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New Dietary Guidelines for Americans unveiled; this rancher responds

New Dietary Guidelines for Americans unveiled; this rancher responds

There was much hoopla surrounding the announcement of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. With more than 21,000 public comments and testimonials from 700 health professionals, the DGAC committee has finally unveiled its recommendations, which include the following:

  • Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks that a person eats over time.
  • Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods, and amount
  • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices
  • Support healthy eating patterns for all

Importantly, the guidelines suggest Americans should consume:

  • A variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
  • Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados.
Photo Credit: Flickr user Jeffreyw www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreyww

Further, Americans should be encouraged to consume:

  • Less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars. ChooseMyPlate.gov provides more information about added sugars, which are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those consumed as part of milk and fruits.
  • Less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats. The Nutrition Facts label can be used to check for saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.
  • Less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium for people over the age of 14 years and less for those younger. The Nutrition Facts label is a helpful tool to check for sodium, especially in processed foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces, and soups.

READ: "Big Fat Surprise" author talks importance of beef in the diet

While discussion was still underway, the beef industry took particular notice of this issue as the committee was being influenced by several factors — including their own perceptions of nutrition, environment and sustainability — to encourage a more plant-based diet and severely restrict dairy and red meat.


After much debate, the guidelines finally settled on a recommended maximum weekly intake of 26 ounces of meat, poultry and eggs -- or 3.7 ounces per day for a 2,000 calorie diet. While I still consider this to be far too little red meat (considering Americans’ red meat consumption is down considerably in the last 30 years while obesity rates continue to escalate), I also have trouble with the committee’s recommendation to consume low-fat or fat-free dairy and avoid saturated fats from butter, whole milk and meat. There’s a growing body of evidence that asserts that saturated fats from animal products like meat and dairy actually serve to fuel the body and power the brain.

READ: “The day low-fat died” by Dr. Phil Maffetone

Of course, if the committee’s original direction had become reality, meat, dairy and eggs would have had little to no place on the dinner plate, so the industry is celebrating its share in the new recommendations.

Dr. Richard Thorpe, a physician and Texas cattle producer, agreed, saying in a press release from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association that he is pleased the guidelines recognize all the strong science that supports the many Americans who are looking to build a healthful diet with lean beef.  

“As a physician, I appreciate the Secretaries making sure the dietary guidelines are based on the latest nutrition science,” says Thorpe. “Numerous studies have shown positive benefits of lean beef in the diet, and I commonly encourage my patients to include beef in their diet to help them maintain a healthy weight and get the nutrients they need to be physically active. Lean beef is a wholesome, nutrient-rich food that helps us get back to the basics of healthy eating, providing many essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins, with fewer calories than many plant-based sources of protein.”

Meanwhile, groups such as the Agency for International Cancer Research, Friends of the Earth, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others, are blasting red meat as harmful to our health and the environment. The public outcry has been great, and even though beef still has a share of the dinner plate, we still need to continue to change the rhetoric about red meat to a more positive tone. I won’t go as far to say I’m pleased with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but I will say that the recommendations could have been much, much worse.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

 

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5 tips for reducing forage waste this winter

5 tips for reducing forage waste this winter

Forage waste from feeding hay during the winter months can range from 2% to a shocking 60%, says Mark Landefeld, Ohio State University Extension educator. The normal loss is 3-6%, but management practices must be in place to reduce forage waste. In Landefeld’s most recent column for OSU’s Beef Newsletter, he offers five tips for reducing forage waste during the winter months, including:

1. Feed in different locations each day

“Feeding hay throughout various paddocks from moveable racks or wagons promotes distribution of manure rather than concentrating it in one location,” writes Landefeld. “A dry, well-drained or frozen site should be chosen for feeding hay when possible.”

2. Keep hay off the ground

Landefeld says, “Many types of feed bunks, bale rings and other equipment are available today, but the ones which keep hay from contacting the ground generally reduce waste the most.”

