Beef consumer

The beef checkoff program helps assure consumers that beef is safe and wholesome.

Missouri beef producers shoot down state checkoff

Earlier this week, Missouri beef producers defeated, by a substantial 75% no vote, a state beef checkoff. An effort has been underway in the state since December to establish a $1-per-head state checkoff in addition to the national $1-per-head assessment.

That result is both discouraging and unfortunate. That’s because the purchasing power of the $1 checkoff, established 30 years ago, has shrunk considerably and, in my opinion, the beef checkoff has produced incredible benefits for our business.

Do you remember where you were when you learned about the “cow that stole Christmas?” I do, vividly. I was communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association and we were back home in Colorado for Christmas.  I first learned about it when a reporter called my cell phone as I was attempting to not get killed on I-25 driving through Denver.

We pulled over, my wife called her sister to come pick her up and I spent the rest of the day in the parking lot of a Safeway store alternately answering media questions and participating in conference calls as NCBA worked feverishly to provide its state affiliates with up-to-the-minute information.

That issues management and crisis management effort was very successful in assuring consumers that the beef supply in the U.S. was safe, and it was paid for with checkoff dollars.

That’s just one of many, many instances where the beef checkoff has been successful in making your life a lot better. So for checkoff detractors to say that the program has been a failure is, in my opinion, flat out untruthful.

Contrary to the Missouri vote, producers nationwide strongly support the beef checkoff by the same margin. In our weekly poll question on beefmagazine.com, we ask whether or not you support the beef checkoff. As of yesterday, when this was written, 72% say yes, 25% say no and 3% don’t know. The number of votes is small—312—so our poll is not scientific. But it’s instructive that it closely mirrors the results of the most recent national survey, which is.

Fourteen states have adopted a state-level checkoff program to supplement and enhance the national $1-per-head checkoff. It’s unfortunate that folks in Missouri chose not to join a growing number of their fellow beef producers in helping to ensure the future of the beef business.

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