Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Taos Mountain Yak: Devastating news from USDA for US yak producers a...: As many of you know I have had difficulties receiving support from the Livestock Board in the matter of the removal of yaks from my herd and...
As many of you know I have had difficulties receiving support from the Livestock Board in the matter of the removal of yaks from my herd and having substitutions made of yaks from other herds and other states. Because of this I have been struggling to survive as a yak rancher. A new even more serious matter has arisen now without warning ..the USDA will no longer allow voluntary inspections of yak meat rendering it unsaleable to the various customers and clients. I have attached the letter of the President of IYAK written to USDA on behalf of all yak meat producers. Please contact the Congress and Senate representatives in your states to request that this serious decision be addressed and corrected ASAP.Yak meat has been harvested and inspected for about 30 years without incident. Thank you. Ms. Rosalyn Murphy-Jenkins USDA FSIS Omaha, NE August 18, 2014 Dear Ms. Jenkins, Thank you for taking my call this morning and listening to my concerns. As you know, I am the president of the International Yak Association (IYAK). IYAK manages the herd book (breed registry) for registered yaks and represents the yak industry in the US. FSIS recently decided to cease inspection of yaks as an amenable species. This was done with no announcement and has been a serious disruption to commerce across the country. USDA has accepted yaks for inspection for at least 30 years with no conditions or questions, according to current IYAK members. This acceptance has created an expectation among breeders that their products will be inspected, and among buyers that they are purchasing a safe and healthy product for consumption or resale. Yak breeders and their customers have spent decades building business around the expectation of USDA-inspected meat products. By dropping yak inspection, FSIS compromised these viable business models with no warning. We were not given the opportunity to comment or even given forewarning that a radical and potentially fatal change to our businesses was in the offing. Many of us have standing orders from restaurants and grocery stores, and attend farmer's markets on a regular schedule. Many years of good will and hard work have been invested in these business relationships. It is difficult to get an item on a restaurant menu; chefs want assurance that the item will be of high and consistent quality but also that the supply is stable. FSIS's decision to implement with no warning has left our members unable to fill these standing orders and places their businesses in jeopardy. Breeders tell buyers of breeding stock that they can process under USDA inspection and it is reasonable for them to make this assertion given three decades of practice. The yak industry has experienced great success in the past few years with prices and interest high. This ban by FSIS is very damaging to our credibility and our ability to sustain our markets for live animals. Implementation has been erratic across the country. A Colorado producer who has a history of processing with USDA inspection had three carcasses placed on hold; they have been in the cooler now for two weeks losing value and costing the producer by denying him access to his property and lost sales. He had a reasonable expectation to continue to receive USDA inspection and certainly had no warning that his property would be impounded. USDA issued meat labels to a Wyoming producer 6 days ago. In a New England state they have continued to process and inspect yaks, business as usual. This has generated considerable confusion and anger within the yak community. No one seems to be able to get a clear explanation from USDA in spite of numerous phone calls and emails. We are being told that current USDA-approved labels will be rescinded. Yak producers who have made a substantial investment in developing labels, getting them approved and stocking inventory are now facing a complete loss of this investment. The FSIS decision was not founded in food safety. To the knowledge of IYAK members there has never been an incident of tainted yak meat, never been a recall of yak meat, and no BSE in yaks. In fact, genomic research indicates that yak may be incapable of contracting BSE. The decision was apparently made because the name "yak" did not appear on a list. This is not a viable reason to devastate an industry without any warning. The US yak industry makes a clear and simple request of USDA: We ask for a moratorium on implementing the decision to no longer consider yaks an amenable species, to afford the industry an opportunity to work with USDA to get amenable status formally designated. Our businesses have suffered due to this surprise ruling, and its continued enforcement will have severe negative consequences to our industry. We believe that current science firmly supports that yaks are amenable to cattle, even more so than bison. Yaks are Bos grunniens (same genus as cattle) while bison (an amenable species to cattle) are Bison bison. We funded research, through Intrepid Bioinformatics, at USDA Meat Animal Research Center to sequence the genome of a North American yak and place that data on a public server. This data enables international researchers to include North American yak genetics in research done on yaks and cattle (Bos taurus and Bos indicus). It is very clear that yak fall, genetically, between cattle and bison. In addition IYAK is participating in research at University of Nebraska-Lincoln on identifying yak coat color genetic markers and consulting with University of Kentucky on yak behavior and species differentiation. We use UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Lab to DNA type all registered yaks for parentage verification and to screen for cattle introgression, specifically Charolaise and Simmental dilution genes. With few exceptions, UC Davis uses standard cattle markers for these tests. We ask for an opportunity to demonstrate science based amenability. Thank you for your consideration. IYAK looks forward to working with USDA to find a cooperative and mutually beneficial solution. Sincerely, Jim Watson President, International Yak Association
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
After being in the yaks business since 2005 I feel I have experienced almost everything about the yaks business and the yaks themselves. I invite others to converse through this blog concerning anything to do with yaks. Yaks are the longest domesticated bovine in the world.ALL yaks have cattle genes in their gene profile. Yaks do have the ability to live at altitudes of 10000 feet or higher. They are happiest 7000ft or above. They are not plains animals like the buffalo. Yaks are not recognized nor are they monitored by the livestock board. Yaks can be moved from state to state with few if any questions. Yaks are not usually branded in the same way as cattle. Forms of identification can be easily changed removed or replaced. Sheriffs do not get involved in such nefarious activities. Livestock Boards or their inspectors do not get involved in such activities. The yak association is more of a hobby farmers club.Yaks can be registered with the yak association.Anyone can join the Yak Association. However, it provides no protection concerning tracking your animals as the livestock board does for regular cattle recognized by the livestock board. The sole recourse if one has animals stolen, brands changed, or ear tags removed, altered and changed is a lawyer. So this is the start of this blog. I invite all and anyone interested in yaks or owning yaks to join and participate in this blog in the hope that it will contribute to the health care and maintenance of yaks in the USA and to develop protection for those currently owning yaks or about to buy yaks, as pets, fiber producing animals, meat animals or working animals for plow or for trekking and as pack animal.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Los Alamos CoOp has a fresh supply of Yak Meat. Los Alamos Farmers Market is at Fuller Lodge this Thursday.
Yesterday I delivered a fresh supply of both frozen yak meat and Yak Jerky to the Los Alamos CoOp. Remember Taos Mountain Yak Jerky is a healthy snack without nitrates, sulfites or SUGAR! I will not be attending the Farmers Market at Fuller Lodge.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Taos Mountain Yak will not be at the Los Alamos Farmers Market this week. Remember to visit Taos Mountain Yak by joyofyak on Etsy.
Yak meat by Taos Mountain Yak can be purchased at The Los Alamos CoOp. Please contact me by phone or email if you would like a special order of yak meat to be delivered and picked up at the CoOp.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Santa Fe Farmers Market, March 8th, 8am till 1pm. Taos Mountain Yak both feeds and dresses men and women!
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Along with our alpaca roving we have crocheted and knitted accessories in yak, wool and alpaca and llama fibers. Jodi has hand spun some of the alpaca roving in wonderful quick knitting weight. A special thank you to those who ordered their meat ahead of time! We also have jerky in four flavors, lightly salted, red chile, green chile and peppered yak jerky. Jodi will be a market today! Happy Tibetan New Year in he Year of the Wooden Horse! May the year of the Wooden Horse bring good fortune to you all!