Where Nebraska, South Dakota & Wyoming allocated beef checkoff funds in 2011

Heather Hamilton

In 2011, multiple western state beef checkoff programs were successfully educating consumers about beef and the ranching industry through a variety of unique and effective programs that spanned the globe.

“Our fiscal year ended Sept. 30, and we collected a total of just over $9.5 million dollars. When you take out State of Origin dollars from cattle that are in Nebraska for less than 30 days, which is common due to our large packing industry, and the 50 cents that goes to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, we were left with just over $3.5 million to allocate,” explained Nebraska Beef Council Executive Director Ann Marie Bosshamer.

“In the area of health and education, we coordinated with several other state beef councils to do a three-month ad campaign in Today’s Dietician Magazine, which has a circulation of over 40,000, and a readership of over 100,000 through the American Diabetics Association. We put in a full-page ad that talked about checkoff nutritional research, and the benefits of including beef in a healthy diet,” Bosshamer noted of a major 2011 Nebraska checkoff funded initiative.

“Another program that we partnered with [National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, NCBA] on was called, ‘On the Ranch Work Days,'” she continued. The effort identified top-level influencers, such as pediatric nutritionists, executive chefs and people interviewed on major television networks about food, and those people to Kearney, NE. The group toured a feedlot in groups of two or three and rode in feed trucks, road pens, processed cattle, and just worked in the feedlot for the afternoon. The next day the group toured a ranch where some of them branded, some learned about grazing. “They were all exposed to the whole production side of the business in about 28 hours. That was truly a phenomenal program because those people are very influential on a global basis, and we helped to answer their questions about antibiotics, hormones, environment and production agriculture in general.”

Nebraska also partnered with Kansas to fund Beef Council dieticians in New York, California and Florida. Bosshamer explained those are very population dense areas of the country, and the Nebraska Beef Council believes it is important to put money where the people are.

South Dakota Beef Council Executive Director Ron Frederick said his state also sends part of their checkoff collections toward New York initiatives, including a “Best Burger” restaurant competition for New York eateries, where restaurants compete for a title and prize money.

“We collected roughly $3.5 million in 2011, and half of that went to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board to be used in national programs. Our fiscal year runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

“We also targeted many of our more population-dense areas within South Dakota for May Beef Month activities last year. We worked with the Family Thrift Center in Rapid City; Hy-vee Stores in Souix Falls; and Dakotamart in Pierre. We would partner with the stores, set up our booth in them, and talk about beef. The stores would offer beef specials, we would have samples available, and have our Matthew McConaughey and Sizzle ads running on local radios, with the primary goal of educating and getting people to start thinking about grilling beef for the summer,” noted Frederick.

South Dakota’s population nearly doubles each summer due to tourism and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and Frederick explained that the Beef Council also targeted tourists in 2011.

“We set up a booth at the Stone House, north of Belle Fourche, during the Ham and Jam, where there is a lot of traffic during the Sturgis Rally. We were able to visit with people from about 40 states, five countries and three Canadian Provinces about how lean beef fits into a healthy lifestyle. We also talked to them about other beef products they used, such as the leather on their bikes, and the grease in their wheels, and we gave them samples of beef jerky and chapstick and other items made from beef.

“We reached about 10,000 people with that program, and are looking to expand that idea to the classic car rallies that come to our state, such as the Cool Deadwood Nights, to reach those consumers and increase demand for beef,” said Frederick.

Wyoming’s Beef Council collected just under $1 million in 2011, and their fiscal year ended June 30, explained Wyoming Beef Council Executive Director Ann Wittmann. She noted that Wyoming also targeted health and education through sending the Wyoming Beef Council’s Nutrition News to registered dieticians, extension educators and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Coordinators around the state.

“We also partnered with the Western Dairy Association to bring Dr. Warrie Means, associate professor of animal science at [University of Wyoming], to speak at the Wyoming Diabetic Association, where dieticians also enjoyed a checkoff-funded Philly Beef Steak luncheon. Dr. Means was also the featured speaker at the Wyoming Dietary Manager’s meeting,” Wittmann explained.

Wyoming and South Dakota Beef Council’s partnered with United Blood Services in a, “Pump Iron, Eat Beef,” promotion in 2011. Blood donors who participated received Beef Bucks from the South Dakota Beef Bucks program, and were presented with information about how beef has zinc, iron and protein (ZIP). Whitman noted that the program reached 350 blood donors.

“We also had a program through the Taste of Home (TOH) Cooking Schools,” continued Wittmann. “A positive beef message, recipes, cooking information and other resources were shared with roughly 3,500 consumers during TOH schools held in Cheyenne, Casper, Sheridan and Gillette in 2011.”

Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota were all involved in U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)-related programs in 2011, which target international markets and people.

“One neat thing we did was host a product showcase in Central America, in Panama City, which is an emerging U.S. market. We were hoping to get 15-20 people to show up, but ended up with 75 buyers and 18 exporters in attendances. It was very well attended and a positive seminar about U.S. beef, and utilizing it on your menu and stores,” Bosshamer stated.

She added that Nebraska has also worked with the Hong Kong Vocational school, a culinary school and they only use Nebraska beef. Hong Kong Disney also features beef from Nebraska following a promotional campaign a couple years back that was so successful it has continued.

“We partnered with the All-American Beef Battalion in 2011 and supported our troops through feeding them steak dinners. We helped feed about 800 members of the 200th Engineering Division that shipped to Afghanistan this summer with them. Then we partnered with the Southern Hills Cattlewomen and did a similar ‘Military Appreciation Day’ at Ellsworth Air Force Base, where we co-sponsored a beef meal for over 2,000 military personnel and their families,” Frederick noted.

All three states agreed 2011 was a great year in the beef business, and that they are looking forward to continuing their successful programs in 2012. Bosshamer, Frederick and Wittmann all noted that they are planning to try some new things in the upcoming calendar year, and also revamp some older, successful, programs for today’s consumer.