I believe in the power of the beef checkoff program. I’m a product of the checkoff-funded National Beef Ambassador Program, have utilized funds as a past member of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Auxiliary to promote beef, and now proudly work for the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.
Studies have shown that for every $1 invested into the beef checkoff program, cattlemen get a $5 return. Checkoff dollars are utilized for research, education and promotion, and I believe there is no better way than to pool our resources and work together as an industry to boost beef demand.
However, the checkoff has faced some challenges in is quarter-century of existence. While regular surveys show that a solid majority of producers support the checkoff and its work, there have been internal battles over its mission, programs and its contractors. One of the biggest challenges is the declining level of support due to shrinking cattle numbers and the ravages of inflation over time. On a national level, support to raise the checkoff from the $1/head has been tough to build, but some individual states are approaching that issue at home.
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Recently, four states have tried to increase the checkoff dollar to help combat the issue of declining monies to work with. Here is a roundup of what’s going on in these states:
1. Minnesota Votes Down Doubling The Checkoff
According to the Land Stewardship Project, “On April 1, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced results of the proposed referendum by the Minnesota Beef Research and Promotion Council that sought to increase the existing beef checkoff by an additional dollar/head. A majority (63% or 961) of the 1,525 voting producers voted against the referendum, and just 37% voted in favor.
“Passage of the referendum would have increased what Minnesota cattle producers are required to pay through the beef checkoff by a full dollar – an expected collection of nearly $700,000/year. This would have been in addition to the mandatory $1/head checkoff currently collected on cattle sold in the state. The rejection by Minnesota cattle producers to shoulder another one dollar per head in checkoff remittance puts to rest the issue for at least a full year. According to Minnesota Administrative Rules, if a referendum fails the MDA commissioner is prohibited from issuing another referendum on any promotional order on the same agricultural commodity until one year has elapsed.”
2. Ohio Creates State Beef Checkoff
According to the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA), “The Ohio Department of Agriculture has certified results of a producer referendum to create a state beef checkoff. Ohio cattle producers approved the state checkoff referendum on a 72% ‘yes’ vote. Collections will include $1/head for the state program and $1/head for the national program.
“With the addition of Ohio, there now are seven state beef checkoff programs. Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Washington each have a checkoff to fund various beef programs.”
3. Texas Looking To Double The Checkoff
KLA also reports that, “Texas cattle industry groups have requested a producer referendum on a $1/head state beef checkoff. The Texas Department of Agriculture will conduct the referendum, with voting to take place June 2-6. If approved, collections will begin October 1 and any assessments would be refundable upon request. The program would be managed by Texas cattlemen and women serving on the Beef Promotion and Research Council of Texas.”
4. Oklahoma Petitions For A State-Level Checkoff
According to the Oklahoma Farm Report, “The Oklahoma Legislature has been moving a bill this session that would allow the beef industry in Oklahoma (as well as other federally authorized checkoff programs) the right to petition for a state level checkoff. In the case of the beef industry, this state beef checkoff could run parallel with the federal dollar/head beef checkoff.
Listen here to learn more about what can result if the bill is signed into law -- a process that could eventually lead to cattle producers voting yes or no on a state beef checkoff assessment.
If you are from one of these states, do you support the measures to double up on the checkoff? Why or why not? If such a proposal came to your state, would you support the measure? Overall, do you believe the checkoff is beneficial to the beef industry? Share your opinions in the comments section below.
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