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Frequently Asked Questions

National Beef Quality Audit Helps the Beef Industry Measure, Analyze and Respond

Three decades ago, with consumer beef demand low, the beef industry needed the ability to remain competitive with other proteins. That desire is what initiated the landmark 1991 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA). The audit provided an honest snapshot of the beef industry and the needed improvements. The 1991 NBQA was revolutionary because it changed the industry’s system management to act and think like product manufacturers and improve the desirability and conformity of beef to restore consumer demand.

Now conducted every five years, the Beef Checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Audits have significantly influenced the cattle industry and how producers raise cattle. The NBQA ultimately advises the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program. BQA grows and changes with the audit data, and that data is disseminated to the producers who make production changes that address consumer needs and preferences. The NBQA helps ensure beef farmers and ranchers produce a product that consumers want to buy, improving bottom lines.

Audit Execution

To complete the NBQA, researchers and industry professionals execute three phases:

Phase 1: Individual Interviews – Face-to-face interviews with representatives of the different market sectors (packers, retailers, foodservice operators, further processors and government/trade organizations).

Phase 2: In-Plant Research – Visits to packing facilities to execute audits, starting from unloading to slaughter to the sales cooler, collecting information from the carcasses.

Phase 3: Strategy Session – A strategic workshop with researchers and industry leaders to evaluate the information, identify problem areas and set key industry objectives.

The NBQA is a labor-intensive, collaborative affair that includes professors, graduate students and industry professionals from 14 universities across the U.S. and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

2022 NBQA Results

Recently, the 2022 NBQA was released, which delivered many encouraging messages about beef’s improvement over the years while also identifying issues that need further attention.

“The 2022 NBQA showed how the beef industry is strong and resilient, with data clearly showing progress has been made in areas such as efficiency, the quality of beef produced, a lower incidence of carcass lesions and a better focus on food safety,” Trey Patterson, BQA Advisory Group chair said. “The data also shows that there are areas for improvement, such as minimizing bruising, better mobility scores in fed cattle and eliminating any foreign objects found in beef. The results also revealed the need for a continued focus on disease traceability and systems to improve animal health and well-being.”

Key Findings

  • When comparing 2016 and 2022 NBQAs, the largest improvement was overall increased efficiency across the beef supply chain.
  • Market sectors indicated their companies strive to increase their sustainability and work with the entire beef supply chain to do so.
  • Market segments no longer consider food safety as a purchasing criterion, but an expectation.
  • The entire industry felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, consumers chose beef, and the industry persevered to provide products.
  • The beef industry’s image improved within fed cattle market sectors.
  • Foreign materials continue to present a problem, but the industry is making strides to decrease incidence.
  • There was an increase in the frequency of Prime and Choice quality grades, while Select decreased drastically.
  • The industry is improving quality, but it is accompanied by an increase in carcass weight and fat thickness, as well as large increases in percentages of Yield Grade 4 and 5 carcasses.
  • Nearly 93% of transportation service providers interviewed were familiar with the Beef Quality Assurance Transportation (BQAT) program, and 91% are BQAT certified.
  • Nearly 92% of cattle received a mobility score of 1, with the animal walking easily and normally. That’s a decrease from 97% in 2016 and is attributed to larger cattle and longer transport times.

The NBQA remains an important measure for the beef industry as it strives to improve quality and consumer demand. All segments of beef production can utilize results from the 2022 NBQA to improve upon current management practices and implement innovative techniques.

View the full 2022 National Beef Quality Audit here. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Farmers, ranchers and veterinarians across the U.S. are finding their animal health practices under increasing scrutiny from consumers who are concerned about the impact of antibiotic practices in the cattle industry. Consumers continue to look for the “antibiotic-free” label when shopping for groceries.1 In fact, according to the most recent International Food Information Council (IFIC) Food & Health Survey, 25 percent of U.S. consumers say they regularly purchase products labeled “raised without antibiotics.” Yet, the same survey shows many consumers are concerned with animal welfare and environmental sustainability when buying foods.As industry stakeholders strive to produce the food consumers enjoy, the Beef Checkoff works to help bridge the gap, explaining to consumers how responsible antibiotic use positively affects sustainable, safe beef production and ensures the highest standards of animal care. The Beef Checkoff does this by facilitating educational and collaborative opportunities for beef producers and industry leaders to discuss antimicrobial stewardship and resistance.

