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Frequently Asked Questions

Costco Meat Case in KoreaInvesting dollars toward foreign market development is one of the most significant ways the Beef Checkoff drives demand for beef. Competition is fierce on the global stage, and the checkoff works diligently to persuade foreign countries that U.S. beef is their best choice. As a result of the checkoff’s efforts, more consumers around the world want the high-quality products U.S. cattlemen and women produce.

That’s why beef producers understand the importance of using checkoff dollars to promote U.S. beef in foreign countries. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff that carries out this mission. From attending international food events and conducting training sessions to working with retailers and encouraging restaurants to feature U.S. beef, the USMEF’s hands-on efforts put U.S. beef on more dinner plates around the world.

Korea has now become one of the leading U.S. beef markets in the Pacific, less than a decade following street protests opposing the reopening of the market. In 2018, beef exports to Korea increased 30 percent year-over-year in volume and jumped 43 percent in value, increasing from $526 million in 2017 to $1.75 billion in 20181. A big factor contributing to this gain was Costco officially converting its imported chilled beef selection from Australian to 100-percent-U.S. beef. This multi-year effort by USMEF to persuade Costco store managers to carry U.S. beef has resulted in a wider selection of U.S. beef cuts available to consumers.

USMEF DiamondTo continue increasing the visibility of U.S. beef, USMEF has established the Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection awards. These awards encourage Taiwanese restaurants to serve and promote U.S. beef. According to Davis Wu, USMEF director in Taiwan, Diamond Plus Precious honors restaurants that demonstrate “the spirit of dependable and faithful partners who support U.S. beef products and promise to provide high-quality U.S. beef cuisine to Taiwanese consumers.” The USMEF first presented these awards in 2018 and will continue to honor deserving restaurants – choosing 20 each year. By creating an incentive for Taiwanese restaurants to feature high-quality U.S. beef, the Diamond Plus Precious awards are helping U.S. beef establish a stronger foothold in that country, while also providing consumers clear and accessible ways to learn about the best restaurants offering these products.

USMEF Diamond CeremonyIn Japan, USMEF has been conducting a series of training sessions for cooking instructors. The goal is to show these educators the variety of ways to cook and serve U.S. beef, so they can then introduce these creative methods to their students. Rika Yukimasa, a well-known cooking instructor in Japan, has helped USMEF in the campaign, providing cooking tips and sharing information about U.S. beef’s quality attributes with fellow instructors. Tapping into U.S. beef’s superior quality and versatility is an impactful way to spur interest in the product. One training session, during which the USMEF explained the U.S. beef production system, drew thousands of participant applications of which 50 were selected.

When it comes to directly connecting with the Japanese consumer, USMEF’s Tokyo office has launched a social media campaign to promote U.S. beef while also encouraging consumer participation. USMEF’s Instagram, a photo-based social media platform, has been calling on consumers to share their experiences with U.S. beef at home and at restaurants. Individuals who share photos of U.S. beef “pound steak” are eligible for prizes. The pound steak campaign was followed by a “My Pound Steak” Instagram event to further encourage photo sharing of this great product. This social media effort is bringing U.S. beef to a platform where consumers are most active.

Japan pound steak“The number of active Instagram users now exceeds 29 million in Japan – up 150% from a year ago,” said Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF director in Japan. “Realizing the popularity of social media and how consumers are using it to make decisions on what to eat, USMEF will keep focusing on these kinds of activities to more widely and effectively convey information on U.S. beef.”

The superior quality of U.S. beef has no bounds. The checkoff’s goal has always been to drive demand for beef. With programs like these in place, the checkoff is introducing high-quality beef to consumers who may never have enjoyed it before but will now continue to request it from their grocers and restaurants. Visibility is key, and U.S. beef producers recognize that investing dollars in these efforts is necessary to maintain and drive demand, so prices can remain strong even during more challenging times.

Frequently Asked Questions

Greg HanesThe Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) has named Greg Hanes as its new CEO. Hanes comes to the CBB from the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff, where he was most recently the vice president of international marketing programs.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I was born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where cattle producers, with their solid work ethic and honesty, are simply part of the culture. My dad was a multigeneration Wyoming native, and my mom immigrated to the United States from Germany after World War II. Hearing stories from my mom, her siblings and my grandma about growing up in war-ravaged Germany and how they had to leave everything they owned behind in order to flee the Russian army had a powerful impact on me and my younger brother. Because of that, we always valued and appreciated everything we had.

