Cattlemen Seek Changes to Beef Checkoff Program

US - Cattle producers are pushing for the first significant change to the national beef checkoff program since it started more than 20 years ago.
calendar icon 27 December 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
The beef checkoff program is behind the popular "Beef, It's What's for Dinner" ads that feature the distinctive voice of actor Sam Elliott. At a dollar a head, the checkoff fee pools about $80 million annually for beef promotion, research and education, among other things.

But more than two decades of inflation have decreased the buying power of that dollar, say checkoff supporters.

Some state chapters of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association want Congress to hike the checkoff to $2, while others want producers who pay the checkoff to vote on whether it should rise. The program remains much the same since Congress authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to start it in the mid-1980s, according to association representative Don Ricketts.

The Colorado-based group administers many of the beef checkoff dollars.

"There are so many more issues today, and the dollar doesn't go as far as it used to," Ricketts said.

Ricketts said that under one proposal, future hikes in the checkoff would require only a vote of those who pay the checkoff and not approval from Congress.

The association plans to meet in February to vote on proposals and then lobby Congress to approve the changes.

Competition for grocery buyers' dollars has stiffened because there are more non-beef products at the stores, said Michael Kelsey of the Nebraska Cattlemen, which is affiliated with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

That requires more money to develop new beef products and advertise them, he said. He also said consumers are looking for more assurances that what they eat is safe.

Under the changes backed by the Nebraska Cattlemen, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would help petition for two votes by people who pay the checkoff.

Source: Agrinews
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