Ranchers call for state meat inspection to boost beef industry
- When the pandemic hit in the spring, meatpackers slowed their chain speeds or even closed for a short time due to Covid-19. As a result, small lockers were flooded with excess cattle to process. Because of this, Nebraska state senators are considering a state meat inspection program.
- According to Senator Steve Halloran, a state inspection program would facilitate more diversity for consumers, producers, and custom exempt processors.
- Nebraska is the second largest red meat processor in the nation and it is also a leading exporter of beef and pork to the world. State Agriculture Director, Steve Wellman said this is a major concern because to export you have to have USDA inspection in place.
- Wellman believes it would be great to process more cattle in the state, but he is skeptical that the lack of state inspectors is the hold up. He claims there is plenty of opportunities to market directly to consumers through 100 USDA inspected plants within the state.
- The issue with those 100 USDA inspected plants is that they are almost all located in the eastern third of the state, and according to the USDA, some don’t process beef.
- Many lockers are only able to sell to the owner of the livestock because they are custom exempt.
- According to Karina Jones, a rancher from Custer County, state meat inspection would definitely help our producers gain market access to everybody in Nebraska.
- Lawmakers say the biggest hurdle to a state inspection program is cost, but they do believe hiring inspectors could be an investment that helps both consumers and ranchers.
- Lawmakers are drafting a bill that the legislature will most likely debate in the upcoming legislative session.
JBS announces settlement in pork antitrust lawsuit
- Last week, JBS USA settled part of a lawsuit that included distributors and food service operators accusing the meatpacker of conspiring with other meat processors to fix prices in the pork industry.
- According to a spokesperson for JBS USA, an agreement has been reached to resolve all claims against the company regarding the direct sale of pork products.
- Even though this agreement has been achieved, JBS denies all allegations in the lawsuit and does not admit any liability. Nevertheless, they believe the settlement is in the best interest of the company.
- Others named in the complaint include Agri Stats, Clemens Food Group LLC, Hormel Foods Corp., Indiana Packers Corp., Seaboard Foods LLC, Smithfield Foods Inc., Triumph Foods LLC and Tyson Foods Inc.
Pork exports remain on record pace, beef exports trend lower
- Pork exports have increased 10 percent year-over-year in September and beef exports have been fairly steady compared to last year, but overall they have trended lower according to new data released by the USDA.
- In September, pork exports were higher to China/Honk Kong. They also set a new record for Canada and increased year-over-year to Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Chile and the Caribbean, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
- In the first nine months of 2020, pork exports were 16 percent ahead of last year’s pace both in volume at 2.22 million metric tons and value at $5.69 billion.
- USMEF President and CEO, Dan Halstrom stated that USMEF is pleased to see U.S. pork exports to China/Hong Kong remain strong, but it is important that our export destinations remain diversified.
- He went on to say that the U.S. pork industry continues to pursue diversity with their export markets in both the Asia Pacific region and the Western Hemisphere region.
- Comparatively, beef exports were down 6 percent in September compared to year-ago levels to 103,277 metric tons, valued at $600.9 billion.
- Beef exports remained strong to South Korea and Taiwan through August, and exports to China even set a new record.
- But Covid-19 issues had a negative impact on demand for U.S. beef in several major markets such as Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
- From January through September of this year, beef exports were down 8 percent in volume at 911,939 metric tons, and 9 percent in value at $5.55 billion.
- As 2020 comes to a close, U.S. beef exports to Asia are expected to increase on tightening supplies from Australia. Exports are also expected to see an upturn in areas where beef demand depends more heavily on travel and tourism.
Boxed beef prices
- Choice boxed beef: $217.39 (+3.07)
- Select boxed beef: $202.37 (+3.88)