Commodities shippers are looking at other ports to move their goods overseas until the damaged seaports along the Gulf Coast are repaired. But that could take months. As we just reported, elevators along inland waterways have few options ... and the rail lines are in a wait-and-see mode as traffic patterns for commodities begin to shift.
The storm also is affecting sales of meat. Analysts say wholesalers seem satisfied with inventories headed into the big Labor Day weekend. And sticker shock from high gasoline prices may discourage any surge in red meat sales.
On the regulatory front, the government this week unveiled its plan to identify and track livestock from farm gate to dinner plate. But, as with any government action, there are supporters and there are critics.
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns this week announced the National Animal Identification System or NAIS. Johanns says the new system will be run by the private sector but will be readily available to government agencies. In a statement, Johanns said that...
"When this system is fully implemented, we expect to be able to identify all potentially affected animals and premises within 48 hours. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone working in animal agriculture today who doesn't believe that's a worthy objective and an important investment to make."
The system does have its critics. Dave Frederickson, President of the National Farmers Union, said that...
"Private control of producer information creates an inherent risk to producers that private and/or proprietary information could be divulged in a manner that could be detrimental to producers, firms and the marketplace."
In 2004, USDA asked for public input on the NAIS by holding a series of listening sessions nationwide. It claims it received widespread support for a system that allowed the animal movement data to be privately held. The four guiding principles of the new NAIS include:
" The system must be able to allow tracking of animals from point of origin to processing within 48 hours without unnecessary burden to producers and other stakeholders.
" The system's architecture must be developed without unduly increasing the size and role of government.
" The system must be flexible enough to utilize existing technologies and incorporate new identification technologies as they are developed.
" Animal movement data should be maintained in a private system that can be readily accessed when necessary by state and federal animal health authorities.
USDA officials plan to schedule a stakeholder meeting this fall to confirm details of the new system.