New Beef Board Chairman

Kim BrackettThe Beef Board has a new Chairman. She’s Kim Brackett, Idaho cow/calf and stocker producer.

Here’s what it means to her. You can also listen to her describe her goals in the audio clip below:

“That has been such a phenomenal evolution for me to go in what seems like a handful of years, not a long timeframe at all, to not having a very thorough understanding of the checkoff to now feeling like I understand the ins and outs of it. It’s amazing – I never fully appreciated how hard the checkoff works for me and my family and our ranch. I never understood, until I got on the Idaho beef council, I didn’t understand the scope of the checkoff working in foreign markets, I didn’t understand how they reached so many consumers on the eastern seaboard with just my dollars that I paid here in Idaho, I didn’t have a good understanding of the partnerships like I do now. And now to be stepping up and leading that, people tell me I’m the face of the checkoff and I kind of laugh that off but I take a lot of pride in that too because I’m so proud of the checkoff programs and how hard they work for us.”

Comments from Kim Brackett

Other Beef Board officers include:

Vice Chairman: Jimmy Maxey, California
Secretary/Treasurer: Anne Anderson, Texas

Cattle Industry Convention

New Holland at Cattle Industry ConventionIt looks like all systems are go for this year’s Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, TN. It’s the first time I’ll be missing it in a long time. But that’s the way things work sometime. I enjoyed the opportunity to be the Beef Board Blogger for eight years and it’s in the hands of the very capable staff of the CBB.

It looks like attendees dodged a weather bullet this week. That’s a good thing.

I see that New Holland is very visible outside the Gaylord. We’ll see them next week at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville.

If you can’t attend the convention then check out the Twitter hashtag – #CIC14 to keep up on the latest. You might want to follow the Beef Ambassadors too – @BeefAmbassador.

Why Are You Here Cattlemen?

Polly RuhlandDuring the Cattlemen’s Beef Board meeting at the end of the Cattle Industry Summer Conference we heard a great speech in the form of the report given by CEO Polly Ruhland. She had a very heartfelt and powerful message which I believe shows you the quality of the people representing cattle producers on the staff of the Beef Checkoff. You will be asked a question, “Why are you here?”

Listen to Polly’s report here: Polly Ruhland Management Report

2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference Photo Album

Beef Board CEO Reports at Summer Conference

Polly RuhlandThe CEO of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Polly Ruhland, was on stage this morning for the second general session of the Cattle Industry Summer Conference. I talked with her afterward. She says the new committee structure and format for the conference have generated good feedback. Condensing the agenda into a shorter time frame means that volunteer leaders have to spend less time away from home for one thing.

Polly says this meeting is about strategy where “the rubber meets the road.” So committees are meeting and listening to and providing feedback to contractors about projects in progress or being proposed. She says it’s a process that includes as next steps, board approval of the budget and then work plans will be looked at by the operating committee in September. And then the process starts over again.

You can listen to my interview with Polly here: Interview with Polly Ruhland

You can listen to Polly’s report during the general session here: Report from Polly Ruhland

2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference Photo Album

Beef Ambassadors Helping Fuel the Team

Team Beef members compete in a variety of activities like the Boston Marathon which demonstrate the value of beef as a nutrition source. In addition to Team Beef members competing in Boston this year, the National Beef Ambassadors were also on hand. I was very glad to learn that our Ambassadors had left shortly before the tragedy that happened there this year! The Ambassadors were also in town to participate in the John Hancock Fitness Expo where they handed out beef sticks and talked with attendees. Here’s a report on how healthy, nutritious beef is fueling the team.

The Blogging Beef Board CEO

sustainability-spheresThe CEO of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Polly Ruhland, is blogging during her 2013 Eisenhower Fellowship for International Leaders which is taking her to Japan and Taiwan. The blog is, pencilplow.

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from a cornfield.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Here’s an excerpt her most recent post from Tokyo.

Every Monday through Friday, buyers of Waygu and other extremely high-quality domestic beef for outlets in Japan visually appraise hanging carcasses at Tokyo Market, where they sell them one at a time. This is a private auction and being granted entry is difficult for outsiders (thank you again, Eisenhower network). I had an unexpected invitation that arose on the evening we arrived in Tokyo, made possible through Takeichi-san (EF Fellow 1995). Ogawa-san, president of Ogawa Chikusan Kougyou Co., the harvest facility attached to the auction, narrated a tour through the auction and the plant. The 800 or so carcasses a day move slowly down the line as a small group of buyers appraise them with flashlights illuminating the ribeye the same way meat inspectors do in the U.S. The electronic board above each carcass flashes key information (including the name of the farmer/breeder) and the bids skyrocket. This is where the most expensive, highly marbled beef in Japan sells. For occasions like weddings and other important social gatherings, this is the type of beef Japanese people want to serve their guests. And it goes out the door here daily, one single, perfectly prepared carcass at a time. For occasions or clientele with slightly lower budgets, quality U.S. beef makes an excellent substitute.

