Nebraska Beef - May 2020


SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2020


D2 BEEF Disruption, quandaries during pandemic THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2020

Cattle producers face dilemmas over sale prices, cost of operation

grain will return. In the meantime, some pro- ducers are trying to figure out what to do with cattle that are at market weight, but the price they can get at the sale barn has fallen well below the prof- it point. If they hold onto the cattle, waiting for the market to improve, that adds expense and risk to their operations. Producers have to figure the cost of continuing to feed and maintain market-size an- imals, said Dr. Brian Vander Ley, a veterinary epidemiolo- gist for UNL stationed at Clay Center. In addition, if cattle be- come excessively heavy, they are at greater risk for heat-re- lated illnesses. They also are more likely to be injured on their way to market. On top of that, when they get to the sale barn they may demand a lower price compared with cattle at the ideal weight. “There are a couple of ways” to limit weight gain in mar- ket-ready cattle, said Dr. Galen Erickson, a UNL professor of ruminant nutrition, but “none of them are great.” “You can increase the for- age,” in their diet, and limit protein intake, “but forages are expensive per unit of feed value” and “they’ll still gain some” weight anyway. Another option is to limit to- tal feed amount, Erickson said, but “that [only] works fine if you have room for all the cat- tle to feed at once,” which is often not the case. Cattle who need the feed the least may get

By GEORGE HAWS For the North Platte Telegraph

Effects of the pandemic have hit beef producers hard. Many have been forced to change the way they feed and mar- ket their cattle, and trying to figure out how to keep their businesses going, given the negative market situation. “We didn’t anticipate the interruption in the supply chain,” said Kelly Heath, di- rector of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institutional Animal Care Program, with the COVID-19 related closures of many pack- ing plants. Nebraska producers also didn’t anticipate the loss of a distiller’s grain, an inexpen- sive feed source that producers have grown to depend on, said Travis Mulliniks, the UNL range cow production special- ist based at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte. Ethanol plants have idled be- cause the demand for the fuel additive plummeted along with the price of gasoline. Distillers grain is a byproduct of ethanol production. Maybe things will work out for the better soon, Heath said, and packing plants will return to full capacity. When that happens, hopefully pric- es will get better: Higher for producers and lower for con- sumers. Maybe the demand for ethanol will improve also, and the supply of distiller’s

Photo courtesy the Beef Checkoff Amid the pandemic, cattle producers are being forced to weigh the revenue of selling cattle at lower-than-normal prices at the sale auction vs. how much the cattle would cost the operation by keeping it until prices rise again.

“protein is not just protein,” Mulliniks said. Different pro- tein sources are composed of different combinations of ami- no acids and they are not all utilized in the same way in the cow’s digestive system. Therefore, feed formulation re- quires careful consideration of the animal’s needs, based on life stage and performance goals. This year’s challenges, Vander Ley said, may prompt some long-term changes in the way cattle are raised and fed. However, what long-term ad- justments are appropriate “is

the billion-dollar question,” and warrants careful consider- ation. Otherwise, “unintended consequences of changes are likely.” The whole situation is com- plicated, Erickson said, and university specialists are available to help producers consider options. “Now is the time for professional help,” rather than just trying to fig- ure everything out, he said. At the same time, “Our producers are innovative,” Heath said, and working with them may result in “solutions that we ha- ven’t even thought of.”

to the bunker ahead of the oth- ers. As a result, you end up “fully feeding the first group and not feeding the others at all.” The distiller’s grain short- age is another problem, and “it’s hard to mitigate that,” said Mulliniks. Distiller’s grain is high in protein. There are other sources of protein, such as soy- beans, alfalfa hay and corn gluten, but a number of factors come into play. They include cost per ton, local availability and trucking costs. A complicating factor is that

