I too, am tired of all the nonsense about the checkoff (BEEF, September, pages 4 and 12). We voted three times on a checkoff law — it lost the first two times and was passed the third. Now, the voting has stopped. I get to vote on the president every four years whether I want to or not.

Besides all this, what have the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the Cattlemen's Beef Board got to hide that they're putting up $150,000 to make sure I don't get to vote on the checkoff? The cost of voting is not a significant argument.

This is supposed to be a democracy. Let us vote and get on with the business of making the best steaks in the whole world.
Harry Humbert
Twin Bridges, MT

hhumbert@3rivers.net

Editor's note: The mechanism exists within the checkoff law and order for a vote. It requires 10% of producer signatures. If checkoff opponents can't muster that required 10%, why should the industry spend the time and money on a vote? Clearly, there is neither support among producers for a referendum nor is there even a hint of a majority who are dissatisfied with the checkoff program.

A Floridian Agrees

I just finished reading Wes Ishmael's CATTLEconomics article in your September issue (page 12). He did a fine job with his article titled “Get busy on the checkoff.” I compliment you and your staff for spelling out the facts on this issue.

If you will grant permission, we would like to reprint this article in our Florida Cattlemen's Association magazine. I want all producers to understand the facts in this issue, and this article captures them quite well.
Jim Alderman
President
Florida Cattlemen's Ass'n

Small Producers Count

I've been an avid reader of your magazine for several years. Being a young person (almost 30), I'm looking for information and education to help me in the business. Lately, I've found it more difficult.

I have a small operation (60 cows and less than 600 acres of pasture, hay, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans and milo). I work full-time off the farm, and my young family struggles monthly to get by. I'm similar to the vast majority of beef producers in this country.

It's discouraging to find article after article about managing your employees, joining cooperatives, etc., in BEEF — topics that only pertain to the rich and elite in the business. Producers like me don't read articles about lowering feed costs so we can buy new pickups and more land. We read them because we have to do everything we can to stay in business.

I use A.I. in my herd, precondition my calves, buy quality bulls and cull substandard cows from my herd. I have yet to feed out a calf from my worst cow that wasn't the best tasting, most tender meat around. I'm very offended when magazines state that small producers like me are what stand in the way of producing a better product.

My intention is not to attack your magazine or the people who produce it. I'm excited to see it each month. Publish some articles about choosing the right bale bed, using crop residues, feeding cows in confinement (it is so hard to rent land) or any number of topics that relate to the men and women who get their hands dirty every day.
Greg Steere
Alta Vista, KS

gcsteere@tctelco.net

BEEF As A Teaching Tool

The University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service is preparing an educational program for Florida cattle producers on marketing. Can you provide us with 60 copies of your Spring 2001 Cow/Calf issue (“What Are Your Calves Worth?”)?
Joan A. Dusky
Assistant Dean

We Expect Better Returns

In your September BEEF Stocker supplement, Randy Blach from Cattle-Fax is quoted as saying that stocker operators were looking at good returns — “$30-$60/head return on summer stocker cattle.” As a small stocker operator (100-200 head), I would be very disappointed with a return of less than $100/head.

There are many definitions of a stocker operator. We graze replacement heifers and sell them either open or bred. If the market goes south, we keep the heifers and make mother cows out of them. Unlike some of my cohorts, I am not afraid to share some of the secrets of my operation, since it changes constantly.

Personally, I put a lot more value on my fellow ranchers' opinions than a so-called expert consultant.
Mike Graves
Nashville, AR

A Note To Veterinarians

Doug McInnis' article on veterinary partnerships in your September BEEF Veterinarian supplement left out an important point. He says the most important part of a partnership contract is a description of the duties of the members in the partnership. Just as important, however, is to have a sunset clause. I know from firsthand experience. We did not have one, and it was difficult to arrange the dissolution of the partnership.
Clair M. Hibbs DVM, PhD
Lynden, WA

Does Brainwashing Hurt?

I'm wondering. Did it hurt a great deal when the Beef Board pulled your brain out and washed it?

