(Scroll down for more photos from the OCA annual meeting.)
By Susan Crowell
The cattlemen’s association is currently pushing a “yes” vote in a referendum to increase the current Ohio beef checkoff from $1 to $2 per head of cattle marketed in Ohio. Members gathered at the NorthPointe Conference Center in Columbus for a daylong forum, business meeting and evening awards banquet, with several speakers answering questions about the upcoming vote and the state and national checkoff programs.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Scott George said the checkoff can leverage beef producers’ dollars into programs that individual farmers can’t begin to tackle by themselves.
George, who runs both a dairy and beef operation near Cody, Wyo., talked about recent muscle profiling research and products developed from that research, like the flat iron steak, which is now recognized as the second most tender beef cut.
“One state couldn’t have done the work by itself,” George said. “Collectively, we can do it.”
He said research discovered consumers are sometimes overwhelmed by choices in the meat cases, and simply don’t know how to prepare certain cuts. The national beef checkoff program worked with retailers to organize by preparation, like grilling, and also developed simple recipes to put on meat packages, which met retail success.
“Folks, these are the things that help the consumer feel good about our products.”
During a luncheon forum, Ohio Beef Council board member Beverly Roe echoed George’s comments regarding the checkoff’s importance.
“I can’t do the studies, I can’t do all the stuff NCBA does to improve the demand for beef.”
Roe also, however, said there are things individual producers can do, and that’s to talk to the people around them about beef and how it’s raised.
“That is something you all can do every day,” she said. “Just talk to the folks you rub shoulders with.”
”That’s just one person at a time, but that’s an important outreach we need to do.”
George also shared the national cattle group’s priorities in the still-to-be-finalized farm bill. The NCBA is pushing for disaster assistance, conservation programs, and research funding in the bill, which was slated for a possible vote Jan. 29.
“We don’t ask the government for subsidization,” George said, “but in this country, when you have disasters, you need help.”
He said his Wyoming farm caught the tail end of the October 2013 blizzard that hit South Dakota, killing 14,000 cattle. “It was brutal.”
“There’s no help out there right now for those farmers.”
George also explained the national group’s position on the mandatory country-of-origin labeling, saying COOL has created discounted cattle problems since requiring packing plants to segregate cattle.
The rule, which labels retail products with information noting birth, raising and slaughter location of livestock, discriminates non-U.S. products that are part of free trade agreements, and will end in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products, George said. Canada and Mexico have sought redress through a World Trade Organization complaint.
The NCBA was hoping to have the new farm bill include a solution, but as of Jan. 27, it did not.
Overall, George said the beef industry is “really in a good place.”
“We need the supply,” he added. “I don’t care if you have five cows or one cow.”
During the evening banquet, the association honored five award winners.
Mike and Beth Carper, of Carper Family Shorthorns, Delaware, received the Industry Excellence Award, recognizing their life’s work promoting beef, and specifically youth activities like the BEST program.
Mike Carper is also a past president of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association and both Mike and Beth are officers in the Ohio Shorthorn Association.
John Albert, manager of the United Producers facility in Bucyrus, received the association’s Industry Service Award, and Rod and Laurie Ferguson, of Chippewa Valley Angus Farm, Rittman, Ohio, received the Seedstock Producer of the Year award.
Phil and Barb Watts, Licking County, received the Commercial Cattleman of the Year award, sponsored by Farm and Dairy (the Watts were featured in the Jan. 23 issue).
Allen Gahler, Graytown, Ohio, received the Young Cattleman of the Year award. Gahler, an OSU Extension educator in Sandusky County, runs a registered Angus cow-calf operation with his cousin. He’s also active in the industry, serving as co-chair of the Ohio Beef Expo junior show, and as an officer in the Ohio Angus Association.
The Ohio CattleWomen’s Association and Ohio Beef Council also selected their second team of Ohio Beef Ambassadors, the promotional program that replaced the beef queen program
Kendra Gabriel, Pickaway County, Hallie Hiser, Greene County; and Demi Snider, Hardin County, were selected for this year’s ambassador team.
(Click on photos to see larger version.)