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Episode 35: Supporting Producers and Engaging Consumers with Ohio Cattlemen's Association Elizabeth Harsh

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association works to improve the business climate for Ohio’s beef producers by providing educational resources, advocating for sound agricultural policies, and supporting initiatives that promote the growth and success of our beef industry. In this episode, we chat with the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s executive director Elizabeth Harsh to learn more about their efforts to ensure Ohio’s beef producers are able to operate in a sustainable environment, and how they make sure consumers have access to high-quality, nutritious beef products.

Supporting Producers

While demand for U.S. beef is at an all-time high, both at home and abroad, Elizabeth says there is still work to be done. One of the ways the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association helps protect the interests of Ohio cattle producers is by helping them navigate challenges through programs and initiatives specific to their needs.

The Association has been advocating for state funding to expand local harvest facilities, making it easier for consumers to purchase locally-sourced beef and for farmers to have an added income stream selling directly to consumers. The Association is also working on a legislative effort to repeal the state tax that is set to expire in 2025, which they believe will benefit the industry.

Another issue the Association is addressing is the problem of black vultures, which are migrating throughout Ohio and causing damage to livestock. As a federally protected migratory bird, there are limited means for producers to control their impact. However, the Association is working with members of the House and Senate Ag Committees to introduce legislation that would allow producers to have better control over this predatory bird.

At the national level, and in partnership with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, advocacy work has been focused on the Farm Bill to emphasize the importance of risk management programs, disaster assistance programs, protection from foreign animal disease threats, and conservation programs. There is also a need to address misdirected attacks on the beef checkoff program.

Engaging Consumers

The beef checkoff is an important program that supports the Ohio beef industry. The program specifically allows the Association to focus its marketing efforts on the movable middle of consumers, which includes younger millennial families, by sharing the health benefits and ease of preparing beef. The program also enables Ohio cattle producers to tell their stories through initiatives like the Ohio Stories video series, which puts a face on the industry and highlights the challenges and rewards of raising cattle.

To learn more about the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s efforts, including upcoming events and programming for youth and young producers, listen to the full podcast episode.

Here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [02:16] Elizabeth introduces herself, her background, and the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association.
  • [04:27] Elizabeth recaps some of the programs and efforts the Association focuses on.
  • [07:31] Answering questions about beef supply, demand and price, Elizabeth shares the current state of the U.S. beef industry.
  • [13:14] Elizabeth shares information about the strength of the Ohio beef industry.
  • [15:01] Elizabeth recaps this year’s Ohio Beef Expo event.
  • [19:59] Discussing legislation at the state and national level, Elizabeth shares some of the programs the Association focuses on, including the Farm Bill.
  • [22:19] Elizabeth explains how black vultures are affecting a large part of the State and the work being done to allow producers to have better control over this predatory bird.
  • [25:30] Elizabeth touches on how the Association indirectly engages with animal activist groups by focusing on the “movable middle” of consumers.
  • [28:39] Elizabeth explains how the Checkoff allows them to tell the story of the cattle industry.
  • [30:25] Elizabeth shares upcoming educational events available for young producers.

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Bios

Guest Elizabeth Harsh

As Executive Director, Elizabeth directs and coordinates all activities of the Ohio Beef Council and the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association. She is responsible for compliance with the beef checkoff Act & Order and for all OBC/OCA financial statements. Finally, she supervises all OBC/OCA staff.

 

Transcription

Voiceover (00:08):Welcome to AgCredit Said It. In each episode, our hosts sit down with experts from all parts of the agriculture industry to bring you insights and must-have information on all things from farming to finances and everything in between.

 

Brenna Finnegan (00:28):Welcome back to another episode of AgCredit Said It. I'm Brenna Finnegan and I am here with Matt Adams and we are here at the Ohio Cattlemen's Association main office in Marysville, Ohio.

Matt Adams (00:42):Nice to be here again with ya, Brenna. Spring is in the air. This episode actually will drop about mid-May, so we're doing this a little early here in April, but on the way in, planters are starting to roll. Equipment is starting to get out of the barns. It's that time of year again.

Brenna Finnegan (01:01):Yes. And, of course, spring calving. Well, I'm wrapping up. I don't know about it a whole lot of other people, but.

Matt Adams (01:06):Yeah, the winter really wasn't as... We had our cold weeks, but it was really kind of a mild winter. I think when you look, especially for our producers on the calving side.

Brenna Finnegan (01:18):Yep.

