This is the final segment of a four-part blog series that focuses on consumer views about modern beef production and ways cattle ranchers can be part of the conversation to correct misinformation, connect with our customers through personal trust and ultimately, boost beef demand. If you missed the first three installments, you can view them here:
Part 1: What do our consumers really want?
Part 2: Which production attributes are most important to consumers?
Part 3: What’s the best way to respond to the Meatless Monday crowd?
In the summer of 2007, I was an intern for USDA’s Ag Marketing Service in Washington, D.C. My job allowed me to listen in on meetings of various commodity checkoff programs, learn about meat retail cuts, attend USDA grader training programs and even taste-test new products for school lunch menu items.
Halfway through my summer internship, I received a phone call from Nebraska rancher Trent Loos. I had met Loos the year previously when I was named the 2006 Beef Ambassador. He told me he needed help with a new non-profit organization, the All-American Beef Battalion (AABB).
The AABB was created by Bill Broadie, a Vietnam war veteran and Kansas cattleman with a goal of saying thank you to the troops with a ribeye steak supper. Loos told me that Broadie needed to get his non-profit organization approved, so he could begin his mission of promoting beef while honoring our nation’s service men and women.
Broadie wanted me to take his application and serve it directly onto the USDA Secretary’s desk. Since I already worked in the building, it was an easy task, but we figured it might be months until his application went through.
A week later, I was surprised to receive a phone call from Broadie himself who told me his organization had been approved for non-profit status, and the All American Beef Battalion was officially ready to thank the troops with beef!
Since 2007, Broadie and his team of fellow cattlemen and women have served more than 325,000 ribeyes to our service men and women as a way to say thank you for what they have done to protect our freedoms in this country. I’ve been proud to support Broadie and his mission from afar over the years, and the steak feeds I have attended have been emotional, patriotic and filled with gratitude as families have said goodbye or welcomed home their loved ones who dutifully serve our country.
READ: Honoring our troops, one steak at a time
To me, this is agricultural advocacy in action that really makes a difference. You can bet these soldiers and their families feel positive things about beef producers after they sit down for an AABB steak dinner. It’s a combination of promoting beef, giving thanks and reaching outside of our own demographic to reach a target audience. It works. It’s fantastic. And a few years ago, BEEF magazine even awarded Broadie with our coveted Trailblazer Award for everything he has done for our industry in the last decade.
READ: Broadie named 20th BEEF Trailblazer
There are steak feeds happening all of the time across the country, and it’s exciting when I hear about cattlemen’s groups who dedicate their fundraising efforts to the AABB and its mission. My college roommate, Fawn McNamara, recently contacted me about an event her area cattlemen’s group has put together in order to support the organization, as well as local veterans.
On May 25, 2017, the Redwood Area Cattlemen will host the first annual Beef Brigade Salute from 4-8 p.m. at the Redwood Armory in Redwood, Minn. The event includes a free-will donation hamburger meal with 100% of the proceeds to benefit the AABB, Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans and the Snowball Express, which honors America’s fallen military service members who have died since 9/11 by supporting the families left behind.
McNamara asked if I would kindly promote this event, and I talked to the Redwood Area Cattlemen treasurer, Dawn Breitkreutz, who told me a little bit more about the event. Incidentally, Dawn and her husband, Grant, were the 2016 BEEF Trailblazer Award winners.
“When I was dreaming up this event, I heard about the AABB on your blog,” said Breitkreutz. “Being a cattle producer and a veteran myself, I heard that mental bell ring and researched the AABB and also stumbled onto the Snowball Express. Feeling inspired, I contacted the local VFW and was able to get them involved.”
McNamara added, “She called me to get my assistance, and the current Redwood Area Cattlemen Board all stepped up. This is something we hope to continue each year and give back to all those who have served or are serving.”
To learn more about the event, click here.
Agricultural advocacy can take on many forms. It can be through online social media posts, promoting beef as a healthy protein for athletes at Team Beef events, supporting the troops through the AABB, or simply having a chat with a local mom about beef labels at church or school drop-off. These interactions make a difference because they leave a positive impression about who we are in animal agriculture.
I’m a proud supporter of the AABB, and I hope you will be, too. Check out the organization here.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.