Tag Archives: livestock

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) concluded its Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Ariz., with the election of new officers. Cevin Jones, a cattle feeder from Eden, Idaho, was elected USMEF chair. He succeeds Iowa pork producer Conley Nelson.

“My first involvement with USMEF was when I was marketing chair with the Idaho Cattle Association,” recalled Jones, who along with his brother operates Intermountain Beef, a custom feedlot. “As part of my duties I would go to national conventions where USMEF staff and leadership shared information about their work in international markets. This was a tremendous eye-opener. I valued the importance of export markets then, but value it even more today.”

Jones became president of the Idaho Cattle Association in November 2003, shortly before one of the most disruptive events in the history of the U.S. beef industry.

“About one month later, I got the phone call — BSE,” Jones said. “Then I truly realized how important our exports markets are, when they closed overnight. But in time I got to see USMEF in action, helping to get those markets reopened.”

Jones later chaired the Idaho Beef Council and the Federation of State Beef Councils, and served on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee, further enhancing his interest in expanding global demand for U.S. beef.

As he took the helm at USMEF, Jones encouraged members to remain steadfast in their commitment to international marketing, even in the face of trade barriers and ongoing volatility.

“I expect the trade environment to continue to be very challenging, but we have experienced, dedicated people on the ground in international markets across the world who give USMEF the ability to adapt and change,” he said.

The USMEF officer team for 2019-2020 reflects the organization’s diverse membership. The new chair-elect is Pat Binger of Wichita, Kan., a vice president at Cargill Protein Group. Binger has been in the red meat industry for more than 30 years, including 27 years in international sales and 16 years directing Cargill’s overseas network of offices.

Mark Swanson is USMEF’s new vice chair. He is CEO of Birko Corporation, headquartered in Henderson, Colo., and has more than 20 years of experience with some of the most respected institutions in the protein industry, including Iowa Beef Processors, ConAgra Foods and Swift and Company.

The newest USMEF officer is Dean Meyer, who was elected secretary-treasurer. Meyer, a corn, soybean and livestock producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa, is a director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. He has also served as chair of the Iowa Corn Animal Agriculture and Environment Committee and the Lyon County (Iowa) Pork Producers.

On the final day of the conference USMEF members also received an informative breakdown of the trade landscape in Asia from Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute. Cutler previously served as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s chief negotiator on the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and led bilateral negotiations with Japan under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Cutler reviewed the events that have taken place since the U.S. withdrew from TPP, starting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to convince President Trump to return to the agreement. Eventually a preliminary U.S.-Japan trade agreement was reached and it is now under consideration by the Japanese Parliament.

“The great news for you is that this is largely an agricultural deal,” Cutler said. “Under this agreement we secured from Japan most of the agricultural market access that we forfeited when we lost TPP. And I think what’s really great for beef and pork is that when this deal goes into effect, which should be Jan. 1, we’re going to come into that deal ‘caught up’ with the other TPP countries, meaning that we’ll get the same tariff rates that they’re getting.”

Cutler said U.S. agriculture is understandably encouraged by progress in the U.S.-China negotiations, as the two sides are said to be close to completing a phase one agreement that will improve access for agricultural exports. But she cautioned that the situation remains very volatile, and that finalizing the details of such an agreement often proves difficult.

Earlier in the conference, a panel discussion focused on the potential impact of alternative proteins on global demand for red meat. The session was moderated by USMEF Economist Erin Borror and included Jihae Yang, USMEF director in South Korea; Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative in Europe; and Glynn Tonsor, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University.

Facing up to the challenge posed alternative proteins was also a component of “Capitalizing on the Greatest Sustainability Story in History,” a presentation offered by Allan Gray, a professor at Purdue University and director of the school’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business.

Gray’s advice to USMEF members is to compete for consumers by helping people understand why traditional meat is the best choice.

“We all like choices, so the urge to take away alternative proteins as a choice may not be the best strategy,” he said. “What we should be saying to them is, ‘you have choices, but our product is the best choice and here is why.'”

USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom briefed members on a number of key issues that could open new opportunities for U.S. red meat exports. In addition to the U.S.-Japan trade agreement, Halstrom said a U.S.-specific share of the European Union’s duty-free beef quota will deliver more reliable and consistent access to the high-value European market. This measure is currently under consideration in the EU Parliament. Halstrom also stressed the importance of bringing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to a ratification vote.

