Beef Central News Briefs 5 July 2013



Fish farms overtake beef in protein production

For two years running, the farmed-fish industry has produced more animal protein than the global cattle industry, in what scientists are calling a landmark stage in the progression of consumer diets. In 2012, world aquaculture produced 66 million tonnes of fish, outstripping the beef industry by 3 million tonnes. Such an event was not coincidence, but the consequence of grain market trends, health education and a growing need to source food more sustainably, according to a report from the Earth Policy Institute. The reason the EPI gives for the trend stems from the limited capacity of the rangelands and the oceans in providing protein over the second half of the twentieth century, as global demand skyrocketed after the Second World War. Since 1950, beef production and wild fish catch had increased fivefold by 1980 to meet growing demand. This left annual beef production at 50MT and global wild fish hauls at 90MT. However, this left wild fish stocks low and vast areas of grassland overstocked. This is why fish farming developed so rapidly as an industry, the EPI said.


Albury to host Herefords conference

The second Herefords Australia Breed Development Conference for 2013 will be held at the Rydges Albury on July 29 and 30. The conference will provide a unique and interactive opportunity to hear from key organisations and stakeholders. The two-day speaking program includes:

  • The Future of Australia’s Beef Markets – Ben Thomas, Senior Beef Market Analyst, MLA
  • Herefords in JBS Operations & EU Market Accreditation – Cameron Hilton, JBS Australia
  • Herefords genetics the next decade… where are you going? – Dr Rob Banks, Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit
  • Opportunities for Herefords through the Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System – CCA’s Jed Matz
  • The Importance of Weaning & Feedlot Health – Matthew Monk, Sundown Pastoral Company.

To download the conference program & registration form click here


Move to quell fears over TB in European meat

British Meat Processors and the UK Government have moved to quell fears that European consumers are at risk of contracting tuberculosis from eating meat from animals with the lung disease. The move came in response to a Sunday Times article suggesting consumers risked contracting bovine tuberculosis (bTB) through eating meat. The report said meat from tens of thousands of cattle with bTB had been passed fit for human consumption by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It claimed the meat was making its way into schools, hospitals and other parts of the UK foodservice sector. The British Meat Processors Association said there were no food safety concerns, providing legislated requirements were met by processors. A Departmental statement assured consumers that all meat from UK cattle slaughtered due to bTB underwent rigorous food safety checks before being passed as fit for consumption. As a result, the risk was extremely low, regardless of whether or how the meat was cooked. A week ago, the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced a plan to rid England of bovine TB within 25 years.


Beef bonanza heads to Tamworth

Australia’s richest cattle show will happen at Tamworth’s Australian Equine Livestock and Events Centre from October 7 to 9. The inaugural Landmark Beef Championships will showcase the best beef genetics available in Australia, event organiser Landmark Tamworth’s Mark Haywood said. Landmark was encouraged to hold the event by positive feedback from stud breeders, backgrounders, lotfeeders, processors and retailers, he said. “The Landmark Beef Championships will give producers an opportunity to showcase the region’s best grainfed, grassfed and crop-assisted cattle, while being judged in a manner that lifts the industry’s profile by showcasing the best beef genetics on offer.” The judging will include led and unled cattle classes, a hoof-and-hook competition, prime cattle classes, feeder cattle classes and a junior judging and paraders’ competition. Mr Haywood said the led steer competition would provide an ideal learning opportunity for schools, agricultural colleges and universities. Entry fees would be kept to a minimum. For entry forms, conditions of entry and competition program, click here.


Soaring feedstuff prices in Japan, as Yen weakens

With most Japanese beef producers 80-90 percent dependent on imported feedstuffs for their stock rations, the current weakening in value of the Japanese Yen is having a big impact on their viability. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper (circulation: 8,018,572) reported that Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in late June officially decided on a 10-billion Yen emergency assistance program for livestock farmers, as farmers are facing soaring prices for livestock feeds accompanying the weaker yen. The assistance program will alleviate their cost burden between July and September, but the ministry also plans to explore full-scale measures to cover the period from autumn onward.


