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Brain cancer is in the news this morning after word that Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed. Represents less than 1/2 of 1% of all cancers.

Two more positions filled by White House. Named to be undersecretary for trade and foreign affairs is Ted McKinney. Grew up in Tipton, Indiana. Dr. Sam Clovis also appointed to position at USDA.

There's a reward being offered in Eden Valley, Minn., for person or persons who loosed mink from mink farm.

Young man in Saudi Arabia was planning to attend university in Michigan. He was charged and imprisoned and facing beheading for attending pro-democracy rally in Saudi Arabia before boarding plane to U.S.

Farm Progress America, July 20, 2017

Max Armstrong looks at the global, and provincial, nature of our food system and the potential for bioterrorism. An Iowa pork producer has raised a flag of worry about the potential for agroterrorism across the country. Max shares insight on a new law passed recently to help bolster protection for the industry.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Carsten Koall/stringer/Getty Images

Nina Teicholz debunks “What the Health” documentary

Amanda Radke What the Health

Food Inc., Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives, King Corn, Farmageddon, Vegucated, Food Beware — these are just a handful of the popular food documentaries that have gone viral in recent years.

Riddled with misinformation, drama, suspense and plenty of fear-mongering, these pseudo-science films question modern production agriculture and foods Americans love to enjoy.

Viewers are left to feel a mixed bag of emotions — guilt, worry, fear and disgust — with the ultimate goal of many of these films for folks to ditch meat and dairy products from their diets.

Most recently, a new documentary called “What the Health” began streaming on Netflix. Created by the producers of Cowspiracy, you can about imagine the direction this film takes.

In response to the film, Nina Teicholz, author of “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet,” took some time to debunk 37 inaccurate claims made in this film. Her blog post titled, “‘What the Health’ review: Health claims backed by no solid evidence,” was featured on Diet Doctor.

She writes, “Let’s give Anderson some credit: his film is so unrelentingly terrifying and convincing that by the end, one wants to jump right on his vegan bandwagon and cease forever from eating cheese, which one person in the film calls “coagulated cow pus” or the ‘pure garbage’ of ‘dead, decaying animal flesh,’ which are Anderson’s terms for meat.

“The film does not cite a single rigorous randomized controlled trial on humans supporting its arguments. Instead What the Health presents a great deal of weak epidemiological data, case studies on one or two people, or other inconclusive evidence. Some of the studies cited actually conclude the opposite of what is claimed.

“In fact, WTH, based on zero sound science, is quite likely a piece of animal-welfare advocacy masquerading as a public health film.”

Teicholz says she’s skeptical of vegan diets in general because of a few important observations, which include:

“No human population in the history of civilization has ever been recorded surviving on a vegan diet,” she writes. “The vegan diet is nutritionally insufficient, lacking not only vitamin B12 but deficient in heme iron and folate. A near-vegan diet, in rigorous clinical trials, invariably causes HDL-cholesterol to drop and sometimes raises triglycerides, which are both signs of worsening heart attack risk.

“Over the last 30 years, as rates of obesity and diabetes have risen sharply in the U.S., the consumption of animal foods has declined steeply: whole milk is down 79%; red meat by 28% and beef by 35%; eggs are down by 13% and animal fats are down by 27%.

“Meanwhile, consumption of fruits is up by 35% and vegetables by 20%. All trends therefore point towards Americans shifting from an animal-based diet to a plant-based one, and this data contradict the idea that a continued shift towards plant-based foods will promote health,” she says.

In fact, she offers this tidbit: “There’s the entire Indian subcontinent, where beef is not eaten by the large majority of people, which has seen diabetes explode over the past decade.”

Read Teicholz’s entire rebuttal about the film by clicking here.

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

Market reaction negligible to latest BSE announcement

Getty Images/John Moore Cattle auction

Just as with the previous announcements that an atypical BSE case had been identified in the United States, USDA’s announcement Tuesday that an 11-year-old beef cow in Alabama had been diagnosed with the disease barely created a ripple.

Nearby Live Cattle futures closed higher Wednesday and slightly lower Thursday, shrugging off the news. Although only 708 head sold out of the 2,912 head offered in the weekly Fed Cattle Exchange Auction, those that did brought steady money with the prior week's sale, and steady money to $2 lower compared to the bulk of last week's negotiated sales,according to BEEF Cattle Economics columnist Wes ishmael. Initial media reports indicated that while South Korea will ramp up inspections of U.S. beef, other major export markets for U.S. beef didn’t anticipate any adverse reaction to the announcement.

And that’s as it should be. Why? Because unlike classic BSE, which was the case with the Cow that Stole Christmas back in 2003, atypical BSE is believed to occur spontaneously. Scientists don’t know what causes it, but they think that about 1 in a million cows 8 years old or older will display the neurological symptoms associated with atypical BSE.

READ: Atypical BSE case detected in Alabama

What’s more, just like the previous atypical cases that were detected in Alabama, Texas and California, it doesn’t affect our international trading status. The OIE, the international organization for animal health, recognizes the U.S. as a country at negligible risk for BSE. Since this was an atypical case, that risk status won’t change.

