Illinois Beef Association: Working Together
DENVER - November’s beef council profile is a conversation with Reid Blossom, executive director of the Illinois Beef Association, which operates on a “two-hat state” structure.
Q. How is the Illinois beef industry faring today?
A: Evaluating the state’s industry now can't be done without acknowledging the drought our producers have faced for the last two years. Many of our cattlemen have been forced to sell cows, buy feed and take other steps necessary to deal with the consequences of being 10 inches to 20 inches behind on rainfall. Despite this, the Illinois cattle industry has some of the sharpest cattlemen in the country. We are one of the few states east of the Mississippi River to have every segment of the production chain, from cow-calf to harvest. Additionally, some of the most recognized and successful seedstock operations are located in the Land of Lincoln.
Q. What is the state’s beef checkoff history?
A. The checkoff in Illinois has a long history, tracing back to one of the oldest state promotion programs, which started in 1963. Today, checkoff dollars are spent in Illinois in a variety of areas from producer-led BQA certification efforts to large scale consumer gatherings like the Illinois State Fair and various events in the Chicagoland area. It’s the country’s third largest metro area, with a population of more than 9.8 million people. Among IBA’s 2013 program priorities are to continue educating cattlemen on how to be better stewards of their land and animals – and giving producers more opportunities to talk about their beef operations to consumers and thought leaders.
Q. What kinds of advantages do you think the two-hat organizational structure provides to your fellow cattlemen and the state industry?
A: Certainly IBA’s checkoff work is a benefactor of our operating status as a two-hat state. Our statewide board of checkoff directors meets in conjunction with our dues directors as two divisions of our IBA’s board of governors. The checkoff directors and their representatives on our executive committee independently make all decisions on funding and budgeting of checkoff dollars. A benefit to our checkoff-funded work surfaces when local affiliate leaders and other interested cattlemen, some of whom sit as dues directors on our board, are able to plug themselves in to volunteer with promotion activities. Simply put, more cattlemen sitting down to talk about what we can all do together benefits us all.
Illinois at a Glance
- The Numbers: The IBA represents 1,700 members, more than 14,000 cattle producers and nearly 430,000 head of cattle statewide
- The Business: State beef consumption and production represents a $4.5 billion industry
- Federation Seat(s): One director seat, held by Susan Head
- Consumer Market: State is home to more than 12.8 million consumers
Illinois Beef Association’s Board: “More cattlemen sitting down to talk…benefits us all,” says IBA Executive Director Reid Blossom. The two-hat IBA board includes officers and directors for both the checkoff and policy divisions, as well as at-large directors and ex officio non-voting members.