Celebrating 25 Years of Beef Checkoff Foreign Marketing Efforts
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Suggested Lead: Irvin (Irv) Petsch (pron. petch) lives in Meriden, Wyo., and has a yearling operation that began as a cow/calf business by his grandfather in 1935. He has irrigated farm ground, irrigated meadows and grassland, and built a custom 6,000-head feedlot.
Petsch has been involved in the beef industry for a number of years, including seven years as a director for the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. As we draw to a close in our series about 25 years of beef checkoff successes, Petsch highlights some of the foreign marketing programs that have proved beneficial to U.S. producers.
Petsch 1: “Well, I think probably the best thing that happened at least in recent years, was the ability to recover from the BSE problem that we had in 2003. They were able to turn the tide around, and because of that, you know we are back now to pre-BSE levels of exportation and actually we’re getting beyond those levels. I think that was probably the most important thing. And the reason we were able to do that is because we have people on the ground in important countries that knew what the story was and were able to communicate that to the people of that country. So that was probably the most important thing that has happened. And once that threshold was started and once we started moving more beef, we realized that we were going to have to export to different countries. You know most of our exports up to that time were pretty much in the Pacific Rim area. We started diversifying and moving into Europe, moving into the Caribbean, moving into other countries that were willing to take our product and then when the Pacific Rim countries opened up and allowed us to bring product into their countries, it just benefited the entire beef industry because we had more customers out there in more diverse locations wanting more and different cuts – offals, hides, things like that that we weren’t able to market here.” (1:26 seconds)
Of course, as a producer, Petsch likes to see a return on his investment. He does a little math and puts the foreign marketing program into perspective from his own farm.
Petsch 2: “I think in the last year, probably the third thing is we invest about $7.6 million from the beef checkoff into the USMEF and, of course, there are other organizations and the federal government invest money into it too, but with that $7.6 million investment from the beef checkoff, our returns are somewhere, at the end of this year, going to be between $4.3 and $4.5 billion. Now you know if you consider a home run being hit, that’s hitting the ball clear out of the park – you know you take the $7.6 million that we invest as beef checkoff and multiply that by 565 times to get the $4.3 to $4.5, that’s a tremendous, tremendous return on investment. I guess I don’t think there’s a better way that I know of to invest our checkoff money to get a return like that.” (:55 seconds)
Petsch says 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside our borders, so it’s important to foster these markets in order to bring value to U.S. producers.
Petsch 3: “The important part of the export market in that respect is that we need to market the entire carcass...the entire beef animal. And there are a lot of cuts, a lot of the offals, the hides, things of that nature, the by-products, that we don’t’ utilize here in the United States and people in the United States, consumers in the United States, aren’t very interested in. but because of the work of the beef checkoff we’ve been able to develop some different cuts that go to Europe, different cuts that go to the Pacific Rim, we’ve developed the offal markets – there’s a lot of liver that goes to Egypt, a lot of livers that go to Russia. Basically, it’s marketing the parts of the animal that we don’t’ utilize here in the United States and it just brings up the value of the entire carcass.” (:50 seconds)
Petsch says USMEF knows the “beat” of each country and knows what kinds of promotional programs will sell the most U.S. beef in those countries. He says that’s a benefit to each and every producer.
Petsch 4: “You know I think the big thing that I’m very impressed with – they’ve got 90 people doing the job, and they’re out there in 18 different offices around the world and the thing that the USMEF tries to do is to hire local people from those countries to man those offices. So they’re very abreast of what’s going on within that individual country or in that individual area and because of that, they’re more capable to respond to political things that are going on, the consumer needs and wants. And that’s something that the beef industry is just really benefiting from because there’s just no way to get the access to those different markets unless you have people there that understand that. And that’s one of the things that’s so exciting being a part of it and working with them is there are so many different organizations here in the United States that work together. We basically put our money in a pot, get the government money, and we’ve got one main goal and that’s to market red meat around the world. And when you’ve got that many people focused on one aspect of the industry it’s just unbelievable what can be done. When you can invest $7.6 million in a program and end up selling $4.3 to $4.5 billion in that same year, it’s … I’d like to invest in something like that personally all the time.” (1:27 seconds)
Thank you to the producers and importers who, 25 years ago, helped create the beef checkoff, and to those who continue to make it what it is today.
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.