Kearney, NE (May 11, 2022)Ivan Rush is a passionate beef producer from Scottsbluff, NE. Growing up on his family’s farm in southwest Missouri, he first came to Nebraska for his work with the University of Nebraska. After a 40-year career as a beef cattle research and extension specialist with Nebraska Extension in the Panhandle, Rush is no stranger to working with producers from his region.
Rush still owns his own herd of cattle that he calves himself, backgrounds and retains ownership through finishing alongside his family. Now in his fifth year on the Nebraska Beef Council board, Rush sees his role as an opportunity to give back to the beef industry, while serving the local and statewide producers he’s worked with for years.
“I wake up every day, thinking about the beef industry,” Rush says. “The beef industry as we know is a huge industry in Nebraska, one of the most important livestock industries as far as economics is concerned in the state. I believe any industry must be able to promote their product, to do research on their product and learn where its strong attributes are.”
Rush is a graduate of the University of Missouri, and after receiving his doctorate from Oklahoma State University, thought he would be coming to the Panhandle of Nebraska for a short stint, and instead ended up planting roots because of the people he worked alongside and his devotion to the beef industry.
Rush spent a few of his early years with Nebraska Extension working with producers in Colombia and South America, which helped him understand international markets and trade.
Rush supports the Beef Checkoff’s work in international marketing, something he says is extremely important for the beef industry today.
“The Checkoff does a lot to support the U.S. Meat Export Federation and, as a country who consistently produces high-quality beef, our producers are able to cash in on that,” Rush says. “Because we don't utilize much beef tongue, liver, kidney, etc., we are able to take advantage of our good trading relationships to export a lot of those products to other parts of the world.”
Noting the pressures on sustainability of beef production, Rush stresses the important Checkoff work being done in the Beef Quality Assurance programs, to be sure that consumers know that their product is going through the production and harvest process in a safe and wholesome way. In addition, Rush says cattle are a large part of the answer to environmental concerns and how Beef Checkoff promotion aids in getting the facts in front of consumers.
“We have an opportunity to continue showcasing one of the most desired protein product that's enjoyed all over the world,” Rush says. “People really like the taste of beef because it’s an excellent product and we can produce it in a very sustainable way.”
Rush says his wish is that producers would recognize the tremendous impact their Beef Checkoff dollars have on a breadth of programs. Not only for promotion and research, but also advancements like the discovery of the flat iron steak which was aided by support from Checkoff dollars.
“It's important that producers know what we cannot do with Checkoff dollars as well,” Rush says. “We're not able to lobby in any way, and I know sometimes the frustration with cattle markets, rules and regulations - that producers think the Checkoff dollars should take care of that, but it is not possible.”
Now retired from Extension duties, Rush serves as the district 1 seat representing Nebraska’s panhandle producers from Sioux, Dawes, Sheridan, Box Butte, Scotts Bluff, Morrill, Banner, Kimball, Cheyenne, Garden and Deuel counties.
During his years on the board, Rush says that he has learned a lot about the process of how the Checkoff dollar is utilized and who makes decisions.
“The process is fairly complex in my opinion, but producers are always at the center of the decisions being made. There are tons of checks and balances so that ultimately when that dollar is spent, it is spent wisely and with producer input.”
The Nebraska Beef Council is a non-profit organization served by a nine-member board of directors. The volunteers oversee Nebraska’s beef checkoff and checkoff-funded programs. Programs for marketing and promotion are funded by the $1 beef checkoff.