Beef checkoff notice could be out this week

USDA expected to soon publish in Federal Register request to groups on what should be included in supplemental beef checkoff.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture could take its first official step in establishing the grounds for a second beef checkoff with publishing a notice of intent which would ask for input from the industry on how one could be set up in the Federal Register as soon as this week, said Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn.

After years of being unable to come to an agreement on how to capture more money for the beef sector through changing the current beef checkoff program, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has said he would utilize the rights provided to him under the 1996 Generic Act to establish a new separate checkoff.

Woodall said this would be “duplicative” and not an effective way to pull in additional money for research and development. The new checkoff would not be required to have producers on the board and consolidate control and in turn take it away from producers, Woodall explained.

A total of nine groups are currently involved in the discussions on how to resolve the checkoff funding woes: NCBA, American National Cattlewomen, Livestock Marketing Assn., National Livestock Producers Assn., Meat Importers Council, National Milk Producers Federation, Federation of State Beef Councils, Cattlemen’s Beef Board, U.S. Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Previously the National Farmers Union had been involved in conversations but has recently left the discussions.

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said the solution for all elements is for the beef industry to get together and achieve a consensus. “We haven’t achieved that solution yet, but we’re still working on it,” he added.

Stallman said once the notice is released, AFBF will respond and answer those questions “in a matter we thinks helps the industry have a viable beef checkoff,” Stallman said.    

Vilsack proposed the supplemental checkoff concept when industry groups were unable to come to an agreement on how to draw more money into the fun. Vilsack has said he’s willing to back down on the supplemental proposal if an agreement can be reached.

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