Agricultural checkoff programs are in a constant state of flux, sometimes by outsiders' doings, sometimes by the specific industry itself. Such is the case with the National Beef Checkoff, an industry-wide task force has outlined four recommendations to strengthen the beef checkoff program, providing more stakeholder input and making it more inclusive.  Conclusions of the 18-member group were reached following extensive fact-finding efforts and discussion, and finalized at a meeting in Kansas City, Mo., Sept. 7.

The task force's mission was “to review, study and recommend enhancements to the Beef Promotion and Research Act and Order for the purpose of strengthening the checkoff for the common good of the beef industry.”  The group met three times this summer to discuss various possible changes to the checkoff and their implications. Those include: 

An opportunity to petition for a referendum.  The beef referendum process should be revised to provide producers the opportunity to petition every five years for a referendum on whether to continue the checkoff.  Ten percent of beef producers signing the petition at county offices will trigger USDA to conduct a vote within a year.  This is similar to the soybean-referendum model.  

An adjustment of the checkoff rate.  To assure strong demand-building initiatives for the beef industry in the future and to offset twenty years of inflation, adjust the per head checkoff rate to $2 (up from $1 per head).  The 50/50 split between state beef councils and Beef Board would remain the same.  The industry will need to approve any checkoff rate change through a referendum.

Enhanced understanding of the Federation of State Beef Councils.  The Federation of State Beef Councils gives priority to enhancing its identity in order to strengthen beef-industry stakeholder understanding of the federation.  Options such as changing its name from The Federation Division to The Beef Checkoff Federation could be considered.

Making the checkoff more inclusive.  Any reference to the charter date of established national non-profit industry governed organizations be eliminated from definition (1260.113c) in the Beef Promotion and Research Order.  This will make the checkoff program more inclusive.

The four recommendations were passed by at least a super-majority (two-thirds) of the task force, not all were supported unanimously. These recommendations will now be presented to national and state beef organizations, which will consider them as they develop future policy regarding the checkoff. 

Source: Drovers