California Beef Council – Let’s Get Better Together!

I haven’t been a huge fan of the California Beef Council (“CBC”) lately. They poked me with a stick and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the way my stick poking was handled, I didn’t like the secrecy (felt like Mean Girls in high school), I didn’t like the outcome. However, cause and effect is a funny thing, because of their stick poking I got to meet my idol and she validated me.

My experience with the CBC was a good thing. It opened my eyes to ways CBC could get better at talking to their producers and our consumers. Instead of staying mad and bitter, I want to help, I want to use my voice, my knowledge  and my point of view to make CBC better, after-all this is my industry and way of life we are talking about.

I got this in the mail. CBC wanted more money, and it seems like California cattle producers didn’t want to give more. I think I know why.

First, in case you aren’t a cattle producer, this is the way check off works. We have the CBC and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. The Cattlemen’s Beef Board is the national level the CBC is the state level. When we sell a cow/beef animal/bull/calf/anything, we must give $1 from the sale of that animal to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Fifty cents from that $1 is then given back to the CBC. Our $0.50 per head investment is meant to have CDC  do these things (pay attention because I am going to refer to this A-F list often):

A) Increase beef consumption;

B) Give out accurate information about the nutritional benefits of beef;

C) Talk about methods that cattle people use produce beef;

D) Talk about all the high standards beef producers use to produce beef;

E) Educate about what would happen without a beef industry;

F) Educate about beef trends to help our consumers understand the industry.

All very important things, right? But this is where I have my issue. Once the CBC got on my radar and I started trying to communicate with them to ask them for help with these things, they didn’t (see below) help me at all! In fact I felt like they basically said “we don’t do that”. I voted no on the referendum because of that.

The above referenced e-mail from Christie (Christie works at the CBC and we went to college together, I think we even had the same job in the farm office, right Christie?)
My e-mail back. I never got any suggestion back.

If my Beef Jar readers recall, I went on a quest with our local paper earlier this year. They printed poorly done, unfactual articles about the beef industry, I went to the CBC for help (you can read more about that quest herehere and here). I never got help.

I tried to ask My Beef Checkoff how I could help,  and as you can see below, I got the same vague run around.

I started getting paranoid. What if it was just me this was happening to, fortunately (or not), I’m not alone!

This would be a great opportunity to post Dr. Grandin’s video about the slaughter house abuse.
She’s got a point.
Another producer would like a dialogue.

I got myself so worked up about this, I even wrote a column about it for Feedstuffs. The “Megan obsession thing” is kinda happening. I just feel like my industry could get better, together.

I feel if CBC made a few changes they would be a more effective organization. If they became more effective, producers would be far more likely to increase our fee when asked next time. I know I would have no problem supporting the CBC if they communicated with us, the producers, especially when those producers point blank ask for help.  It is frustrating, being ignored by the very group that is supposed to promote what we do.

The California Beef Council has a website, a facebook and twitter account – and I think they are being under used. Social media is a powerful tool. I see several other state beef councils doing a wonderful job with it. Instead of ignoring the people commenting in their facebook and twitter, they engage them, ask them about why they have question. These are our consumers, we want them to talk to us, to trust us, not the media or the “google educated” farmers, right?

CBC, do the things you were created to do. Promote, educate, and share. There are so many wonderful cattle producers, processors, dairypeople, chefs, dietitians, scientist, professors,  and veterinarians in California that would be ecstatic to contribute to CBC. If you aren’t comfortable talking about an issue (for example custom exempt slaughter) within my industry ask us! Use us! Come to a family ranch in California, according to your ballot you have at least 1,829 ranchers that met your requirements, can you imagine the stories  they could tell? I think it would be far more authentic than, don’t you?

When I browse the CBC facebook page I see fluff. Go ahead – check it out, if I was just an average consumer, looking for industry facts I wouldn’t find them there.  I would find information about football rivalry, or burger battles,  nothing about Lean Finely Textured Beef or mad cow, or the the recent animal abuse videos. I don’t understand why CBC doesn’t talk about relevant topics – isn’t that supposed to be their job?

