News Update
May 2, 2011

PLC, NCBA Support Legislation to Release Land Unsuitable for Wilderness Designation

The federal government has severely restricted access to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) acres intended for multiple-use management by locking up millions of acres as Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) and Inventoried Roadless Areas, according to Dustin Van Liew, Public Lands Council (PLC) executive director and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) director of federal lands. House Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) recently introduced H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, to release federal lands that have been recognized as unsuitable for wilderness or roadless designations.

“For far too long, the federal government has needlessly locked up tens of millions of acres of federal lands across the western United States and ignored its obligation to manage those acres for multiple-use activities,” Van Liew said. “BLM and USFS have determined that significant areas of land are unsuitable for wilderness designation and roadless areas. We strongly support Congressman McCarthy’s commonsense bill that follows the agencies’ recommendations.”

The Wilderness Act of 1964 directed the executive branch to identify federal lands with wilderness characteristics and to manage for the maintenance of those lands until such time Congress acted. Unfortunately, Congress has not acted and millions of acres have been sitting in limbo for as many as 30 years. According to the Wilderness Act, Congress has the sole authority to designate land as wilderness. Van Liew said the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act would finally release those lands and require them to be managed for multiple uses.

BLM manages nearly 13 million acres in 546 WSAs, of which the agency has declared 6.72 million acres are unsuitable for wilderness designation. H.R. 1581 would release these lands that under current law must be managed to maintain wilderness characteristics and require BLM to manage those lands for multiple uses and prohibit any restrictions in the future.

Van Liew said in 1979 the USFS determined that 36.1 million acres were not suitable for designation. However, in 2001, the Clinton administration issued a nationwide rule for roadless area management, regardless of wilderness suitability, that imposed stringent land-use restrictions. Congressman McCarthy’s legislation would release lands USFS determined were not suitable for roadless designations.

“Finally, Congress appears to be willing to make a long overdue decision on these study areas, which have been held prisoner by the bureaucracy of the federal government,” Van Liew said. “We urge the House to take action on this legislation to end the uncertainty on millions of acres and revive struggling rural economies throughout the West relying on multiple-use activities.”

— Release by the PLC.

USDA Announces Export Promotion Allocations for FY 2011

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday, April 29, that the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) awarded fiscal year (FY) 2011 funding to approximately 70 U.S. ag organizations to help expand commercial export markets for their goods. Approximately $226 million was awarded through the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) and the Market Access Program (MAP).

Under FMD, FAS will allocate a total of $31.7 million to 22 trade organizations that represent U.S. ag producers. The organizations, which must contribute a minimum 50% cost share, will conduct activities that help maintain or increase demand for U.S. ag commodities overseas. Under MAP, FAS will provide $194.4 million to 68 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives. MAP participants must contribute a minimum 10% match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives.

Every $1 billion in farm exports supports roughly 8,400 jobs in the United States. And strong trade continues to be a key contributor to building an economy that continues to grow, innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. Exports of U.S. farm goods in FY 2011 (Oct. 1, 2010-Sept. 30, 2011) are projected to surpass previous records by $20 billion. Moreover, the ag trade balance — a balance of U.S. exports vs. foreign imports — is also projected to set a record surplus of $47.5 billion in 2011.

For a listing of funding allocations, visit and

— Release by the USDA.

USDA Introduces Online Tool for Locating ‘Food Deserts’

Ag Secretary Vilsack today introduced an Internet-based mapping tool that pinpoints the location of “food deserts” around the country and provides data on population characteristics of census tracts where residents have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.

The online Food Desert Locator was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) as a tool that can be used to assist efforts to expand the availability of nutritious food in food deserts.

A food desert is a low-income census tract where either a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. “Low income” tracts are defined as those where at least 20% of the people have income at or below the federal poverty levels for family size, or where median family income for the tract is at or below 80% of the surrounding area’s median family income.

Tracts qualify as “low access” tracts if at least 500 persons or 33% of their population live more than a mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (for rural census tracts, the distance is more than 10 miles).

Under these income and food access criteria, about 10% of the 65,000 census tracts in the United States meet the definition of a food desert. These food desert tracts contain 13.5 million people with low access to sources of healthful food. The majority of this population — 82% — lives in urban areas.

