Grass & Grain

Grass & Grain 5-3-16

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By Donna Sullivan, Editor The 2016 Upson Lecture Series was held Monday, April 25, sponsored by Food For Thought, a Kansas State University student organiza- tion dedicated to bridging the gap between agriculture producers and consumers. For the first time, the event featured a panel rather than an individual speaker. Farm- To-Fork Beef Production was the subject of the panel discussion that included Mark Harms, Lincolnville, who owns and operates Harms Plainview Ranch, a Red Angus and Charolais seedstock operation; Todd Allen, president of Cargill Cattle Feeders; Ann Brack- enridge, director of Value- added Protein Beef Research and Development for Cargill; and Chef Alli, speaker and brand diplomat for agriculture organizations. The discussion was moderat- ed by Agriculture Today pro- ducer Eric Atkinson. Topics ranged from pub- lic perception issues, organic production and the use of technology to sustainability and animal traceability, as the panel not only took ques- tions from Atkinson and the audience, but occasionally turned the tables and posed a few questions of their own to the students in attendance. On the subject of the most pressing public perception issue currently facing the meat industry, Harms and Allen agreed that the use of antibiotics looms large. "A lot of it is lack of un- derstanding or fear itself," Harms stated. "If we don't know any different, a lot of times we will believe the first thing we hear on a topic. The responsible use of an- tibiotics is important to me as a producer. I don't use them because it feels good or because I want to add more expenses to my operation. There's a very sensible rea- son for using them and that's to protect the health and wel- fare of the livestock we pro- duce." He added that helping consumers understand the protocols that are used would go a long way towards easing some of their fears. Cargill recently an- nounced a goal of a 20% re- duction in antibiotic use and Allen acknowledged the pushback within the industry on the lack of solid proof that antibiotic use is causing bacterial resistance. "We can debate that a lot, there are a lot of unknowns around the subject," he said. "But the re- ality today is that horse is al- ready out of the barn." He believes the opportunity to simply educate the consumer on the safety of antibiotics is more or less gone and the issue now is how those in- volved in producing proteins can reduce the use of antibi- otics in a way that will sus- tain the production systems efficiently and effectively from an economic perspec- tive. "Pharmaceutical com- panies understand they have a target on their back around antibacterials," Allen said. "We're going to pay some- body a lot more to help us not use antibiotics than we're paying today to use them. They get that and they're working on it." As the average consumer struggles to understand the differences between organic, natural and conventionally raised foods, so did some of the students express a bit of confusion. Both Bracken- ridge and Chef Alli empha- sized that nutritionally speaking, all the production methods are the same. From a food safety standpoint, Allen brought up the topic of hormones in food. "One of the technologies that falls under the dark cloud is the use of hormone implants in cattle," he said. To illustrate, he explained how a sixteen- ounce steak from an animal that has been implanted with an estrogen implant has three nanograms of estrogen while one without the im- plant has two nanograms. While that 50% increase be- tween the two might alarm consumers, he pointed out that a jar of peanut butter has 4500 nanograms of estrogen. "Sometimes the fear mon- gers and the internet has led people astray," said Allen. If you'll simply spend two minutes doing a little re- search, you'll find out how ridiculous some of it is." With that knowledge, Allen says he won't spend the extra money to buy organi- cally produced food, al- though he believes people have the right to make that choice if they want to. "Cargill believes in those choices and we have a full spectrum out there on the shelf." He told how the com- pany's marketing people are always asking why they can't take out the hormones, antibiotics and beta agonists. "We can take out every one of those things," he said. "In fact, it's available today. It's called All Natural. It's just going to cost you $20 instead of $10. They say, 'We can't afford that,' and I rest my case." Chef Alli emphasized the importance of using the dig- ital platform to reach urban consumers. "Those people spend a lot of time commut- ing and so are on their de- vices," she explained. "So that's why telling a digital story and blogging and things like that is super-im- portant." In running her ana- lytics for last year, she dis- covered that through her blog and other digital medi- ums, she had reached two million people with her mes- sages promoting agriculture. Harms agreed that social media is one of the best ways to reach a consuming public that has no desire to be lec- tured and probably won't take the time to read up on a subject. "With the exponen- tial growth of re-tweeting something or putting some- thing on the Internet, you have the greatest position in getting that message out," he said. "We are probably late getting to the party," Allen said. "In today's world you have minutes, maybe hours to respond to a negative at- tack, rather than days, weeks or months like we used to twenty years ago." He point- ed to the Pink Slime debacle where Lean Finely Textured Beef became the focus of negative attacks. "A perfect- ly safe, nutritious product was destroyed in a matter of hours, basically," he said. Upson Lecture panelists deal with beef production from farm to fork Agriculture Today host Eric Atkinson, left, moderated the panel discussion at the 2016 Upson Lecture Series. Pan- elists included, seated from left: Mark Harms, Ann Brackenridge, Todd Allen and Chef Alli, each representing their segment of the beef industry as it relates to meat production from farm to fork. Photo by Donna Sullivan Ag Heritage Park, Alta Vista, hosted its 5th annual Spring Crank Up! Tractor Show, Saturday, April 16th. The Parade of Power was led by Kirby Zimmerman driving his 1949 Farmall H, a tractor that belonged to Ag Heritage Park founder Everett Zimmerman. Riding in the trail- er advertising the day's events were Sheila Hill, her daughter Ashley Brown and grandson Porter, and Cindy Zimmerman with grand- daughter Lexi Wyrill. Thirty-four tractors, several stationary engines and a vintage sawmill added to the 40-plus tractors and exhibits al- ways on display at the Park. A drawing was held for the featured barn quilt at 4:00 that afternoon, with the winner being Ron Otney of Barnes. Courtesy photo 5th annual Spring Crank Up! Tractor Show held in Alta Vista Continued on page 3 5-3-16 sect. 1.qxp:Layout 1 4/28/16 11:30 AM Page 1

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