Letters to the editor – June 6, 2013

TIME FOR A FIX

Re: Feedlot sector in trouble in Western Canada, April 4 WP.

This article shows how dysfunctional the chain of commerce has become in the beef industry.

Historically, when outside investors were involved in the feedlot sector, feedlot operators were not concerned with feed efficiency. They were selling feed. The more cattle ate, the more money they made.

Now, when feed grain values have increased they have no historical data on the more feed efficient type of cattle to minimize their losses.

As the industry trended toward increased marbling, the lean meat yield of slaughter animals has decreased. According to Canfax results, 49.4 percent of slaughter cattle cannot achieve a yield of greater than 58 percent. This trend has been increasing for the last decade.

To compensate for feedlot deficiencies, they have been implanting the cattle with growth hormones. To improve lean meat yield, the industry now uses beta agonists to compensate for the downward trend of yield.

While the industry has utilized these practices, we have lost export markets and consumer per capita consumption. The industry needs to increase tenderness, not marbling.

Increased animal fat is a concern to human health as it increases heart disease and increases cholesterol levels. …

The main conclusions from the 2012 Beef Improvement Federation annual meeting in Houston, Texas, were to increase cross breeding, to improve feed efficiency and lean meat yield.

It is obvious the feedlot sector has not addressed these issues as they continue to overpay for green cattle that they hope to improve with growth implants and beta agonists while above average and good doing cattle do not receive their value. …

Remember, crap in equals crap out. A Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute report states “that a new collaborative strategy is needed. From producers to retailers, each link in the beef supply chain needs to better use and share information on beef performance, grade and yield, market characteristics and consumer preferences.”

I totally agree with this statement. The industry needs to utilize the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) to its maximum to find the most information it possibly can for the betterment of producers and consumers alike. It is time to fix this business we call livestock production before it is too late.

Bill Campbell,
Minto, Man.

RIGHT RESULT

Pundits, talk show hosts and pollsters repeatedly ask the question, “what went wrong election day, May 14, 2013, in B.C.?” The answer is simple and straightforward: voter wisdom of British Columbians elected a stable provincial government. That was not wrong. Pipeline construction and market development was beyond NDP logic.

Economics played a major role in the minds of the voting public, where management of British Columbia’s natural resources was front and centre. Without a doubt, the current political candidates reviewed the successful strategy established and practised by the Saskatchewan Party led by the very able honourable Brad Wall and his ambitious team.

Further, the honourable Ms. (Christie) Clark is no admirer of Al Gore and will not be swayed by outside interests such as those in Hollywood or other American interests. She is a true British Columbian and a loyal Canadian, highly worthy and capable of the position as premier of B.C.

Her opposition had a lot of good points. However, they lacked the ability and understanding of a province as diverse as British Columbia. Mr. Adrian Dix followed the same patterns as were practised by the honourable Glen Clark and the honourable Mike Harcourt before him. Such philosophy does not measure up to 2013 economic standards, which were clearly demonstrated May 14 by British Columbia’s electorate.

John Seierstad,
Nanaimo, B.C.

OLD METHODS WORK

Regarding your front-page article, Tiny insects, big problems (WP May 16).

The Rasputin Effect has caught up here, too. Chemicals in the weed control system have started to have tolerating weeds. Why not for the little insects, too?

The article talks about how the chemical has failure in cooler and damper conditions. Well, quite frankly, seeding in a cool, wet soil does not help.

The farmers, for a good portion, are to blame for some of this enemy “getting past the guard.” From friends and relatives farming in various areas of our Prairies, I have heard how some farmers are “pushing it” by seeding canola on canola as many as eight years back to back.

Oh. Our scientists are always ahead of things. Not really. We have this Rasputin Effect in our health-care system where illnesses are out stepping certain “cures” and we have to find stronger ones. We have seen certain weeds build resistance to certain chemicals. Like one good friend told me, “I have a chemical combination no weed can survive — it is called diesel fuel and a cultivator. Once the roots are out of the ground, the plant ain’t surviving!” …

All sectors, scientists, farmers and the public in general have contributed to these tolerances. There are merits to the old ways, including summerfallowing and proper crop rotations.

Bottom line and dollars and nickels are not always the answer.

Delwyn Jansen,
Humboldt, Sask.

BAD PHOTO

I was just reading the May 9 issue of the Western Producer, op-ed “Supply management also hurts farmers,” and really wondered why someone would use such a disgusting photo?

I am sure there must be other, much nicer photos that would have shown off the Dairyland carton.

Our children and grandchildren were always taught to drink out of a glass or a cup, not from the container the milk was in. Is it any wonder why our society has become so slovenly in dress, manners and responsibility? Young people learn from adults, and I just found this to be very unprofessional.

Chris Lamoureux,
Fort St. John, B.C.

CLEAN, DON’T BEAM

According to The Canadian Press and some newspapers, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association wants the federal government to approve the irradiation of beef, supposedly to kill dangerous E. coli. Irradiation is a process by which a food product is exposed to high doses of radiation to kill bacteria, parasites and mould. In the United States, three types of ionizing radiation are permitted: gamma rays, high-energy electrons and X-rays. …

Doug O’Halloran, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401, says the processing line at the XL Foods Lakeside plant in Brooks moves too quickly. Between 300 and 320 carcasses go by workers every hour and employees make between 3,000 and 4,000 cuts a shift, which has resulted in considerably less time in which to make sure knives are sanitized after each cut.

Cattle are supposed to be washed before they enter to ensure their fur is free of manure, but sometimes the water is not hot enough to get off all the excrement, resulting in that excrement backing up on the killing floor, forcing workers to traipse through the waste and track it through the plant.

Dr. Patricia Whisnant, a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, 1981, states, “60 percent of the largest United States meat plants failed to meet federal food safety regulations for preventing E. coli bacteria in their products.” What are the stats in Canada?

As Whisnant says, “irradiation may provide an excuse not to tackle the real sources and practices responsible for the contamination of beef …”

Whisnant further states, “our efforts in the meat industry should be aimed at removing the filth from the source, not just making cow manure safer to eat”. Source: Clean Beef or irradiated Dirty Beef? A Veterinarian’s Perspective.

While the CCA says its proposal calls for irradiated beef to be clearly labelled, irradiation is just a Band-Aid on the problem. It is better to deal with the origins of the problem and not irradiate at all.

Joyce Neufeld,
Waldeck, Sask.

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