But the big question is this: will the announcement affect our newly-birthed trade relationship with China? We don’t know at this point. But in the protocol that was developed and signed off by both countries, this exact possibility was anticipated. And the protocol says that if the U.S. detects a BSE case but it doesn’t change our risk status with OIE, trade will continue. Time will tell if the Chinese will honor that.

In fact, the many countries that import U.S. beef should look at this incident with reassurance. The U.S. has, most likely, the most robust animal health surveillance system in the world. The cow was identified at a sale barn and removed from commerce before it ever entered the food chain.

The system worked. And that’s the best news of all to emerge from USDA’s announcement. The U.S. beef industry and our markets both here and abroad can take great comfort in that. 



Stocking stuffers for more sales

More pointers for satisfying holiday shoppers and increasing revenues.

·         Find an item that is new and compelling. Promote it to stimulate interest.

·         Advertise a low-prices “door crasher” item that operates as a loss leader to increase your customer count.

·         Position seasonal impulse items at your cash registers.

·         Offer pre-wrapped items as instant presents, ready for the tree.

·         Contact your regular customers by email with exclusive offers.

·         Train your staff to act in a friendly, welcoming way.

·         Attract more customers with an in-store, fun event. Consider a “balloon popping” contest in which each balloon has a slip of paper offering a discount or a special gift.

Get ready for a profitable Christmas season


Retailers rejoice: a robust economy and a resulting surge in consumer spending should make this Christmas season among the most profitable in years. At the same time, merchants need to come up with attractive price points and compelling sales messages, because shoppers will be doing more than their usual amount of comparison shopping.

“Consumer confidence remains high,” says Bob Phibbs, a retail consultant based in Coxsackie, NY ( “And we are now on the other side of the election, so that uncertainty is behind us.” Furthermore, shoppers are not expected to be preoccupied with other expenses. “Employment is surging ahead, and interest rates and gas prices remain low,” points out Al Meyers, a retail innovation consultant at Kalypso, Cleveland ( “As a result, there’s no reason we shouldn’t have a halfway decent holiday season.”

Trim prices
Before ringing too many holiday bells, though, retailers need to realize that shoppers will be bargain-hunting. “The nation has been experiencing many high-profile store closings,” says Phibbs. As a result, consumers will be expecting retailers to reduce prices. “It’s going to be harder to communicate compelling messages beyond discounting.”

Just as challenging as a product supply glut is a rapid growth of ecommerce at the expense of brick and mortar stores. Aggressive promotions by online retailers will put more downward pressure on prices. “Retailers are going to have to come up with promotions that shoppers can’t get on the web or from Amazon,” says Dave Ratner, a speaker and consultant on retailing based in Agawam, Mass. (

Package deals
What to do? Ratner suggests beating the price-watchers at their own game: Assemble packages of related merchandise that offer eye-catching discounts while boosting your average ticket sale. “In all of your promotions you should try to do kits,” says Ratner, referring to such grouped merchandise. “You will be a lot more successful selling batches of related merchandise than selling add-ons to a base item.”

Ratner likens this approach to that of package deals in the travel industry and the “luxury” offerings of car dealers. You also might offer discounts for the purchase of two or more items of the same kind. Because this increases rather than trims revenues, it’s a much wiser move than offering discounts on a per-item basis.

Target key shoppers
Avoid making the mistake of competing on price alone. You must differentiate yourself by communicating an exclusive reason to shop at your store rather than all the others. Just as important as the presentation of package deals is drawing in the right shoppers. “It’s important to target promotions to specific demographic groups,” says Ratner.

One of the best ways to do that is the use of social media. Ratner points specifically to Facebook, where retailers can send messages to groups of people identified by age, occupation, and even location. “You can buy Facebook ads that target people within five miles of your store, to various occupations, hobbies and genders,” he says. “And the costs are so much less than the old days of print ads and mailers.”

And speaking of targets, how about aiming at local organizations that can do your marketing for you—or at least help substantially? “Make deals with your local schools, churches or other organizations,” says Ratner. “Do promotions that will appeal to their members, and give the organizations a cut of the sales. They will end up promoting your merchandise for a cut of the profits.”

Dress for success
Employee training, of course, is equally vital. “The biggest mistake is to load up with part time people who barely know how to ring up a sale, then fail to train them and then get mad at them for not engaging with customers,” says Phibbs. “You need to start training people early.”

Personnel make up half the battle. The other half is the creation of a sparkling, festive store environment. People love to shop in a happy place. Packing your store full of the holiday spirit will make the cash registers ring a happy tune. “Anything you can do to make your store more fun than the big guys is a big deal,” says Ratner. “Have your employees dress up to make your store festive for the holidays.”

Decorate with festive banners, garlands, and evergreen branches. Add pine aroma and quiet, tasteful holiday music. Replace your light bulbs and make sure the whole place is well lit.

