By Carmen Fenton, director of communications, TCFA
When I wrote this a few months ago, I had no idea what our nation, our world and our industry would be facing amid the coronavirus outbreak. Like many of you in agriculture, I’m not on the ranch, at the feedyard, the packing plant or the grocery store. I’m not on the front lines, and honestly, working from a computer screen feels so insignificant during a time like this.
So, what can I do to help the cause?
Well, to start, I can stay home. There are thousands in our industry who cannot stay home. America depends on them to do what is necessary for all of us. When you stay home, you are protecting them. Not everyone can stay home, but I can.
I can also remind everyone that beef is healthy and plentiful. The U.S. production chain is unmatched in terms of efficiency, and producers are working around the clock to get beef to you. I know there are empty meat cases in parts of the country, but rest assured that more is on the way.
Also, our beef supply is safe. Public health and food safety experts do not have any evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. However, we do know, that like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. This is why it is critical to practice good hygiene and properly cook meat. When cooking, be sure to use a food thermometer to ensure a safe internal temperature. Additionally, always follow the 4 key steps of food safety – clean, separate, cook and chill.
Additionally, I can reassure you that feeding your family beef is a good decision. Beef provides nutrients we all need, particularly, protein, zinc and iron. These are key ingredients for a strong immune system, active lifestyle, brain development and are often lacking in diets of kids and teens. For older adults, getting the right amount of protein becomes even more important. Protein rich foods like beef help fight off diseases like sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass), type-2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
Here are a few more quick facts to remember about beef.
As we all try to figure out this temporary, new normal, please know that TCFA will continue to provide you with accurate, timely information so you can make the best decisions for your family.
Ongoing efforts are in motion surrounding COVID-19 effects on the beef industry. TCFA will work to keep you informed as the situation continues to evolve.
March 27, 2020
March 24, 2020
March 22, 2020
March 20, 2020
The following is a status update on TCFA events in light of concerns surrounding COVID-19. Please know that the health and safety of participants is our number one priority.
This list is subject to change as we learn more.
TCFA Fed Beef Challenge - Originally scheduled for April 8
TCFA Feedyard Tech, Spring Semester - Originally scheduled for April 14-16 and 21-23
TCFA Junior Fed Beef Challenge - Contest day July 24
TCFA Feedyard Camp - June 23-26
Samantha Bell did not grow up in agriculture. She grew up in town, only a short distance from the Texas Cattle Feeders Association office in Amarillo. That’s fitting, considering she’s held just about every job in the cattle feeding business.
She’s been an office manager, a feedyard manager and prides herself on being able to do every job on the yard — both in case she’s ever needed, and to make sure others know she understands the role they play and challenges they face.
But it wasn’t easy getting there. She recalls a time she didn’t know what she was doing.
“I remember early on, when I first realized I wanted this to be a career and not just a paycheck, I was weighing trucks, commodity clerking and doing feed cards,” Bell says. “The cattle clerk came out and showed me a closeout, and it was probably the first time I'd ever seen one done. I pretended I knew exactly what was happening, but I really had no idea what any of it meant.”
Bell asked if she could make a copy of the closeout, took it back to her desk and proceeded to break it down line by line. That’s when she realized how much she loved the numbers side of the business.
Today, Samantha serves as the Controller of Double D Feedyard in Dimmitt where she oversees every aspect of the company’s finances including payroll and accounting.
A woman’s work at a feedyard isn’t limited to just office jobs, Bell says. The fact that more women are serving in various roles within the industry makes her proud.
“When I first started, there were hardly any women outside of office manager or administrative-type jobs,” she says. “Those roles are important, but today there are women riding pens, managing feedyards, doing just about every job on the payroll.”
She says the cattle feeding industry is a great place to work, and she would absolutely recommend it to other women, with the following advice:
“Know what you know and own it. Do not be afraid to voice it, but also don’t be afraid to admit a mistake,” she says. “Just be real, and work hard. The industry may not be the right fit for every woman, but it’s a great fit for some.”
“If my daughter came up to me today and said, ‘Mom, show me the ropes,’ I would say, ‘Let's go!’” she adds. “Because it is kind of fun as a woman to say, ‘I can do that.’”
By: Katrina Huffstutler
Raised by parents who worked in information technology and education, Alyssa Word didn’t grow up with a strong connection to agriculture. That changed when she joined a friend at a 4-H steer show and became fascinated.
Fast forward a few years, and she was a biomedical science major at Texas A&M University. She always wanted to be a scientist, so it was a logical choice. The only problem?
“It was not a very fun major,” Word says with a laugh. “I hated it.”
Two years in, she transferred her scientific basics to an animal science degree and started taking production classes. She was hooked — and even more so after completing a research internship with Cactus Feeders.
“The cattle industry has the greatest people,” Word says. “That is a part of what drove me to want to work in this business. They are the kindest people and so willing to teach someone. I loved that from day one. I didn't grow up understanding how feedyards work, and so coming in and sitting down with a feedyard general manager and asking hard questions — even though it’s intimidating, seeing their kindness and their willingness to help as long as I’m willing to learn, has been remarkable.”
