When Paul D. Andre founded this magazine almost 50 years ago, he wisely selected the name BEEF. In an era when other publications’ names tended to focus on production sectors, his intent was to stress to readers each month the value of the end product.
Andre realized that all money into the industry flowed from consumers and that keeping the end user satisfied was an important component to factor into management decisions made at all production levels.
We’ve perpetuated that outlook since Andre left the magazine almost 20 years ago. In fact, end-product quality is an integral part of the BEEF mission statement, which is “to provide practical production and industry information that will allow producers to more efficiently, cost-effectively and profitably manage their businesses on a sustainable basis, while keeping an eye toward evolving industry changes and consumer concerns for quality.”
We’ve taken heat now and then for adhering to that mantra. Most recently it’s come from proponents of the GIPSA rule on livestock marketing who have charged us with being in bed with – or the pockets of – packers because of our editorial opposition to the rule.
But, in my 26 years at BEEF, I don’t recall the magazine ever running an ad from a packer. In fact, the most I’ve ever received from a packer was a free pen at a trade show booth.
BEEF has, however, run ads in the past from folks with whom we disagreed on various issues – most notably the beef checkoff and GIPSA. Some of those outfits yanked their ad support from the magazine for its editorial stance; one of them even came back for a time, only to bolt again when we showed we hadn’t learned our lesson.
Our editorial stance is borne from what we feel is best for the beef industry overall, which in the end affects the individual fortunes of producers. That perspective is formed with one eye kept on the beacon that Andre placed before us almost a half-century ago – the end-product consumer.
We don’t oppose the GIPSA rule that would upend quality-based livestock marketing in this country because it’s bad for packers; we oppose it because it’s bad for an industry dedicated to producing a quality product that meets consumer desires. And, the damage such a purely arbitrary rule could wreak on the industry’s two decades of progress toward better consistency and quality would be very injurious to the sustainability of the industry.
This country was founded as a meritocracy, a place where everyone has the opportunity to compete; it wasn’t intended to be an experiment in social justice where everyone is entitled to success.
Beef is at a price disadvantage to pork and chicken. When folks plunk down their money for a steak, they want reasonable assurances of a good eating experience. Setting our beef production and procurement system to the lowest common denominator isn’t the way to guarantee either that or the industry’s future.