Don’t hold breath on US beef access to Japan
Relaxation of Japan’s age limit on US beef imports is further away than recent reports suggest, says US analyst Steve Kay in his latest issue of Cattle Buyers Weekly. A Nikkei Business Daily report last week said an expert panel of Japan’s Food Safety Commission would meet on July 24 to examine a report on easing beef trade rules. Futures traders seized on the suggestion that the limit might be relaxed as early as November. They pushed up live cattle futures by their daily limit on Wednesday. But this was just traders grabbing a rare piece of potentially positive news, observers told CBW. Japan would take months to come to a decision about the age limit, Mr Kay suggested. Any trade based on a new limit would not start until next year, they said. Japan is considering raising its 20-month limit on US beef to 30 months of age.
Meanwhile, Japan was the largest export market for US beef in May, with the highest export volume (16,166t) in 10 months. Export value was up 28pc from May 2011 to $105.3m. For the first five months of this year, US beef volume to Japan was down 6pc to 56,297t, but value was 13pc higher at $370.7m, said the US Meat Export Federation.
Ground beef plant goes to Cargill
Major US grinder AFA Foods, which filed for bankruptcy in April after the public hysteria surrounding the manufacture and use of Lean Finely Texture Beef in the US, has sold several of its ground beef manufacturing plants. Reports say Cargill Inc will pay A$14 million to buy AFA’s Fort Worth grinding facility. AFA Foods, based in Pennsylvania, supplied ground beef to large retailers including Walmart and fast-food chains including Wendy's. Both companies abandoned the use of patties containing LFTB following the social media hysteria, contributing to AFA’s collapse. Another AFA processing plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania has been bought by CTI Foods Holding Co, Idaho. CTI, which provides food products to national chain restaurants, will use the plant to establish a manufacturing presence on the US East Coast. It already has five food processing facilities and 1000 employees at its Idaho, Texas and California locations. See Beef Central’s earlier report on AFA’s demise, “US grinder collapses under weight of LFTB”
Respected DAFF staffer moves on
The live export industry has saluted the contribution of DAFF senior staffer, Greg Oliver, who resigned recently after a distinguished 16 year career in the department’s Animal Biosecurity section. Livecorp acting CEO Sam Brown said the negotiation of animal health conditions was often complex, requiring expert skills in veterinary science along with a detailed appreciation of cross cultural values, foreign animal health status and the integrity of surveillance measures. In this regard Mr Oliver’s expertise would be badly missed within the department. Mr Oliver will finish with DAFF at the end of July. He was the first DAFF staffer appointed to work full-time on trying to gain and maintain export market access for Australian livestock. “I’ve greatly enjoyed working with industry to try to get people in other governments and cultures to see our point of view and change their import health requirements – hopefully to reflect science, common sense and the many practicalities of the trade,” he said in his parting note to industry stakeholders. “My mantra throughout has been to always try to look at life through the eyes of the person who needs to make the decisions overseas, where the terrain usually differs from ours in so many ways.” Mr Oliver said it was now often harder to gain agreement within DAFF on what could be proposed to trading partners than it was to actually get our trading partners to agree with them. “I remain firmly convinced that livestock export has significantly improved animal welfare in many developing countries. The industry should be proud of this, and I hope the press and general public will eventually get to understand it better,” he said. Livecorp is in the process of seeking an ongoing arrangement with Mr Oliver over the provision of technical advice to the industry on protocol-related matters.
Big demand for Japan’s young farmer support scheme
Confusion is growing over Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries' new farmer support scheme. Japanese farmers under the age of 45 are eligible to receive up to JPY1.5 million per year (about A$20,000) under the scheme, which aims to increase the number of new young farmers involved in livestock and crop production. More than 15,400 people had applied for the scheme by the end of March, but the Y10.4 billion budget for 2012 only assumed there would be 8200 applications, FujiSankei Business said.
Animal ID changes in NZ, Canada
New Zealand’s National Animal Identification & Tracing (NAIT) scheme which has faced fierce opposition on its journey to implementation became mandatory for cattle on July 1 and will be mandatory for deer from March next year. Farmers are required by law to tag all animals with a RFID ear-tag emulating the NLIS system that has been in place in Australia for eight years. Meanwhile, Canada plans to build a single, national livestock traceability system called the Canadian Agri-Traceability Services (CATS), with investment from the national government. Once established, CATS — which will be independent of the government, CCIA or ATQ — will provide traceability data services for its two originating organisations and other stakeholders. The Canadian Government is providing $500,000 to create the single data system and $265,000 to help improve data management capabilities. The investment is being made through the Government's Industry Traceability Infrastructure Program, which supports the development of industry-led systems that collect and verify identification and movement data, and that accelerate and increase industry's tracking and tracing capacity. Canada is a competitor to Australia and the US in exports, particularly to Asia, where traceability of meat products back to source of origin is becoming increasingly popular.
Codex – Ractopamine to Start New Battle in WTO
The EU, US and Brazil could be heading for another battle in the WTO over the use of ractopamine, the growth promotants tool used in beef cattle and pigs in some countries. Codex set new maximum levels for the use of the drug at which the Commission says the meat will be safe for human consumption. In about 27 countries around the world, including the US, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Japan and South Korea, the product has been declared safe. However about 100 other countries including the EU and China still ban its use. The product improves feed efficiency and increase carcase leanness and weight. Brazilian exporters for pork and beef have welcomed the new ruling. Brazil has allowed the use of ractopamine in pork production for 10 years. For feedlot cattle the application was approved in 2011. The United States also allows the product in feed for pigs and cattle.
Korean Audit of Australian plants
A Korean government audit team was in Australia last week looking at the meat processing sector. The team was auditing three establishments in Queensland, along with other industry-related facilities, looking at a number of aspects in the supply chain, in particular metal detection.