Matt Adams (01:19):I mean, on our operation home, we're about a good three-quarters of the way through on calving. But, yeah, I can't complain with the weather we've really, really had this year.

Brenna Finnegan (01:28):Nope. Not at all.

Matt Adams (01:28):And, early April weather has been pretty nice. I'm sure being in northwest Ohio, the Ohio region and all will still have the fun up and down temperatures for the weather.

Brenna Finnegan (01:42):Yes. Yep. Well, this week alone is a perfect example of that, so.

Matt Adams (01:47):That's right. So, Brenna, why don't you lead us right into who we're talking to today and we'll get going?

Brenna Finnegan (01:53):We are here with Elizabeth Harsh, obviously with Ohio Cattlemen's Association. She is the executive director and we want to thank her for joining us for the second time. So, we've got a couple of people that are part of the repeat club.

Matt Adams (02:04):The repeat club. Yeah.

Brenna Finnegan (02:06):Oh, that's what we're calling it.

Matt Adams (02:07):You know, we get you so many times, we'll get you a gold microphone or something for the next time.

Brenna Finnegan (02:12):So, thank you for joining us.

Elizabeth Harsh (02:14):Well, welcome. We're glad to have you here at the office.

Brenna Finnegan (02:16):Thank you. Obviously, we've had you before, but go ahead and give a little bit of background about yourself and how you became a part of Ohio Cattlemen's Association.

Elizabeth Harsh (02:27):Well, all right. That goes on for a while. So, my family farms. We farm in northern Delaware County. Some days when planters are rolling, it feels a little close to Columbus with all the traffic pressure where we're at. So, we're thinking about spring and corn and soybeans and of course, I have a herd of registered cattle as well. Our kids were raised in the beef industry. Both went on to have careers in the industry, left us the cows to take care of, but are our biggest critics in terms of whether or not we're staying on target with that.

(03:00):A proud alumni of Ohio State. Met my husband there in animal science and pleased to work on behalf of Ohio's beef industry. We've got a great team here and have worked with them in this role since the early nineties. So, it's been a while. We've got great leadership, great boards here.

 

(03:20):So, here in Ohio, we are what's known as a two-hat state. So, about half the states across the country are structured like we are, and not to get far in the weeds, but what that means is it's really efficient for the industry that we've got one side of our staff that does the beef promotion, building demand, investing those checkoff dollars, those beef checkoff dollars, but there's a very big firewall in the middle. And, then we've got the Cattleman's Association that is purely membership driven, that is about advocacy for the industry, really focusing on those business climate issues. So, when we can have one roof and one copier and just make sure that we are very legitimate in terms of how those dollars are used, really feel like that's the most effective. So, proud to wake up every day thinking about what we can do to better Ohio's beef industry.

Brenna Finnegan (04:11):Well, it probably helps with the communication between the two sector sides of it all and all that kind of stuff. Right?

Elizabeth Harsh (04:17):Absolutely. We could go on and on about all the issues facing the industry. There's always a consumer confidence demand component or could be.

Brenna Finnegan (04:25):Yep.

Elizabeth Harsh (04:25):As well as a policy regulatory side.

Brenna Finnegan (04:27):Yes. Obviously talking about all that sort of stuff, why don't we dive into a little bit of Ohio Cattlemen's and a little bit of an update? What's going on in Ohio's industry and some of the little hot topics that are being talked about right now?

Elizabeth Harsh (04:44):Oh, there's so much. We start to wind down some of our programs. Even though May is beef month, we're doing a lot on the checkoff side and we've got several promotions that are ongoing. But, for the Cattlemen's associations, obviously, we'd be a little tone-deaf if we're doing a lot of events when we know our folks are wrapping up calving or breeding, depending on your breeding and calving season. Those that have crops are busy with that and first cutting hay. So, not a lot of meetings per se. We are just wrapping up our youth program. So, that happened with our BEST program, and then just getting ready for everything that's coming this summer.

(05:22):The other big thing is our responsibilities here at the state level are really focusing on agriculture's piece of the state operating budget. So, that takes a lot of time. In some respects, ag is such a small piece of that pie, that budget, but we could talk a lot if you want about some of those areas that are so very important to agriculture. Extension, research, some of our facility needs at Ohio State, our Department of Agriculture, and meat inspection, and now we have a great opportunity with a funding request for a new master plan at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair. So, those are just some of the things that we're focusing on.

Matt Adams (06:02):Okay.

