BEEF bits

Jan 20, 2012
by WLJ

Cattle rustling up

The high price of beef is driving some to turn to an old-time crime—cattle rustling. In Cookeville, TN, several instances of livestock theft have left a couple producers with tens of thousands of dollars in losses. In Greene County, MO, one rancher lost 19 calves, estimated at 600 pounds each, and a trailer to thieves in one night. The trailer was later recovered, but the calves are thought lost. The Cottonwood Grazing Association in Idaho has reported up to 20 head of cattle and 40 calves lost to theft. An Idaho state brand inspector said the expected rancher losses to rustlers has been 1 percent in the past, but is currently up around 4 to 5 percent given current economic settings which motivate thieves. Police and ranching representatives have urged producers and community members to help out by reporting cattle-hauling trucks seen on back roads at night.

Cattle fuel deadly conflicts in Africa

Cattle are at the heart of a number of regional wars in areas of Central Africa including Ghana, South Sudan and Nigeria. In South Sudan and Ghana conflicts, raids between tribes over cattle ownership have resulted in death tolls estimated in the hundreds, with high estimates claiming well over a thousand have been killed. Kidnapping of women and children has also been reported as occurring alongside cattle theft. In Nigeria and neighboring Ghana, Fulani herdsmen are aggressively grazing their cattle where ever they like, particularly on others’ farms and cropland. In many cases, the landowners have been killed when they objected or tried to scare off the cattle. In other instances, Fulani herdsmen have slaughtered whole populations of remote villages in order to graze their cattle on cropland unhindered.

U.S. vs. WTO on COOL practices

The World Trade Organization (WTO) investigated and ruled America’s country-of-origin labeling (COOL) was inconsistent with the U.S.’ WTO obligations. The investigation came after complaints from Canada and Mexico in 2008 that COOL unfairly discriminated against their meat products imported into the U.S. WTO originally gave the U.S. until Jan. 20 to amend COOL procedure to be in line with WTO requirements, but has since moved the date back to March 23. Some sources claim the WTO imposition against COOL to be an assault on U.S. trade sovereignty and oppose any action to change COOL other than to strengthen it. Other sources disagree with this view, however, and see Canada and Mexico as valuable trade partners whose needs should be taken into careful consideration.

Bootleg beef confiscated in India

Over the past week, police in Mirzapur’s mutton market of Ahmedabad in western India have seized over 8 tons of illegal beef. Various people have attempted to smuggle the beef into the markets where they intended to sell it to non-Hindu market-goers from the back of their trucks or vans. In at least one instance, a mob of enraged “gaurakshaks”—the self-proclaimed “cow-protectors” of some rural Hindu cultures—identified, chased, captured and publicly humiliated the beef traffickers before turning them over to police. The beef was identified as coming from the nearby town of Godhra which, ironically, translates to “Land of the Cow.” Dietary and spiritual differences between the largely Hindu local population and Muslim immigrants of the area are at the heart of the trafficking and subsequent conflict.

Cattle fever tick infestations up

Customs officials at the southern boarder with Mexico recently intercepted a deer hide containing 23 “cattle fever” ticks. The hide was confiscated and destroyed. This discovery comes during a time when infestations of cattle fever ticks along the permanent quarantined zone are at record highs not seen since 1973. The rise in the infestations is credited to the free movement of cattle and wildlife—particularly white-tailed deer and nilgai—across the boarder as well as Mexico’s continued struggle with the pest. Attempts to control the tick’s spread into the U.S. include 85 mounted inspectors, barrier fences to prevent animals from crossing the boarders, treatment of infected animals, and the quarantining of infested areas.

LED lights could extend meat shelf life

A new study by Kansas State University graduate student Kyle Steele suggests that light-emitting diodes (LED) lights can extend the shelf life of some beef products. In his graduate thesis project, Steele studied the impact of storing meat in refrigerators using LED versus florescent lighting. He examined the effects of the different light sources on pork loin chops, beef loin steaks, ground beef, ground turkey and beef inside round steaks. The focus was on discoloration and rancidity of the meats as well as operating efficiency of the refrigerators. The experiment indicated the beef cuts retained their desirable red color a day longer and maintained lower internal temperatures—a major fac-tor in preventing spoilage—while stored under LEDs.

The LEDs were also ruled more energy efficient.