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By Staff | Aug 30, 2013

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association President Ed Greiman wrote this:

“Today I heard the radio advertisement for the first time in which pork cuts are being referred to with terms like ribeye and New York chop. This is a result of something called URMIS. It stands for Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards, and the goal was to make things simpler for the consumer by using the same terms to describe what part of an animal the cuts comes from.

“On its face, this sounds like a good idea, but besides talking about a ribeye chop, the pork commercials make a dig at the higher price of beef. While it may be true that beef is at a higher cost, I’m disappointed that the National Pork Board could find the only good thing to say about their product is that it’s cheaper. I’m sure livestock producers who have both cattle and hogs also find the commercials distasteful.

“The ‘antis’ will smile. I understand that USDA approved the commercials, but it’s still an issue we need to discuss. The implication of pitting one commodity group against another is in no one’s best interest, and only makes the efforts of the anti-livestock people that much easier. I don’t know what the thought process was on the National Pork Board, but this was a very short-sighted decision that will only cause ill will amongst factions in production agriculture.

“The ‘Divide and Conquer’ crowd is probably very happy now.”

So, here is my response to the ICA president:

“Dear Ed,

On its face … how did it even begin to sound like a good idea to concede names of beef cuts that the industry has invested decades of equity into branding consumer recognition of to the pork industry? How do these so called Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards benefit the beef industry?

“The ‘smart crowd’ at NCBA gave this all away, and you sound like an innocent bystander that was just run over by a truck with a pork board sign on it.”

“The pork board did exactly what it was supposed to do which was represent and advance the interests of the pork industry. And you are incredulous that they would do that at the expense of industry cohesion?

“You sound insulted and in disbelief that they would take advantage of the beef industry by promoting their cost competitiveness to consumers.

“Did you hear their commercial slogan promoting pork, “Eats like a Steak?” They were not referring to lamb chops.

“Ever heard the tagline, “Pork … the Other White Meat?” They focused on growing market share by comparing themselves positively and competitively against chicken.

“That has gone down as one of the most successful promotion campaigns in history from the impression that it made on consumers.

“This competition is fair game. Now they are coming after the beef industry with what appears to be a very effective new promotion adopting names that consumer’s associate with cuts of high quality beef attempting to transfer the legacy of those names to pork cuts. They are attempting to set the impression in consumers’ minds that the pork cuts that bear the same name as high quality beef cuts are just as good and cost much less.

“I think that they are on to something. They are also attempting to transfer the positive name association of steak to pork. They are leveraging this promotion by pointing out that a ribeye pork chop is much cheaper than a ribeye of beef. All is fair in love and commercial warfare.”

“The pork board didn’t screw you. This isn’t a conspiracy of ‘antis’ out to divide and conquer. This is an incompetent NCBA failure to represent beef industry interests and a skilled professional pork promotion at the expense of the beef industry.

“The NCBA was dumb enough to allow this to happen and the pork board was smart enough to accept the gift.

“The NBCA clearly and transparently represented Southern plains feeding interests with full intent of damaging cattlemen and corn growers in Iowa and the Corn Belt by opposing the ethanol industry that provides Corn Belt livestock producers distiller’s grain.

“The NCBA has been just as much an ‘anti’ in pitting the ‘industry’ against one another as the pork board.

“I would expect cattlemen to be livid over this treasonous mismanagement of beef industry interests, but I disagree that pork producers will find these commercials distasteful.

“I think that they hit it out of the park right over the incompetence of the beef industry and over the naivety of beef industry leaders.”

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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