Strong cattle and beef prices, tremendous results from a return-on-investment study, an industry forecast ripe with opportunity, and an engaged community of beef producers and importers combined to create an air of optimism and opportunity at the 2014 Cattle Industry Summer Conference July 31-Aug. 2 in Denver — all despite the realities of an ever-shrinking beef checkoff budget.
"I have been involved in the Beef Checkoff Program for many years, and I can honestly say that these were some of the most encouraging checkoff meetings I've experienced," said Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB) Chairman Kim Brackett. "Our strong marketplace, combined with a remarkable level of cooperation between all participants and a clear willingness of everyone present to share their thoughts and ideas created a feeling of hope and promise for the future of our industry."
Among the highlights of the conference was the release of a new study about the Return on Investment (ROI) of checkoff programs funded with the CBB budget. That study, by Dr. Harry Kaiser — Gellert Family professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University — concludes that each dollar invested in the Beef Checkoff Program between 2006 and 2013 returned an impressive $11.20 to the beef industry.
Add to that what could be called a trifecta for the cattle industry in July — the highest monthly cattle prices on record, the highest year-on-year increase in cattle prices, and the largest year-on-year decrease in corn prices in history — and you've got the makings for a celebration of sorts.
"Folks arrived enjoying a strong cattle market that seems too long in coming, and then learned from Dr. Kaiser's ROI study that the checkoff programs we come together to plan at these meetings are making a difference — a big difference — in the strength of our market," Brackett said. "It was impossible not to be invigorated as we laid the groundwork for fiscal 2015 checkoff programs."
The beef producers and importers who make up checkoff program committees reviewed 2015 program proposals from eight different industry organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture; American National CattleWomen; Cattlemen's Beef Board; Meat Import Council of America, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Livestock Producers Association; North American Meat Association; and the U.S. Meat Export Federation. (Proposals and other committee materials are available for review at Checkoff Committees.)