Cattle producers are BEEFED over “Meat Out Day”
Iowa Gov. Reynolds makes Meat on the Table month proclamation
By KRISS NELSON
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ proclamation of a “Meat Out Day,” where he encouraged people to go a day without consuming meat was an announcement that was heard throughout the U.S. livestock industry that ultimately backfired on Polis.
As a response to Polis’ “Meat Out Day” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, in turn made her own proclamation, declaring April “Meat on the Table” month.
“What we did at the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association was reach out to Governor Reynolds and her team and ask if she had any appetite to weigh in on this matter,” said Cora Fox, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association director of government relations. “They immediately jumped on it and said they wanted to do a Meat on the Table Month.”
Fox said Meat on the Table Month is a great opportunity provided by our governor and Iowans are very fortunate to have the elected officials they do in our state and on the federal level that are as supportive of the beef cattle industry as they are.
“All of that stems from the very strong relationships we have built with them,” she said. “You not only have to build those relations, you have to maintain them.”
Cattlemen Care campaign
Taking Meat on the Table Month a step further, the ICA teamed up with the Iowa Beef Industry Council to launch a “Cattlemen Care Campaign” that focuses on promoting all of the different aspects of the beef cattle industry not only during Meat on the Table Month during April, but during May Beef Month as well.
“May Beef Month is something we have annually. It is just kind of uncanny that these both happened back to back, so we decided we needed to play up the opportunity we were given by the governor and make the most of promoting our industry and so with the Cattlemen Care Campaign we have made a game plan for the next month and then some to encourage consumers, producers and allied industry partners to work together and promote our industry,” said Fox.
This can be achieved in several different ways – including utilizing social media.
“We have social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where we have been sharing content pretty consistently and we have also created some hashtags for the entire campaign,” said Fox.
Those hashtags are #meatonthetable and #iabeef.
There have been themes for each week in April and Fox said they are asking producers, consumers and allied industry partners to add their own content that aligns with the content they are sharing.
The first week of April, the campaign focused on nutrition and the value of beef and how it can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
The next week, was sustainability.
“We asked folks to share about the sustainable practices our industry utilizes – how we are doing more with less,” said Fox. “Inform the public with facts regarding greenhouse gasses and how our industry does not contribute as much as you see in some of the un-informed media.”
Fox said that week also gave producers an opportunity to highlight what they are doing on their farms.
“A lot of our farmers utilize cover crops and graze those with their livestock which completes the biogenic carbon cycle,” she said. “We have a lot of producers doing innovative things on their farms we like to share with the general public.”
The week of April 19 has been focusing on food service.
“We know during the pandemic that our restaurant industry was hit really hard,” Fox said. “We’re asking folks to share their favorite local restaurant. If you have one that serves that perfect ribeye or great burger – bring some attention to them and to their business and what they are doing and encourage foot traffic for them.”
Fox said one way the Iowa Beef Industry Council does this during the month of May is through their Iowa’s Best Burger contest. Researching those finalists and making the trip to visit them is a great way to help promote businesses and Iowa beef.
“There are a top 10 finalists list and that information is on the Iowa Beef Industry Council’s website,” she said. “Check that out if you are visiting a new community. Look and see if one of those restaurants are on there if you want to try a great burger others have voted on.”
Next week, Fox said there is a focus on giving back.
“We know cattlemen contribute a lot to their rural communities,” she said. “Whether it is being on the school board, active in church, fundraisers. Oftentimes, especially when times are tough, after the derecho or pandemic, cattlemen have come out and done grill outs for communities. We are asking them to keep doing that. Recognizing folks that have donated beef to their local food banks or local school districts. Really just trying to show the comprehensive value of the beef cattle industry.”
Going beyond April and May
Fox said she would like to see these themes from the Cattlemen Care Campaign carry on all year.
One way people can gain the confidence in speaking out for the beef cattle industry is by completing the Masters of Beef Advocacy training.
The Masters of Beef Advocacy training is a checkoff funded training that includes five lessons that can be taken free of charge on a self-paced, online manner.
“Anybody – producers, consumers can get on and what’s nice about that is each of those lessons that they have covers some of the themes we have talked about and then some and gives you a good picture of what our industry does and that’s how you become a better advocate for the beef industry,” said Fox. “You don’t have to be a producer to promote the value of beef.”
One of the best things consumers and producers can do, Fox said is to be sure to share accurate information.
“This is not new for the beef cattle industry or livestock industry as a whole, we are constantly getting berated with comments from folks that are just not informed about our production practices and the value of our commodity and nutritional benefits that come from our industry,” she said.
Fox encourages beef cattle producers to connect with the ICA – they will help you to better tell your story.
“It is very clear that some of the politicians and social media influencers in other states are very disconnected from the beef cattle industry and that is something we never want to see happen in Iowa,” she said. “We are proactive about getting the word out about what we do what producers are doing on the farms each and every day.”
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