BEEF bits

Nov 20, 2009
by WLJ



JBS 3Q profit plummets

JBS S.A. reported a steep decline in earnings in its third fiscal quarter, and separately said it was negotiating with an investor expected to commit $2.5 billion to the company’s U.S. division. The company said it will sell as much as 26.3 percent of its U.S. unit to improve its financial ratios before its plan to buy Brazilian rival Bertin can be completed. It would also help the company to complete the purchase of Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processor, which is currently working its way through bankruptcy proceedings. JBS reported Nov. 13 that its net earnings for the third quarter, ended Sept. 30, dropped 78 percent to $87.4 million compared with the year-earlier period, while revenue rose 8 percent to $4.8 billion compared with the third quarter in 2008, mostly due to the added sales from the acquisition of the beef unit of Smithfield Foods.

New packing plant in Arizona

There is a new beef plant slated to proceed in Willcox, AZ, after city officials there approved a zoning change which will allow the construction of the plant inside city limits. Tri-Western Meat Packing, the former owner of a plant in Tolleson, AZ, plans to renovate an old apple storage warehouse on the outskirts of the city to process an expected 100 head of cattle and 260 hogs daily, according to Arizona Range News. The plant is expected to provide 85 new jobs for the community located 80 miles east of Tucson, AZ. The plant is expected to begin operating within four or five months, according to the company’s plan.

Cargill fined for discharge

Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. has been fined $200,000 for violating clean water standards at its meat packing plant in Fort Morgan, CO, in 2003 and 2004. The company also entered an administrative agreement with the Enrivonmental Protection Agency that required corrective measures including mechanical upgrades to its water treatment operation and staff training. The mechanical upgrades have already occurred and the training has been ongoing. According to court documents, the Fort Morgan plant’s waste treatment system removes pollutants from about 1.5 million gallons of wastewater each working day before discharging into the South Platte River.

Foreign promotion spending flat

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last Wednesday that the agency had spent more than $234 million to promote U.S. food and agricultural products overseas in fiscal 2009 which ended Sept. 30—about the same amount as the past two years. More than 70 U.S. trade organizations received funding from USDA’s Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program, both of which are administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service agency. “Agricultural trade is absolutely crucial to the U.S. economy and providing this funding to U.S. organizations during these difficult economic times will help open new global markets for American food products,” Vilsack said in a news release. In fiscal 2008, USDA spent $234.5 million through those two programs. The beneficiaries included the U.S. Meat Export Federation ($17.2 million); USA Poultry and Egg Export Council ($7.1 million); National Renderers Association ($1.9 million); and the American Sheep Industry Association ($519,866). In fiscal 2007, expenditures also were $234.5 million.

Japan to inspect plants for export

Japan’s agriculture and health ministries said last week that it will send officials to complete inspections of nine U.S. beef processing plants, including two facilities that have exported banned cattle parts to Japan, according to the Japanese news service Jiji Press. The two previously banned plants include Creekstone Farms’ plant in Arkansas City, KS, and the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Lexington, NE, both of which had been banned from shipping products to Japan after prohibited materials were found in prior shipments. The inspections could pave the way for both plants to resume exports to the country if inspectors are satisfied with their visit. Currently, Japan limits exports of U.S. beef to boneless product derived from cattle 20 months of age or younger.

Ranchers reaching out to consumers

Individual livestock producers are standing up for their businesses by telling positive stories about food production. Ranchers, feeders and dairymen are writing letters to the editor, placing ads in newspapers, and circulating e-mails as part of the “Thank a farmer and rancher” campaign organized by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the beef checkoff. Livestock producers who have yet to get involved in the campaign are encouraged to choose one of the suggested methods to deliver the truth about animal care and environmental practices. Sample letters are available at for producers wishing to participate. Misinformation about the livestock industry is driving ballot initiatives, legislative proposals, and public opinion. NCBA organized the “Thank a farmer and rancher” effort to engage producers, who are seen as highly credible by consumers, in presenting an accurate picture of animal agriculture.