Brenna Finnegan (06:02):Yeah. Well, I just saw something from Ohio Cattlemen's about the support for that, for the new projects going on at the fairgrounds. So, I thought that was neat to see and I mean obviously the usage that occurs throughout the year at that location for the program. I think that's great to have everybody backing it as good as it is and hopefully, we'll have a new state of the art facility that just shines.

Matt Adams (06:28):Keeps promoting our industry, I guess.

Brenna Finnegan (06:30):Yeah.

Matt Adams (06:30):So, one topic, Elizabeth, I just really found interesting there. We're talking about state budget level, how we may... The agriculture side may be a smaller portion of that budget, but I really look at it as we are... We have to be one of the larger industries in the state that we touch so many people and that we're so integrated and probably so many other sides. It really probably does affect a lot of the other aspects of that budget even though technically we're probably a small portion of that. I feel that we probably reach a lot of other sectors in that.

Elizabeth Harsh (07:06):Well, Matt, that's so well said. We are the state's number one industry if you really take into account also retail and processing and job creation. So many jobs are created through agriculture and through all those various sectors that are part of that. So, that's right and that's why we need to fight for every piece of that budget to make sure we're doing the things that we need to do to better Ohio agriculture.

Matt Adams (07:31):So, one thing I want to touch base on too. When we look at the Ohio beef industry, especially for the last 12 months, what have you guys seen at your level as far as we start looking at the demand for our product, prices, supply chain, just all the fun aspects that go with that?

Elizabeth Harsh (07:52):Well, let's start with the best news of all. Demand for U.S. beef is at an all-time high, both here at home and abroad. So, that's terrific news and stuff that we can build on and there's a significant part of that is directly the result of the beef checkoff work. So, we're excited about that. You all see live cattle prices. We know what's going on there.

Matt Adams (08:15):Mm-hmm.

Elizabeth Harsh (08:15):You think about here at home in Ohio for the last 12 months, if we're looking backward in addition to forward, we've been very fortunate in terms of rainfall and the growing season that we had last year versus some of our cattle neighbors to the west. We liquidated a lot of cows in the west as a result of the drought last year.

Matt Adams (08:36):Yes.

Elizabeth Harsh (08:36):Certainly that's a contributing factor as we look at the supply of beef ultimately going forward. So, that's a concern. But, then you think about the supply chain and some of those market disruptions. Thankfully, we're starting to see a lot of those fade, so we're really pleased about that. We're continuing to do what we can to help with local packing facilities. We were an advocate for some state funding for that. That has been replenished a few times to expand those local harvest facilities here in the state so consumers that want to purchase local or you want to have an added income for your farm in terms of selling directly to consumers, we want to make sure that option's available.

Matt Adams (09:18):So, with the herd sizes really kind of shrinking with our drought situation across the country, do you guys see a deficit that we're going to have because of the high demand and not enough cattle to come to market?

Elizabeth Harsh (09:36):Well, I'm not an economist, but we read as everyone else does and try to stay up to date on that, working with folks like Cattle Facts, marketing analysts for the industry, and others. When you just focus on demand, we see demand here at home just between 2014 and 2018 up over 14%. And, that's according to USDA.

Brenna Finnegan (10:01):That's a big number.

Elizabeth Harsh (10:01):That's not an Elizabeth Harsh number. That's a USDA number.

Brenna Finnegan (10:04):Yeah.

Elizabeth Harsh (10:05):And, then you think about abroad. We're actually seeing an increase of five and a half percent across  U.S. beef internationally. So, that's a great thing. But, when you start to think about consumption, we'll start to look at that probably dipping down just because of the supply issue that you're talking about a little bit. Still great opportunities for consumers, but that's where some of that give and take comes in there just a little.

Matt Adams (10:27):Definitely. And, we look at trying to build these herds back up and we were talking earlier before our podcast. It's not an overnight increase on our herd size to bring in heifers, to raise these heifers to produce for the feed lots. It's a long process that I... It's interesting to see how our industry will progress, which... I'm a grain farmer and I'm also a cattle producer. I always look at us as grain farmers. We are the most efficient producers in the world. I truly feel that way about the U.S. cattle industry too, that we were losing ground, losing pasture every year, but we are producing as much cattle, if not more cattle than we ever have. So, it's being as efficient as we can.

(11:18):But, I think there's going to be that lag time with building the herds up. But, I think going forward, especially what I've seen, just even on the local level, not the national level, but just local level, is how much people want to buy beef directly off the farm from the producer. They want to know where their products come from. I attest a lot of that to the Ohio Cattlemen's  in our area and even the beef checkoff. What do you want to say? You're educating the consumer on where our products come from. I think it is just... It's a great thing.

