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Winning beef recipes

As the autumn chill fills the air, it’s a great time for cooking flavor-filled recipes with beef. Following are two recent winning beef recipes that you may enjoy.

Jill Hanson of Stromsburg, NE, won the "What's For Dinner Beef Cook-Off" in Omaha, NE, for her Grandpa's Eye of Round Steaks. The annual contest is sponsored by the Nebraska Beef Council, River City Roundup and the Nebraska Furniture Mart.

For those who love chili, J.R. Knudson of Granite Bay, CA, recently won $30,000 for his red chili recipe in the 40th annual World’s Championship Chili Cookoff™ sanctioned by the International Chili Society (ICS) and presented by ConAgra Foods.

The unique Grandpa's Eye of Round Steaks recipe has just four ingredients: beef, garlic salt, pepper and sugar. The recipe is as follows:
4-6 Eye of Round steaks
¼ c. garlic salt
¼ c. ground black pepper
¼ c. sugar
Mix dry ingredients in small plastic bowl till combined. The night before, or morning of serving, rub mixture generously into both sides of each steak. Place steaks in plastic container in refrigerator and take out 20-30 minutes before grilling. Place steaks on grill 10 – 15 minutes or until desired doneness. Let steaks sit for 3-5 minutes before cutting.

For other winning recipes from the contest visit

J.R. Knudson’s Rough and Ready Chili was praised by judges for its distinct flavor and texture. The recipe is as follows:
3 pounds beef tri-tip, chopped
2 ounces sausage
1 ounce rendered beef fat
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 green Ortega pepper, remove seeds and dice fine
1/2 ounce salt
1/4 teaspoon fine black pepper
2 ounces Gebhardt(R) chili powder
1/2 ounce California chili powder
1/2 ounce New Mexico powder
1/2 ounce cumin
1/2 teaspoon pequin powder
1 - 2 14 ounce cans chicken broth
1 six ounce can Hunt's(R) Tomato Sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Tabasco sauce to taste

Saute onion and green pepper in rendered beef fat in a 3 quart pot. Add garlic powder and half of chili powder. Add half a can of chicken broth, mix well and set aside. Brown sausage and beef in a skillet about one pound at a time. Drain and add meat to onion mix. Add remaining chili powder and remaining can of chicken broth.

Cook for 30 minutes on low heat. Add tomato sauce, cumin, cayenne pepper and pequin powder. Add more broth as needed and cook until meat is tender, about two to three hours. Add a dash of Tabasco sauce if needed for heat.

At-home chili cooks can visit to find the 2006 winning cookoff recipe and more tips for creating their very own award winning chili.

For other beef recipes visit the American Cowman recipe category at

Add value with agritourism

Stanley Wise's neighbors thought he had lost his mind when they saw him planting a field of corn in early August one year. It didn’t help much when he explained he was in the process of building a corn maze. But he assured his neighbors he knew what he was doing.

Stanley and his wife, Shelaine, are partners in Wise Farms, Boonesville, MS, where they grow and market fresh produce in the summer and operate an agritourism business in the fall. Both also work for the Mississippi Extension Service.

The couple has found that agritourism can be a lucrative business for someone with a farm, patience for people and a little imagination.
Studies indicate that nationally, agritourism will grow by 30% a year over the next decade. The Wises believe there is no reason ag producers shouldn't be jumping on this bandwagon and taking advantage of some of the money that is out there. They report A 2005 survey by USDA and the Mississippi Extension Service of seven agritourism enterprises in northeast Mississippi showed a total of $500,000 in income on less than 100 acres of land. The operations were open only on weekends and for four weekends each year.

"People like to visit the farm. They like to bring their families and teach their children something. They don't want their children to think that milk comes from the grocery store. They want them to experience the farm life. Kids today are four generations removed from the farm. That's kind of scary. Agritourism gives us a chance to educate our kids about farms," Wise says.

He explains agritourism as the blending of agriculture and tourism — anytime a person visits a working farm or ranch for the purpose of entertainment. "For example, if they're visiting a pumpkin patch, a corn maze or even to pick fresh vegetables."

