USMEF Reports on Port Labor Contract Extensions

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

USMEF logo On this week’s audio report from the United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF), USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng discusses the developments being made regarding important contractual negotiations between the West Coast port operators and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

In late 2014 and for much of 2015, U.S. meat exports were slowed by severe port congestion on the West Coast, which was the result of contentious, prolonged contract negotiations between port operators and the longshoremen’s union. The two sides eventually agreed to a master labor contract running through July 1, 2019, but the impasse inflicted severe damage on many sectors of the U.S. economy, including the U.S. meat industry.

West Coast port operators represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) submitted a formal request last week to the ILWU, intending to begin early negotiations on a contract extension beyond 2019. ILWU has not yet responded to the request, but Seng is encouraged by this development.

“An early contract extension would ease international buyers’ concerns about port congestion problems resurfacing in the near future and help solidify the U.S. meat industry’s reputation as a reliable supplier,” said Seng.

Meanwhile, the counterpart organizations on the East and Gulf Coasts, the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) and the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA), have begun early negotiations on a contract extension beyond the current September 2018 expiration date. Seng says it is paramount that these talks produce positive results, as East and Gulf Coast ports are critical for meat exporters serving the Middle East, Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and the region surrounding Russia.

USMEF Audio Report, Port Labor Contracts
Ag Group, Audio, Export, Export, International, Trade, USMEF

Dairy Groups Encouraged By Action on Trade With Europe

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 5.13.16 PMThe dairy industry praises a bipartisan group of 26 senators for urging U.S. negotiators to address the needs of agriculture – including key dairy issues – in any free trade agreement with the European Union. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the senators noted that the United States’ share of the European agricultural import market is shrinking due to both tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.

“A final [trade] agreement that does not include a strong framework for agriculture could have a negative impact on Congressional support for this deal,” the senators said.

Among other agricultural issues, the letter singled out the need to address restrictive certification requirements on U.S. dairy exports, as well as the EU’s efforts to capture the sole use of food names long considered generic in this country. Decades after parmesan, feta and asiago became household favorites in the United States, Europe now argues these names can only appear on cheeses produced in Italy and Greece, blocking U.S. sales of the products to the EU and increasingly affecting sales to various foreign markets. In addition, the EU is seeking a leg up on U.S. food competitors by insisting that the U.S. government shoulder the costs to enforce protection for hundreds of EU geographical indications in the U.S. domestic market.

The senators cited two earlier letters that urged negotiators to oppose European restrictions on the use of common food names. The EU’s actions are undermining both current free trade agreements and those under negotiations, they said. They added that the concerns cited in those letters had not been addressed so far in negotiations over the U.S.-EU trade agreement, known officially as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

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Ag Group, Cattle, Dairy, Dairy Group, Export, Trade, USDEC

New Opportunities for U.S. Animal Ag in Vietnam

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

tpp-vietnam-infographicSecretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, traveled to Vietnam to meet with his counterparts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, among others, to discuss the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

Vietnam remains one of the fastest-growing markets for U.S. food and agricultural products, with U.S. exports totaling $2.3 billion in 2015. That’s a 357 percent increase from 2007, the year Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). Vietnam now ranks as the United States’ 11th-largest agricultural export market and dairy is one of those top products.

Vietnam is a member of the ASEAN Free Trade Zone and has concluded free trade agreements with a number of other countries, including key U.S. competitors such as Australia, Chile, Korea, and New Zealand. In addition to being part of the TPP, Vietnam is in the process of negotiating agreements with China, the European Union, Hong Kong, and Israel. In these negotiations, Vietnam has agreed to tariff reductions on many agricultural products, potentially putting U.S. exporters at a disadvantage.

Under the TPP, Vietnam will reduce and eventually eliminate tariffs across a broad range of food and agricultural products, helping put U.S. exports on a level playing field and giving the United States a leg up on non-TPP competitors.

Beef: The United States exported $32.3 million of beef and beef products to Vietnam in 2015. Under the TPP agreement, all of Vietnam’s tariffs on beef and beef products, currently as high as 34 percent, will be eliminated in 3-8 years. Tariffs on fresh and frozen beef muscle cuts will be eliminated in three years.

Dairy: In 2015, the United States exported $168 million of dairy products to Vietnam, more than three times the value a decade ago. All of Vietnam’s tariffs on dairy products, currently as high as 20 percent, will be eliminated within five years. Tariffs on cheese, milk powder, and whey will be eliminated immediately.