Brenna Finnegan (11:57):I think the promotion of it has significantly increased over the past... I mean, since... I hate to say the C word, but COVID. Since that. I mean, there's just been so much more.

Matt Adams (12:06):We can bleep that out, Brenna.

Brenna Finnegan (12:07):Okay. It's like a bad word anymore, right? But, no. The promotion of it all and the buy local and all that kind of stuff. And, you just mentioned something about increasing herds and the advertisements that have been put out there to increase or to obtain replacement heifers or resips, even. I'm not going to lie. Thought about kind of selling off the couple that I got. You know? Just because like these people are wanting them because they need them..

Matt Adams (12:38):Mm-hmm.

Brenna Finnegan (12:38):They need the babies produced in order to keep these numbers up and obviously the income coming in. But, it's neat to see how much more of that... Well, I mean, it's in our face all the time, I think probably because we're in the industry too. But, I mean, you've also mentioned before the growth of it all and where it's going and the expectations of what's going to happen. You know? And, it's really neat to see in the backing that obviously Ohio Cattlemen's has for it. It just helps everybody here in the state with that process.

Elizabeth Harsh (13:14):Well, thank you, and certainly Ohio Cattleman values our partnership with AgCredit. You guys have been longtime members of our allied industry council and sponsors at a lot of the things that we do. So, thank you. And, I think it's an important point to note here that cattle numbers as a whole in Ohio have not changed and beef cattle numbers are high. But, we haven't had the issues that some of the states to the west have had, so we can capitalize on some of these opportunities that I think we see before us. So, that's a great thing. And, you're right, it doesn't happen overnight in terms of if you've got a planned methodical breeding program in terms of developing those matings and that gestation and getting that new calf crop on the ground.

Brenna Finnegan (13:55):It's a two-year process. I mean, from a mama cow or becoming one and then or being born and then raising it up, breeding it, getting a calf. It's a two-year process before you even remotely see any form of return. Well, it's even longer than that because by the time you sell that calf, you got a little bit more into it at that point. So.

Elizabeth Harsh (14:15):And, we're so happy about what we've been able to do to help local processors and help our cattle families that maybe are bringing the next generation to the farm and want to capitalize on the genetics they have to sell beef directly to consumers. Ohio's a populous state, so if we've got that opportunity, let's capitalize on it. I know the staff here constantly hears me preach too. As long as we do that, that we satisfy consumer demand wherever it is. If they want to know where the beef comes from, they have the freezer space and they want to buy local, great. But, that same beef is just as good and just as tasty on the grill no matter where you purchase it.

Matt Adams (14:53):Yes.

Elizabeth Harsh (14:53):Even if it's at a retail store. So, we want to make sure we're marketing everything correctly as we think about those opportunities.

Matt Adams (15:01):So, Elizabeth, talking about the strength of the Ohio cattle industry and Ohio Cattleman's, you guys just recently came off of the Ohio Beef Expo, one of your key events for the year. Kind of tell us a little bit about that. How was this year as far as numbers and what you guys saw?

Brenna Finnegan (15:17):It was a big one too, wasn't it?

Elizabeth Harsh (15:19):It was huge. It's just such a great event to see come together. It was our 35th Ohio Beef Expo.

Matt Adams (15:25):35th. Okay.

Elizabeth Harsh (15:27):And, our numbers were the largest they've ever been all total. We set records on the junior show side. Nearly a thousand head in our junior show.

Brenna Finnegan (15:35):That's amazing.

Elizabeth Harsh (15:36):And, that's a great opportunity to see all those. We actually had a total of nine seed stock sales and then we see a significant number of those heifers that get purchased by young folks actually move over and show that next day. So, that's kind of great to see that.

Matt Adams (15:50):Yeah.

Elizabeth Harsh (15:50):And, we'll market cattle to 20 to 25 states around us. And, of course, then the added plus is a trade show that's the envy of so many events across the Midwest. That trade show was sold out again this year and it's just a great gathering of folks. There's something for everybody no matter what facet of the industry you're in and we really take pride in the educational piece, the quality assurance, and the judging contest. That grew by over 100 youth participating this year as well.

Matt Adams (16:23):Oh, wow.

Brenna Finnegan (16:23):That's amazing. I will contest. It was pretty shoulder-to-shoulder in there on Saturday for a while.

Matt Adams (16:30):Well, and I think one of the great things that you can get there from, even if you're not a producer if you just want to learn about the cattle industry, is just the networking you can get from that event. I mean, like you said, there's really something for pretty much everyone right there. Whatever aspect you want to learn, you can pick up there at the Ohio Beef Expo.

