Columbiana, Mahoning, Trumbull cattlemen get update on beef industry

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CANFIELD, Ohio – The beef industry’s response to bovine spongiform encephalopathy has been a “tremendous success story,” according to Elizabeth Harsh, executive director of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association.
Harsh told those at the Columbiana-Mahoning-Trumbull Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting Feb. 15 that checkoff dollars helped maintain consumer confidence and kept the beef industry strong.
BSE was discovered in the United States for the first time Dec. 23, 2003. It’s a date “that we talk about changing the way we raise beef cattle forevermore,” Harsh said.
Consumer confidence. She showed statistics from a survey that asked consumers how confident they were that the U.S. beef supply is safe from BSE. In September 2003, 88 percent of consumers said they felt safe from BSE, often called mad cow disease. In September 2004 – after the BSE case – 91 percent said they felt safe.
“It actually increased,” Harsh said.
Consumer confidence has gone as high as 93 percent since that time, averaging about 91 percent.
During the initial BSE crisis, consumers heard three key messages from the beef industry: U.S. beef is safe, the support system worked and regaining access to export markets is a priority.
She pointed to significant, but balanced, media coverage as proof that the beef industry’s message was being heard.
“We obviously were getting the message across and it was your checkoff dollars that were helping do that to maintain consumer confidence,” she said.
Well done. Harsh said the beef industry’s response was “a tremendous success story in terms of being able to do the preparation and maintain consumer confidence.”
Harsh’s presentation also covered what the beef industry has done to increase interest in its products and add value. Advertising has played a major role in generating consumer interest and muscle profiling has added value to beef animals.
Award. In other business at the meeting, Stuart Moore was named as the group’s Cattleman of the Year.
Officers for 2006 are: Ben Campbell, president; Mark Kohler, vice president; Kevin Coleman, secretary; and Pete Conkle, treasurer.
Chad Bailey, Rich Cope and John McKarns were elected to the association’s board of directors.

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