News Update
Jan. 25, 2006

Taiwan Reopens Market to U.S. Beef

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced that Taiwan will resume trade of U.S. boneless beef from animals less than 30 months of age.

The announcement provides a welcome respite from the industry’s growing trade uncertainty surrounding last week’s closing of the Japanese border to U.S. beef.

“I’m extremely pleased with Taiwan’s resumption of trade in U.S. beef,” Johanns stated in a release. “This advances our goal to resume normal beef trade throughout the world that follows science-based international guidelines in food and animal safety.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the United States exported more than $76 million worth of beef to Taiwan in 2003, with boneless beef products accounting for $56 million. Taiwan’s market is now open to more than 90% of total U.S. ruminants and ruminant products whose value reached $325 million in 2003.

Taiwan reopened its market to U.S. beef in April 2005, but closed it again in June 2005 following the confirmation of a second U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Japan Update

Secretary Johanns briefed industry members and media late yesterday regarding the veal shipment that violated the U.S.-Japanese export agreement and caused the subsequent closing of the Japanese border.

In his remarks, Johanns expressed his disappointment in the incident and offered some explanation for the mishap, which included vertebral column in three exported boxes of U.S. veal.

“We are mindful that the product in question, which was veal, was only recently added to the U.S. export agreement with Japan, and, therefore, U.S. exporters and inspection program personnel for veal had little time to familiarize themselves with the export verification program and its requirements for Japan,” Johanns said. “But we are also mindful that an agreement was made, and it was very clearly laid out to the exporters interested in becoming certified.”

Johanns said the incident, which occurred at the only U.S. plant eligible to ship veal at the time, was due to human error — a failure on the part of the exporter and on the part of USDA personnel to identify the product as being ineligible.

“I can also share with you that although our investigation into this matter continues, we do know that this plant shipped the first and the only shipment of veal to Japan. And it was in response to a custom order from Japan,” he added. 

Johanns said he hopes the USDA’s swift actions to address such problems will assure Japan and promote trade resumption. He also noted that reaction from other trading partners has been encouraging despite fears Japan’s actions would influence other countries like South Korea and Taiwan.

“Our discussions with our trading partners have gone well,” he said. “We’ve been very proactive.”

To view the Johanns’ remarks in their entirety, visit

NACC Winners Announced

GG Genetics, Jimmy and Kenny Thomas and Circle A topped the 2005 National Angus Carcass Challenge (NACC), announced Mark McCully, Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) director of supply development and NACC coordinator.

NACC is an annual beef value contest, sponsored in 2005 by Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB), Drovers magazine, Merial SureHealth™, Farnam Co., Alltech and the American Angus Association’s AngusSourceSM program. Groups of at least 40 steers or heifers sired by registered Angus bulls were fed in CAB-licensed feedlots.

Grand champion pen. Mason Fleenor’s GG Genetics, Ida Grove, Iowa, won grand champion honors with 40 heifers. The cattle were harvested at Cargill Meat Solutions’ Schuyler, Neb., plant. Fleenor, with wife, Diane, and son Jimmy, operate an integrated operation of 460 registered cows. They sell more than 100 bulls a year, mostly to a network of ranchers in western Montana, from whom they buy progeny to finish in their 1,000-head feedlot.

The 2005 NACC champion cattle came in at a contest grid record value of $108.18, which was 44¢ above the 2004 NACC record. They were assembled from replacement heifers that failed to cycle or breed, along with some bottom-end culls. The pen made 100% USDA Prime and Choice and 62.5% Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®), including 40% Prime. There were no Yield Grade (YG) 4s or 5s, but three cattle bore lightweight discounts. Still, the 16 CAB Prime cattle carried the victory.

Champion steer pen. Forty steers from Jimmy and Kenny Thomas, Homedale, Idaho, and fed with partner Beller Feedlots, Lindsay, Neb., claimed the champion steer pen award, narrowly missing grand champion. “If the one steer had not fallen to Select grade, the uniformity in these cattle, coupled with their 67.5% CAB and Prime acceptance would been enough to win it all,” McCully said. “There was only 81 lb. variation in carcass weight, and 87.5% of them hit the NACC bull’s-eye of 750 to 849 lb.”

The steers were harvested in June at the Swift & Co. plant in Grand Island, Neb. They were fed with other Thomas cattle on a 34¢ feed cost of gain.

Champion heifer pen. The highest combination (75%) CAB and Prime showing of any pen — steers or heifers — was owned by Circle A Ranch, Iberia, Mo. The champion NACC heifer pen was fed at Irsik & Doll Feedyard, Garden City, Kan., and harvested at Tyson Fresh Meats in Garden City.

Irsik & Doll cattle manager Jerry Jackson reported that the whole pen of 113 Circle A Ranch heifers gained 4.39 lb. for an average 115 days, converting at 5.54 lb. feed to gain.

The Missouri-based ranch grew from 300 cows in 1991 to 8,000 purebred Angus cows on 31,000 acres today.

Among the top five finishers in the steer division, Mike Hora, Washington, Iowa, won the reserve champion pen with 40 steers, with no YG 4s and 62.5% YG 1 and 2.

Guggenmos River Ranch, Brewster, Neb., came in third, with 52.5% CAB acceptance and no YG 4s. Just 3¢ behind was a set of steers from Gandyville, W.Va., fed by Silver Creek Feeders, Treynor, Iowa. They were 61.6% CAB and Prime, but a couple of YG 4s held them back. In fifth place were steers that won the division in 2003, owned by C.K. Allen of Savannah, Mo., and Jim Gregory of Tabor, Iowa, the 47.5% CAB cattle came from Allen’s bull customer Johnny Hubach, Rea, Mo.

The 2006 NACC features easier entry rules, a 38-head minimum and new sponsors, including AllFlex USA and ORIgen. For more information on entering the NACC, visit, or contact McCully at (330) 345-2333 or

— Information provided by Certified Angus Beef.

— e-List by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc.

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