Texas cattle producers approve state beef checkoff program

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 9, 2014 - Beef producers in Texas have voted to establish a state-level beef checkoff program.

Starting in October, the checkoff will collect up to $1 for each head of cattle sold. The money will be used to support promotion, marketing, research and educational efforts regarding beef and beef products in Texas, the U.S. and overseas. Just over 7,000 cattle producers voted in the referendum in early June with two-thirds giving approval to the program.

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“As Texas ranchers continue to grow and raise the bar to meet consumers' tastes and preferences, it is my hope these funds will be used in a manner to enhance our producers' profitability and sustainability of food production,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said in news release. “The Lone Star State is a national leader in agriculture, and I'd like to keep it that way.”  The referendum was conducted by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Texas is the biggest cattle-producing state, with an inventory of almost 4 million head of beef cattle at the start of the year, or about 13 percent of the nation's total, according to USDA.

The Texas state checkoff is independent from the national Beef Checkoff program which was created under the 1985 Farm Bill. Under that program, producers and importers pay $1 per head every time a beef animal is sold throughout its lifetime. Half of the fee, 50 cents, goes to state beef councils which decide how the funds will be used. There are 45 Qualified State Beef Councils. The other 50 cents goes into a fund controlled by the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB).

Beef Checkoff programs are designed to encourage beef demand through consumer advertising, research, education and new product development according to the CBB. Program funds cannot legally be used to influence government policy, which includes lobbying.

Richard Wortham, executive vice president of the Texas Beef Council (TBC), said the state checkoff program allows state producers to compensate for declining revenue from the drought in the southwestern U.S. and the impact of inflation on the purchasing power of the $1 per head assessment. Texas is now one of 10 states with an additional assessment on the state level and more are exploring the option, according to Wortham.

“All the money gained in Texas can be kept in the state or used toward national programs and in the international market,” Wortham said. The industry is recognizing a shift in the consumer mindset: they want to know where their beef comes from, how it is raised and checkoff dollars can help provide consumer education, he added.

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