Texas Agriculture March 17, 2017 : Page 10

Tour promotes Texas meat to international chefs, retailers By Jessica Domel Multimedia Editor With cell phones in hand, ready to take notes and capture photographs, 30 men and women from the Carib-bean, South and Central America and Mexico stepped off a tour bus in the middle of a pasture in Happy, Texas. They were greeted by ranch-ers Jay and Bilynn Johnson and their herd of Red Angus cattle. The Johnsons shared their story and answered questions from the chefs, restaurateurs and retailers brought to their ranch as part of a tour spon-sored by the Texas Beef Council and U.S. Meat Export Federation (US-MEF). “For them to come to a place like this, it gives those people—the chefs and retailers—an opportunity to have some confidence in the way that we handle animals, the way we give vaccines, and they can be as-sured that we use good management practices,” Jay said. The tour also included stops at the Annual Meat Conference in Dal-las and visits to West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Cargill Frio-na and a Randall County feedyard. Tour participants included guests like Lucretia Octalien-Duncan, who is an operations manager for Massy Stores in St. Lucia. Massy Stores is the only chain of supermarkets on the island. “We are just about to do a small remodel at our gourmet store, and we’re going to have our very first butcher counter,” Octalien-Duncan said. “So the experience of coming out here will help us decide what we are going to be doing. We can look at the different offerings at the butch-er counter and how we can go about doing that and how to display.” St. Lucia relies heavily on tour-ism, and American beef is a growing part of that. “In order for us to be able to sup-ply the customers, we decided I’m going to come here and see what is happening so I can give them better offerings. So they can be more sat-isfied,” Octalien-Duncan said. “So instead of going to other Caribbean countries, they’ll continue coming to St. Lucia.” It’s not that countries like St. Lu-cia don’t have livestock to provide meat. Octalien-Duncan explains that American cattle taste differ-ently and are cut differently. “All of our local cows are on a very small level. They’re in the pasture. The beef is different. It is not like this. Coming out here and having your beef, that is what our custom-ers want,” Octalien-Duncan said. While the pasture to plate expe-rience was educational for those on the tour, it also provided an opportu-nity for those involved in the Ameri-can meat sector to promote trade with other countries. “For this trade group that has come here to the Texas Panhandle, we’re showing them we’re raising beef in a very sustainable way. It’s a quality product. We take care of our animals,” Pat McDowell, Shamrock rancher and Texas Farm Bureau’s representative on USMEF, said. “[They see] how it’s packaged and also cut up here in these different plants in the Panhandle and all over Texas. It’s done the way they want it, but they can see that it’s done cleanly, safely and humanely.” A large amount of U.S. beef is ex-ported to the countries represented on the tour. Events like this help those exports continue as more re-tailers learn how to cut and cook U.S. meat. “It’s a great way to increase our sales, and it’s a good use of our checkoff dollars,” McDowell said. America exports different types of meat to different parts of the world. Leaner cuts like flank steaks, skirt steaks, fajita meat and briskets are exported to Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The U.S. imports ground meats to meet our growing demand for ham-burger. These exports, and the importing of meats, matter because they help meet American demand, while also keeping prices in check. “It keeps things balanced. Let’s say we do away with exports. Some-body’s got to make that up. So we’re going to raise the price of meats and we know that there’s give and take in that world,” Jay said. If the price of a meat rises due to a cut in exports, it could affect the market as a whole. “We know that there’s a certain point people will buy beef for the flavor and they like the taste. It gets to a certain point that it gets too ex-pensive and they’re going to switch to one of those other proteins,” Jay said. “Exports help us kind of keep that in balance because we can max-imize the value of those higher-val-ue cuts, but still offer some of these others like hamburgers and such so we can keep the price economical.” (See Promoting Texas meat, page 21) 10 M ARCH 17 , 2017

Tour Promotes Texas Meat to International Chefs, Retailers

Jessica Domel

With cell phones in hand, ready to take notes and capture photographs, 30 men and women from the Caribbean, South and Central America and Mexico stepped off a tour bus in the middle of a pasture in Happy, Texas.

They were greeted by ranchers Jay and Bilynn Johnson and their herd of Red Angus cattle. The Johnsons shared their story and answered questions from the chefs, restaurateurs and retailers brought to their ranch as part of a tour sponsored by the Texas Beef Council and U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

“For them to come to a place like this, it gives those people—the chefs and retailers—an opportunity to have some confidence in the way that we handle animals, the way we give vaccines, and they can be assured that we use good management practices,” Jay said.

