NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Kiran Kernellu
August 26, 2002
NMA'S SUMMER BOARD MEETING AND CONFERENCE
At NMA's Summer Board Meeting and Conference earlier this month, all NMA committees met and reported activities and recommendations. These included: a warm reception for new members and a joint meeting of the Membership Committee and Associate Advisory Committee to discuss the Exposition and Convention plans for Las Vegas in March 2003. The Membership Committee also warmly welcomed the members of Eastern Meat Packers Association that has recently affiliated with NMA to receive NMA's information but will retain its important identity as EMPA and be listed as an affiliate group in NMA's 2003 Membership Directory.
NMA's Beef Committee received excellent updates from both Dr. Ken Peterson, Assistant Deputy Administrator of FSIS, on current changes and from Mr. Bill Sessions, Associate Deputy Administrator of AMS on the USDA's commodity purchase program and Country of Origin labeling implementation. Of particular interest, Sessions told the Beef Committee about the policy recently announced by AMS that clearly defines the parameters for USDA certification of brand programs. An announcement of this policy notice was in Lean Trimmings August?? and is available at http://www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/certprog/beefpol.htm. Concern was expressed about organizational changes under consideration at FSIS that may further confuse the operations line authority and NMA staff was instructed to raise this issue at the Administrator level. The Committee also heard about a research proposal and will continue its consideration. The Processed Meats Committee received information from Becca Hendricks of the National Pork Board about pork mycology and muscle profiling and continued to discuss ways in which HACCP auditing and evaluation can help further processors address the RTE standards. The Small Stock Committee heard about new product concepts for lamb from Dr. Robert Vance, and received an update on the final phase of the NMA lamb promotion and marketing project. The Food Safety & Regulatory Inspection Committee, once again, had a very full agenda with much discussion about the new Salmonella notice and USDA's recall policy. The Workplace Issues Committee received excellent update information from Rick Alaniz and John Linker with Alaniz & Schraeder and John Barbieri/Matt Kelleher and Kevin Vollmer of State Fund.
Finally, the Strategic Planning Committee, which is comprised of NMA's officers and the chairs of all committees, discussed in detail the draft plan they developed in April and updated it. They expect to have it available for distribution within a month. Financial reports for NMA's fiscal year ending June 30 were presented and accepted along with a report on NMA's investments. The Strategic Planning Committee is working with NMA staff to identify a location in Wisconsin as a site for its Summer Conference in August 2003, and confirmed San Antonio, Texas for its 2004 Convention site. New staff members, Kiran Kernellu, NMA Communications Manager, and Shawna Thomas, Washington Government Affairs Liaison, met with attendees during the meetings.
The Center for Consumer Freedom reported that last week the animal rights group, Vegetarians International Voice For Animals (VIVA) was ordered by Great Britain's Advertising Standards Authority to cease its public pronouncements declaring that meat eaters are more likely to die from "killer diseases." See page 3 of last week's issue of Lean Trimmings for more information on VIVA.
The Center for Consumer Freedom reported last week another attack on the meat industry. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) criticized the Atkins diet because it emphasizes a high protein diet. Dieters on this program tend to increase their consumption of meat. PCRM president Neal Barnard cautioned doctors of "serious legal risk" if they prescribe the Atkins diet. He called the diet "a racket" and advised to "take your money to the produce stand" in a Chicago Tribune article.
HealthScout News discovered that the American Medical Association has repeatedly censured PCRM. Atkins vice president Michael Bernstein stated, "[PCRM] is an extremist vegetarian animal-rights group…their agenda is neither medical nor scientific; it is political." PCRM is closely affiliated with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and has accepted over $1.3 million from animal rights organizations. Some of these said animal rights organizations have ties to violent terrorist groups.
MICROBIOLOGICAL CRITERIA FOR FOODS
The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) will hold a public meeting on August 28, 2002 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Jurys Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Committee is to consider the Codex "Discussion Paper on Proposed Draft Guidelines for the Validation of Food Hygiene Control Measures;" introduce "defining pasteurization;" introduce the new charge on Campybolacter; report on subcommittee activity on Microbiological Performance Standards for Raw Meat and Poultry Products. The agenda is at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ophs/nacmcf/meetings.htm.
INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE/NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
The Committee on Review of the Use of Scientific Criteria and Performance Standards for Safe Food of the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Sciences will hold its fifth annual meeting August 27-29, 2002 in Washington, D.C. On August 27th, there will be an open session from 11:00 a.m. to noon. Any organization or person may address the committee for no more than ten minutes during this time. Those interested in addressing the committee should register in advance with Ms. Sanait Tesfagiorgis at (202) 334-2911 or mailto:[email protected].
REMEMBERING MARC SALCIDO
Marc Salcido, former president of Butchers Union Local 126 (now UFCW #1288) in Fresno died of a heart attack on July 26. He was 64. Marc, the son of migrant farm workers, began an apprenticeship as a meat butcher in 1958, became a representative of the Union in 1980, and was subsequently elected President of the Local. He served on prestigious various assignments for the labor movement, but never forgot the importance of standing shoulder to shoulder with all workers, as he represented his members. NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow worked with him on benefit trust funds, and remembers his energetic involvement to speak for the workers whom he really cared about. We extend our condolences to his wife and family in their loss.