All you do is harp on how great the beef checkoff is. If it's doing so much good and 72% of producers are in favor of it, why not have a referendum and give people a chance to confirm what you're saying?

The simple truth is that we producers buy at retail, sell at wholesale and pay the freight both ways. Now, some of the big shots think we can add on the price of advertising and make it better.

It's only better for the middleman. Producers don't get any trickle-down effect. We've only added an extra cost of production. I haven't seen the $30-$40 return on every checkoff dollar spent that you refer to. What a joke.

The checkoff violates my First Amendment rights. I don't wish to be a member of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA). I can't be the only one because NCBA's membership is less than 10% of all cattlemen nationwide.

I know you won't print this because it disagrees with your brainwashed thought process. Now you know, however, that not all of us buy into your misguided thoughts.
Gary Malone
Palisade, NE

Too Much Checkoff Overhead

I've enjoyed your magazine for quite some time. I'm confused, however, why Joe Roybal and Wes Ishmael are for the beef checkoff, or more accurately, are attacking the Livestock Marketing Association? (September BEEF)

I know that NCBA and the Beef Board aren't paying writers to present their case because I don't believe these men could be bought. Therefore, I believe they're wholeheartedly behind their writing.

But, do they own any cattle? Do they sell any cattle?

I do think that the checkoff has done some good things. The people who work in the Oklahoma office promoting beef are one small example.

But, think about this operation 50 times over. In every state, there are five to 10 people in a fancy office with faxes, computers, etc., all making a living off the small family farmer. My main problem with the checkoff is all the office workers, film writers, etc., that I am supporting.

Both Roybal and Ishmael claim we never got the signatures of 10% of all beef producers required for a referendum on the checkoff. But, we had the signatures. An independent firm decided 44,000 of them weren't valid. I just don't believe that a third of all the signatures collected were invalid.

Why are you people so scared? Let us vote again. If a new vote is taken and it passes, fine.

P.S. Over the past years, the checkoff has taken many thousands of dollars from me. I've never gotten a card, calendar, cap, etc. What do they do with all our money?

They should be more appreciative. Feedlots and sale barns pass out coats and briefcases, etc. Wouldn't you think if they took $5,000 from my family in the last five years, they could send us a present, pat us on the back or invite us to cookouts?
Joe Davis
Nardin, OK

Sending Money To Hollywood

Joe Roybal writes that 72% of cattle producers are for the national beef checkoff (“Editor's Roundup,” September, page 4). Then, let's vote on it. Are these 72% afraid of a vote?

I once asked the Beef Board for a list of their people by name and their wages. All I received was information on what a good job they're doing.

Roybal writes that the LMA failed to gather the 10% of producer signatures needed for a referendum. I know there were a lot of ranchers in Montana's Rosebud and Custer counties that signed. Some have told me their signatures weren't verified. And, no one called my family and asked if we had sold cattle.

Look at all the money leaving the small towns for the media and Hollywood.
George Luther
Rosebud, MT

Thanks For The Issues

Thank you to the staff of BEEF for the excellent job you do in preparing the magazine every month. In today's time crunched society we never stop and take time to tell people when they are doing a good job. However, it's funny we always have time to write and complain if we're not satisfied.

I believe as a flagship magazine for the beef industry, you and your staff do an excellent job. I don't always agree with your positions on every issue you cover, but you do an excellent job covering the issues.

Team Beef at Penn State University would like to thank you for the extra copies of the August 2001 issue of BEEF. As we discuss alliances in our Capstone Beef Production class, the August issue — with its “2001 Alliance Yellow Pages” — will be an excellent resource.
Dan Kniffen
Team Beef
Penn State University

I Liked Your Cover

Great cover photo on the September issue of BEEF. It would make a great photo to sell.
Wayne Blair
blairs4@midstatesd.net

Send reader letters, with name and address, to BEEF, 7900 International Dr., Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55425; or e-mail to beef@primediabusiness.com. BEEF reserves the right to edit for length.