BEEF bits

May 8, 2009
by WLJ


BEEF bits


Tyson posts quarterly earnings

Tyson Foods posted a second quarter loss of $104 million or 24 cents per share last week. According to Leland Tollett, interim president and CEO of the company, “Our Beef, Pork and Prepared Foods segments generated financial returns at or near normalized ranges in the second quarter, excluding one-time charges in Prepared Foods.” He said that second quarter net earnings per share were negative 28 cents, although beef margins were calculated at $28 million for the three month period. The company ended the quarter with $1.1 billion in cash on hand.

USDA gives $50 million for organics

USDA Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced last week that the agency would use funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to provide $50 million in resources to encourage producers to increase organic production. “Assisting organic producers is a priority of the 2008 Farm Bill as well as for Secretary Vilsack and the Obama administration,” said Merrigan. “The objective of this initiative is to make organic food producers eligible to compete for EQIP financial assistance.”

The 2009 Organic Initiative is a nationwide special initiative to provide financial assistance to National Organic Program certified organic producers as well as producers in the process of transitioning to organic production. Organic producers may also apply for assistance under general EQIP.

U.S. enters Hallmark/Westland suit

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on May 1 that it would seek compensation from the shuttered Hallmark/Westland Co. for the events which led to the largest recall of beef products in U.S. history in 2008. The government will intervene in a lawsuit initially filed by the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) to recover $150 million in taxpayer funds paid to the company over a five-year period, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The suit alleges that the company fraudulently represented that all cattle slaughtered at the facility were humanely handled and that no meat from nonambulatory animals entered the food supply.

FDA issues final feed ban regs

The Food and Drug Administration said two weeks ago that it has issued the final guidance aimed at helping rendering firms to comply with a new rule that prohibits high-risk cattle materials from being processed into feeds for any animal. The rule was published in the Federal Register on April 25, 2008, and became effective April 27, 2009. Titled “Small Entities Compliance Guide for Renderers—Substances Prohibited from use in Animal Food or Feed,” the final guidance also aims to help slaughter facilities understand their obligations under the rule.

USDA issues sanitation directive

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued Directive 6401.1, which instructs off-line inspection program personnel (IPP) about how to verify that cattle slaughter operations are focusing on sanitary dressing and process control procedures and that those procedures are under control. In addition, this directive provides information describing how off-line IPP are to verify that establishments have validated their HACCP systems. The directive expresses an expectation that such validation addresses the impact of the sanitary dressing and process control procedures that include the decontamination and antimicrobial intervention treatments, as well as the feedback on microbial test results from trim and ground beef sampling that the slaughter establishment receives from subsequent raw beef processing operations. This directive will be implemented beginning June 1.

Checkoff provides beef month boost

Domestically, consumers have changed their buying habits. Nearly 60 percent of consumers are trying to manage their food costs. Retail beef sales are up. Foodservice sales are down, as consumers eat at home more often. Retail beef sales are up four percent through April compared to the same time a year ago. Among the promotions helping to drive beef sales, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and the Beef Checkoff Program have kicked off grilling season early, moving up promotional plans to early May. Various grilling promotions will run throughout the summer into late September. Among a wide variety of promotional efforts, CBB has also been working with consumer product companies to provide consumers with $1- to $3-off coupons for beef. Last year, 10 million coupons were circulated. This year that number will exceed 60 million.