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Beef Blog: September 2014

Posted 9/12/2014 by Diane Henderson, Communications Manager, Cattlemen’s Beef Board

What Has Your Beef Checkoff Program Done for You Lately?

Every time you sell a beef animal, you pay your $1-per-head assessment into the Beef Checkoff Program, which invests those dollars into programs aimed at building demand for beef – in Pennsylvania, across the nation, and around the world. But after that dollar leaves your pocket, it’s important that each of you who pays the beef checkoff tracks your investments to ensure that they are working in your favor – just like you do with any other investment you make. 


Well, we’re here to tell you that the latest results are just about as good as you could hope for. Between the prodigious results we recently got from the Return on Investment (ROI) study of your checkoff dollars; the increase of 6.7 percent in beef demand during the second quarter of 2014; and the robust beef market and prices, we have a lot to celebrate!


In fact, by just about every measure, 2014 is panning out to be something you will talk about for years to come – but for good reasons! And with the efforts of the checkoff program continuing to make consumers better understand the benefits of eating beef as part of their healthy diets, Kansas State University ag economist Glynn Tonsor says 2015 is likely to be a reiteration of this year.


During a recent beef-outlook webinar, Tonsor concluded that “2014 and 2015 are expected to be record-setting for cow-calf producers – and by a long way.” Add to that the conclusion of that ROI study, which indicates that each dollar you invested in the Beef Checkoff Program between 2006 and 2013 returned about $11.20 to the beef industry – and you’ve got yourself a strong set of results you can wrap your arms around.


Dr. Harry Kaiser, the Gellert Family professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University, completed that ROI study: “The findings couldn’t be better for beef importers and beef growers in the United States,” he said. “I found that the Beef Checkoff Program had a substantial impact on beef demand, both in the United States and in international markets… Had there not been CBB marketing activities during the study period, beef demand in the United States would have been 11.3 percent lower than it actually was.” 


With these kinds of results, it’s not hard to see why producer support for the beef checkoff is 78 percent – its highest in 21 years, according to the latest producer attitude survey. As determined by the beef producers and importers who make up the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Federation of State Beef Councils, those kinds of results come from checkoff investments in programs including:


Promotion and education to and for consumers, retailers and restaurant owners
Extensive beef-safety, product-enhancement, human-nutrition, and new-product development research to continue improving the quality and safety of your end product
Market research to identify and respond to consumers’ changing demands for beef and beef products
Beef-industry training, from farm to fork, to help everyone in the production chain take responsibility for their roles in maintaining a desirable product
Foreign-marketing efforts in more than 100 countries across the globe – which theROI study shows boosted foreign demand for U.S. beef by an additional 6.4 percent between 2006 and 2013


With millions of checkoff dollars a year ($7.5 million in 2014) going to promotion of and education and training about U.S. beef across the globe, the value of U.S. beef exports in 2013 eclipsed the $6 billion mark for the first time, surpassing 2012 totals by nearly 13 percent in volume and 12 percent in value. And thanks to those results in the global marketplace, the export value of fed slaughter is currently about nearly $300 per head.


In addition, the checkoff’s new all-digital consumer-advertising program is reaching out to the target domestic beef audience – the millennial generation (between about 18 and 35 years old) – in the places where these consumers say they get pretty much all of their information – the Internet, especially social-media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


This critical market of consumers is 80 million strong and represents the consumers of the future, so responding their demands from our products is critical. That includes providing products that are convenient, ease to prepare (with tips readily available online), nutritious, and providing information to them about exactly where their beef comes from and the processes it goes through to reach their supper tables.


The bottom line is this: Thanks in great part to your checkoff investments, beef is driving traffic to grocery stores and meat cases, where consumers have remained steadfast in their wiliness to pay more for beef, even as beef sets new high prices and supply remains at one of its lowest levels ever. And we think that is something that every beef producer and importer who pays the checkoff should be proud of!



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Beef Blog: August 2014

Posted 8/17/2014 by Nichole Hockenberry, Pennsylvania Beef Council

Cattle Were “Green” Long Before Green Was Cool

Going green, being green or watching your carbon footprint is such a trendy thing to do these days. Growing up, I remember recycling was just something we did like creatures of habit. On weekends it was fun to haul all the soda cans with my grandfather to the recycling center and watch them get sucked into the machine. When it was all said and done we ended up with enough change to buy a popsicle or a candy bar. My family ate leftovers and I wore hand-me-downs. We made gifts out of pieces and parts of things – and here we are again talking about recycling and saving and reusing. 

