Protection for California rangelands
The California Rangeland Trust has partnered with Panorama Meats, Inc. of Vina, CA, to support the long-term conservation of California’s rangelands. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of all Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Beef sold in California will be contributed to the California Rangeland Trust to assist ongoing work to place conservation easements on working cattle ranches. These easements permanently restrict the land to agricultural and open space uses. California Rangeland Trust holds conservation easements on over 186,000 acres of rangeland on 30 ranches. Panorama Organic Grass- Fed Beef is produced by a group of family ranchers who raise cattle on natural grasses, legumes and range forage, and employ pasture-rotation and landmanagement practices that promote animal health and protect delicate rangeland ecosystems. Their ranching and animal-handling practices are verified through regular third-party audits by Western Ranchers Beef Cooperative.
CWT retires 101,000 cows
Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has finished the farm audits of its seventh herd retirement round since the program was started in 2003. At the completion of the on-farm auditing process at the end of June, CWT removed 367 herds in 41 states, comprised of nearly 101,000 cows that produced 1.96 million pounds of milk. CWT received 538 bids from 41 states during the bidding process in April. As has been the case with its previous herd retirement rounds, most of the cows removed were in the western regions of the country. This round also removed 818 bred heifers. Jim Tillison (chief operating officer of CWT) said in reported comments: “Even though this was by far the largest of CWT’s seven herd retirement efforts, we were able to move quickly in May and June to audit the participating farms ... The national dairy herd will be noticeably smaller this summer as a result of CWT.” He said additional CWT herd reduction activities are likely in 2009, given the depressed state of milk prices and the continuing imbalance between supply and demand.
R-CALF: COOL complaints baseless
R-CALF USA has filed formal comments with the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to emphasize that the group believes it is fundamentally contrary to the U.S. Constitution for USTR to agree that foreign governments—specifically Canada and Mexico—have any standing whatsoever to bring a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law. R-CALF claims that because COOL does not impose duties or restrictions on imported product, the law is not subject to trade violations. Furthermore, R-CALF explained that because foreign producers are not obligated to export product to the U.S., they voluntarily subject themselves to U.S. trade laws. In addition, COOL jurisdiction is exclusively limited to U.S. retailers, as defined exclusively by U.S. law, and subjects all covered commodities marketed by U.S. retailers to identical information requirements, regardless of where the commodities originate.
Strategic planning helps SD checkoff
The South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) Board of Directors recently met for an intense day of strategic planning. The strategic planning session helps state beef councils develop a guide for effective and efficient beef checkoff spending and provides parameters for beef checkoff decisions. Through the planning process the council identified beef industry threats and opportunities that can be addressed with beef checkoff dollars. Following the strategic planning session, the SDBIC held its quarterly meeting, reviewing current beef checkoff projects and funding two new promotions.
Food prices trending down
Retail food prices at the supermarket decreased slightly for the third consecutive quarter, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare a meal was $46.29, down about 2 percent or $1.12 from the first quarter of 2009. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased, five increased and one remained the same in average price compared to the prior quarter. Overall, the average price for the marketbasket of foods declined $3.10 or about 6 percent over a year’s time. Retail egg prices dropped 26 percent, milk decreased 22 percent, chicken declined 19 percent and bacon was 11 percent lower compared to a year ago.
House blocks funding for NBAF
An appropriations bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 24 stripped $36 million sought by the Department of Homeland Security for the first phase of construction of a National Bio and Agro Defense Facility on the mainland. The facility, to be constructed in Manhattan, KS, is intended to replace the Plum Island Disease Center off the coast of New York State.