Wow! Every farmer I’ve talked to lately has said this is the nicest winter they’ve seen in a long time. A year ago we were nearly waist deep in snow as blizzard conditions were upon us. I’ll never forget seeing it pile up so quickly.
I’ve waited a bit for all the new year discussion drop off a bit. Everyone was talking resolutions. I don’t know about you, but gave that up some time ago. I’m a bigger fan of setting real goals, coupled with tactics to reach them and then going after it. Oh well, that’s my two cents.
2012 will be an interesting year for our family. During this year, our oldest boys will become teenagers! Those who know me will tell you I don’t act old enough to be the father of teenagers (notice I said act because I fear I am beginning to look it)!
The teen years seem to be the time that children test many ideas, especially their parent’s ideas. I’ve read alot lately about teens, especially girls, focusing on food, eating and fitness. Some are motivated by how they look, some by athletic goals, some focus more on food than fitness and many just need to focus on something!
One thing is clear. Teens need well-balanced diets and fitness regimines in order to try to give some foundation to their changing bodies and lives. We encourage our boys to try a variety of foods, and to not be afraid of hard work and to participate in a sport they enjoy. It has been alot of fun watching their tastes mature and seeing them eat things now that a few short years ago were “too spicy”, “too hot” or just plain “yucky”!
Football is the favorite sport at our house, for both the boys who play and Mom and Dad who spectate. We established the fact that protein is the basic building block of muscle a number of years ago. Even little boys want big muscles (just ask our two year old who is more than willing to show his off in some flexing moves his big brothers taught him)! Beef, of course, is an excellent source, and provides needed iron, zinc and b vitamins that our growing athletes need.
Hard to believe the BCS championship is over, and that the Super Bowl is drawing closer! Stay posted for some great beef recipes that will make watching the game with teenagers or anyone else a lot of fun!
Wow! Since our last vist, the weather sure has driven me inside to do my visiting! This is the type of day where a good cup of hot coffee and a warm fire brings comfort.
I love Thanksgiving time for so many reasons. Of course big meals are a factor for me, but time together with family just relaxing, visiting and enjoying each other’s company is even more important.
Several blogs ago, Kaity posted ideas about family meal times. I hope you looked at that. Our busy family gets to sit down together more often than you might think. We just make it happen. Of course, I’m blessed with a wife who can put a great meal together in a hurry which allows us to grab a bite together even if we only have 15 minutes before loading the car to head off to practice or 4-H.
Meal time is a great time to teach kids about nutrition. We talk with our boys about protein, energy and vitamins because they can easily relate to what their bodies are craving as they grow and play. It’s not very hard to bring the topic up as we sometimes have to remind the little ones to “eat your meat if you want your muscles to be big for football” or “drink your milk if you want to have strong bones and teeth!” They’ll often ask “Do I have to?” and that’s when, uknown to them, the educational door gets flung wide open. Our older boys will sometimes grab the bull by the horns and do the teaching and encouraging for us!
Now then, after Thanksgiving, all I’m usually thinking about is how the great feast caused my belly to grow! A little nap and a backyard game of football with the boys usually helps burn enough calories for me to be ready to help clean up the pumpkin or pecan pie that evening!
Here’s to all the things we have to be thankful for this year: warm homes, big dinners, pumpkin pie and especially our families! I’m looking forward to visiting with you again next time!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Hello everyone! Some of you may remember my past chats – Front Porch and Fire Side. After a longer sabatical than I had planned, here I am again. I really enjoy blogging, and reading other’s blogs. If you are reading this, I figure you like reading blogs also.
I titled today’s entry, Front Porch Chat because it has been a beautiful day at my house, temperature-wise. While overcast, a glass of tea on the porch isn’t out of the question. However, we are certainly entering that time of year when the Fire Side may be more appropriate. I’ll make the call, but rest assured the chat will still be focused on whatever is on my mind!
Some of you may still be wondering who in the world this guy is, and why I’m writing on the MOBeef Update. I’m a State Beef Council employee, farmer, and most importantly a dad and husband. Nearly every day, all four areas of my life are fully engaged, so you are bound to hear alot about all of them.
