October 1, 2008


US Senator introduces changes to Beef Checkoff


US Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said Tuesday (September 30, 2008) he had introduced legislation to amend the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985.


Many cattle producers have been clamoring for years for changes to the act.


The program, commonly called the Beef Checkoff, collects US$1 per head each time an animal is sold, or roughly US$80 million a year. The funds go to state beef councils which must send at least 50 percent to the national organization for national and export promotion and research.


At a press conference in Billings, Mont., Tester said the bill would allocate 30 percent of collected funds for marketing and promoting US beef. Currently, the law promotes all beef, domestic and imported, and many cattle producers wanted their mandatory contributions to the programme to go toward promoting home-grown beef and not imported product.


Tester's amendment also would provide for a referendum on the programme every seven years, sooner if producers petition for it, he said. The current law only allows for a referendum if 10 percent of producers petition for it, and it has never had a referendum since it was begun.


Tester also said his legislation would allow new industry organizations that were not in place in 1985 to petition and bid for beef promotion contracts. Currently, eligible contractors are limited to those organizations that were in existence in 1985. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is the largest contractor.


The bill does not push for a rate increase even though many in the industry think the US$1 assessment now is too low for adequate promotion funding. When questioned, Tester said his amendment would make a way for producers to vote on the issue.

Video >

Follow Us