National Cattlemen's Beef Association Chief Executive Officer Forrest Roberts addressed beef advocates today, Feb. 1, 2011, during the National Masters of Beef Advocacy Commencement held in conjunction with the 2011 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Tradeshow. The MBA program was founded in 2009 to serve as a training platform for farmers and ranchers to combat misconceptions about the beef industry using science-based, real-world information. Roberts told the MBA graduates that their role in telling the true story of U.S. beef production is paramount to sustaining the industry for future generations.
"Each of you plays a critical role in this effort. You are the daily caretakers of animals. You are the original stewards of the land. You are the family farmers and ranchers who are the foundation of the beef community. You are also the bridge builders working to span the gap between urban consumers and rural America," said Roberts. "The problem is for far too long we didn't do a great job telling our story. We went quietly about our business and didn't talk about why we do what we do. Why it makes sense in many areas of the country to graze cattle on grass where it grows in abundance and finish them on a grain based diet located in an area better suited for grain production. We didn't take time to explain why we utilize different production systems to make the best use of the resources we have."
Roberts said the MBA program, implemented by NCBA and funded by the beef checkoff, has already grown to nearly 2,000 people in just two years. Roberts told the MBA graduates that this industry's survival relies on educated consumers. He said the facts proving the sustainability of the U.S. beef industry is readily available but anti-animal agriculture extremists are spreading fiction as fact.
"We found new and better ways of producing more beef with fewer resources but allowed others to brand it 'factory farming' and criticize our progress. Now we find ourselves in the middle of a political, social and economic debate about food production that will determine our future for us if we don't engage in the discussion and make sure our voice is heard. That's where you come in," said Roberts. "First, I ask each of you to engage in the discussion and make sure your voice is heard. I ask each of you to share your story. Your story matters. Consumers tell us they love beef. They want to choose beef. They just want to feel good about choosing beef. When they hear your story, when they know you care about the same issues they do, they feel good about choosing beef."