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Articles from 2007 In September


ITC To Investigate Beef Trade

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has launched an investigation into the effects of animal health, sanitary and food safety measures on global beef trade and the impact of these and other restrictions on U.S. beef exports. The investigation, "Global Beef Trade: Effects of Animal Health, Sanitary, Food Safety, and Other Measures on U.S. Beef Exports," was requested by the U.S. Senate's Committee on Finance in a letter on Aug. 7.

The letter noted that the future sustainability of the U.S. beef industry is highly dependent on access to global markets, and that current BSE-related restrictions on U.S. beef exports, especially by Japan and South Korea, have hurt the U.S. industry.

As requested, the ITC will provide an overview of the U.S. and global markets for beef and information on animal health, sanitary and food safety measures facing U.S. and other major beef exporters in major destination markets. ITC also will provide info on other barriers to U.S. beef exports in major destination markets, including high tariffs, quotas, and import licensing and distribution systems, and an analysis of the economic effects of these measures on U.S. beef exports.

ITC will hold a public hearing in connection with the investigation on Nov. 15 and submit its report by June 6, 2008.
-- National Meat Association Lean Trimmings

Panama Opens Border To Full U.S. Cattle Trade

Panama now accepts U.S. cattle of all ages, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) says. Panama banned importation of live U.S. cattle after BSE was detected in December 2003. That year, Panama's importation of live U.S. cattle doubled what had been imported in the previous three years combined.

"Panama's decision demonstrates confidence in the U.S. ability to effectively protect animal health and food safety with science-based safeguards," says APHIS administrator Cindy Smith. "We're pleased Panama and other trading partners are taking steps to align their import requirements with international standards that support full market access for U.S. cattle."
-- USDA news release

Court Upholds Horse Slaughter Ban

The 7th U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago last Friday upheld an Illinois state law that bans the slaughter of horses for human consumption, likely forcing the closure of the last horse processing plant still operating in the U.S.

"We're evaluating our options" for a possible appeal, says J. Philip Calabrese, attorney for Cavel International of DeKalb, IL. "We've got some time under the rules to in which to make that determination," he told the DeKalb County Daily Chronicle.

Cavel has 14 days from the ruling to request the three-judge panel to reconsider its ruling or to request the full 14-member court to hear the case. The company has 90 days to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Cavel International is owned by a Belgium company and the meat is all exported to Europe and Japan.

In the 15-page ruling, Judge Richard Posner wrote: "it (Illinois) is permitted to balance its interest in horses' welfare against the other interests of its (human) population; and it is also permitted to take one step at a time on the road toward the humane treatment of our fellow animals." The full text of the court's opinion is available at www.ca7.uscourts.gov/tmp/6V1FG3W2.pdf.
-- Burt Rutherford

Committees Pass Peru Agreement

The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee approved the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA). This is the first step in Congressional approval of the agreement.

Acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner and the Ag Coalition for U.S.-Peru Trade held a press conference this week announcing ag's support for the agreement and urged Congress to approve the PTPA. Speaking on behalf of ag were American Farm Bureau Federation, Corn Refiners Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, and the National Pork Producers Council.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

Texas Plans Livestock Risk Management Workshops

Texas Cooperative Extension (TCE) is partnering with USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to offer two, one-day Livestock Risk Management Workshops aimed at assisting cattlemen with their risk management skills. The workshops will provide cattlemen an overview of RMA-approved risk management tools available through local crop insurance agents, as well as other TCE risk management programs.

Presenters will cover pasture, rangeland and forage insurance; livestock risk protection for feeder and fed cattle; livestock gross margin; and the current market situation and outlook.

Workshops are Oct. 22 at the Texas A&M University Research and Extension Center near Vernon, and Nov. 7 in San Angelo at the Management, Instruction and Research Center of Angelo State University. Both begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.

There is no registration fee but registration is required. For the Vernon workshop, contact Stan Bevers at [email protected], or Janet Case at [email protected]. To register for the San Angelo workshop, contact Bill Thompson at [email protected].
Or register at agrisk.tamu.edu.
-- TEC news release

Business Management Conference For Women

A business management and networking seminar for ag women is set for Oct. 19 in Greeley, CO. Hosted by Colorado State University and USDA's Risk management Agency, it's designed to help women with risk and financial management training.

The one-day conference will use hands-on instruction tools, including computer simulation and spreadsheets, to help participants determine their operation's financial health, measure and set their own individual risk management goals, and identify the individual risks that may affect their operation. Visit www.agwomenandrisk.com for more info.
-- CSU release

Texas Tightens TB Regs

Striving to protect Texas' hard-earned cattle tuberculosis (TB)-free status, Texas livestock health officials have adopted new cattle entry, testing and movement regulations that go into effect Oct. 13.

