Members of the Illinois Beef Association voted at last week's annual meeting for the organization to pursue reactivation of the voluntary Illinois $0.50 Beef Checkoff. This in-state program was originally enacted through state legislation in 1983 prior to the U.S. $1 Beef Checkoff.
The Association will now go to work gathering 700 required signatures to trigger a statewide referendum of cattle owners, a process spelled out in state statute with oversight from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
The vote follows unanimous votes with the same directive from the Association's Executive Committee and Board of Governors.
With its authority drawn from state rather than federal law, the state $0.50 checkoff differs from the national $1 checkoff in several ways. Most notably, that it's a voluntary program whereby cattlemen can request a refund.
In addition, state checkoff money would remain in the state for programs and not be sent on to national level organizations. Further differences include the option to spend state monies on producer profitability, rural youth education, local beef market development and funding for practical research and Extension education efforts. A statewide referendum to re-enact the state checkoff would follow the collection of needed petition signatures.
"The referendum could benefit cattle producers because we've had the U.S. Beef Checkoff for 27 years and it's done a lot to reach out to consumers, develop new beef cuts, and educate cattlemen through programs like Beef Quality Assurance," says IBA president Alan Adams, Sandwich, Ill.
"However, inflation has given that original $1 only $0.44 in purchasing power today and we don't want to lose ground with consumers who love beef."
Adams is referring to the industry's positive momentum brought on by record high prices so far in 2014 for all classes of cattle and high quality beef products. These historic prices are built on the back of strong consumer demand, but also tied to short supplies of cattle around the country despite a migration back to the Midwest of the U.S. feeding sector.
"Since the Illinois Beef Checkoff can be used on programs like marketing beef raised in Illinois and training producers and youth to be profitable on their farms, we have a chance to help family-operated beef farms in Illinois be more sustainable for the long term," adds IBA vice president Mike Martz of DeKalb, Ill.
"Our Beef Checkoff in Illinois is administered by cattle owners serving on the Checkoff Division of IBA's Board of Governors," notes IBA Executive Vice President Reid Blossom. "This group will ultimately be responsible for the state checkoff, but we want to get more input from cattlemen throughout Illinois. That's why we're surveying cattle owners to find out what checkoff programs they value most and how the state checkoff could help them."
Source: Illinois Beef Association