Certified Angus Beef (CAB) LLC has partnered up with B3R Country Meats and Coleman Natural Products to add a “natural” product line to the world's leading beef brand. The new line will be called Certified Angus Beef® Natural.

CAB Natural products will have the same eight carcass specifications as traditional CAB products, the company says. Cattle committed to the CAB Natural program will be raised under a process-verified, USDA-audited system. Part of the system includes that the cattle have never been given hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products.

Initially, cattle must be of the Angus phenotype and fed in CAB-licensed feedlots, in addition to meeting all other requirements. At a later date, each animal will have to be from either a registered Angus bull or female, as indicated by the American Angus Association AngusSource tag.

Congress holds hearings on a national animal identification (ID) system. In hearings before the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, USDA said that, when designing a national animal ID system, the “diversity and complexity of our animal industries and the lack of experience with animal identification for a large number of U.S. producers must be considered.” USDA outlined its key objectives as being:

  • Allow producers, to the extent possible, the flexibility to use current systems or adopt new ones.

  • Have a system that's technology neutral to allow for existing technology and new forms of technology in the future.

  • Use and build upon the data standards developed by the U.S. Animal Identification Plan.

  • Allow producers to use the animal ID system with production management systems that respond to market incentives.

  • The system does not “unduly” increase the role and size of government.

Mexico agreed to reopen its border to U.S. beef. The first stage of the agreement allows exports of boneless beef products from animals less than 30 months of age. That first stage will reinstate 75-80% of what the U.S. traditionally exports to Mexico, says Phil Seng of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Export certification language was being developed at press time, but it was expected that U.S. products would be crossing into Mexico by late March or early April. In 2003, the U.S. exported 335,847 metric tons of beef and beef variety meat products to Mexico, valued at $877 million.

Cattle-Fax helps producers find profits in packer grids. Grid-Max is a new tool designed to help beef producers compare, analyze and simplify grid marketing decisions, as well as identify additional marketing opportunities.

The Internet-based program allows producers to directly compare how their cattle will perform on several packers' public grids. Program users can input their own cattle, make direct comparisons between public grids and see the net return of individual animals at specific plants during specific weeks. With a full year's data, it not only assists in weekly marketing decisions but can be a valuable tool in benchmarking cattle performance relative to numerous public grids offered by today's packers.

For more information, contact Bill Chandler or Mike Miller at Cattle-Fax by calling 800/825-7525 or e-mail bill@cattle-fax.org or mmiller@cattle-fax.org. The Grid-Max Web site is available through the Cattle-Fax home page or at www.grid-max.net.

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) meets May 25-28 in Sioux Falls, SD. The 36th annual meeting is set for the Sioux Falls Convention Center. View the program or register at www.BIF2004.com or ask for registration brochures at any county Extension office. Full registration is $100, $85 for spouses and $65 for students. Send checks by May 1 to South Dakota Cattlemen's Association — BIF, 435 S. Chapelle Ave., Pierre, SD 57501.

Survey finds 95% of respondents like the taste of irradiated ground beef. American National CattleWomen volunteers have been busy helping educate consumers and opinion leaders in eight states about irradiated ground beef since October 2003. Thus far, 15 educational activities have been held in Georgia, Missouri, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Arizona and Minnesota. Activities are pending in an additional 15 states.

Based on the first 1,500 consumer surveys tabulated at these events:

  • More than two-thirds of consumers (69%) are aware of irradiated ground beef.

  • Most (77%) understand irradiation isn't a substitute for safe food handling practices.

  • Of those surveyed, 45% couldn't identify the proper cooking temperature for ground beef (160∞ F.), while 27% said they didn't know the correct temperature. Another 18% got the answer wrong.

  • 88% understand irradiation doesn't change the nutritional profile of ground beef.

  • 82% understand irradiation increases ground beef safety.

  • More than 95% of consumers liked the taste of irradiated ground beef. The vast majority indicated that “irradiated ground beef tastes like regular ground beef.”