USDA Encourages the Use of Food Thermometers to be Food Safe this Summer

closeup meat thermometer on stainless steel, utensil in the kitchenSummer is a time for family vacations, backyard barbecues and plenty of outdoor activities with food as the centerpiece. But before those steaks and burgers go on the grill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wants to remind consumers to keep their family and themselves safe from foodborne illness by using a food thermometer to ensure meat and poultry is cooked to the correct internal temperature.

“The best and only way to make sure bacteria have been killed and the food is safe to eat is by cooking it to the correct internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer,” said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. “It is a simple step that can stop your family and guests from getting a foodborne illness.”

Recent research by USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that only 34 percent of the public use a food thermometer when cooking hamburgers. If you don’t verify your burger’s internal temperature, pathogens may still be present. When eaten, those hamburgers can make your guests and your family sick.

In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

So how do you avoid becoming a part of those statistics? Follow USDA’s four easy steps to food safety this summer.

Clean: Make sure to always wash your hands and surfaces with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before cooking and after handling raw meat or poultry. If cooking outside or away from a kitchen, pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.

Separate: When taking food off of the grill, use clean utensils and platters. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.

Cook: Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat and poultry. Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food.

  • Hamburgers, sausages and other ground meats should reach 160°F.
  • All poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165°F.
  • Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal, and of beef should be cooked to 145°F as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, and allowed to rest for three minutes before eating. A “rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens.
  • Fish should be cooked to 145°F.
  • Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside, and by using a food thermometer you can be sure items have reached a safe minimum internal temperature needed to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present.

Chill: Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate or freeze immediately. Discard food that has been sitting out longer than two hours.

Need more food safety information? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (1-888-674-6854) Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, or email or chat at AskKaren.gov.

Make the Most of Your Tobacco, Beef Operation

IMG_0956Presentations at Tobacco, Beef and More Field Day Provide Value for Producers

Whether you’re a beef cattle producer or a tobacco producer, you can learn useful strategies to make your operation more productive at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Tobacco, Beef and More Field Day.  It takes place on Thursday, June 22, at the Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center in Springfield. Admission is free.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. CDT at the field day assembly area off Oakland Road. Field tours begin at 8:45. Arrive early so you can tour the trade show and educational displays. The complete program is available online at http://highlandrim.tennessee.edu.

Tobacco Tours will introduce visitors to a new dark fire variety, guide them in selecting the right liming material, and cover best practices for managing foliar diseases like angular leaf spot. Visitors can also learn about the practice of chemically topping burley tobacco, including appropriate rates, optimal timings, and the varieties that respond best to this method.

Beef Tour presentations will include information on pasture management and weed control in pastures and hay fields. Other presentations will cover drought management and proper location of water in pastures.

Additionally, visitors can choose to take an overview tour of the Highland Rim AgResearch Center.  Learn about the Center’s history, current research programs, and its important role in Tennessee agriculture.

The tours will conclude at approximately 12:30 p.m. when visitors will be treated to a delicious lunch (steak sandwich, chips, cold drinks).

More details are available at http://highlandrim.tennessee.edu and on the Highland Rim AgResearch Center Facebook page. For additional information, or to request an accommodation for accessibility, please contact the Highland Rim office at 615-382-3130.

Pesticide re-certification points will be available for Categories 1, 4, 10 and 12.  Attendees can earn three points per category.

Cattlemen Applaud Gov. Terry Branstad’s Confirmation As Ambassador to China

Beijing downtown

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, released the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to be the U.S. Ambassador to China:

“As the six-term governor of a state with more than $10 billion in annual agricultural exports, Terry Branstad is an ideal person to help facilitate the U.S. beef industry’s return to the Chinese market for the first time in 13-plus years. Ambassador Branstad has said that he intends to serve American-produced beef at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, and America’s cattle producers look forward to working with him to make that a reality as soon as possible.”

In addition, Mike Cline, president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, said:

“Ambassador Branstad has been a great friend to Iowa cattlemen and the agriculture industry as Governor of Iowa. He has shown a great commitment to the growth of beef and other agricultural exports, and we look forward to the work he will do on behalf of all Americans in his new capacity as Ambassador to China.”

