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Lesson to be learned for US Beef Industry

Posted on February 24, 2011 19:24 by Jesse Bussard


We’ve all heard of the “turn the other cheek” philosophy, but there comes a time when this method isn’t always the best course of action.  I believe a lesson for the beef industry can be learned from the current situation in the United Kingdom.  Recently reports leaked to the press that UK government advisors were to release a report stating that eating less red meat and processed meat lowers the risk of developing cancer.  This report suggests that consumption of red meat has been linked to higher risks of tumors and cancer in research studies.  The part they forgot to mention is that most of these studies have proved inconclusive in their findings and cannot justifiably say that there is a true correlation between consuming red meat and increased risk of cancer.  Nutritionists from the British Nutrition Foundation have responded to this government report stating that “moderate red meat consumption has positive benefits” and “consumption of moderate amounts of meat makes a significant positive contribution to both micronutrient and macronutrient intakes, without risking any negative health effects.”

Beef and Lamb New Zealand, a large supplier of lamb to the UK, released a statement saying that they will take a relaxed approach to the UK government claims.  Because their market for the UK is mainly a lamb market, which is one of the most expensive of mainstream red meats in the UK, it is considered more of a special occasion product.  They feel that this sets lamb apart from beef making it less likely to be affected by the government report’s claims.

The UK’s leading beef producer organization, the National Beef Association released a response:

The National Beef Association urges the Coalition Government not to rush to judgment on the place of red meat in the diet if it is presented with yet another, hesitant and confused report, linking meat with a cancer.

Its plea comes after yesterday’s media leaks claiming that government was poised to warn the British people that a more cautious approach to the weight of both fresh red meat, and processed meat, in their diet must be taken – otherwise they faced an increased risk of bowel cancer.

“The red meat industry, which embraces farmers, processors, and retailers, will despair if it becomes the target of yet another in a long line of alarmist reports – which later undergo deep reconsideration, and substantial modification, after initial conclusions of been found to be too simplistic,” explained the NBA’s director, Kim Haywood.

The Association fears that another, unnecessary, embarrassment to both government, and the specialists on its Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, is inevitable unless the expected public statement on cancer and red meat consumption properly acknowledges the complexity of the subject and the contradictory nature of the evidence.

To read more, click here.

Situations such as this only emphasize the ongoing need for beef producers, processors, and retailers to share the facts about beef with both the consumer and government officials.  If we do not do our part to tell our story, someone else will do it for us and we may not like what we hear.  So the next time you hear false claims about beef do your part to speak up!

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New life, same great love for ranching

Posted on February 24, 2011 07:03 by Lauren Chase


As I've described in an earlier post, my job for the Montana Stockgrowers Association is to visit our member ranches and take photos/videos to promote the cattle industry. My first...and second stop (loved it so much that I had to go back the next day)...was at Ehlke Herefords in Townsend, MT. Day One, which is posted below, I talked about how lively calves are and how ranching families care about the animals, their families, and the safety of the end product. Day Two, I spent with the Ehlke's hired help, Ryan Hamilton, who took me around in the tractor to feed. Boy, when those cows see that big, round bale coming, it's a race to see who can start chomping first. Ryan talked about how he likes doing things on the ranch "the cowboy way." He would much rather be on horseback or on foot while in the herd as to keep the cows' stress down. When he started talking about his job, I could really tell this is something he is passionate about. Keeping the cattle safe and calm is his number one priority - and he loves it. Ryan also said that he hopes to have his own ranch someday.

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All I can say is moo

Posted on February 22, 2011 05:52 by Lauren Chase

I’ve seen photos and I’ve seen them from a distance, but being up close to a newborn calf is unreal.

My first ranch stop this season for the Montana Stockgrowers Association was at  Ehlke Herefords  in Townsend. Their breeding philosophy is to “focus on the female. It takes an exceptional cow to produce replacement quality breeding animals.”

The ranch is operated by owners Mark and Della Ehlke, with daughters Lacey Jo and Jane’a and a hire employee, Ryan.

