I-BAND opposes N.D. beef checkoff increase

Farm Forum

The Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND) has announced that it opposes any increase in North Dakota’s mandatory beef checkoff, which currently assesses a $1 per head fee on cattle when transactions occur. Recent news reports indicate that North Dakota legislators are being lobbied to pass a bill that would double the current $1.00 assessment.

“I-BAND opposes increasing beef checkoff assessments in the state until the national beef checkoff is reformed and restructured in a meaningful way,” stated Ken Graner, I-BAND president, Huff, N.D.

“National groups, at the request of the Secretary of Agriculture, have undertaken the discussion about reforming and enhancing the beef checkoff and those industry-wide meetings are underway. This is a process that should be allowed to play out rather than state legislators preempting the process by getting involved in our business and mandating a cattle tax increase.”

“Producers who want to submit funding beyond the already mandated $1 per head are free to do so on a voluntary basis and that’s something legislators should remember before they mandate a doubling of the fee for every cattle producer in the state,” said Graner.

Currently, the State of North Dakota, through the North Dakota Beef Commission, is required by law to send fifty cents of every beef checkoff dollar collected in the state to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), the national board that oversees and administers the national beef checkoff. In addition, the North Dakota Beef Commission submits further funding to the national program from the fifty cents it retains to spend as directed by the commission. In turn, the CBB contracts more than 90 percent of its annual checkoff collections to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), including $10 million in “implementation” fees.

“The beef checkoff has not been updated since it was initiated with passage by Congress of the Beef Act in 1985. It’s time for the program to be reviewed and revamped so stakeholders are assured they are getting the best return on their investment,” noted Graner. “For years, questions have been raised about the relationship between the checkoff and its majority contractor, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which receives more than 90 percent of total annual checkoff collections, including $10 million in implementation fees. Unfortunately, NCBA’s relationship with the beef checkoff has polarized industry support for the program, jeopardizing its future.”

“The review process that’s currently underway at the national level is exploring how to streamline the beef checkoff, make it more efficient and strengthen safeguards between policy and checkoff dollars. The outcome of these national meetings will be key as to whether IBAND will support an increase in mandatory checkoff assessments. We will be asking legislators to consider their actions on this issue carefully before they intervene in our livelihoods.”