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March 2013 Archive for Grazing the Net

RSS By: Greg Henderson and Friends, Beef Today

Our editors spend some time roaming the web looking for stuff cattle people and others in agriculture might find useful or entertaining. 

Meat Inspection Saved and Who Really Markets Beef

Mar 22, 2013

We’re saved!
Congress isn’t as dysfunctional as everybody says. At least they seem to have lifted the derindering knife of Damocles that has been hanging over the meat industry since sequestration took over.

Nebraska’s checkoff doubters
Nebraska Cattlemen continues its series of meetings aimed at gauging the interest in an added checkoff for the state. They are running into doubters.

Without knowing the particular doubters mentioned in the article, we all know people who think like that. Their "I’m selling cattle, not beef. Selling beef is the packers job" attitudes are too common.

We’ll grant that the national the Beef Checkoff program has not stopped the slide in beef demand. Poultry has too much momentum. But consider the alternative. Look at your local grocers’ retail beef ads. How do they sell beef? By price. "Come to my store because my beef is cheaper than the competitor’s beef."

Is that the only message cattle producers, as the "manufacturers" of a product, want out there? Do you see ANY way that has a positive impact on cattle prices—to have your sales team’s only sales pitch depend on how cheaply they can sell—meaning, by defninition, buy--your product?

Leave it to retailers and that’s what you get.

Packers? Visit their websites. Tyson? Their beef page talks about how good Tyson is—not how good beef is. They don’t have any reason to sell beef vs. the other proteins. In fact, their "5 days of recipes" includes two days each of chicken and pork and one day of beef.

Cargill? At least they don’t sell chicken yet, but their pages are, again, primarily aimed at giving you the idea they’re a better source of meat than the other packers.

JBS owns feedlots—and cattle—as well as a chicken outfit. You might expect their page, at least, to promote beef as a healthful choice. But again, their message is about JBS.

We shouldn’t  fault these guys for this. Their job—like retailers --is delivering what consumers want. If we leave the marketing to these guys, they will remain agnostic about the relative merits of beef and poultry and pork. If people want more of one, they will buy more of it. But they’d as soon sell one product as the other.

Cattle producers are to beef as General Motors is to cars. A manufacturer with tough competitors. GM doesn’t leave it to their dealers to promote the Chevy brand. The dealers don’t buy ads talking about how great Chevy pickups are. They compete against each other with prices and service—just like grocers and packers.

So GM and Ford and all those manufacturers spend millions telling us why we should buy the type of pickup they produce.

If you think of beef as a line of pickups competing with pickups made by poultry and pigs and shelves. The Cattlemen’s Beef Board is getting better and better at doing that, even though our chincy, short-sighted selves refuse to offer them decent funding.

Sounds like a lot of investors would like to see Smithfield get out of the vertical integration business.

This fellow seems to have faith in beef. This article on his new place includes a quotable pullout:

Q:With beef prices so high, why did you open a steakhouse?
A: Steak is something that every hotel concierge I ask says [consumers are] looking for.

Indiana’s proposed "ag gag" law seems to have stirred a bit of controversy.

Technomic’s survey says the restaurant business—including steak houses--is picking up.

Another vegan worries about his karma.

USDA moves on downer vealers.

The drought has them burning pear in parts of Texas.

There’s nothing like dry-aged beef, and here’s one man’s suggestion on how to do it.

Ethanol’s hard times.

AMI’s take on the red meat study.

The cattlemen in the Missouri’s cattle theft area would like some help.



Stuffing Chavez, COOL’s Cool Reception, Mennonite Butchers

Mar 15, 2013

I can empathize with the Venezuelans, who are hoping to taxiderm Hugo Chavez and put him on display. It seems they let him get a little ripe before they got him in the freezer.

I’ve had it happen. The taxidermists I know take a whiff and send you packing. But there are other taxidermists, apparently, who will work with what they’ve got. Surely Venezuela can find the guy who did this beloved German shepherd.

