Beef Checkoff Scorecard
By Kindra Gordon
The majority of beef producers continue to be supportive of the Beef Checkoff Program, according to findings of a recent survey. Results of survey data collected from cattle owners between Dec. 20, 2017, and Jan. 12, 2018, revealed 74% of those surveyed continue to approve of the National Beef Checkoff Program. This is a 5% increase from survey data collected a year ago.
Findings were shared during a Checkoff Update session convened in conjunction with the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show held in Phoenix, Ariz,. Jan. 29-Feb. 2.
The survey also found that producers are generally more optimistic about the cattle industry than they were a year ago. And, the survey indicated favorable support from producers regarding the value they gain from the checkoff. Findings included:
• 76% say the beef checkoff has contributed to a positive trend in beef demand
• 78% say the checkoff has value even when the economy is weak, 5% higher than last year
• 65% say the checkoff contributes to profitability of their operations
• 71% say the checkoff represents their interests, 4% higher than last year
• 61% believe the checkoff is well-managed
The random survey of 804 beef and dairy producers nationwide was conducted by the independent firm Aspen Media & Market Research from mid-December 2017 until mid-January 2018.
The survey did reveal one area of concern: Fewer producers (43%) had seen, read or heard anything about the checkoff in the past six months. Thus, checkoff contractors intend to improve communications efforts about checkoff funded programs in the year ahead. In that vein, several checkoff program efforts were highlighted during the update session.
• The U.S. Meat Export Federation continues to promote U.S. beef in foreign markets. Large campaigns have been successful in Japan, Mexico, Korea, China and Hong Kong. Interestingly, grilling and slow-cooker cooking have proven to be successful ways to introduce more Mexican consumers to beef. In Korea, Costco made a switch to featuring U.S. beef (instead of Australian) and increased their beef sales 34%. Chef trainings in foreign tourist regions are also proving successful in getting U.S. beef featured on menus.
• The Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI) is utilizing beef checkoff funds to reach consumers in metro areas. Efforts include hosting beef tours for urban influencers, hosting culinary demonstrations at a variety of conferences and sharing beef research with health professionals. Learn more at www.nebpi.org/what-we-do.aspx.
• The American Farm Bureau Foundation is utilizing beef checkoff funds to develop educational materials for students and teachers. Online student programming includes MyAmericanFarm.org and www.purpleplow.org. Additionally, On The Farm professional development trainings will be hosted for STEM and health educators at trainings in Fort Worth, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon in 2018. Learn more about the effort at http://www.agfoundation.org/on-the-farm.
• The “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.” brand was completely revamped in 2017 to better reach consumers and share beef information and recipes. This includes a redesigned website with interactive content, an anthem video (access at https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/raising-beef/rethink-the-ranch) highlighting the people and sustainability practices in producing beef, and an edgy new ad campaign using the moniker “Nicely done, beef.”
In development for 2018 is “Chuckbot,” a verbal version of the “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.” web content that will be compatible with Alexa, Google Home and other devices. Look for a Chuckbot prototype to be launched in July 2018.
• Also under way, the consumer test kitchen at the NCBA office in Denver is being remodeled to accommodate larger influencer, chef and media audience groups.
The producer-funded Beef Checkoff Program is overseen by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and USDA with federal law mandating checkoff dollars be invested in programs to increase consumer demand for beef and create opportunities to enhance producer profitability. The Beef Act defines six program categories: promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications.
Editor’s Note: Kindra Gordon is a freelance writer and cattlewoman from Whitewood, S.D. This article was written as part of Angus Media’s coverage of the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and is copyrighted. See additional coverage distributed through Angus Media channels including the Angus Journal, Angus Beef Bulletin, Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA, The Angus Report and online at www.angus.org.