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SD beef industry promotes product at Sanford International

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Normally a cowboy hat on the golf course might get a double take. That is, unless you are in South Dakota.

Cattle producers from across the state promoted the nutritional value of beef to athletes and seniors at the Sanford International Golf Tournament in Sioux Falls Sept. 18-23. The South Dakota Beef Industry Council sponsored a hospitality tent, appropriately named The Ranch, at the event of the PGA Tour Champions, formerly known as the Senior PGA Tour and the Champions Tour.

South Dakota Beef Industry Council Chairman Eric Sumption says it was an opportunity to engage with consumers from all over the country about the protein power of beef.

"It's actually come around where they're starting to show that it's a valuable source of protein, and it's not just the protein, it's all the other vitamins, the iron," he says.

The council also grilled 500 ribeye steak sandwiches on Friday and hamburgers over the weekend to give spectators a taste of South Dakota-produced beef. Golf enthusiasts from all over the country were almost in disbelief when given the free steak sandwich and said it was a real treat to have a home-grown and delicious product to feast on at the event.

The South Dakota Beef Industry Council currently partners with Sanford Health and Sanford Sport Science Institute on various projects. One is the "Build Your Base with Beef" program.

"It's really an educational program with 10 high school football programs where we're providing education for them on training, nutrition and performance," says Dr. Thayne Munce, associate director of the Sanford Sport Science Institute.

He says they are working to integrate beef into athletes' pre- and post-practice meals and game meals.

"We're really lifting up beef as a premiere protein, as a source for protein for those athletes as they build up and build their bodies for football," he says. "Beef has all of the essential nutrients that an athlete needs, and it's fresh, it's whole and natural."

Munce says they're also extending the information to communities and families to incorporate beef into a healthy lifestyle. He says beef comes in a variety of forms so people can adapt it to their tastes for breakfast, lunch or dinner or snacks.

"It's very versatile, it can be an on-the-go type of food or a staple for sitting down at lunch or dinner," he says.

The South Dakota Beef Industry Council is also targeting seniors with their programs, and so participating in the PGA Tour Champions event was appropriate. Munce says it is important that older Americans incorporate protein like beef into their diet.

"It can help, again, maintain those healthy muscles, which is really important for people as they get older, losing muscle mass is an important aspect," he says. He says that is important as seniors are increasingly frail and are at more risk of falls.

Sumption says the Sanford International was also a chance to talk to consumers about what they do on their farms and ranches to raise beef as part of their Pasture to Plate outreach program. The booth featured virtual ranch tours, where consumers could put on projection devices and explore ranches in 3D and from a 360-degree perspective.

"It shows the action of the farm, whether it's a feedlot or ranch setting where they're rounding up cattle," Sumption says. "The feedlot side of its very interesting to me to show people how we take care of them, how we feed them to get them the product that we want to provide to them, a premiere product."

Golf lovers came to watch the tournament from not just the Sioux Falls area but all over the country, which provided great exposure for the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.

"The big thing here for us is we see the exposure is a different crowd," Sumption says. "It's all ages, but the majority of it is seniors that enjoy the tour. They came from all over the U.S. and other countries even, and with the Golf Channel broadcasting it, the coverage is tremendous."

The South Dakota Beef Industry Council plans to participate in the tournament annually, as the Minnehaha Country Club has a long-term contract to host the event.