Why doesn’t the beef checkoff promote “U.S. Beef” domestically?

By Chaley Harney
Executive Director, Montana Beef Council

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 in Montana 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 Acts 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 $1-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 & 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/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, and we simply don’t produce enough lean. Over time, the United States has increased production of 50’s-percent lean and reduced production of 90’s, mostly due to economic factors.

With that, the vast majority of beef imported to the U.S. is lean trim (90+ 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.

Research Promotes Beef Protein All Day

beef checkoff logoIf beef is what’s for dinner, what should be on the plates for the other meals? If you said it’s still beef, you’d be right. The fact is, research shows that balancing protein throughout the day makes good nutritional sense.

However, few Americans eat this way. The beef industry, however, through its Beef Checkoff Program, is working to educate consumers on the value of balance and adequate protein intake.

The challenge has been formidable. Research shows that Americans eat about two-thirds of their total daily protein at the dinner meal. That doesn’t leave much room for protein in your breakfast and lunch meals or snacks – and that could be a problem, current researchers say.

“The imbalance of protein meals is an issue,” according to Stuart Phillips, Ph.D., a professor in the department of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. “High-quality protein of sufficient quantities and evenly spaced is key to gaining or maintaining muscle mass.”

Phillips, a recognized researcher focusing on the nutrition and exercise factors that affect muscle protein, says the elderly especially are in need of more protein per meal to stimulate protein synthesis and muscle generation. An optimal intake for robust stimulation in older men is 42 grams per meal, or what is provided by about 6 ounces of cooked 85% lean ground beef.

According to Heather Leidy, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri, not only is protein important, but the time of day protein is consumed could be significant.  “Protein at breakfast appears to be a good target to increase protein intake,” Leidy says. “A high-protein breakfast seems to reduce food craving-based neural signals, and improve overall diet quality.”

In a review paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015, Leidy and her colleagues suggested that higher-protein diets containing between 1.2 and 1.6 g of protein per kg of body weight per day (82 – 109 g of protein for a 150-pound person) – and including meal-specific quantities of at least 25-30 grams (equivalent to 3 – 3 ½ ounces of cooked beef) – provide these and other improvements.

Consensus of Opinion
The Beef Checkoff Program has helped support research seeking to answer these kinds of questions. One checkoff-supported study, conducted by Leidy, found that daily consumption of a higher-protein breakfast that included two eggs and 1.5 ounces of beef was superior to both a normal-protein breakfast that featured milk and cereal or skipping breakfast altogether, in terms of improving appetite control, curbing food cravings and reducing unhealthy snacking in overweight or obese teenage girls who routinely skip their breakfast meal. The research was featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013 and in the Nutrition Journal in 2014.

This line of research has led to additional research on the timing, quantity and quality of protein intake and its impact on appetite and satiety, along with the development of novel dietary strategies and recommendations.

A disparity in the timing of protein consumption could contribute to health issues such as sarcopenia, or muscle loss, as well. A study on protein intake among the elderly, supported by the Beef Checkoff Program, demonstrated that consumption of both total and animal source protein was skewed heavily to the dinner meal. That could mean a disparity in quantity and quality of protein among the other meals.

The study, which utilized data from a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-06) and quantified protein intake and determined adequacy of protein in the diets of U.S. adults, was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013.

Putting Research into Action
The research on balancing protein throughout the day provided impetus last spring for the beef industry’s 30 Day Protein Challenge, a step-by-step way to get the optimal amount of protein across all meals. The challenge encourages consumers to eat 30 grams of protein at every meal to help them maintain and/or build muscle, control food cravings and generally provide better overall health and wellness. Undertaking the Protein Challenge would help them take control of their appetite and kick-start the benefits of balancing protein consumption.

Consumers who sign up for the challenge receive daily inspirational e-mails, tools to help them succeed and delicious, nutritious beef recipes with plenty of protein. While the 30 Day Protein Challenge was officially kicked off last April, consumers can start anytime and receive the 30-day plan.