Brenna Finnegan (16:49):Yeah, I mean there are businesses for equipment, breeding, feeding, I mean, you name it, it's a one-stop shop in one weekend and you can pick up your breeding supplies and the semen you need to do what you want to do and all that kind of stuff. So, I mean it’s literally a very neat event and I've gone to it for several years and I absolutely love going and I book the hotel in October on purpose.

Matt Adams (17:23):That's a key event for you there, isn't it?

Brenna Finnegan (17:24):Yes, it is. It has been a tradition for actually a very long time now, so. I'm not going to say quite 35 years because I'm not quite beyond that, at least I hope I'm still not anyways. But, yeah, it's been a long time and I took my niece through all the shows and all that kind of stuff. So, Beef Expo was always a major highlight for us, so it's good to hear all the numbers and the number of participants from the youth side is just... I mean, I think one year they hit 500 and it was like, wow. Now to hear almost a thousand head, that's a bigger wow.

Elizabeth Harsh (18:00):It's the last show and we'll have our best participants and their families, but we also have a number of families that maybe aren't able with whatever else they have going on throughout the year to come to some of the sanctioned shows, but they'll always prioritize bringing their steers and heifers to the beef expo. And so, that's kind of what contributes to that and we're glad to have that as well. And, it was really rewarding to bring together some of the folks that really helped create the expo and recognize them with our 35th anniversary this year. So, that was an added plus.

Brenna Finnegan (18:31):Yes. I was there for that. That was good to see and I mean, there was a sense of pride when everybody walked into that ring.

Elizabeth Harsh (18:38):Yep.

Brenna Finnegan (18:38):To get announced and recognized. That was really neat. It was really neat.

Elizabeth Harsh (18:42):Yeah.

Matt Adams (18:42):Well, that's awesome. But, we're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back here on AgCredit Said It.

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Matt Adams (19:25):Alright, guys. We are back with Elizabeth Harsh, executive director for the Ohio Cattlemen's. And, Elizabeth, I know one thing we talked about a little bit before and kind of something I guess a little more in-depth in our industry. One thing that you guys are very big on for the Ohio Cattlemen's and I know you've been going to a lot of meetings here lately and you probably got more on the way is what you're working on as far as we're looking at from the state and national level with legislation and things we're working on for our industry.

Elizabeth Harsh (19:59):You bet, Matt. So, we touched on this at the state level. Largely, that's the state operating budget, but there'll be other issues that we'll be working on as well. We're certainly especially thinking about talking to you folks involved in H2Ohio and all the good things that are happening there now that we look at opportunities to even see that program expanded statewide, doing our part as agriculture to make sure that we're good stewards of all the practices that are put in place there. So, a lot of those things are happening at the state level.

(20:31):Just last month we were in DC a couple of times, back-to-back weeks actually, and with the National Cattleman's Beef Association. So, OCA is an affiliate of NCBA and it's a tremendous partnership. We may not agree 100% of the time, but the vast majority of the time, and they really are so effective for the beef industry across the country. And, the industry differs from one part of the U.S. to the other, so they've got to be flexible on that front. But, you think about the Farm Bill – lots of discussion.

Matt Adams (21:03):Yes.

Elizabeth Harsh (21:03):Depending on your part of the world in agriculture, whether that's the commodity title or whatever else that is. We really focus on funding for those risk management programs, disaster assistance programs and protection from foreign animal disease threats. So, thinking about funding for a foot and mouth vaccine bank, and so all the other threats that affect some of the other species. Those are so critical in the Farm Bill and so we really focus on that as well as conservation programs. That makes a lot of sense to make sure that we've got some of those cost shares to make it even more attractive for our producers to be able to do the things that they want to do to be good stewards of the land and the water and everything that they're doing there. So, those are our areas in the Farm Bill.

(21:52):We also have to talk a little bit in terms of what shouldn't be in the Farm Bill. It's not a marketing title. Sometimes we also see some misdirected attacks on the checkoff program, all the checkoffs.

Matt Adams (22:04):Right.

Elizabeth Harsh (22:05):But, specifically, the beef checkoff that'll usually come from animal rights groups or other groups that just philosophically are opposed. And, that's where we've got to share those numbers I shared earlier in terms of the value of that.