Canada does not like USDA’s new plans for mandatory labeling.

The senators who passed the original bill like it a lot.

NCBA doesn’t like it.

AMI hates it.

R-CALF’s Bill Bullard is ecstatic, and so is Jess Peterson at U.S. Cattlemen.

After reading it all, it’s pretty much mixed emotions around here.  Product differentiation is great, but it needs to be based on attributes that matter. There is no difference in cattle from these three countries. Consumers won’t pay much attention to the labels.

This will add costs to beef that won’t be there for poultry. For poultry, none of which is imported, there is no problem. The costs will accrue to beef alone.

Moreover, there’s no way this will withstand WTO scrutiny. It is more discriminatory than the old rule. If it does stand up, you’d expect to see Canada increase their feeding and packing activities and simply ship beef in as a "product of Canada."  That sure won’t be good for the already over-built U.S. feedlot industry, but it won’t hurt the packers. They’ll just kill inCanada instead of the U.S.

What you shouldn’t expect, in this market, is any improvement in cattle prices. We’re against the ceiling now.

One reason Cargill gave for closing its Plainview plant was the need to keep plants operating near enough capacity to afford workers full time wages.

So, it looks like Plainview’s loss is Liberal’s gain.

Whole Foods: Vegan in charge nixes GMOs

JBS profits

New Zealand is getting dry.

Protecting the world from Mennonites with tripods and knives.

The starve the horses coalition gets traction in D.C.

Research on cows as weather monitors.

USMEF team is doing Latin America.

Another steak as lobster story.

This anthropologist says we should eat more offal.

These folks don’t want no stinking pigs in the neighborhood.

News flash: Rural communities are losing population.

More new science casting doubt on old scientific consensus about cholesterol.

Try this and then tell me Texans don’t know how to cook.

Good advice on ordering beef.

Bombshell on the COOL Deal

Mar 08, 2013

In one of those Friday afternoon surprises, USDA released the text of its new Country of Origin Labeling regulations. A quick reading looks like a total win for the anti-Canadian forces
among us.

Not everybody has had time to react, though both the National Farmers Union and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association were quick to jump for joy. NCBA issued a short statement, but AMI has yet to release a statement as I wrote this.  Neither have the producers’ groups in Mexico or Canada.

They will. And they won’t like it. 

The amendment says, in part: "Under this proposed rule, origin designations for muscle cut covered commodities derived from animals slaughtered in the United States would be required to specify the production steps of birth, raising, and slaughter of the animal from which the meat is derived that took place in each country listed on the origin designation. In addition, this proposed rule would eliminate the allowance for any commingling of muscle cut covered commodities of different origins. These changes will provide consumers with more specific information about muscle cut covered commodities."

That would seem to say that ever package of meat would have to labeled with total background information—where the animal was born, where he was "raised" and where he was harvested—and both boxes and ground meat would have to be labeled separately.

Managing that sort of trail would seem to bode major impacts on both packers and producers.

The regulation came in response the WTO ruling against the way USDA opted to institute the COOL labels. Feeders and packers were concerned about the problems they would have in maintaining identification on cattle from various sources, and so had allowed general labels saying a package might be from various countries.

This regulation would seem to remove that option and, as USDA suggests,  put a lot of extra expense on packers—"$32,764,500 with a range of $16,989,000 to $47,326,500"-to be exact.

"The major cost of implementing the proposed amendments will be incurred at the packing or processing facility, in the case of pre-labeled products, or at the retail level, in the case of products labeled at retail. The estimated number of firms that would need to augment labels for muscle cut covered commodities is 2,808 livestock processing and slaughtering firms, 38 chicken processing firms, and 4,335 retailers."

And what do we get for that? "The Agency believes that the incremental economic benefits from the proposed labeling of production steps will be comparatively small."

The proposal is to be published in the Federal Register on Monday.

