Annual Survey Of Producers Shows Continued Approval Of Beef Checkoff
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A survey of 1,200 beef and dairy producers nationwide was conducted in late Dec. 2009 and early Jan. 2010 by the independent firm Aspen Media & Market Research. Despite finding that 7 in 10 producers said the current economic recession had impacted their operations negatively, their approval of the beef checkoff increased from 68 percent in 2009 to 69 percent in 2010. While not a ‘significant shift,’ researchers noted the economic impact on producer support of the checkoff has been small.
“Knowledge about the checkoff continues to be a predictor of favorability toward it,” says Wesley Grau, cow/calf farmer from Grady, N.M., and chair of the Joint Producer Communications Committee (JPCC). “Producers who are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ well informed are more likely to approve of the checkoff, particularly among those who say they are very well informed. Among this group, 78 percent approve of the program (45 percent of them strongly), while only 16 percent disapprove. When you factor in the tough times all farmers and ranchers have been facing, this is encouraging news.”
To that measure, the underlying value of the checkoff remains strong: a large majority (77 percent) feels the checkoff program has helped contribute to a positive trend in consumer demand for beef; a similar number believe the program has value in weak economic conditions or are confident it is on their side during a crisis.
And, when it comes to their own operations, many producers believe the program has benefited them. A large majority (61 percent) believe it helps contribute to the profitability of their operations, although this is down from a year ago.
“A key goal as identified by the JPCC is that farmers and ranchers have a positive view of the way the checkoff is being managed. That they trust in the leadership and the decisions being made about their checkoff investment,” says Grau. “This research shows that management of the checkoff is viewed favorably with 62 percent says they believe it is being managed well.”
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.