Producers Talk About the Checkoff

Joan Ruskamp, Nebraska

"I’m Joan Ruskamp from Dodge, Neb. My husband and I have J&S feedlot:  it’s a cattle-feeding business and a farm. We started this farm in 1981 when we got married.

Steve and I take a great deal of energy and time in to providing good feed for our cattle. Before our cattle arrive, we’ve worked with a nutritionist to help us formulate a ration that will meet the needs of that animal. For example, when cattle first arrive at our yard, they weigh about 600 pounds. They’re going to need some time to grow their frame so their ration will include more hay and less corn. All of our cattle receive corn, alfalfa hay, corn stalks and a by-product of ethanol which is called distiller’s grain.

One of my jobs on our feedlot is to walk pens every morning. Every feedlot across the country has people either walking or riding horses and what we’re doing is looking at every animal, getting them up and making sure that they’re healthy.

The beef checkoff is more important than ever right now. We have consumers who are questioning our practices and even if beef is necessary in the diet."

Watch JoanClick here for the full video from Joan’s feedlot.


Don Schiefelbein, Minnesota

Don Schiefelbein is a fourth generation seed stock producer from Kimball, Minn., who raises registered Angus and Simmental Angus seedstock cattle. He works alongside his eight brothers and parents on their family operation.

The beef industry’s long-range planning process is a discussion that involves every segment of the beef industry, from retailers to purveyors and from packers to cow-calf producers. “The long range planning process allows us to take a finite amount of money and strategically fund programs that provide the biggest return on investment," Don says.

But he believes the basis for every checkoff program is market research. “Our market-research program both helps us create a product that fits consumer needs and assists in marketing efforts based on that research.

“If we don’t keep our pulse on what’s happening in the consumer world, our opportunity for our messaging to get lost is very high. The better you understand to whom you’re promoting your product, the more accurately you can develop and share the information and, in turn, the higher the potential return on investment. So the more we can learn about our consuming public, the better off we will be, not only in creating a product that fits their needs, but also marketing to them.”

Watch DonClick here for a video from Don’s farm.

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