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OPERATING COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS BEEF BOARD BUDGET

Denver, Colo., May 22, 2007 – The Beef Promotion Operating Committee has recommended a $48.87 million Cattlemen's Beef Board budget for fiscal year 2008, reflecting a sharp 9 percent decrease from the $53.28 million budget for fiscal 2007.

The budget for the Beef Board, which administers the national checkoff program, includes projected revenue of $45.7 million for fiscal 2008, plus money to be available from programs costing less than originally estimated in fiscal 2006. Improved budgeting practices by checkoff contractors during the last year left actual expenditures coming in very close to cost estimates, reducing the amount available to add to the budget for 2008.

“While getting better at estimating costs is most definitely a good thing,” said Cattlemen's Beef Board Chief Executive Officer Tom Ramey, “it does result in a decrease in the budget for next year because the contractors spent a higher percentage of their budgets.”

The breakdown of the budget recommendation, which must be approved by the full Beef Board and USDA before any funds are expended, includes the following budget elements: promotion ($22.7 million); research ($7.4 million); consumer information ($6.2 million); industry information ($2.4 million); foreign marketing ($5.15 million); producer communications ($2.27 million); evaluation ($240,000); program development ($125,000); USDA oversight ($210,000); and administration ($2 million). The 2008 fiscal year begins Oct. 1, 2007.

“We faced a substantial challenge in determining where to decrease expenditures to meet the smaller budget in the coming year,” said Ken Stielow, a producer from Kansas and chairman of the Cattlemen's Beef Board, which met in Denver May 17.

“Many of us arrived in town early to spend the week with state beef council executives and leaders of the checkoff's joint program committees, as they developed strategies for investing the limited checkoff dollars in the most efficient manner possible in fiscal 2008,” Stielow said. “The producer members of the Joint Budget Committee and the Beef Board Executive Committee also weighed in on the week's discussions to help make the tough decisions.”

Stielow said that making the cuts in the promotion area was particularly difficult. “It is, of course, the most visible area of checkoff investments, but we also understand that areas such as research and foreign marketing are extremely important as we try to stay ahead of disease and pathogen challenges and tap international markets, where the majority of our growth potential lies.”

In the coming stages of the fiscal 2008 budgeting process, the full Beef Board will be asked to approve the budget at its meeting in Denver in July. Joint industry advisory committees and subcommittees also will meet in Denver to prepare recommendations for specific program proposals that are funded with that budget. Those proposals will be considered by the Operating Committee in September, before the Oct. 1 beginning of the fiscal year, and must finally be approved by USDA before any checkoff dollars may be spent.

Funds from the Beef Board for national checkoff programs will be augmented by about $10.5 million in voluntary contributions from state beef councils to their national Federation of State Beef Councils, a division of NCBA.

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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