Special Letter from Leadership

 by Mike Miller, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing and Research, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff

Dear Readers, 

This was both a challenging and a rewarding year for the beef community. We began the year with cattle supplies hitting an all-time low in the United States after nearly three years of drought that wreaked havoc on much of the country. Media stories pontificated whether or not beef supplies would increase quickly enough to meet growing consumer demand in the United States and abroad. Retail and foodservice professionals looked for ways to continue to keep beef on their menus and in-stores, but grappled with rising costs and how to avoid passing too many of those costs onto the consumer. 

But we began to see a shift in the first quarter of 2014 and into the summer. With record-high cattle prices and much lower feed prices came the right incentive and market signals for cattle farmers and ranchers around the country to move toward expanding their cowherds. Beef producers began holding back their heifers for breeding purposes, in order to raise more cattle and supply more beef down the road. The weather conditions let up in most of the cattle-producing areas around the country, and much of the cropland had good moisture through the summer and fall. This resulted in a record-breaking corn and soybean harvest this fall, which came just two years after a devastating drought impacted much of the Midwestern corn crop. This increased availability of corn and soybeans allows more options for beef producers. Today, all signals are pointing toward expansion of the United States beef cowherd. This means that we will continue to grow and become progressively greater, raising more beef, in years to come. 

As we look back at 2014, I can’t help but reflect on the growth that those of us who work on behalf of cattle producers have undergone as well. Our national Beef Checkoff staff members, many of them behind-the-scenes and responsible for executing projects such as Beef Issues Quarterly, have gone through tremendous growth and change over the past year. We’ve gone from a printed version of Beef Issues Quarterly (BIQ) to a digital version, with the exception of this year in review version; we’ve switched from a traditional advertising campaign to a digital advertising program; we’ve moved from paid promotions to building strong relationships with key influencers; we’ve grown from responding to every issue of the day to utilizing data to develop strategic responses to the most impactful issues; and we’ve gone from using research as a foundation of what we do in the beef industry to making sure that research—whether scientific research or market intelligence—is an integral part of everything we do, every single day. I hope you’ve had a chance to read about all of these things over the past year in BIQ. 

As we move into 2015, we hope you take the time to reflect and read some of the year in review stories that highlight the major discussions that took place in the beef industry through this annual printed version of BIQ. We hope this reminds you of both the challenging and rewarding year that we had and that it inspires hope in you, the same way that it does us, that this is just the start of good things to come for the beef industry as we move into the New Year.

Tags: Beef Issues Quarterly, Letter from the Editor, Winter 2014, Year in Review 2014

December 17, 2014