BEEF bits

Jan 21, 2011
by WLJ

South Korea struggles with FMD outbreak

South Korea has announced it will move ahead with a plan to vaccinate all livestock in the country against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which has ravaged the nation’s agriculture industry. FMD has spread across the country despite more concerted quarantine measures, South Korea’s Yonhap newspaper reported. “The use of vaccines in areas that have not reported FMD cases have been authorized as an aim to control the disease and limit the number of animals that have to be culled,” the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said after an emergency meeting chaired by President Myung-Bak Lee. Efforts are underway to acquire more animal vaccines and to administer them as quickly as possible to livestock, the government said. The government said it planned to import 11 million doses of vaccines from Britain, but more will be needed to meet demand. There are 3.4 million head of cattle and around 10 million pigs in the country, along with a large number of goats and deer.

USDA raises production estimates

USDA reported more red meat and poultry production in 2010 than previously expected and forecast more beef and broiler production in 2011, but less pork. In its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, USDA said the increase in beef production reflected large placements of cattle during the fourth quarter of 2010, which will be ready for slaughter during mid-2011. The forecast for beef exports for both 2010 and 2011 was unchanged from last month but the forecast of beef imports was lowered as a weak U.S. dollar and tight supplies in several exporting countries limit shipments. USDA raised its average cattle (steers, total all grades) price forecast for 2011 to a range of $99 to $106 per hundredweight from last month’s range of $96 to $104 to reflect continued strong demand for cattle and tightening supplies of fed cattle.

Cargill earnings sharply higher

Cargill recently reported a profit of $1.49 billion in its fiscal second quarter ended Nov. 30, tripling net earnings of $489 million the year-ago period, on strong performances across its five business segments. The figure includes earnings from the company’s majority investment in The Mosaic Company. Excluding those, Cargill netted $832 million, nearly double earnings in the same period a year ago. In the first six months of fiscal 2011, Cargill earned $2.37 billion, more than double the income of $1.01 billion in the same period last year. Excluding Mosaic, first-half earnings were $1.53 billion, a 74 percent jump from $878 million a year ago. Sales in the second quarter rose 16 percent to $31.1 billion, raising the first-half total to $58.9 billion.

New weapon in fight against

E. coli There is a new tool which will help producers and packers alike in the battle against E. coli 0157:H7. A new drug being marketed by Pfizer will help to lower the prevalence of E. coli in cattle intestines. The vaccine, which was conditionally approved by USDA in 2009, is currently available only to veterinarians. According to Pfizer, the vaccine is intended to reduce prevalence of the E. coli O157:H7 carrier states as well as the amount of E. coli shed in feces. Initial vaccination requires three doses, and cattle must be revaccinated each year, according to the manufacturer. The vaccine is reported to cost $5 to $10 per dose. Cargill reportedly tested the vaccine on 85,000 cattle last year and is planning a second round of tests this year. Attention to pre-harvest interventions to reduce the prevalence of E. coli has long been a focus of the industry, however, costs, and who will pay them, remains a contentious issue.

USDA issues organic guidelines

USDA has issued draft guidelines for the labeling and composition of foods made with organic ingredients. According to the guidance, products in the “made with organic (specified ingredients or food groups)” labeling category must contain at least 70 percent certified organic agricultural products. The remaining 30 percent may include agricultural ingredients that are conventionally produced. The ingredients may not be produced using excluded methods such as those involving genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation. However, they may be produced using synthetic substances that don’t appear on the list of substances and processing aids specified in the Natural Organic Program.

U.S. cattle imports rise in 2010

Through November, cattle imports were 16 percent higher than 2009 levels. Total annual cattle imports for 2010 are forecast to be 16 percent higher, at 2.315 million head. Given the strong fall runup in imports of Mexican cattle, fourth-quarter Mexican cattle imports in 2010 should be the strongest in several years. Through November, Mexican cattle imports were 31 percent higher, year-over-year. These cattle imports began tapering off in the last week of the year, as is typical, and should hit a low in January before reaching one of the two yearly peaks in March. Canadian cattle imports through November were 3 percent higher. Total North American cattle inventories are at their lowest levels in decades, and with smaller Canadian and Mexican inventories expected in 2011, U.S. cattle imports are forecast at 2.1 million head for the year.