AgDay Daily Recap - April 10, 2012

April 11, 2012 03:13 AM

APRIL 10, 2012

Good morning I’m Clinton Griffiths. The media frenzy over lean finely textured beef, or LFTB, continues. This is raising concerns on both sides of the issue. LFTB or lean finely textured beef is the process of mechanically separating beef from fat and treating it with an ammonia mist to kill pathogens. It’s been done for 20 years and according to the USDA it’s safe. Regardless, it's causing consumers to question the product. AgDay's national reporter Tyne Morgan spoke with grocery chain Hy-Vee for an exclusive television interview on their recent decision to offer consumers a choice. Tyne... Clinton, Iowa based grocery chain, Hy-Vee operates 230 stores in the Midwest. As we told you, it reversed course, from an all-out ban to offering both ground beef with and without LFTB. Leaders at Hy-Vee say this has been a unique situation to deal with from a consumer standpoint. But it's not just affecting them, cattlemen are also feeling the weight of the craze. Brandon McHugh is an Iowa cattle producer who took over the operation at an early age, after his father passed away unexpectedly. To him, farming is everything, which is why the craze over LFTB has him concerned. When he heard Hy-Vee announced it is reversing the decision to not carry beef containing LFTB in their stores, he approved. The decision is based on customer feedback. In fact, Comer was surprised not only by the amount of e-mails and phone calls, but the passion consumers expressed. And remember the photo that went viral? Comer says it's not even beef, it's a photo of mechanically separated chicken. The decision by many retailers to reduce or even eliminate beef containing LFTB on store shelves, will come with a higher price tag. Cattle producers are already feeling the hit to their wallets. At the end of the day, producers like McHugh, realize this could be just the beginning. And comer agrees. Comer says this shows there is a need for transparency, from producers to retailers. She says the era of the food industry thinking people will trust and believe them, just because, is over. After Hy-Vee's announcement, the largest U.S. meat processor, Tyson Foods, announced last week it's exploring the option of labeling its ground beef. It's expected USDA will allow labeling of the trimmings. Clinton.

Thanks Tyne. Later today, the USDA's supply demand estimates come out. Many analysts expect the department to lower production numbers out of South America. Allendale released its guess ahead of the report. It’s taking U.S. ending stocks down to 742 million bushels in corn. That's nearly 400 million below last year and 60 million down from the USDA last figure. Beans are estimated at 240 million, up from a year ago...but lower than USDA's latest estimate. And wheat at 825 million bushels. Allendale is also estimating lower world ending stocks for corn and soybeans and higher for wheat. It expects the USDA to lower production of both corn and soybeans in Argentina and Brazil.

The USDA NASS office rolled out its weekly crop progress report Monday. As of Sunday, 7% of the nation’s corn crop was in the ground. That's five points ahead of the five year average. Typically planters aren't even rolling yet in states like Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio. In Illinois, 17% of the crop is planted, up 12 percentage points from last week. Tennessee is nearly halfway done, Kentucky is at a third and about quarter of the North Carolina and Missouri crops are planted. Spring wheat is well ahead of schedule with 21% of the crop planted. It's at the half way point in South Dakota, and 25% complete in Minnesota. The winter wheat crop is looking good.
61% is rated good or excellent. Last year only 36% looked that good. Only 10% is poor or very poor.

2011 marked a record year for California dairy production. That record production has California dairymen with one major question -- what to do with all the milk? The state's producers ramped up production last year in response to higher milk prices. The increase from 2010 to 2011 totaled more than 1 billion pounds. Dairy Today's Catherine Merlo says that increase is more than most states produce in an entire year. She says many California processing plants don't have the capacity to handle that much milk. And this is causing the largest producing dairy state to create new solutions.

While California is producing more milk than ever, the consumption of fluid milk across the country is on the downward slope. Fluid milk sales dropped almost 3% in both December and January. The good news is lower milk consumption is being offset by more people purchasing cheese.

Mike Hogan

The old west ran on horse power and wagon wheels. Today it’s still relatively easy to find somewhere to get that horse shoed, but tracking down someone to fix a round wooden wheel---well that's more of a challenge. Thank goodness, our buddy Cliff Naylor from AgDay affiliate KFYR found someone who can still make an old wagon run. Thanks Cliff.

In Food and Your Family, what you weigh during your pregnancy could have a direct impact on the behavior of your child. A recent study shows a connection between obese mothers and autism. According to researchers at University of California-Davis, the risk of autism climbed nearly 70% when obese during pregnancy. A woman is considered obese when at least 35 pounds overweight, or a body-mass index of at least 25. The lead researcher says one possible reason is when a child is quickly growing, they require more oxygen and if a mother can't provide enough oxygen, it causes problems in brain development. More research is needed to confirm the results.

Whole grain foods are on the rise and there's no sign of that growth stopping anytime soon. The global market for both whole grain and high fiber foods is projected to reach more than 27 billion dollars by 2017. Worldwide, global industry analysts project Asia-Pacific will be the fastest growing region. The whole grain council says as of last month, the stamp that shows consumers the product contains whole grains is now on 6,600 products in 35 countries.

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