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Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve never seen anything like this current beef situation; actually, in our lifetimes, we have never seen an economic situation like this that’s affected every industry, including ours. All aspects of the economy are reeling, and yet beef producers continue to be a strong, resilient breed who weather what life throws at them. Still, in the current environment, it is easy to get frustrated, to want to point fingers and lay blame, or to just be downright angry at the situation itself. We understand that.

With frustration often comes misunderstanding. There has been more and more misinformation floating around about the Beef Checkoff in recent weeks as producers seek answers to questions about the state of our industry.  But remember, while the Beef Checkoff does so many great things, it can’t do everything.  It is important to remember that we are built on a law that squarely focuses our programs on beef promotion, research, and education to drive consumer demand.  No lobbying.  No stance on possible political actions or laws. No backroom dealings. Nothing to hide.

We want to have transparent, open, and honest conversations about the way we operate. We welcome questions, and we have heard our share of those in recent weeks. We’re always working to find ways to clearly communicate with producers about the Beef Checkoff’s mission and programs – including where your dollars are spent – with information that is both transparent and simple to find. Here’s some key information about the Beef Checkoff and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board that may help you better understand how our programs work.

Answers to the Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about the Beef Checkoff:

1. Who sits on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board?

The Beef Checkoff was first organized and built by fellow producers, and the law reflects their desire to have a program led by cattlemen and women from around the country. The Cattlemen’s Beef Board consists of 99 board members, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, representing nearly every state in the country. By law, both producers and importers pay into the checkoff, and are therefore represented on the board. The number of board members from each state is determined by the cattle population there, and importers are represented by a cattle equivalent of the beef imported. Currently the CBB has 92 beef producers (cow/calf, feeders, stockers, veal, and dairy) and 7 importers. There are no packer representatives on the CBB. Our CBB officer team is elected annually by their peers, and they are producers from all over the country. Meet our current CBB members

2. How do Beef Checkoff funds get distributed?

By law, only beef industry governed organizations who have been in existence for more than two years may apply for Beef Checkoff funding. We call these organizations “checkoff contractors”, and they must “apply” for checkoff funds annually through proposals called Authorization Requests.  These requests are vetted through large, producer-led committees throughout the year. The Beef Promotion Operating Committee, a 20-member producer body, ultimately makes the funding decisions for contractors every September for the following fiscal year. Again, no checkoff dollars can be used for lobbying or influencing politics. Contractors to the Beef Checkoff are reimbursed for their work on a cost-recovery basis after a full review of their expenses through the internal financial controls at the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. This is watched VERY carefully. Learn more about our checkoff contractors and their requests.

3. What specific projects are currently being funded with Beef Checkoff dollars?

We understand producers want to know specifics about the programs and projects being funded with their checkoff dollars. We created The Drive, an email, print and online information source for producers about every aspect of the checkoff. Sign up for your complimentary subscription to The Drive. In addition, follow the Beef Checkoff on Facebook and Twitter, where we share timely updates, too.

4. Where can I find the annual audited financials of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board

We are required by law to provide our annual audited financials to the public. To reach as many producers as possible, these documents live on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board website. It is important to note that every fall, an independent, outside auditing firm thoroughly reviews all financials of the CBB / Beef Checkoff. The contract for this firm is renewed each year, voted on by producers on the Budget and Audit Committee. Read the annual audited financials.

5. How can a producer get involved with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board?

Please join us! The Cattlemen’s Beef Board meetings are open to every producer and we encourage your participation. While some meetings are the full 99-member board, others are smaller committees and groups. Find specific information on upcoming in-person and teleconference meetings.

While we continue to promote beef to consumers, we are also here to provide transparent information to you, our stakeholders. We invite you to visit to find all the information listed in this column, plus frequently asked questions, member directories, annual reports, contractor information, and so much more. If you cannot find the answers to your questions there, give us a call or send us an email. We are a program built from producers, and we remain dedicated to providing transparent, open, and honest communication with you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cattle producers Jared Brackett, Hugh Sanburg and Norman Voyles, Jr. are the new leaders of the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB). Elected by their fellow CBB members during the Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio on February 7, 2020, this officer team is responsible for guiding the national Beef Checkoff throughout 2020.