“From a carcass utilization standpoint, Canada and Mexico complement our Asian markets perfectly,” Halstrom said. “I hate to think what round prices would be if not for Canada and Mexico, because we don’t sell many rounds to Asia. On the pork side, there are some hams exported to Asia but it’s not the primary item. Hams are the No. 1 item going to Mexico and pretty high on the list for Canada.”

If an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) were to occur in the U.S. is the pork industry ready? Many parties are working to make sure it’s as ready as possible, but there may be more questions than answers. Dr. Sarah Tomlinson, Associate Deputy Administrator of the Strategy and Policy Unit within USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Veterinary Services, gave an update on the four ASF exercises that have been conducted this year to help the industry prepare. She spoke during a meeting of state veterinary officials, held in conjunction with the 2019 U.S. Animal Health Association annual meeting, in Providence, Rhode Island, this week.

The exercises involved veterinary officials from 14 pork-producing states, APHIS, state and national pork associations and private sector companies. Each exercise built upon the previous, to provide successive levels of preparedness.

The goal of the final exercise was to conduct a combination of functional exercises and drills over a four- day period with participation from federal, state and local agencies along with industry representatives. It took place in September and focused on the following major activities:

Day 1: Conduct a foreign animal disease (FAD) investigation and subsequent communication, coordination and engagement of the National Veterinary Services Laboratory’s Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, and the appropriate laboratories in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

Day 2: Respond to and support a state, regional, or national movement standstill, depending on the pig population infected.

Day 3: Implement the planning and resource coordination associated with depopulating and disposing of infected and exposed swine.

Day 4: Implement a system to allow for continuity of business for non-infected operations within a control area. In addition to U.S. government and industry representatives, interested parties from Australia, Denmark, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency also took part.

Action items identified

Participants learned a great deal by going through the exercises. As a result of the final exercise, several conclusions became evident.

National movement standstill

Many states and pig companies support a national-movement standstill at the start of an ASF outbreak if the disease is detected in commercial pigs in order to determine where the disease is and control immediate spread. Participants recognized the need for updates to the existing “Initial Movement

Standstill” guidance to include the start/stop time criteria, the grace period for pigs in transit and those

in livestock markets. APHIS will be working on this request with the stakeholders and will also determine the appropriate regulatory mechanism for a national movement standstill, should it be needed.

Indemnity policy

Compensation for animals that are depopulated during an outbreak is an important issue. States and the private sector have requested 100% fair market value payment for ASF-infected or exposed swine that are depopulated in order to prevent and control ASF spread. Currently, regulations allow for 50% of fair market value for animals and materials that are destroyed/depopulated, with the Secretary of Agriculture having the discretion to authorize up to 100%, Tomlinson said. APHIS supports the 100% fair market value; however, stakeholders acknowledge the fair market value for pigs may change rapidly in an outbreak situation. APHIS has committed to clarify what indemnity payment percentage is available, and what, if any, actions are needed at the start of an outbreak to implement it.

Rapid depopulation

ASF is a disease that moves very quickly – and can affect many pigs in a short amount of time. Stopping the spread of the disease involves depopulating affected and exposed animals. “During the exercise, some our state and industry partners asked us to provide guidance on what methods of rapid depopulation APHIS will support and how that would vary during the outbreak – whether APHIS would only support rapid depopulation at the start of an outbreak or throughout its duration,” Tomlinson said. “APHIS has committed to review the available information and make a decision to share with the states and industry.”

National surveillance and diagnostics

The ability to accurately detect the presence and absence of a disease is essential. In the event of an ASF detection, the states and the private sector want assurances their companies and networks are uninfected from ASF and may request wide-scale surveillance and pre-movement testing by company, network, or jurisdiction at the start of an ASF outbreak. APHIS is working with states and industry to further develop surveillance capabilities, including validation of multiple sample types (e.g., pooled whole blood, oral fluids) for use in an outbreak and prioritization criteria for testing samples to have ready for immediate implementation at the start of an outbreak.

Virus elimination

During any animal disease outbreak, cleaning and disinfection with the goal of eliminating the virus from infected areas is very important. States, the private sector, and APHIS will work together for better information and knowledge on defining adequate ASF virus elimination in different premises and environments, Tomlinson said. Additionally, APHIS was asked to provide details on how flat-rate virus elimination reimbursement will be calculated. The exercises were valuable, and provided an important foundation for follow-up procedures and mechanisms to help the industry deal with an FAD outbreak.

