Chandler Keys Says Cattlemen Should Bypass Congress for Beef Checkoff IncreaseThu, 28 May 2015 17:12:41 CDT
The nation's beef checkoff has been in place for 30 years. The original beef checkoff was established under the 1985 Farm Bill, where producers set up $1 per head assessment for marketing, education and promotion. Since that time a lot has changed, including what that dollar will buy you today. That's why many agricultural groups are lobbying to reopen the 1985 Act to increase the assessment rate for the national beef checkoff.
In going back to the mid 80's, Chandler Keys was a new lobbyist for National Cattlemen's Association (NCA). He said at that time the concept of the beef checkoff wasn't a slam dunk. Senators Jesse Helms, Bob Dole and Dick Lugar were the top three Republican Senators of the Senate Ag Committee. Keys said they didn't not like the mandatory aspect of the checkoff, without a periodic referendum or the ability for producers to get their assessment back. The original legislation signed into law included all three components.
Now agricultural groups are looking to reopen the legislation to increase the assessment to $2 per head. With today's Congress, he said this might be a dangerous course of action for the beef industry as this Congress is more conservative than Congress was in 1985.
"If a federal dollar checkoff thing came up a national level, in my humble opinion, they would give you a $5 dollar checkoff, give you $100 a head, but it's all going to be refundable including the original dollar," Keys said.
The Beef Checkoff Working Group has said they don't want the first dollar of the national beef checkoff touched, but that the second dollar could be refundable under the proposal being floated that could eventually be voted on by Congress. According to Keys, that would be a tough sell. In looking at another agricultural checkoff program, he said the Heritage Foundation has compared the mandatory checkoff program to a tax.
"I think that's a debate," Keys said. "If the cattle industry wants to debate that at a federal dollar level, they better be ready for that debate or do what they're doing and do more state work, get state checkoffs."
While some state's like New Hampshire wouldn't have a beef checkoff, other cattle states like Texas are setting up a state beef checkoff program. Keys believes having state's set up their own beef assessment might be the better alternative.
Keys today has his own political consulting group, known as the Keys Group in Washington D.C.
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays featured Keys on the Beef Buzz feature. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to today's Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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