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There has been a lot of recent discussion in the media among producers about why the beef checkoff doesn’t specifically promote “U.S. beef” in its domestic advertisements and promotions. We would like to provide some information that might help checkoff investors better understand why that is.

It’s important to remember that state beef councils and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board all operate under the requirements of the Beef Act and Order – the enabling legislation under which our checkoff operates – and must remain in compliance with those documents.

The Act states the purpose of the Beef Checkoff Program as “carrying out a coordinated program of promotion and research designed to strengthen the beef industry’s position in the marketplace and to maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets and uses for beef and beef products.”

In the domestic market, the role is to nourish the growth of consumer demand for beef and beef products in general, not just a particular category of beef.

The Act and Order further require all importers of live cattle, beef and beef products to pay the equivalent of one-dollar-per-head on those imports. Those assessments have added an average of $6.9 million per year to the national beef-checkoff budget during the last decade. And the “Guidelines for the Approval of Programs Under the Beef Promotion and Research Act” state, in Section III, that since producers and importers subject to the beef checkoff assessment are required to contribute under the Act, “expenditures of checkoff funds should benefit the entire industry.”

The mission of the checkoff is to build demand for beef among consumers by serving as a catalyst to provide consumers with beef research, information and promotion of beef, in general – on the tenet that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” In other words, protecting general beef demand opens the door for individual producers, importers or companies to serve and promote to their favored niche markets – such as local, grass- or grain-finished, antibiotic-free and the like – if they want more specific branding.

To maintain quality standards of the entire domestic beef supply, cattle imported to the United States, regardless of its country of origin, must meet the same USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) standards that beef produced in the U.S. must meet. Under statutory authority, APHIS and USDA Veterinary Services monitor the health of all cattle, including semen and embryos, and beef and beef products that are imported to the U.S. Importers must meet requirements of an Import Checklist and obtain a veterinary permit for import of materials derived from cattle to ensure animal and meat health and safety.

Why Imports?

Let’s address one more topic at the very base of this that we’ve also seen bantered about in the country of late – why do we import beef into the U.S. anyway?

To be sure, the need for imports is not as simple as the number of cattle needed to meet demand but instead the demand for certain parts of the animal, such as lean trim, according to ag economists nationwide, including Dr. Thomas Elam, Ph.D. Lean trim is in very short supply in the U.S. because the number of beef and dairy cows and bulls being sent to market has declined significantly during the last decade. We simply don’t produce enough lean. Over time, the United States has increased production of 50s-percent lean and reduced production of 90s, mostly due to economic factors.

With that, the vast majority of beef imported to the U.S. is lean trim, 90-plus percent – primarily from Australia and New Zealand – to mix with 50/50 lean and fat ground beef produced in the U.S. so we can meet domestic consumer demand for lean beef. Without this, the U.S. beef supply would run far short of the lean ground beef required to meet our strong consumer demand for it. Importing lean trim to meet this need helps continue to grow domestic consumer demand for beef. Dr. Elam says that imports of lean beef actually enhance the value of the U.S. beef market and overall cattle prices and, in addition, allows U.S. cattlemen to maximize their competitive advantage of fed beef production.

This article was originally posted on the Montana Stockgrowers Association website at mtbeef.org.

I am honored to have recently been elected President of the Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom Board. This is a commitment I do not take lightly. The organization’s mission is near and dear to my heart – to develop an understanding of agriculture and natural resources through education.

I had the extraordinary opportunity to grow up on, a custom feeding operation in central Wyoming. From chopping corn to working calves, I found a love for everything about the life and industry. The opportunities it provided are unrivaled. Anyone who shared that opportunity agrees.

Unfortunately, the numbers of us who have had the opportunity shrink each and every year. I, myself, work outside direct production agriculture. I am blessed to still play a part in my family’s operation. However, I am unable to be involved day-to-day. At this point, I am unsure if I will be able to afford my children the same opportunity I had to grow up on farm. This is something a growing number of our youth face.

