USDA Creates New Government Certification For GMO-Free

By Mary Clare Jalonick
Associated Press

Washington (AP) – The Agriculture Department has developed a new government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients. USDA’s move comes as some consumer groups push for mandatory labeling of the genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The certification is the first of its kind, would be voluntary – and companies would have to pay for it. If approved, the foods would be able to carry a “USDA Process Verified” label along with a claim that they are free of GMOs.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack outlined the new certification in a May 1 letter to USDA employees, saying it was being done at the request of a “leading global company,” which he did not identify. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.

A USDA spokesman confirmed that Vilsack sent the letter but declined to comment on the certification program. Vilsack said in the letter that the certification “will be announced soon, and other companies are already lining up to take advantage of this service.”

Companies can already put their own GMO-free labels on foods, but there are no government labels that only certify a food as GMO-free. Many companies use a private label developed by a nonprofit called the Non-GMO Project. The USDA organic label also certifies that foods are free of genetically modified ingredients, but many non-GMO foods aren’t organic.

Vilsack said the USDA certification is being created through the department’s Agriculture Marketing Service, which works with interested companies to certify the accuracy of the claims they are making on food packages – think “humanely raised” or “no antibiotics ever.” Companies pay the Agricultural Marketing Service to verify a claim, and if approved, they can market the foods with the USDA process verified label. “Recently, a leading global company asked AMS to help verify that the corn and soybeans it uses in its products are not genetically engineered so that the company could label the products as such,” Vilsack wrote in the letter. “AMS worked with the company to develop testing and verification processes to verify the non-GE claim.”

Genetically modified foods come from seeds that are originally engineered in laboratories to have certain traits, like resistance to herbicides. The majority of the country’s corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that going to animal feed. GMO corn and soybeans are also made into popular processed food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and soybean oil.

The government says GMOs on the market now are safe so mandatory labels aren’t needed. Consumer advocates pushing for mandatory labeling say shoppers still have a right to know what is in their food, arguing that not enough is known about the effects of the technology. They have supported several state efforts to require labeling, with the eventual goal of having a federal mandatory label set by the Food and Drug Administration.

An Associated Press-GfK poll in December showed that two thirds of Americans support the labeling, while fewer said genetically modified ingredients are important in judging whether a food is healthy. Some of the respondents said their support of labeling was more about accountability in the food industry than the safety of GMOs.

Vermont became the first state to require the labeling in 2014, and that law will go into effect next year if it survives a legal challenge from the food industry.

The USDA label is similar to what is proposed in a GOP House bill introduced earlier this year that is designed to block such mandatory GMO labeling efforts around the country. The bill, introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., provides for voluntary USDA certification and would override any state laws that require the labeling. The food industry has strongly backed Pompeo’s bill, arguing labels would be misleading because GMOs are safe. Pompeo said USDA’s move shows his approach is gathering support. “I look forward to working with the secretary and with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that we come to the best possible policy to provide families in Kansas and America with clarity at the grocery store affordable and abundant food supply,” he said.

Consumer advocates who are pushing for mandatory labeling say the voluntary USDA labels aren’t sufficient to help consumers know what is in their food, arguing that labels that are on some foods but not others could just lead to more confusion.

Gary Hirshberg, chairman of the Just Label It campaign and co-founder of the organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm, said the labels were a small step in the right direction but more is needed. “Mandatory labeling of GMOs would allow consumers to vote with their dollars and have a say in the type of agriculture they would like to see in this country,” Hirshberg said.

Meat Labels To Note Tenderized Will Soon Be Required

Washington (AP) – The government will soon require labels on packages of beef tenderized by machines so shoppers know to cook it thoroughly.

The Agriculture Department said the labels will be required starting in May 2016. Mechanically tenderized meat is poked with needles or blades to make it tender, a process that can transfer bacteria like E. coli or salmonella from the outside of the cut to the inside. Since many people eat cuts of beef that aren’t fully cooked in the center, that bacteria can pose a safety hazard.

