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Evaluating Beef Checkoff Programs

The Challenge

The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) invests significant resources in producer education programs designed to help beef producers improve their operations, enhance animal health and welfare, and become effective advocates for the beef industry. Some evidence suggested the programs contribute to improving consumer trust in beef production. However, CBB wanted more clarity on the impacts of its producer-facing programs and engaged Agralytica to evaluate whether these programs’ activities/events.

The Approach

Agralytica began by conducting a logic check of the identified programs. This is a fundamental component of our Results-Oriented Management (R-OM) framework. We explored the rationale of the programs and whether clearly identified causal pathways linked them with CBB’s goals.

We then reviewed the management processes that linked CBB support to these programs and whether they aligned with CBB goals, strategies, and the Beef Industry Long-Range Plan. We reviewed program implementation and progress and, finally, examined whether the overall program concepts were valid and would genuinely increase sales of U.S. beef.

In short, Agralytica sought answers to the following questions:

  1. Was CBB doing the right thing investing in these programs?
  2. Was it doing it efficiently?
  3. Was progress being made?
  4. What potential did the future hold?

Agralytica’s work determined that CBB investments in producer education programs were paying off in higher returns for producers and a higher-quality end product. We also found ways to make the success of these programs easier to measure.

The Outcomes

The results of Agralytica’s evaluation found that each program had a clear rationale for CBB funding that fit within the Beef Industry Long-Range Plan. Moreover, each was executed effectively according to the plans laid out in planning documents, and objectives were mostly achieved or exceeded. We also concluded that these programs likely had a positive impact on consumer trust in beef production and ultimately, beef demand.

Agralytica also determined that the program logic could be made clearer by incorporating objectives and performance measures that would allow for better progress measurement. With these changes, CBB would be able to better monitor the programs’ effective execution and their resulting successes going forward.

Looking at the Future

Going forward, CBB investments in producer education programs are likely to continue. These lay the groundwork for other marketing and promotional efforts that help grow consumer trust in beef production and, ultimately, beef demand. The programs have been widely adopted as an industry standard by both producers and private industry, and evidence shows that certifications in these programs often lead to higher returns for producers and a higher-quality end product.

Furthermore, the growth in consumer interest in how food is produced suggests a continued need for quality assurance programs. These specific programs provide several competitive advantages to beef and veal over other meats and meat alternatives.