Beef updates Marketing, transportation and fake meat updates provided at convention
Published on Jan. 4, 2020
During the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Winter Roundup Convention and Trade Show Dec. 9-11 in Casper, WSGA President Jim Magagna, Ann Wittman of the Wyoming Beef Council and Kate Barlow, legislative assistant in Sen. Mike Enzi’s office for agriculture, judiciary, public lands, trade and the Endangered Species Act, provided updates on marketing, transportation and fake meat.
When it comes to WSGA involvement in the Wyoming beef marketing issue, Magagna said they have been working tirelessly with several others to get Wyoming beef overseas to Taiwan.
“We have been getting Wyoming beef over there in small quantities, and if nothing else, we are starting to make a name for ourselves,” Magagna stated.
Magagna noted, two months ago they hosted a delegation of Taiwanese meat buyers.
“We spent a few days with them and took them out to two different ranches in Laramie County to show them how our beef and lamb are raised,” he explained. “They were really impressed by this because in Taiwan there are a lot of people and they don’t have the acreage to raise animals like we do.”
When it comes to marketing Wyoming beef, Magagna pointed out that there are some complications.
“We can’t say our beef is born, raised and processed in Wyoming because we don’t have the processing capability on any significant scale,” he said. “We have some really outstanding small processing facilities and some new ones being built right now, but the levels at which they will operate is not sufficient enough to meet the demand for container loads of beef to ship to any foreign nation, which is a challenge.”
He noted there has been talk of outside companies coming in to create some large facilities. However, WSGA doesn’t believe Wyoming needs such a big facility that they would have to import thousands of cattle from Nebraska or Colorado to fill it.
“We just need something with the perfect scale to allow us to market beef interstate, coast to coast or to select international markets,” Magagna said.
He also mentioned a marketing trick he has found helpful through his dealings with Taiwan.
“We have found advertising Wyoming beef over there doesn’t do much because nobody knows anything about Wyoming. But if we advertise it as Wyoming beef raised near Yellowstone everybody starts paying attention because everybody has either been to Yellowstone or wants to go to Yellowstone,” he stated.
On top of their efforts marketing beef in Taiwan, Wittman explained the Wyoming Beef Council has also been creating a “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner: video campaign.
“Our next big video and social media push will be in partnership with First Lady Jennie Gordon,” Wittman said. “The First Lady’s initiative is to reduce child hunger in the state of Wyoming so we are putting together three to four ingredient, easily affordable recipes that can feed a family of four to eight. We will be in the kitchen at the Governor’s mansion and the First Lady will be cooking.”
ELD and HOS update
“I am here to let everyone know, when it comes to the hours of service (HOS) requirements they are trying to implement in the trucking industry, both Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso have been engaged from the very beginning,” stated Barlow.
She explained those trying to implement the regulations have not taken the agriculture industry into consideration.
“Folks in Washington D.C. don’t understand the intricacies of ag, and there are so many things they don’t think about,” Barlow noted. “If we have a trucker who hits their limit on hours, and they have a truck full of sheep or cattle, they can’t pull over on the side of the road and wait eight hours to start driving again.”
She continued, “If it is below zero in Wyoming, we can’t let animals sit on the truck for long periods of time, and if it is windy, we can’t pull a truck full of cattle over on the side of Interstate 80.”
In response, Barlow explained they are using a two-pronged approach.
“First, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse has led a bill which would ensure when they are creating legislation, they are taking ag concerns into consideration.” Barlow said. ‘The second thing that is happening, is both Sens. Enzi and Barrasso are engaging with the administration to have conversations explaining our concerns.”
Barlow continued by asking individuals to send any examples of concerns they might have to Sen. Enzi’s office because they are keeping a real-life list of examples to discuss with people in Washington, D.C.
Fake meat update
Barlow stressed how big of a concern fake meat is for Sen. Enzi as well.
To give attendees background information, Barlow explained the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed to jointly regulate fake meat products.
“A year ago FDA and USDA entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which Sen. Enzi has some concerns with,” she explained. “First, this was a handshake agreement and although we all know this means something in Wyoming, there is some fear it doesn’t mean the same thing in Washington, D.C.”
“Therefore, our goal is to codify this agreement to make sure there is a firm, regulatory framework in place so the agencies know where their lanes and bounds are,” she added. “We can’t have FDA suddenly decide they don’t need the USDA anymore because as many of us know, USDA is a much friendlier forum.”
Barlow explained Sen. Enzi’s bill will have FDA handling everything from cell collection through cell harvest, while the USDA will be in charge of processing, packaging and labeling.
Hannah Bugas is the assistant editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.