Progress in FMD Research
By John Maday, Managing Editor, Drovers Cattle Network via Pork Network, 12/04/13—Since 1954, scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have conducted research at plum Island, New York to prevent and control foreign animal diseases that threaten U.S. livestock production and food security. A new article from ARS outlines progress, particularly in defending against foot and mouth disease (FMD).
In 2010, ARS scientists discovered that the FMD virus selectively infects epithelial cells in the back of the cow’s throat. There are seven FMD virus serotypes—O, A, C, Asia-1, SAT-1, SAT-2, and SAT-3. Scientists detected the infection site using serotype O and have since had the same success with serotype A. They believe understanding of the actual route of infection can aid in the development of new vaccines and potentially treatments to control the disease. "Blocking the initial site of infection is the best way to achieve complete protection," says ARS veterinary medical officer Jonathan Arzt.
Doctors, Mothers Responsible For Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs
By Burt Rutherford, Beef Magazine Blog, 12/09/13—Yes, that headline is provocative. But it’s also true…up to a point. And the gulf between the headline’s truth and its half-truth illustrates several realities that the beef industry must continue to deal with.
First, let’s set the record straight. No, doctors and mothers are not totally (emphasis on the word totally) responsible for antibiotic resistance. On the other hand, however, yes, mothers and doctors are responsible for antibiotic-resistant bugs. But only partly.
So are you. And no, animal agriculture is not totally (emphasis on the word totally) responsible for antibiotic-resistant pathogens, as some would have us believe. The completely accurate headline is this: Everyone Is Responsible For Antibiotic Resistance.
Factory Farms Of The Future
By Sonia Faruqi, Huffington Post, via Agriculture.com, 12/10/13—"In recent years, several writers have offered Orwellian predictions about the future of animal agriculture.
"In the future, there will be a new large scale type of commercial agriculture," predicts livestock scientist Temple Grandin. "During the next decade or two, billions of animals will live and die in factory farms," states philosopher Peter Singer. "I do not think factory farming is going away," says food industry writer Marion Nestle. "Our vast factory farms are the future," writes speechwriter Matthew Scully.
The farms of the past resembled the scenes in the poem–pastoral, picturesque. The farms of today are, in contrast, large and industrial. Animals have moved definitively from the outdoors to the indoors. Artificial light has replaced sunlight, and exhaust fans have replaced windows. Concrete floors have succeeded grass ranges, and metal doors have supplanted fence gates
Scale has become synonymous with survival. More than half of the world's pork and more than two-thirds of the world's chicken and eggs are today produced industrially. The average pig farm in the United States had 10 pigs in 1935 and 100 in 1980–today, it has more than 5,000. The average American egg facility confines more than 100,000 hens in cramped, stacked cages.
Poultry Lab Not Chicken About Developing Vaccine for Cattle
Arkansas Business Online, 12/09/13—Poultry science isn’t just for chickens anymore.
The Poultry Science Lab for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, run by Billy Hargis, has already developed vaccines to battle several diseases in poultry. Now, Hargis says, a pharmaceutical company recently contacted him about producing a vaccine to combat mastitis in cattle. Mastitis is a potentially fatal udder disease in dairy cows.
"Chickens don’t lactate," Hargis said. "But the concept is the same."
He said a pharmaceutical company that has licensed the poultry vaccines met with him and representatives from several countries recently to discuss the possibility of developing the mastitis vaccine.
Clues Show Many Livestock May Have Survived Colorado Floods
By Brett Wessler, Drover’s CattleNetwork, 12/09/13—As much as nine inches of rain in parts of Colorado led to emergency declarations in many counties and stranded livestock as producers weren’t able to move all of their animals to higher ground. Still, some suspect their livestock survived the floods.
The floods that affected the state in September caused over $2 billion in property losses and threatened the state’s $41 billion agriculture sector. The JBS beef processing plant in Greeley, Colo. was temporarily closed and many animals were left stranded as they sought high ground.
ABC reports a lack of carcasses as the water subsided provides hope for producers.
Animals could have survived the floods, but are stranded at a neighbor’s farm downriver who doesn’t know where the livestock belong. Some residents missing livestock are posting reward posters in hopes that their animals will return.
