Farm and Food: Shooting straight at the beef checkoff

Alan Guebert, Lincoln Journal Star, February 18, 2012Beef Check black

Sometimes you just got to shoot the fish in the barrel and take the candy from babies.

As a hunter of barrel-trapped fish, and someone who always takes candy from babies — that’s right, I’m a journalist — I can spot a carp from any golf course or barstool in any light any day of the week.

Sometimes it’s easier than that. Sometimes all you have to do is follow the numbers.

For example, according to 2009 figures compiled by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the “net checkoff spent per person” for beef promotion by the nation’s 45 state beef councils averaged a lean $0.12.

Twelve cents per person nationwide to promote beef. Golly.

Of course, the $1-per-head, non-refundable federal checkoff splits its annual millions 50/50 between the states and its national overseer, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. The CBB, in turn, contracts with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to carry out its mission with a corresponding $0.12 or so per person, too.

That would make the total beef promotion effort maybe two bits … per person … nationwide. Golly gee.

So, if most state beef councils spend less than a nickel per year per person to promote beef in the most populous states (California: five cents, Florida and Illinois: two cents, New York: a penny) and 30- to 100-times more in states with more cows than coyotes (Kansas: 45 cents, Nebraska: 70 cents, South Dakota: $1.23), is the goal of the beef checkoff to convince cattlemen that the checkoff is good or consumers that beef is good?  [click here to read the rest of this article]