One such opportunity was the 13th Annual National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) Antibiotics Symposium. Held November 7 – 9 in Atlanta, Georgia, this symposium gave animal health and human health experts the opportunity to share science‐based information and encourage an honest dialogue around a “One Health” solution. One Health recognizes human health is connected to both animal health and the environment.

At the symposium, attendees and participants received an industry report on the current state of antibiotic stewardship from producer to processor to grocer. Other presentations discussed the latest antimicrobial stewardship and resistance research, the multi-dimensional aspects of antibiotic stewardship and antimicrobial resistance (AMR,) regulatory updates, One Health collaborations and more. Speakers included:

  • Ken Opengart – Tyson Foods
  • Alex Rinkus – Health for Animals
  • Chris Gambino – The Breakthrough Institute
  • Terry Lehenbauer – University of California Davis
  • Collette Kaster – Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization
  • Andy Bishop – Cattlemen’s Beef Board
  • Chelsey Shivley – USDA APHIS
  • Catherine Rockwell – USDA FSIS
  • Susan Jennings – EPA
  • Karen Smith – Association of State & Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)
  • Cameron Bess, PhD – Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority (BARDA)

Kristy Arnold headhsotThis event is unique because it engages audiences across multiple industries and focuses, with producers at the forefront of this event actively participating in conversations. One such producer was Cattlemen’s Beef Board member Kristy Arnold from Screven, Georgia. As a third-generation owner and operator of her cow/calf operation, Arnold knows firsthand the need for responsible antibiotic use on the ranch.

“We, as the beef industry, are contributors to AMR, and producers must take a seat at the table where the conversations are happening,” Arnold said. “We must identify the problem, find the cause and discover what works to fix it.”
Many producers already practice antibiotic stewardship by following Beef Quality Assurance guidelines, but there is still room to grow and take an active role in the antibiotic conversation. “At the symposium, after getting all of the information and hearing speakers talk about how important antibiotic stewardship is to human and public health, it made it more a ‘here and now’ realization for me,” Arnold said.

By bringing diverse audiences together, the symposium helped members of the animal agriculture industry build valuable relationships with influential stakeholders who can advocate for responsible antibiotic use on the farm and in the veterinary clinic. “Beef producers are the ‘boots on the ground’ and must be informed and motivated to act to enhance stewardship, protect the environment and health of our animals,” Arnold said.

To further encourage beef producers to continue the antibiotic conversation, NIAA has Checkoff-funded Producer Toolkits and resources needed to proactively engage with audiences on antibiotic practices and usage. The content is intended to generate ideas and help producers find their voices to tell their food and agriculture stories.

To download the toolkit and get more antibiotic informational tools, visit:

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Consumers continue to look for the “antibiotic-free” label when shopping for groceries. 1In fact, according to the most recent International Food Information Council (IFIC) Food & Health Survey, 25 percent of U.S. consumers say they regularly purchase products labeled “raised without antibiotics.” Yet, the same survey shows a significant number of consumers are concerned with animal welfare and environmental sustainability when buying foods. Also indicated in the survey was that protein is the number one nutrient consumers seek. 2

Cultivating Change

Acknowledging these somewhat conflicting facts, how does the beef industry explain to consumers how responsible antibiotic use positively affects sustainable, safe beef production and ensures the highest standards of animal care? That’s where the Beef Checkoff comes in.

The Beef Checkoff funds multiple programs and initiatives that communicate the responsible use of antibiotics in beef production. They also give beef producers the tools and resources needed to face the ever-changing landscape of responsible antibiotic use. One way the Beef Checkoff accomplishes this is by collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

Cross-Industry Collaboration

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), on behalf of the Beef Checkoff, convenes animal agriculture experts and allies in collaborative settings. Here, they explore, discuss, learn and develop knowledge that fosters interdisciplinary cooperation for the improvement and continuous progress of animal agriculture.

“Collaboration across industries is increasingly important as issues arise, but it’s even more important to work together to prevent issues before they arise,” Cattlemen’s Beef Board Vice Chair Andy Bishop said. “Through collaboration, we can work together to achieve the same goals without overlapping or superseding our efforts.”

