Beef producers want consumers to give thanks for all farmers
By MATTHEW WEAVER
When America's families sit down for turkey, the nation's beef producers hope they give thanks for all farmers.
Last week, ranchers across the United States started an effort to spread a message of thanksgiving to consumers. State and national funding from the Beef Checkoff, a producer-funded program to fund beef promotion, research and consumer education, went into organizing a Give Thanks campaign.
Lynn Heinze is executive director of communications for the Centennial, Colo.-based Cattlemen's Beef Board, which oversees the checkoff program.
"Producers in general have found over the last few weeks and months that there seems to be more mainstream media which is passing along information they know not to be true on their farms and ranches," Heinze said.
The campaign included several messages to convey to consumers, from giving thanks for a wholesome and affordable food supply, the fact the food started on one of the many farms or ranches across the country and the fact farmers and ranchers are proud of the role they play in raising food for the table.
"We want customers to take a minute of this holiday to give thanks for the food on their plates," Washington Beef Commission Executive Director Patti Brumbach said. "Behind every plate is a farmer, rancher or a farmer or rancher's family."
On a daily basis, farmers and ranchers were encouraged to participate in a different tactic to promote the message of thanksgiving, such as a letter to put in their local newspapers, cards to give to 25 people or messages to put on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
"It takes beef producers and helps them to be activists for their way of life," she said.
The approach is a new one for the commission, Brumbach said.
"Word of mouth is amazing," Brumbach said. "There's nobody more credible than a farmer or rancher when it comes to telling their story and talking about the processes they use to produce safe and wholesome food."
Various groups in Washington, D.C., are working with the campaign, including the Masters of Beef advocacy program, an online program to teach producers and young agriculture students how to tell the story of beef production, including nutrition, safety and environment, Brumbach said.
Even though the weeklong campaign is over, Heinze said the materials, put together by the beef board's issues management team, are available on the Web site www.beeffrompasturetoplate.org.
Heinze said the board was pleased with the reaction from industry members and planned to gather information in the next few weeks to see how much the efforts worked.
"There's a lot of different aspects. It will be hard to count them all," he said. "We hope to have some very meaningful numbers in the very near term."
Cattlemen's Beef Board: www.beefboard.org
Washington Beef Commission: www.wabeef.org