BEEF BITS

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Aug 29, 2005
by WLJ

Swift plant hikes wages
Employees at Hyrum-based meat packing plant, E.A. Miller, will soon see more money in their paychecks thanks to a recent announcement by the plant’s parent company to hike wages. Officials with Swift and Company announced Aug. 19 a 21-percent hike in starting wages, in an effort to restaff key areas following the reopening of the U.S.-Canada border to calves 30 months of age and younger. New employees will make $10 an hour, up from $8.25, while current employees will see up to a $1.75 hourly rate increase. Staffing levels at the Hyrum plant waned six percent since May 2003, when USDAS closed the border to Canadian cattle. The company employs nearly 1,200 people in Hyrum, and Swift spokeswoman Missy Lucas said the pay raises were unique to the plant.


Rancher’s Beef already selling beef
One of Canada’s newest packing companies has started processing beef and will start operating its own cattle processing facility early next year. Construction of the Ranchers’ Beef plant located just a few miles of Calgary is expected to be completed by next spring, said company president Tony Martinez. About 300 head of cattle younger than 30 months are currently being slaughtered daily at Sunterra Meats in Innisfail, Alberta, with the carcasses being trucked to a facility on the new plant site for processing. The plant is also prepared to handle custom kills for smaller groups interested in marketing their own brands. The plant has also achieved export licensing for shipping boneless cuts to the U.S. and Mexico. Being able to move into export markets helps sell cuts that have less value in Canada.


Cow tramples man to death
A 72-year-old ranch foreman near Christoval, TX, was trampled to death by a cow while he was feeding cattle the morning of Aug. 17. Eugene Barber suffered severe injuries to his chest, said Russell Smith, Tom Green County justice of the peace. “It’s not uncommon,” Smith said of the incident. “Once in a while you have a cow that is cantankerous.” The cow turned on Barber as he was feeding it, then it bowled him over, said ranch owner Mary Lee Butts, who witnessed the attack. Butts did not know what would happen to the cow.


Creekstone proposes expansion
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, Ark City, KS, recently announced plans to expand its ground beef operations, which could mean a second shift and 280 additional employees by next year. However, a few things have to fall into place first, officials said. “Most of this will be dependent on an international market, specifically Japan,” said Dean Hanish, Creekstone’s chief financial officer. He said that regardless of whether Japan reopens its borders to U.S. beef products, Creekstone will expand by adding more domestic beef products. But expansions for the domestic market would be done incrementally. The expansion is dependent upon a bond agreement between the company and city commission.


Aussie exports hit record value
The value of Australian beef and veal exports reached a record $4.88 billion for the 2004-05 financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That figure was 24 percent, or almost $1 billion, more than the value of exports in 2003-04 and 13 percent above the previous record set in 2001-02. The rise in value of beef exports in 2004-05 was due to a combination of both higher export volumes and prices, reflecting the exceptionally strong demand for Australian product in overseas markets. Approximately 91 percent of the value of Australia’s beef exports came from three destinations—Japan, 50 percent, the U.S., 30 percent and Korea, 11 percent. While the volume of Australia’s beef exports to the US was virtually unchanged in 2004-05, the value of exports had increased nine percent, to $1.45 billion.


HMD in Mongolia
Mongolian veterinary authorities imposed restrictions following a hoof-and-mouth disease (HMD) outbreak in cattle. The latest outbreak is in Bayantumen county, Dornod province, in the eastern part of the country. The incident involves a herd of 118 cattle, and the area around the outbreak has been quarantined. The veterinary authorities are carrying out a program of stamping out the diseased cattle and have imposed animal movement controls in the area. The authorities are also carrying out a program of disinfection and zoning to control the disease. Mongolia last reported an outbreak of the disease in February last year.


Flanders recalls ground beef
Flanders Provision Co., Inc., Waycross, GA, voluntarily recalled approximately 900,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 last week. The suspect product codes are 05052, 05053, 05055, 05060, 05062, 05066 and 05069. All of the products bear the establishment number “EST. 9145,” inside the USDA seal of inspection. The products were distributed to retail stores nationwide. The products were processed and produced by the company back in February. The product codes correspond with the day they were produced — for example, 05052 means the product was produced in the year 2005 on the fifty- second day of that year.


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