Injunction interrupts beef checkoff collection: Montana Beef Council will seek permission from payers

On May 2, 2016, a national organization, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA), filed a complaint in the District Court for the District of Montana Great Falls Division, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, against Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). R-CALF alleges that the current administration of the federal Beef Checkoff Program in Montana violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by allowing Montana Beef Council (MBC) to use a portion of cattle producers’ assessments paid to the federal beef checkoff to fund promotional campaigns by the MBC, without first obtaining permission in advance from those producers. The Montana Beef Council is not a party in the lawsuit.

On June 21, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris granted R-CALF a preliminary injunction enjoining USDA from continuing to allow MBC to use the assessments that it is qualified to collect under the Beef Checkoff Program to fund its advertising campaigns, unless a cattle producer provides prior affirmative consent authorizing the MBC to retain a portion of the cattle producer’s assessment. As a result of this preliminary injunction, the MBC must begin forwarding all federal Beef Checkoff Program funds directly to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, absent proof that a producer has provided advance affirmative consent authorizing the MBC to retain a portion of that producer’s assessment.

The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana beef industry. It is one of 43 state beef councils. A 12-member board of directors’ guides the Montana Beef Council and those members are appointed or elected by membership organizations as follows: Montana Cattlemen’s Association, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana CattleWomen, Montana Livestock Auction Market Association, Montana Cattle Feeder Association, Montana Meat Processors Association, Montana Farmers Union, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Dairymen, Montana Food Distributors Association and Montana Angus Association.

MBC is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state national and international consumer marketing programs thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers. This mission is accomplished through working with a variety of partners who utilize the funding to carry out beef promotion and education activities. Beef promotion partners have included the American Heart Association, Montana State University Bobcats, Montana BBQ Cook-off, Wentana, Wheat Montana and ZooMontana, to name a few.

MBC is working through the details to develop a process for this Court Order and a way for producers to provide consent.

By law, all producers selling cattle or calves, for any reason and regardless of age or sex, must pay $1-per-head to support beef promotion, research and information through the Beef Promotion and Research Act. Under the Act and the Order, the State Beef Council is legally responsible for collecting monthly assessments and collection of the assessment will continue in Montana.

As a result of the preliminary injunction, after assessments are collected from Montana beef producers, if they do not provide prior affirmative consent to the Montana Beef Council, their full assessment will be forwarded to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board for general use on national programs and projects. MBC is working through the details to develop a process for this Court Order and a way for producers to provide consent. For further information, call the Montana Beef Council at (406) 656-3336 or email chaley@montanabeefcouncil.org.

Are Packers on Cattlemen’s Beef Board | Checkoff Chat

Beef Checkoff Packer PaymentsQ: Do packers and importers pay the checkoff?

A: Any packer who owns cattle for more than 10 days prior to harvest must pay the dollar-per-head checkoff on each animal. There are, however, no packer seats on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Importers pay the $1-per-head checkoff or the equivalent, on imported cattle, beef and beef products, amounting to several million dollars each year. Meet the current members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.

Checkoff Chat Montana Beef CouncilRead more about the Beef Checkoff Programs in our Checkoff Chat Series with the Montana Beef Council. Click here to submit your own questions to be answered in future posts.

About the Beef Checkoff
The Beef Checkoff Program (MyBeefCheckoff.com) was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the $1 and forward the other 50 cents to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval. The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana beef industry and is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international beef promotion, research and education, thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers.

Beef Emails Offer More Information | Checkoff Chat

Sign up for Checkoff Updates at BeefBoard.org today!

Sign up for Checkoff Updates at BeefBoard.org today!

Q: I never see information about what the checkoff is doing. Why not?

A: Updated information is always available at MyBeefCheckoff.com, where you can also sign up to receive regular e-mail updates. The Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Montana Beef Council are always looking for the most effective and efficient ways to share information and communicate with producers. Currently the Montana Beef Council works with news media, agriculture organizations, publications and other sources to disseminate information about checkoff investments. If you have suggestions for how you would like to stay updated on the checkoff, be sure to contact Montana Beef Council. Sign up for regular checkoff updates: at BeefBoard.org.

Checkoff Chat Montana Beef CouncilRead more about the Beef Checkoff Programs in our Checkoff Chat Series with the Montana Beef Council. Click here to submit your own questions to be answered in future posts.

About the Beef Checkoff
The Beef Checkoff Program (MyBeefCheckoff.com) was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the $1 and forward the other 50 cents to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval. The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana beef industry and is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international beef promotion, research and education, thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers.