Fall Calving Season May Yield Higher Returns for Southeastern Beef Producers

edited IMG_8859The vast majority of cow-calf producers in Tennessee and the Southeast using a defined calving season have long favored spring calving; however, researchers at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture have evaluated the risk and returns for a fall calving season, proving once again that timing is everything.

Selecting an optimal calving season involves a complex set of factors including nutritional demands of brood cows, forage availability, calf weaning weights, calving rates, seasonality in cattle, feed prices and labor availability.

Until now, information regarding profitability and risk associated with spring and fall calving seasons in the southeastern United States has been limited. Addressing this limitation, researchers assessed the potential trade-offs in risk and return of using a fall calving season rather than a spring calving season, while considering the seasonality of cattle and feed prices for least-cost feed rations.

Using simulation models based on 19 years of data, UTIA researchers determined that the fall calving season, calving between mid-September and mid-November, was most profitable and had the smallest amount of variation in profits, meaning fall calving was less risky.

This may seem counterintuitive, as spring calving produces heavier calves at weaning and feed costs are lower. The increased profitability of fall-season calving is due to the higher prices the calves can bring at weaning and an increase in calves weaned per cow.

Information from this research can help cow-calf producers in Tennessee and other southeastern states as they navigate the complex decision of choosing a calving season. Additional information can be found in the associated UT Extension publication Fall Versus Spring Calving: Considerations and Profitability Comparison.

“While this research indicates possible advantages for fall calving, it is also important to consider the additional costs associated with switching seasons and labor availability in the fall when crops are harvested,” says Chris Boyer, assistant professor for UT’s Agricultural and Resource Economics Department.

County Extension agents are available to help producers evaluate if fall calving is beneficial for their herds.

Fall Versus Spring Calving: Considerations and Profitability Comparison is available at no charge online at the UT Extension publications website:extension.tennessee.edu/publications. Simply search for the publication by title.

Tennessee Valley Livestock Conference Registration Now Available

Bales of hay and a fenceThe Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association, along with the Tennessee Dairy Producers Association, Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, and North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association, is holding the first annual Tennessee Valley Livestock Conference in White Pine on June 27. This event is sponsored by the Tennessee Farmers Cooperative.

Headlining the conference is radio personality Trent Loos, who will be discussing his role on President Trump’s agriculture advisory committee and other issues relating to cattle producers. Following Loos will be Extension Specialists Dr. Andrew Griffith and Dr. Gary Bates from the University of Tennessee, addressing the topic of grazing management. Afterwards, there will be lunch served and a live cattle grading demonstration, presented by Jodee Inman from USDA’s Livestock Marketing department. Following that, there will be a live cattle health demonstration, presented by Extension Specialists Dr. Justin Rhinehart and Dr. Lew Strickland. Additionally, Royce Towns from the Tennessee Farmers Cooperative will be speaking on summer fescue. Lastly, Rob Holland from the Center for Profitable Agriculture will present on direct marketing meat cuts and live animal sales for custom harvest. Also during the day, attendees can learn about new livestock products from the trade show exhibitors.

This conference will be held from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Registration is 20 dollars per attendee which includes lunch. This rate will be available until June 20. Registration after that date will be 30 dollars per attendee. There is a hotel block rate available at the Hampton Inn by Hilton in Morristown by mentioning the TCA’s event.

Information and the registration form are available at www.tncattle.org or in the current issues of the Tennessee Cattle Business magazine.

2017 Grass-Fed Beef Conferences Scheduled for Two Locations

Angus on pasture webFor the second consecutive year, University of Tennessee Extension will offer cattle producers a “one-stop” opportunity to learn about producing and marketing grass-fed beef. This year’s conference offers new materials and speakers for the benefit of those interested in grass-fed beef production.
Called the Grass-Fed Beef Conference, the educational workshop will be held on two dates at two locations in 2017: June 28 in Spring Hill, Tenn., and June 29 in Athens, Tenn. Both conferences will begin at 8:30 a.m. local time and adjourn at 4:30 p.m.

