Animal activist nominated to post
The Senate voted 57-40 two weeks ago to confirm Cass Sunstein as the new administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). As OIRA administrator, Sunstein will review and approve or reject all regulations promulgated by the Obama administration, thus giving him great power to influence these regulations. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) expressed grave concerns about the nomination. “While we have no doubt that Mr. Sunstein is otherwise qualified for this job, NCBA remains concerned about Mr. Sunstein’s long history of academic work in animal rights and anti-livestock advocacy, including a book in which he asserted that animals should have the right to bring suits against humans, with humans as their legal representatives,” NCBA said in a statement.
CCA reps visit Washington, D.C.
Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) officers and members were in Washington, D.C., last week visiting a variety of agencies and Colorado’s congressional delegation. The CCA group will discuss numerous topics with members of Congress and USDA officials. Topics of great importance to beef producers in Colorado include a more permanent solution to the death tax, national animal ID, and grazing on federal lands. CCA, along with the California Cattlemen’s Association, has been working diligently to get legislation introduced regarding an estate tax exemption bill directed toward agriculture. While in D.C., CCA representatives also had the opportunity to listen to USDA discuss climate change, animal ID, tuberculosis, and brucellosis.
Brazilian firm acquires Cargill assets
Brazilian packing company Marfrig Alimentos S.A. said last week that it will acquire Cargill Inc.’s Brazilian pork, poultry and prepared products business for $706.2 million in cash. Marfrig’s acquisition of Seara Alimentos Ltda. will add $1.7 billion in annual sales. It includes associated companies located in Europe and Asia, including the brand Seara in Brazil and overseas, 12 plants in the value-added processed and prepared poultry and pork products segment, and one port terminal.
Red meat exports lagging
U.S. pork and beef exports through July are down amid the global economic downturn and lingering effects from the H1N1 flu outbreak, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) said. Pork exports of 1.08 million metric tons valued at $2.53 billion were down 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively, from the same period a year ago. However, they are 53 percent and 48 percent higher in volume and value, respectively, than in January-July 2007, USMEF said. Beef exports of 512,053 metric tons valued at $1.94 billion were 6 percent lower than last year’s volume and reflected a 10 percent drop in value, primarily due to lagging global demand for beef variety meat. Beef muscle cut exports of 338,217 metric tons slightly exceeded last year’s volume and trailed in value by 2 percent.
USDA raises production expectations
Higher pork and broiler production resulting from higher third-quarter slaughter in both segments more than offset lower beef production, prompting USDA to raise estimates for total U.S. meat production in 2009 in its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. Lower expected cow slaughter lowered the 2009 commercial beef production forecast to 25.82 billion pounds from 25.88 billion predicted last month. For 2010, estimates were raised to 25.34 billion pounds from 25.14 billion on higher feedlot placements in late 2009. Beef exports were raised to 1.73 billion pounds from 1.72 billion predicted last month, while the 2010 estimate was unchanged at 1.85 billion pounds.
USDA seeks input on “Natural”
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said last week that it will open the comment period once again for input on the use of the label term “Natural” for use on meat and poultry products. USDA hopes to clarify and resolve issues surrounding the “natural” claim, including how best to coordinate FSIS’ regulation of “natural” claims with the Agricultural Marketing Service’s voluntary “naturally raised” marketing claim standard. The current FSIS policy states that the term “natural” may be used in the labeling of meat and poultry products provided that the product does not contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredients, chemical preservative, or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient, and the product is not more than minimally processed.