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Butting Heads on the National Beef Checkoff

If you have been paying attention the last couple of weeks, then it isn’t fresh news that the Beef Promotion Operating Committee met to discuss and approve their 2009 Fiscal Year Budget for the national beef checkoff program initiatives. If you have caught my past blog entries at Chewing The Cud, then it is also not new to you that I’m extremely upset and disappointed that of the $7 million cut from the 2009 budget, the Operating Committee voted to eliminate the National Beef Ambassador Program (NBAP).

As a past ambassador myself, I can tell you from personal experience that the NBAP is one of the premier youth leadership organizations in the United States. With a small budget of $118,000, the NBAP brings five passionate and enthusiastic young people together to travel the country for a year, working to increase the demand for beef and educate producers about the national checkoff program. In fact, on this miniscule budget, ambassadors produce 20 million media impression, 115,000 consumer impressions and 24,000 student impressions in a single year. Now, in my opinion, those are checkoff dollars well spent.

Forgive me for my soapbox.

Yesterday, Senator Jon Tester proposed a bill to amend the national beef checkoff to allow for other contractors to be able to work with the Operating Committee on program initiatives as well as allot 30% of all checkoff dollars to be spent to promote U.S. beef. To see full details, check out the first headline listed at BEEF Daily.

This bill is supported by the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), the organization that branched away from R-CALF in 2007. However, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has some major concerns regarding this bill and the effects the proposed amendments would have on checkoff funded research and promotional events.

All I have to say, is we need to get our act together to come to a common consensus on how the checkoff dollars should be spent. And, it’s about time we start listening to the desires of cattle producers on how they want their hard-earned dollars spent. How about you? What side are you on? Do you like the checkoff as is, or would you support certain amendments to the program? The debate is on, folks.