The Food Desert Locator is on the web at

— Release by the USDA-ERS.

Cutting ‘Food Miles’ Doesn’t Necessarily Make ‘Cents’

As food suppliers attempt to meet the growing demand for local products, a new study finds it’s not always economically or environmentally viable for multi-product industries to focus heavily on local sales.

“The dairy sector is an excellent example for examining the economic consequences of increased localization of food supply chains,” said Miguel Gomez, professor of applied economics and management and co-lead author of “Cost of Localizing a Multi-Product Food Supply Chain: Dairy in the United States,” published in the April issue of the journal Food Policy.

The study developed an economic model for the U.S. dairy industry that examined assembly, interplant transportation, processing and distribution for all dairy products, including milk, yogurt, cheese and butter. It showed that the average distance traveled for all U.S. dairy products was about 320 miles from farm to market. Scenarios were developed to compare effects of increasing local sales, focusing on reducing weighted average source distance, a unit of measurement comparable to food miles.

“We find that increased localization reduces assembly costs while increasing processing and distribution costs,” said Gomez. “The weighted average source distance for some products decreased at the expense of increases in other products.”

The study also found that although small reductions in food miles are not relatively costly to the supply chain, reductions of more than 45 miles produce larger cost increases. In one scenario, reducing the average distance traveled of beverage milk by 10% required a 30% increase in overall food miles for all other dairy products.

“This study is one of the first to examine food miles from a systems perspective, and to explicitly account for the short-term costs of localization across multiple related products. It shows there are tradeoffs, that localizing is not as simple to achieve as it might seem,” said Charles Nicholson, adjunct professor of applied economics and management and co-lead author of the study.

The study provides insights to the U.S. dairy industry, which in 2008 planned to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2025, in part through supply chain reductions.

“Our study highlights that localization initiatives must be considered carefully. In fact, localization may not be the best venue to reduce carbon footprint in the case of dairy,” said Gomez.

The study was funded by the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell.

— Release by Cornell University.

Cargill and United Supermarkets Partner to Introduce Genuine Texas Beef

According to consumer research conducted by Cargill in Texas, Texans like fresh, nutritious, flavorful beef, eat a lot of it and like knowing where it comes from — especially if it is Texas. Cargill and Texas-based grocery retailer United Supermarkets worked together to determine that while there are many other Texas-produced and branded products sold in grocery stores in the state, this is not the situation in the meatcase. It is this homegrown pride and meatcase opportunity that provided the foundation for the new Genuine Texas Beef brand, available only in Texas, beginning May 1, at United Supermarkets and its Market Street and Amigos stores.

“Texans eat more beef per capita than people in any other state, and their preference is to purchase beef produced in Texas,” said Stephanie Daas, associate brand manager. “Cargill has had a presence in the beef business in Texas for many years, and we’re proud to tap into that strong affinity Texans hold for their state and partner with United Supermarkets to provide consumers a brand of high-quality beef all their own.”

To qualify for the brand, cattle must be raised a minimum of 100 days in the state. The Cargill beef processing facility in Plainview, Texas — one of its two in the state — is where the full line of beef products, including steaks, roasts, stew meat, fajita meat and ground beef, are produced.

Genuine Texas Beef is available at 37 United Supermarkets stores in Abilene, Wichita Falls and across west Texas, 10 Market Street United stores in West Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and three Amigos United stores in Amarillo, Lubbock and Plainview.

“Locally grown products are extremely important to us as a company, and because at least 40% percent of all the beef produced in the United States comes from our area, we saw Genuine Texas Beef as a great opportunity to partner with cattle feeders right in our own backyard and support our local communities in the process,” said Scott Nettles, business director of meat-seafood for United Supermarkets, LLC.

— Adapted from release by Cargill; to see full release, click here.

View The Angus Report

The April 29 edition of The Angus Report, available at, focuses on Texas wildfires, CAB’s stance on GIPSA, corn’s effect on cattle profitability and helpful show videos now posted online. The American Angus Association’s online news covers a variety of topics in a traditional television news format. Watch for reports posted each Friday.

— Compiled by Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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