The labels will say that the meat has been “mechanically tenderized,” “blade tenderized” or “needle tenderized.” They also will include cooking instructions to ensure consumers cook the meat long enough to kill any bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been six outbreaks of illness linked to mechanically tenderized beef in the last 15 years. USDA predicts that the new labels and cooking instructions could prevent hundreds of illnesses annually. “This common-sense change will lead to safer meals and fewer foodborne illnesses,” said Al Almanza, head of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Meat industry officials say they have worked to make tenderized products safer over the years, and they don’t think they need to be labeled. But the North American Meat Institute’s Barry Carpenter said USDA worked with the industry on the rules, which were initially proposed in 2013, and they will work to put them in place. “We are confident in the safety of products that are mechanically tenderized to increase tenderness, a trait that consumers desires in meat products,” Carpenter said.

Consumer groups had pushed for the labels for several years. A coalition of those groups praised the new USDA rule, saying consumers don’t always know when meats have been tenderized – or that they can be unsafe – because they don’t look any different. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who has long argued for stricter food safety rules, also applauded the rule, saying the potential illnesses from tenderized beef are a critical public health issue. “The serious and urgent health risks associated with consuming mechanically tenderized meats are clear,” DeLauro said.

Beginning Rancher Educational Program Scheduled June 9-10

College Station – A Beginning Rancher Educational Program is scheduled June 9-10 at the O.D. Butler Jr. Animal Science Complex at Texas A&M University in College Station.

The free workshop is open to those who have entered the ranching business over the past 10 years, said Dr. Tom Hairgrove, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock and food animal systems coordinator, College Station. “There are a lot of individuals out there who have entered the cattle business recently or the past decade, and we want to reach out to these folks and discuss some marketing opportunities that they may not be aware of,” Hairgrove said.

The Texas Beef Council, AgriLife Extension and Prairie View Cooperative Extension are workshop sponsors. The workshop will begin at 5 p.m. June 9 at the Butler Complex with a dinner sponsored by the Texas Beef Council.

Dr. Joe Paschal, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, Corpus Christi, and Dr. Kellye Thompson, Prairie View Cooperative Extension, will discuss the Beef Quality Assurance program and the role it plays in cattle production. Kimberly Ratcliff, president of 100 Ranchers, a non-profit organization, will also discuss the benefits of the program and its impact on her own operation.

On June 10, workshop activities begin at 8 a.m. at the G. Rollie White Visitors Center inside the Butler Complex. Marketing cattle will be the focus of the program featuring Paschal, Ratcliff, Thompson and the following speakers:
– Jesse Carver, region executive officer of the Texas Livestock Marketing Association.
– Greg Goudeau, owner of Navasota Livestock Auction.
– Dr. Virginia Fajt, clinical associate professor, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, College Station.

At noon, Dr. Elizabeth Parker, chief veterinarian for the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases at Texas A&M, will be the keynote speaker. Paschal will lead the final program session at 12:30 p.m. discussing how to become a successful grass farmer and efficiently feed cows. The workshop will conclude with wrap-up questions and a survey for future programming, Hairgrove said.

To register for the program, contact AgriLife Extension animal science at 979-845 6931 or EXTANSC@ag.tamu.edu or email Hairgrove for more information at tbhairgrove@ag.tamu.edu.