You can summarize my world in one word: busy. Tonight, as I write, my wife is fixing real supper for her and the younger boys, and sandwhiches for me and the older boys so I can take them and a couple of their buddies to football practice. I’ll be good dad tonight, because they don’t know I’ve already packed beef snack sticks in the truck for them to eat on the way home!
We’ve got to leave soon, so I’ll sign off. I hope you are going to get some beef protein in your diet this evening as well!
We had a great time and great weather last Thursday at the Jeff and Chanda Case farm! The Case family fed us barbque brisket with all the trimmings! Guests learned about the life of a young family with an average Missouri beef herd (thirty cows). Jeff works off the farm, as many Missouri farmers do. Chanda cares for their two young children and works from home to bring in additional income. Jeff explained that managing his time between the farm and his off-farm employment can be challenging. Early mornings and late nights are the rule as the family works to build and improve their farm.
Guests were treated to pictures of the family and the farm as Jeff spoke about their family farming heritage.
He really emphasized their desire to provide their children with a rural upbringing, while improving the land they own. Most of the land improvements include methods to minimize soil erosion and improve forage production which also helps hold the soil, and serves as the primary feed for their cows and calves.
We had a great crowd at our first Lunch and Learn program this year. Our hosts, the Henderson Ranch, near Warsaw, provided grilled beef burgers for the more than 120 guests who came to visit. Leslie Grace (Henderson) greeted the crowd and introduced the entire family and all the ranch hands. Leslie shared the heritage of the ranch which now spans five generations. Focused on superior animal health and well-being along with grass and water management, the family is able to care for over 12,000 animals a year on the several thousand acre spread. They focus on bringing in young cattle and making sure they are healthy, are able to eat from feed bunks, and ready to move on to other pastures or feedlots. Additionally, the Hendersons have their own lab for detecting BVD, a disease that inflicts cattle. By detecting and treating only infected animals, they are able to minimize the use of antibiotics and improve overall herd health. Their lab is available to other beef producers as well!
MBIC provided detailed information about local cattle numbers, the Missouri beef industry in general, and tools available for siting livestock farms in Missouri.
Did I mention that the ranch headquarters is directly across the road from the local elementary school? The school principal joined us for lunch and declared that they were going to start bringing students over to see the lab and cattle and learn more about environmental protection. Those children are going to get a real treat as Leslie and the rest of the Henderson family teach them about the beef business!
Happy Earth Day! The sun is shining and the grass is growing on my place. I mowed the yard last Wednesday and it definately needs to be mowed again!
I mentioned the oats we planted on our farm. Here is what young oat plants look like:
They are about 2-3 inches tall right now, but by next week, they’ll be a lot taller! Oats are part of the grass family of plants. Of course, grass is critical for beef production as feed for cattle; however, grass is also important for sustaining America’s environment! Did you know that grass helps prevent run-off of rain, helps control flooding and keeps soil in place? Grass produces oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide. It also provides habitat and food for wildlife!
Grass is a wonderful plant and serves as the foundation for our beef industry in Missouri and around the world. As I look across my fields and pastures, I get goose bumps thinking about how something as simple as grass can do so many wonderful things!
Tomorrow is Earth Day. As I went out to feed the cattle and hogs this morning, I couldn’t help but enjoy the freshness of the morning. The ground is still moist from the weekend rain, and the birds are singing. Spring is definitely in the air.
I planted oats two weeks ago. The oats will be for my cattle to graze later this spring. It’s amazing watching them sprout and grow. Oats can be used for grain or forage and simply make great feed either way. I’ll keep you posted on their progress.
You can bet that my cows and young calves will enjoy grazing the oats later on. I plan to plant some red clover yet in the next few days. The oats, red clover and other grasses we grow on our farm provide great nutrition for our cows and growing calves. When combined with high quality grain, our cattle are receiving a balanced diet that will yield high quality beef.
