Tag Archives: Beef

WASHINGTON  – Today National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Director of Government Affairs Danielle Beck issued the following statement in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement that they will hold a public meeting on foods produced using animal cell culture technology:

“NCBA looks forward to participating fully in the public meeting, and will use the opportunity to advocate for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversight of lab-grown fake meat products. The Food and Drug Administration’s announcement disregards the authorities granted to USDA under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, as well as USDA’s significant scientific expertise and long-standing success in ensuring the safety of all meat and poultry products. Under the current regulatory framework, FDA plays an important role in terms of ensuring the safety of food additives used in meat, poultry, and egg products. All additives are initially evaluated for safety by FDA, but ultimately FSIS maintains primary jurisdiction.”


According to the FDA, the public meeting is intended to provide interested parties and the public with an opportunity to comment on emerging lab-grown protein technology. The public meeting is not a formal decision and will not prevent USDA from asserting primary jurisdiction.

USDA oversight of lab-grown protein products is consistent with existing federal laws. Lab-grown protein products fall within statutory definitions of a meat byproduct. USDA is responsible for ensuring the safety and proper labeling of all such products under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA).

Regardless whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or a card-carrying Mugwump, I think we can all agree that President Donald Trump is a man not afraid to change his mind. Of course, that’s not to say that everyone would characterize this unique flexibility in the same way.

What strikes some as being open-minded, hits others as being empty-headed. What speaks to some as strategic deal making, warns others of random cluelessness. What some admire as bold examples of leadership, others fear as reckless and counterproductive displays of power.

Furthermore, many members of the citizen jury flip their verdicts from morning tweet to morning tweet. Our wonderful country can often be a tough bar to manage with the head bouncer facing intractable problems on a daily basis. Reassessments can be good or bad, absolutely necessary or dangerous second-guessing.

No less a thinker than Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Whatever else fans and critics might think of the commander-in-chief’s gray matter, it is clearly not haunted by ghosts of uniformity and steadfastness.

But while I’m glad President Trump is not demonically possessed by an irrational need to strictly “stay the course” for its own sake, I am increasingly troubled by the reckless way he likes to shoot from the hip in matters of global trade.

The seeds of mistrust now being sown among many of our major trading partners makes me wonder if the White House truly understands the evolutionary nature of the international marketplace, a networking process that slowly improves over time as “non-zero” relationships (i.e., net import and export sums that benefit both sides of a trade) proliferate and compound.

But if this criticism is too harsh on the Trump administration, I feel more confident in saying that the president and his entire motley crew (given the extremely short truce in the trade war with China declared just last week, it seems clear that not every team member is rowing in the same direction) could benefit from a season or two of demanding fieldwork and farm management.

As far as I’m concerned, the great and abiding ethos of agricultural marketing has always been summarized by the pledge “my word is my bond.” Many may think this sounds quaint and unrealistic. But I still think it’s the fundamental nail that guarantees 95% or more of the country’s farm business.

That’s not to say that no one in the farming and ranching community ever bothers with lawyers and contracts. Of course, successful producers follow prudent business practices. And that’s not to say that all those who work the soil or sort cattle automatically turn into unimpeachable Eagle Scouts. Bad apples fall from rural and urban orchards alike.

Nevertheless, I would have no qualms testifying before Congress (or perhaps more to the point, chatting over drinks at Mar-a-Lago) about agriculture’s extraordinarily high commitment to honor and trust in matters of commerce. Maybe I’m hopelessly naive. But I’ve seen too many unhedged farmers dutifully deliver contracted corn dollars under the spot market and too many unhedged feedlot managers accept delivery on fall calves tens of dollars above the spot market to think otherwise.

Although waves of consolidation and concentration have certainly changed some of the dynamics of agricultural business over the decades, an amazing network of trust and cooperation still exists in the country. This network’s taproot is comprised of realities such as isolation, low population, piecemeal infrastructure, and scattered markets.

The magic of this necessary trust at first fostered the rising levels of trade required to feed and energize the continental United States. This same quality of trust was then increasingly married to hundreds of other trusting business partners all around the world to create global trade worth trillions and trillions of dollars.

Unfortunately, this long-tested alchemy of trust and trade, a proven elixir responsible for the creation of untold wealth through U.S. agriculture, as well as the nation as a whole, is being threatened by a president who believes that trade wars are good and easily won.

Can’t you just hear our trading partners say something like “Anyone so casually bellicose is not to be trusted.” And that’s exactly the point. Trust and trade go together like love and marriage. Once you become less than trustworthy, your sex appeal as a trading partner quickly goes south.

During less than 18 months in office, President Trump has reneged (or threatened to renege) on U.S. international pledges too numerous to count. Some of these decisions may have been well-reasoned. But the way the president and his team blow hot and cold (sometimes on the same day), is it any wonder that U.S. creditability seems to be approaching an all-time low.

