Lewiston, MT (USCA)- At a meeting held in Lewistown, Mont. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) launched a nation wide initiative seeking changes to the mandatory beef checkoff program that will permit a portion of checkoff funds to promote domestic beef.
Leo McDonnell, USCA Director Emeritus, Columbus, Mont., was the featured speaker at the Lewistown meeting. McDonnell told participants that the time is right for U.S. producers to ask Congress for modifications to the Beef Act that will permit development of national and international marketing programs supporting domestic beef actually derived from cattle born, raised and processed in the U.S.
"Never before have producers had so much opportunity on Capitol Hill," noted McDonnell. "There are many positive things happening. We are on the cusp of seeing mandatory country of origin labeling implemented. It only makes sense for U.S. producers to direct their checkoff dollars towards supporting their domestically born and raised product. It is important that we let Congress know the changes we are seeking and this initiative is the method to accomplish that."
USCA’s proposal would earmark a portion of checkoff funds collected from U.S. cattle producers for use in promoting products from cattle specifically born and raised in the U.S.
The Beef Checkoff was established in 1986 and has had little significant modification since then.
As written, the Beef Promotion Act does not currently allow checkoff funds to distinguish U.S. born and raised beef from imported product. Only beef in a generic sense can be promoted, regardless of what country the cattle originate in.
USCA Director and Checkoff Committee Chairman, Jim Hanna, Nebraska said the initiative seeks changes to the law that producers overwhelmingly support. "We have bulletproof survey results that show over 92 percent of cattlemen nation wide support this concept. We want to back those results up with boxes of letters with producer signatures that we can show to Congress when we press for changes in the Beef Act," noted Hanna. "We have a number of other important changes that need to be made to the program, but the born and raised concept is the most critical at this time."
"No one should construe this as an attack on the checkoff," continued Hanna. "In fact, it’s far from it. USCA has policy that clearly shows our support for the program. Our goal is to simply make the checkoff more responsive to those who pay the dollar per head fee."
"Participating is easy," said Hanna. "All we’re asking is that producers across the nation sign on to a letter addressed to Congress seeking this simple change in the Beef Act."