Dairy cattle operations contribute significantly to the beef industry, making up 21 percent of the total U.S. beef supply in 20181 and representing approximately 25 percent of Beef Checkoff assessments. To underscore the important relationship between the checkoff and the dairy sector, Beef Checkoff representatives traveled to the dairy industry’s joint annual meeting—organized by the National Milk Producers Federation with the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and the United Dairy Industry Association—in New Orleans, November 4-6, to engage with dairy producers, educate them on how Beef Checkoff dollars are spent and gain their thoughts on checkoff programs and activities.
As dairy producers also pay into the Beef Checkoff for their beef cattle, it is important for the checkoff to be a part of these industry events. Of the 800-plus producers and industry professionals in attendance, more than half visited the Beef Checkoff booth where they were able to hear checkoff updates, ask questions and subscribe to The Drive.
Every fall, dairy producers, member cooperatives, Young Cooperators (YCs), industry representatives, staff and others from all over the country arrive for three days of speeches, reports, banquets, general sessions, town hall meetings and award ceremonies. Taking place in a different U.S. city each year, the annual meeting represents an opportunity for the dairy industry stakeholders to get together and share their common accomplishments and challenges, as well as discuss the best route for the industry’s future.
Throughout the course of the event, producers noted feeling pressure as milk demand declines, but with that, they are thankful the Beef Checkoff is supporting them through different revenue streams. Many said they are cross-breeding their heifers with other strong beef breeds to earn better premiums when the cattle eventually go to beef processing.
“It is great to see the Beef Checkoff engaging with dairy producers,” said Melvin Mederios, California dairy farmer and Cattlemen’s Beef Board Member. “As a whole, I think most producers are really pleased with the results coming out of checkoff-funded programs. The goal is to drive beef demand, and we are seeing dairy producers adjust their operations to capitalize on that demand.”
Attending events such as this to gain producer insights and feedback is a top priority for the Beef Checkoff. In order for the checkoff to remain effective, it is imperative producers understand the checkoff programs that are in place and how they are helping drive demand for beef. Producer thoughts and feedback directly impact future checkoff programs and initiatives, and these events create a great opportunity to foster relationships and encourage dialogue between the national program and the everyday beef farmer.
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.