After high school, I went to Colorado College (CC) in Colorado Springs and majored in economics. During my junior year, I studied abroad in Japan because it was “taking over the world” economically at the time. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Despite how different the culture, language, food and everything was, that experience showed me that at our core, people are people. After I graduated from CC, I spent a year back in Japan teaching English in public junior high schools with the Japan Education and Teaching Program.

After spending a bit more time in Japan and Asia, I enrolled in graduate school at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, Arizona and received a master’s degree in international management. I worked several jobs in Denver before joining USMEF in 1996. There, I worked with the international offices and helped to write the government funding proposal called the Unified Export Strategy document.

After four years with USMEF in Denver, my family had the opportunity to move back to Japan. At the time, we had two young kids – one was 3 years old and the other was only 9 months old. If we wanted them to learn the Japanese language and culture, now was the time, so we moved to Japan. I worked in telecommunications for five years and then, rejoined USMEF as the Japan director. After four years in that role, I transferred back to USMEF’s Denver headquarters where I have been the last 10 years – most recently as the vice president of international marketing programs.

Q: Why did you choose to make the jump from USMEF to the CBB?

Working for USMEF, I am well aware of the huge impact building international demand for beef has on bringing more value back to producers. At the same time, I have always been impressed by the excellent staff at the CBB and their dedication to the beef industry. When this opportunity arose, it seemed like the perfect way to leverage my deep appreciation and enthusiasm for the checkoff, beef producers, all the contractors and the CBB staff to help make the program even more successful going into the future.

Q: With your background at USMEF, you bring extensive knowledge of exports and international markets. How do you feel your experience with USMEF has prepared you to take the helm of the Beef Checkoff?

Working at USMEF has given me a deep understanding of the huge impact the checkoff can have on increasing the value of beef, both international and domestically. And, there are so many things the checkoff is doing to help build that demand.

I also had the opportunity to work with many of the state beef councils and other key partners and stakeholders in our industry. Not only has this allowed me to develop close relationships with many of those individuals and groups, but it has also given me insight into many of the issues the checkoff faces.

Q: The CBB is essential to ensuring the Beef Checkoff remains strong and thriving in the future. What do you feel the checkoff is doing well, and what does it need to work on in the months and years ahead? How do you foresee your role fitting into that mission?

There are so many things the checkoff is doing well; however, we need to ensure that producers around the country know exactly what these efforts are. The CBB has recently launched some new initiatives to facilitate producer communications, so I am excited to see how these efforts reach producers, what works and what doesn’t, and then adapt to continually make our outreach more effective.

Q: Lastly, what else would you like beef producers to know about you?

I want beef producers to know that I am 100 percent behind them. My sole focus is to ensure the checkoff is doing all it can to provide producers with the greatest returns and bring them the highest possible value they can get for each animal. Ranching and beef production has a long and storied history, and I want to make sure that history continues long into the future. Ranching is all about families, and I hope to see every ranch passed down to the next generation and the next.

Frequently Asked Questions

This May, 2019, urban educators from around the nation traveled to Kansas and New York where they learned the principles of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) through the “On The Farm” experience.

Pioneered by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA), contractor to the Beef Checkoff, the On The Farm STEM experience offers a first-hand look at beef production. It brings educators together with ranchers, researchers and veterinarians to see how they apply STEM concepts in the beef industry every day. The program’s goal is to increase participants’ agricultural knowledge and encourage them to better connect STEM with agriculture in their classrooms and curriculums. Over the past three years, AFBFA has engaged more than 200 education leaders, including those from the top 10 urban school districts in the nation.

“Prior to this On The Farm experience, I would have never thought to use hands-on STEM connected to agriculture, but now, I see immediate applications to tie what I’ve learned into science classrooms.” – Jennifer Mayo, Portland Public Schools.

As generations of consumers become further and further removed from agriculture, the need and demand for these experiences continues to grow. This is especially true in urban school districts, such as Los Angeles Unified School District (CA), Broward County School District (FL), Portland Public Schools (OR) and New York City Department of Education.

By investing checkoff dollars toward programs like the On The Farm STEM experience, beef producers are able to educate participants about the food system – resulting in a stronger pasture-to-plate connection.

These national events are moving the needle by enhancing beef perception and intent to consume while also increasing exposure to state programming. Pre- and post-event assessments administered to On The Farm participants indicated major changes in their perceptions of beef after attending the event.

Frequently Asked Questions

In 2017, the Beef Checkoff began offering free Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification. Currently, more than 200,000 beef producers are BQA certified.

Beef producers are dedicated to responsibly raising, safe, wholesome, high-quality beef. Being BQA certified tells consumers that producers have a commitment to delivering a product that is backed by science-based standards. Certification also addresses many questions that consumers have about beef production.

