BEEF bits

Nov 11, 2011

Airlines using biofuels

Alaska Airlines announced that starting last Wednesday, they would begin flying commercial passenger flights powered by sustainable biofuel, part of a program that ultimately will involve 75 flights by the Seattle-based company and its sister carrier, Horizon Air. The two maiden flights will leave Seattle for Washington, D.C., and Portland, OR, using a 20 percent blend of biofuel made from animal fat that meets international safety standards.

The synthetic, high-performance jet fuel is made by Dynamic Fuels, a $170 million joint venture between Tyson Foods and Syntroleum Corp. The 75 flights over the next few weeks are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent, the equivalent to removing 26 gasoline-powered automobiles from the nation’s roadways for one full year. The carrier estimates that using the 20 percent biofuel blend on all of its flights for one year would equal removing 64,000 cars from the road or providing electricity to 28,000 homes.

Dodge City meat plant goes union

Employees at the National Beef Packing Co. plant in Dodge City, KS, have voted in favor of union representation, according to the National Labor Relations Board. The tally was released after a twoday National Labor Relations Board-supervised secret ballot election. Employees approved the union on a vote of 1,292 in favor and 824 opposed. If no objections are filed within seven days of the tally, the union will be certified as the representative of a bargaining unit of approximately 2,600 employees in production and maintenance, shipping and receiving, grounds keeping and the warehouse.

HSUS takes on new tactic

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has adopted a new line of attack in an ongoing campaign to improve the welfare of farm animals. The organization filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission charging Smithfield Foods with making “false and misleading claims to shareholders and consumers about its corporate responsibility practices in violation of federal securities law.” HSUS said that a Smithfield video series claims that the company “has higher animal welfare and environmental standards than it actually does.” In a statement, HSUS said, “Federal securities law prohibits the making of any false statement of a material fact or the omission of a material fact that would prevent a statement from being misleading.” In a statement, Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer, calls the allegations “wholly without merit.” According to its website, the mission of the SEC is to “protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.” Ruling on the effects of sow gestation crates or the efficacy of antibiotics in livestock production are not areas normally taken on by the commission.

FSIS inspection directive

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has revised a directive to its inspectors regarding the verification of sanitary dressing and process control procedures in cattle slaughter. Directive 6410.1, “Verifying Sanitary Dressing and Process Control Procedures in Salughter Operations of Cattle of Any Age,” was issued in May of 2009. Revision 1 defines “Contamination of Carcasses and Parts,” updates instructions related to sanitary dressing verification, adds hyperlinks to the document, and provides additional information about carcass wash cabinets, documenting 06D01 and 01C02 noncompliance and supervisory responsibilities. Inspectors are not to implement the revised directive until Dec. 3, 2011.

DDGS surpass soybeans

The use of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) has overtaken the use of soybean meal in livestock feed, according to a new report by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). The report, “Estimating the Substitutes of Distillers’ Grains for Corn and Soybean Meal in the U.S. Feed Complex,” calculates that a metric ton of DDGS can replace, on average, 1.22 metric tons of feed comprising corn and soybean meal. During September 2010 through August 2011, ERS calculated that slightly more than 127 million metric tons of corn were used for feed. Combined grain protein feeds (corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal and distillers grains) totaled 38.6 million metric tons or 17.5 percent of “total feeds fed.”

By comparison, soybean meal usage was 27.9 million metric tons. Because of the 1-to-1.22 substitution ratio, the report notes, “feed market impacts of increased corn use for ethanol are smaller than that indicated by the total amount of corn used for ethanol production because of DDGS.”