Ohio ranchers increase the state's checkoff fee

Apr 4, 2014

—Minnesota cattlemen take the opposite stand

Ohio cattlemen have approved the Ohio Beef Marketing Program Referendum, which will increase the state checkoff from $1 to $2, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, who certified the results of the Ohio Beef Marketing Program referendum.

A total of 2,118 votes were certified; 1,527 votes, or 72 percent of the total, were cast in favor of the referendum and 591 votes, about 28 percent, were opposed to the increase.

Producers had several options for voting, including absentee ballot, in person at ODA, and at the Ohio State University Extension offices.

“We were very happy to get the news,” said Frank Phelps, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) President. “I would like to thank cattlemen throughout Ohio and those organizations who got behind this effort and understood the need to increase checkoff resources to better promote our product.”

The Ohio Beef Checkoff currently generates $305,000 in operating funds for the Ohio Beef Council. The Ohio Beef Council develops and supports educational programs, such as Beefonomics, which brings information about beef production and nutrition into the classroom. It also supports retail grocery promotions by providing research and merchandizing ideas through a website and monthly newsletter.

The recently passed checkoff increase will generate a total of approximately $900,000 that will stay in Ohio and allow the Council to extend beef’s presence in Ohio’s schools, conduct more public relations outreach with Ohio food publications, directly connect with consumers through spokesperson training programs, provide nutrition seminars for health professionals and develop a greater statewide media presence through radio and print, all which help to reach Ohio’s 11.5 million consumers with a beef message.

“We’re excited that the beef producers of Ohio had the foresight to invest in the future of Ohio’s beef industry,” said Bill Sexten, Ohio Beef Council Chairman. “These actions will provide the Ohio Beef Council stability to continue and grow programs that drive beef demand in the state.”

Producers can request a refund of the additional $1, so it is difficult to determine exactly how much money will be generated for Ohio.

OCA initiated the referendum, and covered related expenses because the Ohio Beef Council cannot legally advocate for a vote to increase the beef checkoff.

Requests to increase checkoff dollars have hit several states, mainly because of the decrease in the U.S. cattle herd. Fewer cattle simply means less money for research and promotion. Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington have increased checkoffs at the state level.

But Minnesota’s beef producers joined the states that have chosen to reject similar proposed increases in the check-off fees.

The Minnesota Beef Council (MBC) and Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association (MSCA) introduced the referendum last August, asking cattlemen to increase the current state check-off by an additional $1 for each animal they sell.

But the Minnesota Department of Agriculture says 63 percent of the 1,525 voting producers opposed the proposal, while 37 percent voted for it. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor