Beef Central briefs 16 Jan 2013

Beef Central, 16/01/2013

Horse DNA found in UK beef burgers

UK supermarket chain Tesco has removed all fresh and frozen beef burgers from sale from its stores after an investigation by the Food Standards Agency found that horse DNS in approximately 29pc of the burgers. According to UK Telegraph newspaper, more than a third (37 per cent) of the products tested contained horse DNA, while the vast majority (85 per cent) also contained pig DNA. Horse meat and pig DNA was found in 27 beef burger products. Another 31 foods, including cottage pies, beef curry pies and lasagnes, were analysed, with 21 testing positive for pig DNA. Traces of horse DNA were also detected in batches of raw ingredients. The beef burgers containing horse DNA were produced by two processing plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods, and one plant in the UK, Dalepak Hambleton in North Yorkshire. Tesco spokesman Tim Smith said all beef burgers had been removed from sale as a result of the discover. “The presence of illegal meat in our products is extremely serious. Our customers have the right to expect that food they buy is produced to the highest standards.” 

Neutral El Nino continues to endure into autumn

Tropical Pacific observations and model outlooks suggest the current neutral El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) state will continue into the southern hemisphere autumn, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The Bureau says all indicators of ENSO are currently within the neutral range. The tropical Pacific Ocean has cooled over recent months after warmer than normal waters were present during mid to late 2012. Despite cooling, tropical ocean temperatures remain within the neutral range. “As expected, the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has returned to near-zero values as the influence of local tropical weather systems dissipated. Other atmospheric indicators of ENSO such as the trade winds and tropical cloud patterns also remain within the neutral range.” The latest ENSO statement said the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has limited impact on Australian rainfall and temperature during the southern summer.

Alpine grazing bid rejected

Attempts by the Ballieu Government to return cattle to the Alpine National Park in Victoria have failed after a Federal Court judge backed the Commonwealth Government’s position on the issue. Federal Court judge Susan Kenny last week dismissed Victoria's bid for a judicial review of Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke’s decision to evict grazing cattle from the park. Alpine grazing was banned by the Bracks Labor Government on environmental grounds in 2005. The Ballieu Government allowed cattle to be reintroduced in 2011 as part of a six-year-trial designed to determine the effectiveness of grazing as a bushfire mitigation tool. However Mr Burke ordered the cattle to be removed, citing an unacceptable impact on the park’s national heritage value. Early last year the Ballieu Government moved to have Mr Burke’s decision reviewed by the Federal Court, claiming he had misused information in reaching his conclusion and had not provided the Victorian government with an adequate opportunity to respond. However Justice Kenny last week dismissed the call for a review, rejecting Victoria’s interpretation of national environmental laws, and ordered Victoria to pay the Commonwealth's costs, unless an objection is filed.

Canada beefs up export capacity to China

Canada has expanded its capacity to trade with China after a further four beef processing facilities in the country gained approval to export to the market. Seven Canadian facilities are now licensed to supply China.  China banned Canadian beef imports due to BSE-concerns in 2003, but agreed in June 2011 to allow imports of Canadian deboned beef from animals under 30 months of age under a staged market access approach. Canadian industry representatives said the Chinese market for Canadian deboned beef under 30 months is currently worth about $20 million a year in trade, and believe full market access would be worth $110 million to the industry. Canada Beef Inc president Rob Meijer said the announcement came after continued efforts by the Canadian Government and Ministerial officials to expand commercial access to that market. “CBI is committed to working with producers, packers, and Canadian trade commissioners abroad to increase awareness of the Canadian beef brand, optimise the value for Canadian beef products, and continue to build strong relationships in China to ultimately increase demand for Canadian beef.