I hope you get the chance to enjoy watching young plants and animals grow this spring. As a beef producer, it’s one of the things I enjoy the most!
How does life get so busy? I’ve had good intentions to share thoughts and experiences with you the past few months, but time seems to go by quickly and the next thing you know, you’re on to the next project. I’m getting back into the groove and plan to visit more often.
After taking care of a number of things here at MBIC, I took advantage of the relatively dry afternoon to plant oats and fescue seed in a couple of pastures for a neighbor and me. Oats make a nice spring pasture or hay crop that can be planted this time of year. Fescue is the most common grass in Missouri and cattle love to eat it in the spring and fall. The neighbor and I each had a field that needed to be renovated, much like a yard that has had everything but the type of grass you want come up in it.
Many other farmers and ranchers are working on similar projects inbetween spring rains. I’ll keep you posted on our progress!
David Dick, who owns a cow/calf operation and custom hay harvesting business in the Sedalia area, was named to the Beef Promotion and Operating Committee (BPOC) during the 2009 annual Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, held last week in Phoenix, Ariz.
Dick, a director of the Missouri Beef Industry Council and the Federation of State Beef Councils, is one of 10 industry leaders who will represent the state perspective on the BPOC.
The BPOC decides the final annual budget and program priorities for national beef checkoff initiatives. The committee is comprised of 10 members from the Federation and 10 members from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB). The BPOC unites checkoff dollars and decision-making responsibilities from the states’ 50-cent portion of the checkoff, through the Federation, and the national 50 cents, represented by CBB representatives on the BPOC.
Dick is a member and former president of the Pettis County Cattlemen’s Association and a former secretary/treasurer and seedstock council chairman for the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.
On the national level, Dick is a former Region III Vice President and is currently chair of the checkoff’s Public Opinion-Issues Management Group. He formerly chaired the checkoff nutrition and health committee and was a member of the producer communications committee from 1997 – 2003.
Within his community, Dick is chairman of the Pettis County Soil & Water Conservation District, president of the State Fair FFA Alumni Association and general livestock superintendent and beef cattle superintendent for the Missouri State Fair.
Yesterday our nation witnessed a transition that will impact the future of our nation and the world, with the inauguration of President Obama.
I attended and presented at a conference last week hosted by the AgriLegacy League. As the name suggests, the focus was on transitioning America’s agricultural resources from one generation to the next, hence the term legacy.
All this made me think about the future, something I like to do anyway. I asked myself questions like “What will the next generation of beef producers be faced with in terms of challenges and opportunities?” “What kind of education will they need?” “How can they educate others about what they do and why they do it that way?”
I know I’m not the first to ask those questions. Many folks wonder what it takes to produce good food and what will be required, in the future, to feed our ever growing world population as our natural resources, ie land and water, for producing food are being diverted to other human uses.
A great resource is the website www.beeffrompasturetoplate.org/
Beef from Pasture to Plate does a good job explaining what beef producers do everyday to put great tasting food on our dinner tables. I rest assured that as in the past, the people will change and the methods by which food is produced will change, but the results will continue to be great and we’ll still be able to declare: Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner!
I got home a little later than normal last night, trying to get some extra things done at the office. On the way, I stopped by the grocery store and picked up some oriental beef in a can, complete with vegetables, a bag of rice and a bottle of soy sauce. Robyn and the boys weren’t going to be home until 8pm, after Wednesday church school let out, and I knew they’d be hungry. I still had cows and sows to feed after I arrived, so, with dinner making up to me, it was going to have to be voluminous, but relatively quick to prepare. Basically I cooked the rice and heated the beef, vegetables and sauce, and ta-da, in about twenty minutes, supper was served!
