— Cattlemen's Beef Board
National checkoff leaders this week approved a Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) budget of about $40.7 million for Fiscal 2014, reflecting a 5.6 percent decrease from the Fiscal 2013 amended budget, amid continued tight supplies and an expected slowing of cow slaughter.
The CBB Budget Committee, the Operating Committee, and the CBB Executive Committee each reviewed their respective portions of the proposed budget during separate conference calls on June 4. The budget is based on projected beef checkoff assessment revenues of $39 million in the coming year, down slightly from 2013. In addition, it incorporates an estimated $1.7 million in FY13 funds returned from programs coming in under budget for the current year, plus funds that the Operating Committee decided last September to carry over from FY13 revenues to counter the revenue decline expected in FY14.
As approved, the budget for the fiscal year running Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014, includes more than $37.9 million for the Operating Committee–made up of 10 Beef Board members and 10 directors of the Federation of State Beef Councils–to assign for funding of national checkoff work plans from promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications budget categories of the CBB budget. It also incorporates $2.8 million to fund a CBB administration and USDA oversight budget approved by the Executive Committee, as well as program development and evaluation expenses approved by the Operating Committee.
"We continue to have budgetary challenges before us, as we knew we would," says Weldon Wynn, CBB Chairman and who also chairs the Operating Committee. "But we’re just really optimistic that the changes we’ve made in the structure of our checkoff committees this year will help us be more efficient than ever with every checkoff dollar we invest through the Cattlemen’s Beef Board."
Wynn says that a Beef Demand Determinant Study contracted through the Joint Evaluation Committee is going to provide some additional direction to help the checkoff prioritize its investments solidly on efforts that stand to further the goals of the Beef Industry Long Range Plan most effectively. It will do so by ranking demand drivers in order of importance to consumers and the checkoff’s ability to influence them, so that Beef Board members and Federation of State Beef Councils directors serving on joint program committees understand what programs would benefit most from increased – or decreased – emphasis in checkoff work plans.
"We always depend on our evaluation process to help us make some decisions about which work plans are most effective and the most focused on the immediate tasks at hand," Wynn says. "And this new demand study that we will be reviewing soon should give us an extra level of checks and balances as to the needs and effectiveness of our programs in Fiscal 2014 and beyond."
Chairman Wynn said he believes that members of the Beef Board and Federation of State Beef Councils who sit on joint program committees this year will have some exciting proposals from potential checkoff contractors under the new checkoff structure.
"We sure look forward to seeing all of the specific work plans from contractors for the checkoff," he says. "I think we’re going to see contractors and potential contractors getting as creative as possible to help us maintain a strong beef industry and reach consumers across the globe with important information and messages about beef and its benefits to today’s busy and health-conscious consumers. The key will be to leverage every checkoff dollar to its greatest advantage for the producers and importers who hold us accountable for their dollar-per-head investments."
Individual joint program committees and subcommittees will review preliminary work plans during conference calls in coming weeks. They then will meet in Denver Aug. 7-10 to prepare recommendations and priorities for specific work plans to submit to the Operating Committee, which will consider those work plans for funding with the FY14 budget during its meeting Sept. 24-25.
The 2014 budget recommendation still must be approved by the full Beef Board, which administers the national checkoff program, and by USDA.
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 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.