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cheeseburger on plate at restaurant

Frequently Asked Questions

Recently, Burger King, the second-largest burger chain in the U.S., announced it would begin serving another version of the iconic Whopper using an all-vegetarian patty. Burger King’s adoption of this plant-based, alternative patty is a big move in the primarily beef-focused foodservice arena, providing consumers greater access to alternative proteins. What does this mean for the beef industry?

Well, Americans love beef, especially burgers. It’s a fact. Americans consume roughly 50 billion burgers a year, with the average American eating three hamburgers a week1. There is even a national day dedicated to the love of the hamburger. National Burger Day, a day of appreciation for hamburgers, fell on May 28th this year. In 2018, ground beef accounted for 40 percent of dollar sales and half of last year’s pound sales2. All of these facts confirm that beef is what consumers continue to love, buy and eat.

Still, more and more restaurants and stores are offering plant-based alternative proteins to give their consumers greater variety on their menus and their shelves. Many restaurants and food service businesses that have latched onto this trend. While the trend is still growing, it is important to note that meat alternatives only represent a fraction of pounds sold, registering at 0.1 percent share in 20183.

The main selling points for companies producing plant-based, alternative proteins revolve around the environment, nutrition and animal welfare. They contend plant-based proteins require fewer natural resources, including water and land, and emit fewer greenhouse gases when compared to the beef production system. Another view is based upon the common misconception that red meat is bad for the human diet. Lastly, these companies use emotional tactics to tell consumers that, by opting to eat plant-based proteins, they can keep animals from being slaughtered and consumed.

These selling points may attract a certain type of consumer. However, the Beef Checkoff has taken significant measures to bring beef to the consumer forefront and position it as one of the world’s most desirable proteins.

When it comes to sustainable production processes, the beef industry has moved forward in leaps and bounds. Producers are constantly looking for new ways to produce more beef with fewer resources. In fact, 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 19774. The checkoff-funded lifecycle assessment gives consumers and the industry a clear picture as to what beef sustainability looks like today.

When it comes to health, the Beef Checkoff works with dietitians and physicians regularly to educate them on the health benefits of including beef in an everyday diet. The checkoff-funded Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand serves as the consumer-facing resource dedicated to educating individuals through webinars, seminars, fact sheets, cooking lessons, nutrition research and more on the ways lean beef contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that consumers consider beef one of the best sources of protein5.

Ironically, meat eaters are the target audience for many of the companies promoting plant-based, alternative proteins. Their campaigns have centered around their products’ amazing similarity, texture and taste compared to beef. On April Fools’ Day, Burger King “fooled” some beef-loving restaurant goers into thinking they were eating the Whopper’s original beef patty when they were actually eating the newly introduced plant-based patty instead. The reaction was overwhelming, with many saying they couldn’t believe how alike the two options tasted.

“Beef has one ingredient—beef. While plant-based alternatives, consisting of dozens of ingredients, have demonstrated similarities to beef, it’s important that consumers understand exactly what they’re eating and where it came from,” states Janna Stubbs, Cattlemen’s Beef Board member from Alpine, Texas. “The beef industry has worked hard to be transparent and give consumers the high-quality beef they seek and trust to feed their families.”

The Beef Checkoff has dedicated valuable resources toward consumer and market research to determine how consumers think about beef and alternative proteins, as well as where they are spending their protein dollars. In 2019, annual projected beef consumption is more than 58 pounds per capita versus beef substitutes measuring in at a few ounces per capita6. Furthermore, the U.S. Retail Beef Demand Index has increased by almost 15 percent since 2012. This increase in demand is being driven by consumer beef expenditures, which reached an all-time high in 2018 of more than $105 billion7.

Consumer marketing is also a big priority. For consumers to continue buying beef, the Beef Checkoff must invest in initiatives that increase beef’s visibility and appeal. The Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand has created a series of social media ads that clearly position beef as one of the top proteins and address meat alternatives head on.

The Beef Checkoff also targets consumers who are actively searching for information on topics like beef sustainability—effectively disputing the claims made by companies producing plant-based alternatives—and driving them toward the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. website for accurate information.

The Beef Checkoff works to leverage resources in the most impactful areas so producers can be confident that consumers are purchasing their superior products. Listening to consumers and adapting to their purchasing decisions are key to the beef industry’s success. Much is still on the horizon when it comes to alternative proteins, but the Beef Checkoff will continue to identify ways to position beef as the number one protein choice amongst consumers and drive demand for beef.

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.”

cows with tractor and hay

Frequently Asked Questions

Good and Getting Better: Key Improvements Being Made by Cattle Industry

The Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review (CSR) is a Beef Checkoff-funded report highlighting the commitment cattle producers demonstrate in the areas of animal welfare, beef quality, sustainability, and community involvement. The CSR gathers data from an independent 2017 telephone survey of beef producers to deliver a comprehensive profile of the U.S. beef community today. The report and survey were coordinated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff program.
The CSR shows that improvements have been made in all four of the cattle industry areas studied. The report and information will be presented within a national news release to national media outlets, as well as sent to key national media by the NCBA communications team, as a Beef Checkoff contractor.