The centerpiece of the Wises' agritourism enterprise is their corn maze. They charge $6 per person to go through the maze, and in 2005, averaged 3,000 people over each of the four weekends they were open.

According to Wise, professional maze designers charge $1,500 to $2,000 to cut a design plus require 6% of the gross income from the proceeds."We wanted to prove that it could be done by regular people. We found the design we wanted to use and scanned it into a computer program. We used a hand-held GPS to build the design," he says.

The first year, the Wises tromped down maze pathways by foot, but recently have learned a lawnmower will do an excellent job if done early.

"The first year we opened the corn maze, we anticipated that we would only see teenage kids," Wise said. "We found parents were showing up with little kids, and there wasn’t anything for them to do. We went as fast as we could to the tractor supply store, bought some tricycles, brought some hay out and made a riding rink for them. Sometimes, we've found tricycles out in the corn maze, but that’s the kind of thing you have to deal with."

The Wises planted cotton on the farm this year, "so when school groups come out, we can take them out to the field to touch some cotton and pick the cotton. They'll know that the blue jeans and t-shirts they have on come from cotton."

Other enterprises include a hay pyramid, a modern version of the old game, King of the Hill; a corn swimming pool for kids, where visitors take their shoes off and walk through a container full of corn; a snack bar; and school tours.

They also added bonfire parties — focused on church groups and limited to small groups. "We put them on a wagon and take them out to our pasture where we have a fire pit waiting for them. We have a table set up with hot dogs and all the trimmings they would need. When that's over, we pick them up and take them through the corn maze.

"It was so popular we had three fire pits going every night we were open. We averaged four groups a night. One night, we had 47 people in one church group for a bonfire party. One Saturday out of the month is our community festival day. We allow any of the churches in the community to come up at no charge to set up a booth and sell things for fund raisers for their youth."

One barrier to agritourism is acquiring adequate insurance for the various enterprises. "Our regular farm insurance does not cover our corn maze and wagon rides. It does cover our U-Pick operations. So we have to get special event insurance. Last year, we were turned down five times before an insurance company accepted us." Last year, the Wises' insurance coverage for four weekends in October was around $1,200.

But there's no doubt agritourism can bring the landowner or farmer extra income. "We have a lot of farmers in our area who are (hurting economically) and we're trying to show them that this is a way to bring in extra income. It gives mothers a chance to stay at home and helps you keep possession of your land."

However, agritourism is not for everyone, Wise stresses. "If you’re not an outgoing person, or if at least one person of your family is not outgoing, don't think about getting into agritourism. If you don’t like kids, forget it. You have to have a different mindset. You’re going to tell kids to stay on the trails, and to not cut through the corn. But kids being kids, they’re going to cut through the corn."

BQA guidelines for vaccination

With weaning time here, keep Beef Quality Assurance guidelines top of mind. Here are some basic vaccine-handling precautions to ensure effectiveness of the vaccine:
1) Read the label.
2) Purchase fresh vaccines and store them in a refrigerator. Never use an outdated drug or vaccine.
3) Modified-live vaccine begins to lose effectiveness after about an hour, so don’t mix too much vaccine at one time. Because direct sunlight also degrades the products, keep vaccines and syringes in a cooler when working cattle.
4) Don’t use the same syringe to inject modified-live and killed products. A trace of killed product can harm modified-live product effectiveness.

There's A Lot Of Comfort In The Commodity Mindset

The fall calf run is in full gear, ranchers around the country are collecting their largest paycheck of the year, and prices are only slightly lower than last year's record levels. Optimism is high, our export markets are returning, domestic demand has been pretty stable, energy prices are falling, and harvest on what's expected to be the second-largest corn crop on record is underway.

Things are good on the supply front as well. Drought continues to short-circuit herd expansion. In fact, we've seen calves pulled off bred cows selling for as much as the cows.