Beef Science and Nutrition Promoted Around the Globe
High Plains Journal, 12/09/13—This September, the beef checkoff’s nutrition research team headed to Granada, Spain, for the prestigious International Congress of Nutrition at which the International Meat Secretariat hosted a symposium titled "Protein Requirements throughout the Lifecycle." An impressive lineup of internationally renowned nutrition scientists highlighted the importance of high quality protein, as found in red meat. One such presentation was delivered by Nancy Rodriguez, Ph.D., R.D., FACSM, professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Connecticut, on behalf of the checkoff.
The importance and power of protein is gaining more traction in scientific academia; this was the industry’s chance to share ground-breaking research with key influencers, opinion leaders and policy makers in the global nutrition world.
Also, on Oct. 2 to 3, more than 60 nutrition researchers and thought leaders, including Becky Walth, South Dakota beef producer serving on the checkoff’s nutrition and health subcommittee, convened in Washington, D.C., to review and discuss new research on protein and its role in public health during Protein Summit 2.0.
Showing Good Animal Care Important
By Cam Dahl, The Western Producer, 12/05/13—Cattle producers care about the welfare of their animals and the updated beef Code of Practice will educate industry and consumers on regulations regarding animal care, says the author.
The public does not often see the care and attention that cattle producers give, on a daily basis, to their animals. Media outlets don’t cover producers getting up at 4 a.m. in the middle of a blizzard to check their herd, or the efforts taken to help a calf that is born in the middle of a -40 C night. Unfortunately, most members of the public only get exposure to beef production when the media covers unacceptable incidents that end up in court.
Beef producers need to communicate with the public to ensure that everyone understands that the court cases are rare exceptions that do not exemplify beef production in Manitoba.
This is a key reason why the industry has developed a Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle. It is an important tool for explaining our animal care practices to the public and policy-makers and demonstrating our practices to customers and trading partners.
The beef Code of Practice has recently been modernized through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).
McDonald's, Unilever Back Sustainable Beef Guidelines
By Sustainable Business News, via GreenBiz.com (blog), 12/05/13—Beef production may be regarded as one of the most carbon intensive forms of food production, but the food and agricultural industry now has published a new set of guidelines designed to significantly reduce the environmental impact of the sector.
The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, which brings together over 50 high profile food and agri–business companies, including the likes of McDonald's, Nestle and Unilever, last week released the new Principles for Sustainable Beef Farming, offering a set of standardized guidelines to help beef farmers minimize their environmental footprint.
The principles set out 39 specific guidelines covering sustainable farming systems, economic sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. For example, the principles commit farmers to tracing individual animals and feedstocks, developing a sustainability strategy, and embracing best practices to minimize water use, soil erosion, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Conventionally Produced Beef…Safe and Sustainable?
By University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Drovers CattleNetwork.com, 12/04/2013—We are all bombarded with the propaganda that conventionally raised beef is not healthy or sustainable by media, society, and even some of our fellow producers. Organic, all-natural, and grass-fed beef is lauded as the only environmentally sustainable way to produce beef. While these are great marketing tools for niche markets, they do not fit two of the cornerstones of sustainability…namely economically feasible for consumers to purchase and capability to produce adequately to meet demand.
Current technology enables the beef industry to produce 131% more beef than in 1977 with 70% fewer animals, utilizing less water and feed while producing less methane and carbon dioxide. If production was shifted back to a grass finishing industry like America in the 1880’s or countries like Australia or Argentina are known for (which incidentally are developing their own grain finishing capabilities), Jude Capper, noted sustainability consultant, estimates it would require 64 million more head of grass fed cattle than are currently needed in conventionally produced cattle. This would require millions more acres of pasture and much greater resource use (fuel, water, and fertilizer) to provide equivalent beef production to the consumers.
Checkoff's Market Research Focuses on Younger Consumers
Beef Producer, 12/10/13—The Beef Checkoff is in the process of re-evaluating its marketing efforts to shift more focus to the nation's largest generation– millenials.
Millenials, who are categorized as being between 20 and 34 years of age, are a demographic that's increasingly interested in technology and social and online media.
The Cattlemen's Beef Board vice chair Kim Brackett explains that most millenials gather their information digitally, thus the need for a stronger online presence.
"Most (millenials) have smart phones or tablets or they get their information on their computers. So the checkoff has made sure that we have a web presence, a strong web presence–we're looking at smart phone apps and we have online recipes, we've even strengthened our own 'Beef. It's What's For Dinner.' Website," she said in checkoff interview.
Millenials, the largest generation, are the target of the beef checkoff's latest marketing efforts.
Brackett is also into social media sites and maintains her own personal blog, www.beefmatters.org.