My beef: It’s worth a buck

Lately the beef checkoff has become a topic of heated debate. And I have to admit, I find the arguments surrounding it telling of our current society.

It seems to me that there is a loud group of a few people proclaiming that they want results, they want it free, they want someone else to do it…but not on their dime.

Sounds all too familiar.

Let me first of all explain a little bit about the checkoff. When we take our cattle to market, for every head of cattle we sell, the checkoff collects $1. Yes – $1 per cow, calf, bull, etc. that we sell. That dollar goes to the North Dakota Beef Commission, which half goes to a national organization, and half stays in state, where the commission determines where that dollar is best spent, including research, advertising, consumer surveys – just to name a few things that come to mind. (Imagine Sam Elliot reading that last bit…it’s more meaningful that way.)

It's time we get out of the mud and focus on the bigger picture.

It’s time we get out of the mud and focus on the bigger picture.

Recently, in the state of North Dakota, it was debated in the legislature whether or not that $1 per head should be raised – to a staggering $2 per head. The extra $1 per head is also refundable, if the rancher decides that he/she doesn’t want to participate.

The beef checkoff has been behind the scenes for some pretty remarkable advertising campaigns that has definitely hit home with those in the grocery store. (I seriously sometimes pretend that Sam Elliot is reading to me when I’m reading in bed.) As well as assisting in funding research that has added new cuts of meat for those looking for a great way to put beef on the table, while saving a few dollars in the marketplace.

It's easier to do our job in the barn, knowing that there's someone else behind a desk working for our herd.

It’s easier to do our job in the barn, knowing that there’s someone else behind a desk working for our herd.

An increase of $1 for advertising, research and education throughout a 30-year time frame? I wish more areas of my life grew at that rate.

Instead of muddying the waters and creating a bigger black-eye for a product trying to create positive energy and excitement around what we can offer the average grocery-buyer, why don’t those that don’t believe in the power of the $1 ask for their refund and stand back and let the rest of us get to work. If the ranchers of North Dakota truly don’t believe in the work that’s accomplished through the checkoff, then they will all request their extra $1 back per head and the fund will have no extra money. Simple enough.

But remember, those funds go to activities and opportunities that the average person doesn’t have at their disposal. Scientific research, research at the market, advertising campaigns – activities at the state and local level that are beyond a single rancher’s pocketbook. Which is why pooling money across the board is the easiest way to accomplish big things.

The world is made up of talkers and doers. Unfortunately, those working on accomplishing true gains are usually too busy to worry about defending their work.

As someone actively involved in promoting agriculture and championing a way of life that I love, I understand the amount of time and funds it can take to create, hone and share a successful message. If we want to be successful, we need to work together – not tear each other apart.

And that’s worth a buck in my book.

Disclaimer: My spouse currently serves on the North Dakota Beef Commission. But the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Trust me, we don’t always agree. And I’m more than willing to tell him what I think…just ask him. 🙂 

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Why I don’t care about Chipotle ads…kinda

My world has been abuzz lately regarding the latest ploy by Chipotle to make people afraid of their plates…and frankly, it’s getting old.

Perhaps I should clarify a bit. 1) Yes, I do care that Chipotle is blatantly misleading and borderline immoral in their advertising schemes. 2) Yes, I would love to see their businesses eerily empty and their storage rooms filled with happy, warm, fuzzy, free-range, antibiotic-free chickies slowly rotting away. 3) I know they do not care, nor will they ever care, about what I think.

Now that I have that out of the way, let’s talk business.

It’s Chipotle’s job to gain business. All I ask is that they use truth and perhaps a few morals. Since they appear to be incapable of that, then it is our job as agriculturalists and agvocates to make sure that our friends and family know the truth, and are aware of the businesses lack of morals.

That’s all we can hope for, and if we accomplish that much, then we can call it a good day.

Yet so many more strive to change the world with a mighty swipe of their writing swords…or is it a blogging bludgeon…alright, now I’m digressing.

My point? We aim so high to fix the problem, that we miss out on communicating with those that we can really educate and influence. And although we can be successful occasionally doing just that, I prefer the easy victories.

The neighbors that aren’t on Facebook, the lady in the pew next to me on Sundays that talks about her weekly trips to town, the teacher at school who shares educational articles or the long-distance friend that has questions about something she’s read.

No, our efforts do not always have to be grand. But our responses must be true and heart-felt. And if you work on your inner circles, you’ll find your circles naturally growing…and before you know it, people will ask you to respond to a national ad campaign that has little to do with food and a lot to do with expensive marketing.

Congratulations, Chipotle, you’ve put together an amazing package. It’s wrapped up in lies, deceit and fear, and you’ve made one mistake. You’ve given myself, and a whole army of people like me, ammunition and a platform.

So while Chipotle is off spending millions on an ad campaign that insists people be afraid of their plates, I’ll keep working to show people just where their plates are filled. And since I will not change their policies, I will continue to use it as the opportunity that has been presented.

Funny enough, when I shoot a video on my farm, I don’t have to resort to animation and scary music to explain how we grow our crops or raise our animals….maybe Chipotle should spend more time talking about how they make their food, instead of how I raise it. But if they would like to bring out a crew, I can show them our cattle in the pastures. Or the alfalfa and corn that we’ve been growing and caring for all summer, just so that the cattle have food this winter.

Truth in advertising? I don’t think so.