--Steve Cornett

NYT: “Eat your heart out”

Mar 07, 2013

NYT: "Eat your heart out."

The New York Times took a break from its relentless attack on beef to include this clarifying blog, which suggests maybe all that advice the newspapers and doctors have been spewing these last 40 years is the result of incomplete evidence.

I’m with the commenter who remembered our favorite sage: "Once again the truth of Mark Twain's quip, "If you don't read a newspaper you are uninformed. If you do read a newspaper, you are misinformed."

Free ear tags and tank floats
Being the least bit of a small thinker, when I first heard about 3-D printing, I thought "wow, free ear tags."

As I read more stuff about it, though, we might pay more attention.

Since most of us are miles and miles away from town and forced to get around in pickups that get 12 mpg if we drive 55, the least we might hope for is a deal that will make the VERY bolt or nut we need. Or the ¾ inch PVC tee slip joint we can’t find among all the ½ inch tees and ¾ inch ells and right angles and threaded ¾ tees and….all that PVC stuff that isn’t a ¾ inch tee that costs like 50 cents and requires a 2-hour trip and 10 gallons of gas to go get in a pickup that gets 12 mpg when you drive 55, but that doesn’t matter because you have to drive 90 to get back before the cows run out of water.

Or a windmill leather.

I know. That is not what the Harvard guys mean by "change the world" but it would sure change mine.

This week’s Science News has a really good article that explains more about it.

It seems these guys can print a whole car, so won’t we be able to fabricate our own nuts and bolts?

And here’s a story about how to use milk jugs   to make neat stuff. Wow. We could use milk jugs to make our own tank floats. Wow.

Oh. I guess we already do that, don’t we?

Nonetheless, this bodes to change things in ways small and large. Being a person who regards big city traffic, and the fact that millions of Americans are forced to endure it twice a day, as a great calamity, I find localized manufacturing has no limit of appeal. The reason kids move to those beehives of impoliteness is because they prefer—and don’t we parents, also?—to have a job. Now we’ve got the internet and we’re going to have 3-D printing and I just keep hoping someday kids will be able to move home.

Japanese waffles?
The American Meat Institute reports that the opposition part in Japan would like to waffle on their part of the beef deal.

Sky is falling department:
We can’t vouch for the credibility of the author of this report on water, but he makes some pertinent points. Public perception is very late to this subject.

Allan Savory gets lots of press
Savory’s pitch at a TED seminar is all over the news.

He is no defender of cattle feeding, but he makes points that the environmental members of the anti-beef mafia should take to heart. Grazers are the natural state of things.

A hard year for wolves
This is not good news for the wolves. A lot of them expired last year. Let’s mathemize: 550 wolves times 1 calf each times $800 per calf makes it good news for ranchers.

WaPo food editor comes out. Again
This time, he’s NOT going to eat meat. No comment.

Say, whaaa?
If you know anything about Indian politics, I’d appreciate some education on what this is about? They’re legislating that beef doesn’t contain iron?

How to tell Mama what you paid for that bull
Here’s some math you can use when you get home from the bull sale. Maybe you’ll have better luck than I did.

Drought management
If only we could "manage drought" we wouldn’t have any. But the Society of Range Management has some ideas on managing grassland during a drought.

Jesus can’t swim
Karen stole that headline from Varney so we stole it from her.

Are we paranoid?
This writer has something about the meat industry’s approach to the various attacks on our way of life and honor that we should take into account.

But I’m not sure its paranoia when we have HSUS, the Union of Concerned Scientists, PETA, the Sierra Club and all those folks united against us. Still, she seems reasoned and perhaps sympathetic. 

L.A. meateries
You will not find us in Los Angeles absent an extradition order, but if you MUST visit this is where the L.A. Times says to eat.

