By Kindra Gordon
The Beef Checkoff program is like yeast in a bread recipe, stated Dodge, Neb. cattle producer Joan Ruskamp during a Checkoff Update session Jan. 31 at the 2019 Cattle Industry Convention in New Orleans. Ruskamp, who served as chairman of the Cattleman’s Beef Board for 2018, noted that often people forget the yeast is there, but it has an important job to help the bread rise.
Similarly, she expressed that the Beef Checkoff is helping the industry “rise” to increase consumer beef demand and producer profitability. Here are highlights of a handful of Beef Checkoff projects currently underway:
- The Drive: To better share and connect with beef producers who fund the Beef Checkoff, a new effort called The Drive has been launched. Sarah Metzler, director of organizational communications for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, describes The Drive as a “multi-tiered publishing platform for producers” that will include information about both state and national Beef Checkoff efforts – and feature real beef producers sharing their experiences with the Checkoff.
Various print, broadcast and online formats will be utilized to better communicate how checkoff dollars are spent. Look for a national print ad campaign, radio ads and the inaugural The Drive newsletter – 100,000 print copies were mailed to producers in January and an e-newsletter version was shared with 14,000 subscribers.
Of The Drive, Metzler told Cattle Industry Convention attendees, “We have an obligation to listen; we need to hear what producers need from us. And, we have an amazing beef story to tell. We need to champion our projects.” Learn more and subscribe to The Drive at DrivingDemandforBeef.com.
- Collaboration with Cowboy Ninja: Checkoff programs throughout 2018 and into 2019 involved several campaigns with Cowboy Ninja Lance Pekus, including features about his ranch life in Idaho and favorite beef recipes on the “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” website, development of a “Farm To Gym 20-Minute Workout,” and Pekus’ participation in the nation’s largest health and fitness expo in Washington, D.C. representing the beef industry. At the opening general session of the Cattle Industry Convention, Pekus shared remarks about his experiences – and love for beef – with attendees.
- Chuck Knows Beef: With nearly half a million sessions since being launched in 2018, the Chuck Knows Beef digital assistant powered by Google Artificial Intelligence is keeping beef information easily accessible for consumers. Chuck (available for download at ChuckKnowsBeef.com) provides information found on Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner through the use of your computer, mobile phone, Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
Just ask a question and Chuck will provide the answer. Efforts to expand Chuck’s use by consumers in 2019 include Pandora radio ads, tailored YouTube videos and working with meat case retailers to use Chuck as a resource at the butcher counter and meat case.
- Sushi meets beef: The new culinary concept Beefshi – a spin-off of sushi – was introduced in 2018 and received high acclaim. Thus, the effort is expanding in 2019, with new regionally inspired flavors created with input from state beef councils and beef checkoff funds.
These include the St. Paul roll representing Missouri, the Dansk roll representing Minnesota, the Taco Maki representing Arizona, the BeefyWecky Maki representing New York, the Muffarolleta representing Louisiana and the Beefy California roll. These recipes will be launched in February and showcased to retailers at the Annual Meat Conference in March, for more visit https://www.beefshi.com/
- Beef in the classroom: With approximately 56 million school children in school every day representing the next generation of consumers, writing national science curriculums that accurately portray beef production practices is critically important. Via collaboration with the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Ag, that effort is underway with the goal of developing curriculum adopted into schools nationwide.
Additionally, “On the Farm” training sessions that provide ideas to teachers to tie agriculture and beef-related science into their curriculums will be held in Kansas and New York in 2019. On the Farm teacher trainings have been held around the country since 2016.
6. Veal’s consumer campaign debut: For the first time, the Beef Checkoff is launching a national consumer veal campaign directed by the North American Meat Institute and expected to reach millions of consumers.
Additional Beef Checkoff program efforts support the Beef Quality Assurance program; beef export growth; beef safety research; bringing together industry representation to discuss antimicrobial resistance; research and messaging related to the role of beef in a healthy, sustainable diet; participation in Team BEEF running events to promote the health benefits of beef; and engaging with nutrition researchers, medical professionals and dieticians.
Beef Checkoff contractors include the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education, North American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Meat Import Council of America, National Livestock Producers Association and subcontractors the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative and United States Meat Export Federation. For more Beef Checkoff results, visit DrivingDemandforBeef.com.
Gordon is a freelance ag writer from Whitewood, S.D.