The Texas Beef Council is a non-profit organization charged with the promotion and marketing of beef and beef products in Texas, and is funded by the beef checkoff program, a $1 per head assessment on the sale of cattle. While the drought that caused beef herd liquidations in 2011 produced record high
beef checkoff collections for that year, the shrinkage of the cattle herd has caused revenue shortfalls for the Texas Beef Council.
Richard Wortham is the executive vice -president of the Texas Beef Council.
“We saw a record number of cattle sales in 2011. If you look at our revenue, typically in twenty-seven years you could honestly say, we would collect on average, twelve million dollars a year. In 2011 during the drought, we collected right at thirteen million dollars.”
Wortham says that the sell-off in 2011 resulted in substantially below average revenue collection for the last two years. Half of Texas’ Beef-Check-Off dollars go to fund national beef programs.
“If you look at the national checkoff, sixty-two per cent of the national checkoff dollars are collected in that beef belt from Texas all the way up to North Dakota, so it’s had a significant impact, not only on the national programs, but also those state beef councils that are utilizing those dollars in their particular state.”
The Beef Council has had to change some of its marketing strategies.
“What we’ve decided to do is really focus more on influencers, help them become beef champions because we can’t be everywhere. We know there’s going to be things that we cannot do, so it’s just important that we continue to sharpen our focus and execute programs that are going to give us the best opportunity to help increase beef demand.”
Consumers are having to make trade-off decisions about protein.
“What we’ve tried to do in the last couple of years, as we’ve been in a pretty tough economy, is how to stretch that food dollar. We’re doing a lot of couponing with partners at retail, so again what we want to try to do is keep as many consumers in the beef category. They may be substituting from middle meats down to ground beef, but we don’t want to lose customers going from beef into other competing protein.”
The export market is currently driving beef demand.
“As exciting as international markets are, it comes with opportunities and it certainly comes with challenges, and I’m sure as we go into the future, we’ve got to recognize that.”