A new 50-cents-a-head state beef checkoff brought in just over $680,000 in the first seven months to be used for increased online beef promotion, livestock production research and support of livestock groups, the Iowa Beef Industry Council reported.
Iowa beef producers voted in late 2016 to approve a state beef checkoff that would add 50 cents to the $1 tax livestock producers pay each time they sell a head of cattle in Iowa.
“The dollar per head had eroded over time,” Council Executive Director Chris Freland told The Gazette last week. “Expenses had gone up and there was increased competition from other protein sources.”
Between March 1, 2017, when state checkoff collections started, and Sept. 30, when the council ended its fiscal year, the state program brought in $703,000, according to the council’s annual report, released last month.
But unlike the mandatory national checkoff, livestock producers can request a refund of their 50-cents-per-head tax. The council refunded $22,756 in the first seven months of the program, the council reported.
The new state checkoff is the first time since 1985 Iowa has had its own beef checkoff. The national program, implemented in 1985, required the council to collect $1 from the sale of each cow and then split the money with the national Cattlemen’s Beef Board. A state checkoff used from 1976 to 1985 was abolished with the federal program.
The Iowa Farmers Union lobbied for farmers to be able to opt out of the checkoff on the front end instead of requesting refunds, but that was not part of 2016 state legislation that set up the producer referendum.
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In fiscal 2017, the council brought in just over $4 million from the national and state checkoff. About $1.66 million went to the national Beef Board, the annual report shows.
The national beef checkoff may be used only to promote beef and beef products, Freland said. The state program allows broader spending, which makes it possible for the council to support research on topics that includes animal housing, care and breeding. The council plans to award $200,000 in research grants later this month.
The council plans to spend $1.2 million this year as part of the state program and $1.7 million for the federal program, Freland said.
“We plan to do more digital advertising, social media and invest in partnerships,” she said. One partnership will be with the Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers, which advocates for “best management practices that assist Iowa’s farm families in raising livestock responsibly and successfully,” according to the group’s website.
Beef industry officials estimated in April 2016 the state checkoff could bring in up to $1.5 million a year. At about $700,000 for seven months, it’s just below that target.
The Beef Industry Council’s annual report noted implementation of the new program caused increased administrative expenses for the organization.
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