Our kids are one, two, three – or even four – generations removed from the farm. Just two percent of our entire U.S. population is made up of America’s farming and ranching families. So, how do we begin to expose the other 98 percent of the American population to the lifestyle and industry we cherish? The answer is one student at a time.

Since the inception of Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom in 1986, it has been the intent to put agriculture and natural resources education in the hands of our youth. Through the years, this has taken many different forms, but the intent has never changed. The Board has been constantly comprised of the leaders who have cared deeply in the mission and accomplished truly monumental things. I am humbled to be a part of an organization that has been blessed with outstanding leadership. Thank you for building an organization poised to tackle great things. Because of their efforts, we are ready to make a difference in our communities.

Recently, the opportunity to fulfill our organization’s mission presented itself. New science standards have recently been adopted, and all our schools will be searching for material to meet these standards. Enter the Wyoming Stewardship Project – perfectly aligned with changing educational landscape to provide the narrative our classrooms have been missing. Why should our schools be purchasing textbooks and materials from companies in Chicago, New York or San Francisco? We have all the material and resources we need right here in our very own state to create lessons that challenge our students to be critical thinkers. This project provides students with the facts and empowers them with the opportunity to build their own conclusions.

The Wyoming Stewardship Project is Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom’s initiative to develop project-based lessons for students, not just as a supplemental activity or a break from their normal course of studies, but a new engaging approach to science, math, language arts and social studies. The best part, these lessons are built for Wyoming educators by Wyoming educators. The key concepts were built through a gathering of community members in the agriculture, mineral and energy, and outdoor recreation and tourism industries. All of which are central to our state’s economic wellbeing.

Obviously, as a Board member of Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom, as the name depicts, agriculture is the center of my and our collective hearts. However, we have recognized that all these industries working hand-in-hand, managing our state’s resources tells the complete story of Wyoming. The story that needs to be in the hands of all our students. The very students that will one day not only be our state’s leaders, law makers, policy builders, but our nation’s.

Now I climb on my soapbox. We in agriculture have dropped the ball. All we do is fight misinformation. We are reactive. Policy is generated at the highest levels with no regard to farmers and ranchers which it directly affects. Farm and ranch organizations come out in opposition, reactive. A company drops demand of our product because of public sentiment rooted in nothing but fear, readily admitting there is no scientific evidence to support. Growers come together to get the facts out there, but the damage is done. We are reactive.

With the Wyoming Stewardship Project, we have the opportunity to be proactive. Put the knowledge in the hands of our students. Allow them to make decisions understanding all sides of the issues. It was a little over a year ago now that the Wyoming Stewardship Project really took shape. At the time, we as a Board could not fathom just how big this was. We hit some bumps in the road but have plowed on, knowing the material being created today could shape our policy makers of tomorrow. I struggle to put into words how excited I am about this project and to be a part of it. As agriculturalists and stewards of our natural resources, I think you all should be just as excited.

For more information about the Wyoming Stewardship Project or to donate, contact our Executive Director Jessie Dafoe at 307-369-1749.

I grew up watching politics. It became something that is a huge interest to me, and I’ve gained many role models in the political arena. Politics brings a few of my favorite things together - leadership, debate and critical thinking.

As much as I wish it weren’t true, many politicians – our most recognizable leaders – don’t lead with class. I wake up every day to an article in the paper or a story on the news about one political leader spewing derogatory remarks toward another. These statements from politicians lack basic manners, etiquette and tact. Is this who we want to become? If we aren’t careful, we’ll lose our vision of what we want to be and where we want to go. As FFA members, we can show the rest of the world what leading with class really means.

Leading with class is important. While many people may define the word, “class,” as dressing nicely, having fancy dinners or being wealthy, class goes much further than that. Class can’t be bought. Rather, it’s an attitude. An attitude of manners, etiquette and tact. An attitude of respect and inclusion. The attitude of an FFA member.