Short-circuiting Democracy

Mar 06, 2013

Short-circuiting democracy

All of us know about herding cattle in a pen, right? You need a system. A good set of fences, sideboards to kind of act like the constitution to define where you and cattle can go.
Then, if you handle yourself right, you can control the biggest bull in the world. You just have to stay ahead of him. You watch him. You sense his intentions. If you want him to go north and he wants to go south, you stay ahead of him.

If you move quickly enough, you control him. He turns around. But if you don’t move quickly enough, you get run over.

There. That keeps us from having to talk about slippery slopes in discussing this morning’s New York Times editorial which celebrates the appointments of Gina McCarthy to head the EPA and Ernest Moniz as secretary of energy by suggesting their big challenge is to circumvent congress and impose energy policies despite "strong legal and political challenges from industry." That’s not exactly how they say it, of course. They say: 

"Both will be required to use their regulatory authority creatively and aggressively. There is zero chance that Congress will enact the ‘bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change’ that Mr. Obama called for in his State of the Union address."

This they say without apparently noticing the irony on this day after Hugo Chavez died. That’s pretty much how Mr. Chavez ruined Venezuela. He used his "regulatory authority creatively and aggressively."

One does not have to be a "climate denier" to fret about that way of running the country. One reason this country has prospered through the years is the systematic checks and balances that require consensus to enact sweeping structural changes.

To have a clever lawyer—one, who, by the way has the power to choose the supreme court justices who comprise one third of the checks and balances—actively seeking loopholes in order to ordain his will is not how the system works best.

At the risk of overstatement by degree, Mr. Chavez did just what Mr. Obama has in mind. He took control of the courts and that allowed him the cover to impose his unchecked, unbalanced will.  That let him make the rich pay their "fair share," the fruits of which he redistributed to the poor who, in turn, voted for him every chance they got.

Keeping it all in a context, we shouldn’t compare Obama’s desire to close tax loopholes with nationalization of private enterprise.

But there are folks in the administration’s base who don’t much like animal agriculture. There are administrative actions involving things like dust and meat inspection and nutrition guidelines that could cause considerable damage to the industry. The checks and balances are our friends.

Like I say, you have to stay ahead of the bull or you get run over.

Excellent news on the meat inspector thing

Secretary Vilsack talked to Congress about those inspector furloughs and it sounds like he thinks he won’t be closing plants. He’ll stagger the furloughs if the unions will let him.
the Huffington Post seems reassured, as is the LA Times.

From the cattle-selling angle, that should minimize the damage, even though there are still some folks with suspicions about the motives.

Even better news than the meat inspector thing!
I know you cowboys don’t care about this, but if you had given TSA as many knives as I have over the years, you would deem it important and good news. I’m in the market for the most knife I can legally carry. I’ll be able to open stuff in hotels again.

The National Farmers Union has adopted their policy guidelines. They’d still like the government to guarantee them parity.

Now it’s eagles

It’s a thrill to look out and see eagles where they haven’t been in my lifetime. But, apparently, that moderation in all things is coming into play. It seems they’ve become the top predator of lambs in Wyoming, at least.

Less savings than predicted from farm bill

Here’s a surprise: They overestimated the savings on a bill Congress passed. And they’re usually so accurate.

We’ll probably get blamed for this

Hospital-bred antibiotic resistance is getting worse.

--Steve Cornett

Justice for Pink Slime

Mar 05, 2013

Justice for pink slime
This looks like a good report on ABC’s slimy reporting on "pink slime" and BPI’s efforts to sue reporters and sources involved. (Nasty language warning.)

Defamation suits against media are hard to win—and aren’t we reporters glad?—but in this case, there is more to be gained than any financial reward.

Some have compared this to the mad cow suit against Oprah. Bad simile, that. I respect the men who filed that suit, and understood their rage at Oprah, but at that time, the last thing the industry needed was a war of words with the queen of daytime TV.

