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The Best They Can

Written by Dennis Sun

This past week I had the privilege of attending a meeting of the Wyoming Beef Council (WBC). It had been awhile since I had been to one and, as in the past, I found some very dedicated ranchers and staff promoting Wyoming beef. We are in good hands.

Being on any state beef council is not an easy job as they are spending dollars from all of the beef producers’ sales, and you can’t please everyone. We all take ownership in every dollar we send to the WBC, and we want it spent correctly. The issue is that, with 5,400 beef producers in the state, there are about that many opinions on how to spend the checkoff dollars.

As we have all read lately, between Dec. 28 and Jan. 23, WBC had a media and market research group conduct a survey among a random sample of Wyoming beef producers. When you are trusted with other people’s money you have to know if you have their approval that you are doing the right thing, and this survey was about the best way they could get feedback. 

As the results said, “Producers were asked questions about whether the WBC is transparent to its investors, their awareness of any printed producer advertisements from the Council and their value to them, their awareness of any radio updates or advertising about the beef checkoff and their value, preferences for the program areas the Beef Council should be focusing on and interest in receiving electronic newsletters and updates.”

Now we have to realize what makes their job so hard. WBC has two types of beef producers they are responsible to – the older or gray-haired producer who is comfortable with a newspaper, radio or the evening news and the younger producer who is the future of the business and is into just social media. So, how do they split the hairs? 

It’s the same with trying to reach potential beef customers. Not just the younger customers need information on how to cook the different cuts of beef. How do they market our beef to two different consumer audiences and still satisfy the two groups of beef producers? Well, just like beef producers, you do the best you can with the cards your dealt. 

A majority of those beef producers surveyed agreed that the WBC was transparent and accountable to them. That is good news. A majority of the producers also said they were aware of where they advertised and they liked the value of the advertisements.

When asked where they wanted the checkoff funds spent nationally, internationally or in state, nearly half of those surveyed wanted those funds to be spent nationally, but they wanted to see locally where the funds were spent. 

Due to a number of reasons, there are fewer funds being collected these days. Whether a result of recent drought, low cattle numbers, the fact that Wyoming cattle are not moving or that producers are retaining cattle, Wyoming’s checkoff funds for the 2015 fiscal year are projected to be down 13 percent below what was anticipated, and that has been the overall trend for a number of years nationwide.

We commend WBC for the good job they are doing with what they have.