Beef Bits

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Sep 5, 2008
by WLJ
Beef growing globally
Emphasizing the need to invest in foreign marketing aimed at the 95 percent of people who live outside the borders of the U.S., the Cattlemen’s Beef Board has chosen to increase the total dollars invested in marketing U.S. beef abroad. Export volumes of U.S. beef and beef variety meats worldwide advanced 30 percent year-on-year to 445,036 metric tons during the first half of 2008, while value jumped 39 percent to nearly $1.6 billion—compared to $1.8 billion during the same period in 2003. And while Mexico and Canada continued to be the top-performing export markets for the U.S. during the first half of 2008, export volumes of U.S. beef to Japan are rebuilding dramatically this year, thanks in part to a new beef cuts program funded by the Beef Checkoff.
Beef Bucks Golf Tournament a success
A good cause brought a large number of people together Aug. 22 for the sixth annual Beef Bucks Golf Tournament. Forty-six teams comprised of 184 golfers turned out at the Dells Rocky Run Golf Course in Dell Rapids, SD. "This was the largest tournament ever," says JoAnne Hillman, president of the South Dakota Beef Bucks, Inc. board of directors. "We had to turn people away. It’s wonderful to see how people in this industry come together for this event to have fun and raise money for an industry that means so much to South Dakota." South Dakota Beef Bucks is a non-profit organization that operates South Dakota Beef Bucks checks and VISA debit cards, both used for purchasing beef products or entrees at restaurants and retail stores throughout the U.S.
2008 Nebraska Beef Backer chosen
Over the past couple of months, Nebraska restaurants have been competing for the title of the "Best Beef Restaurant in the State." The Nebraska Beef Council has recently named Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse the 2008 Nebraska Beef Backer Award winner. To compete in the Nebraska Beef Backer contest, restaurants first had to be nominated by a Nebraska beef producer or industry partner. After receiving nomination, the restaurants then completed an official application which was evaluated by a committee and results were based upon beef promotion programs, beef menu applications, and overall quality. Foodservice accounts for approximately half of the beef sold in this country, and commercial restaurants make up 61 percent for that sector.
Agriprocessors appeals to Supreme Court
Agriprocessors Inc., whose Postville, IA, plant was recently raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, is seeking to take its argument that workers have no right to unionize the company’s Brooklyn distribution center to the highest court in the land. A vote among employees in September 2005, who are mostly Mexican-born workers, sought to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which Agriprocessors has refused to recognize. The vote spawned a case in which the company claimed that most of the workers were undocumented immigrants and had no right to unionize. The National Labor Relations Board has ordered the company to recognize the union, citing a 1984 Supreme Court decision which affirmed the right of illegal immigrants to join unions.
Beef from clones may enter food supply
Recent reports indicate that meat from the offspring of cloned livestock is indeed entering the U.S. food supply, which is a cause of alarm to some consumers and advocacy groups. Though only a tiny portion of the U.S. beef supply could come from clones, which number in the hundreds or thousands of the country’s nearly 100 million head of cattle, USDA’s Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight recently admitted that he can’t rule out the presence of clone offspring in the food supply. Knight noted, however, that consumers are "highly unlikely" to receive beef from the offspring of clones. In January, the Food and Drug Administration deemed products from cloned cattle, pigs, goats and their offspring as safe to eat.
Maximizing market cow and bull value
Cattle producers have taken an active role in improved animal care, management practices and nutrition, but there’s always room for improvement. According to a checkoff-funded 2007 audit, cattle had fewer bruises as compared to 1999, less hide damage, and an overall improvement in animal welfare and handling practices. Nonetheless, the condemnation rate from down cattle, incidence of antibiotic residues, bruising, and lameness continue to warrant further attention. Producers can take the initiative to be proactive to ensure product safety and integrity, monitor herd health and market cull cattle in a timely manner, use appropriate management and handling practices to prevent quality defects, and recognize and optimize the value of market cows and bulls.