The Beef Checkoff Program returned about $5.55 in value to beef producers for every dollar they invested into it between 2003 and 2008. That’s the overall conclusion of a new economic study completed by Dr. Ron Ward, professor emeritus for the Food and Resource Economics Department of the University of Florida.

“Is the beef checkoff a demand driver? This was the most fundamental question of the entire study, and the answer is an overwhelming ‘yes,’ the generic promotion of beef has shifted beef demand,” Ward noted in his research conclusions. “The marginal rate-of-return is large enough to provide overwhelming evidence that the programs are achieving positive impacts (on) the U.S. demand for beef,” he said.

“The Beef Checkoff Programs and Their Impact on U.S. Beef Demand” evaluates the effectiveness of checkoff-funded programs in reaching their overarching goal of growing beef demand. To complete this, Ward employs statistical models that measure the effects of major beef demand drivers overall, then specifically, of the Beef Checkoff Program itself as a demand driver. It is a comprehensive study that is peer-reviewed by respected economists versed in commodity promotions and the beef industry, and is a follow-up to similar beef checkoff evaluations conducted regularly since 1989.

Ward presented the study results to the checkoff's Joint Industry Evaluation Advisory Committee today at the 2009 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver.

Source: The Beef Checkoff Program

Quick Chek food stores to offer Angus burgers

Quick Chek, a retail chain of nearly 120 fresh food stores located throughout New Jersey and southern New York, is introducing a new 1/4 lb. Angus Beef Burgers in a collection of six varieties:
  --  The Classic American with yellow American cheese, pickles, tomatoes, red onions, lettuce, ketchup and mustard on a Kaiser roll
  --  Bourbon BBQ with cheddar cheese, bacon, red onions and bourbon barbecue sauce on a Kaiser roll
  --  Spicy Buffalo with white American cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and spicy buffalo sauce on a Kaiser roll
  --  Roasted Tomato & Garlic with roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella and roasted tomato and garlic spread on a Kaiser roll
  --  Southwest with Monterey Pepperjack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise on a Kaiser roll
  --  The Ultimate with provolone cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and Texas horseradish sauce on a Kaiser roll.

"We're happy to bring our customers another new and exciting choice on our expansive fresh food menu," said Jennifer Vespole, Quick Chek senior category manager - food service. "The launch of our new 1/4 lb. Angus Beef Burgers represents our commitment to offer a wide variety of menu choices that satisfies every craving morning, noon and night."

Regularly priced at $4.49 each, Quick Chek customers can try a new 1/4-lb. Angus Beef Burger of their choice for just $2.99 each every Friday for a limited time.

Source: Quick Chek

Utah JBS-Swift plant agrees to unionize

Workers at the JBS-Swift plant in Hyrum, Utah, voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first-ever union contract. The more than 1,100 workers of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 711 at the JBS-Swift Beef Plant (known locally as the E.A. Miller Plant) will join the more than 10,000 JBS-Swift workers nationwide who belong to the UFCW.

The new three-year contract includes:
-- regular wage increases, with many plant workers receiving a 4.6 percent or greater increase at ratification and a dollar an hour increase over the life of the contract;
-- weekly hour guarantees that protect full-time, family supporting jobs in the community;
-- affordable family health coverage, with no increase in medical premiums;
-- job advancement opportunities;
-- workers no longer have to pay out-of-pocket for their work equipment, tools and work clothes;
-- a formal system to resolve workplace issues;
-- improved vacation benefits;
-- the creation of an educational trust fund, which can be used to promote a range of initiatives, including citizenship workshops;
-- a Joint Worker-Management Safety Committee and improved safety training for workers;
-- improved funeral pay.

“Now that we have a contract, we have a real voice,” said Robert Young, who has worked at the plant for two years. “That means better benefits, active stewards, leadership in the plant and a better a way to deal with problems before they become big issues.”

Source: United Food and Commercial Workers

Cargill holds live accident response training

As part of its eight key commitments to animal well-being, Cargill Pork held a live accident response training at its pork processing plant in Ottumwa. In attendance were deputy sheriffs from Wapello, Washington and Mahaska counties, representatives from Veenstra, Masterson and Eichelberger trucking companies, and 13 TriOak Foods pork producers from multiple counties in Iowa.

The training, led by Jennifer Woods, a renowned expert in accident response, included classroom instruction in behavior and handling of stressed swine, responding to live haul incidents, barn fires and weather related disasters, security, public perception, and most importantly, euthanasia training. To date, Cargill has trained 77 employees to handle incidents involving swine.

“Cargill is proud to be working with local authorities, live haul trucking firms and our producers in this important initiative,” said Wendy Baker, manager of animal welfare at the Ottumwa plant. “This event marks a milestone in the industry, as everyone is involved in improving the well-being of animals from the farm to transport to the plant. When we work together, we can ensure that if and when a rollover accident occurs, we all will do the right thing to respond to the situation.”

Source: Cargill Inc.