On Aug. 11, the national beef checkoff partnered with theSouth Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) to host a “Meat Your Beef” immersion event at Walbridge Farms in Millbrook, N.Y., for the corporate staff and meat department of Stew Leonard’s, a regional retail chain based in Norwalk, Conn.
A tour of the Walbridge Farm provided participants with a unique opportunity to see a modern-day working beef farm in the region, from pasture to plate. Walbridge finishes all of the calves born on the farm for later sale in its on-farm retail meat market. Walbridge also markets high-quality genetics through their sales of live cattle and embryos.
Walbridge is a 225-head registered Angus farm owned by Doug and Cheryl Giles and their two sons. Doug Giles is a seventh-generation farmer and plans to keep the farm family focused, “Our farm is family run, and our children help,” Doug said. “We look at what we do on the farm as a way of life versus a job.”
President and CEO of Stew Leonard’s, Stew Leonard, Jr., said the event was a positive experience: “We visit a lot of farms. We were really impressed with Doug and Cheryl at Walbridge Farms for their passion in raising great cattle. The cattle are treated very well.”
The afternoon portion of the "Meat Your Beef" immersion experience included checkoff presentations about marketing to millennials and the value of beef in the retail channel. Penn State University Extension Meat Specialist and Assistant Professor Dr. Jonathan Campbell talked with participants about the variety of beef choices, labels and brands of beef available in the meat case today. The afternoon concluded with an overview of the checkoff’s “Masters of Beef Advocacy” (MBA) program. Staff at Stew Leonard’s have until Sept. 30, 2015 to earn their MBAs to be eligible for an associated internal incentive contest.
Dr. Campbell pointed up the importance of educating retail meat-department staff about topics including the variety of consumer questions regarding beef production and confusion about meat labels. “Their confusion around what they are selling means they are not able to clear up consumer confusion," he said. "Without knowledge, they have no way to explain what their consumers are confused with.”
“Labeling is very confusing for our customers, the presentation helped clarify this for our staff," added Stew Leonard's Director of Operations Mike Derivan." We have to be aware of what is in the meat case and have the correct answer for our customers.”
For more information about the beef checkoff’s“Meat Your Beef” events, contact Christie Browncbrown@pabeef.org, or visit the NEBPI’s“Northeast Loves Beef” Facebook page for photos and more event details.
For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.