Science shows no need to eliminate beef from diet US continues to be a top world leader in cattle production

consumption of fossil fu- els. Not only does this data demonstrate that cattle’s environmental impact is less than often reported, thanks to cattle’s unique digestive system they can actually help miti- gate food waste. “Cattle are natural up- cyclers, which means most of what cattle eat can’t be consumed by humans and would oth- erwise end up in the landfill,” said Sara Place, Ph.D., senior di- rector of sustainable beef production re- search for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contrac- tor to the Beef Checkoff. “At the end of the day, cattle generate more pro- tein for the human food supply than would exist without them because their unique digestive system allows them to convert human-inedible plants into high-quality protein.” It’s also important to note that beef continues to become more sustain- able in the U.S. thanks to innovation and pro- duction efficiencies. In the U.S. today, the same amount of beef is pro-

evaluated greenhouse gas emissions, feed con- sumption, water use and fossil fuel inputs. In all these areas, beef’s envi- ronmental impacts were found to be less than previously reported.4 Specifically, the report found: Beef production, in- cluding the production of animal feed, is re- sponsible for only 3.3% of greenhouse gas emis- sions in the U.S. Per pound of beef car- cass weight, cattle only consume 2.6 pounds of grain, which is similar to pork and poultry. Corn used to feed beef cattle only represents approximately 9% of harvested corn grain in the U.S., or 8 million acres. On average, it takes 308 gallons of water, which is recycled, to pro- duce a pound of boneless beef. In total, water use by beef is only around 5% of U.S. water with- drawals. Total fossil energy in- put to U.S. beef cattle production is equivalent to 0.7% of total national


Recent reports ques- tion beef’s role in a healthy, sustainable diet. Beef is healthier and more sustainable today than at any point in time. History and well-estab- lished research have consistently shown that practical, balanced dietary patterns ground- ed in science promote health and sustainabili- ty, not eliminating single foods, like beef. U.S. leads the world in sustainable beef production Research recently con- ducted by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and The Beef Checkoff, and pub- lished in the journal Agricultural Systems, found that data common- ly used to depict beef cattle’s environmental impact in the U.S. is of- ten overestimated. The study, which is the most comprehensive beef life- cycle assessment to-date,

Promoting beef in foreign markets Baxter Communications Inc. via The Beef Checkoff The Nebraska Beef Council continues to work with the U.S. Meat Export Federation in promoting the state’s product worldwide.

Steve Wellman, direc- tor of agriculture for the state of Nebraska, says, “beef from Nebraska is known throughout the globe for its commitment to quality. Behind that commitment are our farmers and ranchers, the families that for gen- Please see BEEF, Page D3

in Nebraska is well- known across the globe and consumers love the high-quality product. By working with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the US Meat Export Federation, the NBC fa- cilitates promotions and educational events to help promote beef.

By ANN MARIE BOSSHAMER Executive director, Nebraska Beef Council

The opportunity to promote beef in the foreign marketplace has been an emphasis for the Nebraska Beef Council for decades. The beef raised here

Please see DIET, Page D3

D3 BEEF State producers represent industry nationally THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2020

Atkinson; George Cooksley, Anselmo; Michele Cutler, Elsie; Gregg Wiedel, Hebron; Jeff Rudoph, Gothenburg. Nebraska Cattlemen’s Beef Board representatives: Herbert Rhodes, Omaha; Torri Lienemann, Princeton; Dave Hamilton, Thedford; Jim Eschliman, Erickson; Bree DeNaeyer, Seneca; Bill Baldwin, Mitchell. The Nebraska Beef Council is a non-profit organization served by a nine-member board of directors. The volun- teers oversee Nebraska’s beef checkoff and checkoff-fund- ed programs. Programs for marketing and promotion are funded by the $1 beef checkoff.

