- Associated Press - Sunday, December 7, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Cattle industry groups can’t seem to agree on a proposal to expand the beef check-off program.

Currently, a check-off fee of $1 per head is charged when cattle are sold to provide money to promote the industry and increase beef demand. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to gauge interest in expanding the program to $2 per head.

“No groups have stepped forward to say they want to be a part of this,” said rancher Dave Wright, who leads the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports (https://bit.ly/1BqKjGv) the check-off money is split between national and federal groups. Last year, the federal part of the program generated $39.6 million, including $3.7 million from Nebraska.

The USDA is collecting comments through Wednesday on a proposal to double the revenue by creating a second $1 per head check-off.

But critics say adding a second check-off doesn’t address the need for changes in the current program, such as excluding beef processors or importers from leadership positions.

Pete McClymont with the Nebraska Cattlemen said the proposal would also create redundant management costs for a second check-off and increase government involvement.

That’s why Nebraska Cattlemen supports increasing the existing check-off and tweaking the program.

Callaway rancher Neil Jorgenson, president of the Sandhills Cattle Association, said industry leaders need to set aside their differences and improve the current check-off.

“We have one. Let’s work with the one we have and make it work for everybody,” he said.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com


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