Brackett, the 2019 Vice Chair, will now serve as the CBB’s Chair, while Sanburg will transition from his role as the 2019 Secretary-Treasurer to become the 2020 Vice Chair. Voyles is the newest member of the officer team, taking on Sanburg’s former responsibilities as Secretary – Treasurer.

2020 Chairman Jared Brackett is a fifth-generation cow/calf producer from Filer, Idaho. Brackett is a Texas A & M alumni and diehard Aggie fan with a degree in agriculture economics. A past president of the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association, Brackett continues to serve on a number of other livestock committees and boards in addition to his responsibilities with the Beef Checkoff.

“The beef industry has been a part of my family’s livelihood for decades,” Brackett said. “While there’s no doubt that our industry has its own unique set of challenges, I believe that by working together, we can enact positive change that will continue to drive beef demand worldwide. During my tenure as the CBB’s Chair, I plan to collaborate with our officer team and the entire board to encourage checkoff advocacy and find new ways to move our industry forward.”

Vice Chair Hugh Sanburg hails from Eckert, Colo., where he and his brother are managing partners of their primarily horned Hereford cow-calf operation, accompanied by a Registered Hereford operation to complement the commercial herd. Sanburg graduated from Colorado School of Mines with a degree in mining engineering in 1983 before moving back to the home ranch in western Colorado. For the past 30-plus years, Sanburg has been an active member of the Colorado Farm Bureau serving on various boards. He is also a member of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and serves as chairman of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable.

Secretary-Treasurer Norman Voyles, Jr. owns and operates a seventh-generation grain and livestock farm near Martinsville, Ind. with his brother Jim and son Kyle. Voyles received a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Purdue University and a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition from the University of Nebraska. Voyles is a member of the Morgan County (Ind.) Beef Cattle Association and the Indiana Cattlemen’s Association. He’s a past member of the Farm Service Agency board of directors and the Morgan County Fair board.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated and experienced group leading the CBB throughout the coming year,” said Greg Hanes, CEO of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. “Not only are they cattle producers themselves, but they’ve also worked diligently on the beef industry’s behalf for many years. Jared, Hugh and Norman are fully aware of the challenges producers currently face, and they have what it takes to answer those challenges while also finding new opportunities. I have no doubt their leadership will help the Beef Checkoff achieve great success in 2020.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Beef exports and imports are certainly a challenging topic to tackle for American cattle farmers and ranchers, but are an integral part of our beef industry here in the United States.

At first glance the idea of importing foreign beef into the U.S. may strike cattlemen and women here as a curious practice.  If we grow arguably the best beef in the world in this country, why bring in more? The reason lies in the types of beef we Americans love to eat – mainly steaks and ground beef.  In fact, CattleFax estimates that over 51% of the beef consumed in the United States is ground beef.

Steaks are high-demand, high-value cuts and consumers are willing to pay higher prices for them.  This is great because it brings more value to the cutout.  But American consumers also love hamburgers, and most of those are consumed at fast food restaurants at low prices.  Since American farmers and ranchers are producing more Prime and Choice-graded beef these days, the value of the non-steak cuts, due to global demand, are higher than the value of hamburger. So rather than grind them into burgers, we can export them for a premium.

However, in order to meet that domestic demand for inexpensive fast food hamburgers we need to import beef.  Despite what you might visualize imported beef to be, most of the beef we bring into the U.S. is lean trim, not muscle cuts for sale at retail.  In conversations I’ve had with industry experts, most estimate that at least 90% of our imports are inexpensive lean trim or manufacturing beef that is then ground with fat (something we produce but consumers don’t buy outright) from our corn-fed animals to produce all those fast food hamburgers at cheap prices for hungry American consumers.