also serving as the Chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils. This Operating Committee leadership role is established through an in- terview process with other producers to determine who will serve. The process is com- pletely producer-driven and a great way to establish leader- ship. Special thanks to all cattle- men who serve on the NBC and CBB for your leadership and commitment to our indus- try! Nebraska Beef Council rep- resentatives: Buck Wehrbein, Waterloo; Ivan Rush, Scottsbluff; Rosemary Vinton Anderson, Whitman; Doug Temme, Wayne; Jim Ramm,

insight to contractors for proj- ects on a very specific level. The Evaluation Committee re- views all checkoff contractor programs and provides feed- back to each of them in order to help benefit the overall pro- gram. The Beef Promotion and Operating Committee is com- prised of 20 members, ten from the CBB and ten from the Federation of State Beef Councils. The purpose of this group is to set the funding for all beef checkoff dollars and allocate them to the various contractors. Nebraska is well represented with three of the 20 from our state. Lastly, NBC Chairman, Buck Wehrbein of Waterloo, is

Board members. Nebraska has nine beef council directors and six Beef Board directors so there are multiple produc- ers from our state serving on the following committees: Consumer Trust, Nutrition and Health, Export Growth, Innovation and Safety. The committee members review proposed programs from all checkoff contractors and provide feedback before the proposals are submitted to the Beef Promotion Operating Committee for funding. In addition, the Investor Relations Working Group and the Market Research Working group both have NBC board members serving as volun- teers. These groups provide

By ANN MARIE BOSSHAMER Executive director, Nebraska Beef Council Nebraska is known for rais- ing high-quality beef and is considered a leader in the beef industry. You can say the same thing for the cattlemen of our state who serve in lead- ership roles on the state and national level. It’s important to note that the Nebraska Beef Council board of directors all serve on committees at the na- tional level to help guide the programming executed by the beef checkoff. There are five commit- tees that are comprised of both Federation of State Beef Council and Cattlemen’s Beef

Beef, it’s what’s for dinner Families can rely on meat for solid source of protein

Campaign helps consumers prepare beef in the home

Beef Council The Global Marketing and Research team at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contrac- tor to the Beef Checkoff, along with State Beef Councils across the country, are leveraging their extensive library of content, including ad- vertisements, recipes, cooking videos and edu- cational materials about beef nutrition to help consumers while they are home during the pandemic. “We know consumers are seeking prepara- tion and recipe tips for cooking beef at home,” said Alisa Harrison, se- nior vice president of Global Marketing and Research at NCBA. “The good news is that beefitswhatsfordinner. com and our partners with the Federation of State Beef Councils have great recipe ideas, resources and cook- ing tips that can help consumers as they transition to eating at home more.” These same reci- pes and resources are also being provided to food influencers, sup- ply chain partners and the news media to sup- port their efforts to educate consumers about food preparation and healthy eating. Additionally, NCBA, is keeping in close con- tact with supply chain partners to provide support as they adjust to the current con- sumer and business environments. Beef preparation and recipes tips that are being provided to consumers through Checkoff-funded con- tent include: » Recipe collec- tions — While “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” has many recipe collec- tions, current efforts are focused on sharing recipes that are easy, simple, affordable and

kid friendly.

» Cooking les- sons — These lessons provide step-by-step in- structions and tips for a dozen different cook- ing methods, from grilling to pressure cooking, these cooking lessons are a great re- source for all levels of home chefs. » Beef safety infor- mation — From beef handling and storage information to prepa- ration guidelines and additional tips, the Beef Checkoff is pro- viding consumers with the information they need for a safe eating experience. In addition to pro- viding consumers with information and inspi- ration for preparing beef at home, NCBA is also working on two major consumer promo- tions to highlight beef’s great taste and nutri- tion scheduled for this spring and summer. In April, “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” will re- lease three videos with nationally recognized chefs sharing their take on popular dishes that substitute beef for other proteins. A sum- mer grilling promotion is planned to begin Memorial Day and run through Labor Day that will celebrate beef as the center of grilling ac- tivities. As “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” lends con- sumers a hand when it comes to preparing beef at home through this time of unknowns, farm- ers and ranchers are urged to follow “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” on social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to see howBeef Checkoff dollars are helping con- sumers feel confident in choosing and prepar- ing beef and can rest assured that the beef in- dustry is committed to providing safe, healthy, wholesome beef to the food supply.

