OSU's Deb VanOverbeke Says Industry Showing Notable Improvement in Latest Beef Quality AuditTue, 14 Nov 2017 18:53:56 CST
Every five years, since 1991, the Beef Checkoff has funded the National Beef Quality Audit, to better understand where improvements can be made in the industry, to ultimately raise the bottom lines of those in the beef supply chain. Oklahoma State University’s Dr. Deb VanOverbeke has been involved in almost all of these audits and understands very well the impact these audits have had on the industry. She took a moment to speak with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn during the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Convention this past week in Kansas City, to describe the results in the most recent audit, released earlier this year. You can hear their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
According to VanOverbeke, the audit is conducted in three phases that include face-to-face interviews with packers, purveyors, retailers and restaurants to gain an understanding of what quality issues end users might have; a review of holding pen and harvest floor quality; and strategy workshops in which the information collected is condensed and summarized. Altogether, the most recent audit yielded some enlightening results.
“One of the things we took from the face-to-face interviews was that our end users sometimes define terms differently than we do as producers,” VanOverbeke said. “When we say genetics in production, that means something different when you say genetics to an end user - so some of those definitions don’t carry forward.”
Additionally, she says the audit also indicated that end users do not understand the Beef Quality Assurance program and what is practiced on the farm. This finding suggests an opportunity for producers to develop better ways in which to communicate with consumers and become more transparent about how beef is produced.
Compared to prior audits, VanOverbeke says some improvements can be seen in today’s production system that weren’t as good in years past.
“We also have, from a plant perspective, an improvement in quality,” she said. “We have a transportation piece that says a vast majority - almost 100 percent - of cattle, are extremely mobile when they get to the plant. Very few have difficulties moving and if they do it’s just some minor stiffness, which is expected after travel.”
In terms of carcass quality, VanOverbeke says carcass weights have continued to improve and they are grading with more prime and upper two-thirds choice than ever before. She says, too, that some of the hot button issues from the 90s, such as excess fat and injection site lesions, are no longer an issue at all in today’s marketplace.
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