It's crunch time at South Dakota State University, as students are in a frenzy with last minute projects, tests and activity events before finals week and the end of the semester. For me, that means I'm running from one thing to the next, busy as ever and waiting for things to slow down. As soon as homework slows down, it's another writing assignment to do, a load of work to do on the farm, or a list of presents to buy before Christmas. Things are moving fast in the beef industry these days, too. Cattlemen are worried about earning high prices for their sale cattle, keeping the feeder calves healthy, wondering about the first snowstorm and trying to prepare the ranch for winter.
 Do you ever feel like you are in over your head? With the weak economy, ranchers are feeling the crunch. Because money is in short supply, consumers eat out less and purchase cheaper chicken instead of beef products. Fewer dollars are spent on quality meats, and this trickles down directly to you, the beef producer. You know, sometimes I feel like a broken record, but now is a crucial time to encourage others to keep beef at the center of the plate. A few years ago, I worked with the SD Cattlemen's Auxiliary to produce seasonal commercials, one for summer grilling and the other for Christmas. I was amazed at the feedback from people as they called and wrote to tell me what beef meals they prepared that Christmas, instead of turkey!
All it takes is a few minutes to share your favorite beef recipes with a friend. Suggest a cut of beef to use, how to prepare it and what side dishes compliment your recipe best. Even though we are all busy with a hundred things to do, slow down for a minute and talk with your friends. Let's take a proactive approach this holiday season to keep beef at the center of the plate.