Maybe if Trump had been raised in the wilds of western Nebraska or Kansas instead of cushy New York, he would have learned one of the woodshed’s most valuable lessons: “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.”

JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI  – An omnibus bill, sponsored by Sen. Brian Munzlinger (R-18), passed  with a bipartisan 125-22 vote. The legislation, SB 627, carried in the House by Rep. Jay Houghton (R-43), contains several provisions including SB 977, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Crawford (R-28), which is identical to HB 2607 led in the House by Rep. Jeff Knight (R-129). The language prohibits misrepresenting a product as meat that was not derived from harvested livestock. The legislation comes at a time when laboratory grown meat is being debated throughout the country and in Washington. D.C.

Missouri became the first state to address the issue with legislation, sending a signal to other states to follow suit. Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) Executive Vice President Mike Deering expects other state cattle organizations to lead legislation in their respective state.

“This isn’t a Missouri issue. This is about protecting the integrity of the products that farm and ranch families throughout the country work hard to raise each and every day,” said Deering. “I never imagined we would be fighting over what is and isn’t meat. It seems silly. However, this is very real and I cannot stress enough the importance of this issue. We are beyond pleased to see this priority legislation cross the finish-line.”

The current definition of meat in Missouri Statutes is:  “any edible portion of livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof.” This definition certainly excludes plant-based or even laboratory grown food products from being considered meat. Deering said the problem is there is nothing definitive in state statute to prevent the misrepresentation of these products as meat. The legislation that will now be sent to the Governor for consideration prohibits “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” Deering said the association does not oppose plant-based or laboratory grown food products.

“This legislation does not stifle technology, but it does ensure the integrity of our meat supply and reduces consumer confusion. We must ensure that those products do not mislead consumers into thinking those products are actually meat produced by farm and ranch families,” said Deering. “The use of traditional nomenclature on alternative products is confusing to consumers and weakens the value of products derived from actual livestock production.”
The passage of the legislation follows a vote by the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday, May 16, 2018, supporting regulatory oversight of lab-grown meat substitutes by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). MCA and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association believe USDA is best-placed to ensure food safety and accurate labeling of these products.

CENTENNIAL, CO – Already an international hit, beef will be in the global spotlight May 31 when the Federation of State Beef Councils helps sponsor a special dinner and appetizers for participants of the 22nd World Meat Congress in Dallas, Texas.

The WMC is held biennially and allows international experts in the beef, pork, lamb and veal industries to discuss issues affecting livestock and meat production around the globe. This year the event is being hosted by the International Meat Secretariat and the U.S. Meat Export Federation. It is the first time the WMC has been held in the United States in more than 20 years.

Chef Laura Hagen of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program, helped design the menu to showcase beef to buyers from around the world. Among the beef items on the menu for the event’s USMEF Beef Team Seminar and Dinner will be a Tender Pepper Rubbed Strip Steak, as well as a Top Sirloin Caprese Skewer and Grilled Salsa Flank Steak appetizer. All of the beef items to be served can be found on the beef industry’s “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” website, www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com, which is managed by NCBA as a beef checkoff contractor.

“This is a great opportunity to highlight the wonderful taste, quality and variety of beef with some of the world’s leading beef experts,” according to Dawn Caldwell, a Nebraska beef producer and Federation chair. “At the same time, we look forward to discussing with these leaders the great care with which we raise what we think is the best beef in the world.”

During the dinner, attendees will also view the new “Rethink the Ranch” video to highlight the care producers take to produce world famous U.S. beef. The video showcases the entire process of U.S. beef production.

Among the attendees of the 2018 WMC will be producers, exporters, marketing specialists, policy analysts, economists and meat scientists. A division of NCBA, the Federation has supported work of the USMEF to assure consumers around the world understand the benefits of featuring U.S. beef on their tables.

Helping sponsor the May 31 event is the National Corn Board.

OMAHA (DTN) — Clean, cultured beef. It’s what’s for dinner — maybe in the near future. But don’t call it “meat” or “beef.” Perhaps something more along the lines of “cell-cultured protein.”

The science of growing protein from cultured cells is moving fast and so are the prospects for commercial sales. But the arguments are heating up over how to define and regulate these products, which are grown in a laboratory instead of being raised in a pasture and slaughtered as meat.

Earlier this week, the Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent foods that do not come from traditionally raised livestock from being called “meat.” It’s the first bill nationally that could define and restrict plant-based and cell-cultured products from using the terms “meat” or “beef.”

“It’s just something I believe in,” freshman state Rep. Jeff Knight told DTN. “My wife and I have a small, local livestock market. Her family’s been in the livestock business her entire life. I was born and raised on the farm and raised beef cattle. It wasn’t like I needed prodding to try to protect farmers. Livestock is something pretty important to us and people in our state.”

