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NLPA News Brief
May 25, 2016
Livestock and Ag Credit News

BVD: Big Viral Dilemma

By Wyatt Bechtel, Drovers, 05/20/16—One of the beef industry's biggest quandaries has been ridding cattle herds of bovine viral diarrhea (BVD). The virus was first discovered in 1946 and has been found on every continent except Antarctica. Like many infections, different strains of BVD have mutated and evolved across the world.

BVD causes decreased reproduction, lower feed efficiency, higher mortality and morbidity rates. Exposure to persistently infected (PI) cattle is costly. A feedlot study from 2009 reveals contact with a PI–calf results in losses of $41.84 to $93.52 per animal.

Because of BVD's global and fiscal impact, a forum was hosted by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to address issues and seek solutions for the disease. Cattle producers, veterinarians, university researchers, government officials and industry professionals all took part in the conversation.

"We want to continue to educate the industry about BVD virus," says Dan Grooms, DVM, professor at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

To control BVD, Grooms says there are three important steps in the prevention chain:

  • Implementing biosecurity by reducing the risk of the virus entering a herd through contact with PI–cattle
  • Identifying and eliminating PI–cattle from herds to stop disease transmissionzzz
  • Improving herd immunity through vaccine immunization

Grooms says none of these approaches will work simply on their own, but when used together they will go a long way toward protecting the beef supply chain. The ultimate goal is to eliminate BVD losses all together.

GIPSA NEWS: No new posts this week.

Livestock and Ag Credit News

Author Puts Focus On Family Farms

Bismarck Tribune, 05/22/16— Agricultural author John Ikerd asked a Bismarck crowd this week whether North Dakota needs more pigs, or more opportunities for people to make a living raising hogs.

The Dakota Resource Council, which is opposed to recent exemptions made for dairy and pork producers in North Dakota's anti–corporate farming law, invited Ikerd to present "Corporate Agriculture vs. Family Farms: A Battle for Hearts and Minds of the People" on a tour of four cities: Fargo, Grand Forks, Rugby and finally Bismarck.

Ikerd argued that it's not the business type but the method of production that needs changing. He suggested a better model would focus on smaller grass–fed beef operations rather than large feedlots and hoop–house hog farms, which require more management and mechanization.

"That's what we ought to be creating," Ikerd said. "That's where the new opportunities are … we're creating a whole new farm system."

Fifty–Plus Ag Groups Show Support for Farm Credit System

American Sheep Industry Association Weekly Newsletter, 05/20/16— With farm and ranch commodity prices increasingly under pressure, concerns are growing that the agriculture economy may be entering a prolonged period of instability, making the role of the Farm Credit System more important than ever, the American Sheep Industry Association and more than 50 agricultural groups wrote to the Senate Agriculture Committee.

"Credit availability in good times is singularly important to our respective members. Credit availability in tough times may well mean the difference between producers staying on the land or being forced to abandon their operations," the groups wrote.

"It is our belief that the FCS and commercial banks play a critical role in ensuring that farmers, ranchers and other rural Americans have access to constructive, competitive credit on an ongoing basis. We need all the resources that can be made available to sustain agriculture and rural America now and into the future," according to the groups.

Food Defense Rule Designed to Combat Intentional Adulteration

By Dan Flynn, Food Safety News, 05/23/16—From the books they left behind, we know that ancient people from all cultural and religious backgrounds feared that their enemies might poison their food.

Our fear that our enemies might poison our food supply increased after airplanes were used as missiles to attack the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. That's why food defense has been on the agenda ever since the historicBioterrorism Act became law in 2002. Now, however, the largest domestic and foreign food businesses serving the U.S. are about to have a new Food Defense Rule to follow as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The rule, officially called "Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration," wasincluded in FSMA even though there was no incident in the decade after 9/11 when anyone with the goal of inflicting massive public health damage is known to have intentionally adulterated the food supply.

"The goal is to protect the food supply from those who may attempt to cause large–scale public harm," said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. "Since events, while unlikely to occur, must be taken seriously because they have the potential to cause serious public health and economic consequences." The FSMA rule marks the first time that FDA has had to come up with a regulatory scheme for preventing intentional adulteration of the food supply.

