Agribusiness
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to Host Chinese Officials at First U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium in Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Monday, 20 February 2012 14:36

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2012– TOMORROW, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host American and Chinese officials and private sector representatives for the first U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa. Vilsack traveled to China for the second time as Agriculture Secretary in November to continue to strengthen bilateral trade relations and support the American brand of agriculture throughout the Asia Pacific region. During the visit, Vilsack and Chinese officials developed the U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium as a key forum to expand their discussions into 2012 and beyond. The all-day forum will feature a morning program of remarks by U.S. and Chinese officials, followed by discussions on four main topics: sustainable agriculture; food security; food safety; and the role of the private sector in agriculture in the United States and China. USDA anticipates about 100 guests for the Symposium, including high-level U.S. and Chinese officials.

 

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012

9-9:45 a.m. CST

 

WHAT: Remarks by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, Chinese Agriculture Minister Han Changfu, and other officials.

 

WHERE: World Food Prize Hall of Laureates

100 Locust Street

Des Moines, IA 50309

 
Grassley, Nelson Say Stalling on BSE Rule Hurts U.S. Beef Producers, Exports PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 17 February 2012 15:33

WASHINGTON – Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ben Nelson of Nebraska are leading a bipartisan group of 31 senators pressing the administration to issue a comprehensive BSE rule.  The rule has been in the works for several years, but is currently stalled within the Office of Management and Budget.

In 2004, USDA announced its plans for developing a comprehensive BSE rule, a comprehensive rule the U.S. beef industry has requested for many years. Earlier this year, APHIS submitted a proposed comprehensive BSE rule to OMB, but it has yet to be printed in the “Federal Register” asking for public comment.

In the senators’ letter to Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients and Animal Plant Health and Inspection Services Administrator, Dr. Gregory Parham, the senators asked them to issue the BSE comprehensive rule as soon as possible.

“Operating without a comprehensive rule has put our trade negotiators in a tough spot.  On one hand they are urging our trading partners to abide by scientific standards, yet we have failed to lead by example by adopting a comprehensive rule,” Grassley said.  “These are important rules that can provide a tremendous boost to our beef producers by ensuring their export markets remain open.”

“Today, overseas markets are more important than ever for America’s beef producers, including those in my state of Nebraska. Adopting a comprehensive BSE rule will help them by giving our trade negotiators a stronger hand in advocating for U.S. beef. And it will demonstrate to overseas markets the U.S. is leading the way on food safety as it offers nutritious and healthful beef products,” Nelson said.

The letter was signed by Grassley and Nelson along with senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Dick Lugar of Indiana, Jim Moran of Kansas, John Boozman of Arkansas, John Risch of Idaho, Rob Portman of Ohio, Dan Coats of Indiana, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, John Thune of South Dakota, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Udall of Colorado, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Patty Murray of Washington,  Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, John Cornyn of Texas, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Tom  Harkin of Iowa.

Here is a copy of the text of the letter.  For a signed copy of the letter click here.

 

February 13, 2012

 

The Honorable Jeffrey Zients

Acting Director

Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20503

 

Dr. Gregory Parham

Administrator

Animal Plant Health and Inspection Services

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave., SW

Washington, D.C. 20250

 

Dear Acting Director Zients and Administrator Parham:

 

On behalf of America’s beef producers, we urge you to move forward and publish the comprehensive rule for BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). Non-tariff trade barriers limit our ability to sell U.S. beef to consumers in other countries. Beef producers need our trade negotiators to significantly reduce or eliminate non-tariff trade barriers by requiring our trading partners to make science-based decisions regarding U.S. beef. By the same logic, it is also important for our government to take the necessary steps to properly address risks related to BSE by adopting a comprehensive rule.  For the benefit of U.S. beef producers, APHIS and OMB must issue a comprehensive BSE rule as soon as possible.

