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NLPA News Brief
September 28, 2016
Livestock and Ag Credit News

U.S. Beef Producers React Cautiously to China Premier Statement on Imports

By Kelsey Gee, Lucy Craymer and Rebecca Blumenstein, The Wall Street Journal, 09/22/16— U.S. beef producers on Wednesday reacted cautiously to a pledge by China's premier to lift a ban on U.S. beef imports that has restricted access to the market for more than a decade.

Industry officials said the lack of a clear timeline for lifting the de facto import ban in place since 2003 limited the potential upside for an industry reeling from rising supplies and a sharp drop in prices.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech in New York on Tuesday that the country would "soon" allow imports of U.S. beef, fueling optimism among trade groups who had hoped the ban would be lifted by the end of the year.

"The question I'm left with is, 'What is the meaning of 'soon' here?' " said Brett Stuart, president of Global AgriTrends LLC. "Meetings [between the two countries' agricultural officials] have been off and on for 13 years."

GIPSA NEWS: Now new posts this week.

Livestock and Ag Credit News

Why Industrial Farms Are Good for the Environment

By Jayson Lusk, The New York Times, 09/23/16—There is much to like about small, local farms and their influence on what we eat. But if we are to sustainably deal with problems presented by population growth and climate change, we need to look to the farmers who grow a majority of the country's food and fiber.

Large farmers — who are responsible for 80 percent of the food sales in the United States, though they make up fewer than 8 percent of all farms, according to 2012 data from the Department of Agriculture — are among the most progressive, technologically savvy growers on the planet.

Their technology has helped make them far gentler on the environment than at any time in history. And a new wave of innovation makes them more sustainable still.

A vast majority of the farms are family–owned. Very few, about 3 percent, are run by nonfamily corporations. Large farm owners (about 159,000) number fewer than the residents of a medium–size city like Springfield, Mo. Their wares, from milk, lettuce and beef to soy, are unlikely to be highlighted on the menus of farm–to–table restaurants, but they fill the shelves at your local grocery store.

The Pros and Cons of the Grass–Fed Beef Boom

Willy Blackmore, Take Part, 09/25/16—Americans eat less beef today than they did when Richard Nixon was president. But despite the decline in consumption that began in the mid–'70s, a particular type of beef is rapidly rising in popularity. According to Nielsen, sales of grass–fed beef rose by 40 percent in 2015 over 2014 numbers, compared with a 6.5 percent increase for conventional beef.

Today, you can get grass–fed beef franks at Major League Baseball parks, grass–fed beef burgers at the drive–through, and packets of grass–fed ground beef at mega–grocers such as Walmart.

For an alternative meat product to achieve such mainstream status in a relatively short period of time is, on some level, a success story. Despite sales being up significantly in the past year, grass–fed beef accounted for less than 2 percent of the overall beef market, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Overall beef imports to the U.S. have been trending downward for about a decade, but two of the largest foreign suppliers of U.S. beef are New Zealand and Australia—and meat cattle operations in both countries are based in large part on pasture, not feedlots. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, "Most imported beef is lower–valued, grass–fed beef destined for processing, primarily as ground beef."

The hormone– and antibiotic–free grass–fed burger that Carl's Jr. debuted in 2014—to much fanfare—is made with 100 percent Australian beef.

Merck Animal Health Launches Beef Sustainability Calculator App

Drovers, 09/27/16—Merck Animal Health is pleased to announce the launch of a new app, the Meat Sustainability Calculator, which is designed to help producers, suppliers and others in the food chain better understand how the beef production systems and technologies they use impact the environment. The app was created in partnership with Jude Capper, Ph.D., an independent sustainability consultant.

Data from peer–reviewed journals was utilized to establish a standard of the environmental impact of North American beef production practices. The app enables users to evaluate their own impact on sustainability by comparing their results to the North American average. Producers and suppliers can compare on a per–head–of–cattle scenario, while food service members or retailers can assess based on amount of beef produced or purchased.

Livestock Groups Ask for Additional GIPSA Comment Period

By Jacqui Fatka, Feedstuffs, 09/23/16— The National Chicken Council, along with the National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. and National Pork Producers Council, sent a letter this week to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Larry Mitchell, administrator of the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), requesting that the agency reopen the comment period associated with the controversial GIPSA rule.

The letter stated that, in March 2016, Vilsack announced that GIPSA was again working on the proposed rule and intended to move forward with some elements of that proposal. Main livestock commodity groups signing this week's letter submitted comments in 2010 voicing their significant opposition to the proposed rule. "The opposition expressed six years ago remains as staunch as ever, and we urge the agency to abandon the proposed rule because of the significant adverse effect adopting it would have on the meat and poultry industry, particularly the producer community, who will be disproportionately affected," the groups said.

