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Cattlemen crusade on with commercial

Cam Fagerhaug
for the True Dakotan
Last week, Foothills Cattle Producers created their second television commercial, produced by the Independent Cable Advertising Network (ICAN). The 30 second clip features three generations of local cattle producers, Phil Wipf, his daughter Natalie Bartel and husband Josh along with their daughter Emersyn Bartel posing as beef consumers enjoying a picnic. It was filmed in the Wessington Springs park and illustrates the importance of knowing where your food comes from. Natalie and Emersyn are shown above, preparing for one of the filmed segments of the commercial. Photo by Kristi Hine for the True Dakotan
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More than motivated by ever plummeting fed cattle prices, members of the local beef interest group, the Foothills Cattle Producers, aren’t distancing themselves from their goals. Instead they are moving forward with their mission of improving the cattle market climate for ranchers and crusading for truth in beef labeling for consumers.

Last week Wednesday a few of them took time from their busy crop planting, caring for cattle and other day to day farm and ranch duties to create their second TV commercial produced by the Independent Cable Advertising Network (ICAN) based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The 30 second clip features three generations of local cattle producers, Phil Wipf, his daughter Natalie Bartel and husband Josh along with their daughter Emersyn Bartel (3) posing as beef consumers enjoying a picnic. It was filmed in the Wessington Springs park and illustrates the importance of knowing where your food comes from.

In October 2019, Wessington Springs area cattlemen and women, along with local business operators gathered at a round table of discussion, seeking a change in price discovery for the beef they produce. By January, the FCP congregated over 300 interested producers and consumers at the Prairie Lounge for an informational meeting covering hot topics in the cattle market and serving up food for thought in moving forward. They continued in February producing their first commercial highlighting the fact not all beef and pork labeled as “Product of the U.S.A.” is truly produced in the U.S. but often imported from foreign countries and then mixed in with U.S. beef and labeled as a U.S. product. To learn about the group’s mission, view current commercials and discover ways to make an impact visit the group’s website, https://www.foothillscattleproducers.com/.

The FCP plans to not only run this most recent commercial with ICAN’s Iowa and South Dakota cable providers, but to span out across the United States. “We want to reach out to folks that are further removed from agriculture. People that don’t know a local producer to seek out for information. Those that are unaware that retail beef and pork is often mislabeled.” FCP member, local sale barn owner and rancher Christina Christensen explains.

In targeting this particular audience they hope to drive those consumers who purchase meat at the grocery store to contact their legislators. “How can we make a difference in policy if our politicians aren’t aware of the concern?” Wipf points out.

As president of the Foothills Cattle Producers he and other members have diligently contacted senators and feel they, along with other cattle interest groups, have made progress within South Dakota and surrounding states, but know it will take more than the Midwest to shape how beef is labeled in grocery stores across the country. However, with recent events, the group believes now, more than ever, consumers want to know where their food comes from.

“To be honest I was not aware of these misleading labels until Loree (Gaikowski) contacted me,” admitted Kayla Cavalier, account executive with ICAN. Cavalier helped the FCP group develop two different commercials to drive consumer interest in food sourcing and call for stricter labeling laws from their area politicians. Having an ag background, she was drawn to help when Gaikowski, Wessington Springs Area Development Corporation’s director, reached out to her for advertising information. Kayla adds, “My family is fortunate enough to buy from local producers so we know exactly where our pork and beef come from. I agree with this mission. I am passionate about helping our local producers and consumers and I feel, proper origin labeling should be important to everyone. I know where my meat comes from, everyone else should too.”

As ample moisture graces our area and pasture grass grows leaps and bounds so does the urge to create a change within the beef industry for these local producers. While the goal may seem lofty, even the most severe storms, pandemics included, don’t typically deter a rancher’s compass. So it’s no surprise these area cattlemen will diligently continue to pursue proper labeling laws and fair market value until the job is done.




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