 

A prime example of where non-science based standards have significantly limited our ability to sell U.S. beef is in the country of Mexico.  Since 2004, Mexico has not allowed the importation of U.S. cattle that are over 30 months of age.  Mexico has traditionally been one of the top export markets for U.S. beef; however, due to the 30 month age restriction, it is estimated U.S. beef producers are losing $100 million annually.

 

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has formally classified the United States and Mexico as controlled risk countries.  According to the OIE’s guidelines on BSE, this common classification reflects the fact that both countries have effective BSE risk mitigation measures in place.  Moreover, the OIE guidelines establish that beef and beef products from cattle of all ages in either country can be safely traded and consumed once specified risk materials have been properly removed.

 

The failure of Mexico to abide by the international guidelines on BSE represents a lost opportunity on at least two levels.  First, it unduly restricts U.S. beef exports and results in ongoing financial losses for U.S. beef producers.  Beyond its immediate commercial impact, Mexico’s treatment of U.S. beef also has implications on our ability to negotiate beef market access agreements with other nations.

 

By having a comprehensive BSE rule in place, the U.S. will show leadership on the global scale and will give USTR and USDA a stronger position to press other nations to follow the OIE’s guidelines and adopt science-based BSE policies.  As a result, when nations base their decisions on sound science, we are confident more markets will be expanded or opened to U.S. beef.

 

In 2004, USDA announced its plans for developing a comprehensive BSE rule, a comprehensive rule the U.S. beef industry has requested for many years. Earlier this year, APHIS submitted a proposed comprehensive BSE rule to OMB, but it has yet to be printed in the “Federal Register” asking for public comment.  During a June 23, 2011 hearing on livestock before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Administrator Parham stated he expected the comprehensive BSE rule to be released sometime in FY2012.

 

We appreciate Administrator Parham’s commitment; however, there is a lot of time left in fiscal year 2012.  We urge you to release the rule as soon as possible.  The sooner the rule is allowed to move through the required rule-making process, the sooner we will be able to give our international negotiators this important tool for pushing our trading partners to adopt similar science-based approaches.

 

We appreciate your attention to this important matter.

 

Sincerely,

 
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to Host Chinese Officials at First U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium in Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 10 February 2012 09:06

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2012–On THURSDAY, Feb. 16, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host American and Chinese officials and private sector representatives for the first U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa. Vilsack traveled to China for the second time as Agriculture Secretary in November to continue to strengthen bilateral trade relations and support the American brand of agriculture throughout the Asia Pacific region. During the visit, Vilsack and Chinese officials developed the U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium as a key forum to expand their discussions into 2012 and beyond. The all-day forum will feature a morning program of remarks by U.S. and Chinese officials, followed by discussions on four main topics: sustainable agriculture; food security; food safety; and the role of the private sector in agriculture in the United States and China. USDA anticipates about 100 guests for the Symposium, including high-level U.S. and Chinese officials.

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012

9-9:45 a.m. CST

WHAT: Remarks by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, Chinese Agriculture Minister Han Changfu, and other officials.

WHERE: World Food Prize Hall of Laureates

100 Locust Street

Des Moines, IA 50309 

 

RSVP: Credentialed members of the media may attend the 9-9:45 a.m. opening session. Media should RSVP by contacting Stephanie Chan at (202) 720-4623 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

#

 
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to Discuss President Obama’s Blueprint for Economic Revitalization and Job Creation in Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 10 February 2012 09:04

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2012- TODAY,  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host a roundtable with Iowa agriculture and business leaders as well as Des Moines Area Community College faculty and students to discuss President Obama’s efforts to strengthen the Iowa economy. He will also discuss USDA’s efforts to support Iowa’s rural communities and agriculture sector.

