Audit reports: WBC hosts conference call to discuss state, national industry auditsWritten by Emilee Gibb
The Wyoming Beef Council (WBC) held a conference call on Nov. 2 to discuss an array of audit reports including the WBC financial audit, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association audit and the U.S. Meat Export Federation audit, as well as other topics including requests for proposal reviews.
Wayne Herr, a partner of McGee, Hearne and Paize, LLP in Cheyenne, discussed the most recent audit performed on WBC, noting that the audit “went pretty straight forward.”
Part of the audit that McGee, Hearne and Paize, LLP performed was a standard opinion, explained Herr.
“We look at the internal control environment, the risk of fraud affecting the organization, look at changes that have occurred due to changes of activity and how those should affect the financial statement numbers. Then we go through a planning process as a result that is required to formulate a detailed audit approach,” said Herr.
The audit for WBC is performed under a cash basis of auditing. Herr explained that cash basis auditing is different from full accrual auditing, which only accepts accounting principles.
The standard opinion was unmodified, indicating that it is the opinion of the company that the financial statements of WBC are fairly presented.
“Once we’re able to complete that without any significant exceptions, we give our opinion,” he continued.
Opinions given on an audit fall into four different categories, said Herr.
“We can give four different opinions when auditing. One is good, one is okay and two are bad. The WBC audit is the good opinion,” commented Herr.
Herr explained that 2015 was the first year that the WBC had a new standard addressing government multi-employer retirement plans.
“The bottom line is, the standard said we need to allocate essentially the accrued pension expense,” said Herr. “This is based on what the actuaries have determined, which is the accrual underfunding of the pension plan and then allocating that liability to all of the participants.”
As the WBC is not an accrual-based auditee, the language was simply included in the report for disclosure purposes.
“This liability is not a legal obligation of the WBC. It is a legal obligation of the state’s retirement plan,” stressed Herr.
The information primarily explains how much WBC’s portion would be if the retirement plan were terminated but they had to honor all commitments made to retired and current employees, said Herr.
“It would approximately be $93,000. That’s higher than it was last year because the state’s liability has gone up to $2.3 billion, which basically represents the underfunding of the retirement plan,” he continued.
Seventy to 73 percent of the funding for the plan is based on the actuarial determination, which was lower this year.
“That dropped this year because, for years now, the state retirement plan has not been able to achieve investment earnings in line with what was predicted two or three years ago,” said Herr. “Now there’s been a major adjustment because of that lack of earning ability of those investments.”
In addition to the standard audit requirements, the company also performed the audit to meet government auditing standards.
“We have additional audit requirements because we do this audit under government auditing standards, which are under the scheduled Government Accountability Office, and we put additional audit requirements on top of that,” said Herr.
The governmental requirements of the audit primarily evaluated legal compliance and financial reporting.
“We basically look at two areas – the internal control over financial reporting and compliance with laws, regulations, statutes and things that noncompliance would have a material effect on the financial statement,” explained Herr.
He noted that that the audit did not have anything to report under internal control over financial reporting or under compliance with other matters.
“It’s not really an opinion but more of a report. It just indicates that we did not find anything we need to bring to your attention,” said Herr.
“We’re also doing this audit under government auditing standards. There will be a separate report later for that, and it will indicate that we are doing this audit, particularly with concern for the Beef Promotion Research Act of 1985, as well as a certain section of the Beef Promotion and Research Order,” said Herr.
He noted that no violations were found. However, the report was changed to adopt changes made to the report by the National Beef Board.
“After we initially issued the report, the National Beef Board identified that they had changed this report and added another phrase, so we did reissue this opinion for them,” explained Herr.
The added language addressed that the audit did not identify a situation where the council failed to accurately allocate expenses that it shared with any other entity or funding source.
“The reason we didn’t have it in there to begin with is because we really didn’t think it applied. It probably doesn’t to WBC, but the National Beef Board preferred that the report follow the standard format they have in the manual, so we just added it,” continued Herr.
He stressed that the changes did not alter the results of the audit but simply brought the report into compliance with National Beef Board requests.
