Promotion efforts so popular; leadership expects easy victory

By CAROL RYAN DUMAS

Capital Press

The California Cattlemen's Association is asking the state Department of Food and Agriculture to raise the Beef Checkoff assessment from $1 a head to $2.

The department announced last week that it will conduct a producer referendum next month on a proposal to increase the checkoff on cattle sold in the state.

If passed, the increased assessment will begin Jan. 1.

Leaders of the Cattlemen's Association has been surveying producers about an increase for the last 16 months. The board and producers overwhelmingly voted in November to ask for the referendum, said CCA President Kevin Kester, a cow-calf operator in Parkfield, Calif.

The $1 checkoff just wasn't keeping up with inflation, he said.

Half the checkoff collected goes to the National Cattlemen's Beef Board for promotion, research and education, and the other half stays in the state.

That 50 cents kept in the state doesn't go as far as it used to, he said.

The California Beef Council manages the funding and has a high approval rating from the state's beef producers, he said.

"Producers really think the California Beef Council is doing a whale of a good job," he said.

Current economic analysis shows that for every dollar invested there's a $5.55 return to cattlemen in higher demand for beef products, he said.

If the increase is approved, the additional money will remain in California, tripling the Beef Council's operating budget.

Last year, the checkoff in California raised $3.61 million, but only about $1.3 million stayed in California. If the increase is approved, it could mean nearly $6 million that remains in the state.

"The feedback I've gotten, I would probably say more than 90 percent of our members support the $2 checkoff. I'm very hopeful," Kester said.

But that doesn't mean it's a done deal. Producers have to certify their operations with the department and return the ballot, he said.

It's also important to note that certifications will still be accepted late in the balloting process, he said.

CCA took its request for a referendum to the department in January. The department hasn't set a date to send out ballots, but the 30-day voting period is expected to start in June, he said.

Producers will either receive a certification form in the mail, which must be filled out and returned, or certify online by visiting http://cdfa.ca.gov/mkt/beef

For more information, contact the California Beef Council at 916-925-2333 or email janel@calbeef.org

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