COOL task force develops pilot program
Source: Drovers Journal Electronic Alert 18 Dec 03
A National Cattlemen's Beef Association COOL task force recently announced a pilot program that would test the concept of a USA label that provides value to the consumer and meets the expectations of producers who want the beef they produce to carry the USA label. The task force identified two key actions:
1. Cooperate with representatives from the food industry, from producers to retailers, to develop pilot projects for country-of-origin labeling using existing USDA guidelines.
2. Conduct consumer market research to identify benefits to producers and consumers.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½The first steps, to take place in January, would be to identify existing programs that could be used as partners/models for the NCBA pilot projects. Likewise a meeting will be held with other industry segments to review the task force recommendations and seek input and participation. This pilot program will ultimately determine how the industry will implement country-of-origin labeling for all segments of the beef-marketing chain.
For more information, click here
posted by Dr. Harlan Hughes 3:16 PM
CAFTA deal reached
Source: Drovers Journal Elctronic Alert 18 Dec 03
The United States and four Central American nations — El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — reached agreement on a free-trade deal Wednesday. U.S. trade officials hope this U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement will open the door for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, which would include every country in the Western hemisphere, except Cuba. Ag Secretary Ann Veneman responded by saying, "We want to assure our producers that provisions are in place to provide additional protection to import sensitive products such as sugar, dairy, peanuts and meat during the transition period. Depending on the products, these could include tariff-rate quotas, long-term tariff phase-outs, nonlinear tariff reductions and the application of an import safeguard mechanism."
For details on the deal, go to www.ustr.gov
posted by Dr. Harlan Hughes 3:04 PM
Swift Hit Hardest By Canadian Border Fallout
Source: BEEF Cow/Calf Weekly Electronic Newletter 19 Dec 03
While all the big U.S. packers utilize Canadian beef in one form another, there is a difference in their strategies. The May closing of the U.S./Canada border to Canadian beef exports due a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) appears to have hit Swift the hardest.
Both Excel and Tyson own major packing plants in Canada. They've benefited because the border has been open to boxed beef exports for months now.
However, Swift, which doesn't have a Canadian packing interest, has traditionally relied on Canadian live cattle to process in their U.S. plants. The continued border closure to live cattle exports from Canada hasn't made Swift happy.
Swift spokesman Jim Herlihy was quoted in the Greeley Tribune recently as saying, "The live animals that are now being stopped at the border are being imported into the U.S. -- in boxes -- and eaten by American consumers. And Canadian processing plants are working overtime to process the cattle available to those plants. We've reached the point now where it costs us more to produce a product than we get for it, especially when compared to the low price of beef coming in from Canada."
Herlihy also said that while Swift's competitors are earning windfall profits of up to $7 million/day/plant in Canada, "we're losing more money with each additional animal we process."
While everything is always a matter of perspective, there's little doubt about the irony in allowing product to be processed in Canada and then shipped across the border, but not allowing the same animals to be shipped to U.S.-based plants for processing.
The comment period of the proposal to reopen the Canadian border ends Jan. 5. It's not expected to be finalized until early spring.
-- Troy Marshall
posted by Dr. Harlan Hughes 1:51 PM