Tester: Beef Checkoff should promote American beef

Senator’s bill requires at least 30% of Checkoff money promote U.S. beef

(BILLINGS, Mont.) – Money from the Beef Checkoff should be used to promote American beef, Senator Jon Tester told an enthusiastic crowd of Montana cattle producers today in Billings.

Tester formally introduced his Beef Checkoff Modernization Act at Hardt Farm, a family-run feedlot on Billings’ West End.

Congress approved the Beef Checkoff in 1985.  Currently cattle producers pay a mandatory $1 for every head of cattle sold to fund the Checkoff, which promotes beef.  Most of the money goes to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, a national organization that markets beef using the slogan, “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner.”

“The slogan ought to be ‘American beef, it’s what’s for dinner,’ Tester said, noting that Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) finally goes into effect today.

Tester’s Beef Checkoff Modernization Act:

  • Requires at least 30% of Beef Checkoff money be used to promote U.S. beef.
  • Allows cattle producers to hold a referendum every seven years, or sooner if petitioned, to change the Beef Checkoff.
  • Allows industry organizations not around at the time the Beef Checkoff was enacted to bid for contracts to promote U.S. Beef.

“A lot of folks agree the Checkoff works best if it’s responsive to the needs of folks who raise cattle,” Tester said.  “And if it benefits everyone in the industry, and American consumers.”

Tester said turning the idea into a bill was the result of working together with Montana ranchers and agricultural organizations.

“The Beef Checkoff Modernization Act is the perfect combination for COOL,” said U.S. Cattlemen’s Association director emeritus Leo McDonnell.  “This is a common sense bill that increases the marketability of U.S. beef and strengthens the role of producers in the Beef Checkoff.  This bill was a concept championed by the late Jim Hanna, and on behalf of cattle producers from across the country I thank Senator Tester for his leadership in advancing a bill that enhances the profitability of the U.S. cattle industry.”

“Our marketplace is dysfunctional because U.S. producers are forced to pay to market and promote their competitors’ product—imported beef,” said Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA. “Senator Tester’s bill helps correct this problem by allowing U.S. producers to begin marketing and promoting their U.S. beef to U.S. consumers.”

Tester today cited a 2006 U.S. Department of Agriculture Survey of about 8,000 American ranchers.  An overwhelming 92 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to see Checkoff money used to promote U.S. beef.

Tester’s bill is S. 3404.  Text of the legislation is available online HERE.