National Beef Checkoff Petition Committee Seeks Assistance from Beef Checkoff Board and USDA
Billings, Mont. – Leaders of the National Beef Checkoff Petition Committee sent a letter last week to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB)) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeking their assistance in offering more U.S. cattle producers the opportunity to sign the petition for a referendum of the beef checkoff program. There has not been a referendum of the mandatory National Beef Checkoff Program in 35 years.
Addressed to CBB chair Hugh Sanburg, and the USDA official that oversees the government-controlled national beef checkoff program, Kahl Sesker, the letter asks the two officials to share their electronic databases of persons whose contact information the CBB and USDA have captured through their Web-based platforms as well as the database the CBB and USDA uses to conduct their annual producer attitude survey.
Two of the leaders of the National Beef Checkoff Petition Committee, Bryan Hanson, President of the South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association, and Steve Stratford, Owner of Stratford Angus, wrote that the contact information in the databases of checkoff-paying cattle producers possessed by the CBB and USDA would be used to ensure that every cattle producer is afforded the opportunity to ask for a referendum through the petition process.
Hanson and Stratford stated that when the databases are provided, “We could then send each person in those databases a petition, affording them the opportunity to sign and return.”
The letter identifies three databases the CBB and USDA control that would be “instrumental in providing untold numbers of United States cattle producers the opportunity to exercise their right and privilege to sign a USDA-authorized petition for the purpose of asking for a referendum of their Beef Checkoff Program.”
Those databases include contact information for cattle producers who receive the CBB/USDA newsletter The Drive, the electronic sign-up the CBB/USDA maintains on their beef checkoff program website to receive questions and comments from cattle producers, and the list of producers from which they solicit information about producers’ attitudes in the checkoff’s annual producer attitude survey.
The National Beef Checkoff Petition Committee’s webpage at http://www.checkoffvote.com currently has about 7,750 signed petitions and committee leaders indicate thousands of hard-copy petitions have also been received through the mail. The USDA has stated that 88,269 cattle producers must sign the petition in order for a producer-initiated referendum to be held.
The committee leaders said the CBB and USDA’s databases likely include enough names to ensure that the required number of cattle producers are offered the opportunity to sign the USDA-authorized petition, which will give producers the first opportunity in 35 years to vote on the future of the mandatory National Beef Checkoff Program.
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