USDA takes Tester’s advice, makes beef checkoff change


Responding to pressure from Senator Jon Tester, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will consider allowing Montana ranchers more control over their beef checkoff dollars.

Beef checkoff dollars promote beef through a $1 fee that producers pay on each head of cattle sold.  The money supports marketing initiatives like the “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign.

Previously only organizations established before 1985 could compete to manage ranchers’ checkoff dollars, a restriction that Tester says “led to a lack of representation” among beef industry groups.

Tester introduced legislation in 2008 requiring the change that the USDA is now considering.  In a letter, Tester praised the USDA for moving forward and allowing the beef industry more say in how it researches and promotes beef.

“The beef industry has changed considerably since the checkoff was instituted in 1985, and thousands of ranchers now belong to national groups organized in the decades since,” Tester wrote David Simpson, head of the Agriculture Marketing Service.  “Allowing newer organizations to fully participate will benefit producers, the checkoff, and the industry.”

“Senator Tester has been a strong advocate for U.S. cattle producers and an important partner for the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association as we have worked to enhance beef checkoff,” said Jon Wooster, President of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.   “Lifting restrictions that limit the number of organizations eligible to conduct checkoff-funded work opens the door for fresh, new ideas about promoting beef.”

Only the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association met the 1985 requirement.  Tester called on all Montanans interested in the issue to comment by May 1.

Tester’s Beef Checkoff Modernization Act, first introduced in 2008, also required that 30 percent of checkoff marketing promote beef from cattle exclusively born and raised in the United States.  It is available online HERE.

Source: Office of Senator Tester