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Old 10-05-2006, 06:31 AM   #1
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Join Date: 12-19-05
Location: Fort Worth Texas
Default Interesting Dialog about Certified Angus Beef

Steve Suther, Director or Industry Information Certified Angus Beef LLC responded to my email that I sent him regarding the Certified Angus Beef "brand" label. Our q & a are listed below. It's a little long, but I feel the reading is worth your time. At the end of our q & a I've included an article that defines the requirements to be CAB.

Question 1.

Subject: "CAB" Brisket

Dear Mr. Suther,
I cook competition BBQ in Texas and was wondering if the Certified Angus
Beef "brand" is actually CAB. If so, would you be so kind and tell me
what the beef is raised on? Corn, natural grass etc. Additionally, I am
interested in knowing the whole process of CAB processing from inception
to table. Thank you for your time!
Kenneth Southard
Head Cook for JT's Smokin BBQ
[attachment "ProducerInfoqa.doc" deleted by Kenneth W
Answer 1
Hello Kenneth,
Your first question is a new one for me, but through some interaction
I am sure I can answer it to your satisfaction. I get the impression
that the acronym "CAB" represents the brand to you, rather than the
words it stands for; or what does CAB mean to you? It has always been
the acronym for the branded beef program of the American Angus
Association, which the trade shortened to CAB (perhaps unfortunately
since that does not describe it). Founded in 1978, and in the last 8
years or so we have stressed the "brand" aspect because consumer surveys
found that a fair number of people thought those 3 words only meant that
the government had certified that it was Angus beef. Not correct; those
3 words mean that the government has accepted as specified for the brand
and its 8 carcass requirements. People can prove that this or that
animal is from 10 or 100 generations of pure Angus, but could still fail
to meet our standards.
As to your other questions, 13.5 million cattle per year are evaluated
in licensed packinghouse coolers to see if they can meet our specs. Only
14% of those that appear to be Angus type are able to do so. Obviously,
there is no way for us to know the diet of a population that represents
most of the fed cattle in the U.S., except to say that almost all of
them spend the first 2/3 of their life on pasture and are then finished
in a feedlot for about 5 months, almost always on a corn-based diet.
Attaching a Q&A that I send to producers, the segment of the industry I
work with the most. You can learn a lot about us by visiting And of course, send me any followup questions. Have a
great day,
Steve Suther, Director or Industry Information Certified Angus Beef LLC
Question 2
My "CAB" question arises from the requirements that some cows don't have
to be 100% Angus to use the name " Angus Beef" simply due to the 100%
black hair cow. I know all black cows are not Angus. I have been reading
your 8 requirements to qualify as CAB and feel a bit better about the
label I see in the store. I just do not want to spend my money on
inferior beef just because the label or packaging may say "Angus" and
not be. I want to buy CAB, as my experience tells me it is the better.
I do pretty well cooking Q and want utilize all weapons available to me.
Answer 2
Kenneth, There are at least 40 other "Angus" programs that are not owned
by the American Angus Association and unlike CAB, are out to make a
profit for themselves. We are nonprofit. Our only mission is to add
value to Angus cattle. We were created by Angus producers who understood
how the cattle industry works in the U.S. Almost all the cattle are
crossbred, and virtually all University beef specialists urge producers
to use crossbreeding because crossbred cows are better able to produce
calves and allow the rancher to make a living. Nearly all registered
purebred cattle are created to become breeding stock, to sell bulls to
the 90+ percent of folks who will used them on their crossbred cows. If
the producers who started CAB in 1978 had decided to limit it to only
the offspring of registered Angus cattle (100% Angus) you would never
have heard of CAB or the Certified Angus Beef brand today, because there
would not be enough to satisfy the demand in Ohio, much less Texas and
the world. It is a market driven program. The founders conferred with
USDA and found that they even the official Breed Organization had no
legal right to copyright use of the phrase "Angus beef," so they set out
to use the three-word phrase and to make it count for something. USDA
and CAB agreed cattle that LOOKED like they were Angus could be screened
to see if they met 8 very stringent and science-based carcass quality
standards. Only 14% of cattle that LOOK like they should work can make
it today. Most of the imitation and later "Angus" programs are based on
the 86% of beef not good enough to be CAB. You may have heard some
people suggest CAB is somehow less deserving of its own brand name than
some other Angus brand; even if some other brand decides to spot-check a
pooled sample of cattle DNA material every Nth day to see if the DNA is
at least 50%---that is beside the point, and merely plays to
perceptions, not reality. As I said, the REAL Angus folks, at the breed
association, set this thing up to use market forces. We use science as
well. We know that the higher % Angus in an animal, the more likely it
is to achieve CAB acceptance, (in feedlot studies, we have found that
90% of the cattle that made CAB are called "mainly Angus" by their
owners. It does not bother the real Angus folks that 10% may be just
half Angus or even less, because the way genetics works, an animal can
favor its 1/4 relative grandsire more than its parents, and as I said
most purebred Angus cattle still flunk the critical test. No other brand
of beef has been more successful at delivering consistent quality down
through the years. You could count on it in 1978, and you can count on
it today. I get the feeling you are on our side and realize you are
cooking with the real deal, and I appreciate that. Hope this helps put
it all in perspective, and of course, any followup questions are
welcome. --Steve
Article as Emailed to me as a Word doc attatchment.
Producer Information Q & A (Revised 12-16-05)

