BEEF bits

May 15, 2009
by WLJ


BEEF bits
Meat production increases

Total meat production will increase in 2009 and 2010, thanks in large part to higher poultry production, according to USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. USDA raised expected total meat production to 3.549 billion pounds from last month’s estimate of 3.547 billion pounds. Higher than expected broiler production helped offset lower pork and turkey production to raise the total meat production forecast for 2009 to 9.131 billion pounds from 9.126 billion pounds. Beef production was raised to 2.652 billion pounds from 2.644 to reflect higher expected fed and non-fed cattle slaughter.

USDA reduced its 2009 beef export forecast to 1.735 billion pounds from 1.820 billion pounds due to economic weakness. USDA narrowed its average price for Choice steers to a range of $85 to $88 per cwt. from $84 to $89 last month. For 2010, prices are forecast to increase to a range of $87 to $94 on stronger demand and tighter supplies.

Resource for niche meat packers

A new Web site from the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network,, aims to provide resources for small- to mid-size meat processing facilities that provide market access for niches such as local, grass-fed and organic. The site provides research, news and learning modules from land-grant universities nationwide. It pulls together information including processing rules and regulations, business development and workforce management, mobile processing units, profiles of successful niche processors, and more than 100 frequently asked questions.

USDA names new GIPSA administrator

J. Dudley Butler will serve as administrator of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). GIPSA facilitates the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds and related agricultural products, and promotes fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture. Butler has been an attorney in private practice for over three decades and is a certified mediator and arbitrator. He’s also been involved in cattle, timber and farming operations and, in the ’80s and ’90s, owned cattle in Wyoming and traded cattle in states including Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Utah.

Vilsack places Pegg in AMS role

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has designated Rayne Pegg as administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Pegg’s recent background was as the deputy secretary of legislation for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She worked with growers and the public to find common ground on controversial issues, in addition to being a principle in the creation of the California Leafy Green Product Handler Marketing Agreement, which was formed following the 2006 spinach E. coli outbreak. She has been active with the California Farm Bureau Federation, USDA Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee on Fruits and Vegetables, and participated in the World Trade Organization and U.S-Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

Brisket featured in Iowa awards

Iowa Western Community College (IWCC) and Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) took the Best Overall Beef Presentation and Best Beef Entree awards, respectively, in the annual Reinhart Inter- Collegiate Beef Culinary Contest. Each year, a different cut is featured in the contest and brisket was this year’s centerpiece. This event, co-sponsored by the Iowa Beef Industry Council and Reinhart Foodservice, allows future chefs to showcase their culinary talents and creativity to compete for cash prizes to be used for scholarships and culinary equipment. The competition gives the students the opportunity to learn how to work together as a team and cook under pressure. IWCC and DMACC were also presented these same awards in their 2006 competition featuring flank steak.

Marinades and rubs for the grill

Creativity is the key to kicking off a great grilling season. Try non-traditional beef cuts as well as traditional cuts and embellish them with a variety of marinades and spice rubs to bring out a whole new taste.

Spice rubs are used to quickly impart flavors to more tender cuts of beef, while marinades, which take more preparation time, are liquid seasonings with an acid base that helps to infuse flavor and tenderize the meat. The flat iron and the top sirloin are ideal with the spice rubs and the flank steak responds better to a marinade treatment. Chef Scott Popovic, corporate chef for the Certified Angus Beef brand, who agrees that spice rubs and marinades are a great way to play with flavors, says, “But no matter what flavor direction you go, true grilling gurus know to start with the best products available ... top quality products are important in delivering mouthwatering taste.” For grilling tips and recipes, visit