The U.S. Cattlemen's Association (USCA) and National Farmers Union sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on July 27 stating they plan to hold a series of meetings around the country to discuss changes.

"The upcoming farm bill process in Congress presents an excellent legislative opportunity to make enhancements in the beef checkoff," the two organizations told Vilsack.

The meetings - whose sites have yet to be determined - will "provide an opportunity for an agreement within the cattle industry on amending" the checkoff program, the letter states. The groups didn't spell out what changes they want.

Jess Peterson, the USCA's executive vice president, says the checkoff's management needs representation from a wider variety of participants.

"The Farmers' Union and the Farm Bureau ... all have more members than" the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Peterson says. "How do you go across the board and get input on the checkoff, how the dollars are being spent or just the direction of the checkoff? Our goal is to lay everything on the table and say, 'How do you reach an agreement?'"

The effort comes as the Cattlemen's Beef Board this week was set to consider changes in governance over the checkoff, which collects $1 for each head of cattle sold for use in funding for research and general promotion of beef.

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