May is Beef Month which is a time to recognize the men and women who work tirelessly to produce a quality protein source for consumers. The Montana Beef Council (MBC) quietly works in the background to promote and increase demand for Montana beef through education and research.
The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 as a marketing organization for the state’s beef industry. The 12-member board is made up of representatives from all sectors of the beef industry including producers, feeders, retailers, meat packers and dairymen. Nowadays, the board oversees the funds generated by the mandatory $1 per head Beef Checkoff, which was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. Half of that $1 pays into the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and is utilized on a national scale to promote beef. The other fifty-cents stays in the hands of the state from which the cow was sold. In 2018 alone, the MBC managed over $430,000 of generated funds.
The MBC acts as a localized advocacy unit for the Montana beef industry. Their website boasts beef recipes and nutritional tips and the board often sets up booths at tradeshows throughout the state. They work with grassroots organizations to promote ag literacy in young students through hands-on educational programs as well. In addition, the MBC sponsors FFA events, hosts barbeque cook-offs, fun runs and educates producers through beef quality assurance programs (BQA).
“BQA has been a huge benefit for our product,” said Kiley Martinell, MBC vice president and chair of the Education and Budget committees. She also sits on the Executive committee.
The MBC does send a small portion of their funds out of Montana to the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative. With only 3 percent of the U.S. Beef Checkoff dollars collected in this region, the MBC is one of six state beef councils who contribute to the gap between the limited Checkoff dollars and the rapidly growing population in that area.
“Those funds are touching people that probably otherwise wouldn’t know anything about beef,” Martinell stated.
In 2017, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF-USA) filed a lawsuit against the USDA and the MBC subsequently got caught in the cross fire. The complicated and multi-dimensional litigation demanded, on a preliminary basis during the lawsuit, that 100 percent of every Checkoff dollar generated in Montana be sent to the CBB. The funds are being held in a bank account and Montana producers must now fill out a consent form and request their rightful half of the Checkoff remain in state. Currently Montana is the only state requested to send their entire Checkoff monies to the national level.
The lawsuit has added a level of complication to how the MBC funds projects and because of this, Martinell pointed out it is crucial for all Montana producers to be involved by downloading and signing the consent forms, located on www.montanabeefcouncil.org.
To learn more about the Montana Beef Council or the allocation of the Checkoff funds, please visit their website, montanabeefcouncil.org. All board members and their contact information are listed on the website as well and producers are encouraged to reach out.
“We need the producers to know what we’re doing,” Martinell stated. All MBC meetings are open to the public and producers are welcome to attend and learn what the board is doing to promote beef.
Producers interested in learning more about how their Checkoff dollars are being spent on the national level, are encouraged to subscribe to “The Drive.” This quarterly publication is a way for the CBB to share Checkoff stories and the genuineness of cattle producers. To receive updates from “The Drive,” visit DrivingDemandforBeef.com.