There’s no place like Ne­braska for beef

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PAGE TWO -

I had to chuckle when I read a re­cent story in China Daily about how Terry Branstad, the new US am­bas­sador to China, had a wish ful­filled shortly af­ter ar­riv­ing in Bei­jing to take up his new post.

It seems that Branstad, the for­mer gov­er­nor of the US state of Iowa, had re­marked to a Chi­nese trade del­e­ga­tion vis­it­ing Iowa be­fore his de­par­ture that he sure would like to have some US beef once he got to Bei­jing.

China had just re­newed im­ports of US beef since a ban was im­posed in 2003 fol­low­ing a mad cow dis­ease scare, and Branstad wanted to get his fork into the good stuff.

As China Daily duly noted,

This Day, That Year

his “wish came true when Branstad had prime rib from Ne­braska to cel­e­brate the re­turn of US beef to China”.

That’s right — Ne­braska beef, not Iowa.

I hail from Ne­braska. There’s a ri­valry be­tween neigh­bors Ne­braska and Iowa that mostly in­volves beef, corn, wheat and foot­ball. But beef is the meat and pota­toes of the friendly ri­valry, and, in my hum­ble opin­ion, Ne­braska wins hands (or hoofs) down.

For starters, Ne­braska, not Iowa, is home to the world­fa­mous Omaha Steaks. When I was grow­ing up in Omaha — the city on the river that di­vides Ne­braska and Iowa — we of­ten drove past the cat­tle stock­yards, which at that time stretched clear to the hori­zon along L Street (al­though the stench in sum­mer from feeder lots and pack­ing houses went far be­yond).

Beef, to put it mildly, is in our blood. Ac­cord­ing to the Ne­braska Beef Coun­cil, “Cat­tle out­num­ber Ne­braskans nearly 4 to 1.” Ad­di­tion­ally, it says, “Nearly 5 mil­lion head are fin­ished and mar­keted in Ne­braska” each year, com­pared with fewer than 2 mil­lion in Iowa.

As a teen, when I hap­pily flipped burg­ers at Omaha’s very own Bronco’s Burg­ers (whose cheese­burg­ers, by the way, War­ren Buf­fett him­self is said to ap­pre­ci­ate), we got our fresh ground beef, the best I’ve ever seen or tasted, each morn­ing from Ak­sar­ben Beef. In case you hadn’t no­ticed, that’s Ne­braska (not Iowa) spelled back­ward.

So, be­ing a true Ne­braska Corn­husker (corn is an­other trade­mark of the state, and it just so hap­pens that qual­ity beef is corn- or grass-fed), I nat­u­rally had a good laugh when I read the re­cent Page 1 ar­ti­cle about Iowa’s vis­it­ing agri­cul­tural del­e­ga­tion.

It was heart­warm­ing to know that Branstad, whose state can brag quite rightly of hav­ing a spe­cial place in the heart of Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, was none­the­less up­staged right here in Bei­jing by the true beef cham­pion — Ne­braska.

None­the­less, good-na­tured prime rib­bing aside, I join many Chi­nese in be­ing glad that Branstad, the “Iowa nice” gen­tle­man who was the long­est-run­ning gov­er­nor in US his­tory, won the am­bas­sador­ship to Bei­jing.

Af­ter all, he and I both hail from the heart­land of Amer­ica, and it’s good to know the na­tion shares its bread­bas­ket, and beef brisket, with its good friend China.

I’ve cer­tainly got no beef with that.

Con­tact the writer at jameshealy@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

SERGEI GRITS / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A bee and an ant feed on chamomile nec­tar in a field on the out­skirts of Minsk, Be­larus, on Fri­day.

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