The Beef Promotion and Research Act was passed as part of the 1985 Farm Bill and established the Beef Checkoff Program. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products.

The checkoff is collected by qualified state beef councils, which retain up to 50 cents on the dollar. The state councils forward the remaining 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which oversees the national checkoff program, subject to USDA review. The 100 members of the Cattlemen's Beef Board represent all segments of the beef industry, including beef, veal and dairy farmers, as well as cattle and beef importers. Industry organizations nominate individuals for the board and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture appoints each board member.

The structure of the Beef Checkoff Program is based on the following directives:

  • All producers and importers pay the same $1 per head.
  • Producers in the state control one-half of the money collected by state beef councils.
  • All national checkoff-funded programs are budgeted and evaluated by the Beef Board.
  • Beef Board members are nominated by fellow beef producers.

The Beef Checkoff aims to build demand for beef and beef products, both domestically and internationally. The checkoff doesn't own cattle, packing plants or retail outlets. It can't single-handedly turn around a bad market. The checkoff program was designed to stimulate others to sell more beef and stimulate consumers to buy more beef. Initiatives such as consumer advertising, marketing partnerships, public relations, education, research and new-product development help accomplish the goal to increase beef demand.

By law, checkoff funds cannot be used to promote specific breeds or brands without prior approval from the Beef Board Executive Committee and USDA, nor can they be used to influence government policy or action, including lobbying.

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