exporter. However, without nationwide HMD-free status, Brazil focuses its pork exports on Russia, Argentina, and Asian markets other than Japan and South Korea. U.S. broiler export growth is expected to slow from the rate of the 1990s, the article said. U.S. poultry producers will face strong competition from other major broiler exporting countries, particularly Brazil. — WLJ

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