Knight added that these protein companies confuse consumers with silhouettes of animals on the packaging even though the product may come from a plant or a lab.

“That’s as wrong as you can get,” Knight said. “I’m a pretty simple country boy and I don’t understand something growing in a petri dish being sprayed with antibiotics. Everybody is worried about medicine and medicated feed and what you put into your animals, but we can grow something in a petri dish and spray it with antibiotics to keep stuff from growing on it, then call it meat.”

On the federal level, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) filed a petition earlier this year with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to set labeling requirements that exclude products from using the terms “beef” and “meat” if those products did not come from animals that were raised and slaughtered. USCA cited that major packing companies were investing in these lab companies and using various terms that included “beef” and “meat.”

“Such products, which are not derived from animals born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner, should not be permitted to be marketed as ‘beef’ or more broadly, as ‘meat’ products,” USCA wrote in its petition, asking FSIS to update its definitions for products.

To view USCA’s petition, visit https://www.regulations.gov/…

Defining whether cell-cultured proteins are “meat” comes as major meat companies are investing more in these emerging technologies. On Wednesday, the Israel-based Future Meat Technologies announced a $2.2 million seed investment led by Tyson Ventures, an arm of Tyson Foods. Future Meat Technologies said it produces animal cells from non-GMO production, “without the need to raise or harvest animals.” The company stated that its technology is prohibitively expensive now, but the price could come down rapidly.

“It is difficult to imagine cultured meat becoming a reality with a current production price of about $10,000 per kilogram,” said Yaakov Nahmias, Future Meat Technology’s founder and chief scientist. “We redesigned the manufacturing process until we brought it down to $800 per kilogram today, with a clear roadmap to $5 to 10 per kg by 2020.”

Both Tyson and Cargill Protein have invested in another major player in this arena, Memphis Meats, which is based in San Francisco, California. Memphis Meats describes its products as “clean meat” or “cultured meat” from animal cells sourced from livestock or poultry.

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association petitions had received 50 comments as of Thursday. Memphis Meats responded to USCA’s petition on Wednesday, asking USDA to deny the cattlemen’s petition and asking USDA to coordinate with the Food and Drug Administration before any decisions are made “regarding the labeling of clean/cultured meat products.”

Memphis Meats added that is “imperative” that both USDA and FDA “encourage the development of these and other innovative protein-based food products, as these products have the potential to not only expand consumer choice, but also address the growing global need for protein products.”

If the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association petition were granted, Memphis Meats said it would result in “a broad federal prohibition” on terms such as “beef” and “meat.”

The Federal Meat Inspections Act defines “meat food product” as coming from part of “the carcass of any cattle, sheep, swine or goats.” USDA also defines a “meat food product” as coming wholly or partially from any meat or portion of the carcass.” Then there is a “meat byproduct” that is more broadly defined.

But Memphis Meat points to other FSIS regulations to state that clean-cultured meat products meet the statutory and regulatory definitions of meat. Memphis Meats describes the USCA petition as misguided and, if adopted, would stifle innovation.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke briefly about lab-grown meat, noting there are often gray areas between USDA and FDA. But Perdue noted USDA would likely continue oversight.

“We would expect any product that expects to be labeled as meat would come under that same inspection criteria there,” Perdue said.

If USDA’s FSIS has jurisdiction, USDA has not detailed any ground rules as of yet. For instance, what would be the rules for when cells are removed from an animal? What would be the rules for a lab-based processor for a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan? What kind of sampling and testing would be appropriate? And how would antibiotic use be regulated, which is now done by FDA through feed rules for livestock.

An FSIS spokesperson told DTN the regulatory issues with these non-traditional meat products is not black and white.

“We are currently looking into it but are not at a point where we can share information,” the spokesperson said.

The comment period for the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association petition was extended to May 18 at the request of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), the trade association for the meatpacking industry, which was waiting for a board meeting before filing comments. NAMI will call for FSIS to assert jurisdiction over these products, but NAMI’s board also defends the potential for cultured meats.

“We believe this will ensure that lab-grown, cultured meat and poultry products are wholesome and safe for consumption and are labeled and marketed in a manner that ensures a level playing field in the marketplace,” said Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of NAMI.

Other agricultural groups are more in line with the USCA stance. The American Simmental Association, for instance, wrote in response to the petition that the new emphasis on protein alternatives “has become a grave concern” to its members. The association asked FSIS to ensure “meat” and “beef” are limited to tissue or flesh derived from animals that have been harvested in the traditional manner.

Arizona Farm Bureau Federation agreed with the USCA petition.

One petition commenter, who listed no affiliation, noted, “If it ain’t got hooves, it ain’t beef. If it wasn’t detached from a bone, it ain’t meat from beef.”