I was thrilled as the boys rolled in the door, asking what I had made because it smelled so good! They continued the thrill as they loaded their plates and began shoveling with their chop sticks (they love to use chopsticks and have amazed me at their ability to maneuver and actually get food to their mouths with them – I still prefer a fork for home-made oriental food!) As usual, however, they began to compare their plates and it wasn’t long until Donell noted that he didn’t get as many chunks of beef as his brothers had. Trying to be a good host, I graciously gave him a couple from my plate. “I wish it had more beef in it”, he noted, “otherwise it’s really good!” I agreed that the company that made the canned product would do itself a favor by adding more. My wife offered that maybe next time we could prepare some sliced steak to add to it in order to beef it up more. Donell looked up grinning and said, “…or, we could just have steak!” I love that boy!
Healthful kids meals are reported to be one of the hottest trends for restaurants in 2009. Many fast-food places offer fruit in place of traditional side-items or milk instead of soda. Chefs indicate that more fruit and vegetable options as well as smaller servings will be among the top-twenty menu items for this year.
Another thing that helps kids enjoy good food is to have family meal-times together. We try hard to have dinner together every night. It’s a great time to find out what’s going on at school, share stories and educate children about family history and philosophy.
The beef industry recognizes that family meal-time whether eaten at home or in a restaurant is great for both the parents and the kids. In fact we put together a special website, www.family-mealtimes.org, that is devoted to helping families pull together for dinner. You’ll find fun recipes, ideas for getting conversations started and even great ideas for improving our environment.
The Kleiboeker boys will be eating steak for dinner at least once this next weekend. Donell plans to see to that!
Hope you have your stove or furnace on high these days. I just peeked at the Saturday night into Sunday forecast and all you can say is “burrr!”. The extended forecast for the end of the year looks more mild – 40’s and 50’s – I can live with those temps!
I picked up my copy of a popular general farm magazine last week and was interested in the editorial section when I recognized the picture of a friend of mine, and popular crop producer, Kip Cullers. He had been featured on the cover of a previous edition of the magazine due to his record setting soybean production and special take on production management. I was appalled when I read the comments submitted by a producer in another state who used derogatory language about Kip’s choice of clothing – bib overalls. I thought Kip handled it well when he stated, “I manage a multi-million dollar business, and I where overalls because they are comfortable.” Here’s a little secret – when I’m operating my farm, I often where bibs as well – for the same reason Kip expressed.
In this age of diversity, it seems some of us are more conforming than others. While image is important for many reasons, it’s neat to see that folks can be successful without necessarily “dressing for success” as the rest of the world would dictate. Rather than poking at our peers in agriculture we should build each other up and congratulate those who have worked hard to accomplish those things that once seemed impossible.
Speaking of diversity and building one another up, occasionally I hear beef producers poking fun at one another’s products. The truth is that irregardless of wether you produce conventional, all-natural, organic, breed specific, brand specific or some other label of beef, it all has its place in today’s beef market and fill’s the need of a customer out there somewhere. This is a great time to be evaluating what market you want to produce for in the future as we watch world-wide demand for protein continue to grow, irregardless of what you produce and how you dress while you do!
I attended the ALOT (Agricultural Leadership of Tomorrow) annual meeting last week where we were addressed by Dr. Bohuslava Bouckova, a professor of agriculture economics from the Czech Republic. I found her descriptions of their agriculture, ag policy, and her personal stories fascinating. Dr. Bouckova spoke of changes that took place in her country during and after important historical times such as the World Wars, the fall of the Soviet Union and current European Union membership. What struck me was that farm families’ land and assetts were re-distributed to others, then given back, then re-distributed again, and are now in the process of being given back again. I can’t imagine the difficulty of determining asset value if improvements or changes were made, who the heirs are if the original owner has passed on, etc. The impact all this has had on those families is unmeasurable.
We’re truly blessed to live in a country that has allowed generations of farm families to build a heritage in the production of food, fiber and fuel for themselves and others. I believe that families who have successfully continued in this noble task have accomplished it by holding tightly to their faith and dedication to the stewardship of the assets they’ve been given. Gathering together to teach, support and empower each other is the bedrock of great families. I’m proud that our industry recognizes that and is working to support all families in that endeavor. I hope you’re looking as forward to family gatherings around the holidays as much as I am.
