News Update
July 25, 2007

Approximately 800 cattlemen attended the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, Colo., last week, where the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) hosted board meetings and discussions centered on the 2007 Farm Bill, country-of-origin labeling (sometimes referred to as COL or COOL), and U.S. energy policy. Environmental Stewardship Awards Program (ESAP) regional winners were also announced, as well as scholarship winners.

The following highlights some of the research advancements and technical updates unveiled at the conference:

New Cuts from the Chuck Roll to Debut in 2008

A new line of Beef Value Cuts — this time fabricated from the beef chuck roll — is slated for a 2008 rollout, according to the checkoff-funded Beef Innovations Group (BIG), which is coordinating research and marketing efforts to expand the value cuts program.

BIG expects at least four new cuts from the chuck roll to debut in foodservice and retail channels in 2008. The new cuts include tender steaks for grilling, an affordable elegant roast for dry roasting, boneless country-style ribs and a fully cooked sumptuous roast. The new cuts represent the “next frontier” in the value cuts program that began in the late 1990s with the checkoff’s groundbreaking muscle profiling research. Expanding the value cuts line is among the checkoff-funded tools aimed at reaching the industry’s Long Range Plan goal to increase beef demand another 10% by 2010.

“Optimizing the chuck roll should be great for consumers, operators and retailers, processors, packers, steak cutters and beef producers,” said Tom Hotz, an Iowa beef producer and chairman of the Joint New Products and Culinary Initiatives Committee.

“Consumers will get new and economical steaks and roasts bursting with great beef flavor, and that’s positive news for producers. Cattle-Fax estimates that the first group of value cuts, led by the flat-iron and the petite tender, added $50 to $60 a head to the value of the chuck, so we know from experience how popular products can affect our bottom line,” he added.

“We expect these flavorful cuts to offer versatility and value, work well with high volume cooking and present increased profit opportunities for producers, packers, processors, retailers and foodservice operators,” said Ellen Gibson, executive director of the checkoff-funded new-product initiatives. “The chuck roll also lends itself well to home-style and ethnic dishes.”

The first round of value cuts has experienced dramatic growth in both foodservice and retail channels. To date, cuts like the flat-iron, petite tender and ranch steak have been menued in about 20,000 U.S. restaurants and sold in some 9,900 grocery stores across the country.

BQA Takes Step Forward

At one point on its 25-year journey to a standardized Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, the beef checkoff made a key philosophical shift from correcting violations to improving product quality. Since then, that proactive stance has evolved into a program of sound, science-based production practices aimed at improving consumer satisfaction and increasing market opportunities for beef producers.

The program’s foundation is the BQA Strategic Plan 2010, which was unveiled at the cattle industry’s annual summer conference. As a beef checkoff initiative, the plan still must be approved for funding by the Beef Promotion and Operating Committee in September. If accepted, it will become the first formal long-range plan to guide national BQA efforts.

A formalized BQA plan will unite the aims of all the existing state Beef Quality Assurance programs. The BQA mission is to maximize consumer confidence in beef and give producers a “best practices” road map to increased profitability. The program is guided by three fundamental principles: (1) producers can make a difference; (2) quality is the producer’s job, not someone else’s; and (3) product safety and wholesomeness is everyone’s business.

BQA strategic priorities for 2008 include development of a national standards manual; pilot programs; and quality assurance initiatives for dairy and market cows and bulls. Architects of the national guidelines also want to give state beef councils the flexibility to move beyond national standards to take advantage of individual state needs and market opportunities.

A number of individual BQA programs have been developed across the country through state beef councils and other entities. So it was good news when the 2005 National Beef Quality audit revealed, among other positive numbers, that 77% of carcasses being processed had no defects and that the incidence of injection site blemishes had decreased dramatically. The remaining animals did, however, present defects from quality grade, yield and weight; the audit recommended finding ways to eliminate these problems before the next audit in 2010.

There are currently 43 certified BQA advisors in the United States. For more information visit, or contact Ryan Ruppert at 303-694-0305.

Six U.S. Cattle Operations Win Environmental Awards

The 2007 National Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) Selection Committee has announced this year’s regional award winners.

According to a statement released by the selection committee, “The six regional winners have made extensive efforts to work closely with their local communities and government agencies, including the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to implement conservation programs that benefit everyone. They have seen the value in utilizing conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) on their operations. These folks showcase how the implementation of cooperative research efforts, educational events and government programs can really pay off.”

The 2007 Regional ESAP Winners include: Sunrise Club Calves, Shippenville, Pa., Region I; Dee River Ranch, Aliceville, Ala., Region II; Oak Knoll Ranch, Salem, Mo., Region III; Roaring Springs Ranch, Frenchglen, Ore., Region V; Yolo Land & Cattle Co., Woodland, Calif., Region VI; and Alexander Ranch, Sun City, Kan., Region VII.

The 2007 national winner will be selected from one of the six ESAP regional winners and revealed at the 2008 Cattle Industry Convention in Reno, Nev.

— Adapted from information provided by NCBA.

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