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. The checkoff assessment became mandatory when the program was approved by 79 percent of producers in a 1988 national referendum vote.
The checkoff program was designed to stimulate restaurants and grocery stores to sell more beef and stimulate consumers to buy more beef. This is accomplished through initiatives such as consumer advertising, marketing partnerships, public relations, education, research and new-product development.
The Beef Checkoff program increases profit opportunities for producers by keeping beef top-of-mind with consumers, restaurants, butchers and other food retailers. It also reaches out to educators, dietitians, and medical personnel and influencers. In short, it is always working to ensure a wholesome, quality beef-eating experience consistently.
The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and USDA oversee the collection and spending of checkoff funds. Additionally, all producers selling cattle or calves, for any reason and regardless of age or sex, must pay $1-per-head. The buyer generally is responsible for collecting $1-per-head from the seller, but both are responsible for seeing that the dollar is collected and paid.
However, by law, checkoff funds cannot be used to influence government policy or action, including lobbying. The checkoff does not own cattle, packing plants or retail outlets. It cannot control prices or single-handedly turn around a bad market.
As part of the ongoing planning and evaluation effort at the CBB, all programs are evaluated – to see that they are accomplishing their stated objectives, as well as achieving the outcomes and goals of the beef industry’s Long Range Plan – and this evaluation is reported to both the Board and to individual contractors.
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