SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Iowa – A coalition of governors will tour Beef Products Inc.’s plant in South Sioux City, Neb. on March 29. Four media representatives will accompany the governors on the tour. CNN will provide coverage for broadcast.

BPI is opening the plant to local, state and national media with the aim of restoring public confidence in the company’s lean finely textured beef (LFTB) and the process used to make it. Govs. Terry Branstad (Iowa); Sam Brownback (Kansas); Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, standing in for South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who is on a trade mission in China; Dave Heineman (Nebraska); and Rick Perry (Texas) jointly issued a statement in support of LFTB:

"Our states proudly produce food for the country and the world — and we do so with the highest commitment toward product safety. Lean, finely textured beef is a safe, nutritious product that is backed by sound science. It is unfortunate when inaccurate information causes an unnecessary panic among consumers.

"By taking this safe product out of the market, grocery retailers and consumers are allowing media sensationalism to trump sound science. This is a disservice to the beef industry, hundreds of workers who make their livings producing this safe product and consumers as a whole.

"Ultimately, it will be the consumer who pays for taking this safe product out of the market. The price of ground beef will rise as ranchers work to raise as many as 1.5 million more head of cattle to replace safe beef no longer consumed because of the baseless media scare.

"We urge grocery retailers, consumers and members of the media to seek the facts behind lean finely textured beef. Science supports keeping the lean beef product on grocery store shelves for the benefit of American agriculture and consumers alike."

BPI has been hard-hit by negative media coverage and criticism. The company suspended operations at three of four plants where LFTB is produced after several major foodservice operations and major supermarket chains announced they will no longer carry ground beef products that contain LFTB. BPI suspended operations at plants in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kan.; and Waterloo, Iowa, affecting about 700 employees at those facilities. The plant near the company’s headquarters in Dakota Dunes, SD, remains open, but operating hours have been reduced, according to published reports.