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Ranchers May Head Shepherd Off at the Pass

October 13, 1987|Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. — Some cattle ranchers aren't sure Cybill Shepherd is the right person to promote their beef.

It's clear the actress' advertisements are convincing people that eating beef is healthy, two industry representatives said. But some ranchers are concerned that Shepherd's twins, born last week, were conceived out of wedlock.

"Basically, cattlemen are very conservative," said Donovan Yoachim, a cattle feeder and farmer from Belvidere, Neb. "I get letters."

Yoachim gets letters about Shepherd because he is one of six Nebraskans on the 113-member national Cattlemen's Beef Production Board.

The board is responsible for spending an estimated $70 million that is being raised this year by a new fee paid by cattle producers at the rate of $1 per animal at the time of sale.

About $29 million of that money is going for an advertising campaign that features Shepherd and actor James Garner. "Beef: Real Food for Real People" is the campaign theme.

Two days before her March 31 marriage to chiropractor Bruce Oppenheim, Shepherd revealed that ultrasound tests showed she would give birth to twins.

Yoachim said he favors renewing Shepherd's advertising contract.

"We're in the advertising business now, and the life styles of some of the people in that business may be different" from ranchers' life styles, he said. "We might like her life to be a little different, but we can't control her life style.

"We have to remember that we're selling our product, and she is a vehicle for selling that product. And she does an excellent job of selling beef."

The impact of her advertisements is strong on the East Coast and the West Coast, the largest potential market for the nation's beef producers, Yoachim said.

"She's the hottest actress there is," he said, especially among the young urban people concerned about the health aspects of various foods.

Rodger H. Pearson of Kearney, Neb., executive director of the Nebraska Beef Industry Development Board, said Shepherd's status with the beef campaign may be considered in two coming votes.

Pearson, who also believes that Shepherd should continue advertising beef, said the national beef board probably will decide in December on its 1988 advertising campaign, which starts next fall.

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