Beef Checkoff Acts
1985 Beef Promotion Act and 1996 Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act
(Based on available information as of 9/22/2014.)
Creation and implementation of the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 followed two unsuccessful attempts in the 1970s and 1980s to create a mandatory national beef checkoff. Research preceding the 1985 Act determined that producers wanted a checkoff that was fair, easy to administer, maximized grassroots and state level involvement, and that didn’t create additional bureaucracies.
The 1985 Act achieves those objectives by making state beef councils a key component in the national Beef Checkoff Program. It gives them input into national programs and allows them to keep 50 cents of every dollar collected. Under that Act, half of producers elected to the national Beef Promotion Operating Committee, the body which contracts for the implementation of checkoff programs, is “elected by a federation that includes as members the Qualified State Beef Councils.”
By contrast, the 1996 Act gives significantly more power to the Federal Government through the Secretary of Agriculture and fails to assure success factors written into the 1985 Act. Specifically, it:
- Gives the Secretary the power to establish the size of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. (1985: The size is established by a formula written into the Act.)
- Gives the Secretary the power to appoint non-producer/non-importer “public” members to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. (1985: Power is not given.) This could include members of PETA, HSUS and CSPI.
- Gives the Secretary the power to suspend or terminate an Order or a provision in an Order without benefit of a producer referendum if the Secretary finds that the Order or a provision of the Order obstructs or does not tend to carry out the purpose of the 1996 Act. (1985: Termination or suspension permitted only by producer referendum.)
- Fails to limit additional bureaucracies. (1985: Requires that the implementation of checkoff projects be done through national non-profit industry governed organizations and also that the Cattlemen’s Beef Board to the extent possible, use the resources, staffs, and facilities of existing organizations. The list of eligible national organizations was expanded in 2012.)
- Fails to recognize the Federation of state beef councils. (1985: Federation required as a component of the national program.)
- Fails to lock in a coordinated national/state partnership concept. (1985: Requires that checkoff plans and projects be contracted by an Operating Committee, a joint coordinated effort of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Federation of state beef councils.)
- Fails to assure a mechanism for funding Qualified State Beef Councils (QSBCs). (1985: Only one QSBC per state and producers receive credit for contributions to state, enabling QSBCs to keep 50 cents of the dollar checkoff.)
- Allows up to 15 percent in administrative expenses. (1985: Caps administrative expenses at 5 percent.)
- Does not mandate a collection from importers. (1985: Requires importers to pay assessments.)
- Can allow future rate changes without a producer referendum unless initial Order requires referendum for future rate changes. (1985: Rate changes require an amendment of the Act.)
No elements of the 1996 Act mandate additional input from, or protections to, Qualified State Beef Councils. Under a 1996 Act Order, existing control over the Beef Checkoff Program by the Federal Government, acting through the Secretary of Agriculture, would increase significantly.
Side-by-side comparison of the 1985 Act and the 1996 Act