Producers Talk About the Checkoff

Mark Jagels, Nebraska

Mark Jagels is the fourth generation on his farm that was homesteaded in 1883. He grows mainly irrigated white corn and yellow corn, and soybeans, and has a cow/calf operation and feeds cattle at a couple of custom yards.

U.S. beef export values remain at record levels, making a major contribution to U.S. market prices. Those exports have not happened on their own - beef producers themselves have made strategic investments of beef checkoff dollars for nearly three decades now. As past chairman of checkoff contractor U.S. Meat Export Federation, Jagels saw firsthand how checkoff dollars have aided in continued growth in exports of U.S. beef and says that’s one reason his family is optimistic about the future of their farm.

"The growth in beef exports has been tremendous. This is really where we’re making the money...on what we’re exporting to other countries. You look at the added value that we’re getting per animal slaughtered of over $275 per animal, we’re exporting just a little bit over 13 percent of our total beef production here in the United States."

And, Jagels notes that research by Dr. Harry Kaiser of Cornell University shows an $11.20 return for every beef checkoff dollar invested by producers like him.

"The beef checkoff is a vital tool that we have as producers that we pay that is invested in, programs not only domestic but international to help move our product. According to Doctor Kaiser’s research, foreign beef demand would be 6.4 percent lower without the checkoff."

Watch MarkClick here for a video from Jagels’ farm.

Dawn Caldwell, Nebraska

"Our operation here is my husband and I and our two kids. It's fun because our kids love it. We started out with our parents having cattle along with a couple of my brothers. And then, Matt and I were able to break off on our own several years ago, so it's been fun to try to grow and improve things here and make the kids very much part of it to the point that they know have their own little herd within our herd to help pay for their college and teach them some business decisions.

Matt does all of the calving here. He does a lot of the day-to-day, because I have a job off the farm and I get to come help on the weekends. We have really great neighbors and family members that just pitch in and help when we need them and we go help them and neighbor back and forth and it's very rewarding.

What we have is a commercial Angus-based herd that's where we started was with Black Angus cows and in the last few years we started incorporating Red Angus. We use all Red Angus bulls now. The kids growing some seed stock provide us with a few of those bulls and of course, we buy some as well. And, we have added Red Angus females as time goes along – either ones that we raise or ones that we purchase to add into the herd. That has been really good to us.

We get really excited when people love the beef that we raise whether the cattle go to the feed yard or people buying freezer meat from us. We want to be able to take a lot of pride in what we produce here."

Did you know...our checkoff activities increased beef demand by 2.1 billion pounds per year?

"When I think about the national beef checkoff's impact, the $11.20 return for every dollar invested is a tremendous feat. Our marketing efforts funded by the beef checkoff have resulted in higher prices for beef producers and importers, and sales of more beef in the U.S. and foreign markets. I'm really proud of our checkoff's achievements."

While you and Dawn are managing your operations, your checkoff helps build demand for beef and impact your bottom line.

Watch KeithClick here for a video with Dawn about the checkoff’s Return on Investment study.


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