Checkoff’s Attempt to Educate TIME Magazine Editor Falls on Deaf Ears

Farm Journal logo

By Melissa Slagle, Cattlemen's Beef Board

TIME magazine posted an article by reporter Bryan Walsh to its Web site: "The Real Cost of Cheap Food.” The article repeats a wide range of "factory farming” claims, including the common myths about modern beef production's over-reliance on corn and antibiotics, the distorting effect of farm subsidies and poor farm animal living conditions.

It's the cover story for the Aug. 31 print edition, which already is available at some newsstands and will be arriving in subscriber mailboxes early next week. The cover artwork is a package of ground beef that carries the warning: "CAUTION. This hamburger may be hazardous to your health.”

The issues management and media relations teams of the Beef Checkoff Program, heard from a TIME research assistant at the end of July about a pending article. At that time, it was positioned as an article Walsh was writing about food safety and antibiotics. The research assistant specifically wanted the industry's comment on the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) and antibiotic use in the beef industry. Through actions by the Beef Checkoff Program, an interview was quickly arranged, after which, Walsh contacted the team directly to fact check how much it costs to raise a steer to harvest weight. When pressed, Walsh revealed his story would address other issues, including beef and nutrition and the environment. Again, Walsh was told he needed to hear from beef industry experts before running his story.

Five interviews were then arranged for Walsh within a three-hour time period on the afternoon of the 19th and the team provided him with fact sheets and research about beef choices, beef nutrition and the environment. Interviews were set up to discuss beef's important role in a healthy diet with Shalene McNeill, Ph.D., R.D., National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Executive Director of Human Nutrition Research; production agriculture and the different choices of beef with Tom Field, Ph.D., NCBA Executive Director of Producer Education; and livestock production and the environment with Jude Capper, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Washington State University. Additionally, interviews were set up for Walsh with two feedlot operators: Anne Burkholder of Will Feed, Inc., in Cozad, Neb., and Gary Teague of Teague Diversified, Inc., in Fort Morgan, Colo.

Out of the six expert spokespeople offered up, Walsh included only one quote about antibiotic use: "[Resistance] is the result of human use and not related to veterinary use.” In addition, TIME's description of feedlot conditions blatantly disregarded the great information about the care that goes into raising cattle that was provided by Teague and Burkholder.To counter this attempt to spread misinformation about the beef industry, cattle producers should urge the public to find information refuting these types of claims at ExploreBeef.org. More information about the beef checkoff can be found at www.MyBeefCheckoff.com.


 

Latest News

BLM Rescinds Hammond's Grazing Permits

In another installment in the years-long saga of the Hammond Ranch, the Interior Department on Friday rescinded grazing permits that had been restored under the Trump administration.

CAB Insider: Quality Carcass Spreads Turn Up Early

The two weeks in the middle of the month marked by extreme weather and insufficient fed cattle to harvest-space put a cap on cattle prices as packers found themselves well-supplied.

Victor Ranch Receives Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award

The Victor Ranch has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award®, which recognizes land owners who inspire with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat resources.

Sexten: Respiratory Disease Timing

There are few no-risk options in the cattle business, but calves with reputation, high-growth potential and a well-executed health program should provide cattle feeders with relatively fewer health challenges.

USCA Supports Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021

U.S. Cattlemen's Association supports the Cattle Market Transparency Act, which seeks to ensure regionally sufficient negotiated cash trade, and equipping producers with more information to aid marketing decisions.

NCBA Welcomes Discussion on Cattle Market Transparency Act

The Cattle Market Transparency Act, if enacted, would direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the Office of the Chief Economist at USDA to establish regional mandatory minimums for negotiated trade of fed cattle.