A couple of days of frosty mornings and we’re back to my favorite kind of weather! Are you ready for winter? I’m trying to get our cattle watering situation winterized. Currently we’re on what I call the “Good ole’ standby plan”… run water with a hose into a stock tank that you either break ice on twice a day, or stick a tank heater in it hoping calves don’t chew on the cord, then you must drain the hose (we double or triple drain to get that last drop that always freezes ten times its liquid state) so you can use it again the next day. We’re trying to modernize by putting in “frost proof” waterers so our cattle can enjoy ground temperature refreshment year round, and the humans can enjoy a little less labor. That will leave me more time to plan for winter grilling. Yes, winter grilling! Mom had a Jen-Air that she could grill on during inclement weather when I was a kid. My college roommates and I didn’t have that luxury in our apartment, so we used our miniature Weber on the back patio. It was kind of fun to put on the coveralls, gloves and stocking cap, manning the grill with the wind blowing snow at 25 degrees. While I’m less inclined to try to be weather tough at the grill than I was a few years ago, I still love to grill in the winter. I’ve always been amazed by the number of relatively warm days we get during Missouri winters. Those are great days to fire up the charcoal and enjoy what is normally thought of as a summer past-time. Can’t you smell the KC strips or Flat Irons right now as they simmer on the grate in the crisp, cool air? If you’re not convinced about outdoor winter grilling, there’s nothing wrong with grilling indoors on today’s fixed and portable indoor grills. In summary … don’t give up on your favorite beef cuts cooked the way you like them just because the weather is changing … you’ll have fun and satisfy a craving at the same time!
We didn’t get the frost last night that they had originally called for, but it’s clear today and they think we’re going to get the first hard one tonight. I brought some wood up to the porch last week to be ready. Speaking of being ready, you never know who is going to attack next.
Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine, a free publication for patients, published an article in their recent edition titled “The Perils of Eating Red Meat”. The author, Christine Horner MD, a self described vegetarian, tells readers that creatine, an essential amino acid in muscle, becomes a carcinogen when cooked. She says saturated fat found in meat is poisonous and carcinogenic. Horner tells readers that US red meat is full of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and growth stimulators and that eating conventionally raised beef and dairy products is the principal way excessive hormones get into your body. Could she be any more misinformed? To top it off, the last danger of eating red meat she titles: Death by Grilling! She knocks America’s favorite culinary past-time condemning it as high temperature cooking that increases cancer risk by hundreds of percent. Beef isn’t alone, subtitutes for beef, chicken, turkey and processed meat products were suggested.
Thank you to a concerned nurse who grew up on a Missouri beef cattle farm for making us aware of the challenge. A letter to the editor is being drafted to counter the mis-information in the article. Information about the importance of zinc, iron and protien as well as our 29 lean cuts will be shared. We have to continue to educate consumers, otherwise folks with anti-meat agendas will try to fill the void with whatever information they can. This author even used “facts” from a study in Uruguay. Really!? Uruguay!? Next time you’re at the doctor’s office, pick up a magazine and give it a glance. Hopefully you’ll see positive messsages, not negative, but either way we’re eager to learn what you’ve learned!
Sounds like our weather is going to change this week and we may have to switch to the “Fireside Chat” before too long. We’ve been busy here at MBIC preparing for our new fiscal year which actually began October 1. Do you know how many cows Missouri has? That is the toughest question of the day. Many economists believe our state lost 60-70,000 beef cows this past year due to a number of things like ice storms, drought, reduced fertilizer usage that resulted in lower carrying capacity, conversion of pasture to cropland, etc. Livestock market professionals tell us we may have fewer cows in production than we think given the number they’ve seen pass through their operations the past 12-18 months. The weak dollar has reduced the volume of imported beef and is aiding in the growth of exported beef, the kind of trade balance many folks like to see. On the other hand, much of the beef we import is very lean – perfect for mixing with our higher marbled product to make the lean ground beef American’s love. Since we have less imported lean beef, the prices for cull cows and bulls have gone up to fill the void. Many producers are taking advantage of the opportunity to cull at higher values. How does all this relate to the checkoff? Missouri is predominantly a feeder calf producing state with over 85% of our cattle operations being cow-calf. Our checkoff revenue comes from the sales of cattle and with fewer cows, fewer calves are produced to be sold and thereby fewer dollars will likely be available for beef research, promotion and education efforts. We’ll have to see what becomes. Right now, costs of production such as feed and fuel are beginning to go down somewhat. The elections are likely to impact decision making, coupled with other current events in the economy. The MBIC Board of Directors is determined to leverage producers’ checkoff dollars to the fullest in an effort to increase Missouri consumers’ demand for beef. I’ll keep you posted as we move forward!