At the same time, we export other beef cuts (which could have been ground) and variety meats (which we don’t like to eat here) to other markets around the world.  Those markets have a high demand for those cuts, so we can then receive top dollar back for those items.  For example, short plate could be ground and get about $1.50 per pound here, but as a high demand item in Japan, they will pay double that price per pound.  Assuming each short plate weighs 15 pounds, USMEF estimates that one item is adding about $22.50 per head of value.  Tongues are another great example.  No one I know around here grills them up on the weekend! Demand for those are low, only fetching about $1.00 per pound here in the United States.  But in Japan, every person I know loves to grill tongue, so they pay more than $5.50/pound there.  That adds another $13.00 per head.

This happens with other cuts in other countries as well, helping to add value – especially to low demand items in the U.S.According to CattleFax, the amount of beef we imported compared to the amount of beef we exported last year is expected to be about the same (final 2019 figures will be released in February).However, and this is very key, the value of our exported beef is estimated to be about $1.3 billion higher.

In a nutshell, we are meeting the desires of consumers with the beef they want to purchase, wherever they are in the world.  The global competition for these cuts helps us get the best prices possible and boosts demand for our cattle.

Next time we’ll discuss the role the Beef Checkoff plays in imports and exports.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dairy cattle operations contribute significantly to the beef industry, making up 21 percent of the total U.S. beef supply in 20181 and representing approximately 25 percent of Beef Checkoff assessments. To underscore the important relationship between the checkoff and the dairy sector, Beef Checkoff representatives traveled to the dairy industry’s joint annual meeting—organized by the National Milk Producers Federation with the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and the United Dairy Industry Association—in New Orleans, November 4-6, to engage with dairy producers, educate them on how Beef Checkoff dollars are spent and gain their thoughts on checkoff programs and activities.

As dairy producers also pay into the Beef Checkoff for their beef cattle, it is important for the checkoff to be a part of these industry events. Of the 800-plus producers and industry professionals in attendance, more than half visited the Beef Checkoff booth where they were able to hear checkoff updates, ask questions and subscribe to The Drive.

Every fall, dairy producers, member cooperatives, Young Cooperators (YCs), industry representatives, staff and others from all over the country arrive for three days of speeches, reports, banquets, general sessions, town hall meetings and award ceremonies. Taking place in a different U.S. city each year, the annual meeting represents an opportunity for the dairy industry stakeholders to get together and share their common accomplishments and challenges, as well as discuss the best route for the industry’s future.

Throughout the course of the event, producers noted feeling pressure as milk demand declines, but with that, they are thankful the Beef Checkoff is supporting them through different revenue streams. Many said they are cross-breeding their heifers with other strong beef breeds to earn better premiums when the cattle eventually go to beef processing.

“It is great to see the Beef Checkoff engaging with dairy producers,” said Melvin Mederios, California dairy farmer and Cattlemen’s Beef Board Member. “As a whole, I think most producers are really pleased with the results coming out of checkoff-funded programs. The goal is to drive beef demand, and we are seeing dairy producers adjust their operations to capitalize on that demand.”

Attending events such as this to gain producer insights and feedback is a top priority for the Beef Checkoff. In order for the checkoff to remain effective, it is imperative producers understand the checkoff programs that are in place and how they are helping drive demand for beef. Producer thoughts and feedback directly impact future checkoff programs and initiatives, and these events create a great opportunity to foster relationships and encourage dialogue between the national program and the everyday beef farmer.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Beef Checkoff was designed by producers, for producers, to build value by focusing on key areas of research and promotion to drive demand for our beef around the world.  But who decides where checkoff dollars are best utilized?

The decision-making works with one simple purpose in mind – producers and importers making decisions to fund programs and activities that enhance their bottom lines. As it should be – it’s only right that those with skin in the game are the ones who make the funding decisions.

Simply Producer-Driven

As I described last month in “The Reality of the Beef Checkoff,” there are layers of processes and procedures in place to ensure that decisions are producer-driven at both a local and national level and that checkoff dollars are invested according to strict and specific parameters. This decision-making is mandated through the Beef Promotion and Research Act, and USDA has been delegated authority by Congress to ensure this happens.

Producer and importer representation and involvement are at the heart of the Beef Checkoff. It is through joint committee efforts between the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and the Federation of State Beef Councils that producers can formally have their say in how Beef Checkoff dollars are invested each year.

