Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Beef council votes to authorize referendum

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 07/30/2013 10:47 AM

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The Minnesota Beef Council has voted to authorize a referendum on a state checkoff.

The state checkoff would charge an additional $1 per head on animals born and sold in Minnesota. The $1 wouldn't be collected on dairy animals sold for breeding, said Karin Schaefer, executive director of the Minnesota Beef Council.

If approved by producers, the checkoff in Minnesota would increase to $2 per head on cattle born and sold in the state.

Producers with cattle born in another state and sold in Minnesota would continue to pay the federal checkoff. Similarly, cattle born in Minnesota and sold in another state wouldn't pay the state checkoff.

The additional $1 would stay in Minnesota for beef promotion efforts. It is expected to raise between $500,000 and $750,000 per year, said Joe Martin, executive director of the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association. The money would go to the beef council.

The current $1 per head checkoff is split evenly between national beef promotion and state promotion, Martin said.

The mail-in referendum will be conducted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in February.

Any certified dairy or beef producer can vote, but first must request a ballot, Schaefer said.

There are several ways to request a ballot. Producers can contact the Minnesota Beef Council at or call (952) 854-6980 to request a ballot. They may also go to the website to certify. Certification must be done by Dec. 15.

The website will outline the need for more funding and what additional funds will accomplish, Martin said.

Informational meetings on the proposed checkoff increase will be held in December in January. It will also be discussed at the MSCA annual convention in December.

An ongoing discussion has occurred over the last several years about the need for additional resources, Martin said. It's been a spirited discussion, but the conclusion is that in order to elevate the image of Minnesota beef producers and address misinformation, the beef council will need additional resources, he said.

Dar Giess, a South Devon and Stabilizer producer from Pierz who's president of the Minnesota State Cattleman's Association, said the present checkoff isn't able to keep up with industry and consumer demands. There is a huge disconnect between rural and urban people and beef producers need to do a little better job of providing information and research to consumers.

He'd like to see additional dollars spent to connect producers with their product and reassure consumers how safe and wholesome beef is. He'd also like to see additional nutrition and production research to benefit consumers and producers.

Checkoff dollars can't be spent to lobby on political issues. The MSCA won't receive checkoff funds, but the group will provide information to producers about the referendum and their need to get involved.

Giess said the beef checkoff is a voluntary program so producers can request a refund of their checkoff dollars.