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Frequently Asked Questions

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Opponents of the Beef Checkoff have criticized the program for all sorts of things: being outdated, being unfair…even doing business behind closed doors.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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Twenty cattlemen and women – representing cow/calf, feeders, stockers, dairy, and importers – will gather in Denver, Colorado on September 9 & 10 to discuss, debate, and ultimately allocate around $40 million for eligible beef industry programs within the Beef Checkoff.  This group is known as the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC) and meets each year at this time with some big beef decisions on their plate.

The BPOC “September Decision” is no easy task.  The Committee is appointed by their peers, and has 10 members from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and 10 members from the Federation of State Beef Councils, from all over the U.S.  This versatile group is tasked with a very important and serious job: to select and fund the best Beef Checkoff programs for the following fiscal year, beginning October 1.

Months of feedback has already taken place by the time the BPOC members step off the plane in Denver.  Calls for proposals from Checkoff contractors went out earlier in the year; the proposals, known as Authorization Requests (ARs), were reviewed and edited by multiple bodies.  In July, contractors presented their preliminary ARs to more than 200 beef producers on Checkoff committees, asking for honest feedback and comments on their ideas and projects.  Those committees obliged and gave them pages of comments and suggestions, and even rated every potential program.  Following those presentations, each contractor then took that feedback home and adjusted their projects to best ensure they meet the needs and wants of those producers that pay into the Checkoff.  That same feedback was gathered and handed over to the BPOC for this September meeting– valuable insight when allocating millions of dollars.

Membership on the Operating Committee is not for the meek.  Every year, contractors typically bring many millions of dollars more in “asks” than the budget allows.  Dividing the Checkoff dollars between promotion, research and education projects – down to the penny, I might add – is often accompanied by lively debate, difficult decisions, and unfortunately, even cuts to great programs.  The members weigh and sift each proposal, separating the “wheat from the chaff, by focusing on what they believe will best support the industry now and in the future.

These beef-producing decision makers pay Checkoff dollars themselves; they know the weight of their “September Decision” on fellow cattle families, and the entire beef industry.  Those Checkoff dollars are theirs too, and their decisions are not taken lightly.

For more information on the upcoming 2020 Beef Promotion Operating Committee meeting, which is open to anyone and will be conducted virtually this year, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

From July 29th to 31st, cattlemen and women from across the country gathered at the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting to discuss current issues and develop programs and initiatives important to the beef industry. Contractors to the Beef Checkoff presented their 2020 authorization requests to their respective program committees, receiving valuable feedback that will help them further improve the Beef Checkoff’s positive impact. The Beef Promotion Operating Committee will review these authorization requests, and in September, the committee will make funding recommendations on Beef Checkoff investments and priorities for the 2020 fiscal year. The annual checkoff budget will then be approved by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Throughout the event, cattle producers attended various interactive sessions and meetings centered around Beef Checkoff efforts and other industry-related topics. A major highlight was an industry update from Randy Blach, CattleFax CEO. Producers heard him explore various factors, from herd expansion and export markets to swine fever ramifications and corn crop expectations, that will have a future impact on the U.S. cattle market.

Because the Summer Meeting’s primary focus centers on the Beef Checkoff’s future projects, beef producers and CBB members broke out into the five different committee sessions to hear from checkoff contractors about the efforts they are making to help drive beef demand. The program committees are Safety, Nutrition and Health, Innovation, Consumer Trust and Export Growth.

“By working as a team using this committee structure, we do our best to assure that we get the biggest bang for the buck for every producer dollar we receive,” says CBB member Jimmy Taylor from Cheyenne, Okla.

Some cattle producers voiced a concern over misinformation being shared from different industry groups that oppose the Beef Checkoff.

“The checkoff program is no stranger to criticism, and every question I had was answered openly,” says first-year CBB member, Bree DeNaeyer from Seneca, Neb. “I came away from the Summer Meeting feeling better armed to not just defend, but promote the Beef Checkoff.”

Being a CBB member provides producers with a unique opportunity to positively influence and help improve the Beef Checkoff. The checkoff is a complex program that requires producer input in order to remain successful.

“Before, I had no idea the Beef Checkoff did so many things to efficiently influence demand for beef,” Taylor adds. “As a producer, this makes me feel really good about how my checkoff dollars are being used, and I now realize how important the checkoff is to the success of the beef industry. As a result, I have become a much better advocate for the industry.”

Any and all beef producers can be nominated to be a member of CBB. If you are interested in serving on the board, begin the process today by speaking with your state beef council or certified nominating organizations. Members are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture based on nominations submitted by these certified nominating organizations. Learn more here.