3. Limit hay to a one-day supply

“Limiting hay fed to a one‑day supply, with enough space for all animals to eat at the same time, helps reduce waste,” recommends Landefeld.

4. Unroll a limited amount of round bales

“Unrolling large round bales is a practice which many of our producers have implemented where terrain and/or equipment permit,” says Landefeld. “If this method is used, only unroll enough feed for one day’s supply or use an electric wire over the middle of the unrolled swath to prevent trampling and bedding on the food source. Moving to a new area each feeding promotes even manure distribution and this type nutrient management will help produce more forage next year.”

5. Separate livestock into groups with similar nutritional needs

Landfeld writes, “Separating livestock into smaller groups with similar nutritional needs is recommended. The highest quality hay should be fed to young, growing livestock or lactating animals. Lower quality hay should be used for livestock with lower nutritional needs, such as bulls and non‑lactating cows. Sending samples to a laboratory for forage analysis is recommended so actual nutritional values are known.”

Forage waste is costly and negatively impacts the sod of the area where feeding occurs. If there are no steps taken to reduce hay waste, the sod can be damaged, resulting in muddy conditions and promoting weed pressure, says Landefeld. It can also result in soil erosion and compaction, leading to unproductive forage growth. Consider these steps to reduce forage waste to save money, get the most of your hay, and protect the land where you’re feeding.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

 

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Now you can protect the unborn calf against BVD

One of the most insidious aspects of a bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) infection is the chance of creating a persistently infected (PI) calf. This animal shows no signs of the disease, but can spread the virus throughout your herd, causing untold damage.

That means providing the highest level of protection against infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) viruses is critical, especially for pregnant cattle. Unprotected cows exposed to BVD Types 1 and 2 viruses may experience pregnancy loss or the delivery of weak or BVD persistently infected (PI) calves.1 To help producers further protect the cow herd, BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP® 5 and BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP 5 HB products, recently earned an additional label claim from USDA against fetal infection caused by (BVD) Types 1 and 2 viruses.

“With the value of calves in today’s market, helping protect every pregnancy has become even more important for cattle producers. The additional label claim against BVD fetal infection assures producers that our BOVI-SHIELD product can help protect the pregnancy through the critical stages of gestation, which is a benefit for cattle producers,” said Nathan Voris, DVM, MBA, Senior Marketing Manager, Cattle Vaccines with Zoetis. “Continued innovations in Zoetis reproductive vaccines help keep the cow herd healthier. Healthy pregnancies lead to healthy calves and ultimately, an improved bottom line for producers.”

Combined with the current label claims to prevent PI calves caused by BVD Types 1 and 2 viruses, and to aid in the prevention of abortion caused by IBR virus, the BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP® 5 and BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP 5 HB product lines have the highest level of fetal protection of any reproductive vaccine available to cow/calf producers.

“This level of fetal protection helps maximize the reproductive potential of your cows, helping to ensure a healthy productive calf every year,” Dr. Voris added. “I recommend producers work with their veterinarian to identify the right vaccine for the challenges on their operation. Selecting vaccines with the strongest label claims can help protect the herd from diseases that can harm the bottom line.”

Zoetis also offers a Fetal Protection Guarantee when BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP 5, BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP 5 HB, CATTLEMASTER GOLD FP® and PREGGUARD GOLD FP® 10 vaccines are used in herds according to label directions. It guarantees 100% of calves are born free from BVD persistent infection and the herd is protected against IBR abortion.

To learn more about the BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP 5 and BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP 5 HB product lines, please contact your veterinarian, Zoetis representative, or simply visit www.CattleReproVaccines.com.

The Zoetis 100% BVD PI-Free Guarantee and the IBR Abortion Guarantee will be administered through Zoetis Veterinary Medical Information and Product Support (VMIPS) at 800-366-5288. Proof of purchase is required. Calves born to BVD PI-positive cows or heifers do not qualify for the guarantee. This guarantee does not apply to, and Zoetis shall not be liable for, any (x) damages caused as a result of the improper handling, misuse or abuse of the vaccines that are the subject of this guarantee, or the willful misconduct or negligence of any third party, or (y) any indirect, punitive, special, incidental or consequential damages. Zoetis reserves the right to modify or cancel the terms and conditions of this guarantee.

