More about BEEF!

Did you know that Health Canada recommends beef for infants 6 months of age and older as a first food? I have several notes from my travel to Calgary for the International Livestock Congress – Canada and I think it is time I share them! This may be a bit complex for anyone not somewhat familiar with animal agriculture … so ask questions! I am more than happy to explain things … that’s why I’m doing this. Experts are recommending infants be introduced to beef and other meats sooner rather than later because they are a nutrient rich food which will support baby’s growth. This makes sense … babies need iron and many other nutrients for normal growth and developments and giving them a food which contains practically all of the nutrients they need makes good sense. Plus it tastes a lot better than those weird baby cereal mush things. πŸ™‚

I also learned that there are 65,000 beef farms and feedlots in Canada. Practically every one of them strongly opposes the US-mandated Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) policy recently passed. More information on this topic to come later. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is playing a large role in blocking the USA mandatory COOL amendment passed in May 2013 as being an “arbitrary and capricious constitutional violation”. If this COOL amendment is not scratched a total of $1.1 billion worth of US goods are to be targeted for retaliatory action. Personally, I don’t think COOL amendments really help anyone, especially US beef producers but, that is another topic for another blogging day.

The economists attending the ILC had few, if any, good things to say about Obama, Congress, and the proverbial BS that is Washington … no surprises there. The overwhelming message I walked away with is that Washington and all of its chess pieces are slowing progress and recovery in the US markets (jobs, housing, credit, etc.).

75% of Canadian beef exports are imported to the US. These levels are still below those off the early 2000s before the first outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). Though Canadian exports have recovered, they still have some additional ground to gain.

Beef demand and consumption has declined in North American since 2007. Globally, there is a decline in beef demand in developed countries and a huge increase in demand in developing countries. Why? In developed countries like the US and Canada, people want options. Generically speaking, most people don’t have to worry about where there next meal is coming from. In developing countries, people are starting to reach the point in their economic standing to demand higher quality proteins like beef in place of rice and beans. This also means the developing markets represent a huge potential market for beef producers to focus on.

JBS is the largest global beef and lamb producer, cattle feeder, leather processor, and chicken producer. Pretty dang cool! Leather? Makes sense when you think that all those cow hides go to make leather for belts, shoes, wallets, handbags, balls, etc. JBS is also the 3rd largest pork producer. JBS-USA employs over 73,000 people in 48 states, Australia, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The US and Canada have the lowest cattle inventory since 1958, demonstrating the excess feedlot and meat packing capacity compared to the feeder cattle supply. This is the very reason that a plant in Texas was recently closed. From a global perspective, poultry consumption is increasing, pork consumption is stable, beef consumption is stable with a slight decrease, and lamb consumption is stable. An increasing middle class means increasing meat consumption and higher demand for options.

By far my favorite talk at ILC was by Dr. Lowell Catlett. This guy is AWESOME. He talked about how beef consumption in India has doubled in the last five years. India … a country known more for their NOT eating beef due to religious beliefs. So what happened? Why did India decide to start eating beef? Because somebody got enough money and decided hey, I want to try a cow! Dr. Catlett went on to discuss how world beef demand has NO KNOWN BOUNDS. No known bounds. That is a powerful statement but think about it. The world is getting wealthier and people are demanding more differentiated and segmented markets. We are now able to produce 2700 calories for each of 7 billion people on the planet. This was UNHEARD of for 1 billion people in the 1950s! The changes and advancements we have made in the areas of food production has allowed us the capacity to feed the world!! Now that is powerful folks.

Farming and ranching provides ecological goods and services. Farmers and ranchers are steward of the land who are not paid for their services. The market could create a place for ecological sustainability … we just have to back off and let it. Canada is developing a Livestock Identification Service which acts to inspect livestock crossing provincial (state) lines. This system would rely on radio frequency identification tags. Traceability brings premiums in the market. What that really means is that people are willing to pay more for a steak when they know exactly where that animal has spent its life … what farm it was on, where it was harvested, etc. The system relies on the use of premise ID (identifying the individual farm or ranch), animal ID, and animal movement. This type of system would be incredibly useful for tracking illness and diseases and determining the source.

I have a few more things from my experiences in Calgary to share with you but I think that is enough for today. I apologize if some of what I have discussed goes over your head … but please ask questions! That is the whole point of why I am blogging! Have a great day and an even better weekend!

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