National radio advertising will air prior to the summer's three, big, beef holidays -- Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day. Newspaper ads are expected to reach 42 million consumers and are also part of the "Taste of American Summer Grilling Promotion." Of course, the TV and print advertising for the "Beef, It's What's For Dinner." campaign will be continuing.

In addition to the advertising and public relations efforts, the industry will leverage its dollars through foodservice and retailer promotions. Wal-Mart will conduct its now-famous demonstrations on the new "Cheeseburger Fingers" in more than 700 stores. And, A-1 Steak Sauce and Marinades will offer $1-off coupons for beef with the purchase of their sauce. Kraft is funding the coupon program and plans an extensive promotion program in conjunction with it.

Meanwhile, Bush's Best beans and Char-Broil grills will have promotions featuring recipes and tips. In addition, 800,000 bottles of Beringer wines will have bottleneck tags featuring beef recipes and a sweepstakes. And the flat-iron steak, the result of checkoff-funded muscle profiling studies, will benefit from a promotion in more than 220 hotels.

Then, there's McDonald's debut of a salad that features taco- seasoned beef. For a month this spring, all purchasers of the new salad will receive a pedometer.

Sutter Home wines is working in conjunction with the checkoff to reprise its "Build a Better Burger" promotion. And, Borden Cheese will offer a 55ยข instant coupon for the purchase of ground beef with a purchase of its cheese singles. In addition, there will be numerous cross promotions with consumer magazines and expanded use of the Internet. Recipes for youth will also be a focus area.

The Cattlemen's Beef Board, the industry group appointed by USDA to administer the checkoff program, is hoping to duplicate the phenomenal success of last summer's program. The hope is that the increased leveraging of checkoff dollars this year should help surpass the success of last year's summer program.

Always, after sitting through a beef promotion presentation and hearing of the metrics that show significant returns on producers' $1 checkoff investment, I'm saddened by the prospect of losing the checkoff program. While I understand the legal debate is centered on whether the checkoff is government speech or not, it seems the basic premise that some producers don't agree with the message is one totally devoid of logic. It's the equivalent of a car manufacturer saying it doesn't support a program that encourages driving.