Audio with Chris Freland, Executive Director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council
Recently the Federation of State Beef Councils conducted its annual Partnerships in Action Conference near Denver, with representatives from 28 state beef councils helping kick off the 2018 Beef Checkoff national program of work, which began Oct. 1. One of the attendees was Chris Freland, executive director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. Freland says the event helps strengthen the state and national beef checkoff partnership.
“When you’re united, you’re so much stronger than if you’re separated and kind of going in your own direction. And so it validates, number one, that you’re doing the right thing within your state, putting your grassroots farmers face foremost, and holding true that your board members are represented here. And it provides our staff with an opportunity to collaborate with people who are doing what they do in other states.” (22 seconds)
Freland says including her staff in the conference discussions with representatives from both the national program and other states works to make the Beef Checkoff Program more seamless.
“If it’s nutrition, industry relations, quality assurance, marketing and communications, they have partners and other people in the states who do what they do, and again it’s just a chance to do what I call R&D: ripoff and duplicate, so it’s great. And you don’t reinvent the wheel. You can be efficient with your resources and move forward.” (21 seconds)
According to Freland, the checkoff program is all about return on investment for the farmers and ranchers paying into the checkoff.
“We have a lot of metrics, and I’ll tell you the exciting thing is with digital advertising, with some of the things we’re able to do, we’re able to really drill down and share that this makes a difference for beef demand, and that’s critical.” (13 seconds)
Among the topics of discussion at this year’s Partnerships in Action Conference was the newly relaunched national “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” brand. The Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa farmers were involved in this effort. For example, the Utesch family and their Triple U Ranch in Washta, Iowa, are featured in some of the national “Rethink the Ranch” videos and image efforts. The Utesch family had previously been featured in an Iowa Beef Industry Council image campaign. Freland says including the Utesch family in the national campaign makes tremendous sense.
“One thing is unified: it’s about farming and ranching and families and producing a quality product for the consumer. So that was really tried and true, and the Utesch family is a great example of an Iowa farm family that not only has a cow/calf and feedyard operation, but then also the crops to feed those, so it’s a continuous lifecycle there. And they’re just great advocates for the industry.” (22 seconds)
According to Freland, the checkoff also conducted a focus group of consumers in Des Moines to determine whether the new messages and approach in “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” would be effective.
“Does it resonate. Does it work. And then they were able to actually put it to test out in the marketplace. So, again, to be able to extend a longtime, quality, resonating message is really a key to us.” (13 seconds)
The Iowa Beef Industry Council is a member of the Federation of State Beef Councils, a division of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). The Federation is comprised of the 42 state beef councils, many of which voluntarily invest a portion of the 50 cents of each checkoff dollar they control in national and international programs.
NCBA is a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. The beef checkoff is overseen by volunteer checkoff payers on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, with oversight provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.