February 10, 2008 / 6:01 PM / 12 years ago

Cattle group votes to beef up marketing fee

RENO, Nevada (Reuters) - Cattle producers voted this weekend to increase the fee that they pay to finance the “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner” advertising campaign and other programs, because inflation and other costs have eroded the buying power of the current rate.

During the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association annual convention, which concluded here on Saturday, members voted to increase this fee, called a checkoff. While no amount was included in that action, there was an accompanying directive to increase it to $2 per head from the current $1 rate.

“It costs more to be a player in the marketplace,” said Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of the Nebraska Cattlemen Association and a developer of the new checkoff proposal.

The NCBA is the nation’s largest cattle organization, with more than 30,000 cattle-producer members, of which about 5,000 of them were at the convention.

Beef cattle production is the largest single segment of U.S. agriculture, contributing more $60 billion to the U.S. economy. As of January 1, there were 96.7 million head of cattle on U.S. ranches and in feedlots, down slightly from the year before.

It will be 2010 or later before any checkoff increase becomes effective, because the change will have to be approved by the U.S. Congress and voted on by the U.S. cattle industry, Kelsey told Reuters.

Since 1986, a $1 checkoff fee has been collected on every head of cattle sold in the United States. This fee, which raises more than $80 million a year, pays for the “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner” campaign as well as other beef research and marketing programs.

In addition, the resolution seeks to revise the federal checkoff legislation so that in the future cattle producers can petition to increase the checkoff. Any of the petitioned changes would still have to be approved by a vote of the nation’s cattle producers.

Reporting by Bob Burgdorfer; Editing by Eric Beech

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