And learn she did. Today, Word serves as the research scientist for Cactus Feeders, the very place where she started her career. Word spends two days a week at Wrangler Feedyard, the research arm of Cactus Feeders. She manages the day-to-day processes that include data quality control, process execution and data analysis. She works alongside Ben Holland, director of research, on protocol development that helps the organization work more efficiently.
“Our mission at Cactus is to produce more food using fewer resources so that safe, quality beef is available to anyone who wants to consume it,” Word said. “Research helps us make informed decisions to best execute that mission.”
Her advice to others in her position? Be pointed with your questions (because cattle feeders are busy), but also be willing to sit down and ask questions.
“Because,” Word says, “I think the more that the men in the industry get to see the women interested and excited about this industry, and that they want to learn and see proficiency in those areas, the more it becomes an everybody is working together thing instead of a here’s a woman in a male-dominated field thing.”
By: Katrina Huffstutler
Jayme Fankhouser doesn’t remember a time in her life before she was horseback. But unlike most little girls who learn to ride, she made a career out of it.
While no two days are the same for the pen rider, they always start early (she gets to work at 3:30 a.m. every Monday to prepare to ship cattle, closer to daylight the remaining days). By daylight, she’s riding the high-risk cattle, a responsibility she does not take lightly.
“After the cattle leave my section, they will have been straightened out and ready for their new home,” she says.
It’s an honor to look after the most fragile cattle in the yard, and even more impressive considering she’s one of very few females filling the role as pen rider. But she’s worked hard her whole career to be taken seriously, and never forgotten that the cattle come first.
Even when it was scary starting out, she refused to give up on her dream.
“My father told me a long time ago, ‘You work in a male world, you’re going to have to work twice as hard to be noticed,’” Fankhouser says. “So I’ve gone those extra miles and I guess maybe I’ve established myself to the point where others take me seriously.”
She says intuition, coupled with a natural nurturing side, make women a great choice as cattle caretakers. But the work is not easy.
“You have to have thick skin, and you can’t be afraid of hard work or the elements,” Fankhouser says.
Despite the challenges, she’s the first to encourage other women to go for their dreams, no matter how unconventional.
“Women aren’t limited in the industry. We can be as successful as we want,” says Fankhouser, whose daughter also rides pens. “Whatever you set your mind to, if that's what you want to do, you can go do it.”
Legislation to codify the definition of beef and uphold truthful labeling on alternative protein products has now been introduced in both chambers of Congress. On Wednesday, Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska introduced the Real MEAT (Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully) Act as a companion bill to H.R. 4881, which was introduced in the House of Representatives in October.
"Consumers want to know what is in their food, and rightfully so," said Paul Defoor, TCFA chairman. "There are a number of fake products on the market that claim to be meat, when in fact, they are the furthest thing from real meat.
"Americans love beef, so it's not surprising that fake products would try to ride the coattails of beef's popularity, but consumers deserve more than deceptive labels. They should be confident that, when they buy a product labeled meat, it's actually meat. Furthermore, food labels should be honest and accurate, and these bills will ensure that consumers have the right information to make their own decisions."
The bills would establish a federal definition of beef that applies to food labels. They also preserve the congressional intent of the Beef Promotion and Research Act that was signed into law as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. Section (3) of that bill clearly defined the terms "beef" and "beef products," and although these terms were codified in 1985, they don't apply for labeling purposes. The Real MEAT Act would fix that.
Second, the bills affirm the misbranding provisions that are already on the books. These provisions were put in place over 50 years ago to prevent consumer confusion, and that intent has not changed.
Third, the bills strengthen enforcement of mislabeling laws. Currently FDA, the agency that oversees plant-based proteins, does not enforce mislabeling until a product has already come to market. This is, in-part, because FDA does not require the approval of labels on foods under their jurisdiction before they hit the shelves. The Real MEAT Act would change that by requiring FDA to notify USDA, in writing, when they determine a product is mislabeled. If FDA does not take enforcement action within 30 days, the Secretary of Agriculture can step in and take action.
“Beef is derived from cattle — period," Senator Fischer said. "Under USDA, beef undergoes a rigorous inspection and labeling process, but plant-based protein products that mimic beef and are sometimes labeled as beef are overseen by the FDA instead. These products are not held to the same food safety and labeling standards as beef. The NCBA has been a leader on this issue, and I am thankful for their strong support of the Real MEAT Act, which will protect consumers from deceptive marketing practices and bring transparency to the grocery store."
Fisher wrote about the motivation behind the bill in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal.
Thank you Sen. Fischer. We could not agree more.
A bill was introduced in Congress last week that would codify the definition of beef and uphold truthful labeling on alternative protein products that currently refer to themselves as meat (even though there is ZERO meat in them). TCFA strongly supports this bill, H.R. 4881, and urges Members of Congress to sponsor and support it.
The bill is pretty simple.
