[Letters]Reassuring Koreans on U.S. beef
I should like to respectfully respond to Mr. Sun Yang’s letter (“The case against cheap U.S. beef,” Feb. 20). I do not pretend to understand all of the issues behind the Korean people’s concerns about this issue but I do feel that it is important that you know the truth and judge me, my family, my business and my product with facts as opposed to vicious politically motivated propaganda, lies and misinformation.
My family and I are beef cattle ranchers in the United States. We are a fourth-generation family-owned and operated beef and beef genetics producer dedicated to breeding and producing the highest quality, most efficient, and yes, profitable, beef cattle for our fellow U.S. and international cattle breeder customers and beef consumers worldwide. Our family has supplied beef genetics to Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Britain, Germany, Poland, Russia, Mexico, Canada, South Africa and most U.S. states. It is highly possible that anywhere in the world a person eats beef, our family may have had some small part in producing that beef.
This is a responsibility that we take very seriously and personally. Your readers should take reassurance that I and my family buy and consume U.S. produced beef without any qualms or concerns as to its safety, wholesomeness and healthiness and this comfort comes with a lifetime of knowledge and experience of the entire U.S. beef production industry.
Why and how exactly is U.S. beef cheaper than Korean beef? The price of any beef is determined by the universal laws of supply and demand. Cost of production, however, is a different issue.
I suspect that the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South America all have many production cost advantages over Korea. In the U.S. we have vast open expanses of grass and pasture with very low population density. This allows us huge relative economies of scale with very efficient labor and land costs per head of cattle raised.
We also have very efficient grain and feed production. These advantages are the results of geography, climate, population density, soil fertility, and the judicious use of production technologies, research development and education - not some sinister international conspiracy.
U.S. beef cattle are not fed meat from “diseased” animals; feeding any beef products back to beef cattle is illegal and highly regulated in the first place. Why would I, or anyone, feed dangerous products to our cattle which we would in turn eat? We do not feed our cattle unhealthy amounts of “cheap overabundant” grain. Corn and soybeans are neither cheap nor abundant; why would we spend more than necessary for feed grain only to waste it?
Antibiotics are also very expensive and very highly regulated. Do Korean producers let their cattle get sick and die? What do they do with the ones that are just sick? Do they get sold for consumption? I should hope and expect not.
The grain fed to cattle has the same amount of pesticides (if any) that chickens, pigs and people consume. Pesticides are expensive, very highly regulated and used to a minimum. Another falsehood is the claim that beef consumption is the cause of obesity. Statically the occurrence of obesity is increasing while per capita consumption of beef is decreasing.
It was with great concern that I and my fellow beef producers in the United States watched the great civil unrest in Korea allegedly caused by our product. We were dismayed that what we produce with such great care and pride was so viciously maligned by falsehoods, lies and propaganda for reasons that we still do not understand. Our governments failed us both.
As a farmer rancher I also feel a great kinship with all beef producers, and harbor no ill will towards Korean beef producers and wish them all success. But please understand that the product that we produce and hope to make available to you is the same that I feed my own family with pride, honor, integrity and great confidence.
Sam Johnson, Summitcrest Farms, Summitville, Ohio, USA