Beef farmers voice opinion on potential fee increase

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SEDALIA - Beef farmers were scheduled to meet Thursday morning to discuss an increased checkoff fee when selling cattle.

Farmers currently pay a $1 checkoff fee each time they sell a beef cow. That fee is currently paid to the federal government. 

A new fee that would only benefit Missouri agriculture would double the checkoff fee to $2 per cow sold.

The money from the fee would help out the state in multiple ways.

"There will be talk of promoting beef in the state and working a lot in the education realm as well," said Mike Deering from the Missouri Cattlemen's Association. The money would not only go to 4-H but also FFA but also for intercity school districts. The goal would be to enlighten the next generation of consumers to help the understand the importance of beef and a healthy diet.

Deering said he expects both support and opposition at the hearing.

"I think the support will be there for the check off but there will still be some concerns expressed, and that's the whole point of a hearing," Deering said.

Within the past 90 days the cattle market has decreased by 40 percent. Since the 1980's Missouri cattle farmers have paid more than $2 million per year for the current check off fee program. Deerlinger said that could be one of the causes of opposition.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture released a statement saying, "At this hearing, all interested persons will have the opportunity to voice their opinions regarding the referendum to establish a $1.00 per head state beef checkoff assessment." If there is support for the change, there will be an opportunity for farmers to register to vote in an election for the fee. Farmers would have the chance to vote from Jan. 4 to March 4.