In Iowa, USDA has provided 62 grants and loans to assist rural small and mid-sized businesses create or save 5,300 jobs over the past three years. USDA has also improved and modernized rural electric infrastructure for over 91,000 rural residents and businesses in Iowa with more than 2,636 miles of new and upgraded electric lines. Across the country, USDA has helped more than 7,435 rural families in all 99 counties buy or refinance a home.  The department has provided grants and loans for water and waste water community infrastructure projects to help safeguard the health of 257,000 rural residents and create or save 1,900 jobs.

Friday, Feb. 10, 2012

9:45 a.m. CST

WHAT: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host a roundtable with Iowa agriculture

and business leaders as well as Des Moines Area Community College faculty and students to discuss President Obama’s efforts to strengthen the Iowa economy.

WHERE: Des Moines Area Community College– Room 101

Building 3E

2006 South Ankeny Blvd.

Ankeny, Iowa 50023

 
Beltway Beef Newsletter PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by National Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.   
Friday, 10 February 2012 08:35

The 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show attracted more than 8,200 cattlemen and women to Nashville, Tenn., to take part in the record-breaking event. From policy committee meetings and electing new NCBA leadership to a cowboy's night at The Grand Ole Opry and more, 2012 NCBA President J.D. Alexander said the convention was reflective of optimism and momentum in the industry. Check out information about new policy resolutions passed during the convention, learn a little about newly elected NCBA officers and hear straight from Alexander about his priorities as NCBA president in this week's edition of Beltway Beef.

In September 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) declared six additional strains of non-O157 shiga toxin-producing E. coli (non-O157 STECs) as adulterants and announced the agency will require the industry to begin testing for those strains in addition to E. coli O157. Late Wed., Feb. 8, 2012, FSIS announced it will delay the effective date to begin testing to June 4, 2012. NCBA appreciates the delay to ensure all testing methods are validated and properly working. Read more about this issue in this week's Beltway Beef newsletter.

NCBA's staff in Washington, D.C., works each day to educate lawmakers on Capitol Hill and their staff about the beef industry. One important tool to accomplish this is NCBA's Beef 101 educational series. NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts said there will be Beef 101 briefings Fri., Feb. 10, 2012, in the U.S. House and Senate to educate Hill staffers about the nutritional benefits of beef in the diet. She said the House briefing will be at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) in room 1300 in the Longworth House Office Building. The Senate briefing will be at 1:30 p.m. EST in room 328 A in the Russell Senate Office Building.

Click here to read this edition of Beltway Beef. You can also scroll down to read the articles included in this week's newsletter.

Be sure to read the Beltway Beef blog; follow Beltway Beef on Twitter; like us on Facebook; subscribe to us on YouTube; check out our photos on Flickr; and listen to our podcast.

Thank you!

NCBA Washington, D.C. Office

National Cattlemen's Beef Association

NCBA Members Pass Policy Resolutions

- Policy Resolution Passed to Advance Trade Opportunities for US Beef

International trade, cattle payment efficiency and herd health were among the policy issues National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) members honed in on during the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tenn. 2011 NCBA President Bill Donald said the grassroots policy process was put into action as policy resolutions, which originated in local and state cattlemen organizations, advanced through committees and were passed by NCBA members.

"NCBA's policy is not developed in a board room in Washington, D.C. It's developed, debated and deliberated on by cattlemen and women. This process is and always has been the strength and backbone of the organization," Donald said. "From the health of the herd, economic profitability, international trade and more, NCBA members worked this week to ensure a successful and sustainable U.S. beef industry."

Donald said NCBA members keyed in on international trade, specifically the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), during the convention. He said a resolution was passed that codified NCBA support of a TPP that removes tariff and non-tariff trade barriers for U.S. beef to participating countries, which include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Donald said NCBA insists all participating countries, as well as any countries that join the TPP in the future, must fully abide by guidelines set by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall said a resolution was passed to encourage a more efficient payment system for fed cattle. Woodall said at a time when it takes more capital to feed cattle and when cattle feeders want to buy replacement cattle in a timely manner, a recent announcement from the U.S. Postal Service that first class mail delivery will slow in the future will cause problems for the efficient delivery of payment for cattle. He said NCBA will work with the packing sector of the industry to development a more efficient and expeditious payment system for fed cattle.

