United in Beef: Not Grass Fed vs. Grain Fed, but beef the way you like it raised
In the beef industry, you’d really hope that the national family of beef producing families would pull the same wagon with messages on the side that declare the common attributes of beef. Beef is safe, wholesome, nutritious, sustainable, healthy and delicious. Regardless of the production method of grass fed or grain fed, both systems offer choices that are good for consumers and healthy for our industry.
Having sold both grass fed and grain fed beef simultaneously for almost my entire beef-selling career, I can honestly state how proud I was to represent the two types of production methods to chefs and retailers. If they wanted grass fed, organic, hormone free, choice, prime, select, no roll, ABF, black, red, Angus, Hereford, Simmental, Holstein or many other breeds or variations, I had it all to show.
The beef industry should be proud of the variety offered. Most are, but there still is a small fraction of detractors that would prefer to pick up rocks and throw them over the fence at their cousins that don’t raise beef exactly the way they do.
Some do this to differentiate their products and they are certainly free and welcome to call out the attributes of their beef and brands to inform consumers of their production practices. Some consumers feel better about buying grass fed and finished beef, from animals that were never in a feed lot or given hormones or antibiotics. Grass fed beef production in 2015 was at an estimated 1,728,000 head, about six percent of the 28,800,000 head of total beef slaughtered. Clearly there is a growing market for this beef production model.
Other consumers, those in the 94% category of beef production variety, prefer marbled USDA graded select, choice or prime beef. We have it all. Whatever you want and are willing to pay for, the industry can provide to you.
A small but vocal group of beef producers, either because they are mean-spirited, uninformed or a variety of other vain reasons, have decided that that traditionally fed beef producers are the enemy and therefore differentiate their production method choice by unscrupulous boulder throwing. This only hurts the whole industry. It's like kicking your grandmother!
For those in this wagon, I’d like to gently remind you that fellow beef producers are not your enemy. The Checkoff program is not your enemy. Neither is the USDA, corn farmers, feedlot owners or dairy farmers. Your true enemies are those that want to put you out of business, take away your lifestyle, ranch or enterprise and have you become a vegetarian. I am talking about the HSUS, PETA, Mercy for Animals and a host of other AR and radial environmental groups, many who have infiltrated our ranks.
As wolves dressed up as Holsteins, these groups have convinced some of you that your enemies are your own family members.
If you are in this group of beef industry antagonists, I implore you to stop your groundless rock throwing. Join the industry groups that collectively manage the Checkoff program. Pull up a chair, get on a committee, become acquainted with the state and national programs that work every day to increase ALL beef demand, without discrimination at home and abroad.
Our industry has enough challenges and threats from regulations, AR groups and overzealous naïve environmentalists. Our own family members should not be the targets of our unrest.
Let’s all pull the same wagon with consumers riding in the luxury of the choices we proudly offer them for safe and affordable beef.