Direct Receipts

Direct Receipts: 54,800

Texas 21,400. 94 pct over 600 lbs. 31 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 FOB Current 725 lbs 222.80; 750-775 lbs 216.95; 800-835 lbs 210.06; 850 lbs 208.10; June 775 lbs 214.00; 800 lbs 215.00; July 775 lbs 214.19; 800 lbs 215.00; Aug 725 lbs 219.75; 750 lbs 215.70; 800 lbs 214.10; Sept 700 lbs 225.20; 800 lbs 210.00; Oct 750 lbs 218.00; Del Current 750-775 lbs 217.17; 800 lbs 216.00; 850-860 lbs 209.34; June 675 lbs 238.00; July 750 lbs 218.75; 800 lbs 215.00; Aug 720 lbs 218.30; 750 lbs 221.42; 800 lbs 213.25; Oct 800 lbs 213.00. Medium and Large 1-2 FOB Current 600 lbs 243.80; 700-745 lbs 221.50; 750-800 lbs 215.39; 800-850 lbs 204.46; 850-900 lbs 200.39; 900 lbs 197.72; May-June 800 lbs 210.00; Del Current 700-725 lbs 220.71; 750-775 lbs 217.00; 800-820 lbs 214.27; 900 lbs 196.00; May-June 725 lbs 223.00. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 FOB Current 650-675 lbs 215.68; 700-725 lbs 207.57; June 675 lbs 211.50; 700 lbs 209.75; July 700 lbs 209.33; Aug 650 lbs 213.20; 725 lbs 207.36; Sept 700-725 lbs 207.49; Del Current 700-725 lbs 215.03; June 650 lbs 218.00; 700-735 lbs 209.52; July 700-725 lbs 209.17; 750 lbs 207.00; Aug 700-725 lbs 209.06; Oct 700 lbs 211.00; Nov 700 lbs 209.35. Medium and Large 1-2 FOB Current 515 lbs 256.70; 725 lbs 200.58; Del Current 650 lbs 215.00; 700 lbs 212.00; 750-780 lbs 202.55.

Oklahoma 4900. 100 pct over 600 lbs. 26 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 FOB Current 675 lbs 236.00; 725 lbs 220.80; 750-755 lbs 219.64; 800-835 lbs 212.57; 850-860 lbs 206.84; 900 lbs 194.27. Medium and Large 1-2 FOB Current 700-715 lbs 218.87; 775-785 lbs 209.57; 880 lbs 194.29. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 FOB Current 650 lbs 216.00; 700-735 lbs 208.55; 780 lbs 193.02; Del Current 785 lbs 193.50.

New Mexico 400. 100 pct over 600 lbs. 32 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 Current 790 lbs 212.64; 800 lbs 210.55; May-June 775 lbs 215.00. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 Current 750 lbs 205.55.

Kansas 6300. 100 pct over 600 lbs. 10 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 FOB Current 700-725 lbs 219.47; 785 lbs 218.00; 830 lbs 209.00; 850-870 lbs 206.32; 900 lbs 196.00; Del Current 750 lbs 219.00. Medium and Large 1-2 Del Current 725-745 lbs 224.35; 750-790 lbs 216.76; 800-825 lbs 213.25; 850-900 lbs 202.61; 915 lbs 193.24; 985-990 lbs 188.67. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 FOB Current 685 lbs 214.00; 735 lbs 208.00; 765-770 lbs 201.36.