ACADEMIC SELECTION COMMITTEE
On behalf of the directors of the NMA Scholarship Foundation, members of NMA, and NMA staff, many thanks to the members of the Academic Selection Committee. They are:
· Professor Robert Vance, Cal Poly State University
· Dr. Steven Jones, University of Nebraska
· Professor John Henson, California State University, Fresno
· Professor Steven Lonergan, Iowa State University
· Professor Ernest Hawkins, Brigham Young University
PROFESSOR ROBERT VANCE
Dr. Robert Vance, Professor of Animal Science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA was selected to be the recipient of NMA's highest award, the E. Floyd Forbes, at NMA's Convention to be held in March 2003 in Las Vegas, NV.
Dr. Vance's career in academia began in 1979 at Cal Poly and he continues to teach meat and animal science courses there. In announcing the award, NMA President Ted Miller noted that Bob Vance, through his career instruction of undergraduates, has sparked the interest and launched the meat industry careers of hundreds of students who have gone through his classes. Further, he has guided NMA's Scholarship program, working with NMA's Education Committee over the past twenty years.
For those who know Bob Vance, he was very surprised to learn of his selection at the NMA Board meeting in Sedona this month. Two of his former students, Lynn and Bob Delmore, were on a mission to be sure that he was in the meeting that morning!
Bob Vance stands tall with previous E. Floyd Forbes honorees, and NMA is looking forward to hearing from many of his former students as we prepare to honor him for his priceless contribution to the meat industry.
Congratulations to the following scholarship recipients!
v David Schroeder, University of Nebraska
DeBenedetti Memorial Scholarship
v Kristin Leigh Voges, Texas A&M University
Al Piccetti Memorial Scholarship
v Jennifer Wonderly, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Edie Schmidt Memorial Scholarship
v Jessica Meisinger, Iowa State University
v Mindi Dannell Russell, Kansas State University
v Allison Adkins, University of Wisconsin
v Donald Andrew Moss, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
v Kelton Kale Mason, Texas A&M University
Scholarship recipients are invited to attend NMA's MEATXPO '03 for an awards ceremony.
NATIONAL SUMMARY OF MEATS GRADED
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of July, 2002. For all quality graded beef, Choice was 57.5%, up from 56.9% in June. Select was 39.3%, down slightly from 39.9% the previous month. And Prime was 3.1%, down from 3.2% in June. For a copy of the entire report which covers beef, lamb and mutton, NMA members send a self-addressed/stamped (37˘) envelope to Kiran Kernellu at NMA or visit it online at www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/mgc/mgc-pubs.htm.
NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION
NMA - East: 1400 - 16th St. N.W., Suite 400, Washington D.C. 20036 Ph. (202) 667-2108
NMA - West: 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612 Ph. (510) 763-1533 Fax (510) 763-6186
Edited by Kiran Kernellu
August 26, 2002
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service requested comments, information and data as to how best to structure and implement the two year voluntary country-of-origin labeling (COOL) mandated by the 2002 Farm Bill. National Meat Association and Southwest Meat Association, on behalf of their members distributed throughout the United States, filed these comments.
At best, the Agricultural Marketing Service has been asked to implement the will of the Congress, but it does not have the tools for the purpose. Further, AMS is expected to publish "hurry-up" guidelines to carry out the voluntary guidelines. This spells the ingredients for a train wreck. We would suggest that AMS seek additional time from Congress so that it may proceed in an orderly fashion.
The AMS guidelines should clarify how packers and retailers are to comply with the law in several specific areas. These are:
What is expected as country-of-origin labeling for beef, pork and lamb that is produced substantially, but not entirely within the United States?
Under the new law, neither beef, pork nor lamb may be labeled as having a U.S. country-of-origin, unless it is born, raised, fed, slaughtered and processed in the United States. The new law prohibits labeling beef, pork or lamb which is substantially raised, produced and slaughtered in the United States, but which began its life in another country (Canada or Mexico, most likely) as of U.S. origin. Common sense would seem to require that meat produced from such livestock be labeled as: "substantially of U.S. origin" or "of U.S. and XXX country origin," but that kind of labeling does not seem to be authorized by the new law.
Agricultural Marketing Service's guidelines must clarify how product of mixed U.S. and foreign origin is to be labeled during the "voluntary" phase of this program. If meat raised substantially in the U.S. must be labeled as having a country-of-origin other than the U.S., such labeling will be inherently false and will apparently violate the First Amendment ban against compelled false statements, and even more egregious since the compelling party is the United States government.
The USDA/AMS must clarify in its forthcoming guidelines how country-of-origin is to be tracked and audited.
The statute sets forth an audit verification system providing for certification of origin, mandatory identification and considers existing certification programs. The new statutory provisions specifically prohibit a new mandatory livestock ID program and suggest, instead, that verification and audit can be based on one or more of five existing voluntary verification programs. AMS must be precise in its guidelines in regard to which of these existing programs should be used as a model, and provide details as to how that program(s) should be used.
