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Agricultural News

Deadline to Submit Comments on Second, Separate Beef Checkoff is December 10th

Wed, 03 Dec 2014 10:28:10 CST

Deadline to Submit Comments on Second, Separate Beef Checkoff is December 10th Time is running out on submitting comments on the questions raised by US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in regards to a new second, separate beef checkoff that he would like to establish in 2015. The deadline to submit responses to the questions raised by the Secretary is December 10, 2014. As of December third, there are only 88 comments that have been listed on the Federal Register website.

In mid October, a multitude of state cattle organizations that are affilaited with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack expressing their displeasure over the idea of a separate beef checkoff based on the 1996 Generic Commodity Promotion Act.

NCBA President Bob McCan of Texas said of the letter sent to Vilsack "Our state affiliates sent a clear message to the Secretary that they do not want a supplemental checkoff under the 1996 Act. NCBA stands firmly behind our grassroots producer organizations and we will do everything we can to support their efforts. The checkoff belongs to cattlemen, not to the USDA or any administration."

Among the groups signing the letter were the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, the Texas and Southwest Cattlemen's Association, the Missouri Cattlemen's Association, the Kansas Livestock Association and the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. Click here for our earlier story about that letter sent to Secretary Vilsack.

The most vocal farm group in favor of moving to a new checkoff, based o nthe 1996 law, is the National Farmers Union. Their President, Roger Johnson, did a guest editorial recently on the website Agri-Pulse. "The modernized beef checkoff should be a single program, modeled after the 1996 Act," said Johnson. "It would have a clear separation of the policy organization from the non-political, promotional checkoff entity- exclude processors and importers from positions of leadership, ensuring that beef producers are always at the helm- and be precluded from allocating a single dime to any organization engaged in lobbying." You can read more of the arguments that Johnson is using for making massive changes in the beef check off by clicking here.

According to the Federal Register website, "The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) requests public comments to inform its development of a beef promotion, research, and information order under the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1996 (1996 Act). This request for comments offers the opportunity for interested individuals and organizations to provide views concerning provisions that would be included in an industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for beef and beef products. The proposed order would be in addition to the existing beef promotion and research program established under the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 (1985 Act). A referendum on an order established under the 1996 Act would be conducted 3 years after assessments begin to determine whether beef producers favor the program and if it should continue. A second referendum would be held within 7 years of the start of the program."

According to the FAQs mentioned at the Federal Register site on the Beef Checkoff request, producers have a say in the process, "Yes. First, USDA is seeking comments before drafting a proposed order under the 1996 Act. Second, USDA will seek comments on a proposed order."

The Federal Register website contends nothing happens to the existing 1985 based Beef Checkoff- "the current Beef Checkoff Program would continue. This action is separate from the Beef Promotion and Research Order (7 CFR Part 1260) established under the 1985 Act. The 1985 Act program would continue to run until beef producers and importers vote in a referendum to terminate the program. As provided by the 1985 Act, USDA would conduct a referendum on the request of a representative group comprising 10 per cent or more of cattle producers to determine whether cattle producers favor the termination or suspension of the program."

Here are the questions that must be responded to in order for them to be considered as USDA writes the rules for a brand new non producer oriented beef checkoff:

In your comments, please reference the heading(s) under which you are contributing information. USDA is specifically seeking comments addressing the questions listed below.

1. Who should be assessed?

2. What should be the board structure?

    Who is eligible to serve?
    Should there be a relatively large delegate body appointed by the Secretary that would elect and recommend from within itself a smaller board?
    What should be the size of the board?
    What should be the term of office?

3. How should the board be selected?

    Who may nominate eligible candidates to serve?
    What should be the nomination and selection process?

4. What should be the powers and duties of the board?

5. Who has decision-making authority?

    Should funding decisions be made by the full board or a smaller body elected from within this board?
    Should funding decisions be made in conjunction with other organizations such as the Federation of State Beef Councils or the current Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board?

6. How should the assessment rate be determined?

    Should the assessment be a specified amount, a percent of value, or an amount determined by board?
    If a specified amount or a percent of value, should there be provisions for adjustments to the rate by the board, and without subsequent producer referendum?
    Should there be a de minimis exemption for certain size operations or classes of cattle or beef?
    Should there be temporary or permanent provisions for refunds of assessments?

7. How should assessments be collected?

    Should the States or the national board collect the assessment?
    Should the assessment be levied at all points of sale, at slaughter, or at some other time?

8. When should the referenda be conducted?

The Federal Register adds that "Comments that do not address these topics or topics closely associated with the structure of a new beef research and promotion order under the authority of the 1996 Act may be deemed unresponsive or beyond the scope of this notice."

To read the complete Notice of Inquiry, click here.

To view the comments that have been submitted to date (there are only 88 of them so far), click here.

To submit comments, click here.



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