The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association appreciates the move by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to withdraw the proposal he launched in November to create a new beef checkoff. On Dec. 10, ICA had requested just such a move.

“We agree with the Secretary’s premise that additional dollars are needed to promote beef, but the process he was using left out a key ingredient: the cattle producer,” says ICA Chief Executive Officer Matt Deppe.

 ICA held a Town Hall Teleconference in early December with more than 600 of its members to explain the situation and to get feedback about the issue. In polling it took during that teleconference, 94% of the participants supported the current checkoff, and 99% said the government should not initiate a checkoff without a vote by producers.

 “This was one of the most concerning issues for us,” Deppe said. “In his early discussions of the process he might use, Secretary Vilsack indicated there could be a three-year lag between his implementation of a new checkoff and letting cattle producers vote.”

 “Our other concern is that he would remove producers from the process of deciding how checkoff dollars should be spent. In Iowa, those dollars go straight to the Iowa Beef Industry Council, a producer-directed organization that makes decisions on how to spend the checkoff dollars collected in Iowa,” Deppe said.

ICA had submitted comments on Dec. 10 to the Secretary about his proposal, noting that his plan to create a new checkoff “would compromise the valuable success that the current checkoff has achieved by creating inefficiencies and confusion.”