Johnson County CattleWomen host annual agriculture summit
Buffalo – On Jan. 14, the 12th Annual Women’s Agriculture Summit took place at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Buffalo, in memory of Tracy Alger. Attendees had the opportunity to sit in on several presentations and enjoy lunch, shopping and cocktails.
James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Director Dr. Steve Paisley gave a presentation titled, “What the Industry is Doing to Keep Beef in the Center of the Plate.”
Promoting and defending beef
As the state of Wyoming Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program coordinator for almost 20 years, Paisley noted both the beef industry and its producers have a responsibility to promote beef.
“We share in this responsibility for building demand for beef,” he said. “One of our first responsibilities is to tell our story.”
He explained sharing one’s story is an important part of promoting beef.
“Sharing our story is an important part of promoting our product, Western lifestyle, ethics, traditions and animal husbandry – all of those things are important to tell,” he said.
In addition, he noted being quality assurance certified through the state’s BQA program is another important piece of the puzzle.
“We’re trying to provide a safe, wholesome product, and we’re trying to enhance consumer confidence in our product,” said Paisley. “BQA is an important part of this recipe for building demand for beef.”
Another important piece of the puzzle is understanding what the Beef Checkoff is.
“The BQA program is partially funded through Beef Checkoff dollars and is a program many have benefitted from,” he said.
The checkoff program was established in the 1985 farm bill and assesses one dollar per head for the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, with 50 cents going directly to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the other 50 cents going toward state beef councils.
Funds are used in the program areas of promotion, research, consumer and industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications.
“Checkoff dollars are governed by the USDA and by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), which consists of 101 producers from across the U.S. who are typically nominated by their respective governors,” explained Paisley. “Funds cannot be used to influence government policy, action or lobbying but are used strictly for research promotion.”
Gwen Geis currently serves as Wyoming’s sole representative on the CBB.
Paisley further noted checkoff dollars are managed through the CBB and USDA. However, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is another subcontractor that applies for checkoff dollars, in addition to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, North American Meat Institute, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and so forth.
Another part of checkoff dollars is what is called the National Beef Quality audits. Paisley noted these are important as well. They are a way to benchmark where the industry is and to identify areas of improvement.
“Beef quality audits, done by land grant universities, encompass the entire industry, from cow/calf producers, stockmen, backgrounders, feedlots, processors, retailers, wholesalers, grocery stores, restaurants and consumers,” he said. “A fed beef audit is done on cattle under 24 months of age – fed steers and heifers typically exported – and a non-fed audit is done on cull cows and bulls.”
He noted a great way to enhance beef demand is by producing a better product, and the industry has come a long way in the last decade in doing so.
“Many cattle producers in the industry take pride in their beef by improving genetics, husbandry, management and health care,” he continued. “We’re all a part of this improvement.”
In closing, Paisley noted purchasing habits have changed since 2020 with the impact of COVID-19 and more consumers ordering products online. But, when it comes to taste and flavor, beef remains the number one choice over competitive protein products, which is something, Paisley says, is something to be proud of.
“Overall, changing beef perception is where the beef industry sees challenges,” he concluded. “This has improved, but we need to continue to share our story.”
He added there has been a real effort to get the beef industry’s story out with marketing campaigns, social media, video advertising, BQA and stewardship awards and ag influencers.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.