Protein challenge: Thirty-day program encourages increased consumptionWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Last year, Beef It’s What’s For Dinner launched the 30-Day Protein Challenge, a beef checkoff campaign to educate consumers about the benefits of protein, and now the challenge is back.
“We definitely saw great feedback. We were all blown away by the response we received when we launched it,” says Lindsay Kearns, coordinator of integrated communications at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).
Over 14,600 consumers signed up to receive daily motivation emails last year, and this year, participants can choose to receive daily or weekly motivation.
“The beauty of the challenge is that it can be customized, so if it is someone’s second time around, they can change it up a little bit, try new recipes and set new goals,” Kearns describes.
Joining the challenge
Participants can begin the challenge at any time by visiting the Protein Challenge web page on the Beef It’s What’s For Dinner website. They can sign up for motivation emails, learn about the benefits of protein and find a 30-day challenge calendar to follow.
To begin, participants are encouraged to keep a food journal, documenting what foods they eat and how they feel throughout the day. Next, they are asked to review their eating patterns and compare them to how they feel.
The calendar includes days with increased protein consumption, balanced with normal-diet days.
“It’s all about taking 30 days to eat protein-rich foods at snack and meal times,” she says. “When we include more protein in our diets, we feel more full, we’re not as hungry, we notice we have more energy, and we’re not craving sugar.”
Beginning the day with donuts often leads to sugary snacks like cookies later in the day and cravings for more sugar, such as an afternoon soda, she explains.
“If we fill ourselves up with protein, we’re going to feel more healthy, and we will go for healthier snacks and healthier meals. We’re not going to feel tired, and we’re going to want to work out. We’ve found that eating more protein really helps with everything in our lives,” she adds.
Tips and tricks
To help participants reach their goals, the website includes information about how to choose lean proteins, as well as potential menu selections at a number of popular restaurants, such as Starbucks, Wendy’s and Subway.
The website also provides snack ideas such as cheese, nuts and beef jerky, as well as a full range of recipes for every meal. With ideas such as beef breakfast burritos, steak and blue cheese wraps and Szechuan beef stir-fry, participants can find meals they may have not tried before.
“We have done a lot of work for beef at breakfast and our culinary center has developed a ton of recipes,” Kearns comments.
The challenge also promotes protein as a whole, although the checkoff program hopes that beef is included on the menu. Foods such as eggs, yogurt and other animal proteins are listed on the website to promote the benefits of protein incorporated in a balanced diet.
“We promote the challenge on social media, so people can find it on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which sometimes has great recipes for the Protein Challenge,” notes Kearns.
The challenge was inspired by other 30-day lifestyle challenges that are seen on social media platforms, but it is not designed to be hard to complete.
“It’s not one of those really strict challenges. We can really customize it to our own lifestyle and not beat ourselves up if we don’t follow exactly what it says,” she explains.
Beef It’s What’s For Dinner hopes that participants will find easy ways to include protein in their diets and feel the positive benefits of consuming it throughout the day.
Consuming beef - Advocacy groups defend against international reportWritten by Saige Albert
Lyon, France – On Oct. 26, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a report classifying red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans, based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect.”
Wyoming Beef Council Executive Director Ann Wittmann comments, “The scientific evidence used is inadequate to reach consensus on cancer risk.”
“It is unrealistic to isolate a single food as a cause of cancer when we take into account the many different foods people eat, as well as whether they live a healthy lifestyle and if they are exposed to any other environmental factors,” she adds.
Preparing a report
When tasked by the World Health Organization to look at the carcinogenicity of red meat and processed meat, a working group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened in Lyon, France to deliberate the issue.
In developing their report, the working group looked at more than 800 studies analyzing at the association of consumption of red and processed meat with the incidence of cancer.
Facts About Beef, an organization devoted to debunking myths about beef, noted that, after seven days of deliberation, IARC did not reach a consensus of the 22 experts. They further added that IARC “proudly highlighted they strive for and typically achieve” consensus.
“In this case, they had to settle for ‘majority’ agreement,” said Facts About Beef in a news release.