Going green and being sustainable is the new buzz word on the streets. It’s everywhere from the clothing items, to carpet, to the items on a menu in a restaurant. Whether this is a marketing ploy or not, it is the world we live in and a society who hopes to leave the world in a better place for their children. We have a young generation who is hungry for information. With that being said, we have to get the good story out when it comes to our industry, the beef industry!

The beef industry defines sustainability by meeting the growing global demand by balancing environmental responsibility, economic opportunity and social diligence throughout the full supply chain. The U. S. beef supply is united and is determined to make an effort to improve our industry for the future generations. In order to fulfill our obligations, we need to set a clear path for continuous improvement over time, which protects our natural resources, promotes economic well-being for the beef community and provides social value for the supply chain, communities and stakeholders.

There are lots of myths that suggest removing meat from our menus and going meatless will help the planet. Unfortunately, this myth has been picked up more and more recently. The truth of the matter is that cattle can help improve the planet in numerous ways. Just to name a few, here are some of the improvements and benchmarks we’ve made since 2005-2011, that prove cattle were “green” long before green was trendy and the cool thing to do!

Improvements from 2005-2011 becoming a more sustainable Industry:

  • The beef industry has decreased its emissions to water by 10% by increased use of precision farming techniques
  • The beef industry has decreased its emissions to soil by 7% Improvements in crop yields improvements
  • The beef industry has decreased its greenhouse gas emissions by 2% simply due to improved genetics, health and nutrition of cattle

Sustainability refers to not only the preservation of the environment but also the continuation of U.S. beef production as a profitable and enduring entity. That means not only working to sustain environmental and animal resources but using concepts and practices that will allow U.S. beef production to grow in size and scope, thus offering a future for new generations in production agriculture.

How do you define sustainability on your farm and how do you get your story out to your community?


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Beef Blog: July 2014

Posted 7/14/2014 by Kathleen M. Laquale, PhD, ATC, LAT, LDN; Bridgewater State University

A Nutrition Professional's Take on The Sustainability Executive Summary 

Every day on my way to the university, I pass three cattle farms.  Neither snow nor rain keeps the cattle from grazing on the beautiful farmland. Riding past those amazing animals, I am reminded of the book report I did on Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle which was a depiction of the meatpacking industry.  From the use of diseased cattle as sausage meat to the “processing of unwanted products into the rendering tanks as lard and fertilizer”, it's fair to say that the nation was appalled to learn what actually went into their beef products.  As a result of the exposures of the deplorable conditions and the uproar by Americans, President Theodore Roosevelt passed the first Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.  Thus, Upton’s Sinclair’s book produced an immediate and powerful effect on Americans and on federal policy. 

Similar to how the journalists in 1906, had begun to play an important role in exposing wrongdoings, the impact an expose can have on the American public and federal policy is still viewed today.
In 2014, many Americans strongly believe that raising cattle creates havoc (wrongdoings) with our environment.  Terms such as eco-safe, carbon footprint, and of course sustainability abound.  “A sustainable food supply includes balancing efficient agricultural production with environmental, social and economic attributes.”  The National Cattlemen's Beef Association launched an environmental initiative in response to Livestock's Long Shadow, a book claiming 18% of all manmade greenhouse gases come from livestock – worse than transportation.  According to Jennifer Orr, Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, Director of Public Relations, “US farmers and ranchers continuously work to minimize their environmental impact while creating the world’s safest and affordable food supply” Consequently, one can understand why the farmers and ranchers wanted to get the facts straight concerning the impact of their livelihood (beef production) on the environment.

The Checkoff-funded Sustainability Research program was launched in 2011. “It is a proactive and innovative scientific approach to creating a sustainable beef product for a growing world population while gaining consumer confidence in beef”.  To encapsulate the research efforts of the Research program, The Sustainability-Executive Summary was published. It is a reflection of the beef community and the role it plays in responsible beef production.  “The effort expanded to investigate and evaluate sustainability of the industry. Two independent models were used to quantify the sustainability of the beef value chain.  One model was used to simulate biological processes on-farm and the other was used to quantify impacts in the post-harvest sector. By using the records as far back as 1970, the USDA and Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Nebraska, the research team led by Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, was able to predict all on-farm processes through the use of the Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM). “This methodology made it possible to quantify improvement by comparing current footprints to those determined using the production practices of MARC in 1970 and 2005.”  According to Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson, MARC provided great representation of the industry side of beef production.  IFSM represented a unique picture into the biochemical reaction in the ecosystem.  She explained how that task is very daunting because factors such as 25 years of weather, the type of soil, the climate, the amount of rainfall (i.e. if there is less than two inches of rain there is a greater amount of methane in the soil), the varying temperature, winds and foliage all impact this biochemical reaction.  Subsequently, the impact on the environment will vary from state to state. I was amazed to learn that the assessment included thousands of data points to quantify the industry’s progress since 2005.  