Registered dietitians helped develop the challenge by first trying it out themselves and providing feedback to strengthen the program. After her own 30 day experience, nutrition expert Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE said “I liked that my focus shifted to protein, which overall made me choose more nutrient-rich foods. It made me focus on more of a ‘real’ dinner than just throwing something together.”

Dobbins noted that the broad nature of the Protein Challenge helped generate a wider appeal.  “Some people still don’t get that there is a wide range of acceptable protein intakes and that ‘plant based diets’ aren’t the only healthful approach,” she said.

Thousands of consumers have since become active in the 30 Day Protein Challenge program, with a website landing page becoming the most visited page on www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com. Tens of thousands of visits have been made to the page, thanks to state beef council and national efforts to promote it.

It was the research, however, that gave the program its value and credibility.

“Research has always been a cornerstone of our efforts to encourage better nutrition among consumers,” according to Jennifer Houston, a beef producer from Sweetwater, Tenn., and chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils. “As we learn more about the benefits of protein consumption throughout the day, we can share those with thought-leaders and others who are helping consumers enjoy optimal nutrition. Making sure people have the proper amount of high-quality protein at the right times is certainly one way we can improve nutrition nationwide.”

Houston says it’s also a way to continue to stress the value of beef in the diet. She says the educational and research efforts are a natural fit. “Without research, our promotions and educational efforts wouldn’t be effective or believable,” she says. “Our emphasis on research is how we find out as much as possible about protein, and that’s evidence that what we do is based on what we know to be true.”

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Programs Funded By Beef Dollars | Checkoff Chat

Checkoff ProgramsQ: What can and can’t the checkoff do?

A: The mission of the Beef Checkoff Program focuses on “improving producer profitability, expanding consumer demand for beef and strengthening beef’s position in the marketplace.” To accomplish this, the checkoff acts as a catalyst for change and is designed to stimulate beef sales and consumption through a combination of initiatives, including consumer advertising, research, public relations and new-product development. Conversely, by law, checkoff funds cannot be used to influence government policy or action, including lobbying. The checkoff doesn’t own cattle, packing plants or retail outlets. It can’t control prices or single-handedly turn around a bad market. Check out all of the current and past efforts of the checkoff at www.MyBeefCheckoff.com

Checkoff Chat Montana Beef CouncilRead more about the Beef Checkoff Programs in our Checkoff Chat Series with the Montana Beef Council. Click here to submit your own questions to be answered in future posts.

About the Beef Checkoff
The Beef Checkoff Program (MyBeefCheckoff.com) was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It 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 $1 and forward the other 50 cents to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval. The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana beef industry and is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international beef promotion, research and education, thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers.

Decisions for Spending Beef Dollars | Checkoff Chat

Montana Beef CouncilQ: Who decides how to spend the checkoff dollars in Montana?

A: The Montana Beef Council Board of Directors administers the beef checkoff program in Montana. There is cross-industry representation on the board which allows for dynamic insight and collaborative goals. The board meets throughout the year to stay up-to-date and each September the board specifically meets to evaluate projects from the current fiscal year and hear funding requests from outside contractors seeking to promote beef or educate others about beef. Through a committee process, recommendations are then made to the full board on the various funding requests and the board collectively approves a comprehensive budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on October 1. The Montana Beef Council is always seeking new and innovative ideas for beef promotion, education and research and welcomes new proposals.

Meet the current board of directors on the Montana Beef Council website.

Checkoff Chat Montana Beef CouncilRead more about the Beef Checkoff Programs in our Checkoff Chat Series with the Montana Beef Council. Click here to submit your own questions to be answered in future posts.

About the Beef Checkoff
The Beef Checkoff Program (MyBeefCheckoff.com) was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It 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 $1 and forward the other 50 cents to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval. The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana beef industry and is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international beef promotion, research and education, thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers.