Recently, at National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., I had the opportunity to sit on the Committee for Increasing Alumni Engagement. In this committee, delegates from all 50 states were able to voice their opinions. During committee meetings and business sessions throughout the week, I was struck by the respect that every delegate had for each other. Everyone’s voice was heard, while none were criticized in a derogatory manner.

In FFA, as leaders, we recognize the importance of leading with class – forming a tactful debate, respecting each other and their opinions and recognizing that letting other’s voices be heard is what makes democracy – and FFA – so great. That recognition among FFA members allows others to feel welcome in our organization no matter their background, which has led the FFA to be the largest student-led organization in the United States.

When we present ourselves in a positive way, we are presenting ourselves for the future. Leading with manners and etiquette not only means a good image for you and the organization you’re representing, but it also means being a respectable influence for others, future job offers and notability among your constituents, peers and elders.

Benjamin Franklin said it best, as he said, “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

When we remember this, we become the world-changers of tomorrow.

Leading with class goes much farther than the clothes you wear and the money you have. Leading with class is making a positive difference in the lives of people around you by spreading kindness and respect for others, doing so with manners, etiquette, and tact. Leading with class is about being a light in the lives of others and making them feel welcome. Leading with class is making a positive ImpACT on your FFA chapter, your community, your friends and your family.

Matthew Winterholler wrote this piece for the Wyoming FFA Association’s blog, titled “impACT,” which can be found at wyomingffa.wordpress.com. Visit the blog each month for a new post from the Wyoming FFA State Officer Team.

The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting will be in Laramie Nov. 10-12 to talk about issues that county Farm Bureaus feel are important to their membership. In conjunction with the Wyoming Farm Bureau’s annual meeting, the Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation will hold a symposium on poisonous plants.

The WyFB Foundation Symposium on Nov. 10 begins at 8:30 a.m. and will feature scientists from the USDA Poisonous Plants Lab in Logan, Utah. Dr. Kip Panter, Dr. Kevin Welch and Dr. Clint Stonecipher will present ongoing research and solutions to problems caused by poisonous plants. Some of the research and work that is being done at this facility is pretty exciting.

The symposium is free and open to the public.

Farm Bureau members will also be electing a new president to head up our organization since President Perry Livingston, who has lead the Wyoming Farm Bureau for 11 years, will be retiring. Having dedicated leaders to work on behalf of Wyoming’s farmers and ranchers is something for which all of us in agriculture can be thankful. We certainly are grateful when someone dedicates the time that President Livingston has to work for agriculture at the state and national levels.

Of course, the entire purpose of our meeting is to discuss and vote on resolutions sent in by our counties on policy issues that concern these grassroots members. Naturally, these cover a broad range of topics including proposed policies on special tax districts, shed antler hunting, speed limiting devices on vehicles and a host of other topics.

In addition to policy discussions, members will also hear a variety of updates. Ryan Yates, director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, will talk about policy and priorities for the lame duck session and the new Congress and Administration. Ryan also deals with a lot of the federal lands issues for the American Farm Bureau, so he will also discuss various federal lands issues.

Katelyn McCullock, who is in the Economics Division with the American Farm Bureau, will bring her perspective on the economic outlook for livestock for the coming year.

Cole Coxbill, chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Young Farmer and Rancher Committee and AFBF board member, will also update the members on all of the activities of the American Farm Bureau, as well as the activities of the Wyoming Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher program.

Fall is a busy time of year with harvest activities. We are thankful for the many volunteers who take the time from their busy schedule to travel to the Farm Bureau annual meeting and finish the process that started at the counties in developing direction for the Federation in the coming year. These are your neighbors and you can support them through your membership or by getting involved at the local level.

This is our 97th annual meeting, and for the 97th year in a row, Farm Bureau will continue working to keep agriculture strong in Wyoming.