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Skaggs: June honors Georgias cattlemen
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The Georgia Beef Board and the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association have proclaimed June as Georgia Beef Month. The proclamation honors Georgia’s 25,000 beef producers who make up a significant portion of the state’s biggest industry, agriculture.

Beef Month highlights the economic role of the cattle industry and focuses on beef as an easy and versatile meal.

As the sixth largest cash crop in Georgia, with cash receipts totaling over $400 million, beef cattle are very important to the economic well-being of the state. Georgia cattle producers own more than 1 million head, having a direct impact of over $1.5 billion on the state’s economy when land and equipment assets required for production are considered.

In 2009, Hall County cows, calves and finished cattle accounted for approximately $5 million in farm gate value. Also, over 8,000 acres of forages and small grains were harvested in Hall County in 2009 with a farm gate value of almost $1.5 million.

With the current emphasis on product safety, you can rest assured Georgia-produced beef is safe. The meat industry is the most regulated of all food industries. It has been described as the most regulated industry in the nation, second only to the nuclear energy industry. Physical inspections of meat are conducted by certified inspectors from the state of Georgia and the Department of Agriculture.

In regard to health and nutrition, beef easily meets the test of a nutrient-dense food; that is, it offers a high level of nutrients compared to calories. The high-nutrient density of beef makes it an essential part of low-calorie diets, especially for women with greater iron requirements.

Beef is one of the best sources of iron, the single nutrient most often lacking in the diets of adult women, young children and athletes. It contains a high percentage of heme iron, which is more easily absorbed by the body and five to 10 times more available than nonheme iron from plant sources.

Beef is also a major source of zinc, a mineral that is essential for growth and metabolism and, like iron, often falls short in diets of women, children and athletes. The protein in beef is nutritionally complete. It contains all the essential amino acids necessary for growth.

According to the USDA’s Agriculture Handbook 8-13, an average three-ounce serving of today’s cooked, trimmed lean beef contains only 8.4 grams of fat.

Every day, almost 80 million Americans eat beef. Hamburgers and roast beef sandwiches comprise most of the beef servings consumed away from home.

In celebration of Beef Month, the Hall County Cattlemen’s Association, in cooperation with Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse, is sponsoring the “Where’s the Beef?” contest with great prizes, including a gas grill and dinner from several local restaurants who specialize in beef and steak dishes.

For more information on Georgia’s beef industry as well as beef recipes, visit the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association.

Billy Skaggs is agriculture agent and county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, . His column appears biweekly on Thursday’s Business page and at gainesvilletimes.com.

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