As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power.” It is difficult to advocate for any organization unless you truly understand it. We recently sat down with Chuck Kiker, a cow/calf producer from Beaumont, Texas, to learn more about his first encounter with the Beef Checkoff and his journey from knowing little about the program to understanding and fully supporting it.
Q: What was your first experience with the checkoff?
Chuck: From an early age, I was involved with the Independent Cattlemen’s Association, and I clearly remember back in the ‘80s when the checkoff referendum vote took place. At that time, support for the program in Texas was high, and when the county extension agent asked for my assistance in spreading support for the checkoff, I willingly helped.
Q: Can you identify a turning point when you felt you understood the checkoff?
Chuck: I’ve always supported the checkoff, but it’s bigger than all of us. I was on the Beef Board two to three years before I had a really good knowledge of the program and how it works. It was hard to understand the depth and breadth of what the checkoff did beyond Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. I served my first term on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) in 2004, and my second term began in 2011.
At the start of my CBB career, the press was viewing beef negatively because of health claims about fat and cholesterol. Within a short time, the checkoff and the producers who led it helped change that perception. I’m most proud of our reputation management, beef exports and beef influencer efforts. I tell fellow producers our checkoff does so many things we don’t ever see, but without it, we wouldn’t be experiencing the beef demand we have today.
Q: How do you advocate for the future of the checkoff?
Chuck: There aren’t enough people who know a lot about the checkoff. I urge producers to be involved and devote some time to learn how the checkoff drives our industry. I want my children and all children to have the opportunity to be ranchers if that’s what they want to do.
Want to get involved? Your Qualified State Beef Council is the best place to start – attend meetings or even become a member of the board. Go to beefboard.org/QSBC for more info.
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 may 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.