Do You Raise Cattle or Beef?

That’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Do you raise cattle or beef? I recently completed the Master’s of Beef Advocacy program (so much very good information in those training modules) and noticed that a three-part mantra was reiterated over and over:

Beef is —

  • Safe
  • Wholesome
  • Nutritious

Then I paused and thought: More often than not, farmers produce cattle, then someone else turns those cattle into beef. Now, as luck would have it I came across a note by my Twitter and Facebook friend Mr. Nathan Jaeger, a Field Representative of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in the Southeastern U.S.  It turns out we were asking many similar questions about how cattle farmers and ranchers identify themselves.

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Originally posted on October 27, 2009; shared with Nate’s permission:

“Are you a cattle producer or a beef producer? This age old rhetorical question is what I would like us to consider this month. As we start this discussion let’s keep in mind that NCBA’s Mission Statement includes both.

NCBA…working to increase profit opportunities for cattle and beef producers by enhancing the business climate and building consumer demand.

First, let us look at the cattle side of the argument. Many producers I ask this question to tell me, I sell pounds of calf not beef. Another popular answer is that cattle are not beef until they leave the packing plant, therefore, cow/calf and stocker producers produce raise cattle.

Cattle producers in the Southeast often will also refer to themselves as grass farmers, who use cattle to harvest and sell their grass. However, you never hear of Kansas wheat farmers who make the same kind of claim. There are many other answers and arguments to the cattle side of this discussion, but these are the majority of them.

Now for the beef side of the argument. Many producers say that they are beef producers because that is the ultimate end product. However, we don’t hear of wheat farmers referring to themselves as “bread farmers.”

Beef producers realize that the supply chain begins with them and even if their customer is a feedyard (or another cattle producer), their customer’s customer is more than likely a beef producer, whether that is the packer or the feedyard who sells to the packer (many on a carcass weight basis).

Cow/calf and stocker operators who consider themselves beef producers will bolster their argument by saying that they are Beef Quality Assurance certified, not Cattle Quality Assurance Qualified, and that every management decision they make for the live animal affects the end product, beef.

For those of you who are undecided on this issue, consider the challenges that our industry faces today, this very hour. Animal rights activists, public enemy No. 1, work every day to put us out of business. They tell consumers our animals are treated poorly and because of that our product is not safe. The largest meat recall in U.S. history was triggered from an animal welfare issue, NOT a food safety issue.”

For more information about the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, visit www.beef.org.


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