Cattlemen talk beef

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, February 5, 2014
The Muscatine County Cattlemen’s Association annual banquet was well attended Saturday night, Jan. 25 in West Liberty, the number one topic of the night was exports.

Hundreds showed up for the event in the Muscatine County Activity Center, which included door prizes and a meal catered by Jeff's Market.

After supper was served Muscatine County Cattlemen Association President Dan Petersen addressed the audience. Later on Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey spoke to everyone.

President Petersen covered a lot of ground during his speech, including new members on the board of directors and how membership may double for the Muscatine County Cattlemen's Association.

He mentioned that the meat packing plant in Tama, Iowa will be reopened. The plant closed in 2003 after an outbreak of mad cow disease; however, it will open its doors soon and pack high quality meat from Iowan farmers.

"It's been 10 years now that the plant has been sitting empty, but the new owners see value in it, they're going to get it up and get it going," said Petersen. "I don't know if you remember, but back in 2003 when that plant was running, for about a nine month time frame, the fed [cattle] market in eastern Iowa and western Illinois was the highest fed market in the country."

When it comes to beef advertising, Petersen noted that money made by the cattle 'check-off' program will be used to push beef marketing online, as opposed to traditional marketing.

The check-off program charges beef producers money for each head of cattle they sell. Petersen said the Cattlemen's Association is attempting to get the most out of what it can for the check-off budget toward marketing.

Scott Heater, who represents the cattlemen on the Iowa Beef Industry Council, also spoke about the use of check-off dollars for marketing. He added that a lot of the funding is used for research and trade.

He dug into the value of marketing when it comes to exports, using his recent trip to Japan in order to illustrate his point.

"Japan is our number one export for beef, our number one export for pork, and always in the top three for export for corn. Why do we go there? Because they're our best costumer. It's important to talk one-on-one with those companies over there and understand their problems and differences."

He stated that Japan and other countries have a need for the Iowa beef industry, a mutual partnership that benefits the United States.

Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey praised farming in Iowa. From corn to cattle, he claimed that Iowa leads the world in agriculture.

"If Iowa were a country, there are only three countries in the world that produced more corn than us this year or last year, that's the U.S., China and Brazil," he said. He added it's also a leader in soy beans and cattle.

Northey talked about the value of exporting beef, and how it allows producers to make more money. Instead of just selling the meat, they can sell most parts of the animal.

"What exports do, especially in a beef animal, is do more than just disappear pounds," he said. "It actually even allows a packer to be able to find the highest and best value."

"To be able to take those pieces of that beef that others want, there's certainly parts of it that aren't as valuable here in the U.S, that are more valuable someplace else. It's not just pounds disappearing, it is creating value in that carcass," said Northey. "When Dan talks $249 a carcass, it's not just because those carcasses are disappearing, it's because those cuts are worth more than what they used to be."

Afterward the Muscatine Cattlemen held a live auction.
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