National Feeder Cattle Summary

St. Joseph, MO — May 15
National feeder cattle receipts: 147,500

Yearlings sold fully steady to $5 higher and in most cases full advance placed on heavy yearlings over 800 lbs. Demand remains very good on yearlings as the draw of higher fed cattle prices last week continues to bring additional interest back to feeder cattle and cattle futures. Steer and heifer calves traded steady to $5 higher in markets where they are fully tested. Cash fed and feeder cattle prices continue to outdo expectations even perplex many in the business. The insistence of bearish fundamentals or concerns with plentiful supplies of pork and poultry, larger fed cattle supplies and heavier carcass weights is not drawing away excellent early pasture conditions which should limit feedlot replacement activity, along with tight feeder supplies. Receipts were light this week at the Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City on Monday with 4036 head as severe storms and heavy rains have caused flooding throughout the state; making it hard for producers to gather and ship cattle off graze out wheat pastures. On Wednesday at OKC-West in El Reno, OK sold over 7600 head of feeder cattle with over 1000 head of 900-950 lb steers on offer averaging 921 lbs sold with a weighted average price of $200.21/cwt. Replacement quality heifers still remain in good demand as in Torrington, Wy on Wednesday sold a part load of 747 lb heifers by the head for $1810 a little over $242/lb and 77 head weighing 777 lbs for $1850 per head about $238/lb. Choice Boxed Beef prices continue to be a bright spot this week refusing to cool its heels before Memorial Day Weekend as Choice product on Wednesday closed with impressive gains of $2.21 higher at $263.17 its highest close since January 14th and Choice product posting all-time highs on Thursday closing a $1.57 higher at $264.74. Choice Boxed-beef then turned bearish on Friday closing $2.81 lower at $261.93. With Memorial, Father’s, and Independence Day looming ahead of us, beef demand should be more than adequate over the next 40 days. USDA released its May WASDE report on Tuesday with US corn ending stocks for 2015-16 at 1.746 billion bushels, based on 13.63 billion bushels of production with an average yield of 166.8 bpa. The new corn crop ending stocks estimate is down from 1.851 billion bushels in 2014-15 but within trade expectations. The Avian Bird Flu outbreak so far has affected sixteen states with USDA-AMS Agriculture Analytics Division estimating as of May 8th 28,700,000 total birds lost. Despite this news from AAD, corn traders have ignored the reduction in corn usage at this point with lost corn consumption coming to 630,000 bushels per week. Impact on feed demand remains small overall, but with constant headlines and growing concerns of more poultry losses will be watched carefully. Corn and soybean planting sped along faster than trade expected last week with USDA reporting 75 percent of the corn planted up from 55 percent the week before and the five-year average of 57 percent completed. With Iowa at 83 percent, Illinois 88 percent, Nebraska 76 percent, and Minnesota at 95 percent corn planting completed. The Eastern Corn Belt remains behind but made good gains last week with Indiana and Ohio at 52 percent and 55 percent completed. Soybean planting is at 31 percent completed.

Texas 5500. 89 pct over 600 lbs. 36 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 550-600 lbs (586) 254.89; half load 640 lbs 244.00; 650-700 lbs (684) 237.04; 700-750 lbs (726) 226.49; 750-800 lbs (781) 217.00; 800-850 lbs (824) 209.99; 900-950 lbs (912) 199.57. Medium and Large 1-2 550-600 lbs (587) 246.12; 600-650 lbs (608) 241.49; 650-700 lbs (667) 224.52; 700-750 lbs (729) 227.69; 750-800 lbs (769) 214.84; 800-850 lbs (822) 203.96; few loads 940 lbs 189.00. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 400-450 lbs (442) 293.69; 450-500 lbs (478) 275.77; 500-550 lbs (535) 237.84; 600-650 lbs (631) 214.22; 650-700 lbs (670) 210.88; 700-750 lbs (732) 208.81; 750-800 lbs (775) 201.07; 800-850 lbs (836) 193.62; 900-950 lbs (939) 175.96. Medium and Large 1-2 600-650 lbs (619) 217.14; 650-700 lbs (673) 213.29; half load 815 lbs 194.50.