NIAA Symposium: Farm Animals, Antibiotic Use And Resistance

Bovine Veterinarian, 09/22/16— "Everyone hopes for a simple, straight forward answer to every problem," says Dr. M.A. McCrackin, a featured speaker at the upcoming 6th Annual NIAA Antibiotics Symposium. "It would be satisfying, but there is just not a simple solution to combating antibiotic resistance."

"Health providers, vets in private practice, all of the professionals who have a legal authority to prescribe need to be more and more thoughtful," says McCrackin, who was formerly in practice as a veterinarian. "In earlier years, we didn't realize there was a negative side to prescribing an antibiotic. It's Friday afternoon and the client is pressuring you to do 'something.' It is understandable if it seemed at the time as if it couldn't hurt."

The first Antibiotics Symposium hosted by National Institute for Animal Agriculture was in 2011, as concern from scientists, consumers and the media about antibiotic resistance began to grow and the animal agriculture industry began to look at what impact it might have on the problem. The newest installment of the Symposium will be this November 1–3 in Herndon, Virginia. Registration information can be found HERE.

Feed Wheat to Hogs with Proper Precautions

Kevin Schulz, National Hog Farmer, 09/22/16—Feed costs make up a good portion of producers' inputs, so it may be enticing to look at ways to lessen the dollar signs that go along with that cost. Right now, the price of wheat, mainly in relation to the price of corn, has some producers looking at the small grain as an alternative feedstuff to fill hogs' bellies. Kansas State University's Mike Tokach says adding wheat to swine diets is nothing new for Kansas hog producers, but there are necessary precautions to be heeded.

"One of the issues with wheat is with grinding and handling on the mill side," says Tokach, who specializes in swine nutrition for KSU Extension.

Wheat needs to be ground relatively fine, but it does have a tendency to "flour" more easily than corn does, meaning you get a lot of "really fine" particles, and "when that happens, that wheat can cause ulcers more easily than with what we see with some of the other ingredients, so you do have be careful with particle size."

In addition to ground wheat particle size potentially leading to ulcers in pigs, particle size also can cause flowability issues in feed lines and bins, potentially leading to out–of–feed events "that can also lead to ulcers that occur when pigs don't have access to feed for a period of time," he says.

Global Livestock News

Little Pig, Have You Had Your Seaweed Today?

By Angela Bowman, PORK Network, 09/26/16—According to the UK–based new source, The Press and Journal, researchers at the University College Dublin found feeding seaweed to sows can have long–term beneficial impacts on piglet health.

Essentially, by improving the sow's gut structure, the health benefits can be passed to piglets.

These benefits include a drop in the presence of E. coli in the gut, which may be a key component to helping pork producers reduce the need for antibiotics.

Driving a Sustainable Beef Industry

Queensland Country Life, 09/24/16—RETAILERS, special interest groups and customers can now have their say on what sustainable beef means to them and help develop the first–ever Australian Beef Sustainability Framework.

Sustainability Steering Group (SSG) chairwoman Prue Bondfield says this round of consultation, after three months of extensive industry consultation, will help guide development of the framework. "Consultation will help identify priority areas for industry – from on–farm, feedlot, transport and processing perspectives," Mrs Bondfield said.

"From there we will develop indicators to track performance using existing data sets. The framework will not establish or endorse measurement systems at an individual business level.

Global Livestock News

NPPC, Farm Bureau Win FOIA Case Against EPA

NPPC New Release, 09/12/16— A federal appeals court Friday overruled a lower court decision to throw out a lawsuit brought by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its release to environmental groups of personal information on tens of thousands of farmers.

In late 2015, a U.S. district court dismissed the NPPC–Farm Bureau suit for lack of standing. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis ruled that "the associations have established a concrete and particularized injury in fact traceable to the EPA's action and redressable by judicial relief."

"EPA's release of sensitive, private and personal materials on more than 100,000 farmers and ranchers was an outrageous abuse of its power and trust," said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. "We are very pleased with the Court of Appeals' decision to reinstate our lawsuit to prevent the EPA from doing this again."

Ag Secretary, NPPC Agree $150 Million Not Enough for FMD Vaccine Bank

WNAX Radio (South Dakota), 09/27/16—The U.S. pork industry wants Congress to fully fund a foot and mouth disease vaccine bank in the next farm bill. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Senate Ag Committee last week it would take more than the $150 million livestock groups want for the bank. National Pork Producers Council President John Weber agrees with that assessment and says while they projected $150 million over five years, the U.S. livestock industry is not prepared for any possible FMD outbreak.

He says the two foreign laboratories the U.S. could source vaccine from are getting high demand from other countries. Weber says the vaccine problem is being felt by more than the U.S., and in fact, it's a North American problem. Weber says any FMD outbreak in the U.S. would cost much more than the $150 million called for over five years to fund the vaccine bank.

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