Interactive signing throughout the store can be effective in directing shoppers to holiday merchandise, says Meyer. “Emphasize suggestive selling and promotions as people pass by the screens.” Provide more signing at the point of sale to give shoppers what they need to know to make a decision. “Once people are in your store you do not want them to see empty shelves,” says Ratner. “Display your merchandise in imaginative ways so people are encouraged to walk around the store.”

Bonus tip: Provide small baskets so people can carry a lot of small items to your cash registers.

Nail the sale
Once they get to the checkout, customers will be open to one final sale. That can make the difference between profit and loss for your store. “Promote an item at the checkout, selling for under $10, that is an easy impulse item for people to pick up,” says Phibbs. “Make it something people don’t have to think about. Add a compelling sign that says something like ‘The gift you forgot.’”

Bonus tip: Set up a system for bringing merchandise to the customer’s door. “Retailers are going to have to offer delivery,” says Ratner. “Consumers have become used to that from the ecommerce merchants.”

How about your own store? The ideas in this article will help you put in place some profit-boosting ideas to catch the public eye. For more tips see the sidebar, “Stocking Stuffers for More Sales,” and pick the ones that look right for you.

If you develop a compelling sales message, trim your prices, and promote package sales to targeted shoppers, the result will be a profitable Christmas season. “You have to know your customer, communicate why people should leave their houses and come to your store, and really focus on those four walls to create an exceptional experience,” says Phibbs. “That takes a lot of work. But what other choice do you have?”


This weather is playing into the worries that the pheasant hunters have. Bad weather last weather and drought this summer could put damper on fall pheasant hunt in South Dakota.

At Clinton County Fair in Ohio, they've had 2 hogs test positive for swine flu and have ordered the slaughter of at least 300 animals.

Four children wandered away from day care: two five-olds, six-year-old and eight-year-old wandered were found more than mile from day care in Kearney, Nebraska.

Women in Overland Park charged for leaving two children alone in hot car. Ages 11 months and 3 years.

Tennessee comptroller was hacked last month.

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton will get together for one last concert. It's been more than decade since did CMT special together.


Across our region, it's all about the heat this week. In Perry, Kansas, there have been three nights with blackouts. It's been combination of factors including road construction and storms.

For weeks there's been pressure on Nebraska Democrat Chelsey Gentry-Tipton to step down as chairwoman of the party's Black Caucus in light of social media posts that seemed to make light of reaction when one congressman was shot at Republican baseball practice. She wrote, “Hard to be empathetic towards those that have no empathy for us. The very people that push pro NRA legislation in efforts to pad their pockets with complete disregard for human life. Yeah, having a hard time feeling bad for them.” She has been removed from position. 

Most leaders offering comments about NAFTA say improve it if you can, but do no harm. Trade went from $9 billion to more than $38 billion total since NAFTA enacted.

It's time of year when state fairs announce foods for the season. Take this for example, the Iowa State Fair Thanksgiving Balls. 

Farm Progress America, July 19, 2017

Max Armstrong talks about the changing look at the product market. He finds that he was surprised by the wide variety of cherries available this spring. Cherry production is up, but the tart cherry business saw a decline in production. He shares more information about this favorite fruit for many.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Atypical BSE detected in Alabama

Getty Images/Larry Smith Testing for BSE

Source: USDA

In what is expected to be largely a non-event in the cattle markets, USDA today announced that an atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was detected in an 11-year-old cow in Alabama. USDA says the animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply or to human health in the United States.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) have determined that this cow was positive for atypical (L-type) BSE. The animal was showing clinical signs and was found through routine surveillance at an Alabama livestock market. APHIS and Alabama veterinary officials are gathering more information on the case.

BSE is not contagious and exists in two types - classical and atypical. Classical BSE is the form that occurred primarily in the United Kingdom beginning in the late 1980s, and it has been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in people. The primary source of infection for classical BSE is feed contaminated with the infectious prion agent, such as meat-and-bone meal containing protein derived from rendered infected cattle. FDA regulations have prohibited the inclusion of mammalian protein in feed for cattle and other ruminants since 1997 and have also prohibited high risk tissue materials in all animal feed since 2009. 

Atypical BSE is different, and it generally occurs in older cattle, usually 8 years of age or greater. It seems to arise rarely and spontaneously in all cattle populations.

This is the nation’s 5th detection of BSE. Of the four previous U.S. cases, the first was a case of classical BSE that was imported from Canada; the rest have been atypical (H- or L-type) BSE.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has recognized the United States as negligible risk for BSE. As noted in the OIE guidelines for determining this status, atypical BSE cases do not impact official BSE risk status recognition as this form of the disease is believed to occur spontaneously in all cattle populations at a very low rate. Therefore, this finding of an atypical case will not change the negligible risk status of the United States, and should not lead to any trade issues. 

The United States has a longstanding system of interlocking safeguards against BSE that protects public and animal health in the United States, the most important of which is the removal of specified risk materials - or the parts of an animal that would contain BSE should an animal have the disease - from all animals presented for slaughter. The second safeguard is a strong feed ban that protects cattle from the disease. Another important component of the system - which led to this detection - is our ongoing BSE surveillance program that allows USDA to detect the disease if it exists at very low levels in the U.S. cattle population.