Marketing and exporting feeder calves to Israel
Israel’s domestic calf production is currently insufficient to meet their rising demand for fresh beef. Israel imports approximately 150,000 feeder calves annually, many of them 200 to 330-pound Holstein bulls. Preferred breeds are Simmental, Hereford and Charolais crossbreds. Prior to the discovery of BSE in the country’s herds, Poland was the largest supplier of feeder calves to Israel. Many feeder calves have also come from other countries in Eastern Europe and Australia. With growing concerns about the health, wholesomeness, and performance of imported cattle, Israeli producers have been seeking new feeder calf suppliers.
The Negev Foundation conducted a preliminary study to determine the feasibility of Ohio as a new source for bull calves. The Negev Foundation facilitated discussions between Ohio producers and Israeli government entities. As talks progressed, the Initiative received a USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) grant through the ODA which funded a more detailed study. The grant also funded a trade mission in February 2004 that sent ten Ohio cattle producers, Ohio Department of Agriculture officials (including ODA Director Dailey), and Ohio State University representatives to Israel to meet with potential Israeli buyers, industry, trade association, local and federal government representatives, and numerous cattle experts. They also visited feedlot operations, studied kosher requirements, toured supermarkets, and explored which breeds of feeder calves would be preferred.
Just weeks prior to the mission, Israel banned all U.S. beef and cattle imports because of a case of Bovine Spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Washington State. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health inspection Service (APHIS) http://www.aphis.usda.gov and Israel’s Veterinary Service needed to resolve outstanding veterinary protocol issues beyond BSE. This setback prevented beef trade between Israel and Ohio in the short-term, but did not deter the Initiative from pursuing the goals of recommencing and later expanding beef trade.
In April of 2005, 19 representatives of the Israeli Beef Breeders Association participated in a U.S. mission. This group inspected herds and visited farms in several states, including Ohio. The mission gave potential Israeli buyers a better understanding of U.S. and Ohio beef and dairy cattle production systems, live cattle export process, and animal health issues.
Later that year, an Israeli delegation joined by the Director of the Israeli Veterinary Services and Animal Health, Dr. Moshe Chaimovitz, came to Ohio seeking information on BSE status and prevention. The delegation, sponsored by The Initiative met with the ODA director and toured feed farms and other cattle facilities.
Due to pressure of various organizations, including the Negev Foundation, in 2008 Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Veterinary Services and Animal Health Department issued new regulations for the importation of American beef from calves if certain criteria were met. Israel also announced that shipments could begin in the very near future. In the future, the Initiative expects to be a catalyst for U.S. beef exports to Israel.
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