The Cattlemen's Beef Board will invest about $39.8 million, from a total budget of about $42.1 million, into programs of beef promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications in Fiscal Year 2012, if the recommendation of the Beef Promotion Operating Committee is approved by USDA, following review by the full Beef Board.
In action concluding its two-day meeting in Denver last week, the Operating Committee — including 10 members of the Beef Board and 10 members of the Federation of State Beef Councils — approved checkoff funding for a total of 39 "Authorization Requests," or proposals for checkoff funding in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2011. The committee also will request full Board approval of a budget amendment to reflect the recategorization of the FY2012 budget in accordance with the programs approved.
"After some rough seas over the last couple of years, I was just so pleased with how well our Operating Committee meeting went," said Beef Board and Operating Committee Chairman Wesley Grau, a cattleman from New Mexico. "We had great discussion on our checkoff priorities and all of the plans presented. It was a demonstration of true cooperation and respect between the Beef Board, the Federation of State Beef Councils, checkoff contractors, and individual state beef councils.
"I think the producers and importers who invest in their beef checkoff will be proud of the Plan of Work the Operating Committee has moved forward," Grau continued. "We are leveraging every checkoff dollar to meet our goals the best we possibly can with the limited budget we have."
National organizations that had proposals approved by the Operating Committee (and the number of proposals and dollar amounts approved) are as follows: National Cattlemen's Beef Association (19 programs totaling $30.2 million); U.S. Meat Export Federation (13 programs totaling $6.38 million); Cattlemen's Beef Board (one program totaling $1.8 million); American National CattleWomen (two programs totaling 483,360; Meat Importers Council of America (three programs totaling $475,000); and the National Livestock Producers Association (one program at $35,000).
On Tuesday morning, committee discussion started with stories from producers and state beef councils in Texas and Oklahoma, where devastating drought may mean more checkoff collections for a year, but will hit the industry hard for years after. Based on that grim outlook for checkoff collections in the next few years, the Operating Committee voted to leave about $1.2 million "unallocated" in 2012 to lessen the extent of the blow looking forward to Fiscal Year 2013 and beyond.
"It's important for us to plan ahead," Grau said. "Just like on our own farms and ranches, we can't spend everything as soon as we get it if we know there are leaner times ahead. We have to spread things out. And we're committed to running your checkoff with that same sense of responsibility, so I think this was a very prudent decision."
Broken out by budget component, the Fiscal Year 2012 Plan of Work for the Cattlemen's Beef Board budget includes:
$17.8 million for promotion programs, including consumer advertising, retail marketing, foodservice marketing, new product and culinary initiatives; a Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative to build demand in densely populated Northeast states, and veal marketing and communications.
$5.8 million for research programs, focusing on a variety of critical issues, including beef safety research, product enhancement research, human nutrition research, and market research.
$4.4 million for consumer information programs, including a Northeast public relations initiative, national consumer public relations, the 2011 National Beef Cook-Off, a "Telling the Beef Story" speakers bureau, National Beef Ambassador Program, and nutrition-influencer relations.
$3.1 million for industry information programs, comprising beef and dairy-beef quality assurance programs and dissemination of accurate information about the beef industry to counter misinformation from anti-beef groups and others, also referenced as "issues and reputation management."
$6.4 million for foreign marketing and education efforts about U.S. beef in the ASEAN region; the Caribbean; Central and South America; the Dominican Republic; Europe; the Middle East; China/Hong Kong; Japan; Mexico; Russia; South Korea; and Taiwan.
$1.8 million for producer communications, which includes producer outreach using paid media, earned media, direct communications, and communications through livestock markets and state beef councils.
Other categories funded through the 2012 CBB budget include $225,000 for evaluation, $180,000 for program development, $250,000 for USDA oversight; and about $2 million for administration, which includes costs for Board meetings, legal fees, travel costs, office rental, supplies, equipment, and administrative staff compensation. Fiscal Year 2012 begins Oct. 1, 2011.