“We want consumers to know we aren’t just farmers and ranchers, but also animal caretakers, nutritionists, small business owners, environmentalists, and members of our communities,” said Joan Ruskamp, Cattlemen’s Beef Board chairman and co-owner of J & S Feedlot in Nebraska. “This report is a way to benchmark our progress, celebrate our successes and identify opportunities for improvement.”


A few brief, yet key takeaways from the survey include:

  • The well-being of cattle is the top priority for 95% of producers.
  • 97% of cattle farmers and ranchers believe producing safe beef is crucial to the future of the industry.
  • About 95% of producers say conservation of land is extremely important to them, while 86% manage their operations in a way that protects the quality of natural resources, including wildlife and biodiversity.
  • Over 90% of cattle operations are family owned, and 78% of farmers and ranchers say they intend to pass their operations on to future generations. In fact, 58% of current operations have been in the family for at least three generations.

“When consumers understand the level of care that goes into the production of their beef, they feel better about enjoying it,” said Ruskamp. “This report helps show that [producers’] attention to the needs of our animals, land, and relationships parallel the concern our customers have for the beef they eat.”

To view the full report, go here.


truck driving in pasture

Frequently Asked Questions

Press Release Via NCBA

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, has announced the winners of its prestigious 2018 Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards at the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

The National BQA Award recognizes outstanding beef, marketer and dairy producers that demonstrate animal care and handling principles as part of their day-to-day operations. A common trait among all contest entrants must be a strong desire to continually improve BQA on their operations while encouraging others to implement the comprehensive cattle management program. The awards focus on five categories, including Cow-Calf, Dairy, Feedyard, Marketer and Educator of the Year.

2018 BQA Cow-Calf Award

Bently Ranch, located in Minden, Nevada, is the recipient of the 2018 Cow-Calf BQA Award. The ranch has a focus of doing the right thing in all aspects of beef production. Bently Ranch takes on a relaxed and low-stress attitude with a commitment to proper animal care and handling. With a recent focus on selling direct to the consumer, the ranch has noticed a big difference in the quality of their cattle thanks to implementing BQA practices.


2018 BQA Dairy Award

Kraft Family Dairies, located in Fort Morgan, Colorado, is the winner of the 2018 BQA Dairy Award. Simply put: they care for their cows. By combining their passion with a focus on preventative health management, the farm showcases their commitment to BQA guidelines in every step of their dairy operation. What makes Kraft unique is its two-farm operation. One site houses healthy cattle. The other takes in animals that may need a little TLC. By using this two-site system, Kraft Family Dairies has drastically cut down on the number of cattle in the hospital.


2018 BQA Feedyard Award

The winner of the 2018 BQA Feedyard Award is BLAC-X Farms in Rock County, Minnesota. Between the two minds of the Bakken brothers, Jay and Peter, they share an extensive knowledge of the feedlot, cow-calf herd and crop operations. With a focus on education, they participate in several research projects and share their ideas on the best BQA practices with hundreds of others during tours of their operation.


2018 BQA Marketer Award

Central Livestock in South St. Paul, Minnesota, has been named the 2018 BQA Marketer Award winner. Their marketing practices encourage producers to focus on BQA vaccination standards by incentivizing vaccinations in the sale ring. Cattle that are up-to-date on vaccinations sell for higher prices. They also have step-by-step guides for producers to follow that highlight animal safety, ultimately yielding the best cattle.



2018 BQA Educator of the Year

Dr. Ron Gill is the winner of the 2018 BQA Educator of the Year award. In addition to his responsibilities as professor at Texas A&M University, Dr. Gill takes his lessons outside the classroom and into the field for collaborative, hands-on demonstrations through NCBA’s Stockmanship and Stewardship program. Not only an avid proponent of BQA practices, he’s also helped develop some of the BQA guidelines that many producers follow today.


Award winners are selected by a committee comprised of BQA certified representatives from universities, state beef councils, sponsors and affiliated groups, who assess nominations based on their demonstrated commitment to BQA practices, their service as leaders in the beef industry and their dedication to promoting the BQA message to grow consumer confidence.

Four National BQA Awards (Cow-Calf, Feedyard, Dairy and Marketer) are funded in part by the Beef Checkoff program with additional financial support provided by Cargill. The BQA Educator Award is funded in part by the Beef Checkoff program with additional financial support provided by Boehringer Ingelheim.

You can read more on each of the award winners’ operations at

Media can contact Kellie Wostrel, APR, (402) 818-1114, for a media kit including pre-written stories, videos and photos.