 

(22:19):So, shifting gears from even the Farm Bill and those things, a repeal of making a state tax repeal of that permanent. That's going to expire in 2025, so already there's legislation introduced by Senator Thune that we're working on that front. And, then one unique thing that is affecting a large part of Ohio, maybe not so much in northwest Ohio, but that is the damage caused by black vultures, and we see those vultures continuing to migrate throughout the state.

Matt Adams (22:48):Right.

Elizabeth Harsh (22:49):And, really affect... They can kill calves. They can kill a cow. It's just devastating the predation that they can inflict on livestock. And, because it's a migratory bird, it's been federally protected, so you have to have a permit and you have to have all those things and there's very limited means in being able to control that. We actually see some legislation introduced both in the House and we're working on the Senate side to be able to allow producers to have a little better control of that, making it a little more efficient for them. So, we're working with our members that sit on the House Ag Committee specifically and some others to get involved in that and be co-sponsors.

Brenna Finnegan (23:28):The last time we met you had actually mentioned something and we're both... I mean, you're from Western Ohio, Matt. I'm from northern Ohio. I had no idea that that was even an issue. And, then you guys were talking about it at the last time that we sat down and spoke and I was kind of blown away that that was even a problem. But, I think about our southern producers who are more remote type producers where the cattle are more out there all the time and that kind of thing. It didn't even occur to me that that was something that was a problem. But, obviously, it's more of a national type thing. Obviously trying to take care of the legislative fixes to help that whole process to controlling it. And, I mean, helping to take those steps for our producers is very important and vital, and the fact that like... I mean you guys are there to help promote that. It's a good thing, a really good thing.

Elizabeth Harsh (24:26):So, just in the last several years have black vultures really invaded the state. I mean, they've been here for longer than that.

Matt Adams (24:33):Right.

Brenna Finnegan (24:33):Yeah.

Elizabeth Harsh (24:34):But, the numbers are getting bigger all the time and the damage is getting larger. So, they typically have been around water areas.

Matt Adams (24:41):Mm-hmm.

Elizabeth Harsh (24:42):So, you think about the Ohio River. You think about those wooded areas. And so, they've come from those warmer climates in the south and so that's why we're seeing them now kind of spread throughout our state. Actually working with some of the cattlemen in Tennessee. I just had recently had the opportunity to be there and couldn't believe just driving down the road, the black vulture pressure. So, it's happened in other states.

Matt Adams (25:06):Right.

Elizabeth Harsh (25:06):And, when you think about it... We talk to our members. I bet if you're talking to them and we hear three concerns that they have any time, it's going to be one of those three whenever you're having that conversation.

Brenna Finnegan (25:19):See, that's amazing to me.

Matt Adams (25:19):Mm-hmm.

Brenna Finnegan (25:19):I mean, because I don't... I don't think about that stuff up in northern Ohio. But, I mean, to hear that it's such a big topic, it's really amazing to hear.

Matt Adams (25:30):We've talked about too some of the animal rights groups that really are kind of pushing their own agenda, I guess you could say, against the industry. How do you approach working or I guess trying to educate groups like that? I mean, do they reach out to you guys as our base, our voice for Ohio cattle, to understand the concerns? Or, are they just not wanting to be educated about what we do?

Elizabeth Harsh (26:03):It's not something we have a lot of opportunity to engage directly. They've got an agenda they're going to carry out. We've got to counter that with fact and that's what we do certainly on the cattleman side when it comes to legislative and regulatory issues. Talk about the good work we do from an environmental standpoint and the health benefits of beef. All the rhetoric you hear how misguided and misinformed some of that information is. So, it's more about sharing facts.

(26:32):On the checkoff side then though you think about that marketing continuum a little bit. So, you've got all of us that enjoy beef and probably raise our own and have it in our freezer. So, we probably don't need to spend those checkoff dollars really focused on marketing beef to us.

Brenna Finnegan (26:50):Yeah.

Elizabeth Harsh (26:50):Just like we're probably not going to spend a lot of time really focusing on those very entrenched vegans. We're going to really focus on that movable middle of consumers that if we can share the health benefits and the ease and preparation and work with influencers to get beef with those younger millennial families and other groups that we really focus on on a more regular basis. That's really where we'll focus and we'll just share the facts on the other front.

Matt Adams (27:20):That's awesome. And, as a producer, I can say, and I think I speak for a lot of producers, that if there is somebody out there listening, especially this podcast, that has questions, does not understand what we do, go introduce yourself to a cattleman. Go introduce yourself to a grain farmer. We'll be more than happy to show you what we do and the care that our animals get while they're with us. I think that is one thing that I feel we can't push enough in our industry, is to come out and talk to us. We're more than happy to talk to anybody and promote our business.

(27:56):It's a business, but it's not business. It's a livelihood. It's generation upon generation of good stewards of land and animals and just promoting that, the good habits that we have out there. I mean, we know as anything, if you don't take care of something, it's not going to produce for you. Well, we take very good care of our cattle. It's not the,  I don't want to say the horror stories that get pushed out in the YouTube videos and stuff. I'm not even sure how they even find these things because I know that's not our industry. But, just go out there and talk to your producers.

Elizabeth Harsh (28:32):So well said. And, again, those tools on the checkoff side, and I want to make sure we talk. We're here talking about cattlemen.

Matt Adams (28:39):Mm-hmm. Yes.

Elizabeth Harsh (28:39):But, it's all one industry. So, the checkoff really enables us to be able to tell that story. And, one of the effective ways we've done that is with an Ohio Stories video series that we kind of update each year and that's about putting a face to the industry, how we're more alike than different with consumers out there, the same family pressures and time crunch and all those kind of things. But, cattle come first, 24-seven. You know?

Matt Adams (29:08):Yes.

Elizabeth Harsh (29:09):We're going to make sure they're fed and cared for and that affects whether or not we take vacations and Christmas day. And, we all can think about some of those weather challenges.

Matt Adams (29:19):What's a vacation someday, right?

Brenna Finnegan (29:19):Who exactly?

Elizabeth Harsh (29:21):Who do I have lined up to feed for me while I'm gone? Right?

Brenna Finnegan (29:24):Exactly. Mm-hmm. And, people need to remember that all of us that do this, we love doing it. Otherwise, we wouldn't be doing it. And, I mean, we get excited every single time a calf is born. I mean, it doesn't matter. You could probably have 100 out there and it's like ooh, look. What's going on?

Matt Adams (29:42):Every time. Yep.

Brenna Finnegan (29:42):And, you want to see what's going on and it's just neat to see the new life and all that and I think there's so much misconception out there as to what goes on. And, like Matt said, call and ask. Pull in and see like, “Hey, what are you guys doing?” Or, whatever. I mean, I have no problem showing anybody what I do. I know Matt, you just said.

Matt Adams (30:04):I don't think there's a producer out there in our industry.

Brenna Finnegan (30:06):No, that wouldn't.

Matt Adams (30:06):That wouldn't be happy to talk about their business and promote what we do.

Brenna Finnegan (30:13):Correct. And, that's good to know and to have the ability to express that, I guess. And, here's one way that we're doing it, right here. We're sitting right here doing it.

Matt Adams (30:25):So, to kind of take it one step further, Elizabeth, I know kind of looking forward to the rest of the year, what programs and what do we have coming up for our Ohio cattlemen, especially our younger producers that we can attend and really learn some things?

Elizabeth Harsh (30:43):Well, summer's busy. It's busy on all fronts and of course we're getting ready for the Ohio State Fair. There's kind of a two-pronged approach. We've got a great beef promotion opportunity. We'll do a lot of consumer education and interaction efforts there during the fair, but we've also got two food stands that through the help of our volunteers, we promote beef through the Ohio Cattlemen's Association and we sponsor a lot of different events. So, it may be 12 days, but there's a lot of preparation that goes in before that.

Matt Adams (31:13):Right.

Elizabeth Harsh (31:13):And, we're proud to be part of that. Shifting gears right after that August is an extremely busy month. Just seems like that's when we need to get those things scheduled. We have our Young Cattlemen's conference. So, that is our young adult leadership program. We've patterned it off of one that NCBA does and it's really great. Two and a half days, young adults, couples if it works out, individuals and really expose them beyond the farm. So, going to the State House and hearing from some of our friends in the legislature that are advocates for the beef industry where we share kind of common goals and philosophies if you will. But, also taking them to Ohio State University. Some of them never have had the opportunity perhaps to even see a carcass hanging on a rail. So, exposing them to some basic meat science, visiting with our marketing partners and even doing some spokesperson training. So, it's back to telling that story.

Matt Adams (32:12):Right.

Elizabeth Harsh (32:14):Just getting producers comfortable with being able to share their stories. It's nothing magical. It's just how you tell that story.

Matt Adams (32:21):Mm-hmm.

Brenna Finnegan (32:21):Well, Matt and I are both looking forward to that event because we're actually both attending that event.

Matt Adams (32:25):Yes.

Brenna Finnegan (32:25):And, Matt is bringing his wife with him and myself and so we're excited to hear.