Four in Five Americans Agree Burgers Are a Good Source of Nutrients

Mintel, 05/19/16— While consumption of beef is down over the past decade, burgers endure as a mainstay of the modern American diet. New research from Mintel reveals that not only do 82 percent of consumers* agree that burgers are a good source of nutrients, but another 80 percent would pay more for burgers made with premium ingredients. With three in five (62 percent) consumers saying that they love burgers, there's no denying their popularity.

However, as beef faces negative health perceptions, consumers show interest in a wide array of non–beef burger alternatives. In fact, nearly half of consumers would like to see more chicken burgers (46 percent) on menus and two in five (42 percent) are interested in more turkey burgers. Another one third (34 percent) of Americans are interested in seeing bison/buffalo as a burger option on more menus.

Interest in non–beef burger offerings is highest among Millennials, who are the most likely generation to agree that healthiness of menu items is the most important factor when choosing a restaurant (64 percent). Indeed, three in five (58 percent) Millennials would like more chicken burgers and half (52 percent) would like more turkey options on menus. Overall, Millennials are more interested than any other generation in every non–beef burger Mintel surveyed.

Research Shows Paradigm Shift in Consumer Behavior

By Krissa Welshans, Feedstuffs, 05/20/16— Research has shown price is important in nearly every buying decision, but a new doctoral study by researcher Ken Wicker through Capella University's School of Business shows today's grocery shoppers are placing more value on quality and service than price alone.

The study titled, "A study of customer value and loyalty in the supermarket industry," surveyed shoppers in Atlanta, Ga. using decision factors of price, quality, service, convenience, store atmosphere and store brands. The research revealed new insights on customer loyalty and perception of value.

"Quality [overall] and high–quality perishables far outranked price," Wicker reported. "That was the number one predictor of value and loyalty for supermarket customers." The findings on quality and loyalty go to the heart of strategic planning, especially in the food business.

"Loyal customers shop with you more often and spend more when they're with you, whether it's in the restaurant industry or the supermarket industry," Wicker explained.

How BQA Could Help Grow Relationships with Consumers

By Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine, 05/23/16— In all of the consumer conversations and media outcry about antibiotic use, animal welfare and the humane treatment of animals, the quiet and often unheard voice of beef producers has one story that isn't being told enough. That story is of the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, a checkoff funded certification program that offers training to producers, so they can ensure a safe, high quality beef product for consumers to enjoy.

BQA encompasses every aspect of the beef cattle industry including cow–calf, stocker, feedlot, and even dairy, and the BQA certification modules include information on proper animal handling, administration of vaccines and how to eliminate injection–site lesions, low–stress cattle handling, and other management practices that ultimately determine the quality and safety of the beef we love.

Getting certified is one of those things that can be easy to put on the back burner; however, having that BQA certification and talking about it with our consumers shows our customer base that producers take these issues seriously. Having these discussions with our consumers not only shows the industry's dedication to producing a safe beef product, but it could possibly deter future regulations that force ranchers to follow certain guidelines, as well.

After all, it's easier to do things voluntarily because it's the right thing to do vs. having Washington, D.C. tell you how things need to be done.

Figures Lie and Liars Figure (Commentary)

By Dr. Richard Raymond, Feedstuffs FoodLink, 05/20/16— Every year since 2009, the Food and Drug Administration releases a report that is mislabeled as "Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food–Producing Animals".

I say mislabeled because every year every table that describes the totals for different types of sales has a footnote that says: "Includes antimicrobial drug applications which are approved and labeled for use in both food–producing animals (e.g., cattle and swine) and nonfood–producing animals (e.g., dogs and cats)".

So the liars, that evidently do not read footnotes, compare the total sales for probable use in all animals, including horses, to human sales and often repeat that old line that 80% of all antibiotic sales in the U.S. are for use in "perfectly healthy animals" raised for food.

The latest report for sales during the year 2014 was recently released and the title and footnote have not changed, but the numbers have and once again we see groups using total sales to try and promote their agenda.

