Column by Steve Hanson, Chairman, Federation of State Beef Councils
An Active Role in Joining the Forces
Sometimes being the chairman of an organization is little more than an honorary position. You lead some meetings, you get new passages for your biography. I’m thankful being chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils is much more than that.
The role of the Federation Chairman mirrors that of the Federation itself. We’re an organization that represents organizations – the country’s 43 Qualified State Beef Councils, to be exact. The Federation is the state beef council voice at the national level in the beef checkoff, helping assure the Beef Checkoff Program is a partnership between state and national interests – which is important if you want to have a truly grassroots program.
Qualified State Beef Councils collect the $1-per-head checkoff assessment in their states, and are allowed to keep half of what they have for research, education and promotion programs that are identified by the boards in their states. The remaining 50 cents is sent to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (CBB), which administers the national Beef Checkoff Program, subject to USDA approval. The Federation is where we help get those halves coordinated, assuring efficiency and effectiveness by keeping state “boots on the ground” part of the equation.
Having served as member and chairman of the Nebraska Beef Council, I understand how important the grassroots component of the checkoff is – and has been since the checkoff began. There are more than 700 producers who sit on state beef council boards, and we expect as much out of the money we spend at the state level as we do from funds we forward on to CBB.
About 100 of the 700 producers on state boards also serve as Federation directors nationally. Those directors weigh in by evaluating and approving those checkoff-funded projects conducted by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. (They also serve on joint checkoff advisory committees reviewing all contractors and contracts that are pieces of the checkoff.)
There’s another way state beef councils impact the $1-per-head checkoff: They provide representatives who sit at the decision-making table for all checkoff programs. The Federation elects 10 members of the Beef Promotion Operating Committee, which determines how the national 50 cents of the dollar will be spent. (The Cattlemen’s Beef Board elects the other 10 members.)
As chairman of the Federation, I act as the vice-chairman of the BPOC. Yes, in the end I’m still only one voice of 20. But having experience with the structure, format and intent of the BPOC, and having a seat at the head of the table, I work diligently to make sure proposals that come before the body get the honest, careful consideration they deserve.
As Federation Chair I also have the opportunity to serve on the executive committee of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, which manages international marketing programs for U.S. beef. USMEF’s mission is to increase the value and profitability of U.S. beef and other meat industries by enhancing demand for our products in export markets. Certainly, that’s a mission of the Federation, as well.
When you look at the entire picture, it may sound complicated. But when you get right down to it, the construction of the Beef Checkoff Program helps assure that all voices are heard, and that the checkoff remains a program controlled by grassroots beef producers who pay into the program. I’m honored to have been chosen to lead the terrific team of producers who are overseeing the 2016-17 program of work, and have the chance to represent my fellow beef producers at the national level.