South Dakota beef producers are reaching out to consumers in the state of New York to increase positive perceptions about beef. For the second year running, the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) and the New York Beef Industry Council (NYBIC) partnered to conduct a series of farm tours in New York State for food and nutrition professionals. On farms in three different regions of New York, dietitians, food journalists, culinary instructors and retail managers were given an up-close look at how beef producers steward their animals and land.
South Dakota beef producer Craig Bieber of Leola also took part in the tours, helping build relationships with the people who can influence public opinions about beef. Bieber explains, “We really gave them a short course on the beef industry, sharing how beef is raised and produced by many different segments. I think the tour participants have a much better idea of where their beef comes from and will take this message back to their students and customers about how beef is safe, nutritious and great tasting.”
Bieber and the New York beef producers discussed and answered questions regarding feeding, animal care, food safety and antibiotics with tour attendees. Bieber has confidence that the one-on-one discussions during the tours helped put a face to the American beef producer and instilled confidence in today’s beef industry.
“We answered several questions on the differences between grass-fed, organic and conventional beef. While production practices may differ, we explained to the food professionals that all these systems produce beef that is safe and nutritious,” says Bieber.
NYBIC Executive Director Carol Gillis believes the influencers came to understand the best management practices that make beef production sustainable.
Gillis says, “We realize there’s a lot of misinformation out there and we wanted these influencers to learn about science-based information regarding the beef industry.”
New York is a beef-deficit state with far more consumers than cattle. In fact, more than 19 million consumers live in the urban state. Gillis says the tours emphasized the networks that bring beef to a New York dinner table.
“We stressed how important it is and how fortunate we are to have areas like South Dakota where they can produce beef very efficiently and how that makes it possible for all New York consumers to enjoy safe, wholesome beef,” explains Gillis.
Bieber echoes Gillis’s comments, and emphasizes the importance of taking the beef message to highly populated regions. “Fifty million people live within 500 miles of the New York region. This project may not directly sell South Dakota beef, but it does add to overall beef demand and can have a positive impact on beef consumption,” says Bieber.
The SDBIC partnered with its New York counterpart to fund the tours during May “Beef Month.” SDBIC President Merrill Karlen of Oacoma affirms the New York partnership fits the mission of the South Dakota beef checkoff.
“We’ve funded numerous Checkoff projects outside of South Dakota where the bulk of our consumers live. We have the cattle here and the coasts have the consumers. We get a lot bigger bang for our buck when we invest the Checkoff in the highly populated areas,” explains Karlen.
Bieber believes the New York partnership is a great opportunity to bridge the gap of understanding between the pasture and plate, helping increase consumption of beef among urban consumers.