The Beef Checkoff—It’d be funny if it weren’t so deceitful and out of touch.

It’d be funny if it weren’t so deceitful and out of touch—and could cost Missouri cattle producers a lot of money. Some organizations just don’t get it—farmers don’t need or want any more government check-offs.

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association is so desperate to increase their beef check-off tax on the backs of Missouri producers that they are resorting to blatant mistruths.

In a recent press release, instead of debating the facts about a new state beef check-off, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) decided to use complete fabrications. In their release, Janet Akers (MCA President) said that the Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC) and the Humane Society of the United States ran automated calls opposing the proposed new beef check-off—not true.

The fact is that MRCC, as a statewide organization that represents thousands of Missouri livestock farmers conducted these calls (with no connection in any way with any other organization) and asked producers what they thought of the legislature’s proposal to allow for a new state beef check-off.

What did we find? Only 5% of the producers who responded said they supported a new state beef check-off and over 90% of producers, who had an opinion, opposed a new state beef check-off. Maybe this is why supporters of the check-off have to resort to misinformation.

Ms. Akers also claimed that we need this legislation in order “to have the opportunity to decide for ourselves without government interference”. This statement is ridiculous. The truth is, that if MCA or any other entity wants to implement a non-government, market-driven beef promotion program, they could do it tomorrow, with absolutely no legislation necessary. But instead, they are pushing for a bill that allows for the creation of yet another GOVERNMENT check-off program.

The current beef check-off is an obsolete, unsuccessful program that was put in place 30 years ago—times have changed, the industry has changed. Throwing our money at the same failed strategy doesn’t make sense. Since the check-off started in the 1980’s, beef consumption has plummeted by 28% nationally while Missouri lost 40% of our beef producers. Once these programs are put into place they are virtually impossible to stop. In future years when we face low cattle prices, we will still be paying these increased check-offs.

Missouri cattle producers are already paying over $2 million a year in mandatory federal beef check off fees—we don’t need any more unaccountable beef check-off programs and taxes.

Once again, MCA is totally out-of-touch with the majority of Missouri cattle farmers. They also led the charge opposing policies that support and promote Missouri and American beef like Country of Origin Labeling, while at the same time lobbying for pro-corporate proposals in the legislature such as allowing foreign corporations to own Missouri farmland.

We encourage beef producers to call their legislators and the Governor and tell them to oppose any bill that would enable a new state check-off tax.

Rhonda Perry

Rhonda Perry is a livestock and grain farmer from Howard County, MO and Program Director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center.