Inside the report
IARC’s report notes that red meat be classified as a Group 2A carcinogen, or possibly carcinogenic to humans, and processed meat was classified as Group 1, or carcinogenic to humans. Limited evidence was the standard for classifying red meat, and sufficient evidence was the basis of the decision on processed meat.
“The consumption of meat varies greatly between countries, with from a few percent up to 100 percent of people eating red meat, depending on the country, and somewhat lower proportions eating processed meat,” IARC says. “The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.”
Red meat includes all types of mammalian muscle meat, including beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat. Processed meat is meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking or other processes to enhance the flavor or improve preservation.
In preparing for the hearing on carcinogenicity of meat, Wittmann says the beef checkoff submitted six sets of comments based on scientific studies to be included in the review process. In addition, Shalene McNeill, head of Human Nutrition Research for the checkoff, was an observer in the process.
McNeill says, “Billions of dollars have been spent on studies all over the world, and no single food has ever been proven to cause or cure cancer. The opinion by the IARC committee to list red meat as a probable carcinogen does not change that fact. The available scientific evidence simply does not support a causal relationship between red or processed meat and any type of cancer.”
In anticipation of the report's release, the Wyoming Beef Council formed a strategy to neutralize negative statements about beef.
“We knew we couldn’t influence the paper, so we got out in front and made a strategy,” Wittmann comments, noting that the beef checkoff began working far in advance to defend against the report. “This is a great example of our checkoff dollars at work.”
Wittmann further notes that no impact has been seen from the report in Wyoming to this point.
“I don’t believe this will have an impact,” she explains. “We’ve been watching the media very closely. We knew the report was going to be negative, and we assumed we couldn’t turn it positive, so our goal is for it to be neutral – and that is what we’ve seen.”
In Wyoming, Wittmann notes that the media has responded favorably to releases, statements and availability for comment on the IARC report.
The Wyoming Beef Council has also been working diligently to invigorate lively conversation related to beef over the past several years while also remaining attentive to the issues and responding as new topics come forward.
“We have been talking about the nutritional value of beef through our social media channels,” Wittmann explains. “We have had really good conversation and engagement on Pinterest and Facebook about the benefits of beef, the taste of beef and giving the consumer permission to love beef and include it in their diet.”
Wittmann adds that the efforts of the Wyoming Beef Council have netted positive impacts, particularly over the past year.
“Our website traffic over the past year has increased 350 percent,” Wittmann emphasizes. “We are very impressed with that.”
Their focus on the image of a rancher who also consumes the product they produce has helped to drive their website traffic.
“We are focusing on the cowboy and the rancher’s way of life while peppering in messages about nutrition, fun recipes and vibrant, healthy living,” she says. “It seems to be really working for us.”
In the wake of the release of the IARC report, Wittmann emphasizes, “Producers should realize that the beef checkoff has spent millions of dollars in research and decades of time researching our product so we have the facts to counter some of these messages and help consumers not get caught up in the study of the day.”
“This is our checkoff dollars at work,” she says. “We are paving the way for consumers to love our product and help producers make a living.”
The age of technology: Sides looks at the impacts of technology, culture on beefWritten by Saige Albert
Casper – In today’s hyper-connected world, Zoetis Nutritionist Gary Sides emphasized to producers that access to the sheer amount of information that is available can be both helpful and harmful.
“We literally, with our fingertips, have access to the accumulated knowledge of mankind,” he commented during an April 20 producer dinner, sponsored by Zoetis and Superior Livestock Auction in Casper. “If we want, we can find information that fits any bias we want.”
He continued, “With Google, we can find out how to build an atomic bomb, yet most of our consuming public has no clue where their food comes from.”
As a result, the information they do collect may not have any basis in science or fact.
“The famous food scientists that tell us what we should eat include Michelle Obama, Michael Pollan, Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep,” Sides said. “About 20 year ago, Meryl Streep almost destroyed the apple industry.”
Streep’s comments about a product sprayed on apples to maintain color on 60 Minutes nearly destroyed the industry.
As First Lady, Sides also noted that Michelle Obama has redesigned the school lunch program across the nation.
