USDA scraps checkoff plan

by Erica Shaffer
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tabled his proposal for a second beef checkoff plan. A US Department of Agriculture spokesperson said the beef industry agrees more resources are needed for research and promotion, but was unable to agree how best to achieve that goal.

“The proposal for a second checkoff program was designed to help the industry achieve its goal,” a USDA spokesman said in a statement. “However, as the appropriations bill Congress passed last week directed the Department not to implement a second beef checkoff program, USDA will no longer pursue that solution. USDA encourages the beef industry to work together to determine ways to secure more resources for the beef checkoff program so that it can continue to support cattle ranchers around the country.”

The $1 per-head of cattle per producer has remained unchanged since 1985, and only Congress can change the amount.

Vilsack had argued that creating a new, separate and supplemental beef checkoff program would bring more resources into the beef industry. But cattle associations vowed to oppose a second checkoff. More than 40 state cattlemen's associations signed on to a letter sent to Vilsack urging him to stop any efforts to establish a second checkoff.
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