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Media Tends To Give Organic Agriculture A Pass

Organic agriculture is less likely than conventional agriculture to garner a critical look from media, a Kansas State University researcher concludes. The study, conducted from 1999 to 2004 by Kansas State University associate professor Doug Powell and researchers from the University of Guelph, explored how topics of organic food and agriculture were discussed in five North American newspapers.

The analysis found 41.4% of the coverage had a neutral tone toward organic ag and food, 36.9% had a positive tone, 15.5% were mixed and 6.1% were negative, Powell says.

“Organic agriculture was often portrayed … as an alternative to allegedly unsafe and environmentally damaging modern agriculture practices. That means organic was being defined by what it isn’t, rather than what it is,” Powell says.

He adds that USDA has repeatedly stressed that the organic standard is a verification of production methods and not a food-safety claim.

Cloned steer wins Iowa State Fair Cattle Show

Doc, a cloned steer, raised eyebrows this fall when he was crowned 4-H grand champion steer at the Iowa State Fair. The steer, a clone of the 2008 champion, was shown by Tyler Faber of Sioux City, whose father is president of Trans Ova Genetics of Sioux Center, AP reports.

Mike Anderson, an Iowa State University Extension specialist and the 4-H livestock judging director, says judges didn’t know Doc was cloned, though he was registered as such. “It’s not against the rules,” Anderson says.

Paul Engler Gives $20 Million To University of Nebraska

University of Nebraska alumnus and cattleman Paul F. Engler of Amarillo, TX, has made a $20-million gift to support programs in agribusiness at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The gift from the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation to the University of Nebraska Foundation’s “Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities” will establish a permanently endowed fund to support the Paul F. Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Brazilians Buy Burger King

Burger King will soon come under Brazilian ownership in a deal valued at $4 billion (U.S.), which includes the assumption of debt. The buyout marks the largest leveraged acquisition of a fast-food chain ever, and the second for Burger King in the last eight years.

The new owner, 3G Capital, is backed by a number of wealthy Brazilians and plans to expand Burger King’s foothold internationally, especially in Latin America and Asia. The fast-food chain has struggled in North America, where it generates 70% of its revenue, Meat Trade News Daily reports.

Tweet This: Beef Ambassadors Talk Social Networking

cic-10-141-1.jpg ‘Agvocacy’ is a term that was coined by farmers and ranchers who are dedicated to spreading the good word about agriculture through online promotional efforts. These grassroots campaigns use more than just good, old-fashioned word of mouth. Instead, producers are getting online and using Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube to spread the positive word about agriculture today, as well as correct any misinformation presented in the news.

These online campaigns have accomplished a great deal for the industry, especially in helping to secure and protect agriculture for future generations. The 2010 National Beef Ambassador Team, which consists of Jackson Alexander, Ellie Hoffschneider, Becky Vraspir, Mandy-Jo Laurent and Mallorie Bankhead, addressed this topic at the 2011 National Beef Ambassador Competition on Oct. 1 during a workshop for the contest participants. And they encouraged their fellow producers to get on board.

The National Beef Ambassador Team maintains their own blog site,, where they have committed to write every day.

“As beef ambassadors, we are passionate about spreading the positive word about our industry through online efforts,” Hoffschneider says. “I used to think my social life on sites like Facebook had to be separate from my cattle life, but now I post information on these sites to share with my friends and classmates. I believe it’s important to correct the misconceptions spread by the media today.”

Alexander adds that “industry advocates are truly loyal to the beef industry, and we see great examples of these folks on social networking sites all the time. When sharing the positive word online, it doesn’t have to be on a particular topic; it’s all about getting the positive word out on a regular basis.”

When handling negative articles in the media, the team offered up this advice.

“One thing we have learned is to never repeat the negative that is stated in the article,” advises Vraspir. “We need to work to only repeat the positive stuff.”

On Facebook, the National Beef Ambassadors maintain a network of 2,339 fans. They also have 608 followers on Twitter. In addition to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, their blog tackles issues on behalf of America’s beef producers. For example, they may address food safety questions from consumers and offer up healthy ways to prepare beef. The ambassadors are watchful for negative media attention farmers and ranchers may receive, and are quick to respond with the facts. Their influence is quite apparent to their friends and colleagues, who receive their updates through social media networks.

Of course, social networking can be used for more than responding to negative articles. Many producers are logging on to promote upcoming bull sales or direct users to their websites for information on their breeding program. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube are certainly good agvocacy tools, but they can also be great additions to an operation’s marketing strategy as well.

Tell us how you reach out others within and outside the industry to promote your industry and product? Do you Twitter or use Facebook? What do you like or not like about these social sites?