Just came back this weekend from the Ozarks Fall Farm Fest in Springfield. The crowds were huge and we had a lot of visitors coming by our booth to learn more about checkoff activities and to pick up new beef recipe ideas. It’s always great to see alot of folks that we don’t get to visit with regularly! MBIC teamed up with Missouri Cattlemen’s Association to put together insulated pharmaceutical bags that producers can use to store pharmaceuticals while processing cattle or simply to transport them from place to place, keeping them cool while you do so. The added value is that the bags have important Beef Quality Assurance practices listed and demonstrated on one side of the bag to serve as a reminder of how to manage our cattle handling and vaccinating to maintain optimum product quality for consumers. The bags are being given directly to producers at farm shows and we intend to distribute them to veterinarians and other points of purchase. Let us know if your veterinarian or farm supply store could use some and we’ll send them until we run out! With folks tightening up on family expenditures, we want to be sure we present them the best beef product possible so they’ll continue to enjoy the Power of Protein in the Land of Lean Beef! Beef Quality Assurance can help us get that done!
It’s been forever since I’ve had a chance to sit down and share some thoughts with you. We’re all busy, and that’s a poor excuse, but it’s the down right truth! Hope all has been going well in your part of Missouri. Grass is growing, soil moisture is great, and now the timing of the first frost is the biggest weather item (save another hurricane rolling in).
We’ve been busy here at MBIC. I’m thrilled with the response to our call for a second round of Speaking of Beef training. We trained eight more speakers between our sessions at Mt. Vernon and Columbia. The empowering part is that we partnered with Midwest Dairy Association to do the training, allowing both of us to leverage resources and strengthen the bovine message. It was a natural partnership. We have similar goals and challenges. Our Speaking of Beef volunteers and dairy’s SpeakOut! volunteers received issues updates, discussed how to handle questions, and then gave a practice speech in front of the camera. The big job now is to help them get speaking engagments lined up and we intend to really get the ball rolling. It’s an exciting time as more folks come to us asking if they can get involved.
The Tour of MO was a great promotion for us as we traveled with the Tour’s Health Expo across the state. We partnered with Saris Cycles. Their latest stationary bike model can measure power output in terms of watts. Folks visiting the Health Expo hopped on the bike to measure their power output.
It gave us a chance to talk about the “Power of Protein in the Land of Lean Beef.” We gave a 90% lean beef snack stick to everyone that got on a bike. Hourly winners received a dry fit t-shirt, daily winners won a KC Steak package, grill set and a Healthy Beef Cookbook, and the overall winner received a bigger KC Steak package. Folks enjoyed the engaging bikes and loved the power analogy!
I just stepped out of the International marketing committee meeting and I have to say that if there is any area in agriculture that looks positive, it has to be overseas demand for protein. While demand for protein continues to grow, we are noticing a decline in the world wide cow herd, meaning supply of beef is getting smaller. in the United States, our cow herd is decreasing due to a number of factors including the weak dollar and lack of imported lean trim to blend with our domestic trim. As a result, we should be seeing higher cattle values in the near future and on into the 2010’s. Growing income and desire for higher quality protien provides us with our best marketing opportunity in addition to maintaining our domestic demand.
