Congratulations Cassidy Scatena
2017 Nevada Cattlemen’s Association Scholarship Recipient

Nevada Cattlemen’s Association would like to congratulate Cassidy Scatena of Smith Valley, Nevada for being chosen the 2017 NCA Scholarship recipient.

Cassidy is very involved in different organizations including the Smith Valley High School’s FFA program serving different leadership roles, National Honor Society, Smith Valley’s student council and the school’s volleyball team. She is also a member of the Western Nevada Cattlewoman’s Association. She plans to attend California Polytechnic State University where she will obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science. After, she then plans to attend a school of Veterinary Medicine. Her goal is to become a large animal veterinarian.

Congratulations again to Cassidy! We are very proud of you and have great confidence that you will continue to serve our industry well. Good luck on your future endeavors!  Cassidy’s winning essay, The Battle Between Organic and Conventional Beef is below:


The Battle Between Organic and Conventional Beef

By Cassidy Scatena of Smith Valley, Nevada

In the twenty-first century, America has had a significant occurring problem with obesity. In magazines, television shows, and social media, models, or the ideal body type is portrayed as someone who is very fit, with flat abs and muscular thighs. Many nutritionists have gone through several types of diets such as the Paleo diet and the Atkins diet. Many of these diets were just fads as they were only popular for a short amount of time. In today’s modern generation, many people have transitioned over to an organic diet or even vegetarian and vegan diets as they believe it will lead to a healthier lifestyle. More conventional cattle productions have lost consumers because of the popular organic diet. By definition, organic beef may not be given growth promotants or receive antibiotics. However, many do not realize the harsh lifestyle of organic cattle, the increased risk of Cysticercus bovis, that there is no harm in injectable hormones and antibiotics if the withdrawal period is followed, and the many benefits of antibiotics, and overall, the fact that conventional beef is more beneficial for the animal and consumer.

A majority of people protest and object the treatment of feedlots, ranches, dairies, and conventional cattle businesses and believe the cattle are abused and harshly treated with electric cattle prods, branded, castrated, and crammed in small pens. While conventional cattle-run businesses are receiving the lash of harsh media and advertising, people do not realize organic cattle industries are significantly worse. People may think that organic cattle have a better quality of life and live a happier lifestyle; however, they are unaware of their cruel predicaments they must survive and be raised in. One of the major factors that draw the line between organic beef and conventional beef is the prohibited use of antibiotics in cattle. Antibiotics can be used to treat infections and illness in livestock. Farmers will go to the most extreme extent before using antibiotics just as Kate Good says in her study, “In some instances, an antibiotic is necessary to relieve the intense pain wrought from these infections, yet farmers refuse to utilize antibiotics and risk having to remove the cow from production,” (Good). For the sake of meeting consumers’ needs, farmers are risking the lives of their livestock as they are ignorant to the importance of the use of antibiotics. Kendall Willson, the large animal veterinarian at Sierra Nevada Large Animal Hospital, says many people wrap their heads around the idea that these organic dairies and beef cattle productions are benefiting cattle and providing them with a healthier lifestyle. However, what people don’t comprehend is that these animals are prohibited from the use of antibiotics and even insecticides. Kendall visited an organic dairy and found the heifers were being swarmed with flies while they’re trying to eat since they cannot use a form of insecticide to prevent this. Additionally, one particular yearling had a cut over her eye, making it swollen and produce a significant amount of pus. Since antibiotics cannot be used to treat cattle, the owners squirted a garlic tincture into the eye, making the heifer bawl in pain and discomfort. Kendall says these people push the animals to their very limit until they have no other option but to use antibiotics to save their life. People have this perception that since organic cattle are free of antibiotics and insecticides, they live a healthier and cleaner life; however, from others experiences, it is proven that this theory is just the opposite.

An additional and major concern for organic cattle is the increased risk of Cysticercus bovis, a parasite that can be transferred from the meat to the consumer. Once the organic steer is slaughtered for consumer use, the carcass is examined to check for these tapeworms within the cattle’s muscle. According to Kendall Willson, if there are twenty-five or more of these worms in a small diameter on the meat, the beef is unsafe to eat and is discarded. Yet, if there is only slightly less, the beef is still able to be sold to consumers. Although these parasites can be killed if the meat is cooked thoroughly, it is still very dangerous as many people have a preference of having their meat prepared rare. These parasites are harmful to the cattle as well as the consumer and another reason why conventional beef is more beneficial to everyone.

One of the major reasons that people believe that organic beef is healthier and safer, is the myth that once cattle are given antibiotics, they can be transferred from the beef to the consumer. However, this cannot be accurate if the proper withdrawal period is followed. According to a study from South Dakota University,

The withdrawal time is a waiting period after treatment that gives the animal time to reduce the concentration of the drug in its body, and therefore in the meat the animal produces. The withdrawal time is different for each antibiotic, and is set by the Food and Drug Administration. It reflects the point in time at which the antibiotic is at a low enough level in the animal to not result in safety problems for people eating its products, (“Antibiotics in Cattle”).

In other words, the purpose of the withdrawal period is to allow the vaccine or antibiotic to completely go through the system and be completely flushed out before the animal is processed, and prevents the drug from being transferred to the meat. Furthermore, as a human consumes conventional beef, they will not be harmed by the antibiotic because the drug is not at a high enough concentration to make an effect on the consumer. Mike Apley, DVM, a professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University says “If an animal is subjected to testing for residues and an amount is found in the target tissue which is above the tolerance ( classified as a violative residue), the carcass will be condemned,” (Apley). Just as Apley claims, all meat is tested for residues of any form of drugs, and if the level is above the human consumption tolerance level, the meat will be discarded and unable to be sold. Based on these two reasons, antibiotics given to cattle will not harm the consumer, and the beef is completely safe to eat.

Similar to the use of antibiotics, people shy away from eating hormone injected beef. People have come up with the irrational idea that hormones in injected beef can cause cancer, digestive problems, and other health issues. Injectable hormones are used to stimulate growth and muscle development in the cattle, so the cattle can be processed at a faster rate and keep up with the strong demand for beef. Once again, the injectable hormones must follow a withdrawal period so the concentration of the hormone is very miniscule and cannot harm the consumer. Just as Bruce Treff er, the UNL Extension Education, says, the amount of estrogen in implanted beef is inconsequential compared to the amounts in many other natural foods. Treffer claims “The 1.9 nanograms of estrogen in implanted beef is also miniscule compared to .... 2,000 nanograms of estrogen in cabbage, 11,250 nanograms of estrogen in soy milk, and 170,000 nanograms of estrogen in soybean oil. .. all based on a 3-ounce serving size”, (Treffer). This statistic can be a shock that there is more estrogen in commonly eaten food products than in hormone injected beef. However, conventional cattle are the ones that seem to get the wrath. Hormones are also beneficial is to keep up with the growing demand for beef. Consumers are attracted to beef because of its palatability characteristics-tenderness, juiciness, and flavor which can be reached at its highest potential through injectable hormones. Therefore, hormones injected into beef cattle are very beneficial in order to achieve the rate of gain needed to keep up with consumer demand.

In conclusion, millions of modern Americans have been drawn in to the recently popularized fad of organic diets, for they believe it is the best benefit of the cattle and the consumer. These particular people do not realize how harmless injectable hormones and antibiotics are or how antibiotics, hormones, and antibiotics greatly benefit the cattle. If all procedures are followed properly, these hormones are used to fully utilize the beef and provide for the rapidly growing American population. Conventional cattle live a healthier and more sanitary life. Overall, the advantages of conventional beef outweigh the benefits of organic beef and is more beneficial to both animal and the consumer.