Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, right, follows the work of USDA inspectors at the Cargill meat packing plant in Schuyler, Neb., Tuesday, July 8, 2008.The U.S. Agriculture Secretary expressed confidence in the nation's food safety system, but said the meat processing industry will always face challenges because the bacteria that animals carry evolves. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
TOPEKA -- Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman joined a coalition of governors and state leaders to stand up for American agriculture and tour Beef Product, Inc’s (BPI's) South Sioux City, Neb. facility.
Following the tour, Govs. Brownback, Terry Branstad (Iowa) and Rick Perry (Texas), and Lt. Govs. Rick Sheehy (Nebraska) and Matt Michels (South Dakota) held a joint press conference to reassure consumers of the safety of trimmed beef, as well as to underscore the importance of the beef industry to their respective states.
"We need to have a factual discussion about the safety of our food supply. Trimmed beef is a safe beef product that is approved by the USDA and has been safely consumed by Americans for more than 20 years. This is an unwarranted, unmerited food scare created by irresponsible journalism,” said Governor Brownback.
Brownback continued, “Ultimately, consumers will pay higher food prices for taking this safe product off 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 available because of a baseless media reporting."
Trimmed beef is a 100% beef, 90-95% lean, nutritious, safe, quality and affordable beef product eaten by Americans for 20 years. The production and food safety technologies employed to make trimmed beef are USDA-approved, and it is produced in USDA-inspected meat processing facilities.
“By turning away from trimmed beef, consumers are allowing media sensationalism to trump sound science,” Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman said. “This is a disservice to the beef industry, the hundreds of Kansans who make their livings producing this safe product, and, ultimately, consumers.”
The beef industry is a staple of the U.S. economy. In Kansas, the beef industry generates more than $6.5 billion in cash receipts a year. 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.