 

1 Cortese VS. Bovine virus diarrhea virus and mucosal disease. In: Howard JL, Smith RA, eds. Current Veterinary Therapy 4, Food Animal Practice. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 1999;286-291.

 

Red Angus Association acquires majority interest in Top Dollar Angus

The Red Angus Association of America recently acquired a major share in Top Dollar Angus, Inc. RAAA President Kim Ford made the announcement during the Red Angus activities held during the National Western Stock Show.

 "This is a tremendous day for the RAAA to become directly involved as an owner in Top Dollar Angus,” said Ford. “The Red Angus breed believes strongly in value-added genetic programs and has a long history of innovative thinking as a breed association. Top Dollar Angus is a pioneer in bringing distinct feeder calf marketing based on superior genetics to the U.S. beef business. We view this purchase as an investment that will bring greater rewards to cow-calf operations that consistently purchase high-genetic-merit bulls and match those genetics with good health management and nutrition programs. And if it's good for commercial cattlemen and women, it's positive for Red Angus."

 Tom Brink, founder of Top Dollar Angus Inc., will retain an ownership interest, and will continue to serve as president. The firm will operate as a separate, stand-alone entity from the Association.

 "In working with ranchers and farmers across the nation over the past two years, it is apparent that cattlemen with superior Red Angus and Angus beef genetics are actively seeking to differentiate their calves,” said Brink. “Top Dollar Angus helps accomplish that important task. By partnering with the RAAA, the program will be strengthened, become more visible, and be more able to successfully serve commercial ranchers and farmers. Those men and women raising the beef industry's best calves deserve a premium price, and Top Dollar Angus is now in an even better position to help make that happen."

 A board of directors is now being selected and should be in place mid-February. The board will include representation from the Red Angus and Angus breeds, and other related segments of the beef industry.

 In the future, Top Dollar Angus will seek to raise additional capital from a limited number of outside investors.

 The Red Angus Association of America serves the beef industry by enhancing and promoting the competitive advantages of Red Angus and Red Angus-influenced cattle. RAAA provides commercial producers with the most objectively described cattle in the industry by seeking and implementing new technologies based on sound scientific principles that measure traits of economic importance. For more information, visit redangus.org.

 Top Dollar Angus is a genetic certification and value-added marketing company assisting producers with high growth, high carcass value Angus and Red Angus feeder calves. Top Dollar Angus has a large network of participating feedlots that understand the superior value of high-end Angus and Red Angus feeder calves and are willing to purchase these cattle at premium prices. Top Dollar Angus has certified cattle in 11 states since its inception in 2014.

 

Meat Market Update | Winter storms impact supplies, prices

Ed Czerwien, USDA Market News reporter in Amarillo, TX, provides us with the latest outlook on boxed beef prices and the weekly cattle trade.

Retail meat buyers switched back to beef after the holidays, which is a normal seasonal process. However, the big price increases were no doubt encouraged by the bad winter storm that disrupted and lowered the volume of production. Many beef packers in the Southern Plains had to close their plants during the storm which curtailed available supplies helping to skyrocket prices higher.

Find more cattle price news here or bookmark our commodity price page for the minute-by-minute updates.

A rancher’s thoughts on Chipotle and the Oregon standoff

A rancher’s thoughts on Chipotle and the Oregon standoff

Read the news lately? Here’s what you learned: Oil hit its lowest price levels in over 11 years. China’s manufacturing is suffering. The stock market sells off. Cattle prices remain disappointing given overall supply numbers. Throw in all the rhetoric and bluster surrounding the upcoming election and one could reasonably conclude the world, if it’s not coming to an end, is drawing ever closer to that precipice. 

