BEEF bits

Jun 4, 2010
by WLJ



Brazil stops shipments to U.S.

Brazil has halted shipments of beef to the U.S. over concerns about pesticide residue in some cooked beef products. Trade is expected to be interrupted for a week or more until Brazilian inspectors are able to meet with U.S. officials to determine what testing protocol is being used to detect the residues. The ban was put in place after Brazilian plants owned by JBS shipped cooked product to the U.S. which contained greater than acceptable levels of ivermectin. Nelmon Costa, director at the agriculture ministry’s department for the inspection of animal-derived products, said the ministry requested details on tests used on that beef but a methodology provided by the U.S. lacked key details. In 2009, Brazilian exports of processed beef to the U.S. summed $223 million, roughly 5 percent of the more than $4 billion worth of beef shipped from the world’s top beef producer to importers around the globe. Russia also announced that it would ban beef imports from three JBS plants in Brazil last week after inspectors visited on an inspection tour recently.

Study suggests growth in ag jobs

A new study suggests good news for college graduates with agricultural degrees. The study predicts about 54,000 agriculture-related jobs will be created in the U.S. every year between now and 2015. That includes areas such as food, renewable energy and the environment. The study was conducted by Purdue University and USDA. It says the job growth is driven in part by increased food demand in other countries. Mike Compton, with the agriculture school at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, says enrollment there has increased more than 70 percent in the past 10 years, but more students are still needed.

China will become net importer soon

China is likely to be a net importer of beef as early as this year due to increasing demand and a shortfall in local supply, Rabobank International said last week. A long maturation period of two to three years for beef cattle will leave local production at inadequate levels for at least another three years, during which local demand can only be met by imports, Pan Chenjun, a senior analyst with Rabobank, told a media roundtable. China has been a net exporter of beef since 2004 when the country banned imports from the U.S. due to bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Annual net exports have been between 10,000 and almost 60,000 metric tons. In the first four months of this year, however, net exports of beef came to only 1,286 tons, according to customs data. Demand is likely to increase to 7.4 million tons in 2015, up 23 percent from 6 million tons in 2008, due to improving living standards, Pan said. Meanwhile, the country is likely to import more feed grain rather than importing pork to meet local demand, she said, citing a shortage of land for grain production.

Restaurant outlook remains positive

The outlook for the restaurant industry remained positive in April as the National Restaurant Association’s comprehensive index of restaurant activity stood above 100 for the second consecutive month. The association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) was essentially unchanged from its previous month’s level; the RPI stood at 100.4 in April, down slightly from its March level of 100.5. RPI levels above 100 indicate expansion of key industry indicators. The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor, and capital expenditures), stood at 99.0 in April—unchanged from its March level. Thirty-nine percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between April 2009 and April 2010, down from 43 percent of operators who reported higher sales in March. In comparison, 41 percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in April, up from 36 percent of operators who reported negative sales in March.

BQA nominations sought

Applications for the third annual National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards are now being accepted. The National BQA Award will recognize one beef producer and one dairy producer who best demonstrate animal care and handling principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their respective operations. A common trait among all contest entrants must be a strong desire to continually improve BQA on their operations while encouraging others to implement the producer education program. The National BQA Award is funded by Safeway’s Rancher’s Reserve brand and Cargill, and supported by the Beef Checkoff Program. The program promotes beef quality assurance in all segments of the industry, including commercial cow/calf, seedstock, stocker operators, feedlots and dairy operations. Two National BQA Award winners will be selected by a committee of representatives from universities, state beef councils and affiliated groups. Applications are due Aug. 1.