Dear Friends,

I am writing this letter to answer the number one question I have received from many of you over recent months: “Kim, have you abandoned blogging?”

I can hardly fault you for asking. There is no denying that my blog is suffering from neglect. I have so enjoyed sharing photos and stories from my family’s ranch with all of you over the past five years. I have tried to be transparent with you, sharing the good times and the tough times. But, there is a part of my ranch life that I have kept from you.

In the beef industry we have a national checkoff program that requires cattle producers to pay $1.00/head each time a bovine animal is sold. That $1.00 is used to promote beef, educate consumers about beef and conduct beef research on both a state and national level. Many years ago, I was involved with the Idaho Beef Council which manages the checkoff program throughout the state. On the national level, checkoff programs are overseen by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and I am currently chairing that Board. It has been a significant time commitment for me, requiring travel to various meetings each month, not to mention the weekly conference calls or the daily emails and phone calls. In other words, the time that I used to spend on blogging is now consumed by my CBB work.

It is a tremendous privilege and honor to be serving in this position. It may be the most humbling job I have ever held (next to motherhood, of course–nothing is more humbling than that!). As I travel the country and meet with cattle producers from all walks of life, I am reminded that the decisions my officer team makes this year absolutely must be in the best interest of all the cattle producers in this country. It’s a little overwhelming at times.

Initially, I made the decision to not talk about my CBB work on this blog, because frankly things were a little contentious in the checkoff arena for a while. I didn’t want to have BeefMatters dragged into the fray. Now I realize this was a mistake. I am proud of the work I have done over the years and I want to share with you the last few months of this journey with you.

I hope you will forgive me and still take the time to read BeefMatters. I will do my best to keep you up to speed with life on the ranch and also fill you in a little on my CBB work. No time like the present, right? Let me tell you about the meeting I attended over the weekend.

I was invited to speak at the Georgia Cattle Association’s summer meeting. I have been to a number of other southeastern states, but never to Georgia and I was looking forward to the trip. I was not disappointed. Let me assure you that Southern Hospitality is alive and well in the great state of Georgia. Those folks were kind, gracious, unfailingly polite, and made me feel right at home. They were a wonderful audience–listened attentively, laughed at my jokes (thank you!), and asked many questions. We discussed the impact the checkoff has on consumer demand for beef, not only domestically, but also in our foreign markets.

The afternoon was spent touring Georgia farms and taking in the beautiful scenery of the Chattahoochee National Forest. My hosts picked my brain about cattle production in the high deserts of Idaho and patiently explained to me the struggles they face in their hot and humid environment, combined with the obstacle of the tremendous distance to the feedyards in the Midwest.

I left Georgia with many new friends, a (slowly) developing taste for grits and the knowledge that the cattlemen and women in the southeast understand the value of the checkoff to their own farms and ranches. And, once again, I am humbled by the dedication and tenacity of America’s cattle producers.

It was a fantastic trip, but I am anxious to get home. My husband reminds me that there is work to be done–horses to ride, cows to move and salt to be hauled out. And, yes, I am looking forward to all of that, but mostly I miss my kids. The best part of returning home is the moment I walk through the door and instantly have four kids jostling around me, all trying to be the first to hug Mom. Everyone is talking at once, telling me what I have missed and asking about my meetings.

It’s noisy and chaotic and messy–it’s exactly what I love most.