“It only takes a few hours of watching modules and answering questions but serves as a checklist for producers to make sure they are using the latest management practices,” says Josh White, Executive Director of Producer Education for the Beef Checkoff. “We have seen time and time again how consumer confidence is positively affected when BQA standards are followed, and producers have shown their commitment to producing quality beef by being BQA-certified.”

Become certified or re-certified for free at www.BQA.org/certification.

Frequently Asked Questions

According to “Environmental Footprints of Beef Cattle Production”1 a study recently published in the journal Agricultural Systems, widely accepted claims about beef cattle’s environmental impact in the U.S. are often overestimated.

The lifecycle assessment, conducted by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and the Beef Checkoff, was designed to scientifically quantify the sustainability of U.S. beef production. Researchers collected and examined feed- and cattle-production-related data from more than 2,200 cattle producers in seven regional production areas. They derived their conclusions by using a simulation model and regional production data to estimate national impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, fossil energy use, blue water consumption and reactive nitrogen loss.

While these conclusions are compelling, a recent EAT-Lancet 50-page suggests that the only way to save the planet is to eat less meat, eat more nuts and beans, or adopt a “flexitarian” diet (defined as flexible vegetarianism, eating more vegetables than meat). Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., professor and air quality specialist for the Department of Animal Science at the University of California – Mitloehner, says in order to meet EAT-Lancet’s solution of replacing meat with nuts, the U.S. would have to increase nut production by 580 percent.

“What we need are more nutrient-rich foods like beef and eggs,” Dr. Mitloehner explains.

As others try to influence dietary guidelines throughout the world, Dr. Mitloehner cautioned that the often-cited data in the 2006 FAO report (Livestock’s Long Shadow) and other soon-to-follow reports will continue to make inaccurate claims about food production.

“The way you produce animals has a profound impact on environmental footprint,” Dr. Mitloehner says. “Although these reports are full of inaccuracies, don’t just disregard them as they will impact us for a long time. Check them for credibility and respond in a meaningful way.”

The fact is that beef production, including the production of animal feed, is responsible for only 3.3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. This is dramatically lower than the often-misquoted global livestock figure of 14.5 percent2.

Dr. Mitloehner goes on to explain that global numbers have intentionally distorted the sustainability picture. Truth be told? By continuously improving their production practices, today, U.S. beef farmers and ranchers are able to produce the same amount of beef with one-third-fewer cattle than they did in 1977.

This is exactly why the checkoff conducted the lifecycle assessment – to give consumers and the industry the real story of beef sustainability – something everyone can read and believe.

“This lifecycle assessment delivers the most comprehensive and accurate assessment of the environmental impact of beef cattle in the U.S. to date,” says USDA researcher and study co-author Alan Rotz.

This information was distributed via the wire to consumer-directed media outlets, and it is also currently featured on the “Beef in a Healthy, Sustainable Diet” page on BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com. For more information about beef production practices and sustainability, visit BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

Beef Sustainability: Fact vs. Myth

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Frequently Asked Questions

Beefshi was front and center in New York City’s Times Square this past March as the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, introduced the Big Apple to the new items created for the 2019 campaign. Beefshi is a creative, new fusion-food concept that uses prepared beef products like bologna, summer sausage, corned beef and pastrami as central ingredients in sushi.

The theme of the Times Square promotion was “Your Sushi is getting Beefed Up!” Giant, colorful images of Beefshi and a link to Beefshi.com towered above Times Square for all to see.

“Americans have always loved beef, and over the past few decades, their love of sushi has catapulted,” said Eric Mittenthal, vice president of public affairs at NAMI. “In fact, sushi is one of the fastest-growing categories in supermarket deli departments. Therefore, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate National Deli Meat Month than focusing on the marriage of beef and sushi.”

Last year, during the retail-focused Annual Meat Conference, hundreds of retailers sampled three Beefshi recipes, and 55 completed a short survey that captured their reactions. Overall, 95 percent of those who tried the Beefshi creations liked them – while half of the retailers said they would make sense at the supermarket.

Working with multiple state beef councils and a chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America, NAMI has developed eight new Beefshi recipes – adding to eight recipes created in 2018. These recipes are intended to introduce the concept and inspire consumers, retailers and foodservice operators to develop their own Beefshi creations.

By finding new and creative ways to market beef, the checkoff is helping drive demand every day. Learn more about Beefshi – including recipes, how-to videos and nutrition facts – at Beefshi.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

More and more consumers are using smart speakers in their kitchens, creating opportunities for beef to engage with them during the cooking process.