The graphic comes from the 2002 University of Michigan Sustainability Assessment (pdf). Polly uses it because she is “dedicated to improving the triple bottom line of sustainability (social, environmental, economic–or people, planet, profit) for agriculture in a country that often takes food availability and security for granted.”

One Stop for Event Audio and Photos

2013 has already been a busy year for ZimmComm – the last couple of weeks especially. We already have 12 new photo albums for this year!

agnewswire-logoBecause our events may be posted on different websites, and just because of the sheer volume of content we are generating that we want to share, we are working on consolidating event content on our AgNewsWire site. We have a couple of events already posted there – with links to photo albums, posts, categories, audio and even video. We want to make it easier for media, or anyone interested, to be able to locate and utilize the content we create.

2013 National Ethanol Conference
2013 National Biodiesel Conference
2013 Cattle Industry Conference and NCBA Trade Show

It’s a work in progress – what do you think? Useful or not?

Joann Smith Looks Back at Start of Beef Checkoff

Joann SmithOne of my favorite people from Wacahoota, FL is Joann Smith. I am proud to say that I have been to Wacahoota! Joann was the first woman president of the National Cattlemen’s Assocation, now NCBA. During the Cattlemen’s Beef Board luncheon yesterday Joann was asked to take a look back at how the Beef Checkoff was started and to offer some encouraging words to current members moving forward. Joann played a key role in bringing about the Checkoff after two previous efforts had failed. She says she learned a lot from those first efforts. I think you’ll enjoy her look back.

Joann is very proud of the job the members of the Beef Board are doing and also to all who have served over the years since the Beef Checkoff started. She encouraged members to “keep an open mind” especially when it comes to understanding what today’s consumer wants and needs.

You can listen to Joann’s remarks here: Joann Smith Remarks

Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show Photo Album

CBB – Doing More With Less

In 2011 beef checkoff dollars funded the National Beef Quality Audit and identified that producers needed to do a better job of telling their story. During the recent National Association of Farm Broadcaster’s annual Trade Talk the Cattlemen’s Beef Board shared what programs they are funding to help producers do just that.

Chuck talked with Kim Brackett, Secretary/Treasurer for CBB, she talked about resources producers can use to help answer some hard questions consumers have. CBB has flip books available through your state beef councils to help get the conversation started.

“We have invested a lot of checkoff dollars into programs focusing on equipping producers with the tools and the skills they need to engage with consumers. Have a conversation and try to answer the questions consumers have. Some of the programs we have funded are Masters of Beef Advocacy, National Beef Ambassadors and United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Kim here: Kim Brackett - Cattleman's Beef Board

Chuck also spoke with Wesley Grau, Chairmen of CBB. Wesley was excited to share how even in these tough times CBB is doing much more to help spread the word about beef.

“You know that old saying, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ We are doing more with less. We are streamlining efficiencies with committees and Cattlemen’s Beef Board. I think we are following the pattern of the average producer in America and that is to buckle down and get the job done, whatever the cost.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Wesley here: Wesley Grau - Cattleman's Beef Board

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Federation Adds $6.6 Million to Checkoff Efforts

Beef producers serving state beef council boards throughout the country have chosen to supplement national and international research, education and promotion programs funded by the Beef Checkoff Program by about $6.6 million in fiscal year 2013, which began Oct. 1. The supplemental funds, invested through the Federation of State Beef Councils, are to be added to $40.3 million invested through the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and approved by the Beef Promotion Operating Committee, which met in Denver Sept. 19 – 20. The Committee’s decisions were submitted to the full CBB and the USDA for approval.

Some of the funds from states with high cattle numbers and low populations are invested through the Federation to extend national and international Beef Checkoff Program efforts in a coordinated way. Decisions about specific programs to fund are made by individual state beef councils.

National programs are being supplemented through the Federation by $4.9 million, while international programs are receiving $1.7 in state checkoff funds.

