Beef Checkoff Lends Support to Japan
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Suggested Lead: Dan Dierschke, rancher from Austin, Texas, and member of the Beef Promotion Operating Committee, said this week, the Committee voted and approved an amendment to add disaster relief for Japan to the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s (USMEF) authorization request for 2011. The USMEF contracts to manage foreign marketing programs for the beef checkoff.
Dierschke gives us insight on what USMEF officials on the ground are seeing in the area.
Dierschke 1: “I know some of the news reports are somewhat confusing as the situation develops, but let us recall that despite the incredible destruction that took place, this affected only about two percent of the Japanese population – four prefectures within Japan – about 100 miles north of Tokyo proper. And this is an area with a relatively small population but a high agriculture production. What we hear at this point is that about 240,000 people are in shelters of various kinds, but that overall there may be as many as 350,000 without homes today. The destruction of the secondary roads is quite severe - maybe 80 percent of them are impassible – the one major road going through the area has been reopened but transportation is still a real issue – delivering supplies is still a real issue.” (:53 seconds)
Dierschke says the beef industry has freed up funds to aid the people of Japan.
Dierschke 2: “Yes, the Operating Committee met last week and asked USMEF to alter one of its tactics in order to provide some relief to the people who have been so devastated. A hundred thousand dollars was proposed, and the Federation of State Beef Councils also said they would provide $100,000. The members of the Operating Committee voted on the $100,000 from the national funds and that was approved, so that is $200,000 that is going to the relief effort to provide food to individuals who have been so severely damaged by the earthquake and the following tsunami.” (:35 seconds)
It’s a complex process, but Dierschke explains what has to happen in order to facilitate moving product for Japan’s consumers.
Dierschke 3: “Right now, USMEF is attempting to coordinate the 10 steps that are involved in processing food to the point that it comes to the plates of the people who would be consuming it. This involves both producers such as the Beef Board and NCBA, it involves packers, shippers, cold storage, freight line, boats that carry product over to Japan, customs that receive it in Japan, distributors and retailers. There’s an attempt to bring these people together. And the money that we are offering – that we are providing – is to help facilitate all this process and to pick up those costs that are not waived. So it’s a very coordinated effort and the timeline to make all of this happen is naturally somewhat complex because at this time, people without government authorization cannot even go into these areas.” (:51 seconds)
Dierschke explains how these additional funds came about.
Dierschke 4: “We dipped into reserves that we have on hand in order to make this possible. The funds were committed at the beginning of the year, some funds previously unexpended have come back to the Beef Board so it was possible to use some of those funds. So not only was this amendment to the authorization request required but also a budget amendment was implemented in order to make it possible for these funds to be made available.” (:27 seconds)
To learn more about your beef checkoff’s investment in foreign marketing programs, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.