My View From The Country

State By State, Momentum To Raise The Checkoff Is Building

Individual states have recognized the need to up the checkoff ante and have moved, or are moving, forward with raising their in-state checkoff assessments.

Industry surveys perennially show that the overwhelming majority of producers support the national beef checkoff program. Research also indicates that the self-help program of $1/cattle transaction has provided a tremendous return on producers’ investment, while the mandatory aspect of the program has proven to be the most effective way to collect and allocate dollars.

The baseline is that virtually everyone understands and agrees that it is important to make the investment in growing demand for beef. The downside to the current program, of course, is that the combination of inflation and declining cattle numbers have left the industry’s efforts to build beef demand sorely underfunded.

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There’s been talk for a lot of years about raising the checkoff, which has remained at $1/head since the program’s inception a quarter-century ago. After all, calves are worth more than twice what they were when the checkoff first went into effect (beef production costs likewise doubled). So it shouldn’t be hard to admit that the diminished number and clout of checkoff dollars raised today is declining as a result.

Still, the momentum to raise the checkoff at the national level has had trouble taking shape. Part of this is due to the political shenanigans of a few years ago when a renegade bunch almost pulled the program down.

Yet, individual states have recognized the need to up the checkoff ante and have moved, or are moving, forward with raising their in-state checkoff assessments. Recently, the nation’s biggest cow state, Texas, successfully reached a consensus among stakeholders in the state to move forward with a proposal for a referendum to raise the in-state checkoff by $1. It’s not the first state to do so, but Texas moving on the issue is definitely a big signal regarding the trend.

While it still appears to be an uphill battle to raise the checkoff at the national level, such momentum is growing in individual states. This state trend is a hopeful sign that the industry will see more total dollars for beef promotion, research and advertising. If beef wants to seriously compete for the center of the plate, it can’t continue to cut great programs due to a lack of funding.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 14

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2014

If the beef checkoff is so popular, why don't they make it voluntary? We have to remember that 82% of NCBA's operating budget comes from the beef checkoff. This renegade rancher does not want to give the NCBA a raise because of their constant attacks on COOL and siding with meat packers and foreign countries. The NCBA has been very quiet on their membership numbers lately.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 22, 2014

We tried a voluntary program before... too many freeloaders.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 22, 2014

The beef checkoff is hugely popular with the folks employed by NCBA!

on Mar 22, 2014

Better check our facts, Anonymous. I don't think 70% of producers are employed by NCBA.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 23, 2014

Who said they were?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 25, 2014

Where did you get that 70$ figure?

Greg W. (not verified)
on Mar 24, 2014

Consumers want COOL. Ranchers want COOL. The NCBA does not! . Looking at the success of whole foods, Chipotle etc. and assuming the NCBA is a marketing organization, they are failing miserably..

Greg W. (not verified)
on Mar 24, 2014

Agreeing that the NCBA is doing a good job is like saying GM has maintained market share. NCBA is living off the past and they are not changing with the times. Consumers want COOL, Ranchers want COOL, Establishments like Whole Foods and Chipotle are booming. I agree the Beef industry needs a marketing arm and I am willing to pay increased fees but I want to see some bang for my buck. We need more young marketing folks. Stop asking beef industry experts what they want and start asking consumers, our customers.

on Mar 31, 2014

I know a lot of ranchers that do not want a mandatory COOL program as far as I can tell here in southern Missouri the vast majority do not want it.

on Mar 24, 2014

I do believe we need a legislative arm and public relations department just like any industry. However, is there a way to provide financials so that those of us in the industry see where the money is going and if it is being spent wisely. Stewardship is the key.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 24, 2014

I respect everyone's opinion but if you want to know where the check off dollars are being spent get involved. Go to some meetings. Invest your time. Ask some questions. My real bone to pick is that we need some real product innovation to get more business in emerging market segments like those served by Whole Foods where we are under represented.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 24, 2014

If our future is depending on people that pay $6 a dozen for eggs just because they have a brown shell, we're screwed anyway. I think maybe we would be better off keeping the check off. Even though we're not always in agreement with those spending our dollars it's what we have to work with right now. Remember "the world is run by those who show up".

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 25, 2014

So Troy is advocating a government program where people have to participate whether they want to or not? I guess that means he supports Obamacare also!

on Mar 31, 2014

No their are a lot of people who want nothing to do with COOL. I was at a cattlemans meeting where this was brought up and one guy put it best if they want to label what country it comes from label it when it comes into the country or goes out of the country and what ever is not labeled was made right here at home but I guess that is to simple for some.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contribur Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

Contributors

Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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