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How the Cattlemen’s Beef Board aids beef producers

Tom J. Bechman beef cattle in barn
SUPPORT FOR BEEF: When these cattle are sold at market, $1 per head will be forwarded to the Beef Checkoff for promotion and research.
Indiana’s officer on the board explains how it works and what producers need to know.

The Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board is the national group that oversees the Beef Checkoff. Indiana has one member on the 100-member board, known as the CBB. Currently, Norman Voyles Jr. is secretary-treasurer of the CBB. Here is an exclusive interview with him:

Can you provide a quick history of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board? CBB manages the National Beef Checkoff. Language providing for a referendum to establish the Beef Checkoff was included in the 1985 Farm Bill. By statute, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service oversees it. The referendum passed in 1988 with 79% producer approval.

How does the checkoff work? As set up in 1988, $1 per head on live cattle sold, imported cattle and imported beef products is collected for beef promotion and research. It also applies to dairy cattle and veal.

Norman Voyles Jr.EXPLAINING CBB: Norman Voyles Jr., Martinsville, Ind., served as secretary for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board in 2020.

How does CBB operate, and how is the money used? CBB isn’t allowed by law to lobby, and no checkoff dollars can be used in lobbying. However, it can contract with other groups for promotion, research, consumer information and industry information.

The “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign was funded by the Beef Checkoff but managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association through a contract with CBB.

Does any checkoff money collected in Indiana stay in Indiana? Yes. For every dollar collected on Indiana cattle sold, 50 cents stays with the Indiana Beef Council. The other 50 cents goes to CBB. The Indiana Beef Council decides how to promote beef and educate consumers about the nutritional value of beef products in Indiana.

How successful is CBB in carrying out its mission? Every five years, CBB contracts with an outside group to study the effectiveness of dollars spent on the four program areas.

The 2019 study indicated that over the previous five years, for every $1 invested in CBB activities, beef producers saw a return of $11.91. The study also estimated that domestic demand for beef is 14% higher than it would be without CBB programs, and that foreign demand is 5.5% higher.

Back in 1988, the national cow herd was roughly 1 million head larger than it is today. Dollars are now worth about 45% of what they were then. As a result, the board has become more efficient and effective.

Why did you get involved with CBB? I became more interested in CBB while serving at the state level. I decided it was something worthwhile. Fortunately, I was selected and then was later chosen to serve as an officer. It’s a great experience.

Could there ever be another referendum on the Beef Checkoff? If a group of producers collects 10% of the signatures of all beef producers nationwide, it would trigger a referendum. Currently, there is a petition drive, and they have until July 1, 2021, to collect enough signatures. If so, the referendum will be an “up” or “down” vote. Either the checkoff would continue as it is, or it would stop.

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