There are a lot of good things going on, but I know from personal experience that bad news has a tendency to generate a response that good news just isn’t capable of doing. 

For example, consider the two big media stories relating to our industry this week. One is the continued demise of Chipotle. For those of us who took exception to their anti-meat, anti-mainstream agriculture messages, it is hard to have much sympathy for their mistakes and problems. This week, Chipotle admitted in a regulatory filing that they had been served with a federal subpoena relating to a criminal investigation that has been initiated related to a norovirus outbreak at one of its California restaurants. 

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This is particularly damaging as the restaurant chain, which built its claim on being healthier, is recovering from E. coli outbreaks in October and November that were linked to their restaurants. Sales were off 30% in December. The company has slashed profit forecasts and retracted its sales forecast for 2016. The company is working diligently to restore its image, taking out full page ads apologizing to customers and promising to improve food safety.  It will be a tough sell.

The other big story is the ranchers who took over the federal building in Oregon. While that’s an illegal act, the discussion of federal lands and government overreach is not entirely without validity. The long prison sentences handed down to ranchers who set fires on their own property and burned miniscule amounts of federal land borders on the absurd, especially considering the thousands of acres of private acres blackened because of federal burning. 

But even a legitimate message can be distorted if the messenger’s legitimacy can be questioned. Just as with the Nevada standoff in 2014, the only reason the Oregon hubbub is getting widespread media coverage is because it has become a question of whether or not there is going to be a gun battle to remove the protestors. 

Couple this with election coverage and it provides a stern warning for our industry. Good news will not get covered, but any mistake, real or perceived, will be. 

Thus, the industry’s first priority has to be to avoid any negative media coverage.  Give us a good food scare or some armed vigilantes and the media will come streaming to our door, but getting the good news out requires buying media coverage. The tough job is getting any coverage at all for the good messages we have.

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.

 

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Fail forward: UNL program focues on entrepreneurship

Keeping smalltown main streets viable and bustling takes grit determination and entrepreneurial passion Those are just some of the characteristics that the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program teaches
<p>Keeping small-town main streets viable and bustling takes grit, determination and entrepreneurial passion. Those are just some of the characteristics that the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program teaches.</p>

“If you’re going to do something interesting, you’re going to get your hands dirty. It will make you sweat and will probably make you bleed, and it will make you want to cry even if you don’t,” says Tom Field, director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program (EAEP) at the University of Nebraska’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

That’s why this unique program values grit, one of its six cultural pillars. The others are: aspire, passion, courage, partner and build.

“Traditionally, universities are designed to develop future resources for the academic community, and there’s nothing wrong with that, or to develop more globally aware and trained individuals to work for organizations,” Field explains.

“With all respect to education, this program exists because there is a segment of students who are not well served by education through the traditional approach … I think we are attracting a certain style of student. They are doers — they just can’t wait to start,” he says.

When EAEP staff talk to prospective students, they ask the students if they simply want to secure a job after they graduate, or if they’re on a quest to accomplish something more.

Even though students come to the program with an entrepreneurial spirit and independent bent, Field says, “One challenge we have is to encourage them to be bolder, to not just be in business, but to be the best in the world in that particular business.”

He points out that being bolder doesn’t mean being reckless, but having the courage and confidence to aim for the highest point the students can imagine.

Learn from failure

Steven Fish

Consider Steven Fish, who was involved from an early age on the family farm, ranching and feedlot operation in south-central Nebraska.

His parents instilled the value of financial independence into their kids at an early age. They gave each child six cow-calf pairs when they were young. Come graduation, the kids could do whatever they wanted with what had become of that initial investment.

When he was still in high school, Fish had his own seed distributorship, grew his cowherd, owned pens of cattle in the feedlot. One reason he decided to attend college at Nebraska was the EAEP.

“I’ve failed in business,” Fish says. “I never would have dreamed that I could learn so much by it — relationships with people, risk management, and being able to see that others have [failed] as well.”

