Beef producers have funded one of the most iconic marketing campaigns in the United States for 35 years, but now many have created a program with the slogan “What does beef do for dinner?” I want to finish.
What is the rancher’s beef? A mandatory fee of $ 1 per cow sold specifically advertises American beef as imports flood the market and plant-based “fake meat” products are skyrocketing in grocery stores. Is not …
“American consumers are being fooled by meat counters, and what can our check-off fund help clarify and answer the question of where sirloin was born, raised and harvested?” “I haven’t,” said Carina Jones, a Nebraska rancher and field director. R-CALF USA industry group trying to finish check-off.
Opponents of the beef check-off program, established by federal law in 1986, are urging cattle producers to sign a petition for a referendum on the end of the program.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Bilsack last month approved an extension until October 3 to collect the signatures needed for the coronavirus pandemic.
Petitioners argue that beef check-off is a government-mandated assessment of funding government speeches. By law, beef check-off funds may not be used to promote other meats such as pork or chicken or to lobby. However, they nevertheless complain much of the money in favor of lobbying groups such as the National Beef Cattle Producers Association, which opposes the mandatory country of origin label.
They also point out that the US cattle industry today is radically different from when the check-off program was implemented, with more imported beef and a higher concentration of meat packaging companies.
“We are currently paying for advertising for four major meat packaging factories that can import beef from cheaper countries and deceive consumers,” Jones said.
The petition has caused a division in the livestock industry between those who support and those who do not.
But consumers are also involved in the fight.
Harry Kaiser, director of the Cornell University Product Promotion Research Program, said one way to see this is that consumers would probably not like the check-off program because it raises the price of beef, and some consumers The group said it was against it. Another way to look at it is that check-offs also fund beef safety research and the development of new beef products.
“Consumers pay a few penny more, but it’s a safer product and a higher quality product,” Kaiser said.
Kaiser, a researcher on product advertising and promotion programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said domestic beef demand from 2014 to 2018 would have fallen 14.3% without consumer advertising and other beef promotion activities. It is stated in the economic analysis. Research committee. In 2019, the Board had a budget of $ 40.5 million to spend on activities aimed at increasing beef demand.
Kaiser also said in a telephone interview that a check-off-funded marketing survey found that one of the reasons consumers were reluctant to buy beef was that it took too long to prepare after returning from work. Said that. As a result, easier-to-cook beef products have been developed that consumers can buy in supermarkets and cook in the microwave.
However, beef producers say 20 years have passed since beef innovation with check-off funding such as flat iron steaks. This is a high-value cut from a low-value area of carcass that was previously just chuck roasted.
Since 1966, Congress has approved industry-funded research and promotion committees to help farmers pool resources and open up new markets. According to its website, USDA’s agricultural marketing services currently offer oversight of 22 such product programs.
The obligatory nature of various product check-off programs is controversial, causing thousands of proceedings over the years. According to Kaiser, three proceedings reached the US Supreme Court and the results were mixed.
The Supreme Court of the State ruled in a lawsuit by fruit farmers that product advertising was part of a broader regulatory program and was therefore constitutional. However, four years later, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal-mandated mushroom advertising program was not part of a larger regulatory program and was therefore unconstitutional as a compulsory private speech. And in 2005, the Supreme Court found that the beef check-off program was constitutional based on government speech.
These programs are now constitutional as part of a broader regulatory system, but Kaiser said these cases are similar to the conservative Supreme Court requiring workers to join trade unions. Said that it could overturn.
This is not the first time critics of the beef check-off program have tried to pack enough signatures into a petition. Agricultural marketing services received a petition from a cattle producer in 1999 and confirmed that the number of signatures had not reached the required number.
To submit this issue to the Secretary of Agriculture, a petition signature of 10% of the country’s cattle producers (in this case 88,269 valid signatures) is required. Cattle producers who own, sell, or purchase cattle from July 2, 2020 to July 1, 2021 are eligible to sign a petition. Vilsack then decides whether to hold a referendum at the end of the program.
So far, opponents of the check-off have collected about 30,000 signatures, Jones said.
Steve Stratford, a Kansas rancher who started the petition, said meat packers who didn’t pay for the check-off program were the ones who made a profit while the check-off was present. ..
“Simply put, those who are paying dollars are not the ones who are benefiting from better demand and higher beef prices,” said Stratford.
However, Greg Haynes, CEO of the Beef Commission, which runs the check-off program, said that when it was founded, there was a “conscientious decision” to keep packers out of the way of being driven by producers. Stated. He said the dynamics of the market are constantly changing, sometimes packers are better than producers, and sometimes producers are better than packers.
Haynes defended the check-off, saying it was particularly important for nutritional research and that without a program consumers would not have access to information on the benefits of beef.