Russia increases beef quota allocation
The American Meat Institute (AMI) reported last week that Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development (MED) has announced the initial distribution of 2011 tariff-rate quotas (TRQ) quantities to importers, which includes an increase in the U.S. frozen beef quota allocation from 21,700 to 41,700 metric ton while making the equivalent reduction to “other countries.” The poultry TRQ has been reduced to 350,000 metric ton and narrowed in product scope, and will not have countryspecific allocations in 2011. Fresh beef, pork and pork trimming TRQ remain unchanged from 2010. MED will distribute the remaining TRQ quantities to importers by April 15, 2011. “AMI would like to thank Ambassador Siddiqui and the staff at the Office of the United States Representative for their efforts in negotiating this increased allocation, which represents more than an estimated $75 million in additional 2011 frozen beef exports,” said AMI President and CEO J.
Patrick Boyle. CFI committee hits membership milestone
The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) Animal Agriculture Committee has more than doubled its membership since its formation two years ago. The group, which had a roster of 18 members in 2008, ended 2010 with 50 organizations and companies working to build consumer trust and confidence in today’s food animal system. “2010 was a great year for the CFI Animal Agriculture Committee,” said Terry Fleck, CFI’s executive director. “The collective wisdom of this group is truly impressive and we look forward to another productive year in bolstering public trust.” The CFI Animal Agriculture Committee brings together a national network of well-informed and highly motivated individuals and organizations dedicated to helping build public understanding of the commitment today’s farmers have for the responsible production of meat, milk and eggs. “This group helps guide us as we develop programming to address issues impacting the food animal industry,” Fleck said.
AFBF session focuses on food safety
Significant changes in the U.S. food chain, including rising levels of food imports, security threats to the nation’s food supply, and over-demand for government services has placed strain on the ability to ensure food safety in the U.S., according to federal food safety officials who addressed American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) members at their annual meeting last week. Elizabeth Hagen, USDA’s under secretary for food safety, noted the importance of farmers and ranchers working with regulators to achieve food safety. Hagen said that prevention is at the core of food safety improvements. She supports focusing on traceability of foodborne illnesses and using feedback from producers to prevent future outbreaks. She said the Food Safety and Inspection Service should focus on using science-based policy to create rules and regulations for food safety. “We are not looking to expand our jurisdiction. We’re looking for ideas,” Hagen said. “We’re looking for people to come together. We’d like to pair our scientists with farmers to help them get the answers they’re looking for to see if efforts on food safety are worth (the farmers’) time and if it will make food safer.”
Ambassador optimistic FTA will be finalized
Han Duk-soo, Korea’s ambassador to the U.S., is optimistic that Congress will pass the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) when President Barack Obama submits it for ratification. Speaking at a town hall forum sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation addressing trade’s impact on the farm gate during the Ag Connect Expo, Han said the president is expected to submit the treaty for ratification soon. Once submitted, Congress has 60 days to ratify the agreement. Obama strongly backs the agreement and it has the support of all U.S. industry, including the automotive industry and the United Auto Workers, Han said. “My hope is that the agreement will be finalized by the end of June at the latest,” Han said. “I think it will get done.” The ambassador said all U.S. industries will benefit from passage of the U.S.-Korea FTA, but American agriculture has the most to gain. “That’s because America’s farmers and ranchers are the most productive, the most efficient, and the most profitable in the world,” he said. In a news conference following his talk, Han said the Korea-U.S. FTA delivers “100 percent benefits” to U.S. agriculture. “I see no downsides to U.S. agriculture,” he said.
USDA issues new “downer” regs
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has begun implementing Notice 74-10 regarding disposition of non-ambulatory cattle. The notice was announced Dec. 21. According to the notice, any cattle that are non-ambulatory when presented by the plant to the USDA veterinarian for ante-mortem inspection must be condemned and euthanized. If cattle temporarily lie down at the plant, but rise for ante-mortem inspection, they may be passed if the veterinarian finds them fit for consumption. The only exception is for veal calves that are non-ambulatory because they are cold or tired. Cold or tired calves may be set apart for treatment and, if subsequently deemed fit for consumption, they may be passed. The notice does not apply to calves that are less than 400 pounds.