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USDA Secretary Suggests Creating Second Beef Checkoff

USDA Secretary Suggests Creating Second Beef Checkoff

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says second checkoff could try out suggestions for improvement from first checkoff

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack last week said a second beef checkoff could be in order after beef group representatives on a working group to discuss changes to the initial checkoff couldn't reach consensus.

Discussions among the working group, which includes the National Cattlemen's Beef Board, American Farm Bureau, Cattlemen's Beef Board and others, began in 2011.

Recently, the National Farmers Union, also a member, exited the group on concerns that a consensus could not be reached. The U.S. Cattlemen's Association also said it was concerned with the trajectory of the discussions and publicly said it would support a USDA-facilitated beef checkoff reform plan.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says second checkoff could try out suggestions for improvement from first checkoff. (USDA photo)

Related: National Farmers Union Leaves Beef Checkoff Working Group

As a result of NFU's exit, USDA Secretary Vilsack called an informal meeting to discuss the checkoff, Feedstuffs reports.

One of the solutions Vilsack offered was to create a second checkoff that would bring more money into the cattle industry for research and promotion. It also would address concerns groups have about the current checkoff and attempt to alleviate those concerns.

"For three years, the industry has identified the need for more marketing, more promotion, and it comes at a critical time in the industry," Vilsack told Feedstuffs' Andy Vance.

Related: US Cattlemen's Association Advocates for Beef Checkoff Review

Vilsack said while the second checkoff seems like a viable option, some in the cattle industry are unhappy with the suggestion.

"I'm trying to help the industry and I think that it's unfortunate that a couple of folks I think have mischaracterized the nature of the meeting, but it is how it is," Vilsack said.

According to Vilsack, the secretary has the power to initiate a new checkoff that could operate for three years prior to a referendum, generating $150 million extra for beef promotion and research.

For more on this story, listen to Andy Vance's IN FOCUS podcast: Vilsack moving forward with second Beef Checkoff. Also view the Feedstuffs story: New beef checkoff program proposed by USDA.

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