Matt Adams (32:31):Yeah.

Brenna Finnegan (32:31):The old meat lab is my stomping ground at Ohio State, so spent many, many hours in there. Did my internship there actually. So.

Elizabeth Harsh (32:41):It is such a fun event to do and they still let me come. I'm not sure I still fit the description, but so we don't look at anybody's driver's license.

Brenna Finnegan (32:47):I don't know if I fit the description either. You know? When you start to get a four in the front, it's probably not. The young part kind of doesn't fall into that category so much anymore. Anytime I can learn something new, I'll gladly show up for it. You know?

Elizabeth Harsh (33:02):Well, we're looking forward to having all of you folks attend. And, then we turn the page right after that and we have our Cattlemen's Gala. That's through our Cattleman's Foundation.

Matt Adams (33:11):Okay.

Elizabeth Harsh (33:11):That's our public charity. It's actually the same board, and different officers, but it is our 501c3 public charity. So, that is where we can do some leadership development, some educational things. 509 technically that we do with Ohio State with the meat science folks is funded through the foundation. We also have our beef license plates. But, one of the big ones is the Cattleman's Gala. That is Saturday, August 26th. And, that's become an annual event, just a fun night for a great cause and that's about raising funds for scholarships.

Matt Adams (33:47):Okay.

Elizabeth Harsh (33:47):For our industry youth. So, it'll be at the Delaware County Fairgrounds for the second year in a row. Live music, great food, great beef, of course, a silent auction.

Brenna Finnegan (33:59):That’s a good meal.

Elizabeth Harsh (34:00):And, you know, the most confused point of that is we call it the gala. I think we maybe need a new name sometimes because it's not stuffy and it's…

Matt Adams (34:10):That's what I was going to say. To my mind, it's like I got to put on my suit and tie. And, oh my gosh.

Elizabeth Harsh (34:14):Absolutely not. And, it's not fancy. It's boots and jeans and having a good time. So, it's our version of a gala.

Matt Adams (34:20):And, Elizabeth, for anybody that wants more information on any of these events, what's the best way to find out this stuff?

Elizabeth Harsh (34:28):Well, all that information will always be available on our website at ohiocattle.org. Dot O-R-G. Or, they can call the office anytime here and we can help them if they don't have access to the website.

Matt Adams (34:41):Perfect. And, we will put those links in our show notes when we do put this podcast out.

Brenna Finnegan (34:47):Now, you mentioned right there with that event that it's raising money for the scholarships. Now, in the past, you guys have given out quite a bit of money as far as scholarships go. I mean, it's upwards of $25,000, right?

Elizabeth Harsh (35:01):That's correct. So, a large part of those scholarships do come from the money that's raised from the Cattlemen's Gala and we present them at our annual meeting then in January after their scholarship applications are due October 31st usually, and then by the time it goes through the selection committee. But it was about 25,000. We do all of them but two during our annual meeting, then the other two happen at the Beef Expo in March.

Matt Adams (35:27):Okay.

Elizabeth Harsh (35:27):The other contributor to the scholarships is the beef license plates that I mentioned earlier. So, anybody listening that has a young person that's involved in the industry, even if it's a grandchild or whatever, I really encourage you to consider that because that specialty plate is just $25 additional each year that you pay for that. But, 15 of that 25 comes directly to our foundation.

Matt Adams (35:51):Okay.

Elizabeth Harsh (35:53):That then we use either for scholarships or for our programs like our Young Cattlemen's Leadership Development program.

Brenna Finnegan (36:00):Excellent. Well, Elizabeth, we want to thank you for joining us, giving us a lot of great information again about Ohio Cattlemen's. And, like Matt said, you can find all of the information on our show notes and you mentioned the website. That'll be there as well.

Matt Adams (36:17):And, don't forget, everybody out there listening, our producers. Any questions on increasing your herd as far as on the financing side, always remember, to give your local AgCredit office a call and we can help you with cattle lines, operating expenses, a new building construction,

Brenna Finnegan (36:34):Equipment.

Matt Adams (36:34):land purchase, equipment. Be sure to call your local office and talk to an account officer today and we can definitely get you set up.

Brenna Finnegan (36:41):Yes, and once again, thank you for joining us and we will see you guys next time.

Matt Adams (36:45):Thank you.

Brenna Finnegan (36:51):Thank you for listening to AgCredit Said It. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. While you are there, leave us a review to help others find the show. Let's talk ag in between episodes. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at AgCredit. For more tips and resources, visit agcredit.net.