change in how beef cattle

Updated By : October 30, 2018 5:18:55 PM JST

change in how beef cattle

  A nondescript press release could prove to be a starting point for transformational change in how beef cattle are tracked through the United States, or it could serve as another instance where the status quo proved too difficult to change.

  Last week, the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and plant Health Inspection Service announced its “four overarching goals for advancing animal disease traceability.” The release highlighted USDA's goal to push for electronic data sharing between states and the federal government, the use of electronic ID tags, enhancing birth-to-slaughter tracking ability, and creating a system where animal health certificates are electronically shared with state health officials.

  In an interview with Agri-pulse, Greg Ibach, USDA’s undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, made no secret about advancing animal disease traceability being a personal priority. For about 10 years now, his Nebraska ranch has been participating in a USDA process Verified program, which he says allows his cattle to qualify for a value-added program.

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  “I’m not expecting something out of producers that we haven’t been willing to do on our ranch,” he said. (Ibach withdrew from the ranch's management and marketing decisions to serve as a USDA undersecretary.)

  Ibach’s roots in the beef industry also give him an inside look at what has been the most challenging crowd in the traceability conversation. The concept is mostly in place in the poultry and pork sectors, where more vertical integration provides an easier path to greater traceability. But in the beef sector, it’s not uncommon for the same animal to change locations several times between birth and harvest, typically beginning at a smaller cow-calf operation and ending at a larger feedlot before the trip to the packing house.

  Getting a nationwide group of notoriously independent and private people to voluntarily turn over information to the government is an obviously difficult obstacle to overcome. Ibach is fully aware of that, but also hopes producers will recognize the cost-benefit analysis that traceability presents.

  “If we can get to the point where we help producers understand the risks and the benefits that might be associated with traceability, I think that they will see the value in it for them and they'll be more apt to participate,” he said. “I think as we work with the industry and help them understand the risk and reward that traceability – or lack thereof – presents, the industry will start coming to us” to continually add new qualifiers to the program’s data collection.

  There’s a handful of potential selling points to get producers on board with traceability: International trade partners like China are already seeking a system, and agreeing to participate now in a voluntary program could save producers from a mandatory program down the road. The possibility for a premium on traceable cattle could go away in the event of nationwide adoption, so the selling point among many in favor of traceability has shifted toward animal health. If the focus of the program is to protect animal health, there are mixed opinions about how the program should be run and how dollars could – or should – change hands.

  “In the past, there’s been players that have had impure thoughts about privatizing the system,” Jess peterson, with the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, told Agri-pulse. “As soon as you privatize it, the whole ballgame changes … You should never have folks profiting off an animal health system.”

  Nevil Speer chairs the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, which facilitates the Cattle Traceability Working Group. He told Agri-pulse the issue of a state-run data system versus a private sector managed system comes up in working group discussions, and “it’s almost like you can’t win on either side of that.”

  The EU endeavors to advocate Farm to Table movement on European Beef and Lamb.Food safety is ensured by EU legal system of animal Traceability and identification, allowing transparency along the supply chain.


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Author : missli | 10/30/18 5:18 PM | Public
Tags : Lifestyle
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