Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Beef checkoff vote changed to March

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 01/27/2014 10:08 AM

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ST. PAUL — In response to concerns raised during a Dec. 5 video conference that few beef producers knew about a planned vote to raise the checkoff, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture last week delayed the vote by one month.

Minnesota beef producers have until Jan. 17 to request a ballot to vote in an election that will be held in March to determine if they will raise their beef checkoff.

"After holding public hearings with producers, we have decided this extension will make it easier for the maximum number of Minnesota beef producers to participate and make an informed decision about this important referendum," said Dave Frederickson, Minnesota Department of Agriculture commissioner. "I strongly encourage all of Minnesota's beef producers to get involved and request a ballot."

Producers have three options to request a ballot: They can find a request form at the MDA website, www.mda.state.mn.us/ballots, or they can call the department at 651-201-6013. Producers also may request a ballot by calling the Minnesota Beef Research and Promotion Council at 952-854-6980.

The Minnesota Beef Research and Promotion Council voted this summer to ask the state's beef producers to increase their checkoff by $1. The money would be spent in Minnesota on issues management, improving the image of beef and telling the story of beef producers. It would be collected on cattle born and sold in Minnesota. It would not be assessed on dairy cows purchased for milk production. It is expected to raise between $500,000 and $750,000 per year.

The checkoff will be voluntary, meaning producers can request a refund through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Producers who request a ballot by Jan. 17 will receive a ballot in the mail in early March. The department will mail them on March 3, and producers must mail them back by March 18. Only one ballot is allowed per farm entity.

Results will be announced by April 7.

If the referendum passes, Minnesota beef producers will begin paying a $2 per head checkoff on July 1.