2013 National Beef Ambassadors Announced

Erin Morrison (Minnesota), Katie Stroud (California), Emma Jumper (Arkansas), Jacquelyn Brown (Oregon) and Chandler Mulvaney (Alabama) were chosen as the 2013 National Beef Ambassador Team at the annual National Beef Ambassador competition, which is funded in part by the beef checkoff. Twenty-two senior contestants ages 17-20, were judged in the areas of consumer promotion, classroom presentation, media interview technique and issues response at the event held in Sacramento, Calif.

Photo L to R: Jacquelyn Brown, Emma Jumper, Chandler Mulvaney, Erin Morrison, Katie Stroud

Contestants from throughout the country vied for a place on this elite team of agriculture advocates and $5,000 in cash prizes sponsored exclusively by Farm Credit. Additionally five educational scholarships totaling $5,000 were given by the American National CattleWomen Foundation, Inc. and Monsanto.

Ruhland named 2013 Eisenhower USA Fellow

On Sept. 27, General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret), Chairman of Eisenhower Fellowships, announced that the organization will send eight U.S. citizens abroad in 2013 as Eisenhower USA Fellows. Among the eight selected Fellows is Polly Ruhland, Chief Executive Officer of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.

The fellowship provides Ruhland with the resources and programmatic support to create and execute an intensive four- to five-week program studying differentiation of U. S. beef in Japan and Taiwan. Working closely with beef checkoff contractor U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), Ruhland will meet and work with key industry contacts to evaluate techniques and messages that would help U.S. producers better distinguish U.S. beef in both markets.

Understanding Beef Board Committee Structure

Polly Ruhland, CEO of the Beef Board, is making a point in answer to a question during the first Beef Board business session in this photo. I spoke with Polly to get a better understanding of the new committee structure that was approved during that session.

Polly explains the process that led to the proposal for restructuring that was presented here. She says that “What the working group came up with was a structure that relies on the industry long range plan and consumer demand drivers.” It was a big step forward in focusing Checkoff work on consumer demand. Learn more about this in my interview with Polly.

Listen to my interview with Polly here: Interview with Polly Ruhland

2012 Cattle Industry Summer Conference Photo Album

2012 Cattle Industry Summer Conference

The 2012 Cattle Industry Summer Conference is underway in Denver, CO. The opening general session is going on right now.

I’ll be Beef Board Blogging once again for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and will have stories to share here on AgWired soon. We’ve got a Beef Board Update session coming up where I’m sure I’ll get some interviews to share.

Photos are being uploaded here: 2012 Cattle Industry Summer Conference Photo Album

10th Anniversary of Beef Industry Safety Summit

Consumers expect the beef they buy to be safe, every time. That’s why the beef checkoff supports the annual Safety Summit — to bring every segment of the beef industry together in one room to focus on ways to improve beef safety.

2012 marked the 10th anniversary of the Safety Summit and participants recognized that milestone by re-affirming the commitment to beef safety that was first pledged a decade ago.

Watch more here or on the MyBeefCheckoff YouTube channel.

Busy Year for Federation of State Beef Councils

There was a changing of the guard for the Federation of State Beef Councils during the Cattle Industry Convention last week after a busy year for the leadership working on changes in the Joint Committee structure between the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB).

“It’s obviously been a year of identity,” said outgoing Federation chairman David Dick of Sedalia, Missouri (pictured right). The proposal the Federation developed last year, which was approved by the CBB and NCBA during the convention, outlines how joint checkoff committees will function in the future. “Basically it allows us to start building a new committee structure.”

David says he’s satisfied with the changes that have been made and the identity that has been put forth for the Federation and he is especially grateful for his fellow executive committee members who worked many long hours over the past couple of years to make it happen.

Listen to my interview with David Dick here: David Dick Interview

One of those who has worked closely with David for the past two years is the new chairman of the Federation – Craig Uden, a cow-calf producer and feeder from Elwood, Neb. “In the Federation we act as a team,” he said. “We utilize the people who dedicate their time and efforts into making this industry better and moving the needle on beef demand and the only way to do that is with a team approach.”

The Federation is made up of the 45 state beef councils that collect the $1 per head national beef checkoff but its roots stretch back to the days of voluntary state checkoffs. “Back in the 60s, on a voluntary basis, a lot of these beef councils wanted to pool their money together, and that was kind of the basis for the Federation,” Craig said.

That cooperative spirit remains the primary mission of the Federation, the sharing of beef checkoff dollars from states that have large cattle populations, like Nebraska, with the national effort or states like New York that have less cattle but a larger consumer population.