On the Farm Tours

Group of producers posing for cameraThe Beef Checkoff engages with CDC professionals by hosting farm tours and educational events. Recently, in partnership with the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association and Kentucky Pork Producers Association, 12 CDC doctors toured Kentucky ranches to see on-farm practices, animal preventative care and treatment protocols to understand the practical use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture. CDC professionals were able to see the University of Kentucky’s beef, swine, poultry and sheep units. They also toured Branch View Angus in Hustonville, Kentucky and learned how grains are processed at Burkmann Nutrition. The doctors walked away from the interactive event with new perspectives.

In their post-event surveys, attendees said they felt far more aware of the ways animal antibiotics may be used and who is involved in ensuring animals are getting the antibiotics they need—and not the antibiotics they don’t need. “I have learned a great deal about animal production that I feel has improved me as a scientist and a meat-consuming customer,” one attendee said.

Following the tour, 90 percent of attendees said they better understood how farmers, ranchers and veterinarians use antibiotics in their operations, and more than 80 percent said farmers, ranchers and veterinarians are responsible stewards of antibiotics. 3

“Visits like this allow us to not only tell our story but also give us the rare opportunity to meet face to face with medical professionals and scientists,” Bishop said. “The tour gave producers a voice and the chance to network with officials who make rules that will impact our operations. The ‘realness’ that this networking opportunity provides shows these officials that we work hard to provide a safe and nutritious product for consumers. For producers, it shows that the individuals making regulations are real people too, just like us.”

For Ryan Moorhouse, Cattlemen’s Beef Board secretary-treasurer, these types of events give the beef industry a steppingstone to connect with the regulation decision makers.

“By creating more transparency between the CDC officials and animal agriculture production, the voices who work for the government could advocate for us and dispel misinformation about what we do,” he said. “My hope is that we could work together to create regulations instead of having them handed down by folks who have no idea about antibiotic use in animal health management.”

Reflections and Takeaways

Farmers, ranchers, veterinarians and others in the animal agriculture industry used the CDC tour as an opportunity to tell their stories. Meanwhile, CDC professionals gained valuable access to ask questions and explain their research objectives.

“The benefit of these dialogues is incalculable,” Morgan Young, NIAA’s director of communications and outreach said. “The tour participants were incredibly gracious hosts and were open to telling their stories and engaging in a dialogue with people outside of animal agriculture. The CDC participants were very open to understanding what policies are in place and how we’re all working toward the same one-health goal.”

CDC attendees expressed their appreciation for the gracious tour hosts and the invaluable experience they enjoyed:

  • “It was so refreshing to get out and talk to people in the industry and better understand how our work impacts one another.”
  • “The visit was one of the most enjoyable work visits of my CDC career. I really appreciate the time taken to broaden (and correct, sometimes) my understanding of food animal production.”
  • “I have a renewed appreciation for everything that goes into food animal production and a different perspective of how we can work together in the future.”
  • “I learned so much from each stop on the itinerary and came away with a new appreciation for our food producers.”
  • “I have been so impressed by how digitalized the food animal production industries are and excited about the powerful trackback systems; how academic knowledge seamlessly transformed into the power of efficient production, improved animal wellness, and better disease prevention and forecasting; how different entities care about the antibiotic resistance issue and try their best to contribute to solve it.”

NIAA sees the future of responsible antibiotic use as shaped by consistent, effective communication of scientific collaboration, and the Beef Checkoff will support this effort throughout the current 2024 fiscal year. To learn more about the Checkoff’s industry information program and NIAA’s 2024 initiatives, visit,

Frequently Asked Questions

Beef Community Spokespeople Promote Beef to New Audiences and Address Myths

“Trailblazers” are known as pioneers who embrace the unknown and challenge the existing order. With their unwavering determination and fearless attitudes, trailblazers push boundaries and inspire others to follow in their footsteps. With that outlook in mind, the Beef Checkoff is taking beef advocacy to an extraordinary level through the Checkoff-funded Trailblazer program.

Developed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, through funding by the Beef Checkoff, the Trailblazer program is an extension of the Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program and acts as the next step in advanced advocacy training and subsequent outreach. With more than 20,000 graduates, the MBA program equips farmers, ranchers, service providers, consumers and all beef community members with the necessary tools and knowledge to become confident and influential advocates for the beef industry through free, self-guided online courses.

Experienced individuals from the growing pool of MBA graduates apply to be a part of the next tier, the distinguished Trailblazers group. This program sets itself apart by training a select few within the beef industry to become expert communicators, helping them excel in media interviews and understand how to build confidence in beef-related practices when talking to consumers. Throughout the year, Trailblazers receive advanced training from subject matter experts, learning how to effectively engage on various social media platforms, interact with the media and enhance their public speaking skills.

