Today’s Beef Checkoff Program got its start in 1985, when the Beef Promotion Act was passed by Congress. The Act established a $1-per-head assessment on the sale of each bovine animal in the United States, plus each imported animal or an equivalent on imported product, for the purpose of creating a promotion, research and education fund that would help increase demand for beef.
Most who pay into the program know this. What is less well-known is that grassroots producers at the state level not only helped make it possible, but had funded national beef promotion programs for many years prior to 1985, through the Federation of State Beef Councils. The Federation will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013.
I believe the mandatory national checkoff wouldn’t have gotten off the ground if not for efforts at the state level that not only supported the effort, but provided assurances that producers from state councils would have a huge say in how the program was set up and run. It’s why Qualified State Beef Councils (there are 45) collect the $1-per-head assessment, and are allowed to retain control of half of the funds they collect. About 700 producers who sit on state beef council boards help make decisions about in-state promotions and supplements to national and international demand-building programs.
This decision-making process is another way we assure that ownership of the beef checkoff remains in the hands of producers who pay the dollar. It also increases confidence that the dollars collected will be used for what they were intended – to strengthen demand for beef.
There’s more, though. By law the Federation selects half of the members of the 20-member Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC), which determines which national and international checkoff-funded programs will be funded, and at what amount. The decisions made by this body must be approved by the entire Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which administers the Beef Checkoff Program, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees it.
Representatives of State Beef Councils sit on committees that help determine which programs are recommended for funding. And, often the programs approved by the BPOC are implemented at the state level by State Beef Council staffs. So State Beef Councils are involved in the input, planning and development of beef checkoff programs – and the execution, as well. All of these elements are vital in a successful state/national partnership, which is crucial to a successful beef checkoff program.