By Steve Suther, Director of Industry Information, Certified Angus Beef, LLC

Q.How does Certified Angus Beef, LLC (CAB) function?
A. CAB is a nonprofit, limited liability company that owns only its trademark and operates a Program. A subsidiary of the American Angus Association, CAB functions independently with the guidance of a nine-member board of directors that includes the Association’s Executive Vice President and six members of its board. CAB pursues its mission, to increase demand for Angus cattle through its branded beef program, by licensing use of the trademark. Licensees include restaurants, retailers, foodservice distributors, retailers, packers and feedlots.

Q.How do I participate in the CAB Program?
A. By working to improve the carcass quality of your Angus and Angus-cross cattle. Everyone with that goal is part of the CAB Program.But you can participate at a higher level through cooperative integration, becoming part of a network with your Angus seedstock supplier to channel production into CAB partner and/or licensed feedlots. There is no “signing up” because it is a long-term process. There are no commitments other than the ones you make because of market forces. The Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) carcass target is generally the highest value and most logical product target for most cattle that are Angus sired.

Q. What are the eight Certified Angus Beef ® carcass specifications?
A. Briefly: Modest or higher degree of marbling Yield Grade 3.9 or leaner “A” maturity (9-30 months) At least moderately thick muscling Medium or better marbling texture
No neck hump over 2 inches Practically devoid of capillary rupture No dark cutters

Q.How is the Certified Angus Beef Program funded?
A.The only funding received by this nonprofit company is from its licensed packers and processors, which pay approximately 2 cents per pound of branded product that they sell. Remember, they sell more than half a billion pounds annually, so the budget amounts to about $10 million to serve Angus producers and consumers through 13,000 licensees worldwide. All of these dollars are applied to various marketing efforts to increase pull through demand for the brand, ultimately returning premiums to the producers of high quality Angus cattle.

Q.How do I certify my Angus herd?
A.No herds are "certified" and no living animals are actually "Certified Angus Beef." That is the trademark for Angus beef product that, after meeting the live specification of being at least 51% black-hided, the U.S. Department of Agriculture* verifies as meeting eight carcass specifications. The most difficult carcass specification to meet is a quality grade of middle Choice or higher. Last year, over 12.8 million fed cattle that appeared to be Angus-type were evaluated at the 30 licensed CAB processing plants across North America, and about 2 million of those cattle had carcasses that met the specs and became CAB® product. The owners of those cattle at the time of sale to packers realized a premium if they sold them through some form of value-based marketing. *In Canada, the Canadian Beef Grading Service verifies CAB acceptance.

Q.Is Certified Angus Beef ® produced in Canada?
A.Yes, we have licensed packing plants in Canada, all owned by the U.S. companies Tyson and Cargill.
Total CAB® produced in Canada last year was 14.9 million lb., of which 9 million lb. stayed there to meet local demand, 1.5 million lb. was exported to the Caribbean countries, and approximately 3.5 million lb. came to the U.S. To more than balance, 5.4 million lb. produced in the U.S. was exported to Canada.

