BEEF bits

Jul 22, 2011
by WLJ

Checkoff meetings open to all

Reminder to all cattle farmers, ranchers and importers: All beef checkoff meetings are open to every person who pays the checkoff. During the upcoming 2012 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Orlando, FL, these meetings include meetings of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Federation of State Beef Councils, and joint checkoff program/policy committee meetings.

Packing company to offer DNA traceability

Aurora Packing Company, the 70-year-old premium meat packer and producer of Aurora Angus Beef in Aurora, IL, has entered into a partnership with IdentiGEN North America to provide DNA-traceable beef for its U.S. and export customers. Aurora Angus Beef with DNA TraceBack® is being marketed to highend restaurants and retail stores. Angus origins are verified through the animal’s unique DNA barcode, which is gathered using a food-safe sampling device at various stages of production, to quickly trace meat back to the animal of origin. DNA TraceBack enables retailers, meat producers, meat processors and food service outlets to respond to the growing consumer demand, both domestically and in export markets, for more information about where and how their meat is produced. IdentiGEN conducts DNA TraceBack analysis for U.S. and Canadian companies at its lab in Lawrence, KS.

NCBA: Look to FTAs to boost economy

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Manager of Legislative Affairs Kent Bacus said while President Obama and congressional leaders may disagree on a final agreement regarding our nation’s debt ceiling, one thing they should be able to agree on is finalizing the pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. According to Bacus, implementing the three pending FTAs will help jumpstart our nation’s economy and create jobs without costing taxpayers a dime. Bacus said NCBA has been a staunch supporter of all three FTAs because they will reduce import tariffs, eliminate non-tariff trade barriers, and allow U.S. cattlemen to compete in key markets. He said NCBA will continue to urge immediate passage and implementation of all three pending FTAs before the August recess.

Clenbuterol issues continue in Mexico

As a result of recent detections of clenbuterol in Mexican beef, authorities there are clamping down on anyone suspected of using the product on cattle. Last week, officials announced that stiff penalties, including as many as eight years in prison, would be handed out to anyone caught using the drug illegally. The recent crackdown comes after reports of as many as 20 reported cases of clenbuterol in beef products in Villa de Etla, a city in Oaxaca, Mexico. The attorney general’s office said that government officials can arrest anyone integrating clenbuterol into livestock feed, based on the federal law for animal health. They can be sentenced from four to eight years in prison, with a fine equal from 10,000 to 50,000 days of minimum wage. Consumption of clenbuterol-tainted meat can lead to headaches, chest pain, and brain damage, and in some instances, can even lead to death.

New website urges consumer action

The connection between rising food prices and federal support for corn-based ethanol is explained in a new website,, launched recently by organizations whose members produce and process the majority of meat and poultry in the U.S. Food prices are up—meat and poultry prices specifically are up 8.5 percent from a year ago—and many consumers are asking why. According to the new website, the government’s federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol are key contributors. The new website outlines for consumers how these rising corn prices have contributed to increased meat and poultry costs at the grocery store and asks them for their help in ending federal support of the corn-based ethanol industry by signing a petition that states: “Federal energy policies need to move beyond corn-based ethanol and look for the next generation of alternative fuels that don’t pit food, feed and fuel needs against each other.” The site is sponsored by the American Meat Institute, National Chicken Council, National Meat Association and National Turkey Federation.

Corn trading limits to increase

The CME Group has indicated that it will raise the the daily trading limits on corn futures despite strong opposition from industry groups. The CME’s request to raise the trading limit to 40 cents from the current 30 cents is under review by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission until Aug. 8. The current daily trading limit for corn futures is 30 cents per bushel, expandable to 45 cents, then again to 70 cents. And CME, the world’s largest derivatives exchange, has proposed to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that the corn limits expand to 40 cents and then to 60 cents. CME Group said the increase in corn limits is a preventative measure to guard against expected volatility now and in the future and was proposed by the CME management and board of directors.