For more than 100 years, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has represented the interests of U.S. cattle breeders, producers and feeders. The organization’s goal is to create “a dynamic and profitable beef industry, which concentrates on resources around a unified plan, consistently meets global consumer needs and increases demand,” the NCBA says.
In addition to working to enhance consumer’s perceptions about beef as an overseer of beef and beef product promotion through affiliate organizations, the NCBA “works to advance the economic, political and social interests of the U.S. cattle business, and to be an advocate for the cattle industry’s policy positions and economic interests,” the association states. With more than 28,000 members, the NCBA represents more than 230,000 cattle industry professionals.
Through its website, www.beefusa.org, the organization offers a number of tools to assist cattle producers in improving their operations. One way is through an online education forum. The Cattle Learning Center presents timely articles, research and statistical information. An online marketing tool called Competitive Edge helps cattle producers make informed decisions regarding long-term marketing strategy. By entering specific information about an operation, a producer can obtain a list of auction markets within its state, beef alliances, process verified programs (PVP) and quality systems assessments (QSA) programs.
In addition, the Cattlemen’s College provides an extensive listing of presentations designed to educate producers. Topics presented include genetics, reproductive management and environmental issues. More in-depth courses are available on CD format at discounted rates, as well. The learning annex of the site also tackles pressing issues affecting the industry. For instance, due to drought conditions in areas across the country, there is a page devoted to drought assistance including information regarding the USDA’s drought and disaster related programs available to farmers and ranchers.
In addition to several topic-specific newsletters, an interesting creation of the industry is the television show titled Cattlemen to Cattlemen. This news-format program presents cattle market updates, policy news and educational segments related to the beef producers industry. Airing weekly on RFD-TV, the show is now in its fifth season.
Backing the government-related needs of beef producers, the NCBA has a political action committee (PAC) that has been part of the organization’s operations for more than 20 years. “Expanding trade opportunities for U.S. cattlemen is a top priority for NCBA,” CEO Forrest Roberts says. “Whether we’re educating lawmakers in Washington about the importance of reducing trade barriers by passing the FTAs [free trade agreements] or working to reopen markets to U.S. beef, every day we are focused on increasing export opportunities for safe, wholesome U.S. beef.” At the state level, the Federation of State Beef Councils executes programs funded by the Beef Checkoff program.
The Beef Checkoff program assesses $1 per head of cattle sold. Collected by the state beef councils, half of these funds go to the state-run programs and the other half go to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which is allied with the NCBA. Also known as the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, this organization promotes various programs to stimulate beef sales to the public. Through these efforts, an average of $80 million is collected annually “to conduct promotion, research, producer communication, industry and consumer information programs on behalf of the industry,” the organization says.
Through this funding, the Beef Checkoff program offers an extensive array of marketing tools that can be used by those involved with the beef industry. From the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” campaign to other consumer marketing initiatives such as tailgating with beef promotions, the site is a portal for industry professionals and consumers to obtain relevant information regarding beef production.
Assembling the Masses
The NCBA hosts the annual Cattle Industry Convention as another means to assist cattle producers and other industry participants. Held in conjunction with the NCBA trade show, attendees can gain knowledge through conferences regarding the state of the industry, as well as discovering new products and services available. The NCBA looks out for the long-term interests of the U.S. beef industry. Assembling a task force that includes producers, retailers, government representatives and association members, its goal remains clear: “to provide the safest, highest-quality, most consumer-friendly beef and beef products in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner.” By researching trends, the task force plans to increase consumer preference for beef and expand into global markets while maintaining the safety of beef.
“We’ve come a long way in 100 years and yet we still face many challenges,” the NCBA says. “Hopefully, as an industry and as an association, we will learn from our past triumphs and failures and use that information to forge a dynamic and profitable beef industry of the 21st century.”