Beef producers are no strangers to adversity. They deal with Mother Nature, meat substitutes and industry misconceptions. However, they do not fight alone.
The cattle industry has allies in each other and in our agriculture checkoff counterparts. These partnerships amplify the Beef Checkoff programs that increase demand for beef.
Beef producer Philip Weltmer is on the front lines, volunteering his time to represent Kansas producers on the Beef Checkoff.
His family owned Weltmer Livestock in Smith Center for 36 years, in addition to running a cow-calf and feeding operation. As a cattleman, Weltmer has been involved in the collection and contribution of funds to the checkoff. Now he oversees the disbursement of funds by serving on the Federation of State Beef Councils.
The 2021 Beef Improvement Federation Commercial Producer of the Year currently serves as co-chairman of the Nutrition and Health Committee.
“The Nutrition and Health Committee is probably the largest research committee. We’re seeing more need for private research,” Weltmer said.
False claims of red meat as a contributor to cancer and poor heart health continue to plague the beef community. Checkoff-funded and peer-reviewed research, like Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet and Beef in a Mediterranean Diet demonstrate clear evidence that red meat has a place in a healthy diet.
Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommends beef for children as young as 6 months.
“School lunch programs are based on those dietary guidelines and we're big believers that meat protein needs to be in front of our children,” said Weltmer.
The checkoff’s promotion of nutrition and expansion of markets for beef is vital to the industry, as he sees it.
“The majority of producers believe the same thing: we need to promote our beef, and promote it now,” Weltmer said.
To leverage checkoff funds, the Kansas Beef Council values partnerships with other commodity checkoffs like the Kansas Corn Commission.
The beef and corn industries have a natural partnership, with more than 117 million bushels of corn used in Kansas.
“Corn has been a great partner,” Weltmer said.
Coordination with the Kansas Corn Commission has successfully increased demand in foreign markets such as Korea, Mexico and Japan.
The partnership with grain checkoffs and the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) as a contractor strategically uses funds to introduce new ideas and promote beef internationally.
“USMEF has people on the ground who know the culture. They know how advertising needs to be done. They have a lot of middle- and upper-class consumers that crave quality,” Weltmer said of Japan and Korea.
While exporting beef has been a topic of conversation, Weltmer notes that less than 10% of our middle meats leave the United States. Furthermore, exporting certain cuts significantly increases revenue.
“A tongue is basically worth grinding price in the United States, but they were bringing upwards of $12 a pound in Japan,” Weltmer said.
Conversely, we must import lean beef to supply the 90/10 or 85/15 ground beef consumers demand.
“Due to advancements in efficiency and breeding programs, we simply don’t have the lean meat to keep up” Weltmer stated.
With an ever-changing industry landscape, Weltmer is confident in the work he and his fellow board members accomplish and values the partnerships that increase demand for our beef.
“Our main goal is to promote beef and bring as much value to our producers as possible,” he said. “I think our programs achieve that. I truly do.”