BPOC: A Really Big Show
American TV icon Ed Sullivan used to boast that viewers were about to witness “a really big show!” Well, a really big show came to Denver September 9-10, and as always, the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC) meeting, where the Beef Checkoff program funding decisions are made for the next fiscal year, didn’t disappoint.
Opponents of the Beef Checkoff have criticized the program for all sorts of things: being outdated, being unfair…even doing business behind closed doors. But anyone who follows the process or has attended a BPOC meeting knows nothing could be further from the truth.
Work conducted during the annual BPOC is the culmination of the beef industry’s entire year — the end result of hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours from producers and importers, thousands of miles traveled, and hours upon hours of painstaking study and spirited debate. This year, the 20-member committee heard from nine potential contractors, both big and small, pitching 15 Authorization Requests that encompassed more than 50 tactics. From Producer Communications, Promotion, and Research to Foreign Marketing, and Consumer and Industry Information, every one of the ideas was carefully crafted to carry out the Beef Checkoff’s primary mission: to drive demand for beef.
Some proposals promised creative outreach solutions; others looked at ways to keep beef at the center of the plate, both here and abroad; still others dove into nutrition, sustainability, antibiotics, and other leading-edge scientific waters. There was something for every interest. Discussions were long and often impassioned as committee members tirelessly debated, probed, and debated some more to ultimately whittle down the funding requests by more than $8 million to match the projected budget. It was fiscal responsibility and accountability in action — and in today’s crazy world, that’s something to be proud of.
So, when the dust settled, did everyone get everything they wanted? Did anyone get everything they wanted? No. The reality is, it was the Beef Checkoff process as producers intended 35 years ago: an exercise in innovation, compromise, and finding the best possible ways to leverage producers’ and importers’ Checkoff dollars. Like all Checkoff business, the doors were wide open, and producers and importers were welcome to observe the proceedings. For anyone who wasn’t able to attend, you can see how it all shook out on the CBB website.
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.