This is different. The last time the general public heard about lean finely textured beef, it was still "slime." Stories like this one from Reuters—based on the suit—might help a few people understand the facts. Or, at least, next time some over-zealous reporter stumbles onto one of the renamed products, he should find it hard to ignore this other side of the story.

Meat’s stake in sequestration
Secretary Vilsack continues to defend his decision to furlough meat inspectors, saying it’s out of his hands. But the GOP wants to give him more leaway (or less cover) on the matter.

Please invent this
Look here how they caught those meat thieves. Isn’t there somewhere in a cow we could implant a GPS device like that?

Sorghum gets a boost
The local dealers say that they’ve had a run on grain sorghum seed this year. Much of the acreage around here will apparently come from cotton, and that bodes well (a little bit, given the fact that sorghum remains a small crop) for feedgrain prices this fall. ("Well" for livestock producers, that is; not so well for corn farmers. But you guys ought to be to afford it.)

And, apparently, there is some interest in using sorghum in the ethanol business.

For some areas of the U.S., sorghum is today’s version of tomorrow’s drought-tolerant corn.

Most good sandwiches have beef
Spending lots of time reading news and opinion on the internet could give you the idea that beef is doomed. Anti-beef campaigns by animal rights, anti-technology and environmental crusaders have a big impact on what the nutrition writers say.

But what’s politically correct doesn’t always have the impact crusaders hope for and the Washington Post’s list of good D.C. sandwiches reminds us that beef is good enough to withstand a ton of criticism.

Public support for a nanny state
It’s obvious that a lot of politicians are leaning toward more control of what people eat. This report indicates the public is behind them. (You’ve got to remember, cowboy, that most Americans don’t think like you. Remember that red state/blue state thing.)

Good or bad, more government intervention is probably coming. "Your" lifestyle affects "my" health care costs, and that’s all the cover government needs to take a bit more control.

Beef’s role in nutrition is strong enough to withstand fair scrutiny. If it’s fair. But there are so many other political forces at work, you’ve got to wonder how it will all work out.

Let ‘em loose
This writer at Businessweek thinks it’s smart to release the undocumented.

More diversity
Secretary Vilsack has been adamant about getting more diversity on things like the Beef Board and other official panels. Now he’s looking for volunteers he can appoint to the local county FSA boards.

Assuming he can find some folks, it sure might take the boredom out of some of those meetings.

An EPA "battle?"
Most of what you read indicates the new EPA secretary will be noisy. Fox thinks there will be a big fight. She’s apparently pretty stout on the global warming thing. We’ll have to see how strongly she feels about agriculture.

More beef from 7-11
Some folks don’t associate convenience stores with your mouth-watering cuisine, but 7-11 is aiming to change that with its new beef sandwiches.


If It Might Rain, Take an Umbrella

Mar 04, 2013

If it might rain, take an umbrella
Your reporter is not a climate denier, but remains a climate wonderer. One reason: Things like this: a report suggesting that volcanoes are the reason the world hasn’t warmed more.

Just how precise is all this science? Seems like "the overwhelming majority of scientists" get a lot of surprises. Your reporter just isn’t sure. He reads all sort of stuff day after day and just keeps wondering if global warming is really going to happen.

But of one thing he’s sure: It won’t hurt to get ready, and changing light bulbs isn’t going to help. As the article points out, India and China are increasing their CO2 outputs as they pull themselves into prosperity.

The U.S. can pass all the environmental blue laws the activists want, and it’s not going to stop those folks from wanting to eat better, drive more and get better stuff. So, the world is going to make more CO2. So, if the "overwhelming consensus of science" is right, global warming is coming.

So why don’t we spend more of our resources getting ready? It’s a given that sending money to places like Solyndra, hoping to help them build American factories to compete with Chinese factories is a loser. But basic research? Now there’s something the government can do.

Here’s one argument to that effect from a "clean energy" insider.

