ND Beef Commission puts up $590,000 for beef research

BISMARCK, N.D. -- The North Dakota Beef Commission is using funds from an additional $1-per-head fee assessed on beef animals sold in the state to fund $590,000 in beef research.

BISMARCK, N.D. - The North Dakota Beef Commission is using funds from an additional $1-per-head fee assessed on beef animals sold in the state to fund $590,000 in beef research.

The state on Aug. 1, 2015, began assessing the extra $1 fee, on top of the $1 collected nationally which provides 50 cents for national programs and 50 cents for state programs. That means the North Dakota Beef Commission now has about three times the funding to work with, and funding research has become a top priority.

The Beef Commission received 23 research proposals and chose to fund nine. Five projects will examine health benefits of beef consumption and four will look at ways to improve beef's value in the marketplace and enhance customer satisfaction.

Beef Commission Executive Director Nancy Jo Bateman says if research shows beef in the diet can solve significant nutrition and health issues or if it can find ways to make beef safer or better, the money invested in research will be money well spent.

"Anything that can be done through research to show that beef has a positive role in making positive changes in the body, in the nutrition, in the effect that it can have on immediate health and future health issues is something that is so positive," she says. "The payback to producers is getting that kind of information and that level of reassurance out there to consumers so that they feel good when they eat beef and know it's doing good things for their health and their children's health, and that comes back in demand for their product."


Three of the nine studies will look at effects of replacing carbohydrates with beef in diets during pregnancy. Kimberly Vonnahme, a North Dakota State University professor, will investigate whether such changes could impact childhood obesity and heart disease. Eric Berg, an NDSU professor, and student Megan Nelson will look at whether beef in place of carbohydrates will increase secondary muscle fiber development in offspring, which has been shown to reduce the chances of obesity and heart disease. Berg also will study whether the diet change has any effect on bone density and bone health.

Two other studies also look at health outcomes associated with beef consumption.

Sherri Stastny, an associate professor at NDSU, will look at the association between dietary protein intake and muscle and bone quality among females across the lifespan. Wayne Campbell, a professor at Purdue University, will explore how consuming beef influences the gut microbiome of young adults and whether a healthy diet with red meat could improve gastrointestinal health more than a meatless diet.

Four other projects look at product quality and safety.

Robert Maddock, an associate professor at NDSU, will study whether carcass size and weight, and potentially differences in cut size and weight, could affect consumer demand. Kasey Carlin, an associate professor at NDSU, will be doing research related to tenderness. Birgit M. Pruess, a professor at NDSU, will research a microbiological intervention that could be applied to ground beef to reduce bacteria, as well as consumer acceptance of the product. Berg and research scientist Xin Sun will investigate whether oleic acid, a monosaturated fatty acid associated with positive health benefits, can be quantified by online image analysis.

Bateman says the Beef Commission board had the research department at the national Cattlemen's Beef Board screen the projects to make sure they were sound scientifically and to ensure there was no overlap in research already funded. Then, the Beef Commission board evaluated and scored the projects to choose the ones it would fund.

"We know we have a great story to share with consumers about the health benefits of beef, but we must have the facts to back up our claims," says Gackle-area cattleman Jeff Dahl, chairman of the North Dakota Beef Commission, in a statement. "Research is key to our ability to increase demand and profitability, and why I am proud that the NDBC has invested in it."

The additional $1 assessed per head of beef is a voluntary program; cattle sellers can request refunds of the money. Bateman says about 7.5 to 8.5 percent of funds are returned. She says the commission takes it seriously when producers don't feel the program is worth their investment, and they want to be good stewards of ranchers' investment.


"I just hope that producers agree that research like this is critical," she says.

What To Read Next
Get Local