The same conference sessions will be provided at both Spring Hill and Athens locations. Educational topics will include:

  • Considerations for Grass-Fed Finishing
  • Developing a Forage System for Grass-Fed Beef
  • Grass-Fed Beef Nutrition
  • Branding and Labeling Considerations for Grass-Fed Beef
  • Grass-Fed Beef Producer Experiences –Video Farm Tours

Consumer interest in purchasing local meats from farmers that use specialized production practices has motivated many cattle producers to adopt grass-fed beef production systems on their farms. Special claims such as “Grass-Fed” or “Pasture-Raised” are increasingly used on meat product labels, promotional materials and in popular press. According to UT forage specialist and conference presenter, Gary Bates, “Transitioning from a conventional cow-calf operation to pasture-based cattle finishing can present many challenges and often entails a knowledge base and skill set distinct from more traditional pasture management programs.”

Value-added activities related to processing and marketing can also create hurdles for producers transitioning to grass-fed beef. Other conference presenters include UT extension specialists in beef nutrition and marketing, and University of Kentucky livestock and forage management extension economist, Greg Halich, co-author of the publication “Producer’s Guide to Pasture-Based Finishing.”

Pre-registration for each conference is required by June 20, 2017. The cost is $40 per person per event. Lunch will be provided. To register, go online to https://tiny.utk.edu/grassfedbeef17.  Conference location information will be emailed to registered participants the week prior to the events. The conference qualifies as one educational course requirement for TAEP Producer Diversification Value Added Sector only.

In addition to the general conference sessions, a free, pre-conference tour of UT’s Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center (MTREC) in Spring Hill will be offered on June 27 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. CDT. The pre-conference tour will show participants some of the current forage and livestock research being conducted, including information on:

  • Native warm-season grass trials
  • Integrated crop-livestock systems
  • Intercropping annual cash crops with forages

The pre-conference tour is free to registered participants from either the Spring Hill or Athens conference locations, but an additional pre-registration is required.

Funding for these conferences has been provided, in part, through the Southern Extension Risk Management Education Center and the United States Department of Agriculture.

For more information, visit the website for the Center for Profitable Agriculture: ag.tennessee.edu/cpa. Look for a link under the “educational events” menu.

TENNESSEE CATTLEMEN’S DONATES $2,500 TO UTIA FOUNDATION

10The Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association (TCA) Board of Directors recently voted to contribute $2,500 to the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) Foundation, in support of the 4-H Junior Livestock Programs. These projects are part of the “Developing Champion Youth Endowment” which was spearheaded by recently retired Extension Specialist Dr. Jim Neel.

Dr. Neel’s efforts have focused on raising funds to ensure the future of the 4-H Livestock programs. These programs offer Tennessee youth valuable educational opportunities through raising, exhibiting, and judging livestock and horses.”

65,000 boy and girls from across Tennessee enrolled in the Junior Livestock programs in 2016.

“Consider a gift in support a continue to the legacy,” said Dr. Neel. “Invest not just in our youth, but in our future.”

TCA felt the investment in these programs was the right thing to do. “TCA Board of Directors voted to give this money to the Developing Champion Youth Endowment to support the future of the livestock programs, but also as a thank you to Dr. Neel for all he has done to support youth development and the future of our industry,” said Charles Hord, executive vice president of TCA. “Multiple generations have benefited from Dr. Neel’s efforts and many more will in the future.”

To help youth learn lifetime lessons of leadership, work ethic, cooperation and financial management, consider a gift to UTIA. Online contribution is available at www.advanceUTIA.com/championyouth or call (865) 974-5779. Gifts may be tax deductible.

The Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association (TCA) Board of Directors recently voted to contribute $2,500 to the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) Foundation, in support of the 4-H Junior Livestock Programs. These projects are part of the “Developing Champion Youth Endowment” which was spearheaded by recently retired Extension Specialist Dr. Jim Neel.

Dr. Neel’s efforts have focused on raising funds to ensure the future of the 4-H Livestock programs. These programs offer Tennessee youth valuable educational opportunities through raising, exhibiting, and judging livestock and horses.”

65,000 boy and girls from across Tennessee enrolled in the Junior Livestock programs in 2016.

