Jeff Rudolph got his start in agriculture growing up as a farm kid in Syracuse, Nebraska. After feeding cattle in the Texas Panhandle for eight years, Jeff and his wife, Brenda returned to the beef state in 1993, settling down in Dawson County where he is currently the general manager of Hi-Gain Feedlot.
Rudolph has a long history of involvement in the beef industry, including serving as the 2014 Nebraska Cattlemen president, as well as the marketing committee chairman and representative of the feedlot council. He also serves on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board representing Nebraska on the evaluation committee, beef promotion operating committee, and domestic marketing committee.
Six years ago, the district nine director’s seat was open at the Nebraska Beef Council, and it came directly after his Nebraska Cattlemen leadership stint. Taking on the district nine seat was a natural fit for Rudolph, as he says he felt like it was something he needed to do.
“As far as my objective, it’s to represent fellow producers and be a faithful steward of the Checkoff dollar,” said Rudolph. “It’s the same way with the CBB committees.”
Rudolph notes that although not everyone in the beef industry today was active nearly four decades ago when the Beef Act and Order went into effect, there were real industry issues being addressed through the Beef Checkoff.
“Not everyone may agree with every dollar that has been spent, but there is marketing, promotion, and research that myself, and other producers can’t do alone,” Rudolph said. “But collectively, through the Beef Checkoff, we can do those things and do them well.”
A 1985 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in animal science, Rudolph now serves on the Nebraska Beef Council board of directors representing producers from Frontier, Gosper, Phelps, Kearney, Red Willow, Furnas, Harlan, Dawson and Franklin counties.
Rudolph says that the U.S. Meat Export Federation, one of the contractors to the Beef Checkoff, is one of the most beneficial to the beef industry.
“Knowing the dollars invested through USMEF, I see the affect that has on creating demand for U.S. beef in the world market,” Rudolph said. “I’ve been overseas, and I have seen U.S. beef in the grocery stores. Something as simple as a USDA label is now as a recognized brand of quality to the rest of the world.”
Rudolph stresses the importance of foundational Beef Checkoff research in the area of food safety that has created consumer confidence in the wholesomeness of beef products in the marketplace.
“Food safety research that’s been done post-harvest and preharvest over the last 20-25 years might be just as important as promotions in the grand scheme of things,” Rudolph said. “Without the checkoff work that’s been done on E. coli, bovine spongiform encephalopathy and salmonella, it would be extremely difficult to assure the consumer that our product is safe.”
Beef promotion has been another important area for the Beef Checkoff over the years. The beef industry’s famous tagline, Beef. It’s What's For Dinner. continues to be the center of messaging in both traditional and digital advertising.
“BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com has become the web address for all things beef – an enormous place of information that anyone can access,” Rudolph said. “They didn’t know it 35 years ago, but today consumers are flooding the site looking for tips on buying cuts at the grocery store and recipes for those cuts.”
When thinking about the millions of impressions on the Beef. It’s What's For Dinner website, Rudolph considers the impact of the promotional efforts provided by the checkoff.
“I think I’ve really come to appreciate both the state and the national staff that create and implement various beef campaigns throughout the year,” Rudolph said. “It’s a big lift and their work is first-rate.”
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.