BEEF bits

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Jan 30, 2009
by WLJ

BEEF bits

JBS, Dept. of Justice talks ongoing

JBS S.A. officials were scheduled to appear Jan. 29 in U.S. District Court in Chicago for a hearing on proceedings in a Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit that seeks to block the company from acquiring National Beef Packing Co. Media coverage of the previous hearing held Jan. 16 quoted DOJ attorneys as saying they hadn’t received from JBS information regarding a settlement, but a spokesman for JBS said the two sides continue to negotiate. “The only thing I can tell you is we’re still talking to DOJ,” JBS spokesman Chandler Keys said. “At some point in time, it could be the (Jan.) 29th, next month or tomorrow, the discussions will stop and offers will be exchanged. We haven’t gotten to that point yet. The conversations between DOJ and [JBS] are ongoing.” The feds have suggested that JBS divest plants in certain geographic regions to enhance industry competition. Keys declined to comment on what JBS plans to do.

Record December red meat production

Total red meat and pork production were record high in December while commercial red meat production was up 3 percent for all of 2008, USDA said in its latest Livestock Slaughter report. December commercial red meat production totaled 4.16 billion pounds, up 3 percent from December 2007, USDA said. For the year, red meat production was 50.23 billion pounds, also up 3 percent. Beef production was 2 billion pounds in December, up 1 percent from a year earlier, and totaled 26.57 billion pounds for all of 2008, also up 1 percent from 2007. Commercial cattle slaughter was 2,671,300 head in December, up 1 percent from the previous year, while total 2008 slaughter was 34,369,500 head, about even with 2007.

UK to develop field test for FMD

Biotech company Stratophase is to take the lead in a consortium formed to develop a field test for foot and mouth disease (FMD). The United Kingdom (UK) government-sponsored Technology Strategy Board will co-fund the $1 million development of the system which will enable inspectors, and ultimately vets or farmers, to identify the infection on the spot, reducing both false alarms and containment time. Dr Richard Williams, CEO of Stratophase, said: “The Technology Strategy Board investment will enable us to develop a practical solution much faster than would otherwise have been feasible.

This technology could be mass-produced fairly inexpensively; every livestock owner could have one. This funding is another great endorsement of our unique biochemical measurement and detection technique.”

Michael Jordan Signature Steaks

For millions of Americans, the name Michael Jordan conjures up images of arguably the greatest professional basketball player ever to play the game. But what many may not know is that Jordan is also a successful businessman off the court. There are currently five restaurants in the Michael Jordan Restaurant Group, and he also oversees Chicago-based Michael Jordan Signature Steaks, an e-commerce business at www.michaeljordansteaks.com. Michael Jordan Signature Steaks offers approximately 30 different cuts. “Initially, we started with just a Prime line,” said Benjamin Davis, the business’ administrator. “Although it was successful, we also wanted to expand that business because of the higher costs associated with offering only Prime beef.” As a result, the company now offers Certified Angus Beef and some less expensive new cuts such as the Flat Iron Steak.

Online beef quality course

Texas cattlemen can now become certified Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) producers by simply logging on to www.bqaonline.com and completing an interactive online training course. Part of the Texas Beef Quality Producer program, the free online training allows producers to learn BQA practices at their convenience. The online course, produced by Texas AgriLife Extension in partnership with the Texas Beef Council and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, is interactive and user-friendly. After logging on to the Web site, each producer will register and log-in to begin the course.

There are five modules which consist of explaining the overall BQA program as well as critical subjects such as food safety, quality and consistency, the environment and biosecurity. For more information on beef quality efforts and other checkoff-funded programs, please visit www.texasbeef.org or call 800/846.4113.

Nebraska Beef cuts jobs, production

Nebraska Beef Ltd. has said that reductions in staff at its Omaha, NE-based plant are part of preparations for an installation of new food safety equipment, not a symptom of the economic downturn. James Timmerman, the company’s vice president of administration, said that over the next several weeks, Nebraska Beef will implement an entirely new food safety process involving ozination and probiotic technologies that aim to reduce microbials. The new equipment represents the company’s “evolving food safety system,” he said. To accommodate the installation, Nebraska Beef is reducing chill cooler capacity by 25 percent in order to free up space.

This has resulted in a temporary 25 percent reduction in production, to about 1,700 head of cattle per day from roughly 2,100 head per day, and some reductions in staff. Timmerman didn’t say how many people have been let go.

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