“Consider a gift in support a continue to the legacy,” said Dr. Neel. “Invest not just in our youth, but in our future.”

TCA felt the investment in these programs was the right thing to do. “TCA Board of Directors voted to give this money to the Developing Champion Youth Endowment to support the future of the livestock programs, but also as a thank you to Dr. Neel for all he has done to support youth development and the future of our industry,” said Charles Hord, executive vice president of TCA. “Multiple generations have benefited from Dr. Neel’s efforts and many more will in the future.”

To help youth learn lifetime lessons of leadership, work ethic, cooperation and financial management, consider a gift to UTIA. Online contribution is available at www.advanceUTIA.com/championyouth or call (865) 974-5779. Gifts may be tax deductible.

TCA and TBIC Select Young Cattlemen’s Conference Representative

Will Mayfield HeadshotThe Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association (TCA) and the Tennessee Beef Industry Council (TBIC) have selected Will Mayfield of Pulaski, TN. to attend the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC) happening May 31-June 8.

According to NCBA, the YCC trip’s purpose is: “to develop leadership qualities in young cattlemen and expose them to all aspects of the beef industry. The tour helps these young leaders understand all areas of our industry ranging from industry structure to issues management, from production research to marketing.”

Mayfield, and others, will begin the trip at NCBA’s headquarters in Denver, CO to take an in-depth look at many of the issues affecting the beef industry and what NCBA is doing to address these issues. They will also receive a comprehensive view of market information from Cattle-Fax. The group will then travel to JBS Five Rivers’ Kuner Feedyard, one of the nation’s largest cattle feeding operations and later, tour the JBS Greeley facility, which is one of the nation’s largest beef packing and processing plants. After that, the group will travel to Chicago, IL to visit the Chicago Board of Trade & OSI, Inc. one of the nation’s premiere beef patty manufacturers. To complete the trip, the group will then finish in Washington D.C., where they will meet with their state’s representatives and visit with a number of regulatory agencies that make decisions affecting agriculture.

“I am excited about the opportunity to encounter the full scope of the beef industry,” said Mayfield. “From policy-to-plate, I believe this conference will allow me to gain an increased knowledge of the industry that can be used back home to help Tennessee.”

Mayfield is a third generation Angus breeder from Giles County. In high school, he was involved with 4-H and FFA programs. He graduated from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville with a degree in animal science and was a member of the Alpha Kappa chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho. Mayfield was also on the livestock judging team. He then continued his education through the Master’s program, under the direction of Dr. Neal Schrick, focusing his studies on Angus genetics. Because of his work with the Angus Association, he was offered the regional manager position with them, covering the northeast U.S. During that time he was offered the Beef Coordinator position with Select Sires, which is now his current job.

“The TBIC is pleased to support Will Mayfield’s placement on the YCC tour this year,” said Valerie Bass, executive director of the TBIC. “He is a young leader and this experience will broaden his knowledge of the industry segments, expand his understanding of programs and grow his peer relationships across the nation.”

Charles Hord, the executive vice president of TCA added, “Will has a promising future in the cattle industry. We know he will represent Tennessee well.”

Mayfield will be joined by nearly 50 other young leaders from across the country, as well as NCBA staff. He will also be joined by Tennessee’s Chris Martin of Lyles, representing the Tennessee Simmental Association and Lake Elliott of Adams, representing the American Angus Association.

U.S. Beef Industry to President Trump: Please Help Get U.S. Beef Back into China

Beijing downtownThe National Cattlemen’s Beef Association this week sent a coalition letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to raise the restoration of U.S. beef access to China when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April. Leaders from the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the North American Meat Institute also signed the letter.

American beef producers have been denied access to China – a $2.6 billion import market — since 2003. Last fall China announced that it had lifted its ban on imports of U.S. beef, but attempts since then to negotiate the technical terms of access have been unsuccessful.

“We believe that access to the large and growing Chinese beef market is essential to the future health of the U.S. beef industry,” read the letter, which was signed by NCBA’s CEO, Kendal Frazier. “We understand that you have many important issues to discuss with President Xi, but we strongly encourage you to take this important opportunity to convey the urgent need for China to reopen its market to U.S. beef.”