Veterinarians Stay Relevant In Production And Welfare

John U. Thomson told hundreds of cattle veterinarians and veterinary students that they need to provide veterinary care and education in ways that satisfy societal needs, or they will be replaced.

The dean at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine is particularly concerned that veterinarians have not generated data that demonstrate the profession's importance to protecting the food supply. Without the use of outcomes-based medicine to collect that evidence, he thinks society will meet its needs through other means, as exemplified by a law passed earlier this year that allows non-veterinarians in Oklahoma to perform many livestock care practices by classifying them as husbandry.

In speeches, educational sessions and group discussions, many of the livestock veterinarians who attended the combined Annual Conference of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the Academy of Veterinary Consultants Summer Meeting showed concern about the need to maintain or explain veterinarians' relevance in beef and milk production.

To read more, link here.

Cattle Gain as Dollar Decline May Lift U.S. Meat Demand

Cattle futures climbed for the first time in three sessions Wednesday as a slumping dollar revived prospects for U.S. meat exports amid signs the economy is recovering.

The greenback fell to the lowest level since January against a basket of six major currencies. A gauge of service industries showed stronger-than-forecast expansion in the U.S., signaling a pickup in the economy that may spur consumption of pork and beef.

“If our economy is gaining traction, it’ll certainly support the idea of improving meat demand,” says Dennis Smith, a senior account executive at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago. “The dollar’s down to new lows. It should support our export business with these meats.”

To read the entire article, link here.

Producer Poll: What's Your Marketing Plan This Fall?

calf-shot.jpg Your grandpa sold the calves on the same day each fall, and your father followed that tradition as well. Now it's your turn to make the decisions. It would be only natural to follow the old way and do the same thing this year. Yet, cattle economists are predicting the potential for producers to reap profitable rewards this year, if they make the right marketing decisions for their calf crop, of course.

Today's producer poll is this: What's your marketing plan this fall?

Are you planning on loading the calves onto the truck immediately after weaning? Will you hold onto the calves until December or January? Are you teaming up with any value-added programs? How has your marketing plan changed over the years, and how will you tweak it to gain the most dollars in this optimistic year?

BEEF magazine has a wealth of information on marketing tips and tricks for producers. Click here to learn more in order to make an educated decision for your operation. Of particular interest, you might want to check out the exclusive BEEF magazine survey on value-based marketing participation. You can see it here.

Finally, happy 25th wedding anniversary to the most dedicated BEEF Daily fans out there, my parents, Dave and Peggy Nolz! They have spent many anniversary weekends weaning calves together, and with my wedding day only three days away, it looks like I may join that family tradition as well. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for being my biggest supporters! I love you both! Congratulations!

U.S. cattlemen to tour Brazil in 2011

BEEF magazine is offering readers a chance to get up close and personal next January with the cattle-production powerhouse that is Brazil. The 2011 BEEF Study Tour To Brazil, set for Jan. 17-29, 2011, will allow participants to learn about the U.S. cattle industry’s biggest competitor and sample the culture and beauty of South America’s largest country.

The trip includes stops at Brazilian ranches, ag research centers and market venues, as well as stops in tourist venues in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Space is limited to 20 passengers, so reserve your spot early by contacting Renata Stephens at Brazilian Liaison ( at 612-802-2388 or [email protected].

2011 National Beef Ambassador Team Ready To Get To Work

img_7405.JPG My adrenaline is still pumping from this weekend's excitement in Rapid City, SD, where the 2011 National Beef Ambassadors were selected in a national competition. I had a fun weekend visiting with friends and colleagues, and the caliber of young people who showed up to compete was incredible. I’m proud to say that after an intense weekend of media training, these ambassadors are equipped to represent America’s farmers and ranchers in their travels and through online conversations.

img_7404.jpg As many of you know, I was a member of the 2006 National Beef Ambassador Team, a program that enlists youth to become spokespersons for our industry by educating consumers and students about beef nutrition, food safety and stewardship practices of the beef industry. It was one of the most formative years of my life, and I’m excited for this year’s team and the many opportunities that will come their way during the course of their term. My sister, Kaley, even had the chance to compete in the first ever National Junior Beef Ambassador Competition over the weekend, and I’m a proud big sister to say that she placed first in the contest! Way to go, Kaley!

I’m happy to introduce the new 2011 National Beef Ambassador Team: Jessica Sweet from California, Austin Joyce from Texas, Kristen Stufft from Pennsylvania, Maddy Ruble from Minnesota, and Kelli Fulkerson from Michigan. Congratulations to all the participants and winners! Thank you in advance for all that you will do on behalf of America’s beef producers!

To learn more about the National Beef Ambassador Program, link here.