Chuck Knows Beef, the only all-knowing virtual beef expert powered by Google Artificial Intelligence, is here and ready to help consumers as their personal guide to all things beef. Chuck Knows Beef was developed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff to address the Beef Industry’s Long Plan Range priority of revolutionizing the beef shopping experience.

As tech savvy millennials become parents, beef is meeting the need of this new generation of family cooks looking for food inspiration and information with the invention of Chuck. There are nearly 50 million smart speaker owners in the U.S. today1, with the two most popular devices being the Amazon Alexa and the Google Home Assistant, and Chuck Knows Beef is available as a “skill” on both of these popular smart speakers. People can also access Chuck Knows Beef through their mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer at the BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com or the vanity website ChuckKnowsBeef.com. There have been more than 13 million visits to the BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com since it relaunched in October 2017, and Chuck brings all of the beef knowledge from the website into these popular smart-speakers.

Who is the smart speaker consumer?

Why is this relevant?

Seventy percent of people agree that technical support would be helpful when shopping for beef with another 65 percent agreeing it would influence their purchasing decisions. 2Based on this research, Chuck was designed to fit consumer needs with instant access to recipes, cut and nutritional information and cooking tips – plus a whole lot more. If a user finds a recipe through Chuck, he can even text them the shopping list!

“Artificial Intelligence and its role in marketing are rapidly evolving every day, and the Beef Checkoff is on the cutting edge by investing in this technology to constantly meet changing consumer expectations,” said Season Solorio, Senior Executive Director, Brand Marketing & Communications, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, who manages the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” brand. “In March we will turn things up a notch with an exciting campaign that will be an integrated effort, including digital advertising, media relations, influencer engagement and supply chain activities, to bring more widespread awareness to Chuck.”

From artificial intelligence to virtual reality ranch tours, beef continues to embrace technology in new ways. Through the introduction of Chuck, the checkoff is enhancing consumers’ knowledge and experience with beef at the store and in the kitchen. Chuck also provides the opportunity to have a real-life focus group so that the Beef Checkoff can constantly understand what the consumer needs and wants in real-time and understand the nuances in how people talk about beef.

Quickly access Chuck at ChuckKnowsBeef.com, or enable Chuck Knows Beef with any Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant, and join the 500,000 consumers who have visited Chuck so far.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Survey says! The majority of beef producers are in favor of the Beef Checkoff program and have consistently supported it over time. In fact, according to a recent independent study, 80 percent say the checkoff drives demand for beef.

For more than 25 years, the checkoff has commissioned a third-party research firm to conduct an annual survey of beef and dairy producers nationwide to determine their awareness of the Beef Checkoff, as well as their sentiment and concerns about the program.

This year’s key survey findings include:

  • 80 percent say the Beef Checkoff drives demand for beef
  • 72 percent say they approve of the Beef Checkoff
  • 68 percent say the Beef Checkoff leads to greater profitability in their own operation

In January 2019, Luce Research conducted the survey by calling the cell phone and landline numbers of 1,200 beef and dairy producers nationwide. These producers were randomly chosen from a master list of 150,000 U.S. producers. Using 2012 Agriculture Census statistics, the research firm weighted the survey data by age, geography and type of operation to be proportionate to the number of beef and dairy farms in that region – resulting in the adjusted sample size of 1,200 producers.

To participate, responding producers had to indicate they managed an operation that included cattle. For a sample of 1,200, the maximum statistical margin of error (95 percent confidence level) is ± 2.8 percent around any one reported result. For those producers who said they were aware of the checkoff, the maximum margin of error is ± 2.9 percent.

According to the survey results, producers conclude that the checkoff is making a difference in the beef industry, and they understand its positive, global impact. Investing in areas such as research, promotion and producer communications are ways the checkoff keeps the industry growing and beef on dinner tables around the world.

“We’re pleased to learn that producers continue to see the value of the checkoff and support its efforts,” said Brian Malaer, co-chair of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board Investor Relations Working Group. “With 80 percent of producers saying the checkoff help drives demand for beef, it’s clear that they see the return on their investment and feel the checkoff is a necessary part of the beef industry. As 2019 continues, we will keep communicating the checkoff’s many successes so even more producers can better understand how their dollars are advancing the demand for beef.”

The funding for the Producer Attitude Survey initiative sits under the Producer Communications Authorization Request and is overseen by the Investor Relations Working Group and commissioned by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. The dollars come solely from the Beef Checkoff without input from contractors to ensure unbiased results. The checkoff will take the information gathered from this year’s survey and use it to develop authorization requests for the coming year.