Organic farming among forecast performers for 2013

Organic farming has been listed as one of the five industry's to fly in 2013 by the IBISWorld research group. "Organic farming has grown at a compound annual rate of 10pc since 2008, and is expected to continue to rise as consumers factor in the health benefits and environmental impact of their food choices," IBISWorld general manger Karen Dobie said. The group forecasts an increase of 12.5pc across the industry over the coming year, boosting revenue to $617 million. “Consumers are becoming increasingly eco and health conscious. This means they are more willing to pay a premium price to prevent environmental degradation caused by conventional farming methods and to ensure the products they consume are free from added chemicals and hormones”, said Ms Dobie. “Major retailers, such as Coles and Woolworths, continue to respond to this trend, increasing the convenience in which these foods are purchased.” Other industries forecast to fly in 2013 include oil and gas production, online education, online shopping and multi-unit apartment and townhouse construction. Industries expected to fall according to IBISWorld are Gaming and Vending Machines Manufacturing; Wired Telecommunications Carriers; Mineral Exploration; Newspaper Printing or Publishing and Recorded Media Manufacturing and Publishing. 

Vic dog bounty welcomed, but aerial support also needed

The Victorian Government has doubled the wild dog bounty from $50 to $100 to encourage greater control of the animals, which cause millions of dollars worth of damage to livestock enterprises every year. The Victorian Farmers Federation has welcomed the move, but says more aerial baiting and support for wild dog controllers is also essential. VFF Land Management Committee chair Gerald Leach said the Commonwealth Government had obstructed the path to aerial baiting on the grounds of potential environmental impacts. VFF Land Management Committee member Peter Star said on-site injection of fresh meat baits would also help to reduce costs and increase flexibility for community baiting programs. “For a group of producers it makes more sense to have a qualified person come out and inject fresh donated meat as and when needed, rather than having to buy processed meat baits from a factory,” Mr Star said. The VFF said it is encouraged to see an expansion of the ground baiting program, but this can only be considered a stop-gap measure until more extensive aerial baiting is made possible.

NSW Farmers calls for bounty on pest animals

NSW Farmers have called on the NSW Government to follow the Victorian Government's example and immediately introduce a bounty on wild dogs and foxes to help control the growing pest animal problem across the state. NSW Farmers’ President Fiona Simson said NSW landholders were reporting one of the worst pest animal seasons they’ve experienced with wild dogs in particular. She said pest animals were costing Australian agriculture, urban areas and the natural environment approximately $1 billion each year. “Our members along the NSW/Victorian border are struggling to understand why their neighbours on the southern side of the border are being offered additional incentives to help manage the problem when the same opportunities do not exist in NSW,” she said. “A bounty programme needs to be complemented with improved surveillance and reporting, better planning and coordination and a more strategic approach to pest animal control statewide.”

NT Cattlemen's Conference

The Northern Territory Cattleman’s Assocaition will hold its annual industry conference and annual general meeting in Alice Springs on March 21-22. The conference is attended by more than 400 people including producers, agribusiness and industry leaders from the Northern Territory, Australian states and overseas, and MPs and senior ministers from the NT and federal government. For more details click here or download a registration form here.

VFF backs Vic Police Farm Crime Group

While the Victorian Police Livestock and Farm Crime Specialist Advisory Group has come in criticism for failing to dent levels of rural crime in the state since it was established in October 2011, the Victorian Farmers Federation says it is pleased with the group’s progress to date. Victoria Police’s Agricultural Liaison Officer network comprises over 40 Victoria Police Officers across the state who deal with agricultural crime are local community members, in addition to other policing duties. The Weekly Times last week reported that the squad has not resulted in more prosecutions since it was established. However VFF livestock president Ian Feldtmann has defended the group, saying it provides a valuable point of contact for farmers concerned with livestock and farm crime. Mr Feldtmann said he believed a 38pc increase in figures of reported crime in 2011-12 reflected not an increase in crime, but the fact that farmers were now feeling more confident and willing to report crimes to the police. He said the group was in its early days but the determination by Victoria Police to address farm crime provided confidence there would be more prosecutions of criminals in rural areas. “Success in this area is always going to be a two way street, and it’s fair to have expectations from policing, but members of the farming community also have to be proactive in relation to being vigilant and reporting crime and suspicious behaviour as a matter of urgency.”



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