BEEF bits

Oct 8, 2010
by WLJ

Junior ambassador program debuts

Eight youth participated in the inauguration of the Junior National Beef Ambassador Program in Rapid City, SD. Funded in part by the beef checkoff, the objective of this new youth program is to promote a stronger interest and clearer understanding of the many aspects of the beef industry, its values and virtues, to youth 12 to 16 years old. Junior participants were judged on a five-minute speech and an interview with the judges. First prize was awarded to Kaley Nolz, an eighth grader from Mitchell, SD. Nolz loves to show cattle, play sports and is active in 4-H. Erin Mairose, Kimball, SD, earned second place. Mairose is a sophomore and lives on a ranch that has been in her family for more than 50 years. She is active in 4-H and plays the viola in the Huron Symphony Orchestra. Third place went to Libbi Loos, a seventh grader from Litchfield, NE. Loos enjoys training, showing and riding horses. She is active in 4-H where she shows cattle and has started her own beef herd with her first show heifer.

HSUS rated most credible resource

Consumers rate the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) as the most credible source for information about farm animal care. That finding, along with many others, was announced last Wednesday at the Food System Summit as the Center for Food Integrity’s CEO Charlie Arnot unveiled the results of an annual survey on consumer trust in the food system. In addition to the 15.88 percent of respondents who think HSUS is the most credible source of information about farm-animal care, 12.32 percent think farm-animal veterinarians are credible sources, followed by 12.02 percent for USDA representatives and 11.47 percent for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Farmers who operate large livestock farms were ranked last, with 5.5 percent. “The closer you are to a profit motivation, the greater your credibility deficit,” Arnot said.

Meat case study results released

The results of the 2010 National Meat Case Study revealed significant changes in the retail meat case in terms of branding, label claims and nutrition and cooking information. A trend noted in beef and chicken was an increase in value/family packs. In pork, a notable change was a decline in enhanced products. The data is benchmarked against previous audits in 2002, 2004 and 2007. Some of the areas showing the most significant changes included an increase in the number of store brands, which grew against supplier brands across all proteins. Beef store brands rose to 51 percent from 31 percent in 2007. Label claims also increased. Top production claims included “minimally processed” at 27.2 percent, “hormone free” at 15.5 percent, “antibiotic free” at 4.7 percent and “vegetarian fed” at 3.9 percent. Packages with a natural claim rose 3 percent from 2007 to 32 percent of total poultry and meat packages. Country of origin labeling was found on 75 percent to 80 percent of packages, depending on the protein. Over 70 percent of beef, pork, chicken and veal were labeled as “USA only.” Ground beef was labeled “USA and other” 45 percent of the time.

Argentinians may buy closed JBS plant

A group of Argentine cattle ranchers may purchase a closed JBS S.A. beef processing plant in San Jose, Argentina, according to Bloomberg. The Montiel Farmers Consortium told Bloomberg it is working with local government to make a bid for a plant in San Jose valued at $25 million. JBS S.A. said last month in a statement on its website that it is considering the sale of some Argentine beef plants among options to improve operations in that country. A combination of drought and export restrictions has reduced cattle supplies and made the market less profitable for beef processors.

Niman shifts operations to Nebraska

Niman Ranch has relocated its beef processing plant from JBS Swift in Hyrum, UT, to XL FourStar in Omaha, NE, the company announced in a news release. A family-operated facility, XL FourStar also has an additional processing plant in Nampa, ID. Ultimately, Niman Ranch plans to use that facility for beef processing as well, providing regional and local access to all of their customers on the West Coast. This move comes in an effort for the Alameda, CA-based company to be more eco-friendly as 85 percent of all Niman Ranch cattle will now be transported to Omaha instead of Utah, cutting the travel distance by almost half. The shortened transport reduces stress to the animals and lessens overall carbon emissions, according to the company. Niman Ranch is a network of more than 650 independent family farmers raising livestock in a traditional, humane and sustainable manner. XL FourStar, founded in 2006, is based in Omaha, NE, and is a subsidiary of XL Foods Inc.