Branded Beef Demonstration Project Underway at Iowa State

Roxanne Clemens, MATRIC, 515-294-8842;
John Lawrence, Iowa Beef Center, 515-294-6290;
Susan Thompson, Communications Service, 515-294-0705;

May 17, 2005

AMES, Iowa – Iowa's reputation as a producer of high-quality beef is the basis for a demonstration project at Iowa State University to develop a brand linked to that reputation.

"Iowa's high-quality beef is the result of the state's abundance of corn for feeding beef animals and the use of genetics that result in well-marbled, tender beef at a young age," said John Lawrence, director of the Iowa Beef Center. The beef center and the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State are collaborating on the project.

"Our goal is to create a premium branded product that will increase the profitability of Iowa beef producers," said Roxanne Clemens, managing director of CARD's Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center. "We'll also document the steps producers and processors must take to design and implement a USDA process-verified production system and obtain a brand for their product."

Iowa-80 Beef was chosen as the brand name for the project. "Members of Japan's beef industry often refer to corn-fed U.S. beef as I-80 beef because Interstate 80 is a landmark where beef is produced using rations based on corn or corn co-products," Clemens said. "We chose Iowa-80 Beef as the brand name to build on this association with beef quality."

Developing and branding Iowa-80 Beef involves two government agencies. One part of the process is to document the production and processing systems for Iowa-80 Beef and gain certification through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

"The specifications for this system are set intentionally high to ensure production of a differentiated product of consistently high quality," Lawrence said. "Beyond marbling and tenderness, Iowa-80 Beef will include additional attributes consumers want such as individual animal identification and source and age verification."

The second part of the process is to register a certification mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). "For Iowa-80 Beef, a certification mark will be more useful than a standard trademark because it can be used to label beef from any Iowa producer willing to follow the production specifications," Clemens said. "It will protect producers from product infringement and allow consumers to readily identify and purchase Iowa-80 Beef."

Applications have been submitted to both the USDA and the USPTO. Once the necessary approvals are received, project personnel will help identify niche markets, work with producers to become certified and match Iowa beef producers with processors and buyers.

More information about this project is online at