Trailblazers meet online and in-person to constantly improve and refine their skillsets when speaking about beef. Upon joining the program, Trailblazers serve as industry spokespeople and inform beef advocates at the local and state levels on advocacy, media and spokesperson best practices. After completing a competitive application process, only ten Trailblazers are accepted into the program yearly.


  • Tucker Brown, Texas
  • Colton Coffee, Montana
  • Sam Cossio, Washington
  • Allison Fender, California
  • Rocky Forseth, Montana
  • Macey Hurst, Missouri
  • Joe Lowe, Kentucky
  • Erin Perkins, New York
  • Paige Schmidt, Kansas
  • Ally Spears, Texas


  • Haley Ammann-Ekstrom, Minnesota
  • Kacy Atkinson, Wyoming
  • Jonathon Black, West Virginia
  • Brianna Buseman, Nebraska
  • Markie Hageman, California
  • Marya Haverkamp, Kansas
  • Natalie Jones, Nebraska
    Shaye Koester, Nebraska
  • Sebastian Mejia Turcios, California
  • Jaclyn Wilson, Nebraska

The beef industry faces numerous challenges, including misinformation and misconceptions. These advocates will combat these hurdles by being proactive and taking a well- informed approach to advocacy. All recognize the importance of effectively sharing the story of beef production, addressing consumer concerns and fostering trust and transparency within the industry to drive demand for beef.

Interested in the Masters of Beef advocacy and Trailblazers Programs? Visit, MBA.BeefLearningCenter.Org

Frequently Asked Questions

My family has been farming and ranching outside of Corinne, Utah, since 1900 – that’s 123 years. Today, JY Ferry & Son, Inc. is a farming, feeding, ranching, and wetlands/wildlife operation. My brother Ben, my son Joel and I jointly manage our land resources with a cooperative and sustainable approach. Holistic synergy is what we seek on a daily basis. We’ve always believed that the land itself is the greatest resource any farming or ranching operation has. And as a member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and co-chair of the Beef Checkoff’s Consumer Trust Committee, I know that consumers are very concerned with beef’s environmental impact. As a beef producer, I also know I must do my part to let those consumers know how much we care about our land, our animals and our environmental responsibility.

Our property is literally where agriculture, wetlands and wildlife habitat proactively intersect. We farm and graze our cattle on a 150,000-acre footprint. Our cattle feed on phragmites, a locally invasive wetlands plant. The grazing in wetlands helps manage the plant’s population and prevents it from crowding out other beneficial plant life that is so critical to wetland wildlife. The cows are eating these plants which are inedible to humans and turning them into high-quality beef. Furthermore, the grazing strategy brings the phragmites spread under control without the use of expensive chemical sprays.

We’ve also taken numerous measures to improve water efficiency throughout our operation. We do everything we can to be sustainable – something people who buy all their food at the supermarket don’t always have the opportunity to see. And I’m certainly not the only beef producer who takes these types of measures.

The Checkoff-funded Meat Demand Monitor surveys 2,000 people monthly on their meat preferences and views. Taste, freshness, price and safety remain consumers’ most important considerations when purchasing proteins. And while the climate-positive trend is a movement that beef producers like me know all too well, these are the true factors that consumers continue to find more important than beef’s environmental impact. Still, the Beef Checkoff is committed to providing education and correcting misinformation about beef and the environment while gaining consumers’ confidence.

The first step is investing in extensive, science-backed research. The Beef Checkoff continuously funds third-party, objective research projects that prove the beef industry’s environmental responsibility. Through this research, we can provide science-validated sustainability indicators that benchmark the industry’s current status and provide a path forward toward continuous improvement. By taking an objective, scientific approach, this program helps create a sustainable beef product for a growing world population while also building consumer confidence in beef.