Donald, who is a Montana rancher, said the current management of bison on federal lands by the Department of Interior has cattlemen concerned about the health of the cattle herd. While co-mingling of bison and other native wildlife with cattle is unpreventable, Donald said the relocation of the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) or other federally-owned bison is a liability cattlemen aren't willing to bear. NCBA members passed a resolution opposing the relocation of any bison outside the current GYA management area, the expansion of that area and any increase in the currently authorized GYA bison population.

 

USDA Delays Implementation Date to Begin Testing for Non-O157 STECs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a 90-day delay of the implementation date to begin testing for six additional strains of non-O157 shiga toxin-producing E. coli (non-O157 STECs). In September 2011, FSIS declared these strains of non-O157 STECs as adulterants and announced it will require the industry to begin testing beef trim for them. The delay will move the effective date to June 4, 2012.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts said cattlemen appreciate the delay to ensure all testing methods are validated and working properly.

"Cattlemen are committed to producing a safe, wholesome beef product for consumers as evidenced by the more than $550 million the industry invests annually in beef safety research and technology implementation. Part of that commitment includes preventing foodborne illness and eliminating pathogens that may affect public health," Butts said. "As the USDA's FSIS moves forward with its plan to test for six additional strains of non-O157 STECs, it is critical to ensure all testing methods are validated and are properly working. Everyone plays a role in the safety of food and we appreciate FSIS' recognition of the importance of working with industry so we get this right. It is because of our commitment to producing safe beef products that we encourage FSIS to work with the industry as we share the common goal of producing safe food."

 

 

NCBA Names New Leadership

Nebraska cattleman J.D. Alexander was named 2012 president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) during the organization's annual meeting in Nashville. Alexander officially took the reins of NCBA from Bill Donald, a rancher from Melville, Mont.

The 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show attracted a record 8,216 attendees. The attendance eclipsed the old record of just less than 7,000, set at NCBA's 1998 centennial celebration.

Elected NCBA president-elect was Scott George, a second generation Wyoming farmer. Also elected to NCBA posts at the meeting were Bob McCan, Texas, to vice president; Craig Uden, Nebraska, federation division chair; Richard Gebhart, Oklahoma, federation division vice chair; Don Pemberton, Missouri, policy division chair; and Philip Ellis, Wyoming, policy division vice chair.

Alexander said the turnout was representative of the enthusiasm in the industry.

"If you want a voice, want to make a difference and want to ensure that your family operation stays in the family, you must step up to the plate, get off the sidelines and become actively involved in your industry," he said. "Together - with our state and national partnership - we will be at the table and off the menu."

Alexander has served as chairman of the federation division and on numerous NCBA committees. George was previously NCBA vice president and has also served on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee and as chair and vice chair of the federation division.

The next generation of cattlemen and women took an active role in the convention, with more than 1,000 young people registered to attend. Marketing, public speaking, quiz bowl and livestock judging contests were held for youth of all ages.

In addition, more than 250 companies and organizations exhibited at the NCBA Trade Show - another record. While convention attendees spent a great deal of time in meetings and at educational seminars, there were multiple entertainment events for them to attend. A Cowboy's Night at the Grand Ole Opry, with performances by the Oak Ridge Boys, Josh Turner, Charley Pride and others was a highlight of the convention.

Alexander called the 2012 Convention and NCBA Trade Show "a convention of a lifetime." He said it exceeded expectations.

"There was a lot of optimism and positive energy at this convention," Alexander said. "We saw a lot of ranchers and farmers - both young and old - looking to the future and the possibilities it holds. We've got a lot of momentum in this industry and in NCBA."

 

 

On the Menu

By NCBA President J.D. Alexander

If you're not at the table, you risk being on the menu.

