DENVER – Seven national organizations representing the beef industry agreed to raise the per head assessment to $2 from $1. The organizations are members of the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group (BCEWG).

In a revised memorandum of understanding (MOU), the group signed off on several measures aimed at enhancing the current Beef Checkoff program. Under the revised MOU:

• A referendum will be conducted among beef producers and beef importers within a year of the legislation being signed into law to increase the assessment. The assessment rate would increase if a majority of the Beef Checkoff Program contributors approve an increase.

• Assessments will continue to be collected as they are now and state beef councils will have the authority to retain 50 percent of the assessment.

• A refund of the additional assessment amount, but not the current $1.00 per head, will be available to beef producers paying into the checkoff.

• Every five years, the Secretary of Agriculture will publicize a 30-day comment period of time during which beef checkoff contributors may request a referendum vote on the continuation of the Beef Checkoff Program and/or a change to the assessment rate. A timely referendum will be held if 10 percent or more beef checkoff payers request such a referendum. The wishes of beef checkoff payers indicated by a majority vote in the referendum will be implemented.

• The new Joint Nominating Committee will recommend candidates to serve on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC). Members will include representatives from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the Federation of State Beef Councils and other national organizations representing beef checkoff payers.

• The Cattlemen’s Beef Board will annually provide all interested eligible contractors information and training on the contracting process.