ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A proposal to merge four major beef industry trade groups into one industry organization that would focus its efforts on consumers is set to be presented to each group's board by the end of January.
The aim of the merger is to better promote and market beef in the face of falling consumption and competition from other protein sources.
The new organization, which has not yet been given a name, would essentially consolidate the programs of the Beef Industry Council of the National Live Stock and Meat Board, Chicago; the National Cattlemen's Association, Englewood, Colo.; the U.S. Meat Export Federation, Denver, and the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, Englewood, Colo.
The plan, developed by a specially organized committee, the Beef Industry Oversight Committee, calls for a single chief executive officer to oversee a unified staff and several operational centers that would implement programs and run the organization's day-to-day activities.
It would include centers for administration, state services, membership and revenue development, public policy, industry image, beef quality, and product marketing, both domestic and international.
Guiding the staff would be a board of governors, an executive committee and a planning group. A network of committees would also be formed to provide grassroots input and prevent duplication of programs. A headquarters for the proposed organization hasn't yet been selected.
"The goal is to have beef industry interests come together under this consolidated structure," said Earl Peterson, project manager of the Oversight Committee and vice president of finance and administration for the National
The Oversight Committee was formed as an offshoot of the Beef Industry Long Range Planning Task Force, created in 1992. The Committee is comprised of three elected officers and the chief executive officer of each of the four beef groups, plus four at-large members.
Peterson said it is a major undertaking to meld the operations of the four groups and whether it goes forward will be determined over the next few months as the groups discuss and vote on the proposal, which was completed at a meeting in Dallas two weeks ago.
"The people involved have to voluntarily do this. We have to appeal to them that this will give the industry a unified voice and offer a more effective use of resources," said Peterson.
The proposal will be formally presented to the operations committee of the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board on Nov. 2 and 3 and is expected to be voted on by the group's board of directors at its meeting Dec. 9 and 10.
The Meat Export Federation will be meeting on Nov. 1 and 2, but a vote is expected at a later date. The National Cattlemen's Association is expected to vote at its meeting Jan. 25 to 28; and the National Livestock and Meat Board is expected to schedule a special meeting to discuss the proposal affecting the Beef Industry Council.
Peterson said creating a unified structure could help the beef industry refocus itself on the consumer, rather than on production as it has in the past.
"Our competitors, pork and poultry, are focusing on marketing and the consumer, so we need to shift emphasis to bring our marketing and promotional efforts to a higher level," said Peterson.
He said the beef industry has had problems competing due to high product costs and product inconsistency. "The bottom line is we want a dynamic and profitable industry and to stop the loss of market share and gain some of it back."
Beef's share of consumer expenditures on meat has fallen from 58% in 1980 to 48% currently. Meanwhile pork has remained about 26% and 27%, while poultry has grown from 15% to 26%, according to Peterson.
The Oversight Committee has estimated that $3.9 million would be saved annually primarily through reductions in meeting costs, salaries and overhead expenses of facilities and operations.