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July 18, 2018
Livestock and Ag Credit News

What Is Meat, Anyway? Lab–Grown Food Sets Off a Debate

By Matt Simon, WIRED, 07/16/18—You don't typically find philosophical bickering at an FDA public meeting. But then again, this was no ordinary public meeting. On Thursday, the agency convened a scrum on so–called cultured meat—animal tissue grown in a lab, derived from just a handful of cells taken from a cow or chicken or fish.

Experts, lab–meat companies, and spokespeople from industry groups discussed the technology, regulation, and safety of the stuff, which all seemed to boil down to one weirdly complicated question: What is meat anyway?

There were the consumer groups, specifically the Consumers Union, which advocated for more transparency: "It's important that the name informs consumers that the food is different from conventional meat, and gives consumers some idea of how it was produced."

"If the food itself can replicate the whole sensory experience—the taste, the look, the texture, and the nutrition of real meat—while still being safe, there's no reason it can't use the word meat or fish," Mike Selden, CEO of lab–grown fish company Finless Foods, told WIRED. "That said, we aren't interested in fooling consumers. We want to differentiate what we're making from conventionally produced meat and fish, and that's because we believe what we're making has added value."

Livestock and Ag Credit News

Foreign Beef Can Legally Be Labeled "Product of U.S.A." It's Killing America's Grass–fed Industry

By Joe Fassler, The New Food Economy, 07/16/18—Last month, in a petition formally filed with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), two advocacy groups made a stunning claim: Your American grass–fed beef might actually come from overseas, even if it's labeled "Product of U.S.A."

Those two groups—the American Grassfed Association (AGA), which offers the country's leading "grass–fed" certification, and the Organization for Competitive Markets, a watchdog group that fights corporate consolidation in the food industry—point out that a massive regulatory loophole allows companies to falsely, and yet legally, claim their imported beef comes from our pastures.

Under the current rules, beef and pork products that are shipped to the United States and processed further here, can be labeled "product of U.S.A.," even if the animal was raised a continent away. That means a steer slaughtered in Uruguay and broken down into steaks at a meatpacking plant in Colorado is technically American meat—even if it isn't.

Livestock Groups Launch Media Campaign in Support of Barrasso Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018

BeefUSA.org News Release, 07/17/18—The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) today launched an online campaign to educate the public on the need for a modernized Endangered Species Act. The campaign, which focuses on the ranching industry, highlights the importance of working landscapes in improving ecological services and achieving species conservation targets.

The campaign comes at a pivotal time, as Senator John Barrasso (R–Wyo.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, introduced the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018. Barrasso's policy is based on bipartisan policy recommendations from the Western Governors' Association (WGA) that was informed by several years of workshops and roundtables held throughout the west and including key stakeholders across the political spectrum.

Besides PLC and NCBA (as well as many of its state affiliates) participants included state wildlife agencies, conservation groups such as The Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, and Environmental Defense Fund, as well as energy companies and sportsmen's groups.

According to Kevin Kester, California rancher and NCBA President, the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018 is a once in a lifetime opportunity for species conservation reform.

Montana Considers Requiring Ranchers In 5 More Counties to Vaccinate Against Brucellosis

By Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette, 07/17/18—More ranchers in the Greater Yellowstone Area could be asked to vaccinate against brucellosis as state livestock and wildlife officials reassess disease exposure from migrating elk.

Livestock officials would like to expand the number of counties for required vaccinations from four to nine with the biggest expansion coming in southwestern and south–central Montana.

Ranchers in Broadwater, Carbon, Jefferson, Stillwater and Sweet Grass counties would have to vaccinate all sexually intact female cattle more than 12 months old. The rule change stops short of bringing all the required brucellosis prevention measures into the new counties. The added counties would not become part of Montana's Designated Surveillance Area for brucellosis, where livestock are rigorously tested for the disease and their movements are closely tracked.

"We have found all of our cases in Montana while they are still standing within the boundaries of the DSA. Because of surveillance we have found them all. That's a victory," said Tahnee Szymanski, assistant state veterinarian.

CSU Finds Feedlot Solar to Be Economically Feasible

The Fence Post, 07/17/18—Colorado State University's Rural Energy Center has completed 10 initial economic feasibility assessments for solar energy at Colorado feedlots, and the results are promising. Animal feeding operations participating in the 'Feedlot Assessments for Solar Energy' (FASE) program would install solar arrays between four and 500 kilowatts to offset their electricity use. For reference, an average home in Colorado would need to install a five kW array to offset its electricity use.

