More Robust Animal ID/Traceability Program Needed to Stay Competitive

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) released a study showing the U.S. beef and pork industries will lose millions of dollars in exports if the United States does not implement a more robust animal identification (ID) system to compete with countries that have more extensive animal ID and traceability systems. The study, “Economic Assessment of Evolving Red Meat Export Market Access Requirements for Traceability of Livestock and Meat,” assesses the potential impact on U.S. producers and processors as the thinking about animal ID and traceability evolves in leading export markets. Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Uruguay have animal ID/traceability systems in place. The United States and India are the only two major beef exporters that do not have mandatory traceability systems. The study looked at the loss of access for both beef and pork exports markets as a result of not expanding domestic traceability in the U.S. beef and pork industries. The study estimated the beef industry would lose $1.8 billion and the pork industry would lose $518 million over a 10-year period if the United States fails to expand domestic traceability. The study was conducted by Kansas State University, Colorado State University and Montana State University.

Groups Advocate Conservation Principles for 2012 Farm Bill – A coalition of environmental, policy and advocacy groups presented their conservation “principles” to Congress for the 2012 farm bill. The coalition stated, “We will not be able to sustain high levels of agricultural production if we allow our soil and water resources to degrade, especially in the face of challenging weather and increasing prices for energy and other inputs.” The coalition’s “Principles for Strengthening the Conservation Title” are:

• Funding must be adequate to continue critical conservation programs at robust levels. Congress should prioritize the Conservation Title by funding it as close as possible to the current baseline average of $6.5 billion per year.

• Harmonize crop subsidies, insurance and conservation programs.

• Conservation Technical Assistance – An increased share of total Conservation Title funding should be devoted to technical assistance.

• Reduce unnecessary administrative burdens; authorize no new programs unless they are successors to existing programs or new combinations or variations of existing programs.

• Pay for quantifiable environmental outcomes, such as units of water conserved, pounds of nitrogen losses reduced or functional area of habitat provided, and vary payment rates to incentivize higher levels of performance.

• The Conservation Title should support whole-farm, sustainable and organic conservation systems in addition to individual practices. Members of the Coalition include American Farmland Trust, American Rivers, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, Humane Society of the United States, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, Quail Unlimited and the World Wildlife Fund.

Oppose Meat and Poultry Inspection User Fees – A coalition of 20 agricultural organizations have written the Select Committee on Deficit Reductions urging the committee to oppose user fees for federal inspection of meat, poultry and egg products. The coalition in a letter said, “The industry stands ready to work with both the administration and the committee to find ways to reduce overhead costs at the Food Safety Inspection Service, especially in this time of extreme economic hardship, but those reductions should not jeopardize either the Agency’s public health mission or its congressional mandate for continuous inspection in the meat and poultry industries. Food safety and inspection benefits everyone and therefore should be paid for through appropriated funds.” Those signing the letter included the American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Farmers Union, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation and the United Egg Association.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.