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Producer Communications Necessary to Shape Current, Future Programs

I’m a third-generation cattle producer in Southern Wisconsin, and I’m also a representative of a national livestock video auction company. As a member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), I’m in a unique position to see firsthand how much care and consideration goes into allocating Checkoff funds each year.

I hear the questions that my fellow producers have about the Beef Checkoff and how their dollars are being spent. I get it – you wouldn’t put money in a stock or mutual fund without expecting regular updates on your investment’s performance. That’s why the Beef Checkoff sets aside a very small percentage of its funds each year for the Producer Communications program. This program’s goal is to inform producers with operations of all shapes and sizes about how Checkoff dollars are driving beef demand. Here are just a few ways that Producer Communications works to improve transparency between the Checkoff and its investors:

Newsletters. In 2018, the CBB launched The Drive, a newsletter available in print or via email, designed to share Checkoff news, program successes and upcoming initiatives. Over the past five years, subscriber growth has been significant, with nearly 132,000 producers receiving the quarterly print newsletter and 21,000 receiving the monthly e-newsletter. “The Drive in Five,” a quick video recap of content from The Drive newsletter, launched in late 2021, providing producers with a quick way to get their Checkoff news and information in an easily consumable format. Plans for an audio series or podcast are in the works for 2024, helping us reach even more producers via another medium.

Media Relations. Sharing Beef Checkoff and CBB news with national, regional and local publications and websites is another way that the Producer Communications program reaches producers from various backgrounds nationwide. We do this via press releases, broadcast and print interviews and opinion-editorials from CBB members. Each year, we set a new goal to increase our media “hits,” and as of June 2023, we’d already surpassed our goal and continue to seek ways to ensure even more producers see these stories.

Website. Launched in 2019, is a great place for producers to get Checkoff program updates, CBB financials, frequently asked questions, videos and more. This platform has grown significantly in traffic and content in the past four years. We’ll be refreshing our website for an even better user experience very soon.

Social Media. Love it or hate it, social media is one way that some people – especially younger producers – choose to get their news and information. Social media allows us to connect with producers where their conversations are taking place in real time. Currently, the Beef Checkoff is active on Facebook, X (Twitter), YouTube, and LinkedIn with plans to add Instagram and additional social networks if the demand exists. We have nearly 69,000 followers across those four platforms, and that number continues to grow each year.

Producer Communications isn’t just a one-way street. The program also helps the CBB get valuable feedback about producer concerns, interests and educational needs. We conduct various surveys throughout the year to gauge producer sentiment and learn more about their operations and the challenges they’re currently facing. This data helps us determine how to shape future Checkoff programs and allocate funds, as well as determine content for our newsletters and social media channels. Over the past year, we’ve also had discussions with various ag groups and state beef councils to seek program input and build relationships.

The Producer Communications program is far more comprehensive than many producers may realize. It’s not the Checkoff simply pushing information to producers, but a two-way conversation that helps us learn what producers would like to see the Checkoff do in the future. If you’re unclear about what’s happening with your Checkoff dollars, subscribe to The Drive, participate in our surveys, visit our website at or contact your local state beef council, your nearest CBB member, or the CBB office in Denver. We look forward to the feedback and conversation.

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