Certified beef industry organizations nominate individual beef producers and importers to the Secretary of Agriculture for appointment to the CBB. The Secretary then selects individuals from those nominations, with the number of producers in each state determined by the cattle numbers in their state. In 2020, there will be 99 members of the CBB Board. Those members have the opportunity to serve on CBB checkoff committees, CBB administrative committees, the evaluation advisory committee, as well as the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC).

One of the most important roles for CBB Board members is to participate on CBB checkoff committees, which are comprised of 20 CBB members and 20 members of the Federation of State Beef Councils. These committees are created to match up with key goals that were determined by the industry Long Range Plan (LRP). These committees are Export Growth, Consumer Trust, Innovation, Safety and Nutrition and Health. Over several meetings throughout the year, qualified contractors present preliminary projects and ideas (Authorization Requests) to these checkoff committees, who then score each of the projects, provide comments and feedback, and request revisions to ensure the projects are as efficient and beneficial to the industry as possible. The updated projects and the committee feedback are then submitted, along with other evaluation results, to the BPOC.

BPOC members all go through an intense screening and interview process by fellow producers and importers before they are appointed. It is a very competitive process, which is conducted each year, with many more applicants than seats. Each September, the BPOC (comprised of 10 CBB members and 10 members of the Federation of State Beef Councils) reviews and hears presentations on all the Authorization Requests (ARs) by the qualified contractors.

Total amounts requested by the contractors are typically much higher than the available funds, so the BPOC must determine which projects to fund (or not to fund). This September, for example, the BPCO reviewed nearly $51 million in funding requests and allocated about $40.9 million into programs of beef promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications for fiscal year 2020.

A two-thirds majority is required to approve any project, so those projects which appear to provide the best return to the industry are approved for funding. This proposed budgeting plan is then submitted to the full board for approval. If approved by the full board, the budget, ARs and contracts are finally submitted to USDA for approval.


It’s a well-defined, layered and structured process, full of checks and balances, all of it geared toward ensuring that your voices are heard, and that cattlemen and women benefit from the work that is done with Beef Checkoff dollars.

This decision-making process fosters collaboration among stakeholders in the industry, ensuring that all decisions are made with strong rationale.

For many, the best place to get involved is by attending CBB and qualified state beef council meetings.  Meetings are open to the public, and all are encouraged to attend. To become a member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, a producer should work with a certified nominating organization in their specific state, region, or unit.

Producer-driven. As it should be. When it comes to the Beef Checkoff, those with skin in the game make the investment decisions and benefit from those investments.



Frequently Asked Questions

The return on investment (ROI) analysis, independently conducted by Dr. Harry M. Kaiser of Cornell University in June, shows the promotional efforts by the Beef Checkoff during the five-year period from 2014 through 2018 were highly effective and positive for the beef industry. Overall, every dollar invested in Beef Checkoff activities returned $11.91 to the beef industry, driving demand.

During the five-year review period, all Beef Checkoff promotion and research activities increased total domestic beef demand by 12.8 billion pounds. In other words, had there been no Beef Checkoff activities during that time, domestic beef demand would have been 14.3 percent lower. As for foreign demand, results indicated that if there had been no foreign market development efforts by the Beef Checkoff, U.S. beef export demand would have been 5.5 percent lower in the eight foreign markets studied within the analysis.

The Beef Checkoff expenditures align within these nine areas of focus: general beef advertising, foreign market development, industry information, new product and culinary development, product enhancement research, channels marketing, beef safety research, nutritional research and public relations. Within those categories, advertising receives the most funding, followed closely by foreign market development, to ensure beef is at the forefront of consumers’ minds and helps grow U.S. beef demand around the world.

Every five years an outside research group conducts an ROI analysis to assess the program’s impact within the beef industry and to safeguard the effective and efficient use of producer dollars.