First, it establishes a federal definition of beef that applies to food labels. It also preserves the congressional intent of the Beef Promotion and Research Act that was signed into law as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. Section (3) of that bill clearly defined the terms "beef" and "beef products," and although these terms were codified in 1985, they don't apply for labeling purposes. The Real MEAT Act would fix that.
Second, the bill affirms the misbranding provisions that are already on the books. These provisions were put in place over 50 years ago to prevent consumer confusion, and that intent has not changed.
The problem is that many consumers believe plant-based meat is healthier, less processed and overall better for the environment. A quick comparison of the ingredient labels of both products indicates those beliefs couldn't be further from the truth.
Third, the bill strengthens enforcement of mislabeling laws. Currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency that oversees plant-based proteins, does not enforce mislabeling until a product has already come to market. This is, in-part, because FDA does not require the approval of labels on foods under their jurisdiction before they hit the shelves. The Real MEAT Act would change that by requiring FDA to notify USDA, in writing, when they determine a product is mislabeled. If FDA does not take enforcement action within 30 days, the Secretary of Agriculture can step in and take action.
The bottom line is this: Consumers want to know what is in their food, and rightfully so. The beef community has worked for decades to establish beef's strong reputation among consumers, so it is not surprising that imitation products would try to ride the coattails of beef's popularity. But consumers deserve more than deceptive labels, and this bill would give them the factual information they need to make their own purchasing decisions.
We are pleased to announce that you can now reserve ad space for the 2020 Cattle Feeders Resource Guide. We invite you to support this award-winning publication by reserving your ad space today. You can view, download and fill out the 2020 Rate Card here. Please return completed Rate Cards to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to: 5501 Interstate 40 West, Amarillo, Texas 79106.
Since 1971, the Texas Cattle Feeders has issued an annual publication to serve TCFA members and supporting sponsors. The Resource Guide is an exclusive publication distributed to approximately 5,000 professional cattlemen and women throughout the country.
Every TCFA member, including feedyard managers, general managers, owners and customers receive a copy of the Resource Guide. These individuals are the decision makers in the multibillion-dollar cattle feeding industry.
The Resource Guide is more than just a magazine. It is a high-quality publication that serves as a snapshot of the cattle feeding industry for that year. Venture into any feedyard office, and you are likely to see Resource Guides from years past on the bookshelves and coffee tables.
What began in 1971 as an association magazine has transformed into a historical record of the industry. Your organization is a part of that history and its future.
We appreciate your support and continued partnership as we look to make the 2020 Resource Guide the best yet.
For questions, please call Carmen Fenton or Maddy Bezner at (806) 358-3681 or email email@example.com.
The TCFA 2019 Annual Convention has come and gone, and we wish we could go back. The Convention was a success with an estimated 450 in attendance.
The Opening General Session, sponsored by Farm Credit, kicked off with Levi Berry’s chairman’s address. Berry opened by sharing his appreciation for the opportunity to serve as chairman and commended TCFA members for their hard work, passion and dedication to the industry over the years.
“The day-in and day-out work of each of you is what provides people across the world with beef,” Berry said. “This is no small accomplishment.”
Berry talked about partnerships TCFA has with NCBA, the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the Texas Beef Council, and how those partnerships have benefited the entire beef industry.
“I can’t tell you enough what your investment in the beef checkoff does for our product,” he said. “Your investment helps promote the beef industry, not just here in Texas or in the United States, but all over the world. Every dollar you invest in the national checkoff returns almost $12. Couple that with the dollar invested into the state checkoff, and that is significant added value to beef.”
Berry thanked his family, volunteer leaders, the TCFA staff and membership for all they do to for the industry.
“I could go on and on about the good and bad challenges facing the cattle feeding industry in 2019 — what we’ve accomplished and overcome this year alone could fill hours,” he said in closing. “What I can say is that you have remained focused and determined, and it’s those characteristics that will carry our industry successfully into the future.”
NCBA President Jennifer Houston followed with an update on federal legislative and regulatory challenges the industry will face in the coming year, and how TCFA’s partnership with NCBA is crucial to successfully navigate policy changes in the future.
Karl Rove and Jim Messina followed and spoke about how new-day media effects today’s politics. An expert consumer panel moderated by Shalene McNeill addressed red meat in a healthy diet in conjunction with nutrition improvement and weight management.
Miss Texas 2019 Chandler Foreman presented awards during the annual TCFA award lunch. That evening, the Lindsey Lane Band kicked off the Cattle Feeders Get Together. The successful BEEF-PAC live auction was a highlight of the evening followed by the announcement of the first Sweepstakes winner.
Tuesday’s Closing General Session covered everything from demographics and politics to an entertaining perspective on perfecting your skill for the greater good of a team. Ken Gronbach discussed how demographics impact America’s buying decisions and political choices, and Kenny Aronoff closed the session with an exciting and interesting view of individual perfection.
Thank you to everyone for attending and making the 2019 Convention a huge success. Mark your calendars for the 2020 Convention, October 4-6 in Grapevine. To see pictures from TCFA Convention, visit our Facebook or Instagram (@txcattlefeeders).
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