Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) announced his bill to propose changes to the national beef checkoff yesterday at an event in Montana.

The bill proposes four changes including:

  1. Require at least 30% of beef checkoff dollars to be used to promote American born and raised beef.
  2. Create an importers qualified beef council at the national level for promotion of imported beef.
  3. Allow for organizations that were established after the 1986 draft of the checkoff Act and Order to become involved in checkoff spending.
  4. Require a referendum every seven years to consider amendments on assessment levels, contracting requirements, oversight, administration and organization structure, and collection and allocation of proceeds.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) says it is concerned this bill will cause chaos and lack of coordination for beef research and promotion activities. Among its concerns, NCBA noted that changing “qualified state beef councils” to “qualified beef councils” provides open and ambiguous language and allows for more than one beef council per state.

The bill would allow for the Operating Committee to contract with anybody it wishes in contract activity, as it would no longer have to contract with a single organized structure. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service would control importers’ dollars such as they oversee state beef councils and national contracts.

This bill has been referred to the Senate Agricultural Committee for a hearing and a vote. NCBA has requested that the bill not be considered this year due to their listed concerns. At this time, this committee will not bring up the vote for consideration. This bill, however, will more than likely be re-introduced to the new Congress.