Question: About Cattlemen's Beef Board

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About ‘Cattlemen's Beef Board’

1) What is the Cattlemen's Beef Board? Who serves? How are they paid?
The Cattlemen's Beef Promotion And Research Board, or CBB, was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. CBB currently consists of 100 members who are nominated by certified nominating organizations and appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to serve a three-year term. Members include domestic beef, dairy and veal producers, as well as importers of beef and beef products. Nominating organizations represent beef and dairy producers in 37 states and three regions, based on cattle numbers. Importer appointments are drawn from nominations by importer associations. Members serve without pay, but may be reimbursed for actual expenses associated with CBB business.
2) How can I be involved in the beef checkoff?
By law, the checkoff is collected in the state by a qualified state beef council, and 43 states have state councils (in states without beef councils, the dollar is sent directly to CBB). For many producers, this is the best place to get involved, by attending state board meetings or even becoming a member of the board. As for CBB, all of our meetings are open to all producers and to become a member of the board you should work with a certified nominating organization in your state or region. In a recent survey, producers agreed[1]:
· “The checkoff allows for producer views to be represented” – 69 percent agreed
· “The checkoff does a good job of representing my interests” – 79 percent agreed
Frankly, we think these numbers should be higher. The more producers who are involved in the program, the more the program reflects the needs of producers paying the checkoff.
3) What is a ‘certified nominating organization?’ How does an organization become certified?
A state cattle organization or a state general farm organization must be certified by the Secretary of Agriculture to nominate a CBB member. The organization must apply for certification and show that at least a majority of its paid membership are cattle producers, that its membership includes a substantial number of producers who produce a substantial number of cattle, that it has a history of stability and permanency, and that the primary purpose of the organization is to promote the economic welfare of cattle producers. In states where there are more than one certified organizations, they are encouraged to caucus to select a nominee.
4) Why do you use checkoff dollars to tell producers what you’re doing? Why not use that money to convince consumers to eat more beef?
Two out of three producers, when asked about activities the checkoff is involved in, said ‘informing producers about the results of beef checkoff programs’ was essential. Our producer leadership agrees and CBB invests a small percentage (about 3.5 percent) of its total budget in an effort to keep all producers informed about what their money is accomplishing. Elements of this effort include electronic updates, articles in trade publications, limited advertising and other tools. And we’re working to create better ways for producers to contact Beef Board members to express their opinions and offer suggestions.
5) Does CBB actually conduct programs? If not, who does?
By law, the Beef Board administers the program and sets the budget. With a few exceptions [compliance, evaluation, producer communications], CBB is required to conduct programs through industry-governed organizations. Current beef-industry contractors and subcontractors to the checkoff include the: American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture; Cattlemen's Beef Board; Meat Importers Council of America; North American Meat Institute; National Cattlemen's Beef Association; National Livestock Producers Assocation; and U.S. Meat Export Federation (subcontractor to NCBA).
6) Can any organization conduct a checkoff-funded program?
The Act is relatively specific in this regard – it says the Beef Board must contract with “established national nonprofit industry-governed organizations.” While this definition is somewhat limiting, dozens of organizations qualify. Still, many of these organizations have never contracted with the Beef Board, since CBB only reimburses for work actually done. Many people believe that when a project is approved, CBB writes the contractor a check. What actually happens is that the project is approved, the contracting organization does the work and we reimburse for actual qualified expenses – a contractor cannot profit from a checkoff contract.
7) Why did the original Act and Order require that CBB vendors already be in existence in to be considered for contracts with CBB?
Out of concern that beef checkoff dollars be spent with well-established and reputable contractors, it was felt that contract arrangements should be limited to known, pre-existing entities and thereby avoid an onslaught of start-up, unproven contractors seeking work. There is another factor that may have more impact on why an organization seeks to contract or doesn’t: CBB reimburses for work done. So an organization seeking to be a contractor must have resources [staff, funding, etc.] to complete the work and then be paid. This is an effective way to protect our checkoff investment.
8) Isn’t the Beef Board really just part of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association?
No. The Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, [also the Beef Board or CBB] was created as part of the 1985 Farm Bill to administer the Beef Act and Order. It is an independent body made up of members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. NCBA is one of the “national nonprofit industry-governed organizations” defined in the Act and, as such, can contract with CBB to conduct programs.
9) Who decides what programs to fund and which contractors to hire?
When the Beef Act was passed in 1985, many state beef councils already were working together and conducting checkoff-funded programs through the Beef Industry Council. The act recognized this state effort and, by law, allowed for half of the dollar to remain in the state. Then, to make sure state and national programs were coordinated, the act created the Beef Promotion Operating Committee to make funding decisions about programs and to contract with organizations to do the work.
The Operating Committee is unique in that 10 of its members are elected to serve by the Beef Board, while the other 10 are selected by the states through the Federation of State Beef Council, the Beef Industry Council’s successor organization. No program is approved unless two-thirds of the members of the Operating Committee vote to accept it. This means that a program must have recognized value in order to earn the consensus needed to be successfully funded.


[1] Beef Producer Attitude Survey, Aspen Media & Market Research, Jan. 2014, a random survey of 1,200 beef producers nationwide with a ±2.8% margin of error.