The failure in question revolved around renting 700 acres of corn ground at the same time he was taking 18 hours of courses, and then receiving only 70% of the average annual rainfall and having corn prices lose about a third of their value.

With a wry smile, he explains, “Being a naive 20-year-old, you know the only ones who drowned on the Titanic were farmers; they kept waiting for it to go back up.”

Through the Engler program, Fish explains, “I think I learned how to fail forward. Everyone you talk to — everyone — has had a failure, sometimes major. What separates individuals is how they deal with the circumstances and yet continue to have the motivation to achieve their goals.”

Along with pursuing cow-calf and farming opportunities at home, Fish is working on a business plan that puts a new spin on heifer development aimed at creating more economic efficiency for individual operations through partnerships.

Nurturing business owners

“The Engler program creates a culture around the students that encourages and challenges them at the same time,” Field explains. “We’re trying to provide the environment for them to grow while leaving proprietorship in their hands.”

Take a look at the EAEP Advisory board, which is chaired by program founder Paul Engler. There’s Tom Osborne, former University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) football coach and congressman. There’s Edward Pallesen, managing director for Goldman Sachs & Co. There’s Kenneth Green of Agra Holdings LP. And there are six others of similar ilk.

In making his decision to enroll in the program, Fish explains, “I thought it would be ultra-competitive and thinking outside of the box, but mostly I wanted to come for connections with students in the program who will be successful — but also connections with business leaders who are beyond willing to help care for the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

“All successful entrepreneurships are based on relationships and partnerships,” Field emphasizes.

In addition to day-to-day network-building, the EAEP also includes guest lecturers and a series of lectureships from folks like John Eastin of Kamterter Products and Joe Stone, business leader of Cargill Feed & Nutrition.

EAEP also gives students a firsthand look at a variety of businesses at different stages of maturity. Past tour stops include Nebraska-based Cabela’s, Clean Coal Solutions in Denver and Irish Cream Sheep Dairy at Bushnell, Neb.

One of the most successful visits last year was to a bed-and-breakfast. It was a trip some of the students dreaded, because they felt it had little to do with real businesses like the ones they were considering. They were blown away by what they learned about the power of customer service, no matter the business.

Whether students enroll in EAEP for one year or four, they’re encouraged to develop an executable business plan by the time they graduate.

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“Some people’s experience in the program is creating a business plan,” Fish explains. “For others, it’s changing the mindset from producing a commodity to selling a brand in production operations.”

With that in mind, the EAEP also sponsors entrepreneurial events open to all UNL students, and in some cases, non-students.

For instance, in conjunction with a program called 3-Day Startup, the EAEP held its inaugural 3DS Engler Startup Experience in September.

Participating students came with an idea they developed and presented through mock investor pitches. Industry panelists were on hand to provide feedback and judge the viability of the businesses. By the end of the weekend, nine businesses were created.

Haley Bledsoe is an EAEP student majoring in animal science at UNL. During the event, she and her teammates developed a business called Running Buddy — a mobile app that pairs dog owners with people who could walk their dogs. Running Buddy was one of two businesses selected at the end of the weekend to join a startup pre-accelerator development program offered by the Lincoln-based company NMotion.

“The 3DS Engler Startup Experience really helped me become more confident with pitching ideas,” says Bledsoe. “It was a very inspiring weekend because we had the opportunity to network with people who have a similar passion for entrepreneurship.”

The EAEP experience is tailored to each student.

As Andrew Zimbroff, UNL assistant professor and Extension specialist, explained of the recent startup event, “The idea is not to do the work for the students; we just create an environment that enables them to explore their ideas.”

“This is a program that has set me up for future success more than I would have ever dreamed,” Fish says. “Yes, you develop business plans, but in reality I don’t think we’ll be able to comprehend the value this program gives us. Not only the friendships and connections we have made, but the lessons we get to learn from others.”

For more details about the EAEP, visit engler.unl.edu.

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Go ahead, fail: Innovative new program encourages ag students to fail successfully

Go ahead, fail: Innovative new program encourages ag students to fail successfully

Fail forward. Fail fast. Fail cheap.