As I pulled in the snow-covered driveway, I saw the red and white cows grazing on hay with navy blue mountains behind them. They looked at me for a bit, but realized I wasn’t overly interesting and went back to eating.

Mark, Jane’a, Ryan and I went out to give the new cow/calf pairs some hay.

I had seen cow/calf pairs during the summer, but nothing like this.

The lil ones were only a handful of hours old and nestled comfortably in a pile of warm hay. Naturally, Mom was right by their side.

Immediately, I smiled and didn’t stop smiling until I left.

The day-month old ones leaped over small hills to get to tasty udders and called out with moos when they couldn’t find any.

I don’t think I could have been any happier. And what made it even more special was that Mark, Ryan and Jane’a smiled, laughed, and obviously, loved their work. I think that’s what ranching is all about…just doing what you love.

I’ve said it time and time again, and will keep saying it: In ranching, there’s a feeling of tangible, genuine passion for not only raising animals, but providing care for them…providing care for the family unit, and providing care for consumers’ quality of meat.  That’s exactly what I saw at the Ehlke’s ranch.

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Why are you obsessed with beef?

Posted on February 18, 2011 08:13 by Lauren Chase

I keep getting asked: Why are you obsessed with beef? It’s time to tell my story of how I came from knowing nothing about agriculture to being a passionate advocate.

The world’s most productive land for corn is where I call home: Iowa, and I am the product of a long line of farmers of that land. However, my grandpa, the last relative I had working the fields, sold his farm when I was little.

I can remember thinking it was a blast to go to Grandpa’s place and jump around in the hay barn, but as I grew older, in the state’s second largest city, those memories faded; along with any excitement for farming.

In high school, I played basketball and our team was fortunate enough to go to state championship games. In our division, there was a high school that sat just outside of city limits. Naturally, when they made it to the championships also, our fans intimated them by dressing up as farmers and waiving around cutout cardboard ears of corn.

And off I went to college at the University of Iowa.

I had always been interested in natural science, cultures, and meeting new people so I chose to double major in journalism and anthropology.  I dappled in local news, but something always felt missing; maybe a broader view or lack of travel during work.

The summer of 2010 changed everything.

Combing anthropology and journalism, I took an internship at the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) in Helena, Montana as the multimedia communications intern.

Before I went there, I couldn’t even picture what a ranch was, but I thought it would be a great way to learn about that portion of America.

During my internship, I traveled all over the most beautiful country I had ever seen and interviewed ranchers on camera. Every few weeks, I made videos with these interviews for MSGA's social media websites.

Stockgrower members welcomed me into their homes and patiently taught me about day-to-day operations. But I learned so much more than that.

I learned that ranching is a powerful connection with nature; it is tangible feeling of warmth and comfort for family and neighbors; it is having the knowledge of chemistry, economics, biology, political science, and so much more; it stems from the greatest work ethic I have ever been around, an overwhelming care for their animals and without these ranchers, the world would not eat.

The summer ended too quickly and I returned to college. I graduated in December and in February, returned to MSGA as a full-time employee. 

I am now the multimedia specialist and will once again, travel to our member ranches, documenting their lives to help promote the beef industry. 

I think it's time the world realizes how much cattlemen and cattlewomen care about their animals, love what they do, and work tirelessly to provide safe, healthy food for everyone. 

**Look for future blog posts about my experiences on Montana ranches.**
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There's a new sheriff in town...

Posted on February 15, 2011 20:52 by Lauren Chase

You’ll be seeing some new faces in the management of the YPC Cattle Call. Cari Rincker is proud to hand over the reins to new head editor, Lauren Chase, and co-editors Jesse Bussard, Danielle Schubert, and Meghan Wooldridge. We thank Cari for all her work in helping to start the YPC Cattle Call and nurturing it over the past few years. Our goal as the new editorial staff for the Cattle Call is to tell the story of our members, the young producers, which are the future of the cattle industry. Jesse Bussard will also be taking over as the new YPC Public Relations Task Force Chair.