The tour also included stops at the Annual Meat Conference in Dallas and visits to West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Cargill Friona and a Randall County feedyard.

Tour participants included guests like Lucretia Octalien-Duncan, who is an operations manager for Massy Stores in St. Lucia. Massy Stores is the only chain of supermarkets on the island.

“We are just about to do a small remodel at our gourmet store, and we’re going to have our very first butcher counter,” Octalien-Duncan said. “So the experience of coming out here will help us decide what we are going to be doing. We can look at the different offerings at the butcher counter and how we can go about doing that and how to display.”

St. Lucia relies heavily on tourism, and American beef is a growing part of that.

“In order for us to be able to supply the customers, we decided I’m going to come here and see what is happening so I can give them better offerings. So they can be more satisfied,” Octalien-Duncan said. “So instead of going to other Caribbean countries, they’ll continue coming to St. Lucia.”

It’s not that countries like St. Lucia don’t have livestock to provide meat. Octalien-Duncan explains that American cattle taste differently and are cut differently.

“All of our local cows are on a very small level. They’re in the pasture. The beef is different. It is not like this. Coming out here and having your beef, that is what our customers want,” Octalien-Duncan said.

While the pasture to plate experience was educational for those on the tour, it also provided an opportunity for those involved in the American meat sector to promote trade with other countries.

“For this trade group that has come here to the Texas Panhandle, we’re showing them we’re raising beef in a very sustainable way. It’s a quality product. We take care of our animals,” Pat McDowell, Shamrock rancher and Texas Farm Bureau’s representative on USMEF, said. “[They see] how it’s packaged and also cut up here in these different plants in the Panhandle and all over Texas. It’s done the way they want it, but they can see that it’s done cleanly, safely and humanely.”

A large amount of U.S. beef is exported to the countries represented on the tour. Events like this help those exports continue as more retailers learn how to cut and cook U.S. meat.

“It’s a great way to increase our sales, and it’s a good use of our checkoff dollars,” McDowell said.

America exports different types of meat to different parts of the world. Leaner cuts like flank steaks, skirt steaks, fajita meat and briskets are exported to Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The U.S. imports ground meats to meet our growing demand for hamburger.

These exports, and the importing of meats, matter because they help meet American demand, while also keeping prices in check.

“It keeps things balanced. Let’s say we do away with exports. Somebody’s got to make that up. So we’re going to raise the price of meats and we know that there’s give and take in that world,” Jay said.

If the price of a meat rises due to a cut in exports, it could affect the market as a whole.

“We know that there’s a certain point people will buy beef for the flavor and they like the taste. It gets to a certain point that it gets too expensive and they’re going to switch to one of those other proteins,” Jay said. “Exports help us kind of keep that in balance because we can maximize the value of those higher-value cuts, but still offer some of these others like hamburgers and such so we can keep the price economical.”

If exports go away altogether, or decrease, everyone will be affected— from the consumer to the rancher to the packinghouse.

“At one point, exports were adding $20-$30 a hundred, so we’re talking $200-$300 a head to the value of an animal coming out of the feedyard. You think about how that would trickle all the way down the system if all at once $300 a head is gone. An animal that is coming out of the feedyard today is worth somewhere around $1,600. So now it’s at $1,300. Their ability then to go purchase calves, feeder cattle to go in, there’s $300 or more that has to come off,” Jay said. “So as I go buy calves through a sale barn from a cow-calf operator, it would trickle all the way down. It would be quite disastrous actually.”

Following the visit to the Johnsons’ ranch, the Texas Beef Council treated the group to a steak dinner.

The Beef Checkoff helped fund the experience.

“A Texas Farm Bureau member who raises cattle, every time he sells an animal, $2 is collected. Part of that money goes to the Meat Export Federation. The animals that we sell, they go all over the world,” McDowell said. “We don’t just sell at the sale barn. We sell to the world.”

American ranchers received about $262 more on a fat steer in February, thanks to exports, according to Mc-Dowell.

“It’s important to us,” McDowell said. “In the U.S., we’re pretty picky about what we eat. There is a lot of stuff that comes out of a beef animal. A lot of these countries like the stuff that we don’t like. It works out really well to use the entire animal, and it puts money in our pocket.”

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Tour+Promotes+Texas+Meat+to+International+Chefs%2C+Retailers/2736930/392072/article.html.

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