Many beef and dairy cattle producers know about the Beef Checkoff and State Beef Promotion programs and are familiar with the assessments when their beef and dairy cattle are sold at public auction; however, many producers may not know how these assessments apply to the direct marketing of their cattle and beef products. There are actually two different assessments for cattle sold in Tennessee:

  • Beef Checkoff Program – national program
  • Tennessee Beef Promotion Program – state program

The amount of each of these assessments is different and how the assessments apply to direct marketing and value-added beef sales varies. This document provides information about the history, purpose and benefits of the assessments and explains how to calculate and remit them.

While most cattle producers are familiar with the Beef Checkoff and State Beef Promotion programs and understand that assessments are made for these programs when their beef and dairy cattle are sold at the livestock barn, some producers may not realize that both the Beef Checkoff and State Beef Promotion assessments also apply when animals are sold from the farm or are direct-marketed. This means that Beef Checkoff and State Beef Promotion assessments also apply to producers’ sales of live animals to customers who will have them processed at either a custom-exempt or USDA-inspected plant.
 
By federal law, all cattle producers must pay the Beef Checkoff assessment of $1 per head when cattle or beef products are sold. Assessments collected are used to fund beef and veal promotion, research and education. The law authorizing the Beef Checkoff Program is defined in section 1260.172 of the Beef Promotion Act of 1985. Tennessee state law requires that all producers pay the State Beef Promotion assessment of 50 cents per head when cattle are sold. The State Beef Promotion Program is outlined in the Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 43 Agriculture and Horticulture, Chapter 29 Agriculture Commodities Promotion. When cattle are sold to consumers who will have them processed at either a custom-exempt or USDA-inspected plant, the Beef Checkoff and State Beef Promotion assessments should be remitted. Both the buyer and seller of the animals are equally liable to ensure assessments have been paid; however, when cattle are direct-marketed to consumers for processing, it is much more convenient and practical for the producer to remit the assessments.
 
Tennessee producers who direct-market their cattle or beef to retail and wholesale customers are responsible for paying the $1 per head for the Beef Checkoff assessment. The assessment is due by the 15th of the month following the sale date. For producers who market cattle in the form of beef products to consumers, it seems reasonable to remit the assessment by the 15th of the month following the date of processing.
 
The State Beef Promotion assessment of 50 cents per head applies to the sale of live cattle to customers who will have them processed at a custom-exempt or USDAinspected facility, but does not apply to producers’ sales of beef products.