Colo., Sept. 22, 2007 -– The Beef Promotion Operating Committee this week funded a total of 42 program proposals with beef checkoff dollars for Fiscal 2008. At the same time, however, a tight budget forced the committee to reject more than $1.8 million in proposals to stay within the Cattlemen's Beef Board's (CBB's) $46.8 million national program budget for the coming year.
“This was one of the most difficult Operating Committee meetings I've been through during all the years I've served on it because of all the tough choices we had to make,” said CBB Chairman Ken Stielow, a producer from Kansas. “At the same time, it was one of the best because of that. We have a very tight budget for 2008 – down about 9 percent from the 2007 budget – so we really had to debate the merits of each program extensively.”
The plan of work funds promotion, research and information programs and is designed to build demand for beef using the checkoff funds remitted to the CBB. The plan still must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before any funds can be expended.
Approval of the plan came after a day and a half of presentations 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 – had to balance the industry's requests for funding against anticipated checkoff collections for 2008.
“Discussions got a little lively at times,” Stielow said. “Contractors knew that the budget was going to be tight, so they made sure their proposals didn't have any fat around the edges. That meant that we had to cut things we didn't want to cut, and that can become an emotional experience.”
The result, Stielow said, 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 given the budget constraints.
Contractors with program proposals included in the plan are the American National CattleWomen (ANCW), the American Veal Association (AVA), the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB), the Meat Importers Council of America (MICA), the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), the National Livestock Producers Association (NLPA) and the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
The approved checkoff plan of work for CBB during fiscal 2008 includes:
• More than 22.8 million for promotion. Promotion efforts include new consumer advertising, retail marketing, foodservice marketing, new product and culinary initiatives, the National Beef Cook-Off; a Northeast beef promotion initiative, and veal promotion.
• About $7.4 million for research projects focused on a variety of critical issues, including beef safety research, product enhancement research, nutrition research, and market research.
• A total of $6.3 million for consumer information programs, including a Northeast public relations initiative, national public relations, nutrition influencers support, and a youth education and information program.
• More than $2.4 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.
• About $5.25 million for foreign marketing efforts managed by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, including education programs and marketing of U.S. beef in Taiwan, the ASEAN, the Caribbean, Central/South America, Dominican Republic, Europe, Greater China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Middle East, and Russia.
• More than $2.3 million for producer communications, which includes Producer Outreach using Beefmobiles, paid media, beef and dairy earned media, CBB Communications and semi-annual producer attitude surveys.
A separate $10.66 million in allocations from the Federation of State Beef Councils will further increase checkoff funding of national promotion programs by $4.9 million; research by $1.76 million; consumer information by $1.3 million; industry information by $560,000; and foreign marketing efforts by $2.1 million.
Of the $1.8 million denied, producers on the Operating Committee turned down nearly $1.5 million in proposals from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, $33,500 from the American National CattleWomen; and $305,000 from the National Livestock Producers' Association.
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.