From there, we try to stay ahead of issues that impact consumer perceptions through a two-pronged effort of education and outreach. Our ultimate goal is to connect and engage with people before false or misguided information about beef production practices spreads. Then, we can share what the facts that our research has uncovered. Here are just a few examples of what we’ve been doing to educate and inform others about beef production:

  • Developing educational units for middle and high schools: By connecting with young minds, the Checkoff can educate tomorrow’s beef consumers today. Educational units focus specifically on greenhouses gasses and cattle, as well as general beef production and genetics.
  • Hosting On The Farm STEM events: The Beef Checkoff funds annual educator immersion events designed to bring inner city teachers to real, working farms to learn about beef production. In 2022, the educators who participated in the tour shared their experiences with more than 70,000 urban students.
  • Taking part in New York City Climate Week: Beef was front and center in September 2022 during Climate Week, the largest global climate event. Checkoff-funded Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. hosted a webinar on beef being an ultimate climate-smart food and shared the truth behind emissions.
  • Collaborating with the Beef Expert Network: The 22 influencers who make up the Checkoff’s Beef Expert Network are all passionate about sharing beef’s story and connecting with their audiences to address misinformation surrounding beef.
  • Sharing information via digital campaigns: Checkoff-funded digital campaigns on Connect TV, YouTube, websites and social platforms encourage consumers to “rethink the ranch.” Real beef producers share their beef stories and how they care for their cattle and land.
  • Most cattle operations are far removed from the mainstreams of today’s society. We producers are most comfortable on our ranches and farms doing what we do best, supporting our livelihoods and our families as we feed the world. But as full-time environmentalists, we must speak up when it comes to topics like beef’s impact on land water and air. Unless we share our own true stories, others will control the narrative. First and foremost, we must take extreme care of our land and our cattle. Then, it’s our responsibility to tell others about our efforts. Learn more about facts about beef and the environment at

Frequently Asked Questions

On this episode of The Drive in Five, learn how the Beef Checkoff monitors and manages issues and tactics to defend beef production practices. Also, get an event recap from the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 NASCAR race in Daytona, Florida.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Explore the Beef Checkoff-funded, science-backed research illustrating how U.S. beef producers are leaders in sustainability.

U.S. vs. Global Emission Intensity

The U.S. has an emission intensity two to nine times lower than top beef production countries such as Australia, India and Brazil. The U.S. has had the lowest GHG emission intensity in the world since 1996.

The Emissions Intensity of the U.S. Beef Industry is:

  • Over 2x lower than Argentina
  • About2x lower than Australia
  • Nearly 3x lower than Brazil
  • Nearly 2x lower than Canada
  • About 9x lower than India

Cattle: The Ultimate Upcyclers

Every day, cattle graze and unknowingly turn natural resources like solar energy and pastureland into high-quality proteins and other invaluable products. They’re upcyclers that take otherwise useless materials, add nutritional and environmental value, and transform them into something more.

Approximately 29% of the land in the U.S. is pasture or rangeland that is too wet, rocky, steep, or arid to support cultivated agriculture.1 This land can support cattle for protein upcycling.

The Value of Upcycling

  1. Upcycling adds additional value to products that otherwise would’ve been wasted.
  2. Byproducts from biofuel and food production industries, such as distillers, grains and beet pulp, are digestible by cattle, reducing the volume of waste going to landfills.
  3. Properly managed cattle grazing can improve rangeland and wildlife habitats.
  4. As the global population grows, ruminant animals like beef cattle can help us make more food with less.
  5. More than 44% of an animal’s live weight transforms into other goods such as leather, cosmetics and pet food.

More with Less

U.S. farmers and ranchers produce 18% of the world’s beef with only 6% of the world’s cattle.2

U.S. Improvements in Beef Production

The U.S. beef industry increased the pounds of beef produced per head by 67.58% since 1961 (compared to 20193)

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Beef cattle only represented 2.3% of emissions in the U.S. in 2020.4

Corn Going to Grain-Finished Beef Cattle

  • 7% of total corn produced in the U.S. is fed to feedlot cattle.5
  • By comparison, 34.8% of corn acreage in the U.S. is used for producing ethanol.6
  • Corn acreage used to feed feedlot cattle is 0.2% of total U.S. land area, 1.4% of total U.S. cropland acres, and 7% of total U.S. harvested corn acres.7
  • The amount of U.S. land used to produce corn to feed grain-finished cattle is less than the size of the Houston Metro area.8

Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Checkoff-funded Meat Demand Monitor – which surveys 2,000 people monthly on their meat preferences and views – taste, freshness, price and safety remain consumers’ most important considerations when purchasing proteins. And while the climate-positive trend is a movement that beef producers know all too well, these are the true factors that continue to show more importance to consumers over stories of beef’s environmental impact. This is encouraging data, showing that, despite misinformation circling, environmental impact is not a significant enough driver to affect the majority of consumers’ purchasing decisions. Still, the Beef Checkoff is committed to dismissing and correcting those false claims while gaining consumers’ confidence through ongoing research and programs.


