After a five-decade slide in US meat consumption, the national beef industry is enlisting college students across the country in its public relations fight for America's hearts, minds, and stomachs. The Masters of Beef Advocacy program, or MBA, typically recruits farmers, ranchers, high-end chefs and school dietitians to spread the gospel of red meat consumption, but recently, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's outreach effort is placing a strong emphasis on the Twitter generation. Or at least they're trying to. Participants earn this "MBA" by doing a six-hour online course in beef safety, production techniques, animal care, and nutrition.
Coursework doesn't end there—participants are also expected to share the "Meet Your Meat" message with other students. At the University of Missouri, student beef advocates sold passing students rib-eye steak sandwiches while a 1,600-pound Simmental beef cow named Summer grazed nearby in a temporary enclosed pen. A Missouri freshman described the marketing display as "kind of gross." "I don't want to see an animal and then go buy a sandwich made from its relative," he said. "I guess I'd like to remain oblivious."