By Matt Reese
Ohio cattle producers will be heading to the ballots a little early in this important election year, but not to vote for the president.
Next week, on Sept. 24, 25, and 26, there will be a vote to increase the Ohio beef checkoff from $1 to $2 per head by statewide referendum initiated by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA).
“It’s a very important vote for the future of Ohio’s beef industry,” said Elizabeth Harsh, executive secretary of the OCA. “You can vote in person in county Extension offices throughout Ohio or you can vote anytime by requesting a ballot and voting by mail as long as it is postmarked by the 26th. We haven’t really done anything about the checkoff since it was created as a national checkoff in 1985. Today’s dollar per head just buys 47 cents of what that dollar bought in 1985. We’ve really lost pace in terms of what we can actually invest for demand building programs. The Ohio Beef Council will look at investing dollars here at home to increase demand here in the state of Ohio.”
Of the current $1 per head checkoff, 50 cents stays in the state and 50 cents goes to the national level. The additional funding would stay with the Ohio Beef Council to be invested in promotional efforts in Ohio.
“This additional dollar will likely stay all here in Ohio to be used in the state,” Harsh said. “This additional dollar is actually refundable if the producer does not want to support the program. We want to make sure that all stakeholders are informed. The OCA voted to have this vote at their annual meeting back in January.”
The process requires the OCA to work through the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and follow the formal process described in state law.
“We have to work through the ODA and we want to make sure that all producers have the opportunity to vote,” Harsh said. “It has to be 66.667% of those voting in favor of it and they have to represent at least 51% of the cattle in the state. If we only have 51% of producers voting in favor of it, they have to represent two-thirds of the cattle. Anyone who has marketed cattle subject to the checkoff in the last 12 months can vote.”
Even after a $1 increase, Ohio’s beef checkoff would still be one of the smallest checkoff programs in the state. At $2 per head, the beef checkoff would cost a feedlot owner less than one-third of what a market lamb or market hog seller would pay to promote the same value of an animal sold.
Ohio’s current checkoff income is approximately $300,000 annually (after sending $.50 of every dollar collected to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board to build demand at the national level). After an increase, Ohio’s checkoff income would be approximately $900,000. How cattle are marketed and the amount of refund requests makes the total amount hard to pinpoint until it is in effect.
Ohio is not the first state to consider an increase in the state Beef Checkoff. Eight states have already passed checkoff increases, and several other states are considering seeking an increase, including Kentucky. For more details, visit http://ohiocattle.org. To request a ballot, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 1-800-282- 1955.