Vilsack proposes new checkoff structure

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – During the past three years, a Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group – which was created in response to concerns over a proposal to hike the Beef Checkoff from $1 per head to $2 per head – has worked on recommendations to satisfy 11 consortium parties on how the Beef Checkoff would look in the future.

Two months ago, this group developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). But 30 days ago, one organization left the working group, based on the implementation of the proposed MOU. As a result, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called a meeting last week with the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group in Washington because he felt that the working group had not yet delivered a solution, said Forrest Roberts, CEO of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

Because of differences that may exist between some members of the working group, Vilsack suggested how to bring more resources into the beef industry by creating a new, separate and supplemental beef checkoff program, reports Ohio Ag Net. Such a move would require a new beef order that would come under the 1996 Generic Commodity Promotion Act – which is a much different act than the current beef checkoff program is under, with its own statute: The 1985 Beef Promotion Act.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) nixed the idea and vowed to “broadly oppose” any attempt to change the Beef Checkoff.

“Suggestions by the Secretary of Agriculture that new beef checkoff efforts fall under the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996 are not supported by cattlemen,” said Bob McCan, NCBA president. “The policy of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association opposes using the top down 1996 Act as the vehicle for any checkoff enhancement.

“The 1996 Act does not include the state beef councils, many of which have been in existence for more than 50 years. It adds duplication and bureaucracy to an already highly successful program. The 1996 Act gives much more power and control to the federal government, at the expense of a program that was created by and for grassroots cattle producers.”

The new checkoff would come begin operating over the next year and would be implemented as soon as January of 2016, Vilsack said.

The proposed beef checkoff and the current Beef Checkoff would both be in existence for three years before a producer referendum would take place. After a new administration is heading the effort, a referendum would take place to determine whether to continue with two checkoffs, Ohio Ag Net concluded.
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