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Comment period ends for change to beef checkoff rule

The comment period on a proposed rule that would make it easier for a wider variety of beef groups to be contractors for the Beef Promotion and Research Order, better known as the beef checkoff, ended today, but the agency has not established a time line for moving forward with the rule.

“We will be reviewing the comments that have been received, but we do not have a concrete timeline on when to expect a final rule,” an Agriculture department Agricultural Marketing Service spokesman told The Hagstrom Report.

The Beef Promotion and Research Act currently requires that the Beef Promotion Operating Committee enter into contracts with established national non-profit industry-governed organizations and requires that the organizations or their successor must have been active before 1986.

The proposed rule would eliminate the date requirement so that organizations that have been representing the cattle industry for at least two years would be eligible to contract for the implementation of checkoff programs.

“Farmers Union members passed a special order of business at our recent convention that outlines several changes that need to be made to the checkoff’s administration,” National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson noted in a news release today.

“The special order states that no organization should receive contracts for more than 50 percent of the total checkoff dollars on an annual basis.”

The National Farmers Union and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association have vigorously promoted the change.

An affiliate of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Board has run the program, but NCBA President J.D. Alexander in a March 14 news release said that “NCBA supports an open and transparent checkoff program that is producer driven. This proposed rule would simply enhance this quest. We support a competitive checkoff contracting system that ensures producers are getting the absolute best return on their investment.”