That’s the mantra of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program (EAEP) at the University of Nebraska’s (UNL) Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. EAEP is a unique program that teaches students how to be entrepreneurs.

“Success is built on the back of multiple failures,” says Tom Field, EAEP director. Yet, he explains, “We have a funny view of failure in our culture. We don’t like it much. We protect our kids from failing.”

However, competition — which necessitates winners and losers — is prized in business and the American ethos. Heaven forbid that you should fail, maybe even lose it all. The self-imposed stigma of such an outcome prevents many from trying, or means they’ll risk just a little.

Likewise, even successful businesses begin to fail when they prize protecting their achievements more than continuing to grow: not necessarily in size, but in value.

All of this takes on greater urgency when you consider current agricultural reality.

Sustainability demands entrepreneurship

“When you look at the age demographics of U.S. ranchers and farmers, there are more farmers older than 60 than there are younger than 30,” Field explains. “We’re going to go through a massive shift in wealth and decision-making between generations — we’re talking Louisiana Purchase kinds of wealth being transferred.”

“We’re going to go through a massive shift in wealth and decision-making between generations.” Tom Field

Leading up to this generational changing of the guard, the face of agriculture continues to contract and concentrate, with a relatively few owners responsible for the majority of agricultural production. Technology and mechanization continue to reduce the need for as many people in day-to-day production. Unsurprisingly, there are fewer left to fight for maintenance of the industry’s infrastructure.

Drive through any agricultural state — or the agricultural portions of otherwise urban ones — and the variety of small towns looks eerily similar. A few remain bustling hubs of business and civic activity. Some were boarded up long ago, the end result of a downward spiral fueled by the attrition of key economic stakeholders. Lots of others are somewhere in between, either trying to figure out how to reinvigorate, and attract new people and new business, or just hoping.

“Part of wealth is living in a vibrant community — a community that is growing and seeking new opportunities,” Field explains. “Entrepreneurship, I think, is tied to the health of rural communities. We’ll find solutions for rural communities through creativity and entrepreneurship.”

Developing risk-tolerant culture

The EAEP mission is “to build enterprises that contribute value to agriculture and communities by nurturing, challenging and equipping entrepreneurial talent.”

ESAP was established in 2010 with a $20 million gift from the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation. Many know Paul Engler as founder of the game-changing Texas-based Cactus Feeders. Fewer understand how he built the business from scratch.

At the age of 80, when awarding the gift to establish the EAEP, Engler explained the importance of identifying and mentoring students who possess the entrepreneur’s fire in the belly.

“We need to identify these boys and girls who have that fire in the belly when they are young, and then when they come to the university, expose them to a curriculum that teaches risk — how to evaluate it and how to manage it — because if you do not take risk as an entrepreneur, you are not going to make it,” Engler explained. Engler is chairman of the EAEP Advisory Board and remains actively involved in the program.

Building an enterprise

“The Engler program exists to empower enterprise-builders,” Field explains. “We don’t say we’re trying to build businesses. We’re facilitating the building of businesses, with our students holding ownership rights to what they start.”

This is not your typical college experience. For one thing, the curricula for each student is driven by that student’s own business idea.

“There are no exams, only projects. We force them to deal with customers and potential customers early on,” Field explains. “We use competitions, business tours, project development and a host of value-added experiences to help mold their mindset. We then endeavor to facilitate relationship-building as a means to accelerate the student experience.”

One stated goal of the program is for EAEP graduates to have begun 50 successful business ventures by 2020.

Think back to that conundrum of fewer, older producers and rural communities running on fumes.

A common strategy to create opportunity for kids returning home to the farm or ranch has revolved around making the farm or ranch bigger — run more cows, turn over more ground. But no one ever said there aren’t other ways to forge opportunity.