Japanese Wagyu Ponzi scam risks $4 billion

In other news from Japan, three former managers of a Japanese Wagyu farm were arrested recently on suspicion that they lead a $4.34 billion ponzi scheme that defrauded 73,000 investors, the Wall Street Journal reported. The managers of the Agura farm offered investors a “Wagyu beef ownership system” with promised annual returns of 8pc. They claimed the investors would profit from the calves born to purchased cows. Agura had reported to investors that it controlled 90,000 to 100,000 breeding cows. Investigators found the real number was about 6000. According to the former managers, the farm had to file for bankruptcy after being hit by the double whammy of falling beef prices and lower sales following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident. The case may be one of the biggest consumer fraud episodes in recent Japanese history.


Wagyu registrations jump

Wagyu cattle registrations in Australia have increased by a dramatic 470pc over the past decade, providing substance behind a claim that the breed is the fastest growing in Australia. On outright registration numbers, Wagyu is now Australia’s tenth largest registered breed, overtaking several long established breeds. Ten years ago less than 1000 Wagyu were being registered annually in Australia, but in 2012 the number increased to 5302, an 11pc increase over the previous year according to figures released by the Australian Registered Cattle Breeders’ Association. “Australia’s Wagyu industry has matured with domestic and international demand for marbled Wagyu beef, cattle, semen and embryos growing in recent years, creating this increase in registrations,” said Australian Wagyu Association president, Scott Hughes. Australia is home of the second largest Wagyu herd in the world after Japan which has banned the export of Wagyu genetics. Mandatory DNA testing and parent verification of all registered Wagyu in Australia have resulted in the highest levels of pedigree and performance integrity. “Therefore we have many countries looking to Australia as a source of registered, performance recorded Wagyu cattle, semen and embryos and our members are gearing up to satisfy that demand,” Mr Hughes said.


Webinar showcases latest tools to help bull breeders

Recently, several new tools have been released for the seedstock industry, giving beef breeding herds the unique opportunity to stay ahead of the curve by using advanced skills and technology to set themselves apart. In order to ensure that seedstock producers are positioned to take advantage of these emerging tools, Southern Beef Technology Services (SBTS) & Tropical Beef Technology Services (TBTS), are conducting a webinar course over the next four weeks, with a different topic each week. The webinar course will consist of 4 x 45 minute webinars run on consecutive Monday nights starting next Monday, July 8. The courses will be presented by SBTS and TBTS personnel. The webinar course will enable seedstock producers to access the latest information, all from the comfort of their own home. Further information regarding the webinars (including a detailed program) is available by clicking here. To register, simply follow the instructions on the webinars page on the SBTS website (click here)


SA beefs-up cattle entry requirements from this month

PIRSA is reminding producers that new entry requirements for cattle entering South Australia applied from July 1, in an ongoing effort to maintain the state’s very low prevalence of Bovine Johne’s Disease. The changed entry requirements cover all livestock entering and intended to reside in the state. Chief veterinary officer with Biosecurity SA, Dr Rob Rahaley, summarised the changes and new entry requirements from the start of this month:

  • Female beef breeding cattle that qualify for ‘Beef Only’ or Market Assurance Program (MN) status need to be accompanied by a completed National Cattle Health Statement.
  • Female beef breeding cattle that don’t qualify for ‘Beef Only’ MN status need a permit to enter and stay in SA. This permit can be obtained by the SA owner who agrees to certain management conditions. Permit application forms are available on the PIRSA website.
  • Bulls and steers need to be accompanied by a completed National Cattle Health Statement.

The changes are in line with the nationally-agreed management plans for BJD. “SA maintains a very low prevalence of Johne’s Disease in every species and extensive testing continues to show we maintain this enviable low disease status,” Dr Rahaley said. “BJD management programs in SA are funded by SA farmers and are continually being reviewed to maintain the balance between protection of SA livestock and trade requirements.” Further information is available from the PIRSA website, click here to access. 


Hamburgers still rank America’s favourite food on the grill

According to a survey a media intelligence company Mintel, ground beef remains the staple on the majority of American barbecues this northern hemisphere summer, even as US beef prices have moved to record prices in 2013. The survey showed 91 percent of Americans see hamburgers as the most popular barbecue choice. Second on the list is steak (85pc) chicken (also 85 pc) and hot dogs (84pc). Mintel says the average US consumer uses the grill at least three times per week at the height of outdoor grilling season, with Independence Day weekend at its peak. Other notes from the survey showed that more than half of the respondents believed the grill was a healthier and easier way to prepare food than the alternatives.



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