BEEF bits

Dec 24, 2009
by WLJ



Breakthrough in E. coli battle

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) said last week that its scientists have developed two vaccines which they believe might help fight the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 in cattle intestines. “Preventing E. coli O157:H7 from proliferating inside cattle helps limit contamination of meat at the packinghouse and reduces shedding of the microbe into the animals’ manure,” ARS said in a statement. Preliminary tests involved immunizing 3-month-old Holstein calves with a placebo or either form of the vaccine. Six weeks later, the animals received a dose of E. coli O157:H7 and for the next 18 days, their manure was tested for evidence of the microbe. Calves that received either vaccine had reduced or non-detectable levels of E. coli in their manure “within only a few days after being inoculated with the bacteria,” the scientists found.

National Beef postpones IPO

National Beef Inc. said that it would indefinitely postpone its initial public offering (IPO) of stock last week as a result of the soft market environment in New York. “Today, National Beef postponed its planned initial public offering due to current weakness in the IPO market,” a spokesman said after the announcement. The company had said it expected to launch the IPO with a target price of $15-17 per share, however, there were some analysts who said the valuation was unrealistic in the current market after other companies have had to lower expectations and prices in order to sell stock IPOs. National Beef had been planning to raise $276 million as a result of the sale at the target price.

Texans gather for BQA training

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association recently partnered with the Texas Beef Checkoff to bring cattle producers from across the state to participate in a Beef 706 course held at Texas A&M University. The checkoff-funded program is presented in cooperation with Texas Agri-Life Extension and is part of the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) effort in Texas. Producers went through a two-day hands-on learning experience on beef quality covering topics such as beef carcass quality and yield grading, genetic selection tools, factors impacting marbling, cattle grid buying and much more. The program offers live animal evaluation followed by carcass fabrication, giving producers a first-hand look at the processing segment of the beef industry.

Recession not slowing organic trend

A study released last week by market research company Mintel showed that despite tight consumer budgets, they are not skimping on organic food purchases. Of those surveyed, 40 percent said they aren’t changing their habit of buying organic foods and only 3 percent said they have stopped organic purchases entirely. “Heavy users of natural and organic food and drink are most likely to indicate they’ve traded down to less expensive organic options,” said David Browne, senior analyst at Mintel, in a news release. “However, less-frequent consumers of organic products … haven’t shifted their behavior.”

NCBA stands behind shipping rule

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) submitted comments last week in support of USDA’s plan to allow the interstate shipping of certain meat and poultry products from stateinspected facilities. Currently, meat processors operating under cooperative state inspection programs are prohibited from selling their products out of state. NCBA officials said they are seeking clarification of guidelines for establishments in states which potentially become ineligible to participate. The proposed rule states that once an establishment applies to participate, it would have to transition and become federally inspected if it were ever deselected from the program. It’s unclear what would happen to establishments participating in the voluntary program in the event its respective state was to become ineligible to participate.

U.S. beef makes progress in Korea

According to U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) CEO Phil Seng, the improvement in the South Korean economy and USMEF’s marketing efforts have increased U.S. beef’s share in the lucrative market. Seng noted that U.S. beef has gained a 25 percent share of all beef imported by South Korea. Meanwhile, Australia’s share has fallen to 58 percent from a peak of 79 percent in 2006, and New Zealand’s share has decreased to 15 percent from a high point of 24 percent in 2005. “We are making inroads in that market,” Seng said. “It’s not as fast as producers and exporters would like, but I can tell you that from our competition’s standpoint, they are acknowledging and recognizing the fact that we’re very much in that market and increasing at a dramatic rate.”