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) tightened regulations due to concerns about recent TB discoveries in two New Mexico dairies, a Colorado bucking bull herd, and an Oklahoma beef herd. Additionally, over the past two years, at least five infected cattle herds and infection in free-ranging deer have been identified in Minnesota. For several years, Michigan also has waged war against TB in both cattle and free-ranging deer.

Texas originally achieved TB-free status in 2000, but lost it in 2002 upon discovery of two infected cattle herds. To regain the state's status and ability to move and market cattle without restrictions, a rigorous TB testing program was initiated to detect any remaining infection and provide proof of sufficient disease surveillance. Texas regained its TB-free status last October after testing 342,937 cattle in the state's 818 dairies, and 128,489 head in 2,014 beef purebred and seedstock herds.

"It's not enough to just find and eradicate TB," says Bob Hillman, TAHC executive director and Texas' state veterinarian. He stresses that proactive measures are needed to prevent reintroducing this contagious, bacterial disease that can cause lesions on an animal's lungs, lymph nodes and other internal organs.

The new TAHC regulations include:

  • Lowering the TB test-eligible age from six months to two for sexually intact dairy cattle entering Texas. These animals also must have be officially identified individually and be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection stating they tested negative for TB within 60 days prior to entering Texas. Sexually intact cattle less than two months of age must have an entry permit and go to a designated facility, where the animals will be held until they are tested negative at the age of two months.
  • Forgoing TB testing on out-of-state dairy cattle delivered to an approved feedlot in Texas for finish feeding for slaughter only, unless the animals are from TB-infected herd. These dairy feeder animals must be identified, and have a TAHC entry permit and certificate of veterinary inspection.
  • Identifying all Texas dairy cattle regardless of age -- with an official or TAHC-approved ID device prior to movement within the state.
  • Requiring TB tests for Mexican-origin (or "M"-branded) steers that are recognized as potential rodeo and/or roping stock, and entering Texas from other states. These steers must have had a negative TB test within the previous 12 months, and have a certificate of veterinary inspection issued within the previous 30 days.
"Regulations already were in place for importing steers from Mexico, requiring them to be M-branded, and then retested annually in Texas, if they are used for rodeo or roping activities," Hillman says. "The new regulation addresses situations in which Mexican-origin steers have been maintained in other states. Requiring these animals to be test-negative within the previous 12 months provides greater assurance that the animals will not introduce TB into Texas herds."

He advises producers to avoid commingling U.S. cattle with Mexican-origin rodeo steers or feeder cattle. Although these imported animals enter under strict TB testing requirements, he notes that TB hasn't been eradicated in Mexico and there's significant potential for disease exposure.
-- TAHC release

Beef-Checkoff Initiatives Approved On Tighter Budget

The Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC) this week funded a total of 42 program proposals with beef-checkoff dollars for Fiscal 2008. But a tight budget forced the committee to reject $1.8 million in proposals to stay within the Cattlemen's Beef Board's (CBB) $46.8-million national program budget for the coming year. BPOC consists of 10 producer members of the Cattlemen's beef Board and 10 producer reps from the Federation of State Beef Councils.

Earmarked expenditures include:

  • $22.8 million for promotion.
  • $7.4 million for research in beef safety, product enhancement, nutrition and marketing.
  • $6.3 million for consumer information.
  • $2.4 million for industry information.
  • $5.25 million for foreign marketing.
  • $2.3 million for producer communications.
Another $10.66 million in allocations from the Federation of State Beef Councils will further increase checkoff funding of national promotion programs by $4.9 million, research by $1.76 million, consumer info by $1.3 million, industry info by $560,000, and foreign marketing efforts by $2.1 million.

BPOC-authorized programs must be approved by USDA before any money can be spent. Each checkoff contractor works on a cost-recovery basis and is subject to ongoing audits by CBB and USDA.
-- Cattlemen's Beef Board news release

USDA Predicts Record-Breaking Sorghum Yield

USDA is forecasting a record-production year for sorghum. Based on Sept. 1 conditions the agency projects a 495-million-bu. crop, which would be 78% larger than last year. At a projected 73.9 bu./acre yield, that's up 17.7 bu. over last year.

Yield forecasts were at or above last month's level in all of the major sorghum-producing states except New Mexico and Oklahoma, USDA says. A 79-bu./acre yield (21 bu. over 2006) is anticipated in Kansas, the recipient of beneficial rainfall in August in the central and northern parts of the state where most of the sorghum is produced. Meanwhile, Texas, the second-largest sorghum-producing state, expects a record yield of 69 bu./acre, also 21 bu. over last year. Record-high yields are also forecast for Nebraska and Arkansas.
-- Farm Press