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Beef organizations agree on beef checkoff enhancements

After much work and more than a little contention, the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group has forged a memorandum of understanding that will set the stage for a more effective beef checkoff program.

It appears that improvements to the national $1-per-head beef checkoff program are coming closer to reality with a March 13 announcement that seven national organizations, members of the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group (BCEWG), signed a revised memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding agreed-upon enhancements to the national beef checkoff program.

The beef checkoff program is a producer and importer-funded marketing and research program designed to increase global demand for beef. This is accomplished through investments in education, research, and promotion.

These seven organizations signing the MOU are the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American National CattleWomen, Inc., the Livestock Marketing Association, the Meat Import Council of America, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Livestock Producers Association and the National Milk Producers Federation.

The beef checkoff program is funded through a $1-per-head assessment each time cattle are sold. Due to inflation, the $1.00-per-head checkoff which was implemented in 1986 has deflated to $.47.

Highlights of the revised MOU to enhance the national beef checkoff program include:

  • These organizations will support legislation to increase the current beef checkoff program of $1.00 per head to $2.00 per head.
  • Within a year of the legislation being signed into law, a referendum will be conducted among beef producers and beef importers to increase the assessment. If a majority of the beef checkoff program payers indicate they would like to increase the checkoff, the assessment rate would increase.
  • Assessments will continue to be collected as they are now and state beef councils will have the authority to retain 50% of the assessment.
  • A refund of the additional assessment amount, but not the current $1.00 per head, will be available to beef producers paying into the checkoff.
  • Every five years, the Secretary of Agriculture will publicize a 30-day comment period during which beef checkoff payers may request a referendum vote on the continuation of the beef checkoff program and/or a change to the assessment rate. If 10% or more beef checkoff payers request such a referendum, a timely referendum will be held. The wishes of beef checkoff payers indicated by a majority vote in the referendum will be implemented. The current ability for the Secretary to conduct a referendum only on the continuation of the beef checkoff if 10% or more of beef checkoff payers sign a petition will remain in place.
  • The new joint nominating committee, which will recommend candidates to serve on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC), will include members from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the Federation of State Beef Councils, and other national organizations representing beef checkoff payers.
  • The Cattlemen’s Beef Board will annually provide all interested eligible contractors information and training on the contracting process.

The group will continue its work to develop a road map for simultaneously recommending and advocating for the outcomes highlighted in the revised MOU.

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