The cattle industry has found a rallying point most producers can agree upon: Stopping imports of fresh beef from areas of South America that have had cases of foot and mouth disease. Groups from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to the U.S. Cattlemen's Association came out during a comment period to oppose importing beef from 14 states in Brazil that have been declared by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has having a low risk for foot and mouth disease. Both groups expressed concerns over risks to the U.S. cattle herd and problems with Brazil's meat inspections and safety compliance. NCBA also raised questions over transparency because the group did not get requested information from USDA agencies such as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Foot and mouth disease is not a food-safety concern, but the virus can spread rapidly through a herd and, as the name implies, lead to serious blisters on a cow's mouth and hooves that can cause lameness. FMD can infect cattle, hogs, sheep, goats and other animals. The disease also can mutate quickly as well. When the disease shows up, the only quick solution to stop its spread is to depopulate the area, though some vaccines for FMD are available. In 2001, the disease hit the United Kingdom, leading to the decision to kill 10 million cattle and sheep to get rid of the disease.
On Tuesday, NCBA released an audit of Brazil's meatpacking plants and oversight conducted last year by the Food Safety and Inspection Service. The audit found the Brazil's inspection system is "adequate" to being considered equivalent to the U.S. food-safety system. However, the audit found issues that raise concerns about the Brazilian government's oversight of facilities and hazard analysis. The report also showed Brazilian inspectors were lax in the way they enforced inspections and met government requirements to prevent cross-contamination of cattle carcasses.
Given some of the concerns raised in the FSIS report, NCBA issued a news release Tuesday questioning whether Brazil can manage its food-safety standards or be trusted to protect animal health. NCBA reiterated its request that APHIS withdraw the proposed rule that would allow Brazilian imports of fresh meat. The FSIS report can be found at http://dld.bz/…
Ag Groups Quiet on National Climate Assessment
Apparently the facts in the National Climate Assessment are so profound and traumatizing that most farm lobby groups were incapable of a coherent response. Here is what I compiled:
Wait for it...
(3:30 p.m. update)
National Farmers Union weighed in. NFU President Roger Johnson said, "The National Climate Assessment only confirms what family farmers and ranchers have been experiencing: global climate change is increasing the occurrence and severity of volatile weather events, which then directly impact agricultural risk, farmers' bottom lines and the entire rural economy.
"The administration's report is clear. Congress must take legislative action to mitigate climate change in order to protect farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural communities.
"I also encourage the administration to heed its own advice by rejecting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's misguided proposal to reduce the biofuel production targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS is currently our country's most important strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. The EPA's proposal will not only adversely impact commodity prices and rural employment, but will also move our country further from achieving our climate change mitigation goals."
Frequently Behind the Trend
The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on May 13 examining high-frequency trading in the futures markets. According to the notice on the hearing, the committee will look at high-frequency and automated trading in derivatives markets and what the Commodity Futures Trading Committee is doing to ensure market integrity. Witnesses for the hearing will be announced later.
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