It's a phrase you will hear a lot over the course of my term as National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) president this year. As cattle producers, we have never faced more exciting opportunities or more risk than we do right now. We have come a long way as an industry, and as an organization, over the past year. The spirit of optimism and energy we saw in Nashville, Tenn., as more than 8,200 cattlemen and women gathered to shape the future of this industry was a testament to how far we have come and it gave me a sense of encouragement about our shared opportunities during the year ahead.

As an industry there are significant challenges ahead of us, and it is important for each and every one of you to be involved at the local, state and national levels as we work to protect this business and ensure our opportunity to pass growing and stable operations onto the next generation of beef producers. At NCBA, we will be working hard to eliminate the estate tax this year. If Congress fails to act, estate tax levels will revert to $1 million exemption threshold with assets exceeding that level being taxed at a 55 percent rate. Let's face it, in today's environment; it doesn't take a lot of land, cattle or equipment to quickly exceed the value exemptions. With the help of cattlemen and women and NCBA's state affiliates, we are going to push for the total elimination of this harmful and outdated tax. There are many operations which are second-, third-, fourth- and in some cases even fifth-generation businesses. What we have received as a result of our forefathers we ought to be allowed to pass onto the next generation without being penalized. We must be able to do that if we are going to protect our rural communities and help the next generation return to the ranch and thrive.

We are going to need the next generation to return if we are going to meet the challenge of a growing global population. We are already faced with a shrinking supply of cattle, which has been further diminished by drought and other factors. While we cannot force herd growth, we need to create an environment where producers are willing and able to expand when the market signals dictate, rather than trying to unduly influence growth that becomes unsustainable in the future.

We expect our cowboys at home to be able to spot a sick steer before it is sick. At NCBA, we rely on our team in Washington, D.C., to be able to do the same thing. We need them to be able to identify potentially damaging rules, regulations and legislation and push back on those items that would be harmful to our sustainability. Although it isn't always easy to see what's ahead, I can tell you that we will be working to craft a farm bill which levels the playing field for all of us, one which doesn't pit us, as producers, against each other. We will continue to seek fair standards for each of us along the production chain and we will be working hard to fully implement the free trade agreements NCBA worked so long and hard to get signed last year. At the same time, our team will be working to make certain that all of our trading partners are in full compliance with international recognized, science-based standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health. We've got safe beef - Period. We want standards that are based on science, not guesswork or hunches so we can compete in the world market.

None of us gets to pick or choose the battles we are going to face in the year ahead. But, I can assure you that our team at NCBA, with the constant help from state affiliates, is prepared to face those battles on your behalf. We won't sit on the fence or back away because something looks too tough. We have a set of policies, based on the marching orders provided by our grassroots and we will follow that policy, but we are going to need help from all of you. We need good voices for our industry. We need good leaders and we need each of you to be involved. At NCBA, our leadership and staff is out there working on your behalf every day because you can't be. But, what we would ask of you is to provide your support, recruit new members and give us the strength we need to represent each of you. Because, if you're not at the table, we might all be on the menu. Now, let's get to work.

 

Your NCBA

Make Plans to Attend 2012 Legislative Conference:

Mark your calendars and make plans to attend the 2012 NCBA Legislative Conference April 17-19, 2012, in Washington, D.C. Attending the NCBA Legislative Conference will provide the opportunity to meet with key congressional and agency influencers and articulate policy priorities of our industry for the future. The conference will be held at the Dupont Circle Hotel and reservations can be made by calling 202-483-6000. Please reference "NCBA 2012" to receive the group rate. Registration will open soon for the conference.

2012 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show Breaks Attendance Record: The 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show set a new attendance record with more than 8,200 cattlemen and women in attendance. Visit www.beltwaybeef.com for coverage of the convention or click herefor pictures from the event. The 2012 Cattle Industry Summer Conference will be July 25-28 in Denver. The 2013 convention will be held Feb. 6-9 in Tampa, Fla.

 
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