The Beef Promotion and Research Order is authorized by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 [7 U.S.C. 2901-2918]. The Act was passed as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The program became effective on July 18, 1986, when the Order was issued. Assessments began on October 1, 1986.
As required by the Act, USDA conducted a referendum among all cattle producers and importers after the program had been in effect no longer than 22 months to determine whether the program should continue. Of the 256,505 valid ballots cast in the May 10, 1988, referendum, 78.91 percent of cattle producers and importers voting favored the program. A petition drive to terminate the program was initiated on May 15, 1998. As a result of the petition drive, 127,927 signatures were submitted to USDA on November 12, 1999. On January 17, 2001, AMS announced that not more than 83,464 of the petitions were valid--less than the 107,883 valid petitions that were necessary to call for a referendum.
On May 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the program Constitutional.
The program's goal is to strengthen the position of beef in the marketplace and to maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets and uses for beef and beef products. The program is funded by a mandatory assessment of $1-per-head collected each time cattle are sold. All producers owning and marketing cattle, regardless of the size of their operation or the value of their cattle, must pay the assessment. A comparable assessment is collected on all imported cattle, beef, and beef products. Assessments under this program, which total about $80 million annually, are used to fund promotional campaigns and to conduct research studies in such areas as heart disease and dietary cholesterol, the role of beef in human diets, and the development of new low-fat, low-cholesterol beef products. In 2001, the total collected from imports was approximately $8.7 million.
The program is administered by the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which has 108 members representing 35 States and 4 geographical units, with 1 additional unit representing importers. Each year, the Secretary appoints one-third of all Board members from cattle producers and importers nominated by eligible organizations.
The Board administers the Order, approves budgets, and elects 10 members to a Beef Promotion Operating Committee. This Committee--consisting of 20 members (3 Board Officers, 7 Board members, and 10 individuals from State beef councils)--is responsible for developing budgets, awarding contracts, and approving projects for beef promotion and research activities. The Board also elects an 11-member Executive Committee to perform necessary administrative functions and act on behalf of the Board under authority granted by the Board between Board meetings. The Board’s office is located in Englewood, Colorado.
There were 892,267 cattle farms including 138,311 dairies in 1986. By 2007 dairies had dropped to 57,318 and total cattle farms were down to 744,858. The retail value of U.S. beef increased from $60 billion in 2002 to $79 billion in 2011. Total consumption of U.S. beef has declined from 27.1 billion pounds in 2002 to 25.6 billion pounds in 2011. The value of U.S. cattle has increased drastically from $27.1 billion in 2002 to $45.2 billion in 2011. Beef production has declined from 27.09 billion pounds in 2002 to 26.29 billion pounds in 2011.
Exports of U.S. beef have increased from 2.4 billion pounds in 2002 to 2.8 billion pounds in 2011. The value of U.S. Beef exports has dramatically increased from $2.63 billion in 2002 to $5.04 billion in 2011. U.S. Exports as a percent of production has increased from 9.0 percent in 2002 to 10.6 percent in 2011.
Economic evaluations of the program have been conducted periodically since its inception by
Dr. Ron Ward of the University of Florida. In his June 15, 2009 publication, “The Beef Checkoff Impact on U.S. Beef Demand,” Dr. Ward Reports that 78.8 percent of U.S. households purchase beef at least once every two weeks. He also reports that for the period 2003 through 2008 beef checkoff programs have enhanced the demand for beef at an estimated rate-of-return
of $5.55 for every checkoff dollar invested during the 2003 through 2008 period.