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Southeast: NBQA audits help keep other proteins from getting edge on beef

Jason Duggin for Progressive Cattleman Published on 16 March 2018

What are you producing at your operation? The answer is: beef, of course. Anyone who owns cattle is a food producer. This has been the most critical point for all generations of producers.

If beef wasn’t pleasant to eat, no one would be talking about forages or expected progeny differences or marketing methods.

It’s a scary thought. Trendy foodie magazines will be filled with highlights of “burgers” made from vegetables. This may not be news to you, but it’s getting another toehold yet again. Innovation in the meat substitutes arena is becoming trendy again based on climate change beliefs, etc.

Of course, we won’t win over everyone, but we don’t want to get beat either. People eat beef because it’s uniquely good and fulfilling. Again, this is the single-most important part of our business.

It may be common sense, but it’s also backed by the fact the entirety of the National Beef Quality Audit face-to-face interviews found “product quality” was the most cited strength of the beef industry. A quality product is what cattle raisers develop at the most basic level. Your next calf crop is expected to be wholesome food wrapped with the promise of customer satisfaction.

Thankfully, the NBQA audits have stemmed the tide of other proteins from getting the edge on beef. The 2016 audit released in 2017 gives us the best snapshot of what we are producing and where we need to focus our attention. The audit evaluated 8,000 live cattle and 25,000 carcasses; 71 percent of the carcasses graded Choice or Prime but were accompanied by a continued increase in carcass weight and fat thickness.

The largest percentage graded Choice, Yield Grade 3. Carcass weight increased from 747.8 to 860.5 pounds, and adjusted fat increased from 0.47 to 0.56 inch since 1995.

The audit points to key reasons for increased weights including reduced cattle numbers and the increased efficiency of processing more pounds with the same labor, energy and infrastructure. Other good news is the continued reduction in horns, hide brands, blemishes and condemnations since 1995. Also, dark cutters were the lowest in NBQA history at 1.9 percent.

We must double-down on telling our story and promoting BQA from producer to consumer. Otherwise, my grandkids may be forced to eat burgers made with potatoes died in grape juice. Find the audit online (Beef Quality Assurance).  end mark

Jason Duggin
  • Jason Duggin

  • Beef Extension Specialist
  • University of Georgia
  • Email Jason Duggin

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