Traceability issue is back

USDA announced proposed traceability rules aimed at enabling federal and state animal health officials to more quickly respond to animal disease outbreaks. Published Aug. 11 in the Federal Register, the move signals USDA’s move to revamp its failed attempts at establishing an animal traceability system.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says the program will be administered by states and tribal nations, applies only to livestock moved interstate, and encourages the use of low-cost technology. Brands will be accepted as official ID for livestock moved interstate, if animal health officials in the two states agree.

However, John Clifford, USDA chief veterinarian, says 36 states don’t have the infrastructure to effectively deal with brands as a form of animal ID. Thus, brands are not part of the nationwide ID program.

Comments will be accepted on the proposed rule through Nov. 9 at federalregister.gov.

U.S. spends less on food

The United Nations says food prices will soar by up to 30% in the next decade. Still, supermarketguru.com reports that Americans are comparatively in a much better position than most of the world.

In 1933, Americans spent 21.9% of their income on food at home. Today, USDA says Americans spend just 5.7%.

Compare that to the UK’s 8.6%, Canada’s 9.2%, Australia’s 10.7%, and Germany’s 11.4%. Then there’s France at 13.5%, Japan 14.2%, Mexico 24%, Brazil 24.7%, Russia 28%, China 32.9%, India 35.4%, and Pakistan 45.5%.

Pasture values choppy

USDA’s latest “Land Values 2011 Summary” indicates the Corn Belt and Northern Plains gained 6.6% in 2011 pastureland values over 2010. However, in terms of dollars, the Corn Belt, at an average $2,100/acre, was quite a bit pricier than the Northern Plains average of $553/acre.

Iowa led the surge in the Corn Belt, with a 26.2% increase in pastureland value ($2,650/acre average). In the Northern Plains, North Dakota led the region, showing 10.8% increase in land values, at $410/acre.

The Southeast region registered the largest drop in pastureland values (8.4%) and the nation’s most expensive pasture real estate, with Florida leading the way (a 10.8% decrease) at $4,500. Georgia, which dropped 7.4%, had the highest average pastureland value of the major cattle-producing states in the nation at $5,000/acre.

BEEF garners awards

BEEF magazine’s editorial staff recently won a total of 14 awards – including six first-place awards – in national journalistic competition.

In the Livestock Publications Council annual competition, BEEF won first-place awards for best newsletter, best website, best special issue, best marketing article and best instructional story.

BEEF garnered second-place awards for best publication, best commentary, best human interest story and best producer/farm/ranch profile. Honorable mentions came in in-depth reporting, single layout and design, cover, and best producer/farm/ranch profile.

In American Agricultural Editors Association, BEEF took a first place for best opening page or spread design.

BEEF Book Corner

“Levi’s Lost Calf” (ISBN 1463514425) is an illustrated children’s book by BEEF Daily Editor Amanda Radke that offers young readers a glimpse of life on a South Dakota cattle ranch.

“In a time when today’s consumers are three generations removed from the family farm, this book introduces kids to ranchers who serve as stewards of the land and the caregivers to the many animals,” Radke says. “Readers will get to experience a real-life cowboy adventure, complete with horses, cattle and a new understanding for where our food comes from. Parents will enjoy the positive message of the book and might be reminded of the good old days when they may have visited Grandpa’s farm.”

Featuring original illustrations by Michelle Weber, the book also features a kid-friendly recipe for Radke’s “Hungry Cowboy Tin Foil Dinner” and a glossary to help explain ranch terminology.

“Levi’s Lost Calf” is available in paperback for $12.95 at www.createspace.com/3612406. Five copies of “Levi’s Lost Calf” will be given as prizes in a reader photo contest set for mid-September in BEEF Daily. Learn more at beefmagazine.com.