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BEEF BOARD BUDGET DOWN FROM 2008

Centennial, Colo., May 19, 2008 – The Beef Promotion Operating Committee has recommended a $45.8 million Cattlemen's Beef Board budget for Fiscal 2009, reflecting a sharp 6.6 percent decrease from the $49 million budget for Fiscal 2008.

The 2009 budget for the Beef Board, which administers the national checkoff program, still must be approved by the full Beef Board and USDA, includes the following budget components:

• Promotion ($19.97 million)

• Research ($7 million)

• Consumer Information ($5.4 million)

• Industry Information ($2.6 million)

• Foreign Marketing ($5.8 million)

• Producer Communications ($2.16 million)

• Evaluation ($335,000)

• Program Development ($125,000)

• USDA oversight ($255,000)

• Administration ($2 million)

“We faced some very difficult decisions last week as we tried to decide what areas to make cuts in,” said Cattlemen's Beef Board Chairman Dave Bateman, a producer from Illinois. “This came on the heels of even steeper cuts last year, and costs keep increasing so it's getting extremely challenging to find more places to cut back without eliminating the checkoff's effectiveness in any particular area.”

The biggest cuts came in the areas of promotion (down 12.4 percent from 2008) and consumer information (down 13.3 percent), while producer leaders did recommend increasing checkoff investments in foreign marketing by 11.2 percent as overseas opportunities expand.

Before making their recommendation on May 15, members of the Operating Committee – which includes 10 members of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and 10 directors from the Federation of State Beef Councils – spent several days with state beef council executives and leaders of the checkoff's joint checkoff committees, as those groups developed strategies for investing the limited checkoff dollars in the most efficient manner possible in Fiscal 2009. Members of the Joint Budget Committee and the Beef Board Executive Committee also weighed in on the week's discussions and recommendations.

At the core of sometimes-emotional debates during the planning sessions was funding for consumer advertising, which has become increasingly difficult in recent years because of growing costs for all media advertising, at the same time that checkoff collections have decreased.

“We struggled to figure out how to maintain a strong enough promotion budget to support a viable print and radio advertising campaign without cutting other important programs beyond recognition,” said Beef Board Secretary/Treasurer Dan Dierschke, a producer from Texas. “While consumer advertising is definitely the most visible area of checkoff investments, we also understand that areas such as research and foreign marketing are extremely important if we are 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 2009 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 in Fiscal 2009 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 the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

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