The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) revised the oath taken by graduates of U.S. veterinary schools to stress the importance of animal welfare as well as animal health. The revised oath, approved by the AVMA Executive Board at its December meeting, now reads as follows (the additions appear in italics):

“Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.”

During deliberations, some board members raised concerns about using the term “animal welfare” because there’s no universally accepted definition of the term. “But a majority thought it was more important that the board make a strong statement about the profession’s commitment to animal welfare than get mired in debate,” according to an AVMA news release.

Help educate consumers

Today’s beef producer isn’t just responsible for raising quality beef;
everyone needs to be an educator, as well, helping inform consumers about the practice of producing their food. Providing the fodder for those discussions on the health and safety of beef is www.SustainableBeef.org.

For instance, did you know that all implants used for growth enhancement in cattle must be approved by the FDA, which is granted only after rigorous and extensive scientific tests to show efficacy and safety? In addition, growth-promoting products have been on the market for more than 30 years with no documented negative effect
on human health.

And, hormones, like those used in growth-promoting products, are naturally occurring and found in all plants and animals. For example,
1 lb. of cabbage contains 10,880 more nanograms of estrogen than 1 lb. of beef from an implanted steer.

Japan to DNA-test cattle for origin

Japan’s farm ministry is looking to use DNA tests to confirm origin between domestic and foreign beef. The test is the result of work done by a Kobe University team that conducted research on cows bred in Japan as well as in Australia and the U.S. to discern different DNA patterns. After trying out the test on 400 Japanese cows, 278 Australian cows and 107 U.S. cows, the team was able to determine origin with 100% accuracy.

Japan’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry plans to use the method at the Food and Agricultural Materials Inspection Center, an independent administrative agency in Saitama that checks food safety and labeling.

Al Gore comes clean on ethanol

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore told a green-energy conference in Athens last month that support for corn-based ethanol in the U.S. was “not a good policy.”
Due to the unfavorable energy-conversion ratios, “it’s not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first-generation ethanol,” Gore said. But, he added,

“It’s hard once such a program is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going.”

Reuters reports that Gore attributed his initial support for ethanol subsidies to his presidential ambitions. “One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president,” he said.

Gore was a crucial ethanol advocate, even casting, as vice-president, the tie-breaking vote in 1994 in the U.S. Senate to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s ethanol mandates.

Of his previous support for those mandates, Gore now says that, while a range of factors have contributed to a food-price crisis, there’s no doubt of biofuels’ effect.

“The size, the percentage of corn particularly, which is now being (used for) first-generation ethanol definitely has an impact on food prices. The competition with food prices is real,” he said.

Another big CAB year

Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB©) closed the books on fiscal year 2010 with 17.2% growth. Moreover, the 32-year-old CAB brand grew across all sectors in a fourth consecutive year of record gains. Product sales from Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010 topped 777 million lbs., shattering last year’s mark by 114 million lbs. CAB says the growth was balanced, with sales of high-value middle meats such as strip steaks and tenderloins up 16%, end meats up 16.1%, and grinds up 24.3%. Retail continued to lead all divisions with 52% of sales at 404 million lbs.

Wetlands restoration growing

Farmers, ranchers and Indian Tribes enrolled more than 272,000 acres in the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) in fiscal year 2010, the highest single-year enrollment in the program’s history. There are now more than 2.3 million acres enrolled in WRP nationwide, USDA says.

Covering more than 220 million acres during colonial times, wetlands in the lower 48 states are now less than half that amount. Wetland losses in some states are more than 90%. More than 40% of federally listed species and over 50% of migratory birds require wetland habitats during some portion of their life cycle.
For more information, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/wrp/.

BEEF Book Corner
Field Guide

“A Field Guide To Wyoming Grasses” by University of Wyoming Professor Emeritus Quentin D. Skinner is a hefty reference guide that is rich in practical detail on Wyoming grasses. Designed for use by teachers, researchers and land managers, this 600-page reference includes tribe, genus and species keys, vegetative and floral descriptions, ecological information and distribution maps of reported grasses in Wyoming, as well as detailed color photos of each species and corresponding plant morphology.

Publication RJ-215 is available for $55 plus $5 for shipping and handling. To order, go to http://ces.uwyo.edu/, click the Publications link, then the Search Bulletins link, and type in RJ-215. Click on the publication title, then the Request Hard Copy link. To order by phone, call 307-766-2115.