National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO Colin Woodall says terminating the beef checkoff would hurt cattlemen.
R-CALF USA and the Organization of Competitive Markets petitioned the USDA to terminate the National Beef Checkoff program last July. Woodall said the referendum is about killing, not improving, the checkoff.
“That’s something that we need to make very clear,” Woodall said. “The referendum is not about changing the checkoff, or improving the checkoff, the referendum is about killing the checkoff, period.”
Woodall stated that the referendum does not allow for changes or improvements to the checkoff. This supports Woodall’s belief that the two groups are aiming to kill the program.
“The way it is set up is, the referendum is a yes or no on continuing the checkoff, period,” Woodall said. “It’s not, no, unless you change it, or yes, unless you change it, it is yes or no. And unfortunately, those that are pushing for this have not been very upfront and truthful with those that they have gotten to sign the petition.”
The USDA requires around 88,000 signatures to create a new referendum, and, so far, only 12,366 submissions have been made.
The Beef Checkoff program was created with the 1985 Farm Bill. It assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle and provides a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. The Checkoff assessment was made mandatory when the program was approved by almost 80 percent of producers in a 1988 national referendum vote.
The program encourages beef sales and consumption through consumer advertising, marketing partnerships, public relations, education, research and new-product development.