Reflecting on My Year at the Helm of the Federation of State Beef Councils
How the Federation has Continued to Invest for Success
By Dawn Caldwell
For several reasons, no term better summarizes my term as the Federation of State Beef Councils chair than the word “invest.” The web site dictionary.com defines the word to mean putting money to use, to use money in accumulating something, or to use, give or devote time, talent, etc. to achieve a goal. In my experience, that has been the national Beef Checkoff Program in a nutshell.
One dollar per beef animal sold, combined with the time, talent, and dedicated commitment of state beef council executives and staff, state beef council producer members (including those who serve on the Federation board), Cattlemen’s Beef Board members, and contractors, all factoring into beef checkoff success that benefits every beef producer.
Serving as the Federation chair this past year has been incredibly rewarding in many ways. I can’t help but smile with pride reflecting on the successes we achieved for beef producers. I am especially appreciative of the commitment of board members and supporters of individual state beef councils, who invest into the Federation. Helen Keller said it perfectly: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Every previous Federation chair I have known has wanted to strengthen the state/national checkoff partnership and create a greater awareness and understanding of the Federation. That was my desire, too. Laurie Munns, a Utah beef producer who has been an inspiring vice chair, and I chose to empower each of the Federation regional vice presidents to reach out to the state beef councils in their respective regions, visiting with board members there. It has been our philosophy that those investing the dollars need to be engaged in the process and decision making, and most importantly know the outcomes so they can tout the good news of success!
And there has been plenty of success to tout. For starters, beef demand is at a very high level, despite increased production. (Yes, there’s a difference between beef disappearance and demand.) There are many factors involved in increasing demand, but we have been proud to point to the following checkoff-funded projects implemented by the Federation in areas that are making a difference:
• Funding of critical nutrition and food safety research;
• Management of issues impacting the beef industry;
• Gathering of data that validates sustainability throughout the beef chain;
• Positive moves to increase beef demand in foreign markets;
• Investment in Beef Quality Assurance training and adoption;
• Conducting cattle and beef immersion experiences for thought leaders, educators, health influencers and marketers;
• Enhancement and upgrading of a beef industry culinary center that tests recipes and trains chefs;
• Development of producer video profiles that help put a face on our industry; and
• Assuring the industry keeps up with the times with programs like “Chuck,” the new virtual assistant for smart speakers and mobile devices that provides recipes, cut and cooking information – and a lot more – to today’s consumers.
Above all, I’d like to say thank you to every producer, volunteer leader, staff member and contractor working tirelessly to build beef demand. Thanks for investing your dollars, your time and your wisdom to make our industry and our livelihoods better. As we move into 2019 and beyond, we must continue to put our dollars, our time and our talents together to do all we can to make beef the world’s preferred protein.
Dawn Caldwell and her husband, Matt, live at Edgar, Neb., and have a cow-calf operation in South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas. She will step down as Federation chair at the 2019 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in New Orleans, La., Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, 2019.
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 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