I recently got my MBA and I’m pretty excited about it. No, I didn’t get my master’s in business administration. I now hold what is known as a Masters of Beef Advocacy – and you can get yours too.
The Masters of Beef Advocacy is an online program that anyone can participate in. It is funded through your Beef Checkoff dollars, so why not take advantage of it?
There are five self-directed training courses dealing with beef advocacy topics, such as raising beef on grass, life in the feed yard and beef nutrition. The courses are easy to follow and there is a quiz at the end of each course to test what you have learned.
I thought I was pretty savvy when it came to promoting the nation’s beef industry, but the courses gave me new information that I, as a beef advocate, can pass on to others.
The beef industry, just like all animal agriculture, is constantly criticized for its perceived lack of humane treatment of animals and the notion that beef offered to consumers comes from “factory farms.” How do we address those misconceptions? The Masters of Beef Advocacy course can help by giving you the tools needed to educate the public.
For example, did you know there is a portion of the Beef Quality Assurance program that deals directly with the humane transport of animals to slaughter and that employees who handle live animals are required to receive routine training in animal care?
When addressing the factory farm issue, the MBA program suggests that beef-industry advocates simply ask people what their image of a factory farm is, then explain the lifecycle of beef. Makes sense to me because chances are the “farm” that they describe will be nothing like your place.
There is also a big consumer trend for grass-fed beef, but what many consumers might not know is that there is a big difference between “grass-fed” and “grass-finished” beef.
All cattle eat grass, so aren’t all cattle grass-fed? Yes, but are they finished on grass or in a feedyard? Throw that question out to someone promoting grass-fed beef and see what the response is. Chances are, they won’t know and it will give you the opportunity to educate that person on the difference.
Another “hot button” issue is the use of antibiotics. As we know, we don’t pump our animals full of antibiotics, but does the average consumer know that? The MBA program gives advocates information on how to explain to consumers that producers only give antibiotics when needed to treat an ill animal and that animal can only be slaughtered after a specified withdrawal time. The Food and Drug Administration has a zero tolerance policy for antibiotic residue, and there is regular testing for the substances.
The courses in the Masters of Beef Advocacy is a yet another tool that we have in our farmer’s toolbox to promote our industry, and if we aren’t going to promote it, who is?
Take the time to enroll in the program and see what you can learn. For more information or to apply, go to www.beef.org/MBAApplication.aspx. It’s free and you can join me in saying, “I am a master of beef advocacy.”