As with any meeting, there is a lot of listening and discussing to be had. I really enjoyed the Federation Forum yesterday morning. Beef producers representing the state beef councils across the nation gathered along with state staff to talk about research, promotion and education efforts within our states. John Houston shared a history of how the checkoff orginated, noting that the original beef checkoff started in 1922 with a collection of 5 cents per carload and a refund provision. Why did producer leaders implement the checkoff idea in those days? To fight the same battles we face today: Providing scientific research based diet, health and nutrition information to the American public. He noted that consumers in the early 1920’s were being told red meat consumption led to rheumatism! Later I’ll elaborate further from the notes I took, but it’s good for us all to know our past, especially so we don’t repeat the mistakes.
We also learned more about the “food and health” involved target audience we are focusing our efforts on today. The biggest take away for me is that these people are thought leaders and influencers in their communities. That is important to note, given that people tend to trust the opinions of friends and family more so than what they gather from media and alot of other communications these day.
Missouri Beef Industry Council staff members enjoyed learning more about crisis preparedness, marketing the beef brand and having the opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with our peers in other states as well.
Today, committee work is ongoing. Missouri is represented on the Beef Safety committee, Public Relations committee, advertising committee, international marketing committee and we have staff monitors floating between the foodservice, retail, youth education, issues managment and producer communications committees. There will be alot of discussion in those meetings as producers are updated on topics of interest to those specific areas and then make funding recommendations for projects that will then go on to the operating committee to be fit into the national budget.
Speaking of the budget, national checkoff revenue is projected to be down $6 million next year, primarily due to losses in cow numbers due to everything from weather to increasing operating costs to higher valued cull cows. How to most effectively tighten our belt while maintaining effective research, promotion and education efforts is the challenge of the day!
The beef-dairy symposium yesterday was full of great information that we should all be taking into consideration. We started with an update from the Nutrient Rich Foods coalition, of which beef and dairy have beef leaders since inception. The goal is to help consumers identify which foods are naturally full of great nutrients and to what degree. More work has been done to try to help consumers put together meal plans and make informed decisions when grocery shopping, buying a meal at a restaurant, etc. I’m thrilled to see beef and dairy producers working together to help consumers be sure they enough protien into their diets.
The second part of the session looked at animal welfare and we were updated on existing animal welfare education and best practices along with what anti-animal agriculture groups have been doing to counter progress. Now is certainly the time for all cattle producers, beef and dairy, to be stepping up their level of quality assurance. It makes sense on multiple levels.
Today we will learn who has received scholarships, and then Federation of State Beef Council directors will meet to learn about checkoff history, discuss a potential name change for the Federation and consider who our target consumer really is. Stay posted for further updates as the meetings unfold!
We’re here in Denver at the NCBA summer meeting. I sat in on the Executive Committee meeting this morning learning what national leadership is thinking. While check off revenue is down, producers are dilligently trying to prioritize spending that will continue to yield effective beef demand improvement. I continue to be impressed with the opportunities in foreign countries including Russia, Egypt, Korea and Japan. I’m heading to a four hour symposium focusing on dairy and beef in relation to animal welfare. I’ll fill you in later.
We held our fourth beef specific Lunch and Learn program at Pinegar Limousin (Pinegar Land and Cattle), Springfield, MO last Friday. Ed Pinegar, owner, and Ty and Susie Heavin, farm managers, were excellent hosts! The program was held in their sale barn, decorated with flags and other red, white and blue decorations pointing toward the 4th of July! Guests were treated to Ed’s thoughts about the industry, and specifically his experience in the purebred business. I really enjoyed his insight and the way he expressed himself in analogies. Here’s a great example: Ed visited about why they raise Limousin cattle, noting that Limousin cattle tend to excel in muscle volume, cutability and leanness. He noted that other breeds have unique characteristics that they excel in that often complement Limousin cattle and vice versa. That led to a discussion about LimFlex cattle, which he said they are working on as well, noting the hybrid vigor that is gained. According to Ed, “The value of LimFlex is that they are like owning a one-ton dually pickup that gets forty miles to the gallon!” Now that’s a powerful combination this day and age!
