Federation Through the Decades: 1980s

| February 21, 2023

As the Federation of State Beef Councils celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, let’s step back in time and look at successful projects that have created a strong state/national partnership through the decades. We are going back to the future to the ‘80s when the Beef Checkoff began, and big hair was in.

 After two national Checkoff referendum attempts failed, the Beef Industry Council and other industry organizations decided to survey cattle producers across the country to determine industry attitudes about beef promotion. The survey found 84 percent supported an industry-funded research, education and promotion program and half of those surveyed favored an assessment of $1 per head or more. The results also enforced the importance of a state/national partnership and a more unified beef industry.

Following several more years of meetings, planning and industry surveys, language was crafted for The Beef Promotion and Research Act to be included in the 1985 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill passed, putting another referendum in motion. In 1986, the Cattlemen’s Promotion and Research Board was approved by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the Beef Board began coordinating with national industry organizations to conduct research, promotion and education efforts with more than $70 million in Checkoff collections.

Producers were able to see the new program in action and came out in full force to vote in the 1988 national referendum. With 79 percent of producers voting in favor of the national Beef Checkoff, the industry secured an ongoing funding source for programs to drive demand for beef.

Throughout the decade, research played a critical role in guiding educational and promotional efforts. Research that focused on nutrition, diet and health; product development; and marketing built the foundation to support every program. Research conducted in the ‘80s helped prove that beef is leaner and lower in calories and cholesterol than many consumers believed and identified new markets and new products for beef producers. Studies on iron absorption and bioavailability also led to the creation of advertising that took the message of beef and iron directly to physicians and dietitians.

Even before the national Checkoff was in place, the Beef Industry Council continued its successful promotion campaigns, including “Make Ends Meat—With the Great Taste of Beef.” The effort promoted money-saving ideas and featured new and exciting recipes that utilized cost effective cuts of beef. Point-of-purchase materials were distributed to more than 21,000 stores nationwide and television, newspaper and radio advertising supplemented in-store efforts in many cities.

Utilizing market research gathered early in the decade, the BIC and state groups focused on promoting beef’s nutritional role in the diet. In 1983, the new theme of “Beef Gives Strength” linked beef to an active, healthy and contemporary lifestyle. New television ads appeared on national network programs, print ads ran in national consumer magazines and radio and outdoor billboards rounded out the campaign, with cooperating state beef councils extending the effort at the local level.

One of the first promotional campaigns following the implementation of the Beef Checkoff, was “Beef. Real Food For Real People.” featuring entertainment personalities James Garner and Cybill Shepherd. The campaign’s goal was to position beef as a great-tasting, convenient, nutritious food that fits into active lifestyles. Television, print and radio ads promoted the theme for several years, and it was considered a remarkable success.

For more information about the Federation of State Beef Councils, visit www.ncba.org/federation. Next month we’re merging into the ‘90s when change and adaptation moved the industry forward and beef became what’s for dinner.