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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: June 2014

Posted 6/11/2014 by Christie Brown, Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI)

Share Your Sizzle! 

Millennials…that fancy term society calls the generation between the ages of 20-34 that are generalized as being adventurous, uber social, and self-proclaimed foodies (among many other labeled claims).  I am indeed one of them.

I do crave adventure, particularly in the form of traveling to a new place, exploring a new town or hiking/running/biking a challenging course.  I almost need adventure; my husband is the same way.  If too many days go by of the same old, same old, we get a little edgy and the craving for exploring overpowers us.  Even breaking out of my normal ‘library’ of recipes and trying some bold new dish is enough to satisfy that craving for adventure.

I wouldn’t say I’m uber social though.  I am plugged into social media as much as the next young adult with my Instagram linked to my Facebook and Twitter, all generally accessed through my smart phone.  If I experience something cool, eat something delicious or learn a random new fact, I have the urge to share that with my tiny little online social circles.  I’m living several hours away from the bulk of my family and friends at the moment so being plugged into social media has helped us all still remain connected, somewhat superficially since it’s all online, but connected nonetheless.  I’m an introvert by nature.  I’ve had to work hard at breaking out of my comfort zone in most situations but I am still far from being outgoing.  I feel most comfortable chatting with one other person and a circle of three is sometimes a little much.  Close friends and family are different, but when it comes to interacting with other folks, I tend to button up and just observe.

The last big title, a self-proclaimed foodie.  I am exactly that and wouldn’t hide it.  I love food, I love to cook it and eat it.  But let me be clear, it has to be GOOD food.  If I am going to down anything, I want it to be either really nutritious or really good, preferably both.  As I’ve gotten older, my taste buds have really started to change.  Klondike bars, Swiss Rolls and generic ice cream aren’t nearly as good as I remember them being.  As a child and teen, the only qualification for being considered ‘good’ in my eyes was simply being sweet.  These days, I love playing around with colorful fruits and veggies in my cooking and cutting out half the sugar and white flour in my baking, I generally strive to make the best of whatever it is I’m making.  I like the flavors of the ingredients to come out in a dish and not be masked by super salty or super sweet sauces or gravies.   When it comes to cooking meats, it needs to be done absolutely spot on (get a meat thermometer!).  I can’t stand a crispy fried pork chop or an overdone steak.  I’m particular about my bacon and grind of my sausage.  Meat is, and always will be, the center of the plate for our family.  Not only does it need to be delicious meat, but it needs to be cooked properly.

Each year at the beef checkoff program’s Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI), a project of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, we brainstorm new seasonal beef promotions to launch in retail meat departments and on our social media platforms.  A little over two weeks ago we launched the “Share Your Sizzle” beef photo contest.  This is a Facebook Photo Contest being housed on the “Northeast Loves Beef” Facebook page.

This entire contest was designed around the Millennial generation.  The contest title says it all -    “Share Your Sizzle”  Essentially, we’re asking folks to break out their inner foodie spirit, purchase some fresh beef, be adventurous and try a fun new summertime beef recipe.  Then snap a photo of that beef dish and share it!  If they upload that photo on the Facebook App Contest and they live in the Northeast, they’re entered in to win a $500 grocery gift card.  Pretty simple and pretty cool, I think.

Here’s a sample of what I made a few nights ago.  Basically, a pan-seared ribeye cap steak (we don’t have a grill at our apartment), a fun sautéed corn and red pepper relish, and a side of baked beans.  Easy. has a ton of beef recipes to get you started with meal inspirations.

Ready…set…GO! #ShareYourSizzle


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Beef Blog: May 2014

Posted 5/19/2014 by Elizabeth Palmer, 2014 Pennsylvania Senior Beef Ambassador

Celebrating May as Beef Month, Blogger Style

Elizabeth Palmer, 2014 Pennsylvania Senior Beef Ambassador, recounts her experience during the recent May Beef Month Blogger Tour. Read her thoughts below and check back soon to hear from the bloggers.

On Monday, May 12, the Beef Council, along with local bloggers, toured the Masonic Village Farm in Elizabethtown, PA. Masonic Village has 550 acres that are used for both crops and grazing. They have roughly 180 cow/calf pairs of shorthorn purebreds and shorthorn crossbreds. Masonic also manages and owns a feedlot which is supplied directly by their cow/calf operation. While there, I found it very interesting that Masonic has all the aspects of the industry on the farm except for the packing plant. 

At the end of the tour, we were able to stop at Masonic’s retail store which sells the meat, fruit and vegetables grown on the farm. While at the store, Deputy Secretary Mathew Meals proclaimed the month of May to be Beef Month. Being able to tour such a successful beef farm was a great way to kickoff the start of Beef Month.

Read more about the event or view photos on Facebook. Don't forget to check back soon and hear what the bloggers had to say!

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Beef Blog: April 2014

Posted 4/9/2014 by Bridget Bingham, Pennsylvania Beef Council

 Sustainability...Where we've been and where we're going

I couldn’t help but get a chuckle out of the cartoon above.  Although the idea of this cartoon is silly, the reality of it is becoming more and more conceivable to those of us in agriculture.  It is our privilege and our duty to think beyond the here and now and to consider the impact our actions will have on the future condition of our planet.  

The topic of sustainability is becoming a priority for many producers, stakeholders and influencers as we strive to feed 9 billion people in 2050.  This means 70 percent more food will be required to feed the growing population and all agricultural production will be needed to meet the demand.  The beef industry recognizes the important role it plays in the production of food in a more sustainable manner. 

One of the biggest challenges is wrapping our minds and actions around what is expected of us both individually and as a beef community in the area of sustainability.  There is not a universal, clear-cut definition for sustainability.  Currently, the definition is as unique to each person as each snowflake that has more than amply blanketed the Commonwealth this winter.   If you have 100 people there will be 100 definitions.   Perhaps the most common definition is utilizing fewer resources to produce more, but we can find common ground by saying that it is all about getting better over time.  When we say this, we recognize that it is about improvements from the past but also continuing to improve in the future. 

To get our industry moving forward, the beef checkoff funded the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, a beef industry sustainability assessment, designed to capture how industry changes and improved management practices have affected beef’s long-term sustainability.   This research provides us with a benchmark for beef sustainability comparing 2005 and 2011. 

Recently, NCBA released the Sustainability Executive Summary which presents the results of the assessment in a format designed to target audiences who have advanced baseline knowledge of sustainability.  The executive summary is also intended to provide a broad overview of the work to individuals who are interested in learning more about the holistic nature of the project.

The high level findings from the assessment:
• In just 6 years, we have improved our overall sustainability by 5 percent since 2005. 
• If we focus on just the environment and social pillars we improved 7 percent.

Specific improvements from 2005 – 2011:
• The beef value chain lowered its energy use by 2 percent.
• The beef industry reduced land use by 4 percent. 

Assessment surprises:
• Greenhouse gasses started the sustainability conversation – now they are much less important than things like animal welfare and traceability.
• 40 percent of food is wasted, resulting in $2,500 year annually to a family.
• If we reduced beef waste by half, we could improve our sustainability by 10 percent.

A PDF version of this executive summary may be downloaded at  Please take a moment to look over this excellent source of information. 

Those of us in the beef industry can feel good about how we are positioned concerning beef’s past, present and future footprint.  This comprehensive assessment has given our voice credibility as we move the discussion forward with various stakeholders.


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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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