Frequently Asked Questions

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develops the ability to survive exposure to antibiotics, making it difficult or impossible to treat infections in people or animals. It is a growing concern amongst society today, with many fearing a “post-antibiotic era” where common infections become life threatening. Locations that frequently use antibiotics like hospitals, long-term care facilities, feedlots and crop production areas have been criticized for the overuse of antibiotics, resulting in less-effective treatments. However, even with this skepticism, it is unknown how much each location contributes to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 1

Antibiotics play a critical role in the beef industry, safeguarding health and promoting high-quality beef. The beef industry has taken measures to practice the judicious use of antibiotics to dramatically decrease the potential risk of developing antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported domestic sales and distribution of medically important antibiotics for use in livestock has decreased 43 percent since 2015. 2

The checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program now contains producer guidelines for antibiotic use, which were developed by cattle producers in collaboration with animal health experts. From administration practices to record keeping, these are tactics the beef industry is showcasing every day in order to produce the high-quality beef consumers depend on.

In 2016, the Beef Checkoff funded research into antibiotic resistance, which continues to be the largest study published to date examining the ecology of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the beef production system, using shotgun metagenomics, a way to sequence thousands of organisms in parallel. This unique study followed the same groups of cattle from feedlot entry through the harvest process to market-ready beef products. The purpose of the study was to help identify if at certain times in the supply process more resistance genes were prevalent. This is the first study of its kind, and the checkoff will continue to be involved in this important industry issue.

In order to continue to stay up to date on the use of antibiotics in food animals, the Beef Checkoff helped sponsor the 9th Annual Antibiotic Symposium. The event was held in Ames, Iowa on October 15-17th. The symposium discussed scientific updates on antimicrobial resistance, how research technology and innovation continue to impact that growing knowledge and how to better communicate to consumers the importance of antibiotic use for livestock health.

Frequently Asked Questions

In the few months since I took the helm as CEO of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) – the governing and administrative organization of the Beef Checkoff – there appears to be many misperceptions, false rumors, and misinformation about how the checkoff works and is administered.  Let’s look at its history, what the Beef Checkoff can and cannot do, as well as the processes and procedures we have in place to continue to be strong stewards of your checkoff dollars.


The Beef Checkoff was created through the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 as part of the Farm Bill.  It was initiated as an effort driven by producers who saw an important need for more promotion and research to stave off falling beef demand in the late 1970s / 1980s and was designed to be producer driven at both a local and national level.  Immediately following its passing, the Beef Promotion and Research Order was created, outlining the detailed rules for governance over the program, funding distribution, contractor requirements, etc.  The areas where checkoff funding can be used are clearly defined:  promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, and producer communications.  Conversely, lobbying or “influencing governmental action or policy” is also clearly prohibited.

Within 22 months, a referendum was conducted among producers throughout the U.S. to vote on the continuation of the program – which was passed by 79% of farmers and ranchers.  The Beef Checkoff as we know it came life in 1988.  Copies of both “The Act and Order” are available online at, or you can contact our office and we can ensure you get a copy.


The Act and The Order is our rulebook – set in law – that we must follow every day.  To ensure all aspects of this law are followed, the USDA is delegated authority by Congress to oversee the Beef Checkoff Program.  As part of its oversight responsibilities, USDA reviews and approves our plans, projects, budgets, contracts, processes and procedures, and keeps a watchful eye over our financials, our board, our communications, and our operations.  In fact, the Secretary of Agriculture himself appoints all 99 CBB board members, which includes both domestic producers and importers, a process outside of our purview.


The Act and The Order outlines additional specifics about the governance supporting your checkoff dollars.  As noted, they outline the type of activities that can/cannot be funded; define that all efforts must be producer-driven; that the CBB board members must be producers and importers who serve on the national board in a voluntary capacity for 3-year terms; that no member shall serve more than two consecutive terms; and that the number of board members are  based on the cattle inventory of each state.


