Texas Beef Checkoff Brings Great Opportunities and Great Responsibilities
By Austin Brown III, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association director
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.,” wrote Luke in chapter 12 of his book in the King James Bible.
My family and I have been given much in our ranching life. It has been our privilege and pleasure to give back to the ranching community. Serving on the Texas Beef Council (TBC) and on the Beef Promotion and Research Council of Texas (BPRCT) are among those privileges.
Four years ago, Texas ranchers approved a $1 per head state beef checkoff. When it came time to decide on how to best use those additional resources, the opportunities were overwhelming. What were the best ways to use the checkoff dollars you entrusted to us? Advertising? Education? Increasing existing programs? Investing in new programs?
We did some of all the above.
The largest population of Americans are those ages 18 to 34. By studying the habits of this generation, we learned that traditional radio and television are being edged out by internet-based services such as Sirius/XM, Pandora, Hulu, and others that can be accessed wherever there’s a cell phone signal.
These younger people — with growing families — like beef. They want to know they are making a wise food choice to keep beef on their plate and to include beef in family celebrations. Checkoff-funded research has helped us to clearly identify the lean, convenient cuts of beef that are easy additions to a busy family’s menu.
Thanks to your checkoff support, TBC has placed eye-catching and informative “Beef Loving Texans” advertisements in non-traditional internet-based channels. In the 19-weeks of our summer ad campaign, we will make 50 million impressions on consumers with internet radio and tv ads — per week.
We haven’t given up on traditional advertising channels either. You may have seen the “Beef Loving Texans” billboards around the state. We are reaching 315 million people with them.
Over the course of this summer, the “Beef Loving Texans” message will be efficiently placed in front of millions of consumers, giving them information that they need to confidently buy and prepare beef they will enjoy and want to eat again.
Your checkoff dollars also supported the creation of a new outreach program that has been incredibly successful — MD Outreach. A staff of professional representatives, with experience as highly-successful pharmaceutical representatives, are presenting the facts about beef in a healthy diet to medical professionals across the state.
Armed with credible research for the doctors and outreach materials for patients, our six representatives are calling on doctors to dispel misconceptions and discuss how beef can be a part of a healthy diet. Since fiscal year 2017, our representatives made more than 12,500 physician calls, resulting in the potential reach of more than 13.5 million patients.
International marketing efforts supported by the beef checkoff are also boosting global demand. In 2017, the value of beef exported by the U.S. increased 15 percent to $7.27 billion, which equals about $286 for every fed steer and heifer slaughtered.
Beef exports to Japan, our top market, increased 19 percent in volume and 25 percent in value. Exports to South Korea were up 3 percent in volume and 15 percent in value. Chilled beef exports to Japan and Korea were up 32 and 78 percent, respectively. Also, now that China is open to U.S. beef for the first time since 2003, beef checkoff-funded promotional programs will help us market to this enormous base of consumers.
The Texas Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, our state beef quality assurance program, is supported by checkoff dollars too. Thanks to BQA we are helping ranchers hone their beef production skills and animal handling at the ranch. As a result, quality grade and tenderness have improved. We are seeing an increase in USDA Choice and Prime carcasses, and since 1990, there has been a 34 percent improvement in tenderness, according to the National Beef Tenderness survey.
Ranchers are delivering a good eating experience to our consumers.
Through your and support, great resources have been entrusted to the beef checkoff programs. Speaking on behalf of the TBC board and BPRCT, it is our privilege to fulfill the great responsibilities that come with those resources and help more consumers choose to keep beef in their diet.