Beef Checkoff Adopts New Committee Structure

beef checkoff logoSubsequent to adoption of the new 2016-2020 Beef Industry Long Range Plan during the 2015 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver last month, the national Beef Checkoff Program transitioned its committee structure to reflect the consumer demand drivers critical to the success of that long range plan.

“Our checkoff committees align directly with the core strategies of the current Long Range Plan to make certain that our checkoff investments are tightly focused on the most important goals for the industry as a whole,” said Cattlemen’s Beef Board Chairman Jimmy Maxey, “so we felt it necessary to realign our committee structure with that new Long Range Plan.”

Federation of State Beef Councils Chairman Jennifer Houston explained further: “Checkoff committee deliberations are a key element in how programs are identified, and this new blueprint for our committee structure will go a long way toward focusing our checkoff efforts.”

The five new checkoff committees, which comprise members of the Beef Board and the Federation in recommending programs for funding with the Beef Board budget, include:

  1. Safety Committee – Beef safety research and communication at all levels will be the focus of this committee, including how producers improve the safety of their product and how to best share safety information with beef community stakeholders, consumers and influencers.
  2. Nutrition and Health Committee – This committee will focus on beef nutrition and health research and communication, including how producers might improve and share beef’s nutrition and health benefits with beef community stakeholders, consumers and influencers.
  3. Innovation Committee – This committee will focus on innovation in both beef products and beef product marketing in the channels. That is based on the fact that consumers, processors, retailers, foodservice operators, and other beef community stakeholders want new, fresh ideas for beef in the retail meat case and on consumers’ plates.
  4. Export Growth Committee – Given that export markets offer opportunity for unparalleled growth for U.S. beef, this committee will focus on growing value and volume of exports through management of access issues originating within the market itself, as well as aggressive and effective in-country product marketing in those countries offering excellent opportunity for U.S. beef.
  5. Social Responsibility Committee – With a great story to tell, this committee will focus on building and maintaining consumer trust by using research to pursue continual improvement, with an eye toward long-term sustainable and profitable beef production, and better consumer communications.

In addition to the five committees, the two organizations voted for continuation of the checkoff’s Market Research Working Group and Investor Relations Working Group (formerly the Producer Communications Working Group).

For Summer Conference committee recaps, and to learn more about your beef checkoff investment, visitMyBeefCheckoff.com.

–Press Release, Cattlemen’s Beef Board

Spending by Checkoff Contractors | Checkoff Chat

Checkoff contractors are not allowed to profit from grant dollars

Checkoff contractors are not allowed to profit from grant dollars

Q: How can I be sure that checkoff dollars aren’t being misspent by national contractors?

A: Checkoff contractors are reimbursed only for the work they actually do for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and are not allowed to make a profit from a Checkoff contract. In fact, staff that work for the contracting organizations must track their time spent down to the quarter hour. By law, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board contract with established national, non-profit, industry-governed organizations to implement programs of promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications.

Checkoff Chat Montana Beef CouncilRead more about the Beef Checkoff Programs in our Checkoff Chat Series with the Montana Beef Council. Click here to submit your own questions to be answered in future posts.

About the Beef Checkoff
The Beef Checkoff Program (MyBeefCheckoff.com) was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the $1 and forward the other 50 cents to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval. The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana beef industry and is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international beef promotion, research and education, thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers.

Beef Checkoff and Policy Funding | Checkoff Chat

While the Checkoff may provide education and information about beef, it does not fund policy work

While the Checkoff may provide education and information about beef, it does not fund policy work

Q: Does the checkoff fund policy like COOL and the Dietary Guidelines?

A: The checkoff can only be a resource for information about beef and is prohibited from engaging in discussions about policy. Local, state and national policy membership organizations were formed for this reason and they carry out lobbying on behalf of their membership policies.

No checkoff dollars whatsoever have been used in any comments or actions related to COOL by any checkoff contractors or associated organizations on behalf of the checkoff. As the administrator of the Beef Checkoff, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board cannot take a position on policy matters and cannot lobby. These are matters producers should take up with their individual farming and ranching organizations.

Checkoff Chat Montana Beef CouncilRead more about the Beef Checkoff Programs in our Checkoff Chat Series with the Montana Beef Council. Click here to submit your own questions to be answered in future posts.

About the Beef Checkoff
The Beef Checkoff Program (MyBeefCheckoff.com) was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the $1 and forward the other 50 cents to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval. The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana beef industry and is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international beef promotion, research and education, thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers.