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September 2008 Archive for Out to Pasture

RSS By: Steve Cornett, Beef Today

Read the latest blog from Steve Cornett.

Last call for COOL comments

Sep 29, 2008
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By Steve Cornett                        

This Monday morning is your last chance to offer USDA comments on the rules they will use to implement Country of Origin Labeling. The commenting closes at noon D.C. time.            

You can file your opinion along with a few hundred others at http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=FSIS-2008-0027 USDA’s web site if you’re in the mood for it.            

Reading “suggested comments” from cattle outfits seems to indicate full support for these three components: --Use of producer affidavits as sufficient evident of country of origin --Allowing visual inspection of animals for the presence or absence of federal import markings (brands, ear tags, etc.) as a means to establish country of origin--Clarification that violation of COOL will not trigger meat recalls.            

The US Cattlemen’s Association and R-CALF are also upset about the proposed final rules not requiring processors and marketers to isolate and label all product born and raised in the U.S.            

The rules as written allow packers that have handled products from other origins during the day to apply a label of “product of U.S., Canada and Mexico.”

With due respect to the protectionists’ concerns, this reporter sees no need for going beyond that. Lots of packers will handle only U.S. product—and that still must be identified as product of the U.S.—and there will be plenty of US labeled beef out there for retailers and consumers to find.

The day will come when we’ll be glad we have that. Some country will have a newsworthy quality issue and consumers who want to avoid product that might come from there will need only avoid the stuff identified as possibly coming from there. The system as proposed also offers consumers a chance to choose only U.S. product if they so choose.If there is enough interest in U.S. beef, the system will provide all the tools marketers need to provide it. (Notice, however, that’s a pretty big if.)      

This is not, you’ll recall, supposed to be a protectionist bill. It was not sold to Congress as a system for forcing packers to shoulder the costs of “branding” U.S. beef. It was sold as a way to provide consumers with a choice. 

PETA boils a frog

Sep 25, 2008
By Steve Cornett 
 
            We’ve admitted in the past to being very scared of the animal rights movement. Cattle producers are sort of like the frog in the pot of heating water. Society’s ethics are changing so slowly that at no point do we realize that we must jump.
            Latest example: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asks Ben and Jerry’s to use human milk to make ice cream. A stupid idea. One PETA correspondent calculated it would take 9 women nearly 24 hours to produce enough milk for one gallon of ice cream. Stupid.  
            So stupid that every news outlet in the country ran the story. While the beef checkoff is cutting its promotion budget, PETA is gathering millions of dollars worth of free publicity for its cause.
            PETA is very, very good, you know. Acting stupid does not mean you’re stupid. As we’ve argued before, if you say something that is so stupid only one in a million people agree, you can still get yourself 300 stupid converts in the U.S. Say each of them coughs up a hundred bucks a year and you’ve got a nice business going. Say enough stupid things and you might wind up like PETA, generating $29 million a year.
            We’re not going to have human-based ice cream. Some Idi Amin kind of guys, maybe. But nobody else. PETA knows that. They aren’t stupid. But you can bet the publicity has gained them more than 300 new members.
            I’m not sure who that makes stupid. But, while cattle organizations http://www.uscattlemen.org/Library/BeefCheckoff/2008_BeefCheckoff/9-16BeefCheckoffComments.pdf/> continue to argue over how the pie is cut nobody seems to be worried about http://www.beefboard.org/news/09_0919OperatingCommitteeReport.asp/>
 how fast the pie is shrinking.
Have you noticed the water is a little warmer than it was before the PETA flap?
 

Re: Pamela Anderson's frontal, uh, cortex

Sep 15, 2008
 
 By Steve Cornett
 
Scientists have discovered that going veggie could be bad for your brain-with those on a meat-free diet six times more likely to suffer brain shrinkage.
That’s the lede on the story in the Times of India, citing a study at Oxford University, and offering a fairly obvious explanation for much of what PETA’s favorite bimbo Pamela Anderson has to say when she gets her front in front of a TV camera.
            At first I presumed that the scientists may have confused cause and effect—that having a small brain might make you more inclined to be a vegetarian. It's my studied opinion that bimbo types tend to get into faddish things. But when you read on, it says, nope,  it’s sure enough the no meat thing that makes you dumb, not vice versa:
            Vegans and vegetarians are the most likely to be deficient because the best sources of the vitamin are meat, particularly liver, milk and fish. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause anaemia and inflammation of the nervous system. Yeast extracts are one of the few vegetarian foods which provide good levels of the vitamin.
The link was discovered by Oxford University scientists who used memory tests, physical checks and brain scans to examine 107 people between the ages of 61 and 87.
When the volunteers were retested five years later the medics found those with the lowest levels of vitamin B12 were also the most likely to have brain shrinkage. It confirms earlier research showing a link between brain atrophy and low levels of B12.
Not that we didn’t suspect it, mind you. It’s just good to have proof.
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