BEEF bits

Jan 15, 2010
by WLJ
USDA halts change to Korea status

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has delayed indefinitely implementing a final rule adding the Republic of Korea to the list of regions that are considered free of rinderpest and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). An outbreak of FMD was reported by the Republic of Korea on Jan. 6, 2010. As such, the country is no longer considered to be free of FMD. The final rule was published on Dec. 28, 2009, and was due to become effective Jan. 12, 2010. The delay in implementation will allow APHIS to consider the issues raised by the disease outbreak and to decide what subsequent actions to take. This action is scheduled to be published in the Jan. 13 Federal Register.

GIPSA director to address R-CALF

In preparation for R-CALF’s annual convention in Rapid City, SD, the group has announced that the meeting’s keynote speaker will be J. Dudley Butler, administrator of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), the agency charged with the enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 which was established to protect independent cattle producers from the unfair and deceptive practices of the concentrated packing industry. The group recently presented USDA and the U.S. Justice Department with a 53-page report on how R-CALF believes concentration in agricultural markets is hampering prices and competition and subsequently holding down the prices paid for commodities.

NCBA denounces Taiwan restrictions

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) last week expressed its extreme disappointment with Taiwan’s decision to reverse its decision on a carefully negotiated science-based bilateral beef trade protocol. Despite an agreement to allow a full reopening of the Taiwan market to U.S. beef, lawmakers in Taiwan recently announced that additional restrictions would be placed on U.S. beef imports due to alleged safety concerns. After two years of negotiations, the U.S. and Taiwan reached an agreement, finalized in October, which would have brought Taiwan into compliance with science-based World Organization for Animal Health guidelines, thus allowing imports of U.S. beef and beef products from cattle of all ages. NCBA is urging the Obama administration to explore every available option to rectify this situation as soon as possible.

Seminar to focus on consumers

Those who attend Pfizer Cattlemen’s College as part of the 2010 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show Jan. 27-31 can take in sessions that range from production to consumer demand. “We want to keep people’s focus on the fact that, at the end of the day, our industry thrives or declines based on how much beef people eat,” says Tom Field, director of producer education for NCBA. The organization has partnered with Certified Angus Beef LLC to bring some endproduct and consumer-related sessions to the program.

National Beef posts Q1 profit

National Beef Packing Co. said last week that the company posted a $41.3 million profit in its first quarter of fiscal 2010, compared with a net loss of $2.8 million in the prior comparable period. The Kansas City, MO-based beef packer said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the $43.9 million turnaround stemmed primarily from a 10.5 percent decrease in live cattle prices during the quarter ended Nov. 28, 2009. The drop in live cattle prices helped National Beef offset a reduction in net sales (to $1.34 billion from $1.43 billion) caused primarily by a 2.6 percent drop in average sales prices per head. A 2.7 percent decrease in the average volume of cattle processed also factored into the sales decrease. “The demand for beef products during this quarter was not as strong as compared to the same quarter of last year,” the company said in its filing.

McDonald’s will study beef cattle emissions

The British arm of McDonald’s has announced it will launch a study in Ireland and the U.K. to examine the levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions created by beef cattle. The on-farm GHG calculator being tested was developed by The Eco2 Project, a rural consultancy and energy auditing company, and accredited by The Carbon Trust, a U.K. government body. The company said that 350 farms in the two countries will be visited as part of the study between now and April of this year to help them curb their GHG emissions through “natural farming practices and supply chain efficiencies.” No plans are underway for similar programs in the U.S. or elsewhere, the company stated.