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.
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.
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 here, here 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!
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 explorebeef.org, 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.