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November 15, 2017
Livestock and Ag Credit News

How Does The Carbon Footprint of U.S. Beef Compare to Global Beef?

By Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine, 11/02/17—Sustainability — it's a hot topic of discussion these days as our population continues to grow and available resources become fewer and fewer as grasslands and forests are replaced with the concrete jungles of urban sprawl.

Yet, if you ask an environmental activist about this topic, he would say agriculture is to blame. This is despite the fact that modern food production uses less land, water and other natural resources to produce an abundance of food that is widely available to consumers. However, it's easy to take modern food production practices for granted when we have full bellies.

Sustainability is a buzzword that has been stolen by activists and used as a weapon to criticize, attack and demonize today's farmers and ranchers. It's a word that is difficult to define, but for beef producers, it's always been about conserving the land, producing more nutritious and safe beef and passing on our legacy to the next generation.

When you put it into layman's terms, sustainability isn't that complicated; however, misconceptions about beef production continue to plague us. One that we hear over and over again is the lie that today's U.S. beef production chain emits too many greenhouse gases. If we would simply go meatless on Mondays, we could continue to drive our gas–guzzling SUVs and live in energy–zapping mansions without feeling guilty. It's the cheeseburger that's causing all the damage, right?

Not so fast.

This myth has been debunked many times, but in a new animation, funded by the beef checkoff, sustainability is broken down to show consumers the facts about greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. beef cattle compared to beef cattle raised around the world.

You can watch the animation here.


GIPSA NEWS: 11/0817

Livestock and Ag Credit News

Oklahoma Cattle Producers Say 'No' to State Checkoff

Tri–State Livestock News, 11/09/17—Today, Nov. 9, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry (ODAFF) announced the $1 refundable Oklahoma Beef Checkoff referendum failed with 2,506 no votes and 1,998 yes votes.

The proposed checkoff would have required that one dollar be taken from cattle owners every time they sold cattle. The funds would remain in state to be administered by the Oklahoma Beef Council, which is made up of: members appointed by: American Farmers and Ranchers, Oklahoma Dairy Producers Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, Oklahoma CattleWomen Association, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Livestock Marketing Association and the Chairman of the Oklahoma Senate and House Agriculture Committees.

The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Assocation led the charge to gain support for the checkoff, patterning much of their promotional material and the details of the proposed checkoff itself after the state checkoff recently approved in Texas.

Anyone who expected he or she would pay a state checkoff was allowed to vote – regardless of age or address, so children and out–of–state individuals were discovered to have voted. The OCA is proud of its "Vote yes" campaign, despite the defeat.

"As a rancher, I face challenges every day," said Weston Givens, rancher and President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association. "Unfortunately, those daily challenges are nothing compared to the growing challenges that our industry faces such as: aggressive anti–meat activist groups trying to remove beef from the menu and misleading claims about food safety and animal care. It is disheartening that the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff was defeated, but I'm still proud of the strong collaborative effort of the Vote Yes Coalition and our grassroots campaign."

Livestock Groups Seek Delay in Reporting Requirements

Hoosier Ag Today, 11/13/17—A November 15 deadline to report on–farm air emissions is looming. The National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association filed a brief in support of an Environmental Protection Agency motion to delay a mandate that farmers report certain air emissions from manure on their farms. Back in April, a federal court threw out an exemption for farms from reporting "hazardous" air emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Act and the Emergency Community Response Right to Know Act.

The court made the move after environmental groups sued the EPA in federal court. Between 60,000 and 100,000 livestock and poultry farmers will have to file air emissions reports with the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center. They'll also have to file written reports to a local EPA office within 30 days of filing with the NRC.

Some farmers have already tried to file reports and the NRC phone system has been overwhelmed. Operators are refusing to accept reports from more than one farm per call because they are worried about not being able to respond to emergencies. In filing the delay request, the EPA told the court it wants time to give farmers specific guidance on how to file those reports.

WHO Suggestion to Limit Antibiotics for Livestock Criticized by US Regulators

By Grant Gerlock, KUNC Public Radio, Colorado, 11/13/17—But the U.S. Department of Agriculture says some of the guidelines from the United Nations' public health agency would place "unnecessary and unrealistic constraints" on farmers and veterinarians. It's a disagreement that could have an impact on farm exports.

The WHO says some antibiotics should be available to treat infections only in humans, not cattle, hogs and chickens, and that farmers should not use antibiotics to make healthy animals grow faster. Those ideas are in alignment with goals outlined by the U.S. to slow the spread of antibiotic resistance.

The WHO goes on to suggest, however, that animals should only be treated when they are sick, not to stop them from getting sick. U.S. policy still allows veterinarians to prescribe antibiotics preventively.

"The WHO guidelines are not in alignment with U.S. policy and are not supported by sound science," Dr. Chavonda Jacobs–Young, the acting chief scientist at the USDA, said in a statement. Jacobs–Young says there's no indication that restricting preventive treatments would have a meaningful impact on drug–resistant bacteria.

The Food and Drug Administration, which is in charge of regulating veterinary drugs, says preventive antibiotics need to be available to avoid widespread illness in animals, such as respiratory illnesses that commonly infect hogs and cattle in confined–feeding operations.