Ok CBC, let’s get better. Start using your social media to talk to both your consumers and your producers – no one likes to be ignored. Remember on social media it’s not always about the one person asking the question or making the comment, it can also be about the 10 other people that are lurking the conversation too. Also take some responsibility, I know you are busy and I’m not asking you to respond to “every media request”, just to some, once in a while, when someone asks. And finally don’t be so scared to post information that is relevant to what the national media is covering, I feel like that is an important part of your purpose.

California Cattlepeople let’s help. We need to become more vocal when the councils we fund, start dropping the ball. We shouldn’t accept the fact that our state council isn’t stellar – let’s help get it there! I cannot tell you how frustrated I’ve become with other producers that just nod their head in agreement when I tell them CBC needs some work but laugh and roll their eyes when I suggest they get involved (you guys know who you are!). Let’s get motivated! Our futures as cattlepeople depend in it.


Filed under Ag, Beef, food, Media, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

17 Responses to California Beef Council – Let’s Get Better Together!

  1. You made many really good points and your right on track about producers getting more involved with their state beef councils and letting them know when they drop the ball. I have came across so many ranchers in my area that have no ideal that there is a State level for the beef checkoff and the importance they have in promoting beef. You may have not received the results you wanted but you did prove how approachable the State councils are. Keep holding their feet to the fire.

  2. Now I know what animated you so much recently.
    Seriously though, you aren’t the only one to think that American agriculture is losing battles in the consumer arena, and ultimately politically. It’s sad to see.
    When Sharon Halsey mentioned the “puff pieces” in her Facebook post you posted I wanted to stand up and cheer and pump my fist in the air! There’s been some good ag blogs and discussions lately on this lately that suggest you aren’t the only one thinking along these lines.
    I’m serious when I suggest that people like yourself and others who blog on ag issues ought to form a PR firm or some sort of Bon-profit that does the kind of PR that is woefully missing with the trade associations, check-off groups and even Farn Bureau. I would love to be part of a group like that! I have ideas!!!

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  4. You’re not the only one feeling this way. I feel like industry groups across the country are dropping the ball when it comes to opportunities to be proactive and give a straight-forward, candid answer to consumer/producer concerns.

    • Ryan: What are those of us who love and support agriculture, whether we’re farmers or not, going to do about it then? I’m not being sarcastic, I’m being sincere!

      • That’s a question I really knew the answer to. I feel like there’s a lot of caution, and rightfully so, by organizations when answering questions. I really wish I knew a fix. It’d be the million dollar answer.

        • The “caution” you refer to is due in large part IMO to the litigious society in which we live. But that’s a defensive posture. Being proactive means being on offense, which is where I’d like to see agriculture go. If the current crop of groups aren’t going to do it, then we need a new group or organization to do just that.

          • The defensive posture is definitely what I had in mind Todd.

            I’m not so sure starting new groups is the answer. Others have tried and look like they want to be separate. I consider working with our present groups to make the best changes. It may not be the road with the least resistance, but will end up with a better outcome.

  5. Good points Ryan. I’d like to see some folks higher up the political food chain embrace the kinds of ideas I see coming from your generation.

  6. brandibuzzard

    Offense sells tickets, defense wins games is not the mantra we need to have in ag. I agree Megan, I hope that the CBC will start working with you and responding to negative reactions. Thanks for the post!

  7. Good luck Megan!!! We are rooting for you. Not to repeat what every one else says but I agree that some opportunities have been missed by ag organizations to answer consumer questions. These organizations have the resources to really educate and promote the industry – they need a wake up call! Way to rattle their cages!

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  10. Your right Meg, there is a lot to be gained by organizations using social media and encouraging there members to speak up. The problem is this means giving up control and taking a risk that their supporters may say something they dont like. Granted control never existed in the first place, but it is still percieved that way.

  11. Thanks for share this excellent post with us is really interesting, keep up the good work

  12. A Kansas Farm Mom

    Excellent Post! I have felt the same way about our state beef council and other commodity groups that are funded by checkoff groups. It sounds like to me after reading your post and comparing our state beef council that the national staff is driving the bus and things are going to have to change there before any of the state change. Good luck and don’t give up!

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