Five Nations Beef Alliance meets...
The Five Nations Beef Alliance conference was held two weeks ago in Texas. Member organizations came together to share experiences with beef industry challenges, including international trade, sustainability, and animal health. Members of the alliance are the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Mexico's National Confederation of Livestock Groups, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, and the Cattle Council of Australia. Representatives from Paraguay and Brazil were present at the Texas meeting as observers. A spokesman for the group says the alliance aims to liberalize the global beef trading environment. Three member groups of the alliance -- NCBA, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, and Mexico's Confederation -- are plaintiffs in a lawsuit opposing U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL) in U.S. District Court.
APHIS alters BSE testing program...
According to an APHIS (Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service) Stakeholder Registry notice, APHIS Veterinary Services stopped collecting samples from beef calves younger than 12 months of age as part of its ongoing surveillance testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). This marks a significant change from the current testing program where cattle of any age showing central nervous system signs are tested for BSE. APHIS says it's making the change because classical BSE has never been detected in an animal born in the U.S., and the agency has tested more than one million animals since the beginning of the testing program. APHIS also says BSE has never been detected in cattle less than 12 months of age worldwide. "To continue to test these young animals for BSE is neither an effective nor a responsible use of limited federal funds and government resources," says APHIS.
With the Reporter this week, you will notice you also received a copy of our 2014 Herd Reference Edition. We're very proud of this issue. Our field staff and office and production crew did an excellent job. It not only contains some of the most attractive advertisements but also some of the most interesting stories that we've ever had. We like to say that we're a publication for the family rancher-farmer, those in the seedstock business and agriculture, and that is the kind of news, the kind of ads, and the kind of production that we're proud of! I want to say Thank You to all who were involved in putting this great edition in the mail. You don't just come up with one of these on the spur of the moment. It takes thought, preparation, ideas, and carry-through to put them together in a workable, readable product.
This issue finishes up 74 years of readership for you folks. Some of you have probably been reading us about that long. Of course, most will be less than that. It's interesting to note that, in January of 2015, we will start our 75th year serving the livestock industry and those interested in general agriculture. We work very hard at this endeavor, and many people use the galleys of the Reporter in their everyday decisions; whether it's marketing, feeding, developing, purchasing, selling, or whatever, it's all there, it's all useful, and we're proud that it is.
We're looking forward to that 75th year coming up. It'll be a milestone for us. We promise you another year of outstanding readership and an issue chock-full of interesting information as best we can each and every week. It seems as though, as the political movements come along, they take over in some respects the news. We've got a year ahead of us that is going to be full of that situation. It's not very easy to report; it's not very happy to read; and of course it depends what side of the aisle you're on whether you agree with it or not. Are you conservative? Are you quite a lot different from that? Are you a person who likes to spend more than you make? I don't think anyone intentionally wants to do that, but it happens, which is heavily evident in the political arena. And that's where you can change things if you feel like it. In the voting booth in 2016 there will be a major shift, in my opinion, and a major change for America. I don't think we as a country can continue to survive politically and/or economically under the present situation. Americans down deep pretty well all know this, and that's why there will be a major change in the thought pattern behind the voters filling the ballot boxes in 2016.
We're looking forward to another few years yet of a stout, strong, and practical livestock future. Beef protein is the best example of success in all of the food chain. The iron development that comes from beef is about the beset form of iron that feeds the development of the human brain. That's why it's so important that we keep producing this product for our own people, for our own kids, and for hopefully for our politicians.
We'll report everything we can in a way that you can understand, and that's about all we can promise you. We'll not be doing anything different the next go around than we did this go around. Yep, 75 years and going strong! We're so proud of that. Stick around and see what happens in the future. If you want to give a Christmas present or two to friends, customers, neighbors, family, business people, and bankers, buy them a subscription to Western Ag Reporter. We've been around since 1940, and we plan to be around for at least another 75 years.
Crossing the CSKT Compact Rubicon...
By Catherine Vandemoer, Ph.D.
In the year and a half since the 2013 Montana legislature wisely stopped the proposed CSKT water compact from moving forward, one may legitimately ask if the Compact Commission has made any progress in responding to the legislator and public concerns voiced regarding the Compact. After all, nearly 1,000 pages of comments were received by the Compact Commission in June 2013. In response to the legislature's rejection of the proposed Compact in the 2013 session, the Montana Governor asked the Compact Commission to prepare a report that would professionally address the concerns raised by the Montana legislature and thousands of citizens. That report, produced in December 2013 and called "Governor's Report on the Proposed CSKT Compact," unfortunately, dismissed those thousands of comments and, instead, created a professionally "word-smithed" document reflecting the Governor's view that the proposed Compact was a "fair deal."
