Beef checkoff Survey reviews program visibility and effectivenessWritten by Natasha Wheeler
“Producers continue to have very favorable attitudes toward the beef checkoff program and have been very consistent in their support over time,” stated Dan Hoffman of Aspen Media and Market Research in a Jan. 23 memorandum summarizing the results of the national 2015 Beef Producer Attitude Survey.
Survey results showed that three out of four producers approve of the program and support has ranged from 69 to 78 percent over the last five years.
“Just 11 percent disapprove of the checkoff, which is the lowest it has ever been since polling started 28 years ago,” noted Hoffman.
Producers who are aware of the beef checkoff program are more likely to favor it, which has been a consistent finding across surveys.
“Producers who are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ well-informed are more likely to approve the checkoff, especially those who say they are very well informed,” he commented.
Eighty percent of this group approves of the beef checkoff program, while only nine percent disapprove. Only 60 percent of those who say they are “not too well-informed” approve.
“With little knowledge, it can be difficult for producers to understand the benefits of the program,” he explained.
When producers were questioned about their familiarity with the program, 89 percent noted that they were aware of the checkoff.
“The reality, however, is that about one in three producers know little or nothing about it,” commented Hoffman.
Eleven percent of producers surveyed throughout the U.S. were not even familiar with the name.
“The 11 percent of producers who did not recognize the checkoff on an unaided basis were read a subsequent description of it,” noted Hoffman. “In total, the unaided and aided name awareness of the checkoff is very high, 93 percent.”
Seventy-two percent of surveyed producers believe that the beef checkoff has improved their profitability, and 73 percent agree that the program is headed in the right direction.
“The overall value of the checkoff is viewed favorably, regardless of the economy. About eight in 10 believe the checkoff has helped contribute to the positive trend in consumer demand for beef over the years, and about the same number feel it helps even when the economy is weak,” he explained.
Of the producers surveyed nation-wide, 76 percent believe that the program does a good job of representing their interests.
“In evaluating the checkoff’s performance in representing their interests, the vast majority of producers think the program is in tune with what they want from it,” stated Hoffman.
In Wyoming, extra questions were added to the survey in a practice known as a “heavy-up.”
“We are happy that we saw a big jump in the number of people who have seen or heard of the checkoff in Wyoming,” said Ann Wittmann, executive director of the Wyoming Beef Council.
Beef checkoff awareness among producers in Wyoming is 97 percent, 10 percent higher than the national average.
“We do a survey every two to three years, and results have been fairly consistent with what we have seen before,” commented Wittmann.
In Hoffman’s Wyoming memorandum, he explains that producers were asked about the Wyoming Beef Council’s transparency and accountability to producers.
“If they have an opinion, Wyoming producers are much more likely to agree than disagree that there is transparency and accountability. There are, however, about one in five producers who lack familiarity and say they are unsure,” he said.
Sixty-two percent agreed that transparency and accountability exist within the Wyoming Beef Council, while 17 percent disagreed, and 22 percent were unsure.
“The Wyoming Beef Council funds different checkoff program areas, but they wanted to determine whether producers have any preference about how this is done,” added Hoffman.
The three program areas included in the survey were national promotions, international promotions and advertising to build demand for beef in Wyoming.
“Of the three, the clear priority is to use funds for national promotions,” he noted.
Forty-seven percent of producers favor funds for this part of the program. Nineteen percent indicated priority for Wyoming beef awareness, and 23 percent prioritized international awareness.
“Wyoming producers also were allowed to identify other areas for funding, but only four percent did so,” Hoffman continued.
Producers were also questioned about the visibility of checkoff information in printed materials and radio advertising.
“Awareness is generally as high as two-thirds of producers who have seen at least one advertisement,” indicated Hoffmann, in reference to printed materials.
Thirty-seven percent recalled hearing a radio update or advertisement about the program.
“This approach is not as visible as printed advertisements, although it does reach a plurality of producers,” he explained.
The Wyoming Beef Council will review the results of the Beef Producer Attitude Survey and set future goals for the checkoff program based on the results.
“We will be announcing our goals, most likely, in April,” commented Wittmann.
Goals and tasks will be identified at the Council’s upcoming budget planning meeting.
“The survey is fairly time-consuming. We try to keep it short and succinct,” said Wittmann.
The survey was administered by an independent contractor, who many producers were reluctant to speak to.
“Producers don’t share information easily. It is the nature of our business,” commented Wittmann, “but we spoke out until we got enough responses for statistical accuracy.”
She explained that the program belongs to the producers who are paying for it.
“I believe in having strong data to give us feedback, so we know what we need to change and where we can improve,” she said. “It is critical that we get the data and respond to it appropriately.”