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NLPA News Brief
July 29, 2015
Livestock and Ag Credit News

Roberts Introduces Bill to Repeal COOL; Canada, Mexico Reject Voluntary Approach

PORK Network, 07/23/15—Legislation introduced Thursday by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R–Kan., would repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and poultry and stave off trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico, a move hailed by the National Pork Producers Council.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) in May rejected an appeal by the United States of the international trade body's October 2014 ruling that the COOL provisions on beef and pork discriminate against Canadian and Mexican animals that are sent to the United States to be fed out and processed. The WTO decision will allow punitive tariffs to be put on U.S. goods going into Canada and Mexico, which are asking for a combined $3.1 billion in retaliation. A WTO arbitrator now is determining the level of retaliation.

According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the average U.S. pork producer is expected to lose $10 per hog beginning later this year and into next year. Based on Hayes's estimates, retaliation from Canada and Mexico against U.S. pork likely would double pork producer losses. "Retaliation would be devastating and undoubtedly would cause financial ruin for some pork producers," he said.

A measure also introduced today by Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D–Mich., would repeal mandatory meat labeling and replace it with a voluntary labeling program.

Canada issued a statement today rejecting Stabenow's voluntary approach and said it would continue to pursue retaliation. "The only acceptable outcome remains for the United States to repeal COOL," said Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast.

GIPSA NEWS: 07/22/15

Livestock and Ag Credit News

Board of Directors Selected for U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

Western Farmer–Stockman, 07/27/125—About 120 beef producers, retailers, foodservice operators, processors, academics, allied industry partners and non–governmental met July 14–15 for the first U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef General Assembly meeting.The USRSB was formed in March 2015 and has 93 founding members. It is a multi–stakeholder initiative developed to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability of the U.S. beef value chain.

"Continuously improving beef sustainability requires the cooperation and collaboration of every segment of the beef value chain, from the rancher to the consumer," said USRSB Board Chairman Nicole Johnson–Hoffman of Cargill.

At the meeting, USRSB members voted to ratify the following Board of Directors: Allied: Mark Shaw, Micro Technologies; Jennie Hodgen, Merck Animal Health; Civil Society: Nancy Labbe, World Wildlife Fund; Chad Ellis, Noble Foundation; Processor: Nicole Johnson–Hoffman, Cargill (Chairman); Cameron Bruett, JBS; Producer: John Butler, Beef Marketing Group (Chairman–Elect); Ben Weinheimer, Texas Cattle Feeders Association; Retail: Brittni Furrow, Walmart; Susan Forsell, McDonald's Corporation.

US Study Hints at Rising Antibiotic Resistance in Cattle

By Aerin Curtis, FEED Navigator, 07/24/15—Use of antibiotics in animal feed, treatment and other influences may be contributing to a trend of multi–antibiotic–resistant bacteria in some US feedlot cattle. Researchers at the University of Kansas said they have seen an increasing trend toward antibiotic–resistant forms of a bacteria known as one of the primary causes of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in cattle.

Pork Industry Continues to Adjust from PED

Iowa Farmer, 06/29/15—The pork industry continues to adjust from the supply shock created by the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus last year. Live prices peaked in the summer of 2014 as PED losses mounted and then fell into the late winter of 2015.

Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt says looking back, it seems that prices overshot on the high side due to PED, then undershot early this year as market supplies were restored. The third phase of this cycle now seems to be the recent recovery in prices from their undershooting, Hurt said in a news release.

Beef Industry Wrestles with Sustainability

By Candace Krebs, LaJunta Tribune Democrat, 07/26/15—When asked to define what sustainable beef production looks like, Bob Patterson lifts his cowboy hat and points to his gray hair. Patterson is the third generation on his ranch near Kim, with his family's fifth generation already becoming engaged in the operation. He's also the current president of the Colorado Cattlemen's Association.

Cameron Bruett has heard that response from cattlemen many times. But now the immediate past chairman of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the head of corporate affairs for JBS USA is collaborating with his colleagues throughout the beef supply chain to come up with a formal definition, one he hopes will resonate with increasingly conscientious consumers.

The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef held its first ever general assembly just prior to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association summer conference in Denver recently, bringing together a variety of representatives from producer organizations, businesses and academia.

UK's High–Welfare Pork Attracts US Fast–Food Giant Chipotle

By Jez Fredenburgh, Farmers Weekly, 07/24/15—UK pork producer and processor Karro Food Group has clinched a deal with US chain Chipotle after the fast–food giant said 95% of American pork production failed to meet its welfare standards.

