Beef Up Iowa Program Kicks-Off at Meats Lab

Photo of Herry McClure, Dan Thomson and Mike Naig

Herry McClure talks with Dan Thomson (left), professor and chair, ISU Animal Science Department and Mike Naig, Secretary, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

The first steer of the Beef Up Iowa program arrived at the Iowa State University Meats Laboratory on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. The program, part of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Feeding Iowans Task Force, and lead by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig, is a  collaboration between Iowa State University; Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship; Iowa Cattlemen’s Association; Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation; Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Food Bank Association. Beef Up Iowa provides ground beef to food insecure Iowans by purchasing cattle from 4-H and FFA members and other producers, and donating the product to Iowa food banks and pantries.

The initial steer for the program was provided by Herry McClure, an Iowa 4-H member from Dallas County and son of Iowa State alumni Jon (’03 ag studies) and Kara McClure (’02 journalism and mass communication).

“Herry had a tremendous first year of 4-H showing his calves and learning the whole process from start to finish.  Being able to drop the extra calf in his feeder pen for this program started a great week for him… We really appreciate the opportunity to be part of [this program],” said Jon McClure (’03 ag studies).

Meats Lab staff packaging ground beefIowa State Meats Laboratory staff and students in the Iowa State Department of Animal Science collaborates with program partners to process the beef.

“Our real goal is we want students involved. Not only will they go work for the big meatpackers, but these students will get their brains stimulated. We’re going to see lockers open up in small towns, they can go back home, they can help keep Main Street downtowns open, and on the education side, hands-on, experiential learning is what Iowa State is all about,” said Dan Thomson (’90 animal science, ’00 DVM) , professor and chair in the Iowa State Department of Animal Science, in a recent article by the Ames Tribune.

Federal CARES Act funds from the state help cover processing costs. Monetary donations are being accepted online to assist with costs associated with purchasing cattle, storage, transportation and delivery of the beef to food banks and pantries. Midwest Growth Partners, a private equity firm based in West Des Moines, Iowa; and two of the company’s founding partners; Mike Taylor (’03 ag studies) and Joe Greving (’99 animal science); sponsored McClure’s steer.

“As a food and ag investment firm that focuses on investing in rural America, we are thrilled to support this great initiative by Gov. Reynolds and Secretary Naig.  Herry McClure, like so many young 4-H and FFA members from across our state, represent a very bright future for rural Iowa and more broadly, food and agriculture,” said Mike Taylor (’03 ag studies).

To date, the Iowa State Meats Laboratory has processed and packaged 2,375.13 pounds of ground beef for the Beef Up Iowa Program.

Special thanks to the Iowa State Meats Laboratory faculty, staff and students who are assisting with the Beef Up Iowa Program:

  • Terry Houser (’01 MS animal science, meat science, ’04 PhD), associate professor in animal science and Smithfield Foods Chair in Meat Science Extension
  • Matt Wenger (’00 ag and life sciences education), program coordinator, Iowa State Meats Laboratory
  • Michael Cropp (’18 MS meat science, food science and technology), Iowa State Extension program specialist
  • Jeff Mitchell, processing specialist, Iowa State Meats Laboratory
  • Richard Roths (’11 animal science), equipment and processing specialist, Iowa State Meats Laboratory
  • Steve Bryant, HACCP coordinator, Iowa State Meats Laboratory
  • Mike Holtzbauer (’86 management), manager, Iowa State Meats Laboratory
  • Jake Manternach (’20 food science), graduate student
  • Tess Jarvis, graduate student