Several states have already voted to increase their beef checkoff fee at the state level, while quite a few more are beginning the process of trying to do the same. The impetus behind these initiatives at the state level is that there simply isn’t a group with enough clout that is willing to shoulder the lead at a national level.
The great irony is that most producers agree that the checkoff has done, and continues to do, great things. But the power of the checkoff is being diminished as a result of falling inventory numbers and the erosion of the purchasing power of a dollar.
When the checkoff was passed, we were getting $400 or less for a calf, and a national advertising campaign could be conducted with $30 million. Today, a calf is worth a $1,000, and that advertising campaign probably requires $100 million to exert the same impact.
There seems to be widespread agreement that the checkoff needs to be increased in order to maintain its effectiveness. But there’s also some hesitation given the internal shenanigans that occurred recently with the program.
States like the idea of having the checkoff money to use as they see fit in their respective locales, while sending some of it to support specific projects on the national level, without all the encumbrances and restrictions that accompany the national beef checkoff. And it appears that trend is growing. The question ultimately will be whether enough states will create or raise their state assessments sufficiently to increase the spending that will get our industry back to the level needed for building beef demand.