Friday, March 15, 2013

Ohio Beef Expo - Beef Checkoff

I abandoned Jake today to fulfill a duty as a beef producer and Ohio Cattlemen Board member to attend the Ohio Beef Expo.  He had to pick up my slack. (sarcasm).

I decided to attend not to see all the competitive shows, new products to make the cattlemen's lives easier and not even to socialize with all the beef producers.  The real reason I went is to help collect signatures for the checkoff dollar referendum.

There seems to be confusion in Ohio about what the Ohio Beef Council needs more money for. The Beef Council uses checkoff dollars to promote our product and educate our consumers about preparing, cooking, storing and sharing our beef.  Right now this service costs you $1.00 per animal sold.  Half of this money is sent to the National for them to promote beef across the country.  Many states send more funds to the National to promote our product in places with more people than cattle like New York City or LA.  Since about 1986 we have been promoting our product with their help with just $1.00.  These people promoting on our behalf, I believe have done an outstanding job doing this.

The number one reason I believe a checkoff is needed in Ohio is because we need to be promoting beef in high school classrooms.  High school students are sent messages geared toward a youthful crowd, many of which encourage vegetarian diets to Teens.

The best way to talk to high school students about what beef has to offer them nutritionally, how to prepare it and where it comes from is to develop a program to take to high schools.  Of course you would have to train producers to facilitate the program.  The pork people have already done this.  However the Ohio Beef Council received a grant to create and share the Beefonomics Program.
When you start to break down the numbers to promote beef in the high school classroom they look like this.

In 1986 we could have promoted beef in a high school setting by sending producers and paying their mileage, of course gas was $.89.  We could have sent them with beef to teach the students to prepare and cook properly and it would have cost the Beef Council $2.29 per pound.  We could have rested knowing that many students were not receiving advertisement from HSUS and PETA. But we didn't, we didn't have the Beefonomics Program.

We do now have a grant funded program to take to the classroom.  It was developed about three years ago, however since we don't pay our beef promotions manager enough money, we are now on our third individual taking on this task of launching the program.  On top of this it is now 2013 where gas now costs $3.26 and beef costs about $5.02 per pound.

I had the opportunity to present this program to two classrooms where high school students had questions about cutting steaks and how to cook them.  The teacher told me she really didn't like to eat beef, because her mom overcooked every piece of beef she ever ate as a child.  She told me as I left she intended to take the recipe home we had cooked in class to share with her family.  Beef was now back in her classroom and her home.  I thought that was worth the beef checkoff dollars used.

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