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USDA Seeks Comments on Beef Checkoff

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USDA has followed through with plans to seek public comment on implementing a second beef checkoff. The plans are in response to failure by the current Beef Checkoff Working Group to reach a consensus on changes to the checkoff. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack stated all representatives in the checkoff have agreed the program needs more resources. Vilsack said  “USDA is stepping up at a critical juncture to help achieve the industry’s goal.” The comment period is open until December 10th. The notice will appear on the Federal Register Monday. Comments may be submitted online at www.regulations.gov.

Beef industry leaders agree that the current fee of $1 per-head-of-cattle per producer is too little, according to USDA. The $1 assessment has remained the same since 1985 when Congress first created the beef checkoff program, and the amount can only be changed through Congressional action—thus Vilsack is proposing a second checkoff program, under his authority.

NCBA, USCA, Respond to Checkoff Proposal Announcement

Following the announcement of the comment period regarding the Beef Checkoff and the proposed additional checkoff program, the United States Cattlemen’s Association applauded USDA Secretary Vilsack on his efforts to create a “modern and efficient Checkoff program.” USCA Vice president Chuck Kiker stated in a published release “USCA commends USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for his commitment to this matter.” Further, USCA “looks forward to taking part in the comment process and providing input as to how a new Beef Checkoff should look under the Commodity Promotion Act of 1996.

On the other side of the coin, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association called the proposal wasteful of producer’s dollars. NCBA President Bob McCan said “This plan by USDA we feel would consolidate a greater amount of authority in the hands of the federal government and effectively remove many of the producer controls if not all the producer controls from their promotion and research efforts.” NCBA opposes the secondary beef checkoff plan.

Source: NAFB News Service