Our Beef Checkoff, our responsibility

Opinion
Jan 24, 2014
by WLJ

As we enter 2014 in earnest and prepare for our annual cattle industry convention, I have spent some time contemplating the challenges and successes that we encountered in the beef industry during the last year, both from my perspective as a cattle producer and as the vice chairman of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB). I find that the two views are intertwined, and I keep coming back to the same conclusion: Our year as cattle producers has been a fortuitous one because of the advantages that our checkoff program extends to us.

I personally believe the investments that we’ve made in our industry through our checkoff program are at the very core of the strong demand for beef in 2013, despite the lowest cattle numbers in half a century. Thanks to the checkoff, we have, for nearly 30 years now, been able to do ongoing research to continuously improve our product and keep up with consumers’ demands for things like convenience, nutrition, safety, taste and value—and then share that information with consumers worldwide. These are perpetual needs, and ones that I know most individual producers or families don’t have the money, time or expertise to accomplish on our own.

I also believe that it is the responsibility of all beef producers and importers to take care of the program that helps take care of us. Part of my responsibility as a CBB member is to make sure that all producers and importers who invest their hard-earned dollars into the checkoff have the opportunity to learn about and provide input on decisions about spending checkoff dollars—and the results we get from those efforts.

I am passionate about the need to make sure we are transparent to all of the “owners” of this program, especially as we approach our biggest checkoff meeting of the year. It’s important that we share these processes industrywide.

This month, our checkoff staff and all of the producers, who sit on the Beef Board and on the Federation of State Beef Councils, are deep in preparation for checkoff planning efforts on tap at the upcoming 2014 Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Feb. 4-7. All of the chairmen and vice chairmen of our checkoff program committees met in Denver, Jan. 8-9, to study the latest market conditions and trends that affect sales of beef to consumers. This “industry scan” serves as the base of our annual planning efforts because it helps us target our checkoff investments at the most pressing needs for growing beef demand.

When we gather in Nashville in February, committee leaders will share the information from that scan with their committees. All committees also will review ongoing checkoff programs and results to make sure that contractors are keeping on the track that we, as producers, directed during our meetings last summer and fall. The committees then will set priorities for their particular area of research, promotion or information, which will guide contractors and potential contractors in developing initial proposals to present for checkoff funding in fiscal 2015.

I encourage you to get involved with your checkoff by getting the facts about it, and then sharing those facts when your neighbors have questions. With that in mind, we provide all of our meeting materials—including agendas, minutes, presentations and other commentary—on mybeefcheckoffmeeting.com/ MyBeefCheckoffMeeting.com, where anyone can see what’s coming up and submit comments about your checkoff. Or, you can always call the Beef Board office at 303/220-9890 and they can put you in direct touch with any one of us on the Beef Board. — Kim Brackett, Vice Chairman, Cattlemen’s Beef Board

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