Beef Sustainability is Focus of Driftless Region Beef Conference

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Beef producers can learn about the sustainability of the beef industry and how it impacts their operation at the Driftless Region Beef Conference, Jan. 22-23, 2015 in Dubuque. The conference agenda includes speakers sharing industry research of interest to upper Midwest beef producers.

Keynote speaker Jude Capper will present her research on beef’s environmental footprint and what sustainability means to the future of the beef industry. Capper, known for her 30 years of research on the environmental impact of U.S. beef production, is a sustainability consultant and an adjunct professor of animal sciences at Washington State University.

Capper’s study showed that the same amount of beef was produced in 2007 as in 1977 with 30 percent fewer animals, 19 percent less feed, 12 percent less water and on 33 percent less land. This resulted in 18 percent less manure, 18 percent less methane, and 12 percent less nitrate compared to 1977. The 2007 carbon footprint was 16.3 percent smaller than in 1977. While the carbon footprint is only one aspect of sustainability, her study shows that modern beef production is raising more beef with fewer inputs and less waste.

The Driftless Region Beef Conference also features Tom Arnold of Arnold’s Farm, Elizabeth, Ill., who will share his experiences marketing natural beef products to local consumers. Arnold and his wife Jessica have been raising natural beef, pork, chicken, turkey and lamb for almost 30 years and have been delivering products to the Chicago area since 2001. The Arnolds offer value-added meat products by raising chemical and antibiotic free animals using no growth hormones or animal byproducts. He will speak about the advantages of distributing meat locally.

Other program highlights include Travis Meteer, University of Illinois beef specialist, who will present his recent research findings on nutrition’s affect on reproductive performance. The Friday agenda includes eight breakout sessions, with four sessions specific to feedlot operations and four sessions specific to cow-calf producers.

The Driftless Beef Conference will be held from 1 p.m. Jan. 22 to 11:45 a.m. Jan. 23, at the Grand River Convention Center in Dubuque. To learn more about the conference and to register, go to Early registration, $85, must be received prior to midnight, Jan. 15. After that date, the fee increases to $115.

For more information contact your Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county office, or Denise Schwab, beef specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach at (319) 721-9624 or

PHOTO: Dr. Jude Capper, keynote speaker at the Driftless Region Beef Conference