Junk Survey Science
Dear Editor: I read with interest your editorial (“Logic Eludes Checkoff Deniers,” February 2015, p. 24). The “survey” you speak of only surveyed a select group of cattle producers who have been long-time supporters of the checkoff program. So, in reality, 71% is a figure pulled from a group that was most likely going to like the checkoff anyway. The last figure I had heard thrown my way was 78%, so heh, it looks like support may be waning. Unless you can support your 71% with the number and demographics of who was surveyed, it is junk science.
I am also tired of paying for full-page glossy ads in magazines for farmers and ranchers and have that called producer communication/education. Turn back several pages from your article and see “Did You Know” full page that no doubt this magazine charged a pretty penny to take up that space. I am tired of being advertised to. If you have to spend beef checkoff dollars in this manner to “convince” me that foreign demand would be lower without the checkoff—the system is reaching to find something to take credit for. (And goodness, it looks like Dr. Kaiser is cited again!).
And last, because by now I am sure you are tired of my denying, since we did not conduct a double blind study regarding whether or not the checkoff really had anything to do with beef’s success (as you define it), I guess we are at a stalemate. I will keep trying to reform a messy, costly program, and you will keep defending it. Many factors have brought us to where we are today—you can’t deny that.
Thank you for being worried enough about a small group of deniers to commit a whole page to the cause.
—Becky Graner, North Dakota
Editor’s note: Since this column was published, a new “Beef Producer Attitude Survey” was released in January. The random survey of 1,200 beef and dairy producers nationwide, found 75% of producers approve of the beef checkoff program, while 72% believe that the checkoff has, over the year, contributed to the profitability of their cattle operation. The survey was conducted by Aspen Media & Market Research and has a 2.8% margin of error.
Beef Consumption Declining
Dear Editor: I am a checkoff denier. After reading your article, I seriously wonder if you did any research before writing this article or how much you personally are getting from the beef checkoff.
Beef consumption has continued to decline during the time that the beef checkoff has been collected, and you think the checkoff has been successful? I do not know how they can calculate an $11.20 return for every dollar—I’m sure they are doctoring the numbers in the direction they want. The only reason beef has gone up is the drought forced the sell-off of many herds and live inventory is down. “Consumption of beef per person peaked at 94.4 lb. in 1976, but in 2012, it had fallen to 57.5 lb.,” according to an article in AgriView.
I would like to have my checkoff dollars back to use in my local community. This story didn’t deserve to be printed.
—Judy Christians, Wilmont, MN
Editor’s note: Beef consumption has declined on a per capita basis since the mid-1970s, though per capita consumption should not be confused with beef demand. Per capita consumption is a measure of production, since we consume all that is produced. “Per capita consumption is simply production divided by resident population and provides little information regarding beef demand when considered independently from prices,” says Glynn Tonsor, ag economist, Kansas State University.