Team BEEF Montana: Fuel for the Finish

Montana Beef Council logoBy Lisa Murray, Registered Dietitian, Director of Nutrition – Montana Beef Council

For many Americans, the journey toward better health and active living is an ongoing struggle.  For the 90-plus percent of Americans who love beef, it has been the role and responsibility of the Beef Checkoff Program to explain how to incorporate beef in a healthful diet and lifestyle.  While beef offers sizzle, great flavor and ten essential nutrients (zinc, iron, protein, and B-vitamins to name a few) it is also a healthy way to fuel physical activity.

Research has found that physical activity is more effective when coupled with a protein-rich diet because it helps to maintain muscle mass while losing fat.  A 3-ounce serving of lean beef (about the size of a deck of cards) supplies 25 grams of protein in only 150 calories.  Whether you’re just starting to exercise or you’re a seasoned athlete, the protein and nine other essential nutrients in the more than 30 lean cuts of beef work together to build muscle and keep your body healthy. Following a healthy diet before, during and after exercise helps maximize performance and recovery.

Team Beef Montana members are walking, running, biking, hiking, active billboards for beef.  The team includes athletes, moms, engineers, students, farmers, ranchers, dietitians, researchers, teachers, and healthcare professionals. While their backgrounds may be diverse, their passion is what brings them together: living an active lifestyle and loving beef. Team Beef Montana currently has 55 active members around the state.

What is required to be a Team Beef Montana member? You must eat Beef as part of your healthy active lifestyle (weekend warrior to elite athlete), be a Montana resident and be at least 18 years old.

For more information about Team Beef Montana visit www.montanabeefcouncil.org or you can e-mail Lisa at lisa@montanabeefcouncil.org.

Montana Producer Elected to Beef Promotion Operating Committee

Sidney-Area Rancher and Business Woman Elected to Serve on National Beef Checkoff Committee

kristin larson sidney rancherKristin Larson, a Sidney cattle producer and businesswoman who has a lifetime of experience in the cattle industry, has been elected to the national Beef Promotion Operating Committee, representing the Federation of State Beef Councils. The Beef Promotion Operating Committee was created by the Beef Promotion Research Act to help coordinate state and national beef checkoff programs. The 20-person committee includes 10 members elected from the Federation and 10 members elected from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.

Larson currently serves on the state level as the vice president for the Montana Beef Council as well as chair of the budget committee. During her term on the council she has held other leadership positions on various standing committees and continues to encourage others to engage. Her dedication to serving on the board and representing Montana beef producers has been unwavering.

In addition to her local and state level posts representing Montana beef producers, she has also served on the national level as a Federation Director for Montana. Through the Federation, Larson is able to provide the necessary grassroots ownership of the checkoff, particularly through her service on national joint committees where she is an active participant. During her many levels of service, she is continually aware of her fiduciary responsibility and applies that respect when making decisions on behalf of Montana beef producers for the Beef Checkoff Program.

Kristin at work with the family in Sidney

Kristin at work with the family in Sidney

“The success of a strong state and national partnership comes, in part, through the foresight of choosing qualified individuals to enable the partnership to grow,” says Chaley Harney, executive director of the Montana Beef Council. “Kristin is a balanced leader who will not only bring solutions to the table, but will also encourage the team to engage and use all resources at their disposal to make informed decisions. Kristin’s background in livestock and Montana agriculture has surrounded her in a lifetime of serving the beef community, whether it be through church, civic organizations or business enterprises. Her lifelong experience and devotion to the beef community coupled with her pragmatic solutions and fiscally responsible senses make her an excellent asset to the Montana Beef Council and the Beef Promotion Operating Committee.”

Kristin grew up on the family ranch in Big Timber and obtained her degree in agriculture business and economics from Montana State University, Bozeman. Kristin and her husband, Tim, own cows and yearlings, but Kristin also works with Tim and their partners at Prewitt & Company, LLC which is involved in nearly every segment of the beef industry, as they have cow/calf pairs and yearlings, feed cattle and operate Sidney Livestock Market Center. The majority of the business is buying and selling cattle. Kristin and Tim live in Sidney, Mont., where they raise their four children.

