Center for Beef Excellence moves full speed ahead to tackle industry issues

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — The new group organized last fall to represent the interests of Pennsylvania’s beef producers and agribusiness representatives is working to re-energize the industry through education, promotion and economic development efforts.

At a board meeting, members formed the Center for Beef Excellence, a nonprofit organization based in Harrisburg. A board of directors was appointed to the center, with Jeff Nogan, Lackawanna County beef producer and beef task force member, serving as acting chairman.

Executive director

The executive board will meet this spring to appoint official officers and a national search will begin in June for an executive director to manage the center’s day-to-day operation. The director will also serve as a liaison to the task force and the Department of Agriculture.

In addition to securing private funding to support the center, and beginning the application process for state and federal grants, the task force is working closely with its sister groups — the Pennsylvania Beef Council, the Pennsylvania Dairy Task Force and the Center for Dairy Excellence — to develop common messaging on issues like the recent beef recall that affected both industries.

Together, the groups sent a letter to Congress and USDA Secretary Ed Schaffer in response to the matter.

Information

The task force also sent information to more than 20,000 Pennsylvania beef and dairy producers on proper animal handling and husbandry procedures.

Likewise, the task force contacted 385 auctions, packers and butcher shops to offer support and assistance in developing written protocols for animal handling and slaughter processes.

Recognizing the importance of protecting the environment, the task force sent comments to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding air emissions, as well as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

They also addressed the agency’s stance on treating manure as a hazardous waste.

Promoting new places to sell and serve Pennsylvania-produced beef is also a top priority.

Local beef

Promoting new places to sell and serve Pennsylvania-produced beef is also a top priority. The task force is working the Department of Agriculture’s Pennsylvania Preferred program to source locally grown beef to prisons and schools.

Other items discussed at the task force’s recent board meeting were:

  • Smithfield Beef donated $2,500 to help with the center’s start-up costs. Nogan presented Smithfield Beef Vice President Scott Walker with a “platinum sponsor” recognition plaque.
  • Lancaster County cattleman Darwin Nissley was appointed chair of the production efficiency/business management committee.
  • A resolution was passed to support the “PA Calf Pool” program — a marketing program that increases the value of calves through better management practices — and to securing grant dollars to support a full-time Penn State employee to coordinate the program.
  • A second resolution was passed to work with dairy groups in addition to the Center for Dairy Excellence, including the Professional Dairy Producers of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Dairy Stakeholders, on projects relating to dairy cull cow care.
  • A motion was passed to coordinate efforts with the Department of Agriculture and the Center for Dairy Excellence to educate livestock producers on mortality composting.
  • A second motion was passed to encourage the placement of two veterinary field officers in western Pennsylvania as part of the existing field investigation units through Penn State or University of Pennsylvania veterinary laboratories.
  • Plans were made to hold a hearing with the Pennsylvania Senate Agriculture Committee to address the beef industry.
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