In a combined effort of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Federation of State Beef Councils, the beef checkoff program is investing a total of $200,000 to help feed consumers in Japan who were injured, misplaced and left homeless and hungry by the devastating earthquake and tsunamis there.
The Beef Promotion Operating Committee approved an amended 2011 foreign-marketing proposal – or “Authorization Request” – that added $100,000 from the Beef Board budget to help fund a Japan Relief Program established through the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the beef checkoff program. Federation Chairman David Dick of Missouri says the Federation voted to send an additional $100,000 from its budget, for a combined checkoff investment of $200,000.
“It’s just about impossible to imagine the challenges those folks in Japan are facing right now,” says Beef Board Chairman Tom Jones, who also chairs the Operating Committee. “As human beings, we all feel a deep sense of sympathy for them and have that heartfelt desire to be able to help out in some small way. As producers, we want to provide some critical nutrition that the folks in Japan absolutely need to help them get through. And thanks to our checkoff program, we are going to be able to accomplish that.”
Jones says the funding for the CBB portion of the relief fund will come from money released from Fiscal Year 2010 projects that were completed under-budget. At a recent meeting in Denver, USDA Marketing Specialist Craig Shackelford assured Operating Committee members that the measure would be in line with checkoff expenditures allowed through the Beef Act and Order, as long as it remains tied to the existing approved promotion program in Japan.
The checkoff-funded foreign-marketing program for Japan in Fiscal Year 2011 includes investment in the “Trust” campaign, which also receives funding from the USDA Market Access Program. As part of that program, USMEF headed up establishment of a “Japan Relief Program” that is pooling resources from a wide range of commodity organizations, including the beef and pork checkoffs and private companies throughout the distribution chain.
The beef checkoff investments will help provide U.S. beef and beef products to help with the food shortages in Japan, which are expected to continue on well into the year. The relief program involves pooling resources to source beef in the U.S., ship it to Japan, and then use existing distribution channels and key accounts in foodservice and retail to develop meals for delivery to displaced consumers.
“Those of us who sit on the Operating Committee believe producers and importers who invest in the checkoff nationwide would support us in this important humanitarian effort,” Jones says. “Most important, this program will deal with the immediate needs in Japan, at the same time strengthening ties with those folks by delivering the nutritious sustenance that we know our U.S. beef provides."