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 IN THIS ISSUE:
  • Lean Finely Textured Beef
  • Greenhorn Grazing Series Begins 2012 Season
  • Fast information not always best information
  • New resource for small feedlot operators
  • Announcements and updates

Lean Finely Textured Beef
By Jim Dickson, Professor, Dept. of Animal Science
Lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is manufactured from beef trimmings, which are also used to make ground beef. The trimmings come from USDA-inspected cattle, after the roasts and steaks have been removed. The trimmings used to make LFTB are higher in fat, which meant that previously they were underutilized. The trim is warmed to a temperature slightly lower than the normal body temperature of a live cow, and then run through a separator which acts very much like a cream separator in a dairy plant. Because the lean muscle is heavier than the fat, the lean meat and fat tissue can be separated rapidly, and the result is a lean beef product which is all beef and 95% lean. It is estimated that using this process with the fat trim recovers 10 to 12 pounds of additional lean meat from each carcass. This means that we are using our beef resources more efficiently, which also means that we can meet consumer demands with lower prices and fewer cattle.

But what about ammonia? Beef Products, Inc. uses an ammonia process to make the LFTB safer. Ammonium hydroxide gas is puffed into the product, which kills the harmful bacteria which occasionally turn up in our food supply. Almost everyone has heard of the problems with E coli and Salmonella, and although these are surprisingly rare, they are serious when they occur. The ammonia process is an added safety factor. It seems odd that a process which is so effective in controlling harmful bacteria has been so misunderstood in the media.

But is it safe? There is no debate on the safety. As the Undersecretary for Food Safety Dr. Elizabeth Hagen pointed out last week (29 March 2012), if the product was unsafe, USDA would not allow it to be on the market. Had there been any doubts, it would have been easier for USDA say “no” rather than to say “yes”. In addition, ABC reporter Mr. Jim Avila said at the same press conference that ABC News has never broadcast that the product was unsafe or that it has hurt anybody.

But why weren’t we told? Why isn’t it on the label? USDA writes the regulations on labeling. Since LFTB is made from beef trimmings, the same beef trimmings that are used for ground beef, USDA did not require it to be on the label. It would be hard to imagine how it would be labeled; “ground beef with additional ground beef”? The companies that manufacture LFTB and those who use LFTB are simply following USDA labeling regulations. Imagine the reaction of consumers if those companies had not followed labeling regulations! USDA is now allowing some changes in the label to indicate whether or not LFTB has been added to the ground beef, but until these changes were allowed by USDA, it may not have been legal for a company to label a product as containing LFTB.

Ultimately the consumer should decide
what is best for them. But the decision should be based on the truth, and not on speculative opinions. Ground beef containing LFTB is ground beef, and LFTB is unquestionably safe. It is regrettable that the consumer confidence in a food that has been in the market for twenty years, and is treated with a process designed to enhance the safety of the food, is now shaken. With food safety such a high priority in our society, taking a food with a proven food safety record out of the marketplace is a step backward.
Dr. Dickson originally wrote this article for the Institute of Food Technologists. You can read the full text version on that website.

Greenhorn Grazing Series Begins 2012 Season
Greenhorn Grazing Series Begins 2012 Season Beef producers interested in learning how to optimize forage and livestock production while conserving natural resources will want to consider attending the popular southern Iowa Greenhorn Grazing series. Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Joe Sellers is organizing this series, which consists of five day-long modules set for May through November. The program brochure is available on the IBC website.

“This five part series is valuable for beginning graziers and producers interested in upgrading their pasture management,” Sellers said. “Presenters will include experts in grazing systems, animal performance, fencing and watering systems, and weed management.”

Sellers and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) area grasslands specialist Rick Sprague are coordinating the program which has drawn upwards of 140 participants over the past four years.

“This series was developed by ISU Extension, NRCS and industry staff to deliver timely materials and hands-on workshops for producers interested in improving their forage management system,” Sellers said. “Producers will learn how to improve the productivity and use of their land.”

The workshops are scheduled for May 24, June 14, Aug. 23, Sept. 13 and Nov. 15. All sessions will run from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. beginning with morning classroom discussions at the Adair County Extension office in Greenfield. Following a working lunch, the afternoon portion will feature activities at local farms.

