Operating Committee approves beef checkoff initiatives for fiscal 2010

News
Sep 25, 2009
by WLJ
Operating Committee approves beef checkoff initiatives for fiscal 2010

The Beef Promotion Operating Committee has approved investment of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) Fiscal Year 2010 budget of $42.3 million on a total of 30 national checkoff programs.

“It’s always challenging when we sit down together in September and know we have to make the tough decisions about where to invest our checkoff dollars for the coming year—and maybe even more difficult, what we can’t afford to invest in,” said CBB and Operating Committee Chairman Lucinda Williams, a dairy beef producer from Massachusetts. “But as a producer, I feel confident that we funded some great programs for Fiscal Year 2010 that will help us achieve the best possible return on our hard-earned investments.”

At the 2009 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in July, CBB approved a budget of $41.6 million for Fiscal Year 2010 which begins Oct. 1, 2009. Thanks to checkoff revenue coming in higher than expected and some unspent administration funds in the current fiscal year, the Operating Committee last week recommended an amendment that increased that Fiscal Year 2010 budget to $42.3 million, up slightly from $41.7 million in Fiscal Year 2009.

“We have had an increasingly tight budget in recent years, with the coming year’s budget down about 21 percent from our budget of Fiscal Year 2007,” CBB Secretary/Treasurer Tom Jones said. “So we were pleased to have about $120,000 left in our administration budget from FY09 to fund some additional checkoff programs in FY10. Revenue also came in a little higher than we expected this year which allowed us to add a combined total of $695,000 to our program budget for next year.”

The approved plan of work funds promotion, research and information programs and is designed to build demand for beef using national checkoff funds. The Operating Committee, which is made up of 10 producer members of CBB and 10 producer representatives from state beef councils, had to balance the industry’s requests for funding against anticipated checkoff collections for Fiscal Year 2010. USDA still must approve the plan before any funds can be expended.

Contractors whose program proposals were funded include the American National CattleWomen, CBB, the Meat Importers Council of America, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

The approved national checkoff programs for Fiscal Year 2010 include:

About $18.5 million for promotion, including consumer advertising, retail marketing, foodservice marketing, new product and culinary initiatives; a Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative to build demand in densely populated northeast states, and veal marketing and communications.

Nearly $6.2 million for research projects, focusing on a variety of critical issues, including beef safety research, product enhancement research, human nutrition research, and market research.

More than $4.8 million for consumer information programs including a northeast public relations initiative, national consumer public relations, public relations for the September 2009 National Beef Cook- Off, and nutrition-influencer relations.

About $3 million for industry information projects comprising the National Beef Ambassador Program, beef and dairy-beef quality assurance programs, and dissemination of accurate information about the beef industry to counter misinformation from anti-beef groups and others.

Nearly $5.3 million for foreign marketing and education efforts about U.S. beef in the ASEAN region, the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Dominican Republic, Europe, the Middle East, Greater China, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and Taiwan.

A total of $1.8 million in CBB dollars for producer communications, which includes producer outreach using paid media, earned media, direct communications, and work through livestock markets and state beef councils. The Operating Committee asked that producer communications emphasize the checkoff’s Beef Quality Assurance and Issues and Reputation Management programs.

In addition to the program budget, other costs to operate the national checkoff program in Fiscal Year2010 include $220,000 for evaluation of checkoff programs; $130,000 for program development; $255,000 for USDA oversight; and $2.1 million for administration, which includes costs for all board and committee meetings as well as office rental, supplies and equipment, and salaries.

A separate $4.7 million in allocations from the Federation of State Beef Councils will further increase checkoff funding of national programs in promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, and foreign marketing.

Programs authorized by the Operating Committee must be approved by USDA before any money can be spent. Each contractor of the Beef Checkoff Program works on a cost-recovery basis and, by law, cannot profit from work they do on behalf of CBB and state beef councils. Each contractor is subject to audits by CBB and USDA on an ongoing basis. — WLJ

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