I keep remembering (and, yes, repeatedly citing) the argument I lost in my callow youth, arguing that the Rural Electrification Administration was an example of a helpful government program. The fellow with whom I was arguing pointed out that the program killed the incipient wind-generator business that had been developing to provide rural areas with electricity.

Having killed that free-market effort years ago, government is now spending billions trying to get it started again. I lost a lot of arguments in my callow youth, but that lesson stayed with me. It’s one reason I’m so distrustful of the concept of centralized decision making.

But basic research. Ahhh.  That’s what a government can do.

Here’s my example of all that. In 1930, corn got itself hybridized and commercialized. Before that, there was no reason for our granddaddy farmers to breed better corn seed. A breeder who devoted his life to getting a better variety and then sell it one year and everybody would have his seed from then on.

But hybrids changed that. Companies started breeding corn hybrids for profit. Boom. Between 1930 and 2012, corn yields almost quintupled—from 26 to almost 127 bushels per acre.

But nobody came up with a hybrid wheat. So, the government land grand universities did all the breeding development with standard varieties. They did, by the way, a marvelous job and wheat yields tripled before seed companies got DNA to protect their patents. The government did that, and college and USDA-ARS wheat breeders were justifiably proud of it.

But now private enterprise is getting involved. I complain a lot about the price of seed, but I respect the fact that those companies deserve to make a profit if they produce stuff worth buying. And who doubts we will see a spurt in wheat yields in the years ahead?

I suppose my point is that there are things the government can do and probably should do, because they are good things in an altruistic sense. But if there’s a buck to be made, let private enterprise do it. Hence, an opinion: The government shouldn’t be subsidizing or mandating solar cell plants or windmill manufacturers or ethanol. The government’s role should be in maintaining a business climate to allows business to do business and do the research to make good things possible.

Then stand back. We’ll take care of the rest out here in the real world.

The nightmare of paperwork
The Billings paper takes a sympathetic look at some of the reasons behind the industry’s efforts to do a better job of tracking cattle.

Thanks again, beef checkoff
This is a general press account using the Beef Board’s BOLD study to tell consumers how beef can be an important part of nutrition.

Our hungry friends in Vietnam
Not all my contemporaries agree, but it’s good that we’re doing business with the North Vietnamese government. But time passes, wounds scar and it’s nice they’re buying our stuff.
I wonder if we’ll ever forgive Cuba and sell them some beef.

Hard times for ethanol
This reporter frets more about the impact of high corn prices on the cattle business, but I can spare some sympathy for those of you who got into the ethanol business. (But, note above. The government is not very good at this sort of thing.)

Still there are arguments about just how smart the government’s policies have been.

But one Colorado company has what might be a better idea if all you really want from ethanol is "green" energy.

The problem with half-educated
Here we have an opinion piece penned by a senior (yes, I know it sounds sophomoric) at Vanderbilt for his school paper.

I do not like to pick on young people because it’s not their fault their brains haven’t matured yet. But this strikes me as something to consider. The boy’s facts are all wrong and all grounded in the misinformation that permeates the media and is tossed out by adults who know how to exploit all those empty young heads.

For the record. Per capita beef consumption is less than 60 lb. per year. Cattle do not produce more greenhouse gases than "all the forms of transportation combined" and nobody ever claimed that was the case. And if young Skylar and the concerned scientists want to try raising tofu on my pasture land, they’d better fetch along some agronomics nobody has learned yet.

And, it’s "passtime" not "pastime."

Has Michelle been helping Australia?
This Aussie sounds like he’s hungry.

Burger contests
Chili fests and barbecue cook-offs are popular. But we could use a lot more hamburger contests.

I’m a steak fan, but a good double meat hamburger is just about as good.

Jerky get’s some respect
Darned if Consumer Reports hasn’t taken it upon themselves to evaluate beef jerkies. Too bad they limited themselves to the mass produced stuff. I could put you in touch with some jerk that puts that stuff in the shade.

Wolf problem: Solved
No morekilling required.