The Beef Checkoff focuses on a proactive messaging strategy to stay ahead of issues that impact consumer perceptions about the beef industry. Consumer education and outreach are at the forefront of these efforts. The goal is to connect and engage with consumers before false information takes root about beef production practices. Here’s a breakdown of some of the Checkoff’s proactive efforts to address misinformation about beef in the environment.

  • Middle and high school beef curriculum: By connecting with the young minds of schoolchildren, the Beef Checkoff can educate tomorrow’s beef consumers today. Educational units focus specifically on greenhouses gasses and cattle, in addition to general beef production and genetics.
  • On The Farm STEM events: The Beef Checkoff funds annual inner city educator immersion events designed to bring teachers to real farms to learn about beef production. In 2022, the educators who participated in the tour served a student population of more than 70,000 students.
  • New York City Climate Week: Beef was front and center in September 2022 during Climate Week, the largest global climate event. Checkoff-funded Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. hosted a webinar on beef being an ultimate climate-smart food and shared the truth behind emissions.
  • Beef Expert Network: The 22 influencers who make up the Checkoff’s Beef Expert Network are all passionate about sharing beef’s story and connecting with their audiences to address misinformation surrounding beef.
  • Digital Campaigns: Checkoff-funded digital campaigns hit Connect TV, YouTube, websites and social platforms, encouraging consumers to “rethink the ranch.” Real beef producers share their beef stories and how they care for their cattle and land.


Unearthing where this misinformation originates is where the Beef Checkoff-funded Digital Command Center comes in. Located in Denver, Colorado, the space looks like a military operations center combined with the TV section at an electronics retailer. Here, the Checkoff-funded Issues Management and Media Relations team actively monitors important television, online and social media conversations, honing in on issues threatening consumer confidence in beef. The Digital Command Center’s technology is highly sophisticated, running twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, actively monitoring more than 200 beef-related topics ranging from dietary guidelines to sustainability claims to meat substitutes and animal welfare.

Team members receive a notification when a beef topic hits a certain threshold, which could be the number of people it’s reached, the number of stories being circulated about a particular topic or other measures. This allows the team to react quickly, including outside of business hours.

If an article or new study features misinterpreted data that may place beef in a negative light, the team will initiate a reactive issues response. This includes working with third-party and in-house experts to issue a response with accurate fact- and science-based information. For example, suppose a popular mainstream publication publishes an article including incorrect data about the beef industry’s impact on greenhouse gases. In that case, the team will reach out to the reporter to clear up the misinformation and provide scientific resources to help them understand the facts.


These efforts are only successful when supported by extensive, science-backed research. The Beef Checkoff continuously invests in research projects that prove the beef industry’s environmental responsibility.

The Checkoff-funded Beef Sustainability Research program provides the industry with science-validated sustainability indicators that benchmark the industry’s current status and provide a path forward of continuous improvement. With an innovative scientific approach, this program helps create a sustainable beef product for a growing world population while also gaining consumer confidence in beef.

To see a repository of Checkoff-funded beef research, visit

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Dairy cattle are becoming a regular part of the mix in today’s beef marketing chain. With the evolving dairy climate, the practice of crossbreeding dairy cows with beef genetics is becoming common on dairies. As a result, between 2.5 million and 5 million beef x dairy cross calves will be born this year and likely to continue the same levels in 20231.

Dairy steers have been fed for beef production for years, so the trend is not significantly changing the number of calves and feeders in the feedyard, but what is changing is the meat quality. For dairy producers, they are seeing higher market value for those calves, and consumers both here and abroad get more Choice and Prime-graded beef products.

Dairy cattle still remain a significant contributor to the U.S. beef supply. In addition to dairy and beef crossbreds, dairy finished steers, cull cows and finished heifers all produce beef for the total supply. Here’s the percentage contribution of each animal type to the entire U.S. commercial beef supply2.

  • Finished dairy steers contribute 12.6 percent
  • Cull dairy cows contribute 7 percent
  • Finished dairy steers contribute 1.5 percent

Since 2002, the percentage of dairy beef contribution to the total U.S. beef supply has ranged from 18 to 24 percent2.