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“Farms have gotten bigger, so there is not necessarily a place for everyone who might want to return to a farm or ranch, return to their rural community. But through entrepreneurship, we can diversify enterprises,” Field explains. “If I’m a farmer or rancher today, I might be thinking about how to help a son or daughter who wants to return to their home rural community — but not necessarily to the home farm or ranch — get started in another business.”

Just a few of the companies begun by EAEP graduates so far: Kingpin Enterprises of Davey, Neb.; ABC Chickens, an integrated poultry company focused on farm-fresh markets; Stahla Services LLC at Grand Island, Neb. (luxury portable toilets); Ox-Bow’s Natural Landscapes; Diva Desserts at Raymond, Neb.; and CW Auction at Fullerton, Neb.

“This program is designed to create difference-makers,” Field explains. “We knew that we would get support from the business community, but we had no idea how passionate, how much investment of time and energy, and how willing successful business owners and entrepreneurs would be about positively affecting the next generation of enterprise-builders.”

Attract, keep brightest minds

Agriculture has always been entrepreneurial in nature, at least when it comes to creating solutions from baling wire and duct tape — you can’t simply run to town every time something breaks down.

However, agriculture, especially the cattle business, also remains resolutely provincial. Folks already involved in the industry mistrust those who don’t share the same background. Discounting ideas from outside the industry slows and prevents progress.

Plus, Field believes U.S. culture stands at a unique historical junction. “Our society is at the crossroads between self-entitlement and self-reliance,” he says. “This need for fostering entrepreneurship exists in every sector of our economy.”

So, agricultural entrepreneurship can benefit from the skills, talents and expertise of those from other industries and walks of life, and vice versa.

“Entrepreneurship is a way to attract people into this sector,” Field says. “But production agriculture is just a piece of what we’re talking about [in the program].”

EAEP students have majors ranging from floriculture to dance to animal nutrition. By design, students can minor in entrepreneurship, but it’s not offered as a major.

As much as agriculture needs entrepreneurship, Field emphasizes that opportunities abound for those with the fire Engler described.

“This is probably the most opportune time in history to be involved in agriculture,” Field says. “The shattering of the marketplace into this extraordinary range of niches opens all kinds of opportunities for entrepreneurship.”

Think of just a few nascent segments: general sustainability, water conservation, judicial use of antibiotics in livestock production and alternatives.

“Those that provide solutions that provide lasting value will be paid for it,” Field says.

For more details about the EAEP, visit engler.unl.edu.

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Chipotle under federal investigation following norovirus outbreak

Chipotle under federal investigation following norovirus outbreak

Yesterday, I blogged about one of agriculture’s biggest retail champions — Culver’s. Today’s blog addresses one of agriculture’s biggest bullies — Chipotle.

While the former thanks America’s farmers and ranchers for producing food for its stores and donates millions to support students in agriculture, the latter has continually spread false information about modern beef production, used fear and emotion to drive sales, and most recently has been slapped with plunging sales after an E. coli outbreak linked to its restaurants in October and November.

The E. coli outbreak was followed by a separate norovirus outbreak at a Chipotle store in Boston. Since then, sales have declined rapidly, sinking 30% (down 14.6% in the fourth quarter of 2015), according to Chipotle, making this the first decline in sales since the company went public in 2006.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Mike Mozart www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia

The situation continues to escalate as Chipotle was served with a federal subpoena last month surrounding a criminal investigation tied to the norovirus outbreak. The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations. Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold said in a company email that employees will not discuss pending litigation, but Chipotle plans to cooperate fully with the investigation.

Chipotle has more than 1,900 locations where the Denver-based burrito chain serves up all-natural burritos. The E. coli outbreak impacted at least 52 people in nine states, and the norovirus outbreak sickened more than 150 people.

Chipotle has issued full-page ads apologizing to their customers, but the once thriving company, which served burritos with a side of guilt, is now eating a slice of humble pie. Perhaps the chain will finally have to admit that, in its effort to chase the latest food fad, they forgot that the reason modern agriculture works is because of the food safety measures and protocols America’s food producers follow.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

 

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