“Nationwide, Michelle Obama is telling our school kids what they should have for lunch,” he said. “What are her credentials? She has a microphone, and she’s repeating what she’s heard for the past 60 years.”
The media message for over a half a century has been to avoid animal proteins and fat.
“When we look at news about animal products, whether it’s beef, eggs or pork,” Sides added. “They say it’s going to kill us, or we’ll die if we eat it.”
Since the 1950s, magazines have been using misconstrued data to advocate against consumption of proteins and fats, instead favoring a diet high in grains, vegetables and fruit. Over time, as vegetable oils replaced animal fats and beef consumption was replaced by chicken or vegetable proteins, Sides commented that the health of Americans has actually declined.
“With a low fat, high carb diet, I’ll never die, right? Am I missing anything so far?” Sides said, parroting many media outlets. “But the results seem to be just the opposite.”
Obesity has nearly tripled in both adults and children, and diabetes has also increased.
One of the major concerns for doctors has been salt intake.
“If I have really elevated blood pressure, the first thing the doctor tells us is to quit the salt,” Sides said. “It’s settled science, and we’ve known this for decades. The current recommendation is less than 1,500 milligrams – less than half a teaspoon.”
However, in a meta-analysis that analyzed 167 clinical trials, no effect was seen from sodium on blood pressure.
“The folks with the low sodium diet had higher rates of diseases than those on the high sodium diet,” he explained. “In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control even said they’d been wrong about the salt. Now they want us to eat between 3,000 and 7,000 milligrams a day.”
As just one example of bad nutrition information, Sides continued that vegan diets are another.
“Vegans don’t have any healthier lives and don’t live as long as meat eaters,” he said.
Additional recommendations on fat consumption and cholesterol have also included flawed science. Sides used the example of Ancel Keys seven country study.
“This study was dated February 1963, and Ancel Keys was a professor at the University of Minnesota,” he said. “He did a survey after World War II of 26 countries with a questionnaire.”
The questionnaire asked about diet and health, including heart disease.
“He came up with this theory that higher saturated fat meant a greater chance of dying of heart disease,” Sides said. “He only used seven countries in his actual published data because the other countries didn’t follow the theory. He kicked them out and cherry-picked the data.”
“This all started as a lie from Ancel Keys,” he added.
While cholesterol and salt have been implicated in diseases like heart diseases, Sides said that beef can actual be helpful in preventing heart disease.
“The fat in beef is 40 percent steric acid and 40 percent oleic acid,” he said. “These fats decrease very low density lipoproteins (vLDLs) and increase high density lipoproteins (HDLs) and triglycerides. The remaining 30 percent of fat in beef is neutral, so the fat in beef is heart healthy. It is one of the few items in our diet that can do those three things – just the opposite of what we’ve been told.”
In addition, Harvard’s scientists have looked at 21 clinical studies from the past 40 years that were purported to show that fat caused heart disease.
“The problem is, when they analyzed the data, they found no association between cholesterol and heart disease,” he said. “Is there a dietary factor that affects heart disease? Yes. What is it? Refined carbohydrates.”
Refined carbohydrates have steadily been increasing in the diet of Americans.
“We eat 130 pounds per capita of sugar per year. About 75 pounds of that is white sugar, and the rest is high fructose corn syrup,” Sides said, noting that the second or third ingredient in many prepared foods from the grocery store is sugar or corn syrup.
“Here’s the take-home message,” he added. “It’s not the number of calories that we eat. It’s the source of those calories. If the source is something that raises insulin levels, that’s the problem.”
Elevated insulin causes calories consumed to be stored as fat, Sides explained, which is the reason for obesity in Americans.
Even with exercise, Sides said that a low fat, high carbohydrate diet will lead to weight gain.
“We need fat, and children need fat,” Sides added. “We’ve had it 180 degrees backwards for about 50 years.”
Alternative meat cuts provide different options for retailers, consumersWritten by Saige Albert
Riverton – Over the past decade, significant research has provided a number of new cuts of meat for beef and lamb, as well as other species, and University of Wyoming Extension Meat Specialist Warrie Means noted that those cuts provide more variety at the meat case.
