National Beef has become a licensed packer for Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) as the branded program gears up its capability.

Kansas City-based National Beef, the fourth largest U.S. packer, began harvesting program-eligible Hereford and Hereford crossbred cattle through its Liberal, KS, plant on July 7. CHB says the packer's case-ready trim capabilities will allow them to offer greater flexibility and a wider product assortment to customers.

Other licensed CHB packer partners include Greater Omaha Packing Company and Swift & Company. The combination, CBH says, gives producers who would like to participate in the program a licensed packing plant in every major feeding area.

Currently, the CHB program provides product to more than 350 U.S. retail stores. Cattle in the program must meet American Hereford Association (AHA)-approved and USDA Certified live-animal and carcass quality standards before being certified and sold as branded beef.

Launched in 1995, CHB is a wholly owned subsidiary of AHA. The program moved 27.9 million pounds of boxed beef from the 99,249 carcasses certified in 2002.

Support Grows For Checkoff

Producer support for the beef checkoff grew by 3% in the latest Beef Producer Attitude Survey. Conducted by Aspen Media & Market Research and released in July, the survey found 63% of beef and dairy producers participating in the survey support the national self-help program.

That's a 3% increase in producer support since the January survey, and occurred despite up-and-down market conditions and extensive publicity about the ongoing checkoff litigation. What's more, fewer producers — a 5% drop from the January figure of 27% — disapproved of the checkoff in the July 2003 survey.

New Forage Analysis Test

A new test could provide forage analysis in hours rather than days. Remote sensing appears to be as accurate in determining forage nutrient data as conventional lab analysis. In fact, the data collected in the field by using a portable, light-wave reading machine, is ready for use in hours rather than the days it takes to get lab data.

The study, led by USDA Ag Research Service (ARS) scientists Patrick Starks and Samuel Coleman, concluded that remote sensing may eventually provide real-time quality assessment and nutritional landscape mapping of grazing lands. Current forage analysis uses near-infrared spectroscopy and chemical procedures that, while accurate and site-specific, are time-consuming.