The Mustangs Vote Naaay!

Mar 01, 2013

Do the calves and moose get a vote in this endangered species thing?*

wolvesThere are some (altogether non fiduciary so far as I’ve found) rewards for sending one’s children to Ivy League colleges. Yesterday my long-gone, thoroughly Columbia-ized and, perhaps worse, Austin-ized, daughter got a letter at our house from the Sierra Club asking her to rejoin their club, which I suppose she joined before she paid her own bills. Not that there are any hard feelings about that.

It included five charming greeting cards showing just how cute wolves are when they’re not in the process of eviscerating calves or moose and eating them alive. There were, let me assure you, no barred fangs or jugular veins in these pictures.

I learned from the accompanying literature that the Sierra Club needs money to get wolves back on the endangered (not to be confused with dangerous) species list. And not only that, "those opposed to us in this fight (to save the cute wolves) are wealthy….(and) will stop at nothing to end protection for endangered species that stand in the way of their profits, even deception and flat-out denial of science."

They wanted my daughter to send them some dues they said. "Right now." Their case was so heart-rending that I started to send them a little, but the minimum was $19 and, well, I wouldn't be "wealthy" if I threw my money around like that, would I? I should forward this to my daughter, I guess, and will certainly give it some thought. They obviously need some money pretty bad "right now." It is"vital to our efforts" they say. And I can just imagine so. They’re only taking in $51 million a year--$9 million more than the whole national beef board gets.

I’m glad to report that, in this mailing, ranchers are not cited as the problem. Rather, it is "greedy developers, oil companies and timber and mining conglomerates that are pressuring elected officials to abandon wildlife protection for profit…." I take that as a sign their fund-raising polls indicate they shouldn’t lump us in with those other scoundrels. A small favor there.

I almost reconsidered. I am no fan of conglomerates, much less, greedy developers.  Anyhow, if you wish to make a contribution and get some greeting cards, for (let me mathematize here: $19 divvy 5 cards=$3.80) $3.80 per card, you can learn more at www.sierraclub.com

The wolf pictures are so endearing I wish I had one here to hug. It moves me to doggerel:

See the mama wolf
With her cub so sweet?
Avert your eyes, kids.
They’re about to eat
*the wild mustangs already voted naaay.

USDA: This time, we mean it!
USDA says that food stamp fraud is rare but they’re going to get VERY TOUGH about it. And this time, they mean it.

The dumping thing of which they speak reminds me of a fellow I knew in college. His daddy gave him a new Corvette and a gas card for high school graduation, so he spent his spare (and, of course, sometimes his class) time driving the country roads picking up coke bottles and aluminum cans for the refunds, thus converting $10 worth of gas into $1.25 for a six-pack of cheap beer.

It’s a good thing USDA didn’t catch him. They would have admonished him, I bet.

I’m already on record with my cure for it. Give poor people all the bulk rice and beans they want free and see how long it takes them to find a way to get un-poor. Much of the world lives on no more than that.

Let’s see who gets the free money
Cory Gardner has introduced a bill that might shed light on some of those sweethearty deals federal agencies cut with activist groups.

Iowa: still dry
I’m not sure it’s worth a Register chit, but this story says what we already learned from AgWeb.

The drought isn’t over. Those rosy USDA crop forecasts are not in the bin.

Considering COOL
This country of origin labeling thing continues to simmer. Either USDA or Congress must find a fix for it soon or Canada and Mexico are about to start taxing somebody more politically powerful than us. USCA has some thoughts.

"A myriad of standards"  
FDA has a bunch of new rules and plans a series of meetings to "seek feedback" they can ignore later.

Good things to say about beef
Cargill has a tasty new site promoting ground beef.

More red meat for us conglomerate haters
Here you go with a hearty dose of anti-corporate rant to enjoy with your organic supplements this morning.

Let them work
A comforting take on my pet political project.

--Steve Cornett

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