Another piece outlined by The Act and The Order is the Beef Promotion Operating Committee.  This important group of 20 producers and importers is created by appointed positions from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (10 members) and the Federation of State Beef Councils (10 members).  This committee oversees the distribution each year of nearly $40 million of national Beef Checkoff dollars to beef industry contractors to do the work outlined in The Act and The Order.  Funding decisions must be made together by both national and state-level decision-makers, with great consideration to the balance between the national and regional needs of producers.  No funding decision can be made without approval from at least two thirds, or 14 of the Operating Committee members, so neither the CBB nor the Federation can dictate where funding goes.  As such, programs must show great benefit to the industry as a whole to get approved.


The Beef Checkoff currently partners with eight national non-profit, beef industry-governed organizations we call contractors.  All contractors are vetted, audited, and reviewed regularly by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.  Each contractor must meet specific criteria to receive Beef Checkoff funding, a process that can take up to a year to facilitate.  In fact, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association just became a new contractor this year.

The Act and The Order states that contractors to the checkoff be national non-profit industry-governed organizations that are governed by a board of directors representing the beef industry, and have been active and ongoing for at least two years.  All contractors work on a cost-recovery basis, meaning they must do the work outlined in their funding request and then seek reimbursement for their costs.  This allows for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board to have direct oversight of expenses that use checkoff funds.  If expenses are submitted that do not meet The Act and The Order, they are not reimbursed.  Thus, the checkoff does not pay for anything it should not.  In addition, if a contractor has a lobbying arm, they must prove they have an accounting “firewall” between their checkoff and lobbying dollars.  The Cattlemen’s Beef Board works closely with these organizations so that checkoff dollars aren’t used outside of the scope of the Act and Order.

Our eight contracting organizations for Fiscal Year 2020 (Oct. 2019 – Sept. 2020):

  • American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture
  • Cattlemen’s Beef Board
  • Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education
  • Meat Import Council of America
  • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
  • National Livestock Producers Association
  • North American Meat Institute
  • United States Cattlemen’s Association

In addition, our contractors work with four subcontracting organizations:

  • Kansas State University
  • North East Beef Promotion Initiative
  • National Institute for Animal Agriculture
  • United States Meat Export Federation

The Beef Checkoff plays an extremely important role in providing education and driving demand for our beef.  Competition is fierce among proteins in the United States and global markets now, so we are proud of our contractors and the work they do every day to ensure beef continues to be the number one protein to consumers everywhere.  We have small contractors and large ones; we have contractors with very targeted audiences, and those who reach large swaths of the population.  Whether building a promotional campaign, researching nutrition and health, championing handling and safety, or engaging consumers, together they each play an important role in driving beef demand, both here in the United States as well in the international markets.

Visit for more information on the Beef Checkoff, Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Qualified State Beef Councils, and Beef Checkoff contractors.

consumers at sturgis rally

Frequently Asked Questions

On August 8, during the 79th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) hosted two separate events—one highlighting SDBIC’s consumer-focused beef promotion competition the “Sturgis® Beef Throw Down!” and the second educating beef producers on the importance of promoting beef in unique ways.

Earlier in the day at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, celebrity chef Justin Warner presented the award for the winning dish of the “Sturgis® Beef Throw Down!”, a competition among 10 participating restaurants throughout the Black Hills region. Each restaurant created a new beef dish that was judged by Warner and a producer panel. The winner was Chef Braun’s Steak Diane sandwich available at the Alpine Inn located in Hill City, SD.

Area producers gathered later that evening at the Mt. Rushmore Angus Ranch near Hermosa, South Dakota, to learn about the efforts the Beef Checkoff and SDBIC are making to drive beef demand. Greg Hanes, CEO of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), was in attendance to share his vision for the Beef Checkoff and answer producer questions about the program and its initiatives. During the evening’s event Warner demonstrated the different ways he is cooking beef to widen its appeal to consumers.

“Both events today showcased the broad impact of the Beef Checkoff,” says Hanes. “Earlier in the day, we were able to see how the South Dakota Beef Industry Council is marketing beef to consumers. Tonight, we are able to come together, celebrate the success of many checkoff programs at the state and national levels and discuss how we can continue to drive demand for beef.”

The Beef Checkoff is a producer-driven program that relies on producer input in order to remain effective.