Multiple publications led the news with headlines such as "FDA Report Shows Antibiotic Sales on the Rise" (AgriPulse), and "Antibiotic Sales to Farms up 23 Percent Since 2009" (Food Safety News).

But a detailed look at the reports paints quite a different picture than just using the total sales as the figure to base opinions on.

It is true that total sales are up, but it is not true that "we are standing on the brink of a public health disaster" as Congresswoman Slaughter has stated.

Most of the increase in the last six years is in the ionophore and tetracycline classes. In fact, those two classes each saw an increase of approximately 25%, a number very similar to the 23% cited in the one headline about sales to farms. Ionophores made up 31% of total sales in 2014 and are never used in human medicine. They are anti–parasitics, an infection most Americans will never have a problem with. Tetracyclines comprised 43% of total sales for use in animals, but only 3% of total sales for use in human medicine.

Global Livestock News

Cattle Identification: Branding Is Back

By Debbie Furber, Canadian Cattlemen, 05/20/16— Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia are the only provinces in Canada with cattle brand registries and associated brand inspection services, all of which have reported a surge in new brand registrations with the rising prices for cattle last year.

Last spring, Bob Miller, general manager of Ownership Identification Inc. (OII) in British Columbia, noted a "considerable" increase in new beef ranch brand registrations. This spring, he calls it "huge."

"The increase shows that producers do accept and see branding as a way to have permanent identification on their cattle," Miller says.

Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Approves Five-Year Strategic Plan

BEEF Central, 05/21/16— The board of directors of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef has approved a new five–year strategic plan. Approved at the GRSB Semi–Annual Board Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, the Strategic Plan for 2016 – 2021 provides a framework for prioritising goals and objectives that will guide the work of the GRSB, its members, board and staff.

GRSB goals and objectives in the Strategic Plan include expanding global reach through new roundtables, projects and stakeholder engagement, as well as demonstrating those results by creating a data platform that reports on the progress being made, shares regional roundtable and project findings and tracks key global metrics. Additional key priorities in the plan include ongoing communication of continuous improvements around the globe, engagement on global issues through convening sectors, roundtables and geographies, and nurturing GRSB membership, member value and revenues.

"The work done to date has been exceptional and has set the stage to move into the next chapter," said Dennis Laycraft, president of GRSB as well as the executive vice president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

Global Livestock News

Senate GMO Labeling Bill Will Need House Support

By Mark Dorenkamp, Brownfield Ag News, 05/23/16–The ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee says the GMO labeling bill being worked on in the Senate needs to be similar to the legislation passed in the House last year.

Collin Peterson of Minnesota tells Brownfield the House version is pre–emption with a voluntary labeling system.

"If (the Senate) gets too far off of that, it's not going to fly in the House. So, even though they're working on something over there, it doesn't mean just because the Senate passes (a bill) it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to fly in the House."

Peterson says while the Senate is making progress on GMO labeling, a scheduled recess at the end of the month could stunt momentum.

"Apparently they're not going to get around to it until June. And if the Senate doesn't get around to it until June, I just don't see how it gets through the Senate and gets through the House and gets to the president by the first of July."

Biotech–Derived Foods As 'Natural' As Any Other, Farm Bureau Tells FDA

FB News, 05/19/16— As the Food and Drug Administration considers the use of the term "natural" in labeling human food, genetic engineering should not be a factor. All breeding methods, including genetic engineering, modify DNA, a naturally occurring component of the plant. Nothing synthetic or artificial is introduced, Farm Bureau said in comments recently submitted to the agency.

FDA itself has consistently said that genetic engineering is merely an extension of traditional breeding. "FDA should not abandon its longstanding, science–based position that foods produced through the use of genetic engineering do not differ 'in any meaningful or uniform way, or, as a class, present any different or greater safety concern than foods developed through traditional breeding,'" Farm Bureau said.

Furthermore, Farm Bureau urged FDA to continue its current policy interpreting the term "natural" to mean that "nothing artificial or synthetic (including color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food." However, the agency should go a step further to clarify that it is neither false nor misleading to label food "natural" solely because it has been derived from agricultural products produced through modern biotechnology.

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