Cattle groups urge producers to sign petition to force referendum on Beef Checkoff
Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association
Along with a terrible cattle market, a Colorado governor whom thinks nothing of thumbing his nose at the cattle industry, producers are now facing a potential ballot initiative that could be disastrous to cattle producers
For many cattle producers there are other levels of frustration. The now 35-year-old Beef Checkoff Act and Order that generates around $80 million annually is prohibited from making expenditures that might be used to influence government action or policy. And, certainly, a governor’s proclamation urging Colorado citizens to forego eating meat or a ballot initiative attacking cattle production could be construed as such an action or policy. Additionally the Checkoff Act and Order is prohibited from pointing out the problems and short comings of “fake meat” products. Together with its prohibition against the promotion of American beef raised by hard working American family ranchers, the Beef Checkoff has become an outdated relic that serves little purpose for the onslaught of attacks facing the beef industry.
I would urge all cattle producers to visit http://www.CheckoffVote.com to learn more about the nationwide effort to collect petition signatures to have a referendum vote on the Beef Checkoff.
by Curt Werner, president, Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association
The members of Southern Colorado Livestock Association, a group of cow/calf operators, urges other cattle producers to look closely at the Beef Checkoff Petition for Referendum. Why sign the petition?
Today’s cattle industry is radically different from what it was 35-years ago when some of us older cattlemen and women voted for the Beef Checkoff Program. Our vision was a program FOR cattle producers, operated BY cattle producers, to promote “our beef” — American beef. Instead, we have a government run program that forces us to fund the promotion, research and advertising of imported beef which competes for grocery store shelf space with American beef. In most cases, consumers do not know whether they are buying American beef or imported meat. They see a USA sticker on it not realizing that flashy sticker just means it was inspected and packaged in the USA, not necessarily born, raised and harvested here.
And why was mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) taken away? Who has fought the reinstatement of mandatory COOL? Were checkoff dollars used? How many other beef checkoff dollars promote policies that support the big meat packers?
The members of Southern Colorado Livestock think it’s time to make changes in how our beef checkoff dollars are being spent. We urge you to sign the Beef Checkoff Petition for Referendum. To sign or print out the petition go to: http://www.r-calfusa.com/checkoff-petition.
Here’s hoping you receive enough moisture to grow grass this spring.
by Martin Canterbury, president, Southern Colorado Livestock Association
Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska
Cattle producers across the nation are once again working to reform the Beef Checkoff through an online petition effort. Reformers are much like the mythological Sisyphus who was doomed to push a rock up a hill for eternity, only to see it tumble back down the hill when nearing the top.
So why is it that so many beef producers across the nation have spent years trying to reform something which was designed to promote their product? Simply put, the checkoff structure was fundamentally flawed from the date of its inception. Entrenched leadership has rebuffed reform efforts and the internal disagreements among the competing viewpoints only serves to foment more bad blood between entities which could, and should, be working together.
The close marriage of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Beef Checkoff are the root of the problem. NCBA is essentially a trade organization which promotes the ideas of its funding members and the organization has captured almost 90% of every checkoff dollar collected. Those dollars give NCBA a higher profile than their scrawny membership deserve. The policy wing of NCBA was integral in the repeal of Country of Origin Labeling which many ranching families view as a key to restoring profitability on the farm or ranch. Those last words are critical to the discussion because the expansion of beef marketing across the world has not resulted in wins for the men and women doing the work in the country. It works only for the packers and massive feeders who can leverage their girth for better prices.
Ranchers grow older, ranches get bigger, beef consumption continues to decline in the United States, and rural communities empty out. Prices paid for finished cattle are largely dictated by the four largest packers who made millions last year. If this is an example of what the checkoff is doing doesn’t it demonstrate that the entity is failing us miserably?
It is in your hands. Go to checkoffvote.com and sign the petition.
by Al Davis, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska and former member Cattlemen’s Beef Board
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I want to address a couple of issues in this week’s editor’s note.