Oklahoma 20,900. 81 pct over 600 lbs. 36 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 350-400 lbs (356) 359.62; 400-450 lbs (413) 329.87; 450-500 lbs (471) 313.42; 500-550 lbs (516) 296.57; 550-600 lbs (570) 267.94; 600-650 lbs (623) 259.09; 650-700 lbs (676) 238.60; 700-750 lbs (736) 226.23; 750-800 lbs (766) 219.74; 800-850 lbs (826) 213.30; 850-900 lbs (873) 205.75; 900-950 lbs (918) 199.66; 950-1000 lbs (968) 194.41; 1000-1050 lbs (1010) 187.18; 1050-1100 lbs (1075) 176.84. Medium and Large 1-2 300-350 lbs (341) 325.69; 400-450 lbs (428) 308.08; 450-500 lbs (469) 277.27; 500-550 lbs (534) 264.54; 550-600 lbs (578) 257.50; 600-650 lbs (636) 240.94; 650-700 lbs (676) 235.49; 700-750 lbs (740) 220.58; 750-800 lbs (781) 216.60; 800-850 lbs (826) 210.03; 850-900 lbs (886) 200.42; 900-950 lbs (932) 196.77; 950-1000 lbs (977) 187.10; 1000-1050 lbs (1028) 179.85. Holsteins: Large 3 450-500 lbs (479) 229.61; 700-750 lbs (722) 179.17; 750-800 lbs (762) 171.49; load 895 lbs 161.00; pkg 905 lbs 166.00. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 450-500 lbs (469) 266.38; 500-550 lbs (529) 262.72; 550-600 lbs (572) 252.05; 600-650 lbs (625) 229.79; 650-700 lbs (666) 219.55; 700-750 lbs (728) 205.28; 750-800 lbs (774) 200.44; 800-850 lbs (822) 193.32; 850-900 lbs (867) 190.59; 900-950 lbs (925) 183.50; 950-1000 lbs (965) 181.38. Medium and Large 1-2 400-450 lbs (419) 271.07; 450-500 lbs (482) 254.88; 500-550 lbs (532) 242.93; 550-600 lbs (570) 229.23; 600-650 lbs (640) 223.49; 650-700 lbs (668) 207.62; 700-750 lbs (726) 203.93; 750-800 lbs (795) 195.28; 800-850 lbs (816) 190.78.

New Mexico 3800. 42 pct over 600 lbs. 45 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 300-350 lbs (315) 346.05; 400-450 lbs (416) 301.06; 450-500 lbs (470) 289.61; 500-550 lbs (534) 271.91; 550-600 lbs (565) 261.72; 600-650 lbs (634) 247.63; 650-700 lbs (685) 226.57; 700-750 lbs (730) 218.15; 750-800 lbs (771) 218.54. Medium and Large 1-2 400-450 lbs (439) 279.56; 600-650 lbs (624) 242.30; 650-700 lbs (671) 223.21; 750-800 lbs (780) 217.57; 800-850 lbs (816) 206.82. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 450-500 lbs (462) 265.47; 500-550 lbs (512) 257.20; 550-600 lbs (565) 240.40; 600-650 lbs (619) 226.31; 650-700 lbs (680) 212.03; 700-750 lbs (738) 201.09; 750-800 lbs (766) 199.35; 800-850 lbs (834) 172.43. Medium and Large 1-2 400-450 lbs (432) 257.27; 450-500 lbs (472) 256.25; 500-550 lbs (535) 250.64; 550-600 lbs (574) 228.55.

Kansas 9000. 92 pct over 600 lbs. 42 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 350-400 lbs (378) 347.92; 500-550 lbs (536) 284.44; 600-650 lbs (628) 258.13; 650-700 lbs (669) 252.93; 700-750 lbs (736) 224.57; 750-800 lbs (781) 215.81; 800-850 lbs (817) 213.08; 850-900 lbs (870) 208.23; 900-950 lbs (923) 201.33; 950-1000 lbs (979) 190.24; 1000-1050 lbs (1025) 187.28. Medium and Large 1-2 450-500 lbs (489) 281.14; 550-600 lbs (572) 257.56; 600-650 lbs (641) 239.05; 750-800 lbs (781) 214.06; 800-850 lbs (839) 206.37; 850-900 lbs (889) 197.65; 900-950 lbs (939) 195.94. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 Lot 368 lbs 335.00; 450-500 lbs (469) 269.32; 500-550 lbs (527) 251.65; 550-600 lbs (583) 235.66; 600-650 lbs (643) 228.48; 700-750 lbs (723) 209.60; 750-800 lbs (770) 202.99; 800-850 lbs (816) 196.36; 850-900 lbs (883) 193.87; Lot 920 lbs 181.50; 950-1000 lbs (968) 180.05. Medium and Large 1-2 450-500 lbs (471) 258.97; 500-550 lbs (525) 242.15; 550-600 lbs (581) 230.19; 600-650 lbs (620) 216.66; 650-700 lbs (680) 215.10; 700-750 lbs (728) 204.84; 750-800 lbs (785) 197.92; 800-850 lbs (823) 188.11.