Overall, the sustainability efforts of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association discussed in The Sustainability Executive Summary provided compelling evidence that  the sustainability efforts in the beef industry sector is not the doomsday footprint of beef production systems as reported in Livestock's Long Shadow.  For 14-16 months of their life, livestock in the beef industry graze on grass-just like the ones I view on my way to work. I hope I continue to view those amazing animals and from future research results we can state: “Raising Beef is Environmentally Sustainable”.


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Beef Blog: March 2014

Posted 3/17/2014 by Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN

Beef up your Healthy Diet 

March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is to “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” This theme mimics my philosophy that anything you choose to eat should be not only healthy, but also delicious. Red meat is definitely delicious, but can it be part of a healthy diet? Of course it can!

Beef Recommendations
Over the years, red meat has been demonized by the media leading many folks to believe that beef should only be eaten once a week. This recommendation is unfounded with no scientific evidence to back it up. Current recommendations from the United States Department of Agricultures (USDA) MyPlate and the American Heart Association (AHA) state that lean beef can be a regular part of a healthy diet. How much you should consume depends on age and gender.

Here are the lean protein recommendations based on USDA’s MyPlate. These recommendations are appropriate for those who get less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day, beyond everyday activities. Folks who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within their daily calorie needs.


Ages 19-30 years: 5 ½ ounces per day
Ages 31 years and above: 5 ounces per day

Ages 19-30 years: 6 ½ ounces per day
Ages 31-50 years: 6 ounces per day
Ages 51 years and above: 5 ½ ounces per day

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was designed to assess the health and nutrition status of children and adults in the United States. According to data extracted from the 1999 to 2004 NHANES Survey, Americans consume an average of 1.7 ounces of beef every day. This is well below the amounts recommended by the USDA.

The AHA also states red meat can fit into a healthy diet as long as you limit the amount. The AHA recommends limiting lean meat, skinless chicken and fish to less than 6 ounces per day, total. 

Go Lean with Protein!
Both the USDA and AHA recommend choosing lean cuts of beef. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the term “lean” is defined as meat that has less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5 ounce portion. Lean cuts of beef include top loin (strip) steak, top sirloin, tenderloin (filet mignon), and 93% or leaner ground beef. Besides meeting the “lean” criteria, 3 ounces of cooked beef contributes many good-for-you nutrients making it nutrient-dense food. Vitamins and minerals found in lean beef include vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin, iron, riboflavin, iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium. In addition, more than half the fat found in lean cuts of beef comes from the healthy unsaturated kind.

What should be eaten sparingly are higher fat cuts of beef and processed items like sausage and hot dogs. In addition to being high in artery clogging saturated fat, processed meats are also brimming with sodium. But this guideline doesn’t only apply to high fat beef. High fat cuts of any animal protein which doesn’t meet the FDA’s “lean” criteria should be limited.

Tips for Eating Lean Beef
In order to make beef part of your healthy diet, keep these tips in mind:

When shopping
• If purchasing lean beef from your butcher, request the exact portions needed. Remember, 4 ounces of raw beef is equivalent to 3 ounces cooked.
• If purchasing pre-packaged lean beef, divide portions out when you get home. Extra portions can be stored in re-sealable freezer-safe bags. Having exact portions on hand can help save money and keeps portions in check.

When cooking
• Stick with 3 ounce portions of lean beef, the size of a deck of cards or your smartphone.
• Trim off the visible fat before cooking.
• Use healthier cooking methods like stewing, grilling, broiling, and baking.
• Compliment your lean beef with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy for a well-balanced meal. 

Nutrition expert Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: more than 130 delicious, healthy recipes for every meal of the day (Grand Central Publishing, May 2014). She is a nutrition expert for and contributor to’s Healthy Eats blog for over 7 years. Toby has a monthly 'Ask The Expert' column in Today's Dietitian Magazine, is a contributor to U.S. News & World Report Eat + Run blog, a nutrition advisor for Sears' Fitstudio, and an adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. For more information, visit her website at or follow her on twitter @tobyamidor

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