Over 130 State Legislators Call for a Producer Referendum of the National Beef Checkoff Program
Billings, Mont. – Today, 132 state-elected legislators from 11 states, along with a Lieutenant Governor joined the ongoing effort to initiate a producer referendum of the National Beef Checkoff Program by sending a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calling on him to “call for an immediate referendum of the beef check off program and allow our producers a voice in their industry.”
The National Beef Checkoff Program is a federally mandated program that assesses cattle producers $1 for every head of cattle they sell for the purpose of promoting beef.
However, the legislators’ letter explains that U.S. cattle producers have not been afforded the opportunity to vote on the 35-year-old mandatory beef checkoff program even though the program has not allowed them to exclusively promote and advertise the beef they produce from their United States cattle in their own domestic market. Instead, the mandatory checkoff program uses the money collected from United States cattle producers to also promote foreign beef.
“Why is the federally mandated tax going to support and promote foreign beef as well as private entities?” the letter asks.
The letter points out that state-elected legislators are uniquely positioned to know the challenges independent cattle producers face in today’s highly concentrated and persistently dysfunctional cattle market, which is causing the number of United States cattle producers to decline.
The legislators make clear that protecting U.S. cattle producers and the food they produce is a national food security issue.
In July 2020, several individuals and groups, including R-CALF USA, initiated a petition drive to obtain about 89,000 signatures from beef checkoff-paying cattle producers to call upon the Agriculture Secretary for a producer vote of the beef checkoff program.
The petition drive was initiated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely limited the ability of petition organizers to place petitions in the hands of U.S. cattle producers.
“Despite the unprecedented obstacles caused by the pandemic, we have so far managed to obtain approximately 20 thousand signed petitions so far, with more being added every day,” said R-CALF USA President Gerald Schreiber.
“We’re grateful that so many State Legislators and a Lieutenant Governor have voluntarily stepped to the plate to represent the interests of their states and districts’ grassroots independent cattle producers, and we hope the Secretary will listen,” Schreiber added.
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only lobbying and trade association representing U.S. cattle producers. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. Visit http://www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516 for more information.
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