Missouri 29,100. 39 pct over 600 lbs. 42 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 300-350 lbs (326) 340.49; 350-400 lbs (375) 324.11; 400-450 lbs (425) 313.18; 450-500 lbs (473) 300.59; 500-550 lbs (526) 286.29; 550-600 lbs (573) 270.26; 600-650 lbs (626) 257.59; 650-700 lbs (673) 244.57; 700-750 lbs (723) 232.66; 750-800 lbs (766) 223.89; 800-850 lbs (835) 209.00; 850-900 lbs (871) 203.89; 900-950 lbs (921) 206.41; 950-1000 lbs (991) 183.84; part load 1030 lbs 185.00; part load 1070 lbs 180.00. Medium and Large 1-2 300-350 lbs (330) 313.41; 350-400 lbs (385) 306.66; 400-450 lbs (426) 293.19; 450-500 lbs (479) 279.83; 500-550 lbs (527) 270.19; 550-600 lbs (578) 253.28; 600-650 lbs (627) 246.98; 650-700 lbs (677) 236.79; 700-750 lbs (716) 227.15; 750-800 lbs (780) 209.46; 800-850 lbs (835) 199.59; 950-1000 lbs (965) 183.15; part load 1015 lbs 182.50. Holsteins: Large 3 400-450 lbs (419) 228.00; 500-550 lbs (513) 203.91; 600-650 lbs (623) 182.72; 650-700 lbs (671) 180.96; 700-750 lbs (712) 165.92; 800-850 lbs (815) 165.77; 850-900 lbs (868) 164.92; 900-950 lbs (920) 158.97. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 300-350 lbs (330) 301.63; 350-400 lbs (375) 284.04; 400-450 lbs (426) 269.16; 450-500 lbs (477) 260.92; 500-550 lbs (522) 246.59; 550-600 lbs (575) 236.35; 600-650 lbs (622) 222.62; 650-700 lbs (666) 221.54; 700-750 lbs (712) 209.27; 750-800 lbs (773) 201.85; 800-850 lbs (816) 194.01; few loads 885 lbs 185.75; 900-950 lbs (926) 185.43. Medium and Large 1-2 300-350 lbs (336) 286.78; 350-400 lbs (376) 269.55; 400-450 lbs (428) 256.15; 450-500 lbs (474) 246.38; 500-550 lbs (524) 234.31; 550-600 lbs (572) 225.82; 600-650 lbs (622) 221.32; 650-700 lbs (669) 208.08; 700-750 lbs (729) 205.31; 750-800 lbs (774) 197.70; 800-850 lbs (831) 187.63; 850-900 lbs (875) 185.65.

Arkansas 7800. 22 pct over 600 lbs. 42 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 300-350 lbs (321) 344.28; 350-400 lbs (369) 325.71; 400-450 lbs (423) 301.06; 450-500 lbs (475) 285.31; 500-550 lbs (523) 266.61; 550-600 lbs (568) 255.84; 600-650 lbs (619) 240.71; 650-700 lbs (672) 227.23. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 300-350 lbs (322) 301.27; 350-400 lbs (372) 277.74; 400-450 lbs (426) 261.86; 450-500 lbs (470) 250.76; 500-550 lbs (521) 241.39; 550-600 lbs (572) 227.61; 600-650 lbs (623) 218.22; 650-700 lbs (668) 210.15.

 

 

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Friday, May 22, 2015 10:40 AM