It was a presence well before the mandatory $1-per-head beef checkoff was created in 1985. And in 2013 the Federation of State Beef Councils will recognize that presence, celebrating its 50th anniversary as a force for grassroots participation in beef checkoff programs.

The Federation was created as the Beef Industry Council of the National Live Stock and Meat Board in 1963. It moved to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) when the Meat Board and National Cattlemen’s Association merged in 1996 to form NCBA. While it has had two homes in its lifetime, the Federation’s role has not changed through the years, according to Federation Chairman Craig Uden, a beef producer from Elwood, Neb.

“The Federation helps assure that grassroots producers, through their state beef councils, have significant input in the workings of the national Beef Checkoff Program,” said Uden. “That grassroots control was paramount to producers when the mandatory checkoff was created in the 1980s. But it really got its start when state beef councils began establishing their own programs more than a half century ago and pushed for a national effort.”

By the time the BIC was created in 1963, five states – Montana and California in 1954, Alabama and Florida in 1955 and Oregon in 1959 – had created their own state checkoff programs, and supported a coordinated national effort that could build on their efforts. More states would soon join them; by 1980 another 25 states had formed councils. Today there are 45 state beef councils qualified by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board to collect the $1-per-head mandatory national beef checkoff in their states.

Beef Councils voted overwhelmingly in July, 2010 to maintain their partnership between the Federation and NCBA, while creating more independence for the Federation. Since that time, Federation leaders and staff have been working to perfect a structure that ensures greater independence, while still preserving a 16-year successful working relationship with NCBA.

The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States with qualified beef councils retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.

The NCBA, a contractor to the beef checkoff, was established in 1898. Through its Federation Division the organization helps preserve the strength of the industry through consumer promotion and education, working to create new markets and increase demand for beef.