Beef Council

With more time at home, consumers can confidently reach for beef as a reliable staple to nourish themselves and their families. Beef is not only an excellent source of protein; it also provides bodies with the strength to thrive throughout all stages of life. To ensure consumers are armed with knowl- edge to have the best eating experience with beef, the Beef Checkoff is here to provide some quick tips on how to safe- ly handle and prepare beef when cooking at home. Storing beef » Refrigerate or freeze beef as soon as possible after purchasing. » Ground beef can safely be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days before cook- ing or freezing. Once in the freezer, ground beef can be stored for three to four months before quali- ty is impacted. » Steaks and roasts can safely be stored in the re- frigerator for three to five days before cooking

Photo courtesy the Beef Checkoff

A meat thermometer can be key to cooking delicious beef recipes safely.

of Human Nutrition Research at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contrac- tor to the Beef Checkoff. “Most people already consume beef within es- tablished, science-based global dietary guide- lines, so there is no reason to systematically reduce beef consump- tion.” building relationships and strengthening beef demand in the global marketplace is always an opportunity and invest- ment for our future. The Nebraska Beef Council is a non-prof- it organization served by a nine-member board of directors. The volun- teers oversee Nebraska’s beef checkoff and check- off-funded programs. Programs for marketing and promotion are funded by the $1 beef checkoff. of dishes and meals,” said Alisa Harrison, se- nior vice president of Global Marketing and Research at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contrac- tor to the Beef Checkoff. “With a few simple tips when it comes to storing, handling and cooking beef at home, families can feel confident that their beef meals will be delicious and flawlessly prepared.” When you’re ready to get cooking, check out more information on safe handling, hundreds of recipes, and even online cooking lessons. With step by step instructions and tips for a dozen dif- ferent cooking methods, from grilling to pressure cooking, the cooking les- sons are a great resource for all levels of home chefs.

er protein source offers the same nutrient mix. xiii Furthermore any one of the nearly 40 cuts of beef considered lean can be included as part of a heart-healthy diet to support car- diovascular health, according to recent re- search from Purdue University. Additionally, research has consistent- ly demonstrated that the nutrients in beef pro- mote health throughout life. In particular, the protein, iron, zinc and B-vitamins in beef help ensure young children start life strong, build- ing healthy bodies and brains. Protein is also especially important in aging populations due to its ability to help build and maintain muscle. After 50 years of age, promotions is sending beef producers abroad so they can be the face of our industry and meet with buyers and con- sumers alike. Rosemary Anderson, NBC board member from Whitman, NE participated in the USMEF Heartland Tour to Japan. “It was interesting to learn about the differ- ences between our nations’ industries and witness firsthand the enthusi- asm for American beef. I also had a crash course or freezing. Once in the freezer, steaks and roasts can be stored for four to 12 months before quality is impacted. » If you plan on freez- ing, repackage your beef into the right-size por- tion for upcoming meals. » For longer storage, remove beef from origi- nal packaging and place into freezer bags or sim- ilar air-tight packaging to remove as much air as possible. Defrosting » Defrost beef in the re- frigerator, never at room temperature. » Account for 12 to 24 hours to defrost ground beef and steaks. » Use a plate or tray to catch any juices. Handling » Wash hands well in

adults are at risk for los- ing muscle mass, leading to falls and frailty that affect their ability to age independently. “Research shows that beef can play an import- ant role in promoting health and helping to prevent nutrient defi- ciencies,” said Shalene McNeill, Ph.D., R.D., Executive Director in communicating with Japanese meat buyers, re- tailers, consumers and media about our product as well as my ranch and cattle. Without a doubt, our checkoff investment in foreign marketing is vi- tal to our industry and its growth,” Anderson said. The NBC Board will continue to prioritize foreign marketing ef- forts into the 2020-2021 fiscal year as part of their strategic plan. Fostering new markets, hot, soapy water before and after handling raw meat and other fresh foods. » Keep raw meat and juices away from other foods. » Wash all utensils, cutting surfaces and counters after contact with raw meat. Preparing » Always use a meat thermometer. » Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. » Steaks and roasts should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. » Don’t forget to refrig- erate leftovers within two hours after cooking. “Beef is a nutri- ent rich protein that can be a great freez- er staple for a variety