I’m glad we have such good producers here in Missouri like Ed Pinegar, Dave Gust, Chris Derks and Steve Willard who are willing to open up their farms and ranches to let non-agricultural folks come and learn. I truly believe that those of us in agriculture learn just as much as those we hope to teach!
Kids say the most amazing things.
Jackson, my six year old, had a friend spend the night last Friday. I didn’t know the boy very well, so at breakfast the next morning, I asked him several questions including “what does your Dad do for work?” The young man replied “I’m not really sure, but I think he does construction. I think maybe he makes sidewalks and stuff like that.” Good answer, but you could sense a slight lack of confidence in his oration. That made me think – I wonder if Jackson really knows what I do for a living? So I asked Jackson if he could tell his friend what my job is. His buddy had been out doing chores with us Friday night so he piped up “You’re a farmer!” Proudly I said “Yes! Jackson can you tell him about my other job?” With out hesitation, Jackson said “My dad tells everyone why it’s important to eat beef and not chicken!” I thought that was pretty good, but it got even better. Both of the boys share a favorite college football team. See if you can tell which one in Jackson’s follow up statement. “You know that’s why the Missouri Tigers are so good at football! Our Missouri Tigers eat steak, but those poor Jayhawks only get to eat chicken!” I was impressed with his rational.
Sunday evening at the supper table the boys were talking about everything from what they’d learned at summer school to what they wanted to be when they grow up. All of a sudden, Donell, the elder of our eight year old twins, declared that he was already a “Beefatarian”! I said, “What in the world is that?” He replied, “A beefatarian likes to eat beef! If vegetarians like to eat vegetables, then I have to be a beefatarian because I sure do love to eat beef!”
I never cease to be amazed!
I don’t know about you, but with spring comes even busier times. The boys are playing baseball, working with 4-H projects and show animals, going to football camp and swimming lessons and generally keeping mom and dad on the run. It’s all we could do to find a little time for a vacation in between the other things going on. One thing is for sure – the boys are learning alot this summer about a myriad of topics. It’s fun to hear them talk about what their coaches have them doing, or watching as they mature in the show ring, handling their animals with more confidence than they did even a year ago.
Education was placed high on the priority list by our board as we look at what needs to be done in FY2009. We aim to educate all consumers about the nutritional value of beef, how to cook it and how to maintain food safety at all stages of meal prep through consumption. However, we know that young minds are absorbing all kinds of thoughts and knowledge and they are literally hungry for it.
Last week, Matt Kahrs, our summer intern, and I had the chance to visit with over 40 young people from Monett, MO ranging in age from 6-10 years. They listened closely as we described the four musts of safe food handling: washing your hands, seperating different foods during preparation, cooking to the correct temperatures and finally refrigerating left overs. They were intrigued as we talked about the importance of zinc, iron and protein in the diet. As you’d expect we had questions that ranged all the way from “Do bulls hate each other making them fight all the time?” to “Why do we call it a hamburger when it’s made out of beef?” Good questions! That’s how they learn!
Matt visited the Vienna 4-H club Friday night sharing a the same message and told me he met with similar questions. We have great resources for teachers of young children located at our website www.mobeef.com. Simply advise teachers to look at “Health Professionals and Educators” and they’ll find a number of great beef teaching tools including a variety of free, downloadable teaching aids.
Later this week, we’ll be in Sedalia for the annual Missouri Jr. Cattlemen’s steer and heifer show. We’ll be working with young cattle producers encouraging them to continue their pride in being a part of the industry and helping them learn how to be better teachers and ambassadors for Missouri’s beef industry.
Education is critical at all stages of life as so many things continue to change. I have to admit that tecnology sometimes boggles my mind, but I know I have to keep on learning about it or the rest of the world will pass me by. You may have discovered the same thing. I wish I could have learned how to use the computer and speak a foreign language when I was 7 or 8 as opposed to learning it in adulthood, but that’s just the way it worked for me. MBIC will continue educating young people and adults alike about good nutrition and food safety – afterall, we all need to eat, and we need to eat well and safely!