The cost of an average solar PV system among feedlots participating in the study is $187,000 before incentives but gets down to $69,000 after incentives. Incentives include a 30 percent federal tax credit and grants from both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Department of Agriculture. The average system would have a 7 percent return on investment and only three years of negative cashflow on a cumulative basis. Solar arrays could be installed on buildings, open space or even as shade structures over open feedlots. The solar arrays being evaluated would tie into the grid and be used to offset the electricity costs of pumping water, lighting, ventilation and other agricultural uses.

CSU is continuing to accept animal feeding operations and diversified farms with animal agriculture into the FASE program. Participants get a free assessment report that provides estimated system sizes, costs, savings, and other information needed to decide whether investing in a solar array is a sound investment.

Methane Management Increases Production, Alleviates Environmental Impacts

By Raney Rapp, Farm Talk, 07/16/18—While pop culture blames gassy cows for the downfall of the entire earth's atmosphere, livestock producers know differently — methane primarily exits the cow from the front rather than the rear and there's a lot more to climate change than belching bovines.

During the Great Plains Grazing conference in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Andy Cole and Rick Todd — both scientists with the United States Department of Agriculture's Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas — presented their findings on the real impacts of ruminant methane production.

"In 1860 in North America there were somewhere between 30 and 75 million bison — elk and deer were similar around 43 million," Cole said. "Today there around 30 million wild ruminants but we also have around 17 to 18 million domestic beef cattle and dairy cattle." While the image Cole brings to mind might sound like a hunter's paradise, he uses it to make a point — enteric or rumen–produced methane emissions are very near historic averages in the United States.

"There are about 1 billion cattle and buffalo in the world and about 30 percent of those are in India, 23 percent in Brazil, 10 percent in China and about 9 percent here in the United States," Cole said. "So U.S. cattle numbers are a very small percentage of all the cattle and buffalo in the world."

The real story behind methane emissions is not a battle of cow numbers or even cow size, it's a battle of cow efficiency — a trait American cattle producers know all too well.

Global Livestock News

McDonald's To Serve Certified Sustainable Beef in Canada

By Alyssa Danigelis, Environmental Leader, 07/16/18—McDonald's Canada plans to serve Canadian beef from certified sustainable farms and ranches, sourcing more than 20 million Angus burgers from them over the next 12 months. The company will purchase Angus beef certified according to standards set by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB).

The CRSB sustainable beef production and processing standards include more than 60 indicators across five principles for beef sustainability and are upheld by–on–site certification audits, according to McDonald's Canada.

Citing examples of indicators a farmer or rancher must achieve, the company says that grasslands and grazing must be managed in a way that maintains or improves soil health and protects watershed areas. In addition, feed, water, animal care, shelter, and herd health and handling procedure outcomes must meet the requirements outlined for beef cattle by the National Farm Animal Care Council.

The Certified Sustainable Beef Framework was developed by the multi–stakeholder membership organization the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) as a tool to certify farms, ranches, and processing facilities against sustainability standards.

Global Livestock News

Grazing Is 'Indispensable' to America. Or, It's a 'Cancer,' Westerners Tell Congress

By William L. Spence, Idaho Statesman, 07/13/18—Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little told a congressional committee Thursday that livestock grazing on Western public lands provides a host of benefits to American taxpayers. Chief among those, he said, is the rapid initial attack ranchers make on burgeoning wildfires, which helps keep them to a manageable size.

"That saves you (the federal government) an enormous amount of money," Little told the House Natural Resource Committee's federal lands subcommittee, which held a 90–minute hearing on "the essential role of livestock grazing on federal lands and its importance to rural America."

Potential 'Turf War' Over Who Regulates Lab–Produced Meat

By Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, 07/16/18—A recent Food and Drug Administration hearing on lab–produced meat may have been the first volley in a potential "turf war" over regulation of the new technology.

Danielle Beck of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, who attended the meeting, says FDA officials made their position clear—they believe they should have regulatory authority over lab–produced meat products. But Beck says NCBA believes that jurisdiction lies with USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

"The law is clear. Any meat product, meat food product or meat by–product should be regulated by them (FSIS)," Beck says. "We believe the USDA is the appropriate regulator and FDA was putting the cart before the horse today."

Dr Dan Kovich of the National Pork Producers Council agrees.

"It's pretty clear by the letter of the law that any of this stuff that's made, that is going to be sold as a meat product, is going to have to be under the ultimate supervision of FSIS," Kovich says.

NLPA News Brief

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Prepared by Polly Welden

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