During its recent annual convention in Denver, R-CALF USA held an inaugural Beef Checkoff Committee meeting, a concept created by R-CALF USA Co-Founder, Region I Director and Former President Leo McDonnell, as well as R-CALF USA President and Region V Director Chuck Kiker.
"Both gentlemen realized R-CALF members had concerns about the Checkoff and wanted the organization to become more involved in the process," says Jim Hanna, R-CALF USA Beef Checkoff Committee Chair. "Both leaders stressed, however, that in no way was this an attempt to derail the beef promotion process, but rather a format R-CALF could use to advocate for positive changes.
"We started with a clean slate," continued Hanna, a longtime R-CALF USA member and Nebraska rancher. "We had tremendous interest and participation from the members during the convention, and in the end, I felt we came away with a couple of very good resolutions."
Members will vote on the proposed resolutions during this year's mail-in ballot, and the proposals contain three major themes:
- To encourage R-CALF USA affiliate organizations and their members to become active in the process used to select members of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and state beef councils, and to encourage those individuals to actively seek positions at both levels.
- To make appropriate changes to the Beef Promotion Act and Order that would allow Beef Checkoff dollars collected from U.S. cattle producers to be used to promote products derived from cattle that are exclusively born, raised and processed in the United States.
- To establish a referendum process that could effect changes to the Act and Order including:
- the initiation of a required periodic referendum;
- the assurance that all national cattle organizations have adequate representation on the CBB and are able to participate in approved projects;
- the ability to promote branded products;
- the ability for a larger portion of funds to be used on "in-state" projects;
- the ability for more recently formed cattle-producer organizations to bid on Beef Checkoff contracts.
"I want to stress that none of these ideas advocate for R-CALF to receive Checkoff dollars," Hanna says. "Our membership and leadership insisted that any organization, including ours, that lobby for specific policy purposes should not be a primary contractor for Checkoff funds.
"We recognize the importance of beef promotion and look forward to working with the CBB to create an even stronger program," Hanna continued. "We need to move away from finding things we can't do, and toward finding ways to do more things that benefit U.S. cattle producers."
Kiker says he has known since the first R-CALF USA convention he attended that member producers were not opposed to the Beef Checkoff.
"We've built a dialogue with the Cattlemen's Beef Board staff, and this year they attended the R-CALF convention," Kiker says. "We had an open forum with those gentlemen, and it went extremely well, resulting in the two resolutions that will go before our membership for a vote.
"And while R-CALF has no interest whatsoever in contracting with the Checkoff, we do want our members who pay Checkoff dollars to feel like they're engaged and have a vested interest in the Checkoff process," emphasized Kiker.