Acclaimed television host, network news anchor, author and business entrepreneur Bill Kurtis will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural Meat Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Chicago on Oct. 27.

The 21 inaugural members to the Hall of Fame were chosen in voting by the Hall’s Board of Trustees from among more than 70 executives, researchers, innovators and association leaders across all sectors of the industry.

“We are thrilled to include in our first class a group of truly outstanding leaders,” said Dan Murphy, executive director and co-founder of the Hall. “These are men and women credited with fostering much of the profound change, remarkable progress and substantive success of the industry. We’re proud to celebrate their legacies.”

In his speech to the members and guests at the Hall of Fame dinner, Kurtis will discuss his role as an entrepreneur in launching Tallgrass Beef, a company that has built a network of family farmers and ranchers raising grass-fed cattle. In 2005, Tallgrass Beef became the first grass-fed beef company to market its product in Chicago when the legendary Harry Caray’s Restaurant began selling its steaks. Kurtis’s 10,000-acre Red Buffalo Ranch, which borders the small town of Sedan, Kan., is a working cattle ranch located in one of the last remaining areas of North America that still features untouched tall-grass prairie.

During his 40 years in broadcasting, Kurtis, who served as the CBS Morning News anchor and was a long-time newscaster at CBS television affiliate WBBM in Chicago, became best-known as the producer and host of the popular Investigative Reports, Cold Case Files and American Justice programs on the A&E Network. He has recently gained even greater popularity among a new generation of fans as a result of his work for AT&T Mobility, spoofing his “serious journalist” persona in a series of ads with tennis star Andy Roddick, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and boxing champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather.

To purchase tickets, log onto the Hall’s Web site at www.meatindustryhalloffame.org.

The following is a list of the 2009 Inaugural Class of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame:

  • Dell Allen, PhD, former professor, Kansas State University, vice president, Cargill Meat Solutions
  • Donald L. Houston, former administrator of FSIS, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service
  • Donald Tyson, Tyson Foods
  • Earl Olsen, Jennie-O Turkey Co.
  • Frank Perdue, Perdue Farms
  • Gary C. Smith, PhD, Colorado State University
  • Jimmy Dean, founder, Jimmy Dean Sausage Co.
  • Joseph Luter III, Smithfield Foods
  • Kenneth W. Monfort, Monfort Inc.
  • Lawrence Starr, former CEO, Koch Equipment Co.
  • Louis “Mick” Colvin, founder and former executive director, Certified Angus Beef
  • Mel Coleman, Sr., Coleman Natural Meats
  • Paul Engler, founder, Cactus Feeders
  • Phillip M. Seng, U.S. Meat Export Federation
  • Ray Townsend, Townsend Engineering
  • Richard L. Knowlton, Hormel Foods
  • Richard E. Lyng, former USDA secretary and president, American Meat Institute
  • Rosemary Mucklow, executive director emeritus, National Meat Association
  • Robert Peterson, former chairman, IBP Inc.
  • Russell Cross, PhD, professor, Texas A&M University
  • Temple Grandin, PhD, author and professor, Colorado State University

Consumers say price does matter

Consumers are placing more emphasis on price and value as they fill their grocery carts, and America’s conventional beef producers are helping ease the financial burden of rising food costs.

According to the Food Marketing Institute’s 2009 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends, nearly 70 percent of shoppers say the recession is affecting their food shopping — up from 48 percent in 2008.

“U.S. consumers are facing rising food costs in a very challenging economy. What most consumers don’t know is that conventional production systems and using modern technologies keep beef affordable,” says Jan Lyons, owner of Lyons Ranch near Manhattan, Kan. “Conventional beef production significantly increases the volume of beef produced while conserving natural resources and reducing production costs across all segments of the industry. The result is more affordable beef for everyone.”

A 2009 analysis by Iowa State University agricultural economists Dr. John Lawrence and Maro Ibarburu shows if conventional beef-production practices were replaced by organic- or natural-only practices, beef production would decrease 18 percent and retail prices would increase 11 percent.

“Conventional grain-fed beef production utilizing safe growth-enhancing technologies that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration makes beef production more economical and sustainable for both producers and consumers,” adds Lyons, former president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and past chair of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. “It’s an important message for the beef industry to share with consumers.

“Contrary to the TIME article, Americans are lucky to have the safest, most affordable food supply in the world. On average, Americans spend only 10 percent of their income on food compared to 30 percent or more in less industrialized economies,” Lyons says. “The technologies used in conventional beef production certainly contribute to this efficiency and affordability.”