Oklahoma beef producers voted 2,506-1,998 (56 percent to 44 percent) against increasing the state’s beef checkoff. Jim Reese, the state’s ag commissioner, made the announcement last week, noting that the vote would be reviewed and a certified vote count is forthcoming. The news is a boost to opponents of the beef checkoff, who appear willing to go state-by-state to raise issues with governance of the program. R-CALF USA and the Organization for Competitive Markets members filed a preemptive suit (which will now automatically be withdrawn due to the vote’s outcome) challenging the manner in which the vote was conducted, specifically taking issue with the role of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association in the vote. Paul Muegge, an Oklahoma farmer and OCM board member, said OCA is “nothing more than the modern day cattle barons trying to ride roughshod over family farmers and ranchers and using our government to do so.” But Michael Kelsey, OCA’s executive vice president, said the checkoff increase “would have greatly increased the opportunities to market, promote and educate consumers about beef and beef producers. We ran a good campaign that worked hard to reach out and educate beef producers, but ultimately we were defeated today by the same out-of-state activists that defeated” a right-to-farm initiative last year. The proposal would have doubled the present $1 checkoff assessment.
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