BEEF from Page D2

erations have displayed the best of Nebraska — integrity, grit and de- termination. Our ability as a state to continue find- ing markets abroad helps to add value for our beef producers and ensure their ability to preserve and solidify their operations for future gen- erations.” Another facet to the

DIET from Page D2

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duced with one-third fewer cattle as compared to the mid-1970s, accord- ing to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. If the rest of the world were as efficient as the U.S., global beef production could double while cutting the global cattle herd by 25%. Beef supplies essential nutrients and promotes health A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 10 essential nutrients in about 170 calories, in- cluding high-quality protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins. No oth-




SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2020

Social distancing hindering branding efforts

Ranchers running smaller events, hiring out the process

Mike Henry, North Platte feedlot opera- tor and cattle producer, said they opted for sever- al small brandings this year, working only 40 to 50 calves at a time. A lot fewer people are involved that way. There are no big gatherings. The precautions are critical, said Randy Saner, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator based in North Platte. This year, leave the chil- dren and the elderly at home, along with people who have health condi- tions that put them at special risk. Even phys- ically fit people who do not take social precau- tions seriously, may not be the ones to invite to a branding, Saner said. Nobody knows how soon the threat will lift, or whether it will return later on. Regardless,

By GEORGE HAWS For the North Platte Telegraph Ranching may sound like a good way to be so- cially isolated without doing anything out of the ordinary. That is not al- ways the case, though, particularly at brand- ing time. It’s a tradition for folks to gather from miles around to help an- other ranching family work the young calves. While cowpokes as young as 7 help hold down the calves, cow- pokes as old as 70 brand, castrate, vaccinate and tag. Others on the scene are visiting or prepar- ing food. Children are playing. It’s part of the ranching lifestyle. However, this year, tra- ditions have had to give way to health and busi- ness realities, due to a virus that respects no- body’s property lines.

Chris Christen / The Omaha World-Herald Nearly 70 relatives and friends helped with the Waits homestead branding in 2018 in the Nebraska Sandhills. Gatherings that large won’t happen this spring with directed health measures in place during the pandemic.

vice even after the threat of COVID-19 is past, now that they see how much time and trouble it saves them. Saner suggested that if cattle producers do their own branding, they use calf tables or Nord Forks instead of the traditional method of holding down a calf. Those are humane handling devices that al- low one or two people to do the job of three or four. When small work gath- erings do take place, Saner suggested bring- ing individual lunches from home. If meals are served, carefully follow sanitary procedures, he said. Social distancing applies at meal time, too. Eastside Animal Center is taking its own precautions. When the virus hit Nebraska, the center separated work- ers into two teams. One

late spring, summer and well into the fall. “There are things that must be done,” at the right time, said Saner, no matter what else is happening in the world. Some ranchers have simply decided to hire veterinary clinics to work their calves for them. Eastside Animal Center in Gothenburg has been providing the service for years, par- ticularly for cattle producers who also grow crops and need to be in the planter at branding time. However, this year there is that added rea- son, and the demand has grown as a result. Morgan Schenk, a vet- erinarian at the center, speculated that some of the new branding cus- tomers will continue contracting for the ser-

team goes out into the country to do brandings, artificial insemination, bull checks and other services while the other team is in the clinic car- ing for large and small animals. They rotate as- signments. “I have coworkers that I haven’t seen in a month,” Schenk said. If someone on one team contracts COVID-19 “we don’t want it to put the entire center in quarantine,” and out of operation. As for other chores on the farm or ranch, Saner said communication is key: Everyone needs to know exactly what tasks are going to be done, who is going to do them and how exposure to other people will be limited. Oh, and, “don’t pass the bottle around when the work is done,” Saner said.

calves are not all born at the same time; there will be brandings in

Kurt A. Keeler via The Omaha World-Herald A drone puts the vastness of the Nebraska Sandhills in perspective during the Waits family branding in 2018.

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