OCA’s Michael Kelsey on 'In the Field' to Explain Mechanics of the State Beef Checkoff ReferendumThu, 26 Oct 2017 14:21:58 CDT
Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Michael Kelsey, sat down with Ron Hays, farm director for the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network, to discuss the upcoming vote on the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff referendum, and effort being spearheaded by the OCA. You can listen to their complete conversation as Kelsey explains the mechanics of the voting process in this referendum, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“Title II of state law is very clear on how this process for a commodity to work through to achieve a state checkoff is conducted,” Kelsey began. “In that process, a petition is required for signatures of ten percent of the producers of the particular commodity and an organization has to carry that petition process forward.”
The OCA did just that earlier this year, he says, and on June 14th, was granted authorization from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry to carry out a referendum in which eligible producers in the state could vote on whether or not to approve the establishment of a state beef checkoff program. As part of this authorization, the OCA is responsible for the expense of executing the voting process.
Part of that, he says, included the engagement of a third-party auditor, which will receive the ballots, including those absentee ballots that are mailed in and those from the county extension offices that serve as polling stations, and will independently tally the results.
The mail-in portion of the voting process has ended, with all mailed ballots required to be returned or post-marked by October 27th. However, eligible producers will have the opportunity to vote in person at any county extension office during each office’s normal business hours, on November 1st. No documentation will be required from voters, but pertinent information will be requested when filling out the ballot, and certified as true with the voter’s signature. Incomplete ballots will be omitted from the official tally. Kelsey notes that the ballot process is open to all those producers in the state that would pay the checkoff should it pass - and not limit it by age, either.
“We wanted to have a robust integrity with this process, and so regarding voters who are 18 years and younger, which if they sell cattle are eligible to vote, they need to put their guardian’s name and phone number down,” Kelsey said. “Every state that has initiated their own state checkoff has said - if you have to pay the checkoff, you’re eligible to vote, regardless of age.”
Once the ballots have been collected and counted, the auditor will conduct a sampling of the ballots to confirm and qualify the rate of participation. And from there, Kelsey says an official tally will be handed to State Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese to make the official call and the ballots will be archived for a period of time.
For more information about the proposed Oklahoma Beef Checkoff program, visit the website at www.oklahomabeefcheckoff.com.
Kelsey will join Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays for his weekly In the Field segment on KWTV News9 in the Oklahoma City area on Saturday morning at 6:40 a.m.
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