In 2016, American beef producers sold $6.3 billion worth of U.S. beef to customers around the world, with three of the industry’s top foreign markets located in Asia.

Click here to view the full letter.

UT Extension Names Franklin County Farmer as Tennessee Farmer of the Year

Mike and Krislyn RobinsonOn 3,300 acres in southern Middle Tennessee, Mike Robinson and his wife, Krislyn, have spent 32 years raising cattle and a family as well as planting, cultivating and harvesting a variety of row crops. All the labor has paid off in countless ways, but Mike’s most recent “harvest” is being named the Tennessee Farmer of the Year by University of Tennessee Extension.
The Robinsons live in the Belvidere community of Franklin County. Along with their twin sons Tracy and Kary, and their daughters Kaylee and Callie Pearl, they own and operate Sugar Tree Farms, which includes property in Franklin, Moore and Lincoln counties. The Robinson’s diversified operation includes a commercial Black Angus herd; corn, soybean, wheat and oat production; a feed store that sells bag and bulk feed; a Farm King Equipment dealership; a custom-hire enterprise; and a hay and straw market. If you look close, you may see a Jersey cow or two left over from 14 years of operating Sugar Tree Dairy.
Robinson was nominated to be Tennessee Farmer of the Year by Dallas Manning, the UT Extension Area Specialist for Farm Management for 10 Middle Tennessee counties, including Franklin County. Farmers from across the state were nominated for the honor by their county extension agents or by area farm management specialists.
Robinson will be introduced as the Tennessee Farmer of the Year in August at the Tennessee Farm Bureau President’s Conference in Franklin, Tenn.; at the Tennessee State Fair Hamburger Grilling Contest for Media, which is sponsored by the Farm and Forest Families of Tennessee; and at the UT Institute of Agriculture Ag Day celebration scheduled for September 30 in Knoxville.
Robinson is a self starter. He began farming when he was in the 11th grade after he borrowed $9,600 from his grandfather to buy 18 acres. “The business has just grown from there,” he says. Today, he is grateful for the family aspect of the operation. His wife and sons are integral to the business. “The farm couldn’t exist without the boys,” Robinson said, modestly. “There is too much to do without them.” His young daughters are in training on the farm and through 4-H, and they are happy to help with appropriate chores.
Robinson and his family have been involved in many agricultural and community activities over the years. He’s been a member of the Franklin County Farm Bureau for 30 years, and has served as a voting delegate several times. He has also been a repeat member of the Farm Credit Advisory Board and served for more than a decade on the CFW Waste Management Board. In 1990 Robinson was named as Franklin County Conservation Farmer of the Year. Krislyn Robinson is a former elementary school teacher and home schooled their children. In addition to her duties on the farm, Krislyn is active with the local Tennessee Farm Bureau Women and teaches Sunday school at Lexie Church of Christ. Sons Tracy and Kary are also active in their community and enjoy participating in the Tennessee Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers program.
As Tennessee Farmer of the Year, Robinson will compete in the Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia. That competition chooses from among the top farmers from 10 southeastern states and is sponsored by Swisher International, Inc. The award recognizes excellence in agricultural production and farm management, along with leadership in farm and community organizations. The award also honors family contributions in producing safe and abundant supplies of food, fiber and shelter products for U.S. consumers. The overall Southeastern Farmer of the Year will be announced October 17.
This year Tennessee is the “Spotlight State” among the states participating in the Sunbelt Expo. A rotating honor, each year’s spotlight state highlights statewide contributions to agriculture. Planners for this year’s exhibit intend to showcase how the state’s agricultural industry is integral to Tennessee’s culture and tourism industry. A partnership of the UT Institute of Agriculture, the Tennessee Departments of Agriculture and Tourist Development, as well as many industry sponsors and other collaborators, the exhibit will spotlight how the soundtrack of America is made in Tennessee. The Sunbelt Expo runs from October 17-19. More information is available online at sunbeltexpo.com.
Robinson, who is truly appreciative of his statewide honor, is very excited to be representing the Spotlight State. “I told the boys it would be really exciting if the family could bring home the award to further spotlight Tennessee,” he said.