The beef checkoff, through the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, hosted the 6th Beef Boot Camp event on Tuesday, May 7 in Poughkeepsie and Millbrook, N.Y.
A total of 22 retail meat buyers, managers and directors representing 406 retail locations were present at the event as well as 12 culinary instructors, foodservice distributors and restaurant operators. These retail and foodservice influencers came from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Beef Boot Camp began with two morning presentations followed by a farm tour. Dr. Mike Baker, Beef Cattle Extension Specialist at Cornell University, discussed with attendees the various choices of beef available to consumers and Dr. Dan Kniffen, Cattlemen’s Beef Board member and Beef Cattle Extension Specialist at Penn State University, explained the role of the Beef Checkoff Program.
With the majority of attendees having little to no understanding of beef production, the tour of the Walbridge Farm provided them with a unique opportunity to see a modern-day working beef farm from pasture to plate. Walbridge finishes out the majority of their calves for sale in their on-farm retail meat market. Walbridge also markets high quality Angus genetics through their sale of live cattle as well as embryos.
Walbridge is a 225-head registered Angus farm owned by Doug and Cheryl Giles and their two sons. Doug Giles is a 7th generation farmer and plans to keep the farm very family focused. “Our farm is family run and our children help,’ says Giles. “Our one full-time employee, Dan has involved his children in the operation of Walbridge Farm as well. We look at what we on the farm as a ‘way of life’ versus a ‘job’.’
“The tour was very informative, it was nice to see first-hand how hard farmers work. That made a huge impression on me,’ notes Tony Frankovitch, Meat Director for Highland Park Markets, a 5-location retailer based in Manchester, Ct.
Following lunch at the farm, attendees headed to the Dutchess County Cornell Cooperative Extension Office for an afternoon of presentations. Dr. Kniffen discussed the current climate of the beef industry before the group split into the separate retail and foodservice tracts.
Jean O’Toole with the New York Beef Industry Council presented the recently launched Better Beef Sales retail training tool, and Ken Bragg with Volk Enterprises shared information on a beef pop-up timer program. Chris Marcocci of Streetmarc Advertising, Marketing and Promotions, informed the retail attendees about beef and veal promotional opportunities available through the beef checkoff and Nichole Hockenberry of the Pennsylvania Beef Council presented findings from the checkoff-funded 2011 National Beef Quality Audit. Kari Underly, Founder of Range, Inc., and author of the James Beard nominated “Art of Beef Cutting’, demonstrated how to cut and merchandise the new beef value cuts from the beef chuck roll and shoulder clod.