Q.How do we market CAB cattle? Does the Program buy them? Does it cost to sell to licensed CAB packers?
A.CAB doesn't buy cattle; its licensed packers, which represent 85% of the fed-cattle packing base (including Tyson, Swift, Excel, National, etc.) do, in all the ways packers can buy finished cattle. The CAB Program serves to build demand for your cattle, but does not get involved in actually negotiating price of them. Thanks to 27 years of building demand, packers increased premiums for CAB®-accepted carcasses from $0 in the 1980s to as much as $5/cwt. or more now. Along with the Choice premium, that’s more than $100/head above Select grade cattle. Packers have paid nearly $200 million to producers over the last eight years for CAB grid premiums alone.

Q.How do we acquire “CAB quality” cattle?
A.To get cattle with a greater than average chance of producing CAB-accepted carcasses, start with genetics capable of achieving the higher quality grades. There are a lot of opportunities for profit in balanced improvement along the way. Look at individual performance and carcass records associated with the cattle before buying. Visit or call the Association office at 816-383-5100 to find your Angus Regional Manager.

Q.How can I feed my 20 steers in the CAB Program?
A.In the custom feeding world, 20 head is too small for most feedlots to take in, but somebody may have a partial pen. Another option is to find someone else with similar cattle and feed them in a commingled pen with individual or owner-ID intact. Cattle from any feedlot can enter the CAB Program if they qualify at slaughter, provided they are sold to a licensed CAB-licensed packer. However, you must generally ask for value-based marketing to get paid for CAB premiums on those cattle that make the grade. There are also discounts for cattle that end up too fat, too lean, too big, too small, etc., which can more than eat up your premiums, so work with your feedlot and seedstock supplier on fine tuning. While cattle from any feedlot can get into CAB, there are dozens of specially licensed CAB feedlots across the country that have ongoing training to better optimize the percentage of your cattle that qualify for the CAB® brand. Visit, e-mail or call 785-539-0123 for a list of all those feedyards.

Q.Can a cow/calf producer participate in the CAB Program without feedlot or packer data on harvested cattle?
A.If you are not interested in feeding the cattle you produce, look for ways to track their performance after the sale just the same—if you want to have a place in the increasingly beef-value-based future. Call your Extension agent about ways to feed a representative few to take a pulse on feedlot performance and carcass value so you can see where you are. Then you can try to improve. Use the information from these steer tests to convince buyers of the feeding and carcass value of your calves.
In general, you can aim for achieving a higher level of CAB certification in your calves by including expected progeny differences (EPDs) that are positive for marbling and retail product in the selection criteria for bulls. Don’t back away from your other goals; just add carcass traits. Studies show you don't have to give up anything in herd performance to enhance marbling, and lack of marbling is the main reason carcasses don't make it into the CAB Program. There have been big increases in CAB acceptance when producers mated heifers that were sired by positive marbling bulls back to other positive-marbling bulls.
Genetics is first, but record keeping is a must. Establish your benchmarks on what percentage of your cattle can make CAB today. (National average on Angus-type cattle is 16%, but some are as high as 80%--the top 240 steers in six pens in the 2002 Best of the Breed contest had 90% CAB acceptance. The top heifers in the 2004 NACC were 93% CAB and Prime.) Bring that information back to the individual cows and bulls and include it in future selection and culling decisions.

Q.I use registered Angus bulls, so why don’t I receive a CAB premium for my calves?
A. You do, as shown by research from universities and Cattle-Fax, as well as the CAB-funded auction market study, “Here’s the Premium.” That demand for CAB brand products translates into fed cattle premiums of $3-$5/cwt. of carcass, and that same per-hundredweight premium is typically passed back to the live Angus calf, compared to non-Angus, at auction. That’s a big premium considering how little is known about the potential of most Angus-type calves to gain or achieve CAB carcass certification at harvest. With more documentation and genetic progress toward the CAB goal, your premiums should increase. Ask your Angus Regional Manager about the AngusSourceSM Program, the latest opportunity to add value to your calves and mark them as good prospects for CAB acceptance.

For more information, visit, call Steve Suther, director of industry information, toll free at 877-241-0717; e-mail; or the Certified Angus Beef LLC supply development office, 785-539-0123, 1107 Hylton Heights, Manhattan, KS 66502.
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Old 10-05-2006, 06:40 AM   #2
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Interesting read. Thanks.
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Old 10-05-2006, 08:24 AM   #3
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Definitely informative and I'm amazed the guy spent so much time answering your questions. That gives me hope that not everyone is out for a buck.

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Old 10-05-2006, 10:48 AM   #4
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Great Info! I learned something already today.
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