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Beef Council Promotes Beef Internationally

10 October 2011

US - The South Dakota Beef Industry Council's (SDBIC) newly adopted $3.5-million budget will be working hard in fiscal year 2012 to reach consumers from South Dakota to New York to foreign countries with the message that beef is a smart and delicious choice in a healthy diet.

Directors passed the 2012 budget during the SDBIC's annual meeting in Brookings. The state's beef council, which is responsible for collecting and administering the $1 Beef Checkoff on all cattle sold in South Dakota, is required to direct 50 cents of every dollar to the Cattlemen's Beef Board for programmes on the national level.

The SDBIC retains 50 cents, which directors can choose to invest in in-state programmes and/or enhance national programme investments. Checkoff dollars are utilized strictly for promotion, education or research programmes.

Approximately $420,000 of South Dakota's retained checkoff dollars will be used to enhance national programmes in the coming year, including investments in the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). "Ninety six percent of our potential customers are outside of the United States," explains Ed Blair, a Vale, SD beef producer and newly elected SDBIC President.

"To keep a healthy beef industry we have to promote our product internationally."

Directors also earmarked funds to join with other state beef councils in targeting consumers in the highly populated northeast section of the country. "The East Coast has an enormous population and not many cow numbers," explains Mr Blair. "We have directed dollars to the Northeast alliance to reach some of those consumers."

More than $1.1 million of the expected checkoff revenues for fiscal 2012 will be used on in-state programmes, with more than 47 per cent of that amount directed to consumer information and promotion programmes.

Three new programmes geared toward reinforcing beef's nutritional benefits to health professionals, consumers and fitness enthusiasts include: a partnership with five other state beef councils to advertise in Today's Dietitian; sponsorship of beef cooking demonstrations in Sioux Falls and Rapid City as part of the American Heart Association's Start Eating Healthy Day; and sponsorship of runners in four endurance races throughout South Dakota as part of the Team Beef programme.

In research, SDBIC directors approved $160,000 to fund two new research projects at South Dakota State University. One study will test whether antibodies produced by cattle in response to vaccines are correlated to the prevalence of E. coli after vaccination.

The goal of the second study is to better understand the mechanisms involved with marbling development in beef cattle and to design strategies to promote marbling without increasing fat deposits under the animal's skin.

The SDBIC also approved funds to be used in administrating the state's Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) programme. Outgoing SDBIC President Merrill Karlen said that the decision to coordinate the program is an exciting development since BQA, which offers proper management techniques to beef producers, raises consumer confidence.

"Consumers are more concerned than ever about food safety," says Karlen, an Oacoma beef producer. "It's important we get our message out there that we are doing everything we can to produce a safe, wholesome product."

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