Economic Impact Requirement
Assuming that AMS interprets the new law to allow statements of mixed origin to accommodate meat from two different countries, AMS needs to address the economic impact on producers and packers if retailers shun these products, preferring instead to purchase meat which can be labeled as having a single country-of-origin, which could be either the U. S., Canada, or some other country that legally sends meat into the U. S. If retailers discriminate against meat other than that originating in the United States by definition, then producers of feeder livestock, for example, Canada and/or Mexico and their traditional rancher and feeder customers in the U.S. could be damaged by the resultant changing patterns of trade.
Changing patterns of livestock and meat trade along the U.S.-Canada and the U.S.-Mexico borders could raise the price of meat in some markets, particularly in the Northeast, Northwest and Southwest U.S. with resulting adverse impacts on both producers, consumers and packers. These impacts on product of mixed origin could begin immediately during the "voluntary" compliance period, because retailers would have an economic incentive to change their buying patterns to support their voluntary labeling. Thus, there may be an immediate compliance burden on U.S. and foreign livestock producers, prior to the imposition of mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements. AMS must address the likelihood and extent of this impact.
When government requirements create market uncertainty, the business economy suffers. This ill-advised change in statutory requirements has the potential for a huge economic cost to the livestock and meat industry. AMS has the unenviable task of trying to produce guidelines to carry out a legislative political promise made in the Congress that is unlikely to satisfy anyone, and will seriously harm many. (See page 2 of the August 5, 2002 edition of Lean Trimmings and the front page of the June 17, 2002 edition of Herd on the Hill for more on COOL.)
COOL GETS COOL RECEPTION
Final regulations are due at the end of next month for country-of-origin labels (COOL) on meat, produce and fish. COOL has received a cool reception all around, reported Reuters. U.S. trading partners call it 'protectionist'. American foodmakers call it a costly and unfair burden. Amidst a growing crowd of protestors, it's clear that the task of finalizing the regulations will be a torrential ordeal.
Although the Bush administration has been vocal in its complaints, citing the heavy cost to the U.S. food industry and possible violations of international trade agreements, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman intends to implement the program in line with Congress' plan. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union successfully lobbied for the COOL program to give American ranchers an advantage, that is, a way for consumers to distinguish U.S. produced meat from those of competitors. There is a glitch in that line of thinking. As reported in the June 17, 2002 edition of Herd on the Hill, cattle born in Canada and Mexico are raised, slaughtered, and processed in the U.S. in significant numbers, according to the General Accounting Office's (GAO) January 2000 report entitled, Beef and Lamb, Implications of Labeling by Country of Origin. U.S. cattle are sent for slaughter to Canada and Mexico in equally significant numbers. It's likely that the number of imported cattle has grown in recent years coinciding with the growing American demand for beef, but the new country-of-origin requirements would not brand these cattle as American. Not only would this hurt American importers, but it may set us on a path for similar treatment from our neighbors. Americans eat a substantial amount of beef, lamb and pork, and a lot of that meat is imported. In fact, our meat is often derived from well-traveled livestock. The American Meat Institute (AMI) stated "the cumulative effect [of COOL] will be to drive value out of [the] meat production chain, capital investment out of rural communities and some smaller operations out of business," in its comments to AMS.
The costs of implementing COOL are sizeable. Estimated annual costs of $182 million for meatpackers and processors to maintain information solely on the country of origin of beef don't include the costs to packers and processors of then identifying and maintaining country-of-origin information for meat from cattle that were imported and raised in the United States. A system for tracing animal origin would have to be instituted, as COOL becomes mandatory in 2004. U.S. packers, processors and grocers could pass the incurred costs from COOL forward to the consumer. Congress didn't provide AMS with additional funds to manage the COOL program, which leaves the industry to bear the expenses. Higher retail prices just might get in the way of consumers "buying American," and negate the intent of Congress and those who lobbied for COOL.
Judge Richard Cebull of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana will hear arguments about the legality of the national mandatory beef checkoff program on September 23rd. According to InfoMeat, Judge Cebull has advised all parties involved to focus on the matter of "government speech," specifically whether the checkoff qualifies as such. Government speech is exempt from the freedom of speech requirements of the First Amendment. The government will argue that the checkoff is "government speech," which the plaintiffs, who want to abolish the checkoff, will contradict.
The subject of "government speech" is also apt to surface while another U.S. District Court in Michigan examines the constitutionality of the pork checkoff program.
As reported in a recent Meatingplace.com article, older adults need more protein than younger adults. Protein insufficiency can reduce the body's disease-fighting abilities. Dr. Roger Landry, preventive medicine specialist and consultant to The Buckingham, a Houston-based life care retirement community, recommends that seniors avoid rigid dieting, which often results in them mistakenly cutting their protein. Eating lean cuts of meat is especially beneficial. The Buckingham serves protein-rich meals that include such foods as lamb chops, beef medallions, and sea bass in order to provide a sensible and healthful diet for their residents. At least three meals per day should include protein.