New North Dakota Agricultural Hall of Famers have been ambassadors for beef
Nancy Jo Bateman and Jerry Doan will be inducted into the North Dakota Agricultural Hall of Fame on March 8 during the North Dakota Winter Show in Valley City.
FARGO, N.D. — Nancy Jo Bateman and Jerry Doan say that it is fitting that they will be joining the North Dakota Agricultural Hall of Fame in the same year.
Bateman recently retired after a 38-year career as the executive director of the North Dakota Beef Commission and Doan, a rancher from McKenzie, was one of the organization’s first chairmen, working together at a key time for promoting a healthy image for beef.
“It was a very humbling surprise,” Bateman said of the Hall of Fame honor.
"I was totally shocked," Doan said. "I'm extremely humbled."
Bateman and Doan will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on March 8 during the North Dakota Winter Show in Valley City.
“He was one of the first Beef Commission chairmen that I worked with at the North Dakota Beef Commission,” Bateman said. “So having him as a partner in this is really, really exciting.”
"Because of our connection, of doing a lot of promotion for the beef industry, it's fun to go into it together," Doan said.
Doan ranches at McKenzie, near Bismarck, and Bateman says the family has become great ambassadors for agriculture.
“One of the things that’s been fun to watch with Jerry and Renae and their family is their commitment to the environment,” Bateman said.
In 2016, Doan’s Black Leg Ranch was honored with the National Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
“A well-deserved honor for them,” Bateman said. “And they have really committed themselves to helping spread the message about modern agriculture through their agritourism efforts,”
With their four sons now part of the operation, the farm hosts weddings, tours and other events for visitors and has even added a brewery.
Doan said to keep the next generation interested in ag "you better create some excitement and then get out of their way."
Bateman said Black Leg Ranch helps visitors "understand that what we’re doing with modern agriculture today is for a purpose, it’s well researched and very effective. And we need to keep spreading that message to all of the people around the country and the world.”
Before retiring late in 2020, a big part of Bateman’s job with the North Dakota Beef Commission was promoting beef. When she started, there was a 50 cent checkoff on every head of cattle sold in the state. In 1986, a national $1 per head checkoff was implemented and Bateman was selected to be on a national task force that chose the agency that formulated the very successful “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner” national advertising campaign.
“The beef checkoff and the Beef Commission grew, and I grew with it,” Bateman said.
She said the goal was to communicate the story of the “Beef Belt,” from North Dakota down to Texas where 60% of the cattle were being raised but there were less than 15% of the nation’s consumers.
“We needed to get those dollars from the cattle into programs that would reach consumers all over the country,” Bateman said.
Bateman is now spending more time on the farm that she and her husband, Rocky, operate near New Salem. But she was also part of the program on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the North Dakota Livestock Alliance annual summit in West Fargo.
Doan said they spent time explaining the checkoff to producers and the checkoff was used to help promote beef as a party of a healthy diet. Bateman's educational background in nutrition was an asset.
"I saw the tremendous impact we made with doctors and dietitians," Doan said. "The checkoff wasn't perfect, but there's been tremendous strides made. I'd hate to see where we would be without it."