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Animal Science: Today and Tomorrow

January 29, 2013

Dr. Tom Troxel   

Dr. Michael L. Looper


Little Red River Beef Cattle Conference set for April 3


On April 3, cattlemen and industry experts will gather to discuss issues affecting the cattle industry at the Little Red River Beef Cattle Conference, held at the Cleburne County Livestock Auction in Heber Springs. On tap for discussion are sire selection, the benefits of a breeding and calving season and how to cost-effectively re-establish your pastures following the 2012 drought.


Registration will begin at 9:00 a.m. with introductions and welcome beginning at 9:30 a.m. First on the agenda is Dr. Bob Kropp, Professor, Department of Animal Science, Oklahoma State University. Dr. Kropp will use EPD’s and live bulls to demonstration how to select a herd sire. Dr. Bob Kropp is a Professor at Oklahoma State University and teaches beef cattle production, management and marketing.  During his OSU career, he developed a national and international reputation as a beef cattle judge, judging of breeding cattle and/or market steers. Dr. Kropp has presented over 300 talks on a variety of beef cattle topics at numerous state, national and international beef cattle conferences.  In addition to his OSU responsibilities, Dr. Kropp has received numerous awards recognizing his excellence in teaching and undergraduate advisement as well as service to the beef cattle industry.  In 41 years of university instruction, Dr. Kropp has taught over 10,000 students and personally served as the academic advisor to over 2,000 undergraduate students.


Next on the program will be Dr. Tom Troxel and Dr. John Jennings. Dr. Troxel will discuss the advantages of a breeding and calving season, and Dr. Jennings will address pasture re-establishment. Both speakers are members of the Department of Animal Science, University of Arkansas. The program will adjourn at 1:00 pm.


Registration is $20 per person at the door on the day of the conference. This year’s conference sponsors are AgHeritage Farm Credit Services and Farm Credit of Western Arkansas. The Cleburne County Livestock auction house is located at 749 Pangburn Road in Heber Springs. Call 501-362-8378 for directions or contact your local county agent.



Mandatory country-of-origin labeling

The clock is finally and officially ticking on U.S. policymakers regarding mandatory country-of-origin labeling. The U.S. has until May 2013 to bring the labeling rules on meat into compliance with the ruling handed down earlier this year by a WTO Dispute Settlement Body. If the U.S. is not in compliance, Canada and Mexico may commence taking retaliatory action against the United States. A statement from Canada’s Trade Minister, Ed Fast, and Agriculture Minister, Gerry Ritz said, in part, that “The WTO Appellate Body has recognized the integrated nature of the North American supply chain and marked a clear win for our livestock industry.” Further, they said they were “particularly pleased” that the WTO set a compliance period much closer to the period requested by Canada than the much longer period (18 months) that the U.S. had requested.


The challenge for American officials is to figure out just how to change the current U.S. rules to meet the WTO ruling. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk was quoted by a article saying that the U.S. remains committed to providing consumers with country-of-origin information about meat and poultry (we have no idea why he threw poultry into that statement since the U.S. imports practically no poultry products) but that they would indeed be brought into compliance.


CME Group contacts indicate that federal officials are trying to re-write the rules for MCOOL to meet the World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements. Based on their knowledge of the enabling legislation and the Final Rule which took effect in March 2009, they think that will be difficult, meaning that a resolution to this issue would have to come from Congress in the form of an amended law. And we all know how effective Congress is at passing virtually anything these days. “Small” things like MCOOL — at least they are small in the eyes of DC — almost always require some vehicle to carry them through the process.


The Farm Bill would be a logical vehicle for an ag/food issue such as MCOOL but action on a Farm Bill does not seem imminent. If a one-year Farm Bill extension is passed, some other vehicle will have to be found.


MCOOL’s major impact was on the labeling of product derived from imported animals. The differentiation requirements forced packers to segregate product and, in most cases, handle animals imported for direct slaughter and animals born in Canada or Mexico and then fed in the U.S. on specific days. These segregation practices as well as adding stock-keeping units for the differently labeled product increased costs. Canadian and Mexican producers have argued that those costs were taken out of prices paid for their animals, thus causing economic harm (Source CME Group).



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