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Agricultural News

OCA's Young Leaders Focusing on the Consumer

Thu, 29 May 2014 11:28:08 CDT

OCA’s Young Leaders Focusing on the Consumer

Pictured: CLA member, Katie Powers helping a family purchase beef after she shared a sample of the delicious grilled steak.

Ultimately, a beef producer's goal is to consistently provide a healthy and satisfying eating experience to the consumer. The final session of OCA's Cattlemen's Leadership Academy program emphasized the link and importance of the relationship between the ranch and the consumer.

"I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I'm just focused on making it to the end of the day," said Newton Miller, of Weatherford Oklahoma. "Farming and ranching is a lot of hard work. In this profession, you have to love what you do and continually remind yourself of the big picture . . . we are feeding the world!"

Miller is a member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association and a participant in the OCA's Cattlemen's Leadership Academy program. CLA is a program of the OCA launched more than 2 decades ago to develop young members through industry exposure, education and association communication. Over the course of one year, 25 young beef producers participate in four educational sessions.

"Each session has a different focus: production and animal handling; agricultural law and legislative issues; beef fabrication and retail cuts; and the consumer," explained Miller.

The final session for CLA Class 21 recently took place and focused on the consumer.

CLA participants toured the Cargill Innovation Center in Wichita, Kan., one of the world's most advanced food innovation facilities. The center features research, development, culinary, laboratory, pilot plant and distribution capabilities.

"The Cargill Innovation Center was very interesting," said Megan Rolf a CLA participant from Stillwater, Okla. "Any time we can see the bigger picture, we can have a better understanding of how our decisions impact the value and quality of the product that we produce. This allows us to consider other marketing opportunities or technologies that increase beef production sustainability."

Upon the group's arrival in Kansas City, U.S. Premium Beef's Tracy Thomas visited with the CLA members about carcass data, branded beef programs and meeting the demands of consumers. U.S. Premium Beef is an indirect owner of Kansas City Steak Company through an ownership interest in National Beef. The CLA participants enjoyed a tour of the Kansas City Steak Company. KC Steak Company is a high quality, portion control company that specializes in providing steaks to the finest steak houses throughout the United States. It also has a mail order catalog business which markets high quality steaks direct to consumers.

NCBA's Joe Hansen also joined the group to visit about communicating the beef message to consumers.

"One of the best things we as producers can do is to show people we care," said Joe Hansen, Associate Director of Issues Response for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Hansen's presentation encouraged the CLA participants to communicate the beef message through social media.

"Joe encouraged us to post pictures of what's going on at the ranch and shared some tips for being a good online citizen," Miller said. "Sharing simple photos shows consumers that ranchers care for our cattle and work tirelessly to ensure that the beef we produce is safe, healthy, nutritious and delicious."

The group also visited the Merck Animal Health Headquarters located in DeSoto, Kan., where attendees learned about some of the animal health products produced there and toured Merck's farm where the research and development takes place. While at Merck, the Kansas Young Stockmen's Academy joined the CLA group for lunch and afternoon activities including a meat cutting demonstration and an activity demonstrating hormone presence in a traditional meal versus organic.

"My favorite part of this CLA session was the hormone activity that we completed at Merck, Rolf said. "It was an interesting way to pose a question and provide information that I think would be very valuable for consumers to understand."

Providing information to consumers is exactly what was up next for both the Kansas and Oklahoma young leaders. With the help of the Kansas Beef Council, the 40 participants were split amongst four supermarkets in the Kansas City area where they cooked and served beef samples to customers and handed out beef recipes.

"Handing out beef samples and recipes was a fun experience," Rolf said. "Seeing consumers' reactions to the delicious product we were serving and then helping them find a cut of beef that they could take home was nothing short of very rewarding."

The final stop of the session was at the American Hereford Association. In addition to a delicious steak sandwich for lunch, participants enjoyed learning about the programs that the AHA and Certified Hereford Beef have to offer.

A sincere thank you goes to all the hosts and presenters for the spring CLA session. The CLA program would not be possible without several generous and loyal sponsors including: Merck Animal Health, Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma, Hitch Enterprises, The Oklahoma Beef Council, Farm Data Services, Pickens Auctions, Reproduction Enterprises, Inc., Langston's Western Wear, BancCentral National Association, McKay Ford, Cargill Innovation Center and the American Hereford Association.

The OCA represents more than 5,500 Oklahoma ranching families. The OCA exists to support and defend the state and nation's beef cattle industry. The OCA officers, board of directors and membership encourages you to join us in our advocacy efforts to ensure less government intervention, lower taxes and a better bottom line. For more information about OCA membership, the theft reward program or activities call 405-235-4391 or visit www.okcattlemen.org.



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