“Today’s events allowed us to showcase our efforts that are resonating positively with consumers in this state and give South Dakota producers the chance to have their voices heard,” says Suzanne Geppert, executive director SDBIC. “This positive engagement is important for the Beef Checkoff and the entire beef industry.”

farmer carrying bag over shoulder

Frequently Asked Questions

From July 29th to 31st, cattlemen and women from across the country gathered at the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting to discuss current issues and develop programs and initiatives important to the beef industry. Contractors to the Beef Checkoff presented their 2020 authorization requests to their respective program committees, receiving valuable feedback that will help them further improve the Beef Checkoff’s positive impact. The Beef Promotion Operating Committee will review these authorization requests, and in September, the committee will make funding recommendations on Beef Checkoff investments and priorities for the 2020 fiscal year. The annual checkoff budget will then be approved by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Throughout the event, cattle producers attended various interactive sessions and meetings centered around Beef Checkoff efforts and other industry-related topics. A major highlight was an industry update from Randy Blach, CattleFax CEO. Producers heard him explore various factors, from herd expansion and export markets to swine fever ramifications and corn crop expectations, that will have a future impact on the U.S. cattle market.

Because the Summer Meeting’s primary focus centers on the Beef Checkoff’s future projects, beef producers and CBB members broke out into the five different committee sessions to hear from checkoff contractors about the efforts they are making to help drive beef demand. The program committees are Safety, Nutrition and Health, Innovation, Consumer Trust and Export Growth.

“By working as a team using this committee structure, we do our best to assure that we get the biggest bang for the buck for every producer dollar we receive,” says CBB member Jimmy Taylor from Cheyenne, Okla.

Some cattle producers voiced a concern over misinformation being shared from different industry groups that oppose the Beef Checkoff.

“The checkoff program is no stranger to criticism, and every question I had was answered openly,” says first-year CBB member, Bree DeNaeyer from Seneca, Neb. “I came away from the Summer Meeting feeling better armed to not just defend, but promote the Beef Checkoff.”

Being a CBB member provides producers with a unique opportunity to positively influence and help improve the Beef Checkoff. The checkoff is a complex program that requires producer input in order to remain successful.

“Before, I had no idea the Beef Checkoff did so many things to efficiently influence demand for beef,” Taylor adds. “As a producer, this makes me feel really good about how my checkoff dollars are being used, and I now realize how important the checkoff is to the success of the beef industry. As a result, I have become a much better advocate for the industry.”

Any and all beef producers can be nominated to be a member of CBB. If you are interested in serving on the board, begin the process today by speaking with your state beef council or certified nominating organizations. Members are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture based on nominations submitted by these certified nominating organizations. Learn more here.

rancher looking out at pasture

Frequently Asked Questions

The Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC) is one of the most influential and impactful producer-led committees in the beef industry, making major funding decisions on Beef Checkoff investments and priorities.

When the Beef Promotion and Research Act was first passed as part of the 1985 Farm Bill, many state beef councils were already working together and conducting checkoff-funded programs through the Beef Industry Council. The Act recognized this state effort, and by law allowed for half of the dollar to remain in the state to fund state programs and promotion. Then, to guarantee state and national programs were coordinated, the Act created the BPOC to ensure funding decisions about checkoff programs as well as decisions regarding which organizations to contract with and carry out the program.

The BPOC develops the annual checkoff budget, which is then approved by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Programs and projects must remain in the areas of promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing, producer communications and must drive beef demand.

The Operating Committee has a unique makeup, with 20 members total from two different entities: 10 members are elected by the CBB, while the remaining 10 are selected by the states through the Federation of State Beef Councils. No checkoff program or project is approved unless two-thirds of Operating Committee members vote to accept it. This means that a program must have recognized value in order to earn the consensus needed to be successfully funded. By formulating a committee that reflects both national and state priorities, the Beef Checkoff is better equipped to spend dollars more effectively and efficiently.

Every August, members of the CBB and Federation of State Beef Councils gather at the industry’s annual Summer Business Meeting to review funding proposals from various checkoff contractors and make recommendations based on industry and producer needs. The BPOC then convenes in September to establish the final funding recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year.

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.