The Value of Helping Hands
By Laurie Munns, Chairman
Federation of State Beef Councils
Hansel Valley, Utah
Each of us benefits from assistance from others now and then. Perhaps a neighbor helps with harvest; maybe we get a ride into town to fix a flat tire or help getting our cows in at roundup. For many state beef councils, assistance is more than a bonus; it’s a necessity.
There are 44 Qualified State Beef Councils, and they play a key role in the Beef Checkoff across the country. For one thing, they are responsible for collecting the $1-per-head national Beef Checkoff, remitting 50 cents of each dollar to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board for use in national and international beef demand-building programs. They use the other 50 cents at the discretion of their boards, under the guidelines of the Beef Promotion Act and Order.
The make-up of these boards varies. Some are appointed; some are elected. They are truly local self-help organizations, managed and overseen by the beef and cattle community in their state. Many of them pre-date the existence of the national Beef Checkoff, first instituted in 1986. There are more than 700 board members of state beef councils in the United States.
The volunteer boards make decisions about their half of the dollar, which can include investing in demand-building national and international programs or conducting beef promotion, education and research programs in their own states. Implementing the in-state programs requires a lot of resources. Even though they have a large responsibility, many state councils are very small. They might only have a part-time director and if they’re fortunate one staffer, depending on the budget and the wants of the board.
Among the functions of the Federation of State Beef Councils is the support of participating state beef councils that need it. This include state councils of any size that want special assistance with a project, or smaller state councils that don’t have the infrastructure for conducting fully-developed in-state programs. Maybe they want help with their IT systems or have human resources questions that need to be addressed. Perhaps they require graphic design for brochures or billboards they want to create. Maybe it’s communications assistance with outreach to producer or consumer audiences, or participation in consumer surveys to build stronger and more precise in-state campaigns.
Possibly they want to discuss joint efforts with executives of other state councils, or brainstorm ideas that are successful in other states that might be effective with their own consumers, foodservice or retail outlets, dietitians or other thought leaders.
The bottom line is that for a state beef council of any size, fully implementing a valuable in-state beef promotion, education and research program is difficult. For a small council, it can be daunting.
The Federation of State Beef Councils helps fill that void. It has an experienced staff that provides IT, graphic design, research and communications functions to state beef councils. It also assists in coordinating state efforts on a national level, and can supply or supplement information, materials and efforts in ways that will give a state beef council more impact.
Since 1963 the Federation of State Beef Councils has brought state beef councils together, at the same time helping them be more successful on their own. A cornerstone of the Beef Checkoff, this state/national partnership gives state beef councils of all sizes a beneficial leg up.
The Federation of State Beef Councils is a division of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which is a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. The program is administered by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, with oversight provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board.