"However, to ensure these drugs are used judiciously, FDA believes it is critical that these uses are under the oversight of licensed veterinarians," the agency said in a statement to Harvest Public Media.

A Different Take on Plant–Based Diets

By JoAnn Alumbaugh, Farm Journal's PORK, 11/02/17—It's possible that eating lettuce is more harmful to the environment than eating bacon. A study from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) suggests vegetarian and other plant–based diets could be more harmful to the environment than eating animal protein. Keep in mind, however, that not all fruits and vegetables are the same, and lettuce is a water–based vegetable. Still, the study brings up some important points.

CMU reports, "Following the USDA recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood is more harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per calorie."

Published in Environment Systems and Decisions, the study measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint and GHG emissions associated with U.S. food consumption patterns.

"Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon," said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy at CMU. "Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken."

Disney Sued by AIG to Avoid Paying BPI Settlement

By Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine, 11/06/17—Disney's insurance company sues to avoid paying the reimbursement costs from BPI's settlement following lean, finely textured beef.

The ABC vs. BPI saga continues to unfold. While Beef Products Inc. (BPI) is using its settlement money from ABC's parent company, Walt Disney Co. (DIS), to rebuild the company and provide financial support to previously laid–off employees, DIS is headed back to court again.

This time, the company is being sued by American International Group Inc. (AIG). Reuters is reporting that AIG sued DIS to avoid having to reimburse BPI's settlement following the defamation lawsuit over ABC's reporting of "pink slime."

"AIG said in its lawsuit that Disney's policy covered some defamation claims, but only if the company had first found an outside lawyer to say the statements it planned to broadcast were acceptable. The New York–based insurer accused Disney of trying to 'create coverage where none exists.'"

While BPI and DIS never disclosed the settlement amount, we do know that DIS reported in an Aug. 8 regulatory filing that it had incurred $177 million in costs, in addition to what insurance covered, to settle litigation during the second quarter.

We also know that BPI was seeking $1.9 billion in damages, which could have reached $5.7 billion under South Dakota's food disparagement law. Many are making the assumption that the final settlement is much more than the $177 million that DIS reported.

Global Livestock News

Chinese Ecommerce Giant Strikes $300 Million Montana Beef Deal

By Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette, 11/08/17—Chinese e–commerce giant JD.com has struck a $300 million beef deal with the Montana Stockgrowers Association, including $100 million for a new packing plant.

JD.com signed the agreement with Montana's largest livestock organization in mid–October, but kept it quiet until President Donald Trump's visit Wednesday to China. JD.com is the world's third largest Internet retailer, behind Amazon and Google.

Ranchers will supply $200 million worth of Montana–sourced beef to JD.com beginning in January 2018 and continuing through 2020. At a minimum, JD is expected to buy 80,000 to 90,000 cattle.

Spain Makes Gains in Asian Pork Markets

Meat + Poultry, 11/14/17— The country world–famous for jamón this year became the leading supplier of pork to the world's largest consumer of pork products. Spain has focused on improving access to global markets, and the work has paid off as the country became the leading pork supplier to the Chinese market and fourth leading supplier to Japan, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Dept. of Agriculture said its latest GAIN report from Madrid.

Pork exports from Spain remained stable from January to July, FAS said, while values increased 14 percent compared to the same period a year ago. In 2016, Spanish pork exports to China advanced 96 percent reaching 252,543 metric tons with a corresponding increase in value, making China the most important destination for Spanish pork and Spain the second largest pork supplier to China, according to FAS.

Global Livestock News

USDA Again Delays Organic Livestock Rule

By Jacqui Fatka, Feedstuffs, 11/09/17—The Trump Administration again decided to delay the effective date of the final rule on organic livestock and poultry practices that was published in the final hours of the Obama Administration. The first delay came in February 2017, followed by another delay in May. The latest slowdown has the agency waiting to evaluate the rule until May 14, 2018.

The Organic Livestock & Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule, initially proposed in April 2016, adds new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions and expands and clarifies existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices.

Although larger organic interests like the Organic Trade Assn. (OTA) supported the initial rule release, many commodity groups such as the National Pork Producers Council, the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. and even larger organic businesses voiced opposition about the stipulations and costly regulations without providing animal welfare benefits.

Secretary Perdue Launches Veteran Resources at USDA

USDA News Release, 11/09/17—U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the launch of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) resources to provide comprehensive and timely support to veterans interested in opportunities in agriculture, agribusiness, and in rural America.

The resources include a new website and a USDA–wide AgLearn curriculum to allow all employees to understand the unique opportunities offered to our nation's veterans. "From the beginning of this Administration, USDA has focused on how to best serve our veterans," said Secretary Perdue. "These men and women of the United States military have kept America free and deserve the utmost respect.

Across the country, these veterans are beginning to fill roles that preserve rural communities while providing for their livelihood. Through these resources, USDA is committed to helping veterans in agricultural areas so we can strengthen the American economy and provide assistance for those who have served. Veterans and agriculture are just a great fit."

USDA supports veterans in the areas of the "three Es" – employment, education, and entrepreneurship, and pulls together programs from the Department's 17 agencies that veterans may use. Watch this video to learn more about USDA's new veterans resources.


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