Here’s a look at 5 headlines that appear to be at the top of everyone’s mind this week.
1. Iowa DNR grants Supreme Beef’s water use permit
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has granted a northeast Iowa cattle feedlot a water use permit, despite concern from neighbors and environmental groups the feedlot will draw more water than stated in its permit renewal request.
The DNR will allow Supreme Beef to withdraw up to 21.9 million gallons of water a year from two wells in the Jordan aquifer to supply the 11,600-head facility near Monona, according to the water use permit effective June 1.
The new permit replaces one Walz Energy got for the site in 2017, back when the feedlot also was supposed to include biodigesters to dispose of manure.
Several people who spoke at an April 25 public hearing and dozens of others who commented in writing said Supreme Beef’s application underestimated how much water would be needed at the facility.
While the permit would allow for 6 gallons of water per cow per day, many experts recommend 10 to 20 gallons per day in the summer.
Iowa law requires water drawn from underground resources to have a “beneficial use” for Iowans.
The DNR will require Supreme Beef to use meters to measure monthly water use from each source, keep monthly records and turn them into the DNR once a year, the permit states.
The feedlot has met ongoing opposition from environmental groups and some neighbors for reasons that include its proximity to Bloody Run, a treasured trout stream and an Outstanding Iowa Water.
2. In case you missed it…
A fifth-generation cattle rancher and consultant plans to build the country's largest beef plant in South Dakota with capacity to slaughter 8,000 head of cattle a day.
The project is spearheaded by Kingsbury and Associates and Sirius Realty, both run by Megan Kingsbury of a South Dakota ranching family. She told Reuters she expects construction on the plant to begin in 2023 and take three years.
The Biden administration and Congress scrutinized the beef industry after COVID-19 outbreaks temporarily shut slaughterhouses in early 2020, leaving ranchers with nowhere to deliver cattle and consumers facing meat shortages.
Kingsbury's project would slaughter around 1,000 more cattle per day than the current top processor, a Tyson's plant in southeastern South Dakota.
But some industry analysts said the plant may struggle to find labor, develop supply chain relationships from scratch, and be profitable amid tighter cattle supplies.
3. Grassfed beef
Technavio has been monitoring the Grass-fed Beef Market, operating under the global consumer staples market. The latest report on the grass-fed beef market, estimates it to register a growth of USD 39.95 billion, at a CAGR of 14.72% during the forecast period. The report offers an up-to-date analysis of the current market scenario, the latest trends and drivers, and the overall market environment.
The market is fragmented, and the degree of fragmentation will accelerate during the forecast period. Competitors have to focus on differentiating their product offerings with unique value propositions to strengthen their foothold in the market. Market vendors also have to leverage the existing growth prospects in the fast-growing segments, while maintaining their positions in the slow-growing segments.
The new product launches influencing grass-fed beef consumption are notably driving the grass-fed beef market growth, although factors such as the premium price of grass-fed beef may impede the market growth
The fresh grass-fed beef segment will gain a major share of the grass-fed beef market. The belief that fresh grass-fed beef is healthier than processed grass-fed beef accounts for the increased demand for fresh grass-fed beef. In the United States, Australia, and other markets, consumers are becoming more aware of the health benefits of grass-fed beef, such as its greater level of omega-3 fatty acids linoleic acid, and antioxidant vitamins like vitamin E.
4. Beefalo production
A Missouri couple is touting the benefits of raising beefalo.
Some say they have what should be the future of U.S. meat production.
“As we like to say, when they created beefalo, they bred out the meanness but kept the leanness of the bison, so kept the good qualities of the bison,” said Kelly Dietsch.
She and her husband, Andrew Dietsch, run A&K Ranch in Raymondville, Missouri, where they have about 25 females that they attempt to calve every year.
The bovine is bred to include more cattle traits than bison. The American Beefalo Association says beefalo with 37.5% bison genes are considered full-blood beefalo and the perfect mix for the breed. But bovines with as low as 18% bison genes are labeled purebred beefalo.
While there was some unintentional crossbreeding between cows and bison over the centuries, it wasn’t until the 1970s that a reliable, fertile crossbreed was produced. The intent was to get the lean meat of bison into an animal that could be raised as easily as a cow.
The Dietschs have found that to be the case. They used to raise cattle when they lived in New Jersey but switched to beefalo when they moved to the Midwest.
But it’s the quality of the meat that will bring more ranchers on board, said John Fowler, an American Beefalo Association board member.
“If I can get a person who has a crossbred herd and put a beefalo bull in his herd and have him eat some of the meat, he’s sold. He’ll want to produce the beefalo,” he said.
Fowler, who also raises beefalo in northern Missouri, calls it a superior animal to cattle. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has certified beefalo as having higher vitamin levels and more protein, while having nearly one-third less cholesterol, 79% less fat and 66% fewer calories than conventional beef.
But beefalo does have its opponents.
“We just don’t think there should be beefalo,” said Martha McFarland, farmland viability coordinator for the advocacy group Practical Farmers of Iowa. She also raises cattle and bison but said she would never mix the two.
“Yet McFarland does empathize with beefalo producers, who are trying to raise, promote and sell a niche meat, just as she does with bison.
“A lot of times it’s hard to find that middleman to get my meat into the grocery store. I’m not part of this huge, mechanized system,” she said. “My challenge is your average consumer wants to just, like, go to the grocery store and pick up some food and be done with it.”
The Dietschs are optimistic about the future of the specialty meat
5. Iowa & NY Beef Councils Launch Best Burger Battle
Nothing beats the taste of a delicious mouth-watering burger. There are tons of great burgers out there, but have you ever wondered where the home of the best burger is? The Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) and New York Beef Council (NYBC) are sending forth their state's best burger to answer that exact question.
This is the second year of this intense bragging rights competition and as of right now, Iowa is home to the best burger, for they were the 2021 winner.
Starting Wednesday, June 8th, consumers will have the chance to cast their vote for either The Flying Elbow in Iowa or Ale n' Angus Pub in New York. Place your vote by visiting: https://www.nybeef.org/social-outreach/monthly-contest
Just like Iowa, New York's selection process begins as a public vote. It then gets narrowed down to the final four and a cook-off with a team of judges takes place to select the overall best burger.
New Yorkers and Iowans are dying to know which is home to the ultimate Best Burger. Is the home of the best burger in the big city or is it in the heart of the Midwest? Your vote can help decide! Be sure to cast your vote for the ultimate best burger starting June 6 using the online nomination form. It won't be open for long though! The nominations period will close at 11:59 p.m. on June 13, so don't forget to vote.