BEEF bits

Jul 29, 2011
by WLJ

Lummis introduces marketing legislation

Rep. Cynthia Lummis has introduced a bill that would target meat packer practices that she says are unfair to independent ranchers and farmers. The bill by the Wyoming Republican is modeled after one proposed in the Senate by Wyoming Republican Sen.

Mike Enzi. Both are labeled the Livestock Marketing Fairness Act. Lummis says a lack of transparency in the marketplace can lead to price manipulation and abuse by some packers. The proposed bill seeks to guarantee that local contract prices are not subject to manipulation by packer-owned herds and encourage openness in public markets where buyers and sellers can witness bids and make their own offers. South Dakota names Beef Ambassadors Courtney Nolz and Chelsey Cahoon have been selected South Dakota Beef Ambassadors for 2011 and 2012 respectively. The two young women were chosen during the statewide competition in Huron July 22. Nolz, a sophomore at South Dakota State University and the daughter of David and Peggy Nolz of Mitchell, will represent the state at the National Beef Ambassador Contest in Wooster, OH, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 2011. As South Dakota Beef Ambassadors, both women will be promoting beef across the state during their terms.

CAB posts June sales record

Although beef prices have been relatively high this spring and summer, many consumers and chefs are continuing to look for high-quality cuts. The Certified Angus Beef brand sold 70 million pounds in June, the highest volume month in the company’s 33-year history, 4.3 percent above the previous June and some 10 million pounds better than June 2009. This milestone, with three months to go, moves the company one step closer to a sixth consecutive fiscal year of sales gains. The share of Angus-influenced cattle qualifying for the brand in June was 24.8 percent, nearly 4 percentage points higher than summer 2009. Sales gains came from foodservice, which has experienced significant recovery the past 12 to 18 months despite higher cattle and beef prices. Retail continues to carry the bulk of brand sales, with seasonally strong summer demand in full swing. The international division is setting a hot pace in rate of growth with a 17 percent increase over 2010 for the fiscal year to date.

Beef featured during Montana event

Weebee’s, Gallatin Gateway Inn, and the Mint Bar and Café will dish up their own unique takes on beef during the 5th Annual Montana Cattle Crawl slated for Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Bozeman, MT. The Cattle Crawl, held prior years in Billings, is a project of the Young Stockgrowers committee of the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) to acquaint urban beef consumers with local ranchers and to encourage foodservice establishments to feature beef in a creative way. It is funded by Montana beef producers and checkoff dollars. Tickets are $75 per person or $140 per couple. Price includes food, wine, commemorative wine glass, and travel. For more information or to sign up, please contact Rose Malisani at MSGA at 406/442-3420 by Aug. 15, 2011.

Packing plant workers file suit

Employees at a Kansas beef plant who sued the company in a class-action lawsuit seeking unpaid wages and overtime are asking a federal judge to block company access to records which would show the immigration status of claimants. The company, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, has said it is simply requesting routine records, however, employees participating in the lawsuit told U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren that they fear the company will use those records to pressure workers named in the case. Among the records they are asking the judge to block are disclosure of place of birth, identification documents, social security numbers, any prior or present addresses, and any tax information. The employees, an estimated 700 who have signed on to the lawsuit, claim that the company has not been paying for all hours worked.

Food price inflation set to increase

USDA said last week that it continues to project food price inflation to rise 3-4 percent in 2011 as a result of strong demand for commodities, which is driving prices higher. Meat prices are among the fastest rising, projected to grow at 7-8 percent for beef, while pork prices are expected to rise 6.5-7.5 percent. The increases are well above the levels seen in 2010, which saw prices climb just 0.8 percent during the year. Despite the sharp increase over last year, USDA said prices may continue to rise as costs have not been fully passed along to consumers. “Price levels in 2012 will hinge significantly on weather conditions in the American Midwest during the remainder of July and into August and September 2011,” USDA predicted.