Beef Jerky

Beef Up Iowa Program Connects Beef Farmers With Food Insecure Iowans

Kylie Peterson | June 18, 2020

Contact: Rex Hoppes, Executive Director, Iowa Beef Industry Council, 515-296-2305

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced the Beef Up Iowa program to connect Iowa beef producers with food insecure Iowans. The program is a partnership with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Beef Industry Council, and Iowa State University, and is an initiative of Gov. Reynolds’ Feeding Iowans Task Force led by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg.

Through Beef Up Iowa, students and staff at Iowa State University will process cattle from Iowa beef producers who have limited processing options due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meat will be distributed to food bank and food pantry feeding programs across the state. The initial cattle for Beef Up Iowa will be sourced from Iowa 4-H and FFA members.

“From family farms to the grocery store shelves, to our family’s dinner table, our entire food supply chain has been impacted by COVID-19,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Beef Up Iowa brings high quality, nutritious beef to families in need of food security. I want to thank Iowa’s beef producers and generous members of the community who are all stepping up to help Iowans in need.”

“Once again the Feeding Iowans Task Force has found a creative way to help food insecure Iowans by leveraging Iowa’s extensive agricultural ties and developing mini-supply chains,” said Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg. “The Beef Up Iowa program is particularly important to me in light of my family’s ties to the beef industry.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on the importance of Iowa agriculture and how our agriculture community continues to rise to the challenge of feeding those in need,” said Secretary Naig. “This program is a unique opportunity to deliver beef raised by 4-H and FFA members and processed by Iowa students to feeding programs across the state.”

Beef Up Iowa will officially begin when the first cattle are delivered on July 1. Processing will continue through the summer and for as long as funds remain. The beef will be distributed through the Iowa Food Bank Association and the six Iowa food banks that service the state.

Dr. Dan Thomson, chair of the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University, said the program is based in service and in line with the university’s land grant mission.

“We are pleased to partner to serve Iowans in need,” said Thomson. “We have faculty, staff, and students involved in the process. A program like this not only allows us to serve our neighbors, it also offers hands-on learning to future meat scientists who may be inspired to open their own processing facilities in the future.”

How to Get Involved 

Iowa food banks and food pantries have seen increased demand due to the pandemic while processing options for Iowa beef producers have decreased. Gov. Reynolds has allocated federal CARES Act funds from the state to help cover processing costs and provide beef to food insecure Iowans. However, there are costs associated with purchasing cattle, and the storage, transportation and delivery of the beef to food banks and pantries.

To donate funds to help support this program, visit the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation at

A summary of food resources available to those in need is available at


About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 12 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land for the next generation. Learn more at

About the Iowa Beef Industry Council
The Iowa Beef Industry Council has funded the $1-per-head National Beef Checkoff Program and the $0.50-per-head Iowa State Beef Checkoff. Checkoff dollars are invested in beef promotion, consumer information, research, industry information and foreign market development, all with the purpose of strengthening beef demand. For more information, visit

About the Iowa State University Meats Laboratory
The Iowa State University Meats Laboratory is a federally inspected facility with the capability for harvesting and complete processing of meat animals. This state-of-the-art meat laboratory supports technology and product development. The lab is available to private companies for product and process development. A retail sales outlet for meat products produced in the course of teaching, research and extension activities is available to the public. For more information visit