Grants from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the Iowa Beef Center, the Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee, and NRCS help keep the series cost low at $75. Participants are urged to attend all sessions, but fees for individual sessions are available. The fee includes a meal and educational materials for each session. Producers are asked to register by May 21 by contacting Kathy Rohrig at the Adair County Extension Office by phone at 641-743-8412 or by email at krohrig@iastate.edu. Registration fees can be mailed to the office at 154 Public Square, Suite C, Greenfield, IA 50849. For more information on the series, contact Sellers by phone at 641-203-1270 or by email sellers@iastate.edu or Sprague by phone at 641-782-4218 or by email at Richard.Sprague@ia.usda.gov.

Fast Information is Not Always the Best Information
By Dan Loy, IBC director

Have you ever “googled” yourself? If you do, you might be surprised what you find. As I write this column, the beef industry is calming down after widely publicized lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) controversy. So how does this relate to doing an Internet search on yourself?

One day in mid April, I “googled” "beef." The results included the Wikipedia definition of beef followed by beef.org and a host of beef related web sites. I scrolled through several items before I found a news story on LFTB and that story was about the economic effects of the controversy on the companies involved.

I also searched for “beef” on Twitter and the results were mostly about beef production information, posts from beef industry advocates and one guy who had a “beef” with his wife.

This little exercise demonstrated the flash fire nature of social media. Just a few weeks earlier, the “twitter feed” was buzzing with negative beef information. I should also mention that I did a google search for "Iowa beef" and the top three results were the Iowa Beef Industry Council, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Center.

In April, Iowa State University garnered some notoriety as the students from the Block & Bridle Club organized an event where they served burgers containing LFTB. The event featured presentations from Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds, Congressman Steve King, ISU’s Dr. Jim Dickson and Nancy Degner from the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

Read the rest of Dan's column on the IBC website.
New resource for small feedlot operators
By Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension agricultural engineer

Small open feedlots are used across Iowa to grow and finish beef animals. Operators of these feedlots manage manure and runoff better when they have affordable control and containment solutions, and workable management practices.

Small feedlots don’t come under all the regulations of large feedlots, but they can still have a significant impact on water quality.

Shawn Shouse, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach agricultural engineer, says management systems that work for big feedlots are too expensive for the small operators.

But there are a variety of affordable practices they can put in place to keep nutrients and pollutants from reaching Iowa streams, and a new resource can help.

“Small Open Beef Feedlots in Iowa – a producer guide” was developed by ISU Extension and Outreach with industry and agency partners for small feedlot producers.

The pdf publication is 20 pages (including cover) and available for free download from the Iowa Manure Management Action Group’s (IMMAG) website at http://www.agronext.iastate.edu/immag/info/PM3018openbeeffeedlots.pdf

More information and links to additional information and resources is on the website’s small feedlots and dairy operations page here http://www.agronext.iastate.edu/immag/smallfeedlotsdairy.html

These educational resources are part of the Water Quality Initiatives for Small Iowa Beef and Dairy Feedlot Operations project supported by the Iowa DNR, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State Dairy Association, USDA-NRCS, EPA Region 7 and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
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Bookmark for future reference

Announcements and updates

Keep up with Iowa Beef Center/ISU Extension and Outreach beef events.

Say hello to Lee Schulz
Lee Schulz is the new Iowa State University extension livestock economist. As assistant professor in the economics department, he'll be focusing his
his efforts on a range of integrated research and extension activities, with particular focus on livestock industries.

"The livestock extension program at ISU has a long, storied history that I look forward to maintaining and building upon," he said.

Schulz has expertise in a wide variety of areas, including animal identification and traceability, fed cattle trade,animal welfare and handling, and price risk management and analysis. He grew up on a cow-calf farm in central Wisconsin; obtained a BS from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, an MS from Michigan State University, and a PhD from Kansas State University.

Two USDA program sign-ups end June 1
The deadline for enrolling in the 2012 Direct and Counter-cyclical Program (DCP), Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) is June 1, 2012. The election for ACRE for 2012 can be made any time before June 1, 2012. If a farm has an ACRE election from a prior year, the farm remains in the ACRE, however producers must still complete the annual enrollment process by the June 1 deadline. More information and details are available in this news release from the Iowa USDA-FAS office.


Northeast Iowa Pasture Walk 2012 schedule posted
The 2012 Pasture Walks schedule is now set with dates through Dec. 4. Locations are in northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota, and cover a wide variety of topics relevant to producers in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Site specific sponsors are Practical Farmers of Iowa and Great River Graziers. The brochure lists dates, locations, topics, contacts and sponsors.