You’ve heard all the slogans – hundreds of time.

“Got Milk?”

“The Incredible, Edible Egg.”

“Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.”

For that last one, you might even be able to hum along to the music, which has always reminded me of an old Western movie, complete with cowboy Sam Elliott’s gravelly baritone voice-over.

(Courtesy USDA)
(Courtesy USDA)

After more than a year of outcry, a very popular video went viral and a lobbying campaign by the lunch ladies, the USDA has backed down on strict rules for school lunches that were aimed at combatting obesity.

The government says it was needed so school nutritionists had more flexibility in planning.

But farm country says it’s a victory over the Obama Administration’s “regulatory outreach.”

As USA Today reported late last week, USDA eased the restrictions, offering larger portions of lean meat and whole grains and upping the calorie counts.

Tyler Karney is manager of Ordway Feedyard in eastern Colorado, where he raises 6,500 Holsteins for the four largest beef companies (Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media)

So I got my serious #agnerd geek on this month in looking at the continuing story in the beef industry about using a controversial growth promoter to bulk up cattle.

I’ve been watching this story since Tyson, one of the top four beef producers in the U.S., announced it would no longer be buying cattle treated with Zilmax, a drug that can add another 30 pounds on an animal just before slaughter.

Other companies soon followed – all citing scattered reports of animal welfare issues. Cattle treated with the drug became lame and lethargic, and there were problems at the packing houses. The drug’s maker, Merck Animal Health, pulled the drug and is now auditing its use.

So during a visit to Colorado, I stopped at Ordway Feedyard and talked to manager Tyler Karney. He runs an enormous feedlot out on the eastern plains – some 6,500 Holsteins on 2,000 acres. My story about Tyler’s use of Zilmax is here.