 

The USAHA addresses topics ranging from zoonotic diseases, to regulations, to specific diseases in cattle, horses, sheep, cervids, poultry and pigs, and much more. Leaders from government, industry and academia gather with producers to find solutions to health issues that help animal agriculture thrive.

The American Sheep Industry Association filed comments last month concerning the Food and Drug Administration’s request for input on Incorporating Alternative Approaches in Clinical Investigations for New Animal Drugs.

 

ASI is certainly in favor of looking at new approaches to the drug approval process. Pharmaceutical companies have continued to abandon the development of new drugs for sheep as the American sheep population has declined dramatically in the past 60 years. While important drugs for sheep continue to be developed in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, companies don’t see value in navigating a lengthy approval process for these drugs to be sold in the United States.

 

This is why ASI is in favor of allowing FDA to consider data from foreign countries as part of the approval process.

 

“Increasingly stringent regulatory requirements for animal drug development discourage U.S. animal health companies from pursuing the manufacturing of products readily available in major sheep producing countries,” wrote Dr. Jim Logan and Dr. Cindy Wolf on behalf of ASI in comments filed with the FDA. “Because of the size of their sheep industries, countries such as New Zealand and Australia often have several choices of products available to producers to address common sheep health issues. Whereas, the U.S. may have only one or even none.

 

“This puts our animals at risk of disease, lowers the quality of life for the animal and threatens the viability of sheep operations. In addition, it is a trade disadvantage as it allows our competitors to raise their animals less expensively. Given these circumstances, we believe a process by which data from foreign countries could be incorporated into the approval process for minor use species is warranted. We have given consideration to what such a process might look like. It will not be easy to create but we do believe it can be accomplished.

 

“For example, in Canada, they recently completed a joint regulatory review of an animal health product out of New Zealand in order to obtain approval for the Canadian market. The sheep industry in Canada has approached ASI about the possibility of approaching our respective governments to request development of a joint regulatory framework for the approval of a deworming product that is available in Australia but is not available in either the U.S. or Canada. We believe such a regulatory agreement could be a valuable tool to address the growing need for minor species pharmaceuticals while reducing the cost and work burden of what are very similar requirements between our countries.”

 

ASI is also in favor of using real world evidence in the approval process.

 

When writing a weekly column, it’s tempting to toss red meat to the readers rather than dig into more complicated issues. For once, the latest scientific news is providing an opportunity to do both at the same time.

 

The scientific journal Annals of Internal Medicine recently published a major series of studies about red meat consumption. The authors found that current scientific evidence is too weak to justify telling people to eat less red meat.

 

The response was immediate and furious from groups devoted to eliminating animal agriculture. For years they have leaned on anti-meat recommendations to cloak their true agenda in the language of human health. The groups’ real goals are pushing radical animal rights and remaking the world economy under the guise of climate change prevention.

 

The studies’ data found only minuscule support for lowering red meat consumption. Eating three fewer servings per week might reduce a person’s chance of a heart attack by 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent and chances of cancer by 0.7 percent. The studies found no effect whatsoever on breast, colorectal, esophageal, gastric, pancreatic or prostate cancer, overall deaths or deaths resulting from heart disease. Even these minor statistical blips might be attributable to other traits like income level, education level or exercise frequency.

 

The authors found the evidence was too weak to recommend that individuals radically change their diets. They noted that people’s tastes and preferences should matter in health recommendations. Americans enjoy meat and meat dishes. They are an integral part of our culture and have been for generations. This is and should be relevant to dietary recommendations.

 

If the movement to eliminate meat was really about these tiny health concerns, the massive effort required to change American culture would simply not be worth it. But the movement to end meat consumption was never just about health concerns. Much of the rage has instead focused on radical animal rights beliefs or the alleged environmental harm caused by cattle production.

 

The “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine” (PCRM) is actually an Orwellian-named radical vegan advocacy group. PCRM spends over $15 million a year on efforts to end animal agriculture. It has invested nearly 35 years and countless millions of dollars in pushing this agenda. PCRM was so afraid of letting Americans see the results of these scientific studies, it filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission seeking a gag order to keep the journal from even publishing them.

 

Americans should be trusted to make their own choices about how they want to live, what news to read, and what food to eat. If living an enjoyable life actually adds a tenths-of-a-percent risk of disease, we should be allowed to make that choice. And when the proof of even these tiny risks is this weak, public health authorities have no business sticking their noses in our food.