BEEF bits

Oct 30, 2009
by WLJ



Taiwan lifts ban on bone-in beef

Taiwanese officials said last week that the country will lift the current ban on bone-in beef from U.S. sources. The restriction, currently in place in many Asian countries, has significantly limited the amount of product eligible for shipment to the lucrative market. As part of the agreement, only beef from cattle under 30 months of age will be eligible for sale to buyers in Taiwan, leaving one last hurdle in place before full beef trade is restored with the nation. There are hopes that this step could lead other Asian nations to relax their ban on bone-in beef from the U.S.

MSGA officials meet with governor

On Thursday, Oct. 22, Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) President Tom Hougen and First Vice President Watty Taylor met with Gov. Brian Schweitzer in an attempt to reopen a constructive dialogue between the two parties. “We are celebrating our 125th year and the MSGA board, officers and staff felt that it was time to extend the olive branch and try to move forward,” Hougen said. “The issues that Montana ranchers face are too critical for the largest cattle organization in the state and the governor to not have a dialogue to figure out how we can better the profitability of Montana ranchers.” Hougen also extended an invitation to the governor to speak at MSGA’s upcoming annual convention Dec. 10-12 in Billings, MT. Although Schweitzer did not commit to speaking at MSGA’s convention, he was cordial and said he would check his calendar.

Failure to register premises nets fine

A western Wisconsin farmer is the first person convicted of violating a law requiring owners to register their livestock with state officials. Patrick Monchilovich of Cumberland was found guilty of violating the 2005 law and ordered to pay nearly $400 in fines and costs. The law requires owners to register property where livestock are held in a state database, including what species are on the premises. In the event of a disease outbreak, the database allows state animal health officials to more quickly find potentially exposed animals for testing and treatment.The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says Monchilovich repeatedly refused to register a property where he owns cattle.

Beef in cold storage declines

Stocks of beef in cold storage declined, according to USDA’s recent report on cold storage supplies of protein. Beef stocks, estimated at 434.1 million pounds, decreased 4.5 percent from September last year and were 6.8 percent lower than the five-year average. “End users are going into the holiday season with less inventory than usual, clearly a response to the much lower-than-expected cattle prices for Q4,” said Chicago Mercantile Exchange analysts Steve Meyer and Len Steiner. Pork supplies in cold storage as of Sept. 30 estimated at 531.9 million pounds, still are nearly 15 percent higher than the five-year average. They rose 1.1 percent over September 2008, marking the lowest year-on-year increase since May, which could help pave the way for future pork price increases.

Angus burger boosts McDonald’s sales

Crediting growth from new products such as the Angus Third Pounder, McDonald’s Corp. last week reported a 6 percent jump in profit for the third quarter. McDonald’s earned $1.26 billion, or $1.15 per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with $1.19 billion, or $1.05 per share, for the same period a year ago. Revenue dropped 3.5 percent to $6.05 billion. One bright spot was U.S. same-store sales, which rose 2.5 percent partly thanks to a strong performance by the new Angus burger. That offering debuted nationally this summer and the Oak Brook, IL-based chain marketed the sandwich aggressively through the early fall.

Australia expands imports

Australian officials have announced that they will begin allowing imports from countries which have experienced cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy on March 1, 2010. Previously, Australia had prohibited imports of products from those countries, which includes the U.S. The U.S. Meat Export Federation reports that some beef products are exported to Australia from the U.S., but they generally are processed items made with beef produced in other countries. The change in policy follows a report based on research done by an Australian epidemiologist that concluded that “the risk to human health from imported beef remains extremely low, provided the appropriate risk mitigation strategies are put in place,” the Australian Trade Minister’s office said in a release.