Created 34 years ago through a vote of producers all over the country, the Beef Checkoff launched to add support to the industry through promotion and research to ultimately grow beef demand. After all, if beef producers aren’t promoting their product, who will? The program started in 1985 with a simple process: pay $1 per head of cattle at the time of sale. It’s something you may only do a few times a year or maybe you do it several times a month. Most likely it shows up as a line item on your sale barn receipt or you might send in a check through the private treaty program. Did you know those dollars are contributing to a larger, multi-faceted program?
And do you know the journey your dollar takes once it leaves your hand?
The Beef Checkoff Dollar
When the Beef Promotion and Research Act and Order was created, the producers involved wanted the process to be a simple one. The idea of “one head / one dollar” seemed to be the best and fairest way to easily pull together assessments on cattle to fund the state and national programs. At the time, those founding producers had the forethought and experience to understand that the program needed national exposure and reach, as well as “boots on the ground” to provide local experience and feedback from back home. By creating a joint effort between state beef councils and the national office of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the checkoff was assured to have input from producers from all over the country.
When you pay your dollar, it is collected and sent to your state beef council office. There the money is split: fifty cents to your state, fifty cents to the national office. Why the split? Because producers desire the efficiency of a national, unified voice and the promotional power of the national Checkoff programs (Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner campaigns, national research, media relations, etc.) combined with the customized support at the local level at home. State beef councils support their states through unique consumer and producer events, information, and outreach.
Why the Dollars Live at the State and National Level
Before the Beef Checkoff was created, the beef industry’s promotion and research efforts were somewhat fragmented. Multiple organizations were duplicating efforts and there was no central coordinated effort to reach a greater audience of consumers and keep the spotlight on beef in an increasingly competitive protein marketplace. The checkoff was built to bring those organizations together into a unified voice, to improve efficiencies, and to build shareable – yet customizable – resources to increase beef demand.
By coordinating efforts, funding, and ideas, great things have been happening as resources are shared across multiple platforms and audiences. The Cattlemen’s Beef Board office works with national contractors to develop targeted programs and information that can be shared at the state level. State beef councils use their local resources to build programs, create local, targeted campaigns, and develop research for their own particular group of consumers. Contractors share with states, states share with other states, contractors share with contractors. This unified front creates a powerful web of support for producers and helps to build demand for beef throughout the country. After all, if beef producers aren’t promoting their product, who will?
To be continued…
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.