Colorado Cattlemen Tell USDA: Don’t Hijack Our Checkoff

Arvada, CO - Oct. 14, 2014 - Today, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) along with 43 other state cattlemen’s associations sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, urging him to cease any efforts to establish an additional beef checkoff under the 1996 General Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act. Frank Daley, President of CCA says cattle producers in Colorado are very concerned that this effort by the Secretary will harm the success of the current checkoff and erode producer support.

The Beef Checkoff Act of 1985 is a grassroots effort, developed by the beef producers who benefit from the program. “The Beef Checkoff has served our industry well, it is supported by 4 out of 5 producers, and it returns $11.20 for every dollar producers invest. We will not stand idly by and allow this administration to jeopardize our industry’s research and promotion efforts for political gain,” says Daley.

Secretary Vilsack announced on Sept. 30 that he asked the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service to begin drafting a proposed rule to implement a supplemental checkoff under the 1996 Act. It is unclear if the Secretary’s intent is to eliminate the 1985 Act and replace it with a government controlled program, or add an additional layer on top of the existing Act. Either way, the effect would be the same, according to Daley. “Even if the Secretary’s proposal yields more Checkoff revenue, producers control being replaced more government is not something this industry is willing to accept.”

CCA is opposes greater government control of our industry and heavy-handed, federally-mandated action by giving more power to the federal government. The 1985 Act requires the Secretary to appoint only cattle producers and beef importers to the board that controls the Checkoff; it limits administrative expenses at 5 percent of revenue, and ensures the role of state beef councils. The proposed changes could remove the requirement of board member being beef producers or beef importers, allowing the Secretary to appoint any member of the general public, including those who claim an interest in our industry but have competing agenda, such as anti-meat and anti-livestock activists. It would also increase the limit of administrative expense to three times the current limit, and make no provision for state beef councils or any state level involvement.

State beef councils were established in the 1985 Act as the means in which beef producers invest and direct programs that build demand for their product, and help direct research and promotion dollars on the state and national level. By comparison, the 1996 Act is a top down, federally controlled program that not only fails to recognize the role of the states, but places the control and administration of promotion dollars in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington D.C.

More information can be found at and producers can sign a petition directing the administration to abandon their efforts to take over the Checkoff at
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