Congress created the checkoff as a producer-directed promotion, research, and information program with passage of the 1985 Farm Bill. Producers approved the mandatory Beef Checkoff Program in 1988 with 79% voting in favor.
- The structure of the program is based on what producers asked for.
- All producers and importers pay the same $1 per head.
- Half of the money collected by state beef councils ($.50 of every $1.00) is controlled by producers in the state.
- All national checkoff-funded programs are budgeted and evaluated by the Beef Board, an independent organization of 108 checkoff-paying volunteers.
- Beef Board members are nominated by fellow state producers and appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
The federal legislation requested by cattlemen that created the beef checkoff states that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture may call a referendum as to the continuation of the program when ten percent of producers request it. Based on the 1997 Ag Census, this would require an estimated 106,000 qualified, valid signatures. Cattlemen would pay the cost of the referendum out of checkoff dollars.
What the Checkoff Can Do:
The beef checkoff acts as a catalyst for change. The checkoff doesn't own cattle, packing plants, or retail outlets. It can't single-handedly turn around a bad market. The Beef Checkoff Program was designed to stimulate others to sell more beef and stimulate consumers to buy more beef. This can be done through such initiatives as consumer advertising, marketing partnerships, public relations, education, and new product development. Check out these Beef Checkoff Program accomplishments!
What the Checkoff Cannot Do:
By law, the Beef Checkoff Program cannot be used to influence government policy or action, including lobbying.
Do Packers Pay?
Any packer who owns cattle for more than ten days prior to slaughter must pay the $1 per head checkoff. Regardless of the length of ownership many packers pay a voluntary per head assessment. Packers are not represented as an industry segment on the Beef Board.
Return on Investment:
Beef continues to hold its own on the American dinner table and demand continues to rise. In fact, beef demand has risen almost ten percent since 1998, when it hit the bottom of a 20-year slide. Cattle-Fax estimates the increase in beef demand during the last few years has added about $100 per head to the price of fed cattle and $75 to the price of a 500-pound steer.