U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Dec. 18 he will not move forward with plans to start a second national beef checkoff program.
The announcement came after Congress passed a fiscal 2015 omnibus bill recommending USDA not spend money on a second beef checkoff.
“This is a great victory and a testament to the influence and effectiveness of Federation members,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Beef Division Director Nate Jaeger. “Farmers in Alabama engaged in this issue at the county, state, regional and national levels. They wanted to prevent this top-down approach by USDA for beef promotion, research and education, and Secretary Vilsack responded appropriately.”
Vilsack presented the plan for a second beef checkoff in the fall of 2014. Since then, Federation President Jimmy Parnell and the Federation’s State Beef Committee joined numerous agriculture organizations in asking Vilsack to withdraw the proposal.
A beef industry working group has discussed possible changes to the current national beef checkoff program for the past three years without resolution. However, working group members agreed to oppose Vilsack’s plan. Vilsack said he hopes the group can build on this foundation and present recommendations to improve the beef checkoff.
Federation policy supports the current national beef checkoff and increasing the amount collected.