National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and Beef Checkoff taking credit for developing new products and building beef demand is as ridiculous as a company like BP claiming to promote the Gulf fishing industry.
I recently attended a gathering at a Five Star hotel in Colorado Springs. A lady sitting at my table looking at the filet on her plate, mostly uneaten, grumbled, "That's it, I'm not eating another steak in a restaurant."
Why has the NCBA and the Beef checkoff ignored the drastic quality decline in commodity beef. The hormone/steroid implant programs have never been more aggressive, resulting in even less tender, less flavorful beef than years ago when it was documented that most steaks lacked sufficient tenderness. And now, in the interests of technology and drug company profits, we are feeding Optiflex and Zilmax (beta-agonists) to increase carcass weights, while reducing eating quality to new lows.
Tenderness problems caused by misguided production technology now require most commodity steaks to be blade and/or chemically tenderized. These pre-digestion techniques make the meat more chewable, but do not address the mealy mouth feel and lack of natural flavor. It also doesn't fix our inability to digest the tougher muscle fiber and the uncomfortable digestive feeling following the meal - made worse by the weight enhancing water solutions and chemical flavoring agents.
Yesterday, a woman in our meat market said she got sick eating store bought beef at her daughter's house. She informed her daughter she wouldn't be coming to dinner again if the meat didn't come from Ranch Foods Direct.
Per capita demand is decreasing at a fast pace as consumers react negatively to bad meat eating experiences. More consumers turn away as they become aware of the way livestock are treated in the abusive industrial food system. Last week, at an animal welfare symposium in Manhattan, Kansas, Temple Grandin related, "If you can't explain to people at a Barnes and Noble in New York City what you are doing and have them understand and accept it, you shouldn't be doing it."
Zilmax, even more than Optiflex, DRASTICALLY reduces meat quality, makes cattle crazy, increases chances of respiratory distress, and damages joint health-thereby increasing the incidence of lameness. Zilmax is a clear indicator of how far these short-sighted profit driven corporations will go. Is this the kind of animal production we want? Is this the kind of beef we want to eat?
The top-down controlled NCBA and their packer/retailer partners will not change their direction willingly. Increased promotion (Beef, It's What's for Dinner) will not recover lost demand.
NCBA's long-range plan, financed with our checkoff dollars, is on track. Their goal of vertically integrating and industrializing the cattle and beef sectors using the chicken and hog models has, for the most part, been accomplished. NCBA, catering to their drug company board members, continues to push the use of growth promoting compounds and antibiotics. NCBA's meat packer board members will make sure the organization never supports restoring a fair market that is needed to provide a living income for producers.
Our industry, as we once knew it, no longer exists. The repair costs are going to be big. The longer we wait, the more costly it will be.
Maybe next time you're at a Barnes and Noble, you could explain to someone the benefits of eating Advanced Meat Recovery (AMR) beef and then ask them if that's what they really want for dinner.