Oil spill in the Yellowstone River • Donating hunted meat to jails • Cease and desists issued to Tyson • Inside the Meat Animal Research Center • Stomping on history • Farm-to-table mostly a "buzzword?" • Mitchell, S.D., in "most intelligent communities" list • Taking on the beef checkoff program
Study Conducted for NFU Finds COOL Doesn't Hurt Canadian Meat Market in U.S.
A new study by an Auburn University agricultural economist refutes claims from Canadian cattlemen that county-of-origin-labeling has hurt Canadian meat producers in the U.S. market.
“The United States Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) regime has not impaired cattle export market access to the United States,” writes C. Robert Taylor in a research report prepared for the National Farmers Union, which supports country-of-origin labeling for meat, or COOL, as it’s known in shorthand. Taylor is Alfa eminent scholar and professor at Auburn.
COOL was enacted in 2008 and requires meat packers who sell in the U.S. to include a label that tells consumers where the meat was produced.
Canada has contested the law with the World Trade Organization, saying it’s an unfair trade restriction that has impeded the sale of Canadian meat in the U.S.
Taylor said his study refutes that claim.
“The study shows that the price basis actually narrowed somewhat after COOL was enacted, it did not widen,” Taylor said in a conference call Thursday sponsored by the National Farmers Union. “This indicates that Canadians are getting the same price in the U.S. for like animals as American producers.”
An earlier report by other U.S. researchers conducted for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said COOL had resulted in the loss of $1.4 billion in U.S. sales. Taylor said his research was based on publicly available data, while the report made to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association was not.
“This study uses more robust data sources to assess the impact of COOL on market access and found that COOL has not had a significant negative effect on the price paid for imported slaughter cattle relative to comparable domestic cattle,” Taylor wrote. The study reached the same conclusion for feeder cattle or cattle that were slaughtered immediately.
Mississippi hunters who bag more deer than they can eat themselves would be allowed to donate venison to jails, under a bill being considered by the state Legislature.
The Venison Harvesting Program for Inmate Consumption bill “would allow prisons and jails to set up their own deer processing operations, where hunters could donate their kills,” reports the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. “[The bill’s author] said liberal deer bag limits, aimed at reducing overpopulation, result in many hunters having more deer meat than they can store, so they can donate it to feed inmates.”
The USDA has ordered Tyson Hog Markets Inc. to cease and desist from the falsifying scale tickets, giving buyers invoices that reflect these false weights, and issuing false accounting to livestock seller, reports MikeCallicrate.com.
“We take pride in being fair to livestock producers and our customers,” Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said in a statement emailed to Meatingplace. “We addressed these concerns three years ago when they were first brought to our attention and promptly and cooperatively resolved more recent follow-up questions from the agency.”
Speaking of the USDA, the New York Times has a story about the agency’s U. S. Meat Animal Research Center, a mad-scientist-sounding program aimed at helping meat producers (read: corporate farms) make more money, doing some things that should repulse even the most unapologetic meat eaters (like me). I’m just going to give you a couple paragraphs from the story to set the scene.
At a remote research center on the Nebraska plains, scientists are using surgery and breeding techniques to re-engineer the farm animal to fit the needs of the 21st-century meat industry. The potential benefits are huge: animals that produce more offspring, yield more meat and cost less to raise.
There are, however, some complications.
Pigs are having many more piglets — up to 14, instead of the usual eight — but hundreds of those newborns, too frail or crowded to move, are being crushed each year when their mothers roll over. Cows, which normally bear one calf at a time, have been retooled to have twins and triplets, which often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed.
Then there are the lambs. In an effort to develop “easy care” sheep that can survive without costly shelters or shepherds, ewes are giving birth, unaided, in open fields where newborns are killed by predators, harsh weather and starvation.
— Shawn Poynter
I’m trying my hardest to not be snarky and mean on this one, but it’s trying. So bear with me.
The environmental activist organization Greenpeace has named the activists who trampled on a fragile national heritage site in Peru so that they could install huge, yellow letters, to be read from the air, on the site in protest of the UN climate talks. The Peruvian government now wants to extradite the activists, citing “irreparable damage” to the Nazca lines that make a hummingbird shape.
Dude. Yuck. (Well, I tried).
— Shawn Poynter
An alarming trend for small, organic farmers in Louisiana seems to be restaurants promoting their places as “farm-to-table” without actually buying stuff from local farms.
[Acadiana farmer Brian] Gotreaux says there are many more restaurants who purchase a handful of veggies from a farmers market to use in a dinner special so they can increase their business through the buzzword "farm-to-table." Other restaurants will actually use local producers' names on menu items that are not coming from the sources cited.
"There's a lot of chefs who say they're using our products," Gotreaux said. "There's a lot of chefs just using the buzzword for market share."
The small city of Mitchell, South Dakota, has been named one of the world’s top “intelligent communities” by an international group that focuses on the use of digital technology in community development, according to a press release.
Mitchell, population 15,000, was cited for long-range planning, healthcare, education and the development of telecommunications tools that have improved agricultural practice and added new jobs.
Other cities on the Top 7 Intelligent Communities include locations like Rio de Janerio; Columbus, Ohio; New Taipei City, Taiwan; Arlington County, Virginia; Ipswich, Queensland, Australia; Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.
The list is created by the Intelligent Community Forum.
The federally mandated “beef checkoff” program has been in the news a lot the last few years. Many small and mid-sized ranchers feel like the program, which make them pay the program $1 per head of cattle they sell, to the government to be used to promote beef to the American public. But more and more, ranchers are coming to believe the program is over-promoting the folks who need help the least while ignoring the independent ranches.
“I call it the liberty tax,” [rancher David] Pfrang said. “We just lost some freedom and we’re not being represented.”
As many as a fourth of the nation’s 730,000 ranchers – mostly small independent farmers — have complained for years that the checkoff has become a billion-dollar bonanza for big ranchers, industry executives and giant beefpackers. Federal statistics show larger more efficient cattle operations are forcing out smaller ranchers and feedlots. This vertical integration has already completely altered the U.S. chicken and hog industries.