Japan continues to suffer aftershocks following the March earthquake and tsunami, which may go down in history as the world's most costly natural disaster. U.S. beef producers are committing to relief efforts.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation approached the beef checkoff about joining an industry relief campaign to buy and send beef to Japan to help feed homeless, injured and displaced citizens. When the executive committee of the Federation of State Beef Councils met in late March and discussed supporting this critical international need, Vice Chairman Craig Uden says the decision was unanimous.
"Producers, just in general, always take care of their fellow man," Uden said. "So they were looking at a way, how can we best facilitate some of the needs they are going to have. Some of the state beef councils were giving input to the executive committee that maybe there would be dollars there to move on into the Federation that could go towards this effort, so it was not a real hard decision."
Now the Federation and the Cattlemen's Beef Board have each committed $100,000 to supply beef for Japanese relief shipments that are expected to begin in May. USMEF estimates these checkoff contributions could help feed as many as 80,000 to 100,000 Japanese citizens.
"We all believe in our export markets and our trading partners and we think that's a big part of what we do," Uden said. "So when we have a trading partner like Japan that gets in trouble like this, through the humanitarian process we just think it is key to try to work with those folks and share some of those dollars to benefit the people that were devastated by their disaster."
Uden adds the Federation's participation in the relief campaign demonstrates how the state and national checkoff partnership strengthens the outreach and impact of producer dollars.
Final USDA approval on committing the additional dollars, which will be utilized under an existing, approved USMEF promotion now underway in Japan, is expected soon.