State beef checkoff killed

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Feb 21, 2005
by WLJ
A South Dakota House committee last week rejected a plan to set up a state beef checkoff system as a backup in case the U.S. Supreme Court rules the national program unconstitutional.
The state’s agriculture committee voted 8-5 to kill the bill after officials of South Dakota agricultural organizations acknowledged they are split on the proposal.
HB1182 would have created a state checkoff system for beef if the national system is declared unconstitutional.
Supporters argued that the state should impose its own fee of $1 a head when cattle are sold so money would continue to be available to pay for promotion and research programs.
Opponents said South Dakota shouldn't set up a new system until the U.S. Supreme Court decides what is permitted in checkoff programs.
"It's very important we wait for the Supreme Court to rule so we know what the ground rules are," said Jerry Vogeler, spokesman for the South Dakota Association of Livestock Auction Markets.
However, Scott Jones of Midland, SD, and president-elect of the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, said a backup program is needed not only to promote beef, but also to allay consumers' fears if another case of BSE is discovered.
In a previous case of mad-cow disease, the program worked for about 10 days to explain that beef presented no health risk, Jones said. "They answered specific questions about safety, about what the beef industry was doing.”
However, officials of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association said they oppose a mandatory checkoff with a later refund. Sellers should have the option of not paying into the system in the first place, they said.
The bill would have created a state checkoff of $1 a head collected when cattle are sold. Those who do not want to contribute to the promotion and research programs could fill out a one-page form and get a refund of the fee within 30 days. — WLJ
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