News Update
Jan. 16, 2006

Taiwan Considers U.S. Beef Imports

Taiwanese officials this week are evaluating whether to lift the country’s ban on U.S. beef, following Friday’s announcement that South Korea will open its borders to U.S. boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months of age.

According to Taiwan News, Taiwan’s legislature adopted a nonbinding resolution that set several conditions for the importation of U.S. beef. According to the bill, imports would resume if: the government creates a consumer-protection plan, the United States provides a bio-database for its food exports, and the Taiwan government sends officials to the U.S. to monitor management of cattle for export and to ensure no new cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) have appeared.

Organization Responds to USDA’s Consideration of New ID Approach

The National Institute of Animal Agriculture (NIAA) released a statement today commending Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns for considering a new approach for a National Animal Identification System (NAIS). However, NIAA President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Glenn Slack stated the system also presents a new set of questions, and some of the existing concerns remain.

The approach, announced recently by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Chief Veterinarian John Clifford, would allow the agency to link to a network of private and state-operated animal tracking databases. Clifford said the system would allow USDA to enter into agreements with entities responsible for different databases. Such agreements would define the legal responsibility of all parties involved regarding system specifications.

Slack stated that “while consideration of this approach by USDA may be new, the concept isn’t.”

According to Slack’s statement, the U.S. Animal Identification Plan (USAIP) Information Technology subcommittee developed a comparative analysis of a centralized database vs. a distributed, or decentralized, database design in 2004. The analysis suggested that both systems have advantages as well as shortcomings.

“The new approach presents a new set of questions and some of the existing concerns — such as the cost to producers and exemption from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — remain,” he said.

However, Slack said the approach holds promise for the industry.

“This could prove to be a viable alternative to the privatization of the animal tracking database introduced by the Secretary last August. Perhaps it will allow all stakeholders to move beyond the impasse we have found ourselves in the past several months and come together in a collaborative effort once again so that further progress can be attained.”

USDA Awards $10 Million Toward Swine Genome

Secretary Johanns announced Jan. 13 that USDA is awarding $10 million to the University of Illinois to obtain a draft sequence of the swine genome.

According to USDA, the two-year project will lead to the development of new DNA-based tools to identify and select genetically superior pigs that resist infectious diseases, yield larger litter sizes, and produce leaner cuts of meat for consumers.

 Additional funding to sequence the pig genome was provided by the National Pork Board, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa State University, North Carolina Pork Council and North Carolina State University.

For more information visit

ERS Releases Trade Data

The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has released the latest U.S. agricultural trade data. This new data product announces USDA’s monthly release of calendar year, fiscal year, year to date, and monthly value of U.S. farm exports, imports and trade balance.

Visit to access the full report.

— compiled by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc.

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