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KCA Comments on Beef Checkoff Redirection

The Kansas Cattlemen's Association (KCA) has recently submitted comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding a proposed provision to the Beef Checkoff. USDA published proposed revisions to the Beef Order on July 15, 2016, and asked for comment from the public by September 13, 2016. The proposed revision provides for official recognition by USDA to allow producers to direct the full $1.00-per-head checkoff assessment to the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB) with a refundable state condition. Currently, Qualified State Beef Councils, like the Kansas Beef Council, withhold $0.50-per-head marketed regardless of producer consent or election.

Kansas is one of a handful of states that does not have a state law defining mandatory beef promotion and research organizations. The Kansas Beef Council, a USDA Qualified State Beef Council and Federation of State Beef Councils member, receives its credentials as part of the Federal Beef Act and USDA Beef Order. The Beef Act defines a Qualified State Beef Council as a beef promotion entity that is authorized by State statute or is organized and operating within a State that receives voluntary contributions and conducts beef promotion, research, and consumer information programs, and that is recognized by the Board (CBB) as the beef promotion entity within such State. As clearly stated by Federal law, the contribution to state beef councils is voluntary.

KCA opposes the proposed provision. The provision provides an opportunity for producers to choose to direct the full $1.00-per-head federal assessment to the Beef Board. KCA contends that the choice of the producer, as defined by law, is a choice to contribute. As defined in the Beef Act, the contribution to Qualified State Beef Councils is voluntary. Inherently, the producer must take action to make said contributions to respective beef councils, as the producer must consent in order for it to be a truly voluntary contribution. The proposed changes bypass the lawfully provided right of consent. The proposed change "opts-in" producers to contribute to QSBC's without regard to any limit of contribution.

KCA opposes this proposal on the basis that (1) it is not actually clarifying regulation. It is, however, changing what is a voluntary program into a refundable program, shifting unnecessary burden to the producer, and (2) the producer has not been provided the opportunity to set limitations up to the maximum $0.50 per-head-marketed contribution under such a policy when automatically opted-in by this regulation.

KCA continues to support a mandatory, producer controlled, Beef Checkoff which provides funding for purposes that have the effect of increasing profit-per-head. Additionally, KCA supports research, promotion, and Checkoff funding which work for the preservation and maintenance of strong competitive markets. However, KCA will only support provisions which maintain the integrity of the lawfully provided rights of the producers.

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