The Oklahoman: Beef checkoff increase was beaten back by cattle producers who showed up to vote in person, tally shows

Beef Cattle at the Willard Sparks Beef Center

Friday, November 17, 2017 | by Jack Money

Beef checkoff vote turning down higher fee certified

Cattle producers who voted by mail in a referendum that sought to double a $1 per-head assessment on cattle sales held inside Oklahoma were much more supportive of the proposal than people who voted in person at their local Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offices, a detailed breakdown of the election results released Thursday showed.

The election results were certified Thursday by Oklahoma Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese.

The final tally for the election announced a week ago was 2,506 against and 1,998 for, an independent auditor that tabulated the results reported.

Of the 1,471 ballots mailed in, 1002 — nearly 70 percent — were cast by producers who supported the added checkoff fee.

But of the 3,033 ballots cast in person, 2,037 — again, nearly 70 percent — were cast to nix the added checkoff fee.

Federal law already requires Oklahoma producers to pay a $1 checkoff on every head of cattle they sell.

After money is transferred to other states that produce cattle sold in Oklahoma markets, half of what is left goes to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, a national organization that seeks to promote beef consumption through advertising, marketing and through product research and development.

The remainder — for 2018, the budgeted amount is $1.27 million — is retained by the Oklahoma Beef Council to undertake the same tasks for beef producers on a more local level.

The proposed additional $1 fee would have been retained entirely by the state organization to support and expand its programs.