“There are a lot of different meat cuts,” Means said during a presentation at Fremont County Farm and Ranch Days on Feb. 10.
“There are pages and pages of lists of different cuts,” he continued, “and there are lots of good resources for meat cuts. However, some of the resources we’ve used for a long time are a little outdated because of the alternative cuts that we’ve developed lately.”
He explained that since the 1970s, a trend toward leaner, more boneless and more specific muscle cuts has been seen.
The resulting development of new cuts has created smaller portion sizes that are more uniform in cooking and tenderness.
“These are all good things for our consumers,” Means emphasized.
Means delved into the varied reasons that meat is portioned into cuts.
“We cut meat because slaughter animals provide too big a portion size,” he said. “We also cut up roasts, steak and chops for our use.”
Chops differ from roasts based on the size of the animal, he explained.
“Many years ago, large meat cleavers were used to cut meat, and with a cleaver, we could more easily chop through the backbone vertebrae of a lamb or pig,” he said. “We couldn’t get through the backbone of a beef very easily. Therefore, chops come from lambs and pigs.”
Means continued that cutting meat allows similar muscles to be kept together.
“We want the similarity because muscles have differences in tenderness,” he said. “The loin is generally more tender and has a different fat content compared to the chuck, so if we can separate them, it is better for cooking, eating and for our profits.”
Middle meats are derived from the rib and loin, which are most valuable, most tender and have the least amount of connective tissue.
“We also have to think about how we are going to cook the meat,” Means said, noting that different cuts should be cooked in different ways.
“If we are going to cook a roast, we want it to be more consistent and globular-shaped,” he said. “This also allows it to cook more evenly. Steaks also need to be evenly cut, not wedge-shaped.”
The degree of doneness is also important in the tenderness of the product.
“If we cook a steak more than medium degree of doneness, it will toughen,” Means explained. “That is called myofibrular toughening. As this happens the proteins also start to lose moisture at an accelerated rate. Therefore, beef cooked to well done is drier and less tender.”
“Cooking changes the tenderness, and it changes the texture,” he added. “It also changes the flavor and the color. All of these things are important to people when they are looking at a piece of meat.”
In beef, cuts like the flat iron steak, petite tender, mock tender roast, flanken-style ribs and Korean style ribs have all been recently developed or, in some cases, rediscovered.
The flat iron steak comes from the shoulder top blade.
“A top blade roast can be cut into steaks, but the problem is the huge seam of connective tissue that runs through it,” Means said. “To make the flat iron, they filet out the connective tissue for two steaks.”
Though the steaks are thin, they are flavorful and tender, he explained..
The petite tender comes from the shoulder, as well, from a muscle named the teres major. This is a relatively tender muscle that can be made into small medallions.
Another cut from the beef chuck is the chuck tender, also called a mock tender roast.
“The mock tender roast is different than a tenderloin,” he said. “It’s been around for a long time. They don’t make good steaks, but it’s a good roast.”
Flanken-style ribs are similar to short ribs, and they are cut from the beef chuck. When flanken-style ribs are cut thin, they are called Korean-style ribs.
“Korean-style ribs can be cooked in a wok,” he explained. “They are very flavorful and very sought-after for Asian-style cooking.”
Other chuck cuts
The deep pectoral is a muscle that also offers desirable traits.
“The deep pectoral muscle is the same muscle as the brisket, but it is left in the chuck when we separate those two,” Means said. “It can be ground or used as a roast, and it’s really good if cooked properly so the connective tissue is broken down, similar to brisket.”
The chuck roll or chuck eye roll also comes from the beef chuck. It comes from the area of the chuck at the fifth rib and forward.
“We cut the chuck and the rib between the fifth and sixth ribs,” Means explained. “There isn’t much difference between the steaks on the chuck or the rib at that interface, and it is pretty good. The posterior end, say ribs three through five, of the chuck eye closest to the rib can be cooked like a prime rib. It is awesome and about one-third the cost of a prime rib.”
Means noted that these cuts are only a few of the many options available to consumers.
With new advancements in cutting meat, Means emphasized, “There are a lot of things we can do with these muscles to make them more consumer friendly.”