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Beef producers: what do you think of the check-off program?

You’ve heard all the slogans – hundreds of times.

“Got Milk?”

“The Incredible, Edible Egg.”

“Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.”

For that last one, you might even be able to hum along to the music, which has always reminded me of an old Western movie, complete with cowboy Sam Elliott’s gravelly baritone voice-over.

The idea behind these campaigns, when they launched back in the early 1990s, seemed simple: promote American-grown beef with a mandatory $1 charge, or “check-off,” for each animal a producer sold. That small assessment, however, has turned into a bonanza for the Beef Promotion and Research Program, commonly known as the Beef Check-Off, fueling some $81 million just during 2008-2010, according to the USDA.

But what was once feel-good has turned into a feud, as independent producers say that they are not getting the benefits of the program. As we’ve written in the past, a small group of renegade ranchers have filed suit, saying the National Beef Cattlemen’s Association, which contracts with the USDA to run the program, solely represents the meatpackers, the four big companies who have more than 80 percent of the beef market.

What do you think? We’re looking at the Beef Check-Off program and want to know how farmers and ranchers feel about it.

Do you support the beef check-off? Do you believe the money goes for a good cause? Would you like to know what the money is spent on? Is there any talk in your state cattleman's group about this? We'd like to hear from you. Just click here to tell the Harvest Network what you think. Your answers will be private and only read by me and a Harvest editor.

Thanks for your time.