Sort & Cull

I'll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Yours

John Harrington
By  John Harrington , DTN Livestock Analyst

Now that I've got your attention, permit me to connect some interesting dots I see floating between the Olympic spirit, sex and free trade. The prospects of such diverse data points folding into a meaningful picture may seem remote, but stay with me.

Here's an even juicier tease from Fox Sports that might help you focus for just a bit longer:

"The first record of the Rio Olympics was set ahead of the opening ceremony when 450,000 condoms were ordered for the athletes' village.

"There are 10,500 competitors in Rio, making that 42 condoms each -- even before Australia, Britain and other nations ordered in extra allocations. The London Olympics were dubbed 'the raunchiest Games ever' but a mere 150,000 condoms were allocated to the village four years ago."

With all due respect for the amazing perseverance of Michael Phelps, the explosive perfection of Simone Biles, and the inspiring presence of the Refugee Team, this steamy factoid surely showcases the Olympic spirit in ways the decathlon can only dream about (i.e., Cooperation and Competition, spelled with capital "C's").

If you're an old-schooler like me, such intense, fun-filled "training" seems a little counterproductive. What ever happened to the wisdom of living like prayerful monks before the big game? On the other hand, you won't find any gold medals hanging over my mantle.

Interestingly, the blossoming of the Olympic spirit in Brazil this summer has also taken shape in the form of international trade. On Aug. 1, USDA announced that Brazil had agreed to reopen to exports of U.S. beef for the first time December 2003. At the same time, the FSIS determined that the United States could safely import fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from Brazil.

Beef trade negotiators have successfully worked to relight the torch of free trade between two powerhouses of production. It required that both the U.S. and Brazil agree to bury health-related hatchets, cudgels of trade protectionism that could no longer by justified by accepted standards of international science.

Specifically, the U.S. conceded that former fears of foot-and-mouth disease within Brazil represented an unjustifiable trade barrier to fresh beef imports. On the other hand, Brazil admitted that its fears of BSE within the U.S. were completely unfounded. While some dissenters in both countries no doubt view respective concessions to freer trade as dangerous to domestic bases of production, the exacting standards of the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) have carried the day and thereby expanded the profitable circle of global trade.

I've heard a certain amount of grousing about this new chapter in international beef trade. Some fret that the OIE is simply wrong about the real threat of FMD, that the U.S. is risking too much in the face of limited opportunity. Yet I think it is critical that this country abide by the same standards of reason, fairness and scientific fact-finding that we require of other nations when they evaluated our exportable products.

Exporters need to give in order to get. I'll buy yours, if you buy mine. Actually, that's how I wanted to start. Just figured I needed a better hook.

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