Checkoff busts myths about cattle production

by Bryan Salvage
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CENTENNIAL, COLO. — Recent articles published in various publications not only include negative information about beef, but some have been misleading readers about the environmental implications of raising cattle, according to the beef checkoff. As a result, the beef checkoff issues-management team continues to work with several researchers in an ongoing effort to better understand the greenhouse gas emissions associated with cattle production.

With the help of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, the checkoff immediately went to work with university contacts to respond. One resulting letter to the editor was published in the December edition of Southwest Airlines’ Spirit magazine and informed readers looking for ways to reduce their personal carbon footprint to look at their energy and fossil-fuel use -- not what they eat.

“As the population increases, we must identify areas where we can have a meaningful impact on reducing our carbon footprint — like fossil-fuel use — rather than vilifying the industries that ensure our population is well-fed and healthy,” Jude Capper, Ph.D., assistant professor of dairy sciences, Washington State University, said in her response to two articles appearing in that publication – one being published in October and one in November.

Her response to such articles is one of many examples in the repertoire of responses that the beef checkoff’s issues-management team handles through checkoff investment.

“The issues-management program is [unfortunately] becoming more and more important to beef producers as there seems to be an influx of myths that threaten consumer confidence in beef,” says Mike Stahly, backgrounder and cow/calf producer from Cavour, S.D., and chair of the issues-management subcommittee. “This program is designed to protect the image of beef and strengthen the reputation of the entire industry and its producers. It’s vitally important that our checkoff is on the front lines for us while we’re dealing with business at home on our farms and ranches.”

He added the checkoff gives producers a number of outlets to express their viewpoints and allows them to have a voice in the debate and get involved through checkoff-funded programs and in collaboration with state beef councils. Whether more comfortable responding to a blog, writing a letter to the editor, giving a presentation or something else of the like, there’s an avenue for every producer to help secure the future of their industry and tell their own story, he continued If not, someone is likely to tell it for you and you might not like what they say, he concluded.
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