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We can sell more beef

Beef industry needs to shift from reactive to proactive

Seeing your own work on display can elicit pride. For those raising cattle and beef, producers often feel proud of the work they do every day to feed the world. To continue that feeling of pride, Dan Thomson, Iowa State University Department of Animal Science chair, shared the idea that producers can sell more beef if the industry takes the challenges and turns them into opportunities. During the Beef Improvement Federation Symposium June 23 in Des Moines, Iowa, Thomson discussed how he stumbled upon this idea and how it caused his entire perspective to change.

Over time the beef industry has changed and made progress in response to industry issues or challenges. Most times, the industry is reactive. This is where Thomson encourages a perspective shift.

“If the industry is proactive, if they meet consumers demand, the retail sector of the industry can sell more beef,” Thomson said.



When evaluating sectors of the industry, from cow-calf to retail, improvements need to be made. One of those big improvements to help the whole industry is to eliminate fighting within the industry. Thinking about the United States as a first world country where food is abundant, yet poverty and obesity are still issues may change some perspectives. Thomson suggests shifting the focus to selling beef across the globe to address the food security issue.

Sustainability comes to the forefront as a solution to the food insecurity problem. However, Thomson shares how sustainability needs to be defined in a more manageable way before everyone makes it the answer to saving the planet.



“At the end of the day we can talk about all the components of sustainability, but we have to remain profitable,” Thomson said. “Without profitability, we cannot be sustainable.”

Improvements through the years have been made that have ultimately improved the sustainability of beef production. When looking at the positive changes, a focus on animal welfare has grown tremendously. The industry is committed to eliminating antibiotic residue and resistance. Even with audits, cattle producers and other sectors of the industry go beyond checking the boxes and doing the standard, required tasks. With each challenge, a solution is discovered which ultimately improves the beef industry. This improves the sustainability of the production system which increases the opportunity to sell more beef.

As a takeaway, Thomson shared how he believes that cattle are beneficial to the environment. Producers can sell more beef if they take the improvements they are making and the changes in sustainability and use it to market the product, not market against each other.

“We need to quit thinking about this as an agricultural issue,” Thomson said. “This is an ‘if you eat’ issue, this is an American issue, this is a global issue.”

To watch Thomson’s full presentation, visit https://youtu.be/30jtQGNGOrM. For more information about this year’s symposium and the Beef Improvement Federation, including additional presentations and award winners, visit BIFSymposium.com.


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