Listen to my interview with Craig here: Craig Uden Interview

The Federation team also now includes Richard Gebhart of Claremore, Oklahoma as vice chairman. Newly elected to represent the Federation as regional vice presidents on the NCBA executive committee are Garry Wiley of Michigan, Clay Burtrum of Oklahoma and Sid Viebrock of Washington who join existing RVPs Jennifer Houston of Tennessee, Terri Carstensen of Iowa, Jane Frost of New Mexico and Becky Walth of South Dakota, as well as Richard Ayers of New York who is the new veal representative.

2012 Cattle Industry Convention Photo Album

NCBA CEO Sees Strong Momentum for Cattle Industry

The CEO of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association sees the current status of the cattle industry as the opportunity of a lifetime.

“There’s a whole lot of market signals in place for growth in this industry,” Forrest Roberts said in his report to the NCBA membership during the annual business meeting at the Cattle Industry Convention on Saturday morning. “NCBA is riding a wave of momentum.”

Forrest notes that NCBA has a strong financial and leadership foundation and the relationship between NCBA and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board is also strong. “Let me leave no doubt – we are working together very well,” Forrest said about the policy and checkoff organizations.

He outlined goals for the coming year as increasing consumer demand and proving the sustainability of cattle production, creating new trade opportunities in international markets, and pursuing the policy priorities of removing the livestock title in the 2012 farm bill and getting permanent estate tax relief.

Listen to Forrest’s report here: NCBA CEO Forrest Roberts

I also interviewed Forrest about the record attendance at the meeting of 8,217 cattle industry members. “The sense that I’ve gotten from folks all across the U.S. this week has been a lot of optimism about the future of this industry,” he said, noting that is the case even with the severe drought in Texas that helped contribute to the lowest cattle numbers since 1950. He expects to see those number go back up again pretty quickly. “I can see us maybe moving from 30 million head to 35 here in the next 5-6 years,” he said. “The demand is there for our product.”

Listen to my interview with Forrest here: Forrest Roberts Interview

2012 Cattle Industry Convention Photo Album

NAFB President at Cattle Industry Convention

National Association of Farm Broadcasting president and poet laureate Tom Steever of Brownfield Ag News impressed the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention with yet another of his original poems. Like he did at the American Farm Bureau convention, Tom wowed the crowd in his own special way.

His poetic composition for the cattle industry was on the timely topic of dust – and anyone aware of the bureaucratic battle over the regulation of “particulate matter” will enjoy Tom’s “It’s Only Dust.”

Listen to the audio here and watch the video below: NAFB President Tom Steever - Dust

2012 Cattle Industry Convention Photo Album

Beef Board Wrap-up

Right after the conclusion of the CBB portion of the joint board meeting at the end of the Cattle Industry Convention I spoke with Chairman, Wesley Grau. Wesley says the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention has been “very positive.” The record turnout of 8,217 registered has been a sign of that positive mood in the industry. He says “everyone is moving forward to communicate” and “cattlemen agree on the need to promote beef in the United States and around the world and we’re going to take those steps necessary to do so.”

You can find more reports on Beef Board activities at the convention on the Beef Board Blog, MyBeefCheckoffMeeting.com. They include board meeting financial, evaluation committee and management reports.

You can listen to my closing interview with Wesley here: Closing Interview with Wesley Grau

2012 Cattle Industry Convention Photo Album

Cattle Industry Convention Attendence Tops 8,100

They were excited yesterday when attendance at the Cattle Industry Convention beat the old record of 6,862. But people just kept coming in and registering on-site after that – adding at least another 1200 to the total by Friday afternoon. The last I checked, attendance was over 8,100.

People were still signing up when I passed through the registration area after noon today. I talked to a few of them and most were from somewhere in Tennessee, like Retha and Johnnie Marlin who drove down from Springfield, which is just about 30 miles due north of Nashville.

“This is our first, we just heard about it,” Retha told me as she was waiting to get their name badges. “Next time, we’re going to Tampa and we’ll go for the whole thing!”

The Marlins own J&J Farms in Springfield where they raise feeder cattle and ship them to Kansas. “My husband’s a banker and we’ve raised cattle for years but hopefully when he retires we can just do this full time,” said Retha.

Listen to or download my interview with Bill here: Cattle Industry Convention Attendee Retha Marlin

2012 Cattle Industry Convention Photo Album