Letters

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jan 14, 2005
by WLJ

Setting record straight
Dear Editor (Steven Vetter),
I want to clarify some errors in the article “Breed-specific beef validation debated” in your 2005 Bull Buyer’s Guide. First, I cannot be included in a group of “administrators and executive directors,” but I am in charge of producer communications for Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB).
The article has me saying consumers think it false advertising when a breed-specific brand doesn’t require at least a portion of the breed claimed in their genetic makeup. Then it has me disagreeing with them. In fact, I did not agree or disagree with the idea.
I did question the validity of the concern, because it has been driven primarily by a genomics company trying to market a new alleged breed-specific DNA test, and not by consumers. I still question the wisdom of helping such companies build a perception that any breed-specific program must come from purebred cattle. After all, consumers do not realize that most ranchers do not produce purebreds for the feedlot.
As rendered, my quote appears to state that breed makes almost no difference in beef quality. I certainly did not mean to say, nor do I believe that. What I said is that many “consumers fail to understand” product quality grades, and a breed name on a retail label—by itself—may be the least important factor in eating quality for that package-not for the beef cattle industry. I would rather buy a non-branded Prime steak than a breed-specific brand of unknown grade.
I said the focus of branded beef is to bring improved quality to the table, but I did not say, “while not sacrificing the health and safety of consumers,” because improved quality does not risk such a sacrifice.
In trying to explain the origins of the CAB carcass specifications, and our record of working closely with USDA, my comments were misrepresented to imply a problem more recent than its 1978 basis, and that there is a “contract” apart from the USDA-monitored specifications. Also, CAB has licensed a smaller portion of the packing capacity than reported, about 80 percent.
CAB has looked into the bovine genome as an area of interest starting eight years ago, but that was not a quest for breed, but for marbling and tenderness markers. It was not accurate to say CAB looked at DNA verification “each of the last eight years and that in each case, there wasn’t enough financial benefit to warrant implementing such a program.”
Thank you for this opportunity to set the record straight.
Sincerely,
Steve Suther
Director of Industry Information
Certified Angus Beef LLC
(Editor’s note: Western Livestock Journal’s editorial staff regrets any errors that were portrayed in the referenced story, and apologizes for any inconvenience it may have caused.)

Foolish move!
The USDA's action of charging ahead to allow the importation of live ruminants from Canada seems foolhardy at best in the face of the discovery of another BSE case in Canada. Perhaps this kind of foolhardiness has a precedent in history. At the behest of the British East India Tea Company the British government passed taxes on tea and forbade the Colonists from trading directly with other countries. The only beneficiary would have been the British East India Tea Company. Now, to the delight of the American (or is that North American) Meat Institute which says it speaks for the meatpacking industry and the NCBA which says that it doesn't, the USDA has promulgated a proposed ruling which will benefit the meatpackers royally.
The cry that began in Boston Harbor was "Taxation without Representation." Now we need to avoid "Regulation without Representation." Fortunately it appears that Congress itself may take up the issue to determine the appropriate course of action. Now is the time to act. Now is the time for country-of-origin labeling. The FDA has announced rules to require tracing of meat (and other food products) from the processor to the retailer. The USDA's proposed regulations provide for the marking of all Canadian cattle.
These actions cover two-thirds of what is required for COOL. The costs of COOL have gone down. Only the segregation at the packing plant isn't now covered by other regulations or proposed regulations. When Japan briefly continued to take shipments of U.S. beef after the discovery of the first case of BSE in Canada the meatpacking industry found a way to satisfy the
Japanese requirement that American beef be segregated from non-American beef in the packing plants. They can do the same for American consumers. All the excuses are gone. Let's move up the implementation of country-of-origin labeling. Let's get it done now.
Terry A. Stevenson
Wheatland, WY

McD’s is deceiving consumers
McDonald’s was named “Marketer of the Year” by Advertising Age magazine for the brand’s marketing achievements around the world in 2004.
Their “I’m lovin’ it” campaign features a small photo of a teen-aged boy holding a hamburger with the following copy—“When I open my burger I know it’s 100 percent USDA beef. Nothing but the real thing in every Quarter Pounder with cheese.”
One might question, however, just what message McDonald’s is trying to convey with the “100 percent USDA” claim.
Do they want consumers to think McDonald’s burgers are 100 percent U.S. produced? Or are they trying to say their burgers are 100 percent inspected by USDA?
The truth is, McDonald’s does want U.S. consumers to believe the USDA stamp means the meat is all U.S. meat. However, this is not true. McDonald’s depends heavily on cheap imported meat. All meat, U.S. and imported alike, is stamped “USDA inspected.”
It is painfully clear, that McDonald’s is aware that U.S. consumers have confidence in U.S. meat rather than meat from foreign countries such as Canada that has BSE in its cowherd.
Isn’t it ironic that McDonald’s is rewarded for an advertising campaign aimed at deceiving their most important ally, the U.S. consumer?
Sincerely,
Mike Callicrate
Colorado Springs, CO

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