A coalition of governors is joining forces to support the U.S. beef industry and set the record straight about lean finely textured beef, releasing a statement and conducting a beef plant tour. Lean finely textured beef is a 100% beef, 95% lean, nutritious, safe, quality and affordable beef product eaten by Americans for 20 years, the group noted in a statement. The production and food safety technologies employed to make lean finely textured beef are USDA-approved, and it is produced in USDA-inspected meat processing facilities.

Govs. Terry Branstad (Iowa); Sam Brownback (Kansas); Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, standing in for South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who is on a trade mission in China; Dave Heineman (Nebraska); and Rick Perry (Texas) today jointly issued the following statement:

"Our states proudly produce food for the country and the world – and we do so with the highest commitment toward product safety. Lean, finely textured beef is a safe, nutritious product that is backed by sound science. It is unfortunate when inaccurate information causes an unnecessary panic among consumers.

"By taking this safe product out of the market, grocery retailers and consumers are allowing media sensationalism to trump sound science. This is a disservice to the beef industry, hundreds of workers who make their livings producing this safe product and consumers as a whole.

"Ultimately, it will be the consumer who pays for taking this safe product out of the market. The price of ground beef will rise as ranchers work to raise as many as 1.5 million more head of cattle to replace safe beef no longer consumed because of the baseless media scare.

"We urge grocery retailers, consumers and members of the media to seek the facts behind lean finely textured beef. Science supports keeping the lean beef product on grocery store shelves for the benefit of American agriculture and consumers alike."

Branstad spearheaded the plant tour, reports the Omaha World-Herald. He told the Sioux City Journal that by touring the facilities, the state officials are showing they have every confidence in the quality of the beef.

"They're been a victim of a smear campaign, and I think we need to do all we can to try to counter this," he said.

Already, more than 650 workers in Kansas, Texas and Iowa have been temporarily laid off. According to the National Meat Association, as many as 3,000 American jobs will be affected when suppliers are also factored in.

A coalition of governors and state leaders will conduct a plant tour at BPI in South Sioux City, Neb. facility, Thursday, March 29. A news conference at the Marina Inn Conference Center (385 East 4th St., South Sioux City, NE 68776) will follow the tour for all interested media and will begin at approximately 2:30 p.m.

Iowa Governor Branstad and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack held a press conference in Des Moines yesterday to state their confidence in the lean finely textured beef produced by BPI. While the USDA has given school districts the option of using meat without LFBT, Vilsack said the product has been a staple in the school lunch program. "The youngsters are getting a product that is lean and, historically, less expensive."

Source: Iowa Economic Development Authority, Omaha World-Herald