Letter to the Editor: ND beef checkoff Increase

Farm Forum

Thursday morning, Feb. 12, the N.D. House Agriculture Committee voted a do pass on HB 1238, a bill introduced by the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, to increase the state beef checkoff by one dollar per head on cattle sold in North Dakota.

Testimony was first heard on this bill at a House Ag Committee hearing on Jan. 30. I testified at this hearing in opposition to the bill and brought up some major concerns I had with the proposed increase.

• If an increase were to occur, it should be voted in by the producers that pay into the program and not by the State Legislative Assembly.

• How would this additional money be spent? Would a portion of this money be contracted out to a national or state policy association that I feel doesn’t represent my best interests?

• Before any increases be added to the state beef checkoff program, a performance audit should be conducted to study the efficiency of the North Dakota Beef Commission (the agency that would be in charge of administering this money).

Regardless to say, my testimony was in vain.

I am totally in favor of a checkoff program that works exclusively for the producers who pay into it; however, I feel this is not the case with our current checkoff. Too many of our checkoff dollars are being used to benefit the corporate packing industry over the best interests of the independent cattle producer. The existing program needs to be reformed before any additional money is pumped in to it.

This bill will be up for vote on the house floor in the near future. I urge you as producers to let your voice be heard. Send a message to your representatives that this is a decision we can make for ourselves.