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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Beef in the News

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

From the Publisher: Dennis Sun

In recent days, beef has been a topic in the news once again – some good, some not so good.

As you can read more in this week’s Roundup, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill which stopped the threat of a government shutdown. A shutdown never does anyone much good, as it just shows Congress couldn’t get the job done – a responsibility of both parties.

In the omnibus bill, $15 million was earmarked to provide electronic tracking of cattle. For years, this subject has been one of the most discussed topics whenever cattle producers get together, whether it is two or 200 producers. 

To say the least, this topic has been controversial across the West as every cattle producer has an opinion about electronic ear tags.

Many state livestock boards are in favor of the tags so they can quickly trace a diseased animal. 

Foot and mouth disease is a huge threat, especially with the porous Mexican border and a couple of South American countries that struggle with the disease. A single diseased cow or one outbreak from someone’s contaminated boots would shut down the beef business in America. It’s that serious. 

Our state livestock boards need a system to track cattle quickly to get a handle on any disease, but many producers are already using electronic ear tags to help market their cattle. 

If a producer wants their processed beef to be sold in China, the European Union and other countries, the meat must be traceable, so one would need radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tags.

If the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal is finalized, RFID ear tags would be required on all sexually-intact cattle over 18 months of age which are moving in interstate commerce.

There are many pros and cons concerning ear tags which have fueled the discussion. The big issue is it would involve the government, and they would know where your cattle have been and are currently.

Some Congressmen in opposition of the tags are concerned the legislation would be used by the green agenda to limit beef production and will also allow large corporate ranchers and meatpackers to dominate small producers.

In other related issues of last week, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the finalization of a rule mandating all meat products sold with the “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” voluntary label, must be derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the U.S. This rule applies to meat, poultry and egg products.

Currently, a package of meat at the grocery store may use the label, but in reality could have some meat or fat from another country. It has been false advertising used by meatpackers and others to help sell products. 

The rule will prohibit misleading U.S. origin labeling in wholesale and retail stores and let customers know, if the USA label is on the product, it really is from the USA. Customers should like this rule in times of tight beef supplies. 

Cattle producers realize consumers are their customers, worldwide. They all want to give these customers the best beef products they can, with a label on the package that tells the true story.

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