FarmWorld Reader Disputes My Take on Beef Checkoff

A few weeks ago, my weekly column shared some thoughts on the Beef Industry as I saw it following the Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Phoenix. Among other things, one of my recommendations was for the industry to back the Cattlemen’s Beef Board’s recommendation that we enhance the Beef Checkoff by, among other things, increasing the Checkoff Assessment to $2/head.



Stewart Kopp of Indiana read my column in FarmWorld and couldn’t disagree with me more.



Mr. Kopp questioned the value of the beef checkoff entirely, suggesting “we would be better off to keep the first $1 and let you people find another line of work.” (I’m not sure if Mr. Kopp thinks I’m personally collecting his $1/head or if he was referring to other unspecified “you people”) Suggesting that he was unable to find any relevant data to support the Beef Checkoff’s value to the producer after five hours of research, I decided to do some research on my own.



Less that three minutes after I set about the task, I uncovered something very interesting – and readily available. In 2004, Dr. Ronald W. Ward of the Food and Resource Economics Department at the Institute of Food and the University of Florida evaluated the Beef Checkoff and what impact it has on the consumption of beef, and thereby what return it is offering to farmers.



Dr. Ward found that for every dollar a farmer invests in the Beef Checkoff, he receives a return of $5.50 to $6.50. In other words, he’s turning one dollar into six! Anytime I can turn one dollar into multiple dollars, I’m a happy guy, and to me, a 1 to 6 ratio for my Beef Checkoff is a pretty darn good investment. Multiply that investment across the beef industry, and the impact the checkoff has made on the beef economy is indisputable.



Oh, and by the way, Mr. Kopp does offer a solution: stop paying your checkoff and NCBA dues and join R-Calf. In fact, the entire thrust of his rebuttal is an R-Calf membership pitch. Let me put it to you plainly: R-Calf adds little positive benefit to our industry, aside from their role as the “loyal opposition” to anything the mainstream of the industry is doing.



Founded for the express purpose of ending beef and cattle trade with Canada, this splinter group is lobbying in opposition to most of what the rest of the beef industry is working toward in advancing our best interests. As a cattleman myself, I can’t encourage you enough to join the Ohio Cattlemen’s and National Cattlemen’s Beef Associations. Particularly in a time when the anti-animal agriculture forces are mobilizing in our state, it’s more important than ever to be aligned with industry organizations that are actually having an impact on a daily basis for our farms and families. OCA and NCBA are on the ground in Columbus and Washington fighting on our behalf, and our support is vital to the long term success of animal agriculture.



Mr. Kopp, thanks for reading, and better luck with Google next time.