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CBB Presents Jo Ann Smith with First Checkoff Visionary Award

Jo Ann Smith of Wacahoota, Florida was presented with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board’s first-ever Beef Checkoff Visionary Award during the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention’s Opening General Session in Nashville, Tennessee. This honor recognizes an individual in the beef industry who has demonstrated exemplary support of and commitment to the Checkoff’s goals and vision.

“Jo Ann Smith has been a tireless advocate for the beef industry for decades,” said Hugh Sanburg, 2021 Chair of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB). “When national trends and fad diets tarnished beef’s image in the late 1970s and early 1980s, demand fell sharply. That’s when Jo Ann and other beef industry stakeholders worked diligently to win approval for a national Beef Checkoff program. Without Jo Ann’s efforts, the beef industry might look very different today.”

More than 40 years ago, as cattle prices were plummeting, a group of cattlemen and ranchers came to Smith, asking how the beef industry could help itself and address flagging consumer demand. The question, “What could we accomplish with a national checkoff?” came up during those discussions.

“As a group, we tried to put together a program that would pass so we would have a checkoff,” Smith said. “That was our ultimate goal. We needed enough money to pull together as an industry and get beef’s message out because new consumers are out there every day – and it’s our responsibility to educate them about why they should choose beef.”

In 1986, Smith became the first chair of the newly formed Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Thanks to the strong foundation that Smith and others established during those early days, Beef Checkoff programs have diligently communicated beef’s great taste, value and nutrition to consumers here in the U.S. and around the world for 35 years.

“Jo Ann’s tenacity, hard work and leadership turned the dream of a Beef Checkoff into reality,” said Greg Hanes, CEO of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. “She has truly been a trailblazer, and all of us in the beef industry are grateful for what she has accomplished – not just in her role with the CBB, but also with the many other local, state and national beef industry organizations she’s been involved with over the years. Truly, there’s no one more deserving of our first Checkoff Visionary Award.”

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