The overwhelming majority of beef and dairy producers say their beef checkoff has value for them in many ways:
- Four in five producers say the beef checkoff influences beef demand and is of value to them even in a weak economy.
- Three in four producers say the beef checkoff contributes to the profitability of their operations, is there for them in a crisis and represents their interests.
- Two in three beef producers believe the checkoff is well managed.
These are findings from a nationwide survey of 1,200 beef and dairy producers conducted by the independent firm Aspen Media & Market Research in late December 2011 and early January 2012. These findings may also help to explain why the beef checkoff approval level is at 76 percent – the highest level in 18 years.
"It’s clear," says Joint Producer Communications Committee (JPCC) Chair Hank Maxey Jr., "that beef and dairy producers see more in their beef checkoff program than just paying for a few ads or a few promotions. Three in four of us wouldn’t say it ‘has helped contribute to the profitability of my operation’ unless we could see it with our own eyes.
"The beef checkoff has just completed 25 years serving the beef industry with programs producers want and that we see as working for us to ‘contribute to a positive trend in consumer demand for beef,’ according to the survey," says Maxey, a Chatham, VA, cow-calf producer.
And after 25 years at $1 a head, some in the industry have suggested that it is time to increase the amount collected on each transaction. The survey, combined with an augmented sample an additional 400 producers, asked producers if they felt the same way. It found that a simple majority might support an increase to $1.50 today, while only two in five might go for $2. While producers indicated they understood that a 1986-dollar didn’t go as far nor buy as much, they wanted to know more about where the additional funds would be spent and the perceived good management practices of the checkoff would be extended to the new income.
"It’s no surprise to me that producers will want more information before they agree to a checkoff increase," says Maxey. "It’s the same way we make all of our decisions – show me the value before you tell me the price."
One of the key priorities of the committee which Maxey chairs is to ‘increase the understanding of how the checkoff works … how [it] benefits them and their role as stakeholders,’ he notes.
‘It’s an increasingly completive world and for beef producers to continue to succeed we have to be able to not only produce a safe, healthful and sustainable product, we have to promote its benefits in this country and worldwide. We can only do this by working together through the beef checkoff," he says.
A copy of the research report is available online.