In addition to Larson, Federation of State Beef Council members elected to the 2015 BPOC Operating Committee include: Vice Chairman Jennifer Houston, Tennessee; Austin Brown, Texas; Clay Burtrum, Oklahoma; Dawn Caldwell, Nebraska; Terri Carstensen, Iowa; Jerry Effertz, North Dakota; Steve Hanson, Nebraska; Cevin Jones, Idaho; and Scott McGregor, Iowa. CBB members elected to the committee include: Chairman Jimmy Maxey, California; Anne Anderson, Texas; Secretary/Treasurer Brett Morris, Oklahoma; Marty Andersen, Wisconsin; Jeanne Harland, Illinois; Brittany Howell, Kansas; Joe Guthrie, Virginia; Chuck Kiker, Texas; Stacy McClintock, Kansas; and Joan Ruskamp, Nebraska.

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.

Beef Council Contractor Spotlight: Montana Beef Quality Assurance

Montana Beef Council logoBeef Checkoff dollars help fund the Montana Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program that provides critical guidelines for safe and humane beef cattle production. Each year it becomes more important for all stakeholders to learn best management techniques in a continuing effort to build and maintain consumer confidence in our product. BQA is a voluntary commitment from responsible producers because it is the right thing to do!

Montana Beef Quality Assurance BQA Show You Care AdCheckoff dollars help spread the message and tell our story throughout the state of Montana. In 2014 we told the BQA story across the state to rancher-attended seminars and conventions, livestock auction barn audiences, 4-H Clubs, FFA Chapters and Conventions, VoAg Instructor groups, Facebook posts and email news blasts to greatly increase the numbers of Montana stakeholders registering for and completing online BQA certification.

According to Dee Griffin, DVM, MS University of Nebraska, co-founder of the BQA Program, “Beef Quality Assurance is nothing more than thoughtful, responsible cattle management!”   Funding from the Checkoff Program makes it happen. Go to www.bqa.org and register today!

Upcoming events include a Calf Whisperer halter breaking event at Winter Fair on Sunday, February 1, 2015 at the fairgrounds in Lewistown. Everyone is invited and encouraged to watch as we halter break a heifer calf safe and humanely. For more information, to host or participate in a BQA event in-person, contact Bill Pelton at (406) 671-5100 or bill@billpelton.com.

The Most Recent Beef Demand Numbers and What They Mean | Infographic

via Chaley Harney, Montana Beef Council

We recently caught up with Glynn Tonsor, Associated Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University and Gary Brester, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University, for an update about beef demand and the role of the checkoff in helping keep demand strong through targeted marketing efforts.

“Sixteen out of the last 17 quarters we’ve had a year-over-year increase, the only exception being the first quarter of this year,” said Tonsor. “And I think a large part of why that’s going on is continued ongoing success of marketing the right products to the right people, and quite frankly, the segment of the public that continues to purchase beef is a slightly different segment than it used to be.”

Tonsor went on to explain that per capita consumption is going down, but we haven’t simply taken away two pounds from every household in the U.S. Tonsor believes the industry is doing better at recognizing that and aligning what they produce with who is able and willing to buy it.

Quarterly All Fresh Retail Beef Demand Index

Quarterly All Fresh Retail Beef Demand Index

“And I have no reason to think that’s going to stop in the fourth quarter, said Tonsor. “The increase in the third quarter basically reflects the facts that we had less beef consumed, specifically we had a 4.6 percent decline, and it’s important to recognize that consumption decline is mainly just because we produced less. That’s just we produced less therefore per capita consumption is down. And what actually occurred was we had 11.3 percent increase in price in the third quarter compared to the third quarter 2013.”

Tonsor said despite fairly wide-spread confusion on the topic, per capita consumption is not demand, as consumption alone says little about the value consumers place on beef offerings.

“Demand increased. Basically nobody made the public pay more for those reduced pounds, but they did. And they not only paid more, they paid more than we expected. And that only occurs, what they are doing voluntarily, if they are seeing more value in there than was anticipated.”

Brester added that when we have less to go around, and if people still want the product, meaning demand has not declined, then price has to increase because it is the mechanism that markets use to allocate scarce goods and resources.

