BEEF bits

Jan 13, 2012
by WLJ

Cargill posts weak second quarter

Cargill Inc. reported $100 million in earnings from continuing operations for its fiscal 2012 second quarter. That’s an 88 percent decrease in earnings, from $832 million for the same period a year ago, but a 17 percent increase in revenues from $28.5 billion in fiscal 2011. Cargill’s meat businesses altogether “experienced one of their weakest quarters,” Cargill Chairman and CEO Greg Page said in a news release. Specifically, the company noted, the shrinkage in U.S. fed cattle supplies pressured margins in beef, while other meat units faced higher raw material costs. Cargill recently announced a worldwide layoff of about 2,000 employees.

JBS making changes

JBS is halting exports of beef products from its Argentinian facilities in order to focus on domestic sales, local chief executive officer Artemio Listoni said in a recent interview with Bloomberg. Listoni also confirmed earlier media reports that it is closing its plant in the city of Venado Tuerto and laying off its 500-plus employees. JBS plans to reduce exports to one-third of total sales in Argentina this year, down from about half of total sales two years ago. The remaining two-thirds of sales will go to the domestic market, he added. The Venado Tuerto plant primarily exported meat products and its business “became inviable,” Listoni affirmed. “We decided to close it because it wasn’t making money.” JBS’ plants in the cities of Rosario, Pilar and Pontevedra are still in operation and there are no plans for additional closures, he said. Pill for listeria prevention Modified probiotics, the bacteria that plays a role in digestive health, may one day decrease the risk of listeria infection in people with susceptible immune systems, according to the latest Purdue University research. The same listeria protein that allows the bacteria to pass through intestinal cells and into bloodstreams may help block those same paths when added to a probiotic, researchers found. “Based on the research, it looks very promising that we would get a significant reduction in listeria infections,” said Arun Bhunia, a professor of food science whose findings were published this month in the journal PLoS One.

Egg producers seek national standards

United Egg Producers (UEP) is coming under fire from other animal agriculture groups for its efforts to set a national standard for the treatment of layers. The organization has enlisted Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-OR, to introduce legislation that would set the national standard based on an agreement reached last July between UEP and the Humane Society of the United States. Other national livestock organizations are concerned that if a national animal welfare standard is approved for the egg industry, similar standards for their animal species would not be far behind. UEP says they need a national standard to forestall the possibility of individual states writing many differing standards. That argument may help persuade other groups that it may be better to work with the U.S. Congress to address animal welfare issues at the national level than to battle it out at state houses across the country.

Federal tax subsidy end hits E85

The federal 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit that oil companies had been receiving in return for blending ethanol with gasoline ended Dec. 31, 2011. Since the credit was on a per-gallon basis, its termination is affecting the price of E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) to a far greater extent than the price of the more usual E10 blend. According to press reports, the price of E85 has jumped approximately 40 cents per gallon in the past week as a result of the loss of the tax credit, making it now nearly as expensive as 100 percent gasoline; however, because it is not as “energy dense” as gasoline, E85 produces only 75 percent to 85 percent of the miles per gallon delivered by gasoline.

Indiana CFO regulations

Indiana’s impending revised regulations for confined feeding operations and nutrient application have put an even greater emphasis on nutrient management in the state, says Purdue Extension dairy specialist Tamilee Nennich. The new regulations take effect July 1 and apply to both medium- and large-scale operations. “Some of the new things producers need to pay attention to include requirements for manure application rates that will be based on soil phosphorus levels,” Nennich said. “Producers need to do soil tests to determine phosphorus levels.” The updated regulations state that soil phosphorus levels on cropland where manure will be applied cannot exceed 200 parts per million, as opposed to old rules that were based on the nitrogen needs of the next planted crop. A seven-year phase-in period is included to provide producers a chance to adjust to the new soil phosphorus application standard. Another change producers need to be aware of involves the application of manure to frozen or snow-covered soils. “The requirements state that applying manure to frozen or snow-covered ground is no longer going to be allowed for most operations,” Nennich said.