Producers Develop Self-Help Program

Seven checkoff bills failed in Congress. All were opposed by the National Live Stock and Meat Board and the American Farm Bureau Federation, both of which favored generic red meat promotion.

The industry was at odds. The National Beef Council relied on voluntary contributions, while the Meat Board continued to collect from producers through markets. By 1956, 17 state beef councils had formed in support of the National Beef Council. However, emotional and economic strain was too great and in 1963 the groups compromised and formed the Beef Industry Council (BIC) of the National Live Stock and Meat Board. The BIC took the lead for national beef promotion.

For the nation and the beef industry, the 60s were evolving years. There were civil rights marches, the Vietnam War, riots and protests of every kind – including boycotts and protests against high food prices. As the 60s faded into the 70s, consumers' voices became louder and they began to play a bigger role in the beef industry and its direction.

President Nixon also played a big role in beef industry economics in the early 70s. He imposed the first peace-time wage and price controls in U.S. history. His 1973 price freeze on beef inadvertently caused "The Wreck" -- a severe crash in the cattle market and dramatic herd reduction.

ANCA held, however, that the only way for the industry to get out of "The Wreck" was to sell more beef. Thus came several new attempts to pass a national uniform checkoff for cattle. A beef checkoff program was finally passed on its third attempt, more than 10 years later, in 1986.

The second merger for the national association occurred primarily because -- in the words of W.D. Farr, ANCA president in 1970 -- "I had observed in the livestock industry a tendency to form a new organization for each new problem or issue...all financed separately but all financed by cattlemen." The American National Cattlemen's Association and the National Livestock Feeders Association consolidated into one strong national organization in 1977, the National Cattlemen's Association (NCA).

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Sara Harris