Pork: The United States exported $3.8 million of pork and pork products to Vietnam in 2015. As a large consumer of pork, Vietnam provides significant potential for U.S. exporters. Under the TPP agreement, Vietnam will eliminate tariffs on pork and pork products, currently as high as 30 percent, in 5-10 years. Tariffs on frozen cuts and shoulders will be eliminated in eight years and on preserved pork, fresh pork cuts and shoulders, and fresh and frozen carcasses in 10 years.

Poultry and Eggs: The United States exported nearly $100 million of poultry and poultry products to Vietnam in 2015. Vietnam’s tariffs on poultry and poultry meat, currently as high as 40 percent, will be eliminated within 13 years. This includes tariffs on frozen chicken cuts and offal, which will be eliminated in 11 years. Vietnam will eliminate in-quota tariffs for eggs within its WTO tariff-rate quota (TRQ) in six years. According to Vietnam’s WTO commitments, this TRQ will continue to grow in perpetuity by five percent per year.

Ag Group, Beef, Dairy, Eggs, Export, Policy, Pork, Poultry, usda

Champion Mustang Inspires At Midwest Horse Fair

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

pade-booth-mhf The 2016 Midwest Horse Fair featured several notable equine celebrities, and AgWired was fortunate enough to receive the opportunity to visit with one of this year’s most exceptional honorees. Padre is a mustang stallion and former wild horse who went above all odds to prove himself as a champion dressage horse, and is continuing to inspire so many in his community through his new role as a service horse in a veterans therapy program.

Patti Gruber first brought Padre home in 2007, and began schooling him and showing him on local dressage circuits. He soon excelled through the ranks, and the pair began competing on the national circuit. In 2010, he became the first wild horse to qualify and compete in dressage at Devon, and remains the first wild horse to hold a United States Dressage Federation (USDF) national ranking. He has a Breyer horse in his honor, and has made appearances at Breyerfest. Now retired from the show ring, Padre and Gruber continue their work together through Veterans R&R, an EAGALA Military Services Program that allows horses to help struggling military veterans transition to successful lives outside of the military.

padre-riding “I was fortunate enough to know Padre when he was about two years old, and I watched him grow up and knew what an amazing disposition he has,” said Gruber. “And I’ve spent the last nine years since I got him showing the world what mustangs can do.”

The pair made the trip to Madison to meet with members of the horse community and share their incredible story, thanks in part to a sponsorship by Purina. The trip was mainly meant to raise awareness about their EAGALA organization, the unique abilities that horses possess to help aid in the treatment of PTSD, addiction, and other problems that face many veterans today, and start conversations about the importance of supporting our nation’s veterans.

“I look at every day that I’ve had Padre as a gift. I’ve had a list of dreams that I’ve come up with from the day that he came into my life,” said Gruber. “He’s not only allowed me to achieve those dreams, but to exceed those dreams, and this is such an incredible opportunity to talk about something that doesn’t get as much attention as it should, and to allow Padre to facilitate some of these difficult conversations.”

Listen to Patti’s full interview to hear more about her incredible story with Padre:
Interview with Patti Gruber, Dressage Trainer

Find more information on Padre and Patti’s EAGALA program here and find more information on wild horse adoption here.

Ag Group, Audio, Equestrian, Equine, Midwest Horse Fair, Uncategorized

iNOVOTEC smaXtec SMART Monitoring & Feedback System

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

inovotecLogoiNOVOTEC Animal Care, LLC, smaXtec’s exclusive partner in the Americas, announced the new 3.0 version of the smaXtec SMART Monitoring and Feedback System, which now includes animal activity tracking in addition to rumen pH and temperature capabilities.

iNOVOTEC now offers two indwelling rumen sensors:
– NEW Combination Sensor – Track pH, temperature and activity with a single bolus. This is the premier tool for monitoring rumen and cow health (smaXtec sensor + ph)
– NEW Estrus Sensor – Monitor temperature and activity with the updated Estrus Sensor. Activity tracking, added to temperature monitoring provides accurate data to more precisely predict estrus events. (smaXtec sensor)

When using both bolus types in the herd, producers and nutrition advisors are able to act on information never before available, refining the ration and helping cows achieve maximum performance. The SMART Monitoring System offers the next level of precision management data and is a proven technology around the world, installed in more than 6,000 dairy cows globally.

The smaXtec SMART Monitoring System consists of:
– Combination sensor with proprietary technology enabling accurate ruminal pH measurement for 150 days, along with temperature and activity tracking for four years
– Estrus sensor providing continuous measurement of temperature and cow activity for four years
– An easy-to-install “plug and play” Base Station with a GSM or direct internet connection
– An optional number of Repeaters, providing easy, flexible and cost-efficient extension of the system’s wireless network
– Climate sensor providing continuous measurement of environmental factors such as ambient temperature and humidity levels
– Messenger Software, an analytical and automatic messaging tool for efficient herd management from any location with internet access including 24/7 event alerts.

“As the only indwelling system with FDA and USDA clearance in the U.S., producers and nutritionists can be confident that the SMART rumen monitoring technology is safe and effective, providing a whole new level of cow management information,” said Bruce Hageman, General Manager of iNOVOTEC Animal Care. “With this latest enhancement we are now able to help dairy producers improve their breeding as well as nutrition programs.”

Agribusiness, Animal Health, Cattle, Dairy

AMSA to Discuss Transparency in the Meat Industry

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

AMSA69thRMCDr. Brad Morgan, Chef Michael Erickson, Hannah Boeh, Lori Pace and Donna Moenning will be the featured speakers at American Meat Science Association’s (AMSA), 69th Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) Transparency in the Meat Industry: Where We Are, Where We’ve Come and Where Are We Going – a panel discussion sponsored by Kemin. The event will be held June 19-22, 2016 at the Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

Topics to be discussed among the panel will focus on the following:
· A Clear View of Transparency and How it Builds Consumer Trust: Donna Moenning, senior program manager for The Center of Food Integrity, will provide research on the most effective practices for building consumer trust. Based on research conducted that explored which attributes are most important to consumers when it comes to trust-building transparency – policies, practices, performance or verification. Moenning will also provide insight on consumer views of transparency and where they want company information conveyed.

· How Consumers View the Conversation from a Social Media Perspective: Lori Pace, proud owner and shameless promoter of, will provide insight to how a single mom can have such an impact on how consumers view the products they serve their families. Pace has an overwhelming social media following, giving parenting advice while striving to provide nutritious choices for her family.

· Health and Transparency: What is being said about the meat industry from a nutritionist’s point of view? Hannah Boeh, doctoral student in Human Nutrition at Kansas State University, will provide insight to the world of nutrition and how all protein sources can be part of a healthy, well balanced diet. She will discuss how there is not a one-size fits all solution for everyone and what individuals should be mindful of when formulating their version of a ‘healthy, well balanced diet.

· The Demand for Answers: Not everyone makes the same choice so the more we know about the food we eat, the safer and more trusting we become to a brand or product. As a chef and high school teacher; Michael Erickson will share the knowledge he has gained from interacting with consumers and students when it comes to educating them on where and how their meat is produced.

· Understanding Both Sides of Our Industry: Academia and industry, though both are part of the meat industry, they play very different roles. As a past Academic turned industry leader, Dr. Brad Morgan, Senior Director of Protein of Performance Food Group, will provide insight on hurdles we face communicating from both sides of the meat industry with the general public.

Ag Group, AMSA, Meat

ALB Selects Four Young Leaders Representatives

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

americanlamb This year, the American Lamb Board (ALB) developed the Tri-Lamb Young Leaders Program was developed to create a forum of young producers and leaders from the United States, Australia and New Zealand to share ideas, network, and broaden the understanding of sheep production practices in all three countries. Representatives from each country will participate in the forum for two years, with meetings and tours in AU and NZ in 2016 and meetings and tours in the US in 2017. New representatives will be selected in 2018.

ALB received over fifty applications for this year’s program. The applicant pool was impressive enough that the selection committee ended up choosing four individuals to represent the American sheep industry in the program, rather than two.

“We were so impressed and excited by the passion and range of talent from the applicants. Their stories have inspired new thinking about marketing lamb and ways to support and encourage young leaders to get more engaged in our industry organization”, said Wes Patton, ALB Chairman. “The young leaders that applied make us hopeful for our industry’s future.”

The first candidate selected to represent the United States in the Tri-Lamb Young Leaders Program is Brad Osguthorpe, a third generation sheep rancher from Park City, Utah. Osguthorpe, alongside his wife, two brothers and father run a 10,000 ewe sheep operation. His passion for the sheep industry is tremendous, and he is eagerness to continue being actively involved in the American Sheep Industry.

The second representative is Karissa Maneotis, who runs a large sheep operation, High Country Lamb, with her family outside of Steamboat, CO. Maneotis also works at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO and helped oversee the 2015 National Lamb Quality Audit.

The third representative, Katie Olagaray, and her family are third generation Basque sheep producers from Northern California. Olagaray is currently pursuing her Master’s degree, with further intention to pursue a PhD, in ruminant nutrition with a dairy focus at Kansas State University. She hopes to return back to California to work alongside her dad on his operation or begin her own herd.

The final representative, Ryan Mahoney, is a fifth generation rancher from the Montezuma Hills of California. Mahoney works with the Emigh Lamb Operation, running their feedlot operation in Dixon, CA. Mahoney’s progressive ideas about feeding lambs will help the Industry become more efficient.

Ag Group, International, Lamb, Meat, Sheep

Generations in Ag – Share Your Family History

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “ What do you do about statistics?”

Media statistics used to be simple to calculate. Then social media came along and it’s not simple anymore. Companies and agencies still want to know if their advertising and messages are being seen and heard, but with the myriad of different ways that information is shared across the various social media platforms the task is daunting. This impacts us all – media, agri-marketers, companies and agencies. Our poll results tell us the majority of people are using a number of different tools. We are currently using Sprout Social and are excited to expand our stat capabilities. More to come on that in the near future.

Here are the poll results:

  • Nothing – only results matter – 0%
  • Spend big $ for reports – 7%
  • Use Sprout Social – 16%
  • Use combination of tools – 54%
  • Only care about traditional media – 0%
  • Can’t figure it out – 0%
  • Other – please comment – 23%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, How many generations has your family been involved in agriculture?

Agriculture is one of the broadest industries. Just because you don’t live directly on the farm doesn’t mean you are not involved in agriculture. We would love to know how many generations your family has been involved in the all encompassing agricultural community.


Colorado Rancher Testifies Before House Committee

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

ncba-200 This week, fourth generation rancher Robbie LeValley, of Western Colorado, testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on the potential consequences of the Administration’s critical habitat policy.

LeValley’s meeting with the House comes in response to a rule recently finalized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that intends to change the regulations for designating critical habitat. While the Service stated that the rule was intended to add clarity and simplify the critical habitat designation process, LeValley believes that the rule goes beyond mere clarifications and simplification of the process and instead attempts a broad re-orientation of the scope and purpose of critical habitat designations.

“The livestock industry not only plays an integral role in the safekeeping of our federal lands but also in the maintenance of the critical habitat for the species on that land,” said LeValley, chairman of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Federal Lands Committee, in her written testimony. “The federal agencies must move away from the scientifically inaccurate idea that removing, reducing and retiring grazing is the answer to every problem the agencies face on public land. As these new standards are implemented, they will have a negative economic impact on ranchers and rural communities without benefitting habitat and the species that live there.”

In her testimony, LeValley detailed the very real impacts to both habitat protection and operating certainty for her fourth generation family business. The LeValley ranch also serves as a habitat for the Gunnison Sage Grouse, and 1,300 of the ranch’s acres are covered in a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances. The LeValley family first engaged with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management to protect grouse habitat through the implementation of several conservation easements in 1995.

“For generations, ranchers have served as stewards of the land,” said LeValley. “Land and habitat thrives because of the knowledge and resources that we put into our land and grazing management decisions. My operation, and the operations of other ranchers proves that managed grazing not only provides for livestock, but for wildlife as well. The time and money that ranchers invest into public land improves water sources, controls invasive species, and removes the fine fuel loads that contribute to catastrophic wildfires that destroy habitat and food sources for wildlife.”

LeValley also detailed the increased uncertainty created by the revised rules, which will expand the Service’s power to classify large areas of unoccupied range as critical habitat based solely on evidence of the “physical and biological features” needed to support a species. She explained her concern that the new rules provide the ability to designate critical habitat based on a site’s potential to support those physical or biological features, even if they do not exist at the time of the designation.

Ag Group, Cattle, Conservation, Grazing, Land, NCBA, Policy

PLC & NCBA Say Senate Turned Back on West

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

PLCAs part of the Energy Security and Research Bill (S.2012) passed by the U.S Senate, the Public Lands Council (PLC) said the Senate inappropriately included a provision permanently reauthorizing the $900 million Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) with a requirement that not less than 40% of LWCF money be spent on federal acquisitions.

In the process, the Senators voted down even common-sense reform amendments like that of Sen. Lankford (R-Okla.) which would have required a maintenance component to any new federal acquisition.

“It’s disappointing to see Senators from Western states turn their backs on their constituents that are so heavily impacted by the large federal footprint in the West,” said Brenda Richards, PLC president. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund has never been fully funded because it is so controversial; to permanently authorize LWCF eliminates any opportunity to ever have a conversation about reform that is so badly needed.”

LWCF is the chief land acquisition tool of the federal government. The federal government already owns more than 660 million acres of land, which is approximately one-third of the entire United States landmass. Over 90% of this land is found in the West and the presence of federal land ownership greatly complicates local and state governance.

“We realize that there may be certain times that land acquisition is necessary,” said Tracy Brunner, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president. “But in the face of an $18 billion federal maintenance backlog, new federal land acquisitions without adequate funding for ongoing care and maintenance is just irresponsible.”

Ag Group, Land, NCBA, PLC, Policy