“To ensure the Beef Checkoff‘s continued success, we must communicate the value it brings to the beef industry and the every-day beef producer,” Malaer said. “Their dollars support the industry. Their dollars make a difference. Their dollars are driving demand.”

More About Luce Research:

Luce Research is a multi-dimensional consumer and market research firm whose data-gathering technologies help organizations better understand their constituencies. Their expertise includes scientifically-driven consumer and market research, institutional insights, campaigns, large and small population polling, and custom-developed surveys.

Dan Hoffman, adjunct professor of market research at University of Denver, and contractor to Luce Research, explained why the annual survey is conducted via phone versus online polling.

“Online polling suffers from very low participation and can result in a skewed picture of the audience being surveyed,” said Hoffman. “These polls often garner emotional responses, not factual conversations. When looking at where and how the checkoff is viewed by producers, it is vitally important to use the most statistically weighted process to truly gauge these opinions.”

For more information about the Beef Checkoff and its programs, including promotion, research, foreign marketing, industry information, consumer information and safety, visit Beef Checkoff Program Areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Did you know that the volunteer board members responsible for making decisions about your checkoff dollars at both the state and national levels are checkoff-paying, beef farmers, ranchers and importers? This structure is designed to ensure that producers like you are responsible for directing, reviewing and approving expenditure of all checkoff dollars.

If you are interested in throwing your hat into the ring to be one of the 99 members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), then share your interest with a certified nominating organization to learn about being nominated for consideration by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to serve a three-year term. Nominating organizations represent beef and dairy producers in 37 states and three regions, based on total cattle numbers in each state. Importer appointments are drawn from nominations by importer associations.

“Serving on the Beef Board gives me the opportunity to have a voice – real input – in how our checkoff monies are invested,” explains CBB member Amelia Kent, Louisiana cow-calf producer.

“Given consumer concern about the safety of our food supply, it is critical for farmers and ranchers to tell our stories and interact with the consumer audience. If we don’t, someone else will tell our stories for us, and those stories could be laced with misinformation or their own agendas. It’s simply damaging to our industry and our product for us not to step up.”

“Serving on the Board provides a better understanding of how our checkoff monies are invested, insight to the results of those promotional efforts and the opportunity to shape further investments with the ambition of increasing beef demand,” said Kent.

New members joining the CBB will begin their three-year term in February 2019. View new and reappointed members here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Antibiotic resistance is directly related to how frequently we use them. However, as an industry, we cannot stop using antibiotics – they are extremely important. This is called the antibiotic resistance paradox. This topic is important to consumers, which encourages the beef community to be up-front and transparent about the science behind using antibiotics in beef production, as well as good husbandry efforts on farms and ranches. Your Beef Checkoff recently sponsored the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s (NIAA) 8th Annual Antibiotic Symposium where all sectors of the animal food production industry and partners in public human health continued the dialogue around the new and developing science of antibiotic use.

“Animal agriculture is clearly making progress in addressing antibiotic usage in the industry and providing key leadership around resistance from a One Health perspective,” said Dr. Nevil Speer, NIAA board chair and this year’s symposium forum moderator. “With respect to leadership, the need for open communication continues to exist to ensure that all stakeholders of the resistance issue are talking with one another. The symposium is one of the most important components of ensuring that occurs – especially given the cooperation with CDC [Center for Disease Control]. There continues to be a significant need for communication focused towards the general public around antimicrobial resistance. This may be more important than ever!”

“We have a responsibility of judicious antibiotic usage, but also, we have a responsibility to treat animals if they’re sick, just as physicians have a responsibility to treat children and adults when they become sick with a bacterial infection,” said Bob Smith, DVM with Veterinary Research and Consulting Services, LLC, a seven-veterinarian practice group that provides service to feedlot clients in nine states. “Whereas antibiotics are the foundation of medicine, agriculture and the food security, it provides the foundation of civilization itself.”

During the Antibiotic Symposium, Joan Ruskamp, chair of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, addressed how producers are adapting and responding to the changes in the marketplace and continuing to provide a wholesome and abundant food supply. “We are able to use less to do more because of technology. On our farm, we have antibiotic protocols in place and only use those with four- to 10-day withdraw times. The work environment on our farm is ‘do the right thing’ to produce our food. By taking care of our animals, we are taking care of people because we are providing food and helping people thrive. We need to take every chance we have to communicate this to consumers.”

Click here for additional videos from the 2018 Antibiotic Symposium.