Celebrating 25 Years of Your Beef Checkoff Enhancing the Image of the Cattle Industry
Contact: , 402-856-2097;
Suggested Lead: In checkoff terms, “industry information” means information and programs that will lead to development of new markets, marketing strategies, increased efficiency, and activities to enhance the image of the cattle industry. And that’s no small job. From managing emerging issues to beef and veal quality assurance, the Industry Information program area helps beef and dairy producers learn how to respond to consumers and help them understand what they do on their own farms in an effort to produce safe, wholesome beef for consumers.
Today we’re talking with Bob Bohlender (pronounced 'bow lender'), DVM and producer from North Platte, Neb., about how the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program got its start and why it is one of the longest-running programs funded by the beef checkoff.
Bohlender 1: “Well originally we were focused on a solution to the drug residue issue. We knew we didn’t’ have any significant problem but we needed to convince the consumers that we didn’t have a residue problem. But shortly after we started into that, why it became obvious that there were other issues – that we needed to explain our dedication to good product to the public. There’s always been enough issues out there but that dedication of the cattlemen has always been so profound. Basically the Beef Quality Assurance program was organized by the cattlemen and has always been operated by the cattlemen themselves. And I think this has been a real advantage to keeping it going for as long as it has.” (:42 seconds)
Bohlender highlights the two areas of BQA that come to mind when he thinks of what program success means.
Bohlender 2: “First, the drug issue was paramount, and as soon as we were able to demonstrate that we did use drugs responsibly and that the residue issue just wasn’t much of an issue, I think that was the first thing that we had. Then cattle handling has always been a paramount issue – how we managed cattle and that we are counted on taking appropriate care of them.” (:23 seconds)
This year, for the first time, the BQA program is asking for producer feedback for the 2011 National Beef Quality Audit at cattlesurvey.com. Bohlender tells us what these surveys, or industry benchmarks, mean to an individual producer.
Bohlender 3: “We have the audits and they provide us with an opportunity to evaluate where we’re at, what the issues are and where we can show some form of improvement. Cattlemen have always strived to do a better job of showing the consumer that we’re working hard at it. The audit is just a means of finding out where our issues are and demonstrating that we’re really progressing. Oh, I think the cattle industry always has the ability to survive. The BQA program has been a means of letting producers be involved. And it’s a means of communicating with the consumer. You know the producers feel remote from consumers oftentimes, and they are. It’s just a good program to give cattlemen an opportunity to demonstrate how they are dedicated to raising good beef and doing it properly.” (:53 seconds)
Be sure to tune in again for the next in our 6-part series celebrating 25 years of the beef checkoff. And for more about your beef checkoff investment, 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.