The checkoff is a producer-funded marketing and research program designed to increase domestic and/or international demand for beef. This can be done through promotion, research and new product development, and a variety of other marketing tools. The Cattlemen's Beef Board and USDA oversee the collection and spending of checkoff funds.
As mandated by law, checkoff dollars must be invested in programs to increase consumer demand for beef, and to create opportunities to enhance producer profitability. The act defines six program categories: promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications. It’s important to note here that the law does not allow checkoff dollars to be invested in production research.
The fundamental goal of every checkoff program is to increase commodity demand, thereby increasing the potential long-term economic growth of all sectors of the industry. And producers agree the beef checkoff:
• “Has helped contribute to a positive trend in consumer demand” – 77% agree
• “Has helped contribute to the profitability of my operation” – 61% agree
• “Even when the economy is weak, the checkoff has value to producers” – 75% agree
By law, all producers selling cattle or calves, for any reason and regardless of age or sex, must pay $1 per head to support beef/veal promotion, research and information through the Beef Promotion and Research Act. The buyer is generally responsible for collecting $1 per head from the seller, but both are responsible for seeing that the dollar is collected and paid. In addition, the checkoff also is collected at the same rate on every live beef animal imported and at the equivalent rate of $1-per-head on all beef products that are imported [import assessments were about $6.8 million in 2009.].
No producer is exempt from the checkoff, according to the Act. Buyers who resell cattle no more than 10 days from the date of purchase may file a non-producer status form and avoid paying an additional dollar. They are, however, responsible for remitting collected funds and reporting any transaction to the qualified state beef council. [More recently, producers of 100 USDA percent certified organic products were exempted from most commodity checkoffs in seperate legislation.]