Farming has long been known as the ‘backbone’ of America. But the anti-animal agriculture activists have put a strain on the beef industry.
In an effort to educate consumers, a program called the Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) was introduced. Launched in March 2009, more than 3,000 beef producers and industry allies have enrolled in the MBA program to date.
Farmers and ranchers know that ‘knowledge is power’ and that today’s typical consumer is far-removed from the farm. Smart consumers have reasonable questions about where their food comes from, how it is produced and who is involved in bringing it from the farm to their table.
Daren Williams is Executive Director of Communications for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and also Dean of the Masters of Beef Advocacy Program. He said, “The MBA program was developed by beef producers through the beef checkoff to help reconnect consumers with the farmers and ranchers who raise beef.”
The Masters of Beef Advocacy program arms farmers and ranchers with knowledge that better equips them to share their story with consumers and engage in a positive dialogue about food production.
He said, “The MBA program is funded by the beef checkoff and is open to all beef producers and members of the broader beef community including veterinarians, chefs, dietitians and suppliers of goods and services to farmers and ranchers. There is no cost to participate.”
The MBA program consists of six online courses: Modern Beef Production Animal Care, Beef Safety, Beef Nutrition, Environmental Stewardship and The Beef Checkoff. Daren said, “Each class includes an online tutorial, homework assignment and 10 question quiz.”
Nearly 2,000 people have completed the six online courses designed to equip them to answer consumer questions about issues such as animal care, environmental stewardship and the role of beef in a healthy diet. Daren said, “Kentucky ranks first in the nation in the number of MBA graduates with 181, followed by Missouri (155), Iowa (145), Texas (141) and Kansas (120).”
Graduates of the MBA program receive a “diploma” certifying them as a Master of Beef Advocacy. But who are these students? Daren said, “The majority are beef farmers and ranchers from across the country representing every size farm or ranch and every type of beef production, including grass-fed, grain-finished, natural and organic. Graduates of the program range in age from 10 to 80 and approximately 20 percent are college aged or younger.”
The MBA program is proving to be very beneficial. Daren stated, “The program is a critical step forward in the effort to reclaim our legacy as the original stewards of the land, caretakers of animals and providers of safe, wholesome and nutritious food.” He added, “Farmers and ranchers work hard every day to provide food for a growing world population but rarely talk about the work they do. New social media tools like blogging and Facebook allow farmers and ranchers to share their story directly with consumers. The MBA program gives them the information they need to answer the questions of consumers.”


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