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OPERATING COMMITTEE APPROVES CHECKOFF INITIATIVES

Centennial, Colo., Sept. 18, 2006 -- Beef promotion and nutrition will be the primary focus of checkoff programs in 2007, according to decisions made by producer leaders on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC). The committee approved a comprehensive beef checkoff plan of work at the annual budget approvaal meeting. The plan will fun promotion, research and information programs in fiscal 2007 and is designed to build demand for beef using the checkoff funds remitted to the Cattlemen's Beef Board.

After a day and a half of presentation and discussion, the Operating Committee - 10 producer members of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and 10 producer representatives from the Federation of State Beef Councils - balanced the industry's requests for funding against anticipated checkoff collections for 2007. The result is a producer-selected menu of checkoff activities that the committee believes will create the best opportunities for cattle producers in the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2006. The plan still must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before any funds can be expended.

Contractors with program proposals included in the plan are the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the American National CattleWomen (ANCW), the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB), the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), the Meat Importers Council of America (MICA), the National Livestock Producers Association (NLPA) and the American Veal Association (AVA).

"Producers on the Operating Committee have an extremely tough job every year, because we have a limited budget and so many proposals to do work for the industry," said Texas cattleman Jay O'Brien, who serves as chairman of the Operating Committee and of the Cattlemen's Beef Board. "We scrutinized the proposals, debated the merits of each, and selected the best of the best for funding. In some cases, we chose one project over another or funded projects at lower levels than requested. In fact, due to budget constraints, we had to deny nearly $4.76 million in proposed projects. In the end, our final decision is intended to make the best use of each checkoff dollar to fund a balanced and aggressive plan of work for 2007."

Of the $4.76 million denied, producers on the Operating Committee turned down $4.436 million in proposals from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, $154,800 from the Meat Importer's Council of America, $85,000 from the National Livestock Producers' Association, and $83,500 from USMEF.

The approved checkoff plan of work approved for fiscal 2007 includes:

* Nearly $28 million for promotion. Promotion efforts include newly developed consumer advertising, increased support for retail marketing; the National Beef Cook-Off (managed by ANCW); foodservice marketing; new product and culinary initiatives and veal promotion.

* About $7.15 million for research projects focused on a variety of critical issues, including an increased investment in nutrition research, as well as product enhancement and beef safety research, and market research.

* A total of $6.66 million for consumer information programs, including educating the public about the beef's nutrition andsafety, and educating youth about beef's place in a healthy diet.

* More than $1.5 million for industry information projects, including beef, veal and dairy-beef quality assurance programs, the National Beef Ambassador program, and dissemination of accurate information about the beef industry to counter misinformation from anti-beef groups.

* $4.8 million for foreign marketing efforts managed by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, including education programs and marketing of U.S. beef in the Caribbean, Central/South America, Greater China, Europe, Japan, Mexico, Korea, Middle East, Russia, and Taiwan.

* More than $2.5 million for producer communications, which includes checkoff communications to importers through the Meat Importers Council of America and continued funding for the "Beefmobile," a project managed by the National Livestock Producers Association. Other efforts include checkoff education and communications with beef, dairy and veal producers through CBB, NCBA and state beef council coordination efforts.

A separate $11.76 million in allocations from the Federation of State Beef Councils will further increase checkoff funding of national promotion programs by $3.79 million, research by $1.2 million, consumer information by $1.1 million, industry information by $928,000, foreign marketing efforts by $2.19 million and producer communications programs by $627,000.

Programs authorized by the Operating Committee must be approved by USDA before any money can be spent. Each contractor of the Beef Checkoff Program works on a cost-recovery basis and, by law, cannot profit from work they do on behalf of the Beef Board and state beef councils. Each contractor is subject to audits by CBB and USDA on an ongoing basis.

The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. 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. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.

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