“Yes, some people will consume less and some will consume none at all. But as Tonsor said, this is what has to happen if demand has not declined for other reasons such as lower incomes and recession. Higher prices are not an indication that demand has declined. They are an indication that either people want more of the product, or we do not have enough to meet those desires,” said Brester.

Tonsor went on to explain what kinds of things are allowing demand to grow despite the supply challenges, and how the checkoff is playing a vital role in that process.
“It’s a fair statement that the beef industry has done a lot better job of target-marketing products and basically developing new products for the appropriate consumer. The flat iron steak did not exist 10 years ago. That is a product now that brings more value to that carcass than was the case using the same poundage somewhere else before. The beef checkoff was one of multiple supporters in that effort. The mix of muscle cut versus ground is not the same across the country and we have mixed data on this. But the industry is doing a better job of coordinating what segment of the population wants ground beef, what segment wants steak, and sending it to the appropriate markets.”

Brester concluded that “From a Montana perspective, cow-calf producers must keep in mind that consumers want beef, not calves. Hence, when consumers want beef products, their preferences are manifest in higher prices at every level of the marketing chain. Ultimately, the largest impacts from changes in demand are disproportionately manifest in that segment of the marketing channel that is most fixed in supply, that is, the most difficult to expand—calves. Good management practices are rewarding including those that provide value, such as quality, consistency and better health, to the rest of the marketing system.”

Beef Demand Consumption Infographic

Click to view full-size version

Checkoff Introduces U.S. Beef to Asian Chefs | Beef Briefs

Did you know …

Beef Brief Singapore ChefsThe Beef Checkoff is adding more beef to ASEAN menus?

An intensive two-day training program for chefs from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April – funded, in part, by the beef checkoff – introduced them to a wider variety of U.S. beef cuts for their menus. Although participating chefs already use U.S. beef in their restaurants, the seminar focused on expanding their menu options to dishes made with a wider array of U.S. cuts, in addition to offering instruction about proper storage and handling of chilled and frozen beef. For details, visit Singapore Training.

Learn more at www.MyBeefCheckoff.com
Beef Briefs is your monthly snapshot of beef checkoff news affecting the beef and dairy industries.
Provided by the great folks at the Montana Beef Council.

Lisa Murray Montana Beef Council

Beef and Heart Disease: Should It Be What’s For Dinner?

Lisa Murray Montana Beef CouncilLisa Murray, Director of Nutrition, Montana Beef Council

Although many people may think there’s little place in cholesterol-lowering diets for beef, research suggests just the opposite. According to a clinical study, Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD), published in the January 2012 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, including 4.0 to 5.4 ounces of lean beef daily in the gold standard heart-healthy diet (DASH – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) lowered participants’ LDL “bad” cholesterol by 10 percent.

This study provides new insights about beef’s benefits in a heart-healthy diet; demonstrating that lean beef, in addition to being satisfying and great-tasting, can be part of a solution to building a heart-healthy diet.

Mike Roussell, PHD, a researcher for the BOLD study, will be presenting the BOLD study to Registered Dietitians, during the Annual Montana Dietetic Association meeting in Billings May 28-30.

Dr. Mike will examine the changing nutritional role of beef in a heart healthy diet. Specifically, he will delve into the disconnect between population based studies and clinical trials regarding the impact of red meat on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and CVD risk factors.

Author, speaker, and nutritional consultant Mike Roussell, PhD is known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical nutritional habits that his clients can use to ensure permanent weight loss and long lasting health. Dr. Mike holds a bachelor degree in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University.

The BOLD study sets the record straight about beef’s benefits in a heart-healthy diet. The study proves that nutrient rich lean beef, in addition to being satisfying and great-tasting, can be part of a solution to building a heart-healthy diet.

Most of the heart-healthy beef recipes used in the study came from The Healthy Beef Cookbook, a collection of delicious, nutrient-rich recipes for America’s favorite protein, beef. For more information on the BOLD study, meal plans and The Healthy Beef Cookbook visit www.BeefNutrition.org.

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