The way it’s raining here in Columbia today, I’m afraid the four-wheel drives will have a tough time in the lots and pastures. I recently had an issue with my tractor so a neighbor came and fed a round bale for me until I get the problem resolved. His four-wheel drive tractor maneuvered through the mud with grace and style, unlike my much older two-wheel drive model. However, tractor maneuverability isn’t the topic I really wanted to dwell on today. Neighbors helping neighbors is something that has become more rare in today’s culture. Many of us don’t even know who our neighbors are anymore. In fact alot of folks don’t even know the neighbor’s names. In the beef checkoff world, our consumers are our neighbors, so-to-speak. They are the folks who live and do business everywhere around us. How well do we know them? The best way to learn about them is to do consumer research, and get to know them the old-fashioned way – by asking them questions and letting them tell us who they are. Our most recent consumer research has told us that today’s beef consumer is both food and health involved. What does this mean? They are concerned about what they are eating and also concerned about their lifestyle in general including fitness, exercise and health maintenance. Food and health involved consumers are conscious of the need for protein, B vitamins, zinc and iron and are looking to lean beef to fill that need for their bodies. To that end, your checkoff is working to educate consumers about beef’s nutritional virtues. Like a good four-wheel drive, checkoff investments in consumer research, help us maneuver through the unknowns to get to the answer of the always asked question of “How do we reach the consumer?”.