Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels recently signed the order for the Ohio Beef Checkoff referendum vote, which asks for an increase from $1 per head of cattle to $2 per head.
The director's signature comes after the Dec. 9, 2013, referendum comment hearing, which was attended by the Ohio Beef Council and Ohio Cattlemen's Association. The Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio Dairy Producers Association, which publicly endorsed the Ohio Beef Checkoff, also attended the hearing.
"Cattle producers will a see a return on their investment when they vote yes for this referendum," says Frank Phelps, OCA president. "This increase will go a long way in helping the Ohio Beef Council reach the state's nearly 12 million consumers."
The Ohio Department of Agriculture will oversee the Ohio Beef Checkoff referendum process, regulated by Section 924 of the Ohio Revised Code under the Ohio Beef Marketing Program.
Any producer among the 17,400 individuals that have marketed cattle in Ohio in the 2013 calendar year will be eligible to vote in the upcoming referendum, including youth who market 4-H and FFA beef projects.
Mail-in voting begins this month with ballots available to download from ohiocattle.org. Ballots are also available by request from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. In-person voting will take place March 18-20 at the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg and all Ohio State University Extension county offices.
OCA initiated the referendum, but the organization will not benefit from a checkoff increase.
"We have some great programs planned for 2014," says Bill Sexten, chairman of the Ohio Beef Council Operating Committee. "Our job remains challenging as the dollars we have to work with continue to decrease."
Sexten adds that similar to other states and the Cattlemen's Beef Board, Ohio's checkoff collections have been trending downward for a number of years. These reductions are the result of the national cow herd being the smallest it's been in over 50 years.
"However, the Ohio Beef Council continues to be innovative to make the most of what we have to work with to reach Ohio's consumers," Sexten says.
The Ohio Beef Council and the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board are responsible for developing programs that increase the demand for beef and veal. The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.