Lauren is the Multimedia Specialist for the Montana Stockgrowers Association and resides in Helena, MT. Her job is traveling to member ranches to take photos and conduct video interviews for use on MSGA’s social media sites. She will also be producing a series of photo books featuring Montanan ranchers. Lauren graduated from the University of Iowa with two majors: Journalism and Mass Communication and Anthropology. To stay up on the latest beef news news, check out her list of "agvocates" on Twitter and also, follow her multimedia work on MSGA's Facebook page

Jesse Bussard is pursuing her M.S. and Ph.D. in Plant and Soil Science, focusing on forages and livestock grazing systems, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. She is also an Animal Science graduate of Penn State University and a native of Pennsylvania. You can find out more about Jesse on her blog, Pearl Snaps’ Ponderings

Danielle Schubert is a junior at South Dakota State University where she is working toward a degree in both Animal Science and Ag Business.  She grew up on a commercial cow/calf operation in central Minnesota and is passionate about being an advocate for agriculture.

Meghan Wooldridge graduated from Colorado State with a degree in Animal Science. She currently works for AgInfoLink in Verified Services.

We are currently looking for new submissions from Young Producer Council members on topics that are in keeping with your daily lives in the cattle industry. Photos, videos, opinion articles - you name it, we want it! This is a great way to tell your story to the world and having the young producers, the future of the industry, talk about it from their perspective is the goal. We will be changing the blog from its current platform to Wordpress soon which will make for easier submissions. We will let you know when that change occurs. As for now, tell us your story! Thank you for your continued dedication to the beef industry. If you know of anyone else who might be interested in this blog, please pass the word along.

Please email one of us to let us know if you are interested in submitting content to the blog. Even if you can only submit one photo or article per month, that would still be great! Our contact information can be found below.

Head Editor: Lauren Chase (

 Public Relations Task Force Chair & Co-editor: Jesse Bussard (

Co-Editor: Danielle Schubert (

Co-Editor: Meghan Wooldridge (

Again, thank you and til next time, Happy Trails!

~ The YPC Cattle Call Editorial Staff

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Running on Empty

Posted on January 31, 2011 08:44 by Doug Ferguson

“With one in six people going hungry, one child dying every six seconds and 80% of sub-Saharan African countries facing higher food prices than a year ago, the poor and the hungry are facing one of the biggest crises in our lifetimes.  It is critical for the world to remember  that hunger will have a permanent impact  on children and we may lose a generation unless they have adequate access to nutrition during this crisis”.

That is a pretty powerful statement from Josette  Sheeran, director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme, at a meeting of G8 nations last June.    Not too often do I read an article in any magazine that I think is worth a hoot, but Wes Ishmael’s article “Running On Empty” in the Angus Journal, was pretty good stuff.  It covered the upcoming population boom and possible food shortage, and the challenges it will present to agriculture.  I will share some of the highlights.

Alex Avery, Center for Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute, says “Over the next forty years world food demand will at least double, and we have little new farmlands with which to meet that demand.  We really have only more productive farming methods to use on our existing farm ground”.

The global population is expected to peak at 9 billion people by 2050.  The current population is 6.8 billion.  Much of the explosion in food demand will come from expanding global wealth, giving more people access to food and richer diets.  The current global recession not withstanding, Chinese meat consumption has doubled in the last 15 years.  All projections show that Chinese meat consumption will double again.  And that’s just China.  Nations such as India are expected to have a larger population than China in several years and the story of consumption is much the same.

Avery points out “There are only two ways to meet this growing demand. Take more land from nature or produce more food per acre on existing farmland.”  One thing I think I should point out is that we lose farm ground every year in the U.S.  After traveling to China a couple years ago I learned they lose way more farm ground per year than we do.

I think that trend gives us the option of getting more production per acre.  In 1950 we grew 39 bushels of corn per acre, in 2000 that average was 153 bushels per acre.  Each farmer in 2000 produced 12 times as much farm output per hour worked as compared to 1950.  Development of technology is a primary factor in this progress. More...