I received an interesting phone call yesterday morning from a BEEF Daily reader and natural, grass-fed beef producer from New York who wanted to talk about yesterday's blog on high live-cattle prices and high beef prices in the grocery store. His big question was, "When will these dollars start to trickle back down to me?" We had an interesting conversation about beef supply and demand, producer input costs and reaching consumers on the East Coast through his niche marketing. It was a dynamic conversation, but I when I asked him if he supported the beef checkoff, this producer asked me, "What's that?" And, that's where the problem lies for our industry.
For those not familiar, the checkoff is a producer-funded marketing and research program designed to increase domestic and/or international demand for beef. This can be done through promotion, research and new product development, and a variety of other marketing tools. The Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB) and USDA oversee the collection and spending of checkoff funds.
In a recent effort to gauge producer support and understanding of the checkoff, the twice annual "Producer Attitude Survey” is conducted.
"Producers have consistently tended to rate the checkoff positively and knowledge about the checkoff continues to be a predictor of favorability toward it," says the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB).
However, with fewer cattlemen and fewer dollars being thrown in the pot, many are asking if the beef checkoff program is still relevant and effective. As a beef producer myself, I'm supportive of the beef checkoff and understand that studies show for every dollar invested, there is a $5.50 return. However, recent political squabbles have tainted the image of the checkoff, and many are wondering if a referendum to raise the dollar checkoff or continue the program was introduced, would it pass?
Not familiar with the beef checkoff program? Learn more about it here. Today's BEEF Daily question is simple: Do you support the checkoff? Yes or no? My second question is: Would you like to see the fee raised to $2 or should the program be scrapped all together? I'm looking forward to an interesting debate!