Montana legislators step up...
After the Governor's report was released and still alarmed by the lack of information that would explain what the Compact actually meant for the citizens and water resources of the state, 50 legislators submitted questions to two legislative interim committees, asking for an independent review of the Compact in February 2014. Perhaps acknowledging those questions, the Governor decided to "reopen negotiations for the limited purpose of negotiating the irrigation district 'water use agreement,'" the same agreement that had been ruled "an unconstitutional taking of property rights without compensation" by a state district judge a year earlier. Within one month of the Governor's statement on reopened negotiations, the Tribes' lawyers said unequivocally that nothing would actually change.
Going Greek may ease water crisis for CA farmers
By Erika Bentsen
Seawater desalination dates back to ancient Greek sailors, who used evaporation to purify ocean water into something they could drink. In California, gripped by a severe long-term drought, a private company has undertaken the challenge of turning seawater into drinking water in epic proportions. Long-held beliefs that desalination is too costly and energy inefficient are finally giving way, due to major advances in technology within the last 30 years. In 2002, California voters approved water desalination grants under Proposition 50. Many are counting on this ancient, yet recently and rapidly developing technology to be a key element in turning the tide in the war on water.
Fighting the gauntlet of repeated environmentalist lawsuits over the past 12 years and six years of tedious state permitting processes, Poseidon, a privately funded company, has largely overcome the extremist opposition and government scrutiny and is in the final stages of completing the largest desalination facility in the western hemisphere. The Carlsbad Desalination Project is under construction 35 miles north of San Diego. With a scheduled completion in 2016, this facility is designed to ease San Diego's demand on water supplies throughout the state. Poseidon believes the Carlsbad facility will prove that water demanded by southern metropolises from the upper parts of the state could be significantly reduced in an economical and environmentally-sound approach. They aren't alone. Fifteen other facilities are being considered on the 840-mile coastline of California. Additionally, Santa Barbara has hired engineers to upgrade the city's abandoned desalination facility and put it into use by 2016.
The Carlsbad Project is no small enterprise. An estimated output of 50 million gallons of purified water per day is expected... enough for 300,000 people averaging about 167 gallons of water each day.
Beware the useless meat label...
Retired doctor Louis Offen and his wife have been shopping at the same Giant supermarket in Bethesda, Maryland, for nearly 40 years. Offen is in charge of buying the steak, which normally means combing the meat section for New York strip sirloins with the label "USDA grade choice," the mid-level grade for meat. The cut is ubiquitous. But one day last month, Offen was stumped. He couldn't find any packages with a "choice" label. He couldn't find lower-quality beef, called "select," either. All he found was an unfamiliar blue crest that read "USDA graded" on every package of beef. "Isn't all beef sold in stores USDA graded, making that label useless?" he asked.
In recent weeks, Giant stores nationwide changed their labeling procedures, making it difficult for customers to know the quality of meat. Rather than providing different options, the company labeled meat simply as "USDA graded" - a description that applies to all but a tiny amount of meat approved for sale in the United States.
Larry Meadows, a USDA official who is one of the people charged with overseeing the nation's meat supply, said in an interview that the action was problematic. "We've never seen anyone use anything like the 'USDA graded' label before," said Meadows, associate deputy administrator of the USDA's livestock, poultry, and feed program. "The label is truthful, but it's also misleading." Meadows said one reason a company might use a more generic label is to save money or to blur the impact of introducing an unusually high amount of lower-quality beef.
A history of the beef checkoff: Part II
By Leesa Zalesky
The Beef Promotion & Research Act of 1985, commonly called the Beef Act, established the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion & Research Board, commonly known as the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB). The CBB is charged with administering the law and the rules associated with the law, with ultimate oversight responsibilities lying with the USDA. The Beef Promotion & Research Order, commonly known as the Order, contains the rules promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out the Beef Act passed by Congress.
The 1985 Act specifies that the CBB is responsible for approving or disapproving budgets and making recommendations to the Secretary regarding amendments to the Order, and it's tasked with electing from its membership 10 members to serve on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee. The Act also specifies that members of the CBB shall be cattle producers and importers, who are appointed to the board by the Secretary of Agriculture. Importers are required, under the law, to pay an assessment that is equivalent to the $1 per head assessment producers pay on live cattle.
The 1985 Act also established a five-percent-of-annual-collections cap for CBB annual expenditures on administration, meaning each fiscal year the CBB is limited to an administrative budget of not more than 5% of annual collections.