Beef Checkoff Celebrates 25 Years

Legal cousel looks back at the establishment of the checkoff.

Published on: Aug 9, 2011

This year, the beef checkoff is celebrating its 25th anniversary of building beef demand. For certain, walking through the 25-year history of the beef industry will take you down some rocky roads, as well as highlight some clear paths to growth, all en route to a beef industry that you'll be proud to pass on to the next generation.

Wayne Watkinson, legal counsel for the beef checkoff, assisted with the writing of the Beef Act that established the checkoff.

"The purpose in the program that I was involved in was to get all of the state and regional programs and the national program working together," Watkinson said. "By doing that, you allow a greater coordination both on the local level and on the national level."

Watkinson says many checkoffs have been modeled after the beef industry and that the beef checkoff is a program producers can be proud of.

"I think the beef checkoff, from a program standpoint, has been one of the more successful programs in place," Watkinson said. "It has moved the needle on moving beef; it has allowed beef to withstand a number of attacks both on a nutritional basis, on a food safety basis. Without it I think the industry would've had some real challenges as it relates to foodborne illness and those kinds of things. So from the standpoint of protecting the industry and making sure that meat continues to be a center of the plate item, it's done a wonderful job."

Watkinson also says that the 105 member Board takes its role seriously, representing all producers and importers who pay into the program aimed at building beef demand.

"When the Secretary of Agriculture appoints representatives to the Cattlemen's Beef Board, who are nominated by state groups, I think these people come in with a commitment that they represent the industry," Watkinson said. "I do have to tell you that the industry has changed over the past 25 years. And as a result, we have different representatives representing different organizations. However, what I've seen on the Cattlemen's Beef Board is generally when someone's appointed to the Cattlemen's Beef Board, they represent almost like a trustee, they represent the industry and the people that are paying the checkoff. They are zealous in making sure the dollars are spent appropriately."