The Missouri Cattlemen's Association (MCA) submitted comments to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding his proposal to create a beef checkoff on top of the existing program. The new checkoff would function under the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996. The Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 governs the current beef checkoff. MCA stated clearly its opposition to the creation of a new beef checkoff under the 1996 Act.
"The Beef Checkoff Program is functioning well under the 1985 Act. The current program is producer driven and producer managed. Increasing government involvement in the beef checkoff is not something cattle producers welcome," said MCA President Jim McCann. "The Secretary's suggestion for a new beef checkoff under the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 duplicates, creates inefficiencies, complicates and adds confusion to a highly successful program."
MCA explains in its comments that the creation and implementation of the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 followed two unsuccessful attempts in the 1970s and 1980s to create a mandatory national beef checkoff. According to MCA's comments, research preceding the 1985 Act determined that producers wanted a checkoff that was fair, easy to administer, maximized grassroots and state level involvement, and that didn't create additional bureaucracies. MCA Executive Vice President Mike Deering said the 1985 Act achieves those objectives by making state beef councils, like the Missouri Beef Industry Council, a key component in the national Beef Checkoff Program. Deering said maintaining "producer control" of the checkoff is "essential."
"Weaving federal bureaucrats, red tape and runaround into the Beef Checkoff Program is absolutely unacceptable," said Deering. "This program was started by cattlemen for cattlemen with their money. We are not talking about government money. We are talking about cattlemen investing their money into their industry."
Deering said the association "vehemently" opposes the effort to create a new beef checkoff on top of the existing checkoff. This opposition is repeated multiple times in the association's comments to the Secretary.
"It was certainly difficult to answer Secretary Vilsack's questions about how to form a new checkoff given we are completely opposed to this government takeover of the Beef Checkoff Program," said Deering. "We do not want to offer suggestions for a plan that is bad for cattlemen, bad for the industry and all-around bad government."
McCann encourages cattlemen to express opposition to the Secretary's plan. The deadline for comments is Dec. 10. Click here to submit comments.
Source: Missouri Cattlemen's Association