Letter to the Editor

Stop the new Missouri beef checkoff tax

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Dear Editor:

To vote no on this money grab , cattle producers must register before March 4. The Missouri Department of Agriculture is holding a referendum to add a new beef checkoff tax.

When passed, all cattle sold in Missouri will be assessed an additional $1 per head checkoff, with the proceeds going to the Missouri Beef Industry Council. This new $1 is over and above and in addition to the $1 per head Federal Beef checkoff tax that producers have been saddled with since 1988. It will not go away.

As with all democratic processes, producers are allowed a way to vote. All producers will have to register by March 4.

Ways to register: Go to agriculture.mo.gov to register on line or print a form. Or call the Missouri Department of Ag at 573-751-5633 and ask to have a registration form mailed to you, or by sending an email to voter.registration@mda.mo.gov
or pick up a registration form at your county FSA office.

If you do not register online and prefer to wait on the registration from to arrive in the mail, the registration form must be postmarked by March 4, and mailed to the Missouri Dept. of Agriculture, C/O Missouri Beef Referendum, P.O. Box 630, Jefferson City, Mo., 65102.

Ballots will be mailed to registered producers on April 4. Ballots must be returned with a postmark deadline of April 15, to be valid. Results will be announced April 25.

According to the Missouri Dept. Of Agriculture, anyone who has a shared interest in your cattle sale -- including your spouse, son, daughter or business partner -- can register to vote in this referendum. Each person can fill out separate registration forms and list the number of cattle sales that represent each person's share in the business.

For example: a husband and wife who marketed 50 head of cattle could each register and report 25 head of cattle marketed.

You can also register if you only sold one head of cattle.

This new tax will generate approximately $2,000,000, a 200 percent raise, to be paid to the Missouri Beef Industry Council, to do with as they please. So far their efforts have been of very little benefit to Missouri cattle producers. 

According to the Livestock Marketing Association Dept., . September through December 2015, feeder calves have lost 45 percent of their value, and no end is in sight.

Since its inception in 1988, tens of millions of dollars have been poured into the Federal Beef Checkoff program. The result: beef consumption has declined by 31 percent and Missouri has lost 40 percent of its beef producers. 

Although time is short and the process tedious, I urge every beef producer to meet the challenge of voting NO on this ill-timed and worthless referendum, an expense we do not need.

Janie Claflin