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Missouri Beef Producers Reject State Checkoff Proposal

Missouri beef producers voted down a referendum that would have established a fund to promote Missouri beef.
File: Kristofor Husted
Harvest Public Media

Missouri’s beef producers roundly rejected a proposal that would have forced them to pay an extra dollar for every head of cattle they sell.

Some in the beef industry wanted to add the fee to create what’s called a state beef checkoff – a fund meant to promote Missouri beef and beef research.

Nearly 75 percent of the beef producers that voted in a state referendum by mail rejected the proposal, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. In all, 6,568 valid ballots were returned, the department said.

Large producers generally support these kinds of funds. Smaller operators are often opposed, saying the promotions help the big producers at their expense.

For some, the extra promotional push is a good bet, Missouri rancher Charles Bassett told Harvest Public Media in March.

“Me, myself, as an individual producer, as hard as I work and do the best job I can do, I don’t have time to leave my operation and promote my product,” Basset said. “I just don’t have (the time).”

For others, the fees are another venue for the control of state producers.

“Once they get the money, all of a sudden they feel like they got the control over beef producers in this state,” Missouri rancher Roger Allison told Harvest Public Media.

Similar debates have played out in other states. In all, 14 states including North Dakota and Illinois currently run a state beef checkoff.

Beef producers in Missouri still pay for the federal beef checkoff, which is responsible for the famous beef commercial with the slogan “Beef: It’s what’s for dinner.” The federal Beef Checkoff program is controversial, however. Some ranchers say the funds aren’t transparent enough and some feel their money isn’t always directed to the right place.

Nationwide, beef consumption has fallen by more than 30 percent in recent decades, according to the Associated Press.

Jeremy Bernfeld is the editor of Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR 89.3. Find him on Twitter @JeremyHPM

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