Thus, it looks like 2007 should be another very good year for cow-calf producers. In fact, if lighter placement weights and higher corn prices conspire to reduce carcass weights, export markets take off, and domestic demand shows some strength, we might test the previous highs. If moisture conditions improve to where expansion begins in earnest, 2007 could bring new all-time highs.

I hear folks voice dismay at some people's violent opposition to changes we've seen in the marketplace that have led to value-based marketing. But when I look at how comforting it is to not have to worry about quality (without differentiation, all five-weight calves are worth essentially the same when adjusted for weigh-up conditions), a little part of me can empathize with the naysayers.

After all, there's something quite comforting about commodity-level marketing. In many ways it absolves us of responsibility -- one is only at the mercy of the laws of supply and demand. Even more comforting is that, if we happen to guess wrong from a timing standpoint, we can blame some other contributing factor, such as captive supplies, the packing cartel, the futures marketed manipulated by funds and, of course, trade. In essence, in a commodity market we have no responsibility -- we just raise the calves, haul them to town, and let the rest of the system discover and create value.

How comforting it is to not worry about quality. Our new value-based marketing environment has certainly raised the stakes. It wasn't that long ago when you could count on every fat steer to sell within $2 of each other. Now, value differences within and between pens routinely swing well over $100 at the same live weight.

Same-weight calves adjusted for condition, and weigh up, now will trade with as much as $20 -$25/cwt. price spreads on a given day at a given sale barn. Today, there are a whole lot of variables, besides weight, that one must manage for.

The next time someone longs for the good old days and cusses the changes in the marketplace, it isn't because they don't understand we had to make changes to reverse our decline in market share. And it isn't that they don't understand that differences in genetics and management exist.

It's simply that they realize things were a whole lot simpler in the good old commodity days. And while the changes may have been great for those who produce a product in the upper 30% of the population, they certainly aren't any fun for those in the bottom 30%.
-- Troy Marshall

Politicians Learning Well From Anti-Beef Groups

At first blush, one would have thought the recent E-coli 0157:H7 outbreak in the spinach industry would have been a neutral event for cattle. Sure, we've had our issues with E-coli 0157:H7, but we've also made great strides in reducing the problem.

While no one should strive to benefit from a food-safety scare, and one has to feel for spinach growers devastated by the outbreak, one would have thought the increased concern regarding food safety of vegetables wouldn't have been a negative for beef. Yet the beef industry was moved right into the crosshairs, as activist groups pointed at the cattle industry and grain feeding as the cause of the problem. In fact, cattle have been fingered so intensely that it's easy to forget the problem was with spinach.

We're seeing the same tactics being employed over the Florida Congressman exposed as sending obscene and immoral text messages to congressional pages. The media focus is being directed at those who weren't even directly involved. It appears politicians and the anti-beef groups are using the same playbook -- if something bad happens, try to attach blame however you can to advance your agenda.

In fact, just yesterday, media reported on a situation in the celebrity-rich Malibu area of California where the septic tanks of the super-rich are suspected of fouling Pacific shore waters. Environmental officials plan to use DNA testing and court warrants to hunt down the leaky septic tanks.

"When the results of these tests come back, I'll bet that once again we'll find that it's people's meat addiction, not their septic tanks, is causing this pollution," Malibu actress/activist Pamela Anderson wrote in an email, FoxNews reported. "The best thing any of us can do to fight pollution is to adopt a vegetarian diet," she said.

Figure the logic of that one out.

I suspect it won't be long before the anti-beef groups begin to try to link the recent spate of tragic school shootings to beef consumption and modern ag.
-- Troy Marshall

Is Traceability Driving Consolidation?

National ID has been a comedy of errors and there's much concern in the countryside about what the program will mean for producers. But let's set aside the larger controversy about national ID and talk specifically about the mega-trend of traceability/accountability.

Brands have become a driving force in beef marketing. Alliances and entire new production systems have been created to help marketers make and keep promises regarding their product. As end-users demand and increasingly expect traceability and accountability, it's becoming a significant management trend.

There's little doubt integrated entities and larger production systems have been much better positioned to take advantage of these new demands. It's helped spur a new round of consolidation in the pork industry. It's providing enough competitive advantage for those in the cattle industry who can provide it that it will likely drive consolidation in our industry as well.

For smaller producers, the question is rapidly becoming, "how can I provide a product with the desired traceability in a cost effective and timely manner?"
-- Troy Marshall

Limousin Plans Free Member Workshops

The North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) plans a series of free regional workshops for members. Topics to be addressed include breed improvement and marketing issues. The dates and sites include:

  • Oct. 21 -- Lamplighter Inn North Convention Center, Springfield, MO.
  • Nov. 18 -- Cronk's Café, Denison, IA.
  • Jan. 8 -- as part of the NALF annual meeting, Denver, CO.
  • Jan. 27 -- Radisson Hotel North, Ft. Worth, TX.
  • Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN, in conjunction with Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show, Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 2007. Exact date and time to be announced.
No advance registration is required. Workshop agendas will be posted in the "Programs" section at For more info, contact Frank Padilla at or 303-220-1693.
-- Joe Roybal

Eastern Colorado Program Set For Oct. 24

"Ranching Profitably in Eastern Colorado" is the title of a five-hour, free workshop set for Oct. 24 at The Ranch Restaurant in Joes, CO. Sponsored by the Yuma County Conservation District, the workshop includes dinner and will be presented by Dave Pratt of Ranch Management Consultants and the Ranching for Profit School. Registration by Oct. 16 is requested.

Pratt will provide detail on his three secrets for increasing profit -- reduce overhead, improve gross margin per unit, and increase turnover -- how they impact an operation's bottom line, and how producers can influence them. In addition, he'll detail how to build an effective drought plan that addresses land, livestock and people.

For more info, or to register, call 970-332-3173, ext. 3; or email
-- Joe Roybal

Western Hay Business Conference Is Oct. 24-25

Three of the most progressive hay growers in the U.S. will share insights and hay marketing tips during an Innovative Hay Growers Panel at the Western Hay Business Conference & Expo, Oct. 24-25 at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park, Spokane, WA.

  • Joe Heese is hay operations manager for Farm Partners Supply Harlan, IA, a limited-liability company of more than 30 farmers. Heese oversaw the cutting and baling of more than 9,000 acres of hay for the group this year.
  • Scott Duffner is farm manager, Dinsdale Farms, Silver Lake, OR, and is responsible for around 4,000 acres of alfalfa in addition to organic hay production for large organic dairies.
  • Richard Larsen of Larsen Farms, Dubois, ID, owns a patented shredder-compactor capable of processing 20 tons of hay/hour. The operation's three-story, 120,000-sq ft hay terminal is the largest alfalfa storage facility in the U.S., with space for 10,000 compressed tons of hay.
Other speakers will discuss hay-export opportunities, producing hay for the horse market and organic-hay production. Learn more at
-- Joe Roybal

USDA's "28-Hour Rule" Expanded To Trucks

USDA has revised its "28-hour rule" for livestock transportation to apply to trucks as well as trains. The rule dictates livestock -- poultry is exempt -- can only be on a truck for 28 hours, at which point they must be off-loaded and provided with food, water and at least 5 hours of rest.

The so-called "28-hour rule," which dates back to 1873, when cattle were predominantly shipped by rail, had only been applied to rail transport. Today, however, almost all livestock are shipped by truck, and animal-welfare groups had filed a legal petition calling on USDA to amend the regulations to include truck transport.

USDA spokesman Jim Rogers tells the agency's new interpretation applies to trucks.

"The term 'vehicle' in the regulation that applies here means vehicle," Rogers said. "It could be a train, it could be a truck, or some sort of transport -- it applies. Whereas before, when the law was originally written ... it specifically applied to rail cars."

Rogers also said some USDA employees were told three years ago that the 28-hour rule applied to trucks, but the agency only recently made that fact public.
-- Joe Roybal