Both the beef and dairy industries work together to create a successful beef marketplace. All dairy producers selling cattle and calves pay to the Beef Checkoff a $1-per-head. Their contribution helps further beef promotion, research, education and information, helping to drive demand for beef.

Frequently Asked Questions

Today, more than ever before, consumers care about where their food comes from. They want to know about its environmental impact. They worry about whether livestock animals are treated humanely. They want to know if their food is nutritious and safe to eat. And they will change their eating – and purchasing – habits based on all those factors.

As co-chair of the beef checkoff’s Consumer Trust Committee, I’ve seen and heard these consumer concerns firsthand. The topic of sustainability is changing how all industries do business and communicate with their customers, and the beef industry is no exception. It can be difficult for us as producers to wrap our heads around the fact that most consumers never visit a beef ranch in person. They don’t always see the care we put into raising beef. While we have faith in the wholesomeness of our product and how we raise it, telling our story to consumers has never been more important. But, before we can do that, we must know what we’re facing.

That’s why, in the spring of 2021, the beef checkoff conducted extensive market research to fully understand consumer perceptions of how beef producers care for the land and what key topics would resonate most with that audience.
Here’s what we found out:

  • About 50% of consumers say they care about beef’s impact on the land and environment. However, they still cite taste, safety, appearance and price as more important considerations when making meal choices.
  • Almost half of consumers have a positive perception of beef production. Unfortunately, they still perceive the beef industry to be less sustainable than other food industries.
  • Animal welfare, by far, was the most important topic to address with consumers when it comes to beef and how cattle are raised.

After taking those survey results into consideration, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. launched a beef checkoff-funded campaign in 2021 called “Rethink the Ranch.” This campaign introduced the public to beef producers who make science-driven decisions that will keep their herds, environment and businesses healthy enough to pass on to the next generation. The campaign’s goal was to increase consumer confidence in beef and beef production by inviting consumers to learn more about how beef producers care for the land, their animals and their local communities.

Rethink the Ranch came to life across YouTube, social media platforms, influencer efforts, radio, ConnectTV and more. Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner developed and disseminated a variety of content, showing how dedicated beef producers are to a vital and reliable industry:

  • A special Rethink the Ranch webpage featured an interactive map of all 50 U.S. states, each complete with state-specific beef production stories told through the lens of beef families.
  • Short video advertisements on YouTube and ConnectTV showed how beef producers have been doing their part to lower emissions and find more efficiencies. Examples include: What Goes Around, Better Than Ever, We See Beef and A Prosperous Future for Everyone.
  • Educational digital and radio ads about how beef producers implement land-saving, wildlife-preserving and award-winning environmental efforts hit social media and the web. These ads were also featured on ESPN networks (ESPN2, SEC and ESPNU) as well as on Spotify and Sirius XM.

These efforts actively engaged consumers by providing in-depth content and rancher stories. Nearly 97 million people saw Rethink the Ranch content, and its videos were viewed almost 60 million times. On social media platforms, content generated approximately 67,000 comments, reactions and shares. The Rethink the Ranch page on Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. website was viewed more than 80,000 times, and the campaign’s audio ads were heard nearly 16 million times. Obviously, this campaign reached a lot of people with the truth about how responsibly beef is raised.

Building off of last year’s success, a second campaign titled “Raised & Grown” launched this past spring. This campaign addresses the very real concerns consumers have about how cattle are raised. It focuses on increasing consumer awareness of how beef farmers and ranchers across the U.S. raise beef safely, humanely and sustainably. Some of the producers that the campaign spotlights include Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) recipients and Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) award winners. It’s all part of the checkoff’s ongoing efforts to tell beef’s real story to the many people who want to feel better about their food choices.

“Sustainability” and “animal welfare” are just words. We need to understand they aren’t concepts that are going away soon, nor should they. They’ve been an integral element of our cattle operations for generations. Back in the old days, we called them “stewardship” and “animal husbandry.” Regardless, it’s important we all do our best to minimize our environmental impact. The entire beef industry needs to share the stories of our successes.

As we head into the second half of 2022, the Consumer Trust Committee and beef checkoff contractors are working to communicate the dedication of beef producers. We need to keep fulfilling consumer expectations of delicious, and yes, sustainable, beef.

Learn more about how Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. is communicating responsible beef production practices at,