Chipotle, which serves Mexican fast–food, is growing rapidly and snapping at the heels of McDonald's, with a brand based on high–welfare, natural ingredients. But in January it suspended one of its main pork suppliers because of low welfare standards and said it was forced to look outside the US for higher welfare.

A spokesperson from Chipotle said: "While it has always been our preference to source meat domestically, the quality of pork that meets our standards is simply not available right now from domestic suppliers as more than 95% of the pork raised in the US, by our estimates, does not meet our standards.

A Kansas Family Farmer Takes Issue with a Recent "Time" Article

By Jonathan Baker,, 07/23/15—Family farmer and agriculture advocate Katie Sawyer recently came across an article in Time magazine that questioned the safety of eating pork. While Sawyer admitted that the article's author got it "half right," she took to Kansas AgLand to set the record straight.

The Time author, Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports, advised readers to look for labels reading "organic," "Global Animal Partnership" or "Animal Welfare Approved," adding "Don't be duped by meaningless labels reading 'natural' or 'no hormones added'– legally, hormones aren't allowed in pork production."

Sawyer agrees that hormones aren't allowed in pork and the natural label is just for show. But she was troubled by the fact that Rangan had given credence to labels verifying animal welfare and feeding practices, which are endorsed not by the Food and Drug Administration but rather by unregulated, nonprofit organizations.

"I'm not here to contest the importance of animal welfare; it's central to the productivity of our farm," writes Sawyer. "But society's lack of understanding of farm practices and the demand for labels as a means of keeping up with trendy buying habits have created a dangerous and potentially harmful environment that could quickly and unnecessarily undo hundreds of years of advances and improvements in the agriculture industry."

Global Livestock News

WTO Says Argentina Right in Beef Dispute Against US

Buenos Aires Herald, 07/24/15—Argentina has won a dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the United States over the unfair blocking of imports of Argentine beef. A WTO dispute tribunal today announced the decision on the two–year case favouring Argentina in most of the litigation matters.

Back in June, Washington had already lifted the 14–year ban saying it was amending the regulations to allow the entrance of beef from Argentina's southern Patagonia region. The restrictions were imposed in 2001 to block the spread of foot–and–mouth disease in cattle, something Buenos Aires complaint against accusing the US government of blocking national products without "scientific justification."

Study Aims to Show Beef Is Sustainable

By Alexis Kienlen, Alberta Farmer, 07/24/15—Consumers have been asking for it, and now the Canadian beef industry is one step closer to proving its sustainability. We're trying to find the impacts — both positive and negative — that come from beef production, from when an animal is born on the ground to when it becomes a kilogram of beef on a plate," said Thomas Lynch–Staunton, chair of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef's sustainability assessment committee.

"Once we have those baselines, we can look at the areas where we are doing well, and find areas that we can improve on." Dubbed a 'life cycle analysis,' the study uses a complex set of data to measure the environmental, social, and economic aspects of beef production. Part of the work involves finding per–kilogram baseline numbers for things such as water use by cattle, carbon sequestration, and the amount of carbon dioxide generated in beef production.

Global Livestock News

House to Debate GMOs

By Philip Brasher, Agri Pulse, 07/19/15—The national debate over genetically engineered foods goes to the House floor this week with lawmakers scheduled to debate a bill that would bar states from requiring labels on foods containing GMOs.

Supporters of the bill expressed confidence that the Safe and Affordable Food Labeling Act (HR 1599) would pass the House. However, ahead of the floor debate leaders of the House Agriculture Committee are fighting claims that the bill would also prevent states from banning the cultivation of biotech crops. "This isn't really a partisan issue per se," the ranking member of House Agriculture, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, said. "Everybody wants to know, and they believe they have a right to know" whether foods contain biotech ingredients. "We agree. It's just how you deliver that knowledge. We think this is a good middle ground," he added, referring to a section of the bill that would create a process for certifying foods as non–GMO. "We think it's a good way to approach this issue."

USDA, Microsoft to Launch "Innovation Challenge" to Address Food Resiliency

USDA News Release, 07/24/15—The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with Microsoft to launch the "Innovation Challenge," a contest designed to explore how climate change will impact the United States' food system with the intent of achieving better food resiliency. The challenge invites entrants to develop and publish new applications and tools that can analyze multiple sources of information about the nation's food supply, including key USDA data sets that are now hosted on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft's cloud–computing platform.

"For more than 100 years, USDA has compiled data from economic reports and farm production surveys, and more recently from satellite imagery and remote sensors that can provide information on the health of crops around the country," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Through this partnership with Microsoft, we are now putting that data into the hands of people who can help us derive new insights to address factors that threaten our ability to feed a growing global population. This offers very exciting possibilities, and I look forward to seeing the new tools that contest participants develop."

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