A task force put together by the Nebraska Cattlemen has embarked on a tough sell this summer and fall, but one that merits consideration by the state's beef producers.
Led by Thedford rancher Dave Hamilton, the task force has proposed a state-based beef checkoff of $1 per head, an assessment that would be in addition to the existing national beef checkoff fee, which also is $1 per head.
Thus far, seeking the state checkoff is not the official policy of the Nebraska Cattlemen. Association membership last December during their annual convention called for a series of nine information meetings this winter and spring to explain the proposal and get an idea of how producers think about it. They also plan to survey beef producers.
Those meetings are just about over, and the task force is assessing its next step. If the group's members believe adequate support, based in part on meeting input, exists for a state checkoff, then plans call for a referendum of all beef producers late this fall. And should that vote prove favorable, a bill to enact a state beef checkoff would be introduced in the 2014 Legislature.
In my view, that's a lot of hurdles to climb considering time constraints and questions about details such as how a referendum would be set up, how checkoff monies would be spent and who would administer it--even if the referendum passed.
The task force recommends that if a state beef checkoff is enacted, it would be mandatory, but with a right of refund by a producer.
But that's getting ahead of ourselves.
First, why does this group believe a state checkoff is needed? This was a frequent question at the meetings, including the one I attended in Wisner.