Missouri producers reject creating state beef checkoff
By MARGARET STAFFORD/The Associated Press
Apr 25, 2016
KANSAS CITY — A proposal to establish a $1 state fee per head of cattle was soundly rejected by Missouri beef producers, the Missouri Department of Agriculture announced Monday.
The proposal lost with nearly 75 percent of the beef producers who voted opposed and just over 25 percent in favor, according to the department, which also said ballots were mailed to 8,480 Missouri beef producers who registered to vote and 6,568 valid ballots were returned.
The Missouri Beef Industry Council proposed the $1 fee — on top of the existing $1 per head federal beef checkoff fee — to go toward to the council, which spent more than a half million dollars on advertising and outreach in 2015. Money from the federal checkoff is used by state beef councils to promote beef industry research, consumer education, industry information and foreign marketing. Laws prevent the use of checkoff dollars to lobby or otherwise influence government action.
Opponents of the checkoff, such as the Rural Crisis Center and the national Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, had contended the federal beef checkoff was a failed, outdated program and the state did not need to start a similar effort.
"Missouri’s independent cattle producers have spoken overwhelmingly," said Tim Gibbons, spokesman for the Rural Crisis Center. "It’s a good day for independent family farm livestock production."
Those who supported the state fee — the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, the Missouri Dairy Association and the Missouri Dairy Industry Alliance — issued a statement Monday that said the organizations were disappointed cattle producers rejected a proposal that would have helped improve the industry.
"Concerns with declining beef prices and the misinformation about beef disseminated by radical animal rights groups will not go away, and we will continue to look for ways to promote Missouri beef and help educate consumers," the statement said.
National beef consumption has fallen 32 percent, Gibbons said, and Missouri has lost 40 percent of its cattle producers and 90 percent of its hog producers since federal checkoff fees for cattle and pork were approved in 1985.
"These checkoff programs are not good for independent producers in our country but instead have promoted the interests of multi-national meatpackers and more and more are used for promoting foreign beef at the expense of U.S. producers," Gibbons said.
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