Reminder: vote in state beef checkoff referendum

Reminder: vote in state beef checkoff referendum

Eligible cattle producers in Iowa have less than a month to request an absentee ballot.

Eligible cattle producers in Iowa have less than a month to request an absentee ballot for voting in the state’s beef checkoff referendum. “Or, if you want to wait and vote in person on November 23, that’s also an option,” says Katie Olthoff, communications director for ICA. She provides the following details and information about the checkoff, and she clarifies the difference between the state checkoff and the federal checkoff.

The proposed checkoff would be assessed at a rate of 50 cents per head on all Iowa cattle sold. The checkoff would be mandatory, but refunds will be available.

State checkoff funds could be used more flexibly to promote beef

YOUR VOTE COUNTS: Less than a month remains for eligible cattle producers to request an absentee ballot to vote in the Iowa beef checkoff referendum. Or, if producers want to vote in person, they can do so on November 30.

The federal beef checkoff has been $1 a head for 30 years. There are few things that have stayed at the same price since the 1980s, so naturally, the power of that $1 has diminished. In the meantime, the beef industry has been faced with increasing global competition and record pork and poultry production. It is clear to many involved in the cattle industry that more investment is needed to promote and defend beef to consumers.

The federal checkoff amount is not the only thing that has stayed the same. While individual programs may have changed and adapted, the way the funds can be used has not changed. Limited mainly to promotion and research related to the beef product, the federal beef checkoff’s scope is much narrower than many other commodity checkoffs and definitely more restrictive than the state checkoff would be.

Funds could be used to address issues specific to Iowa producers

The state beef checkoff would be 50 cents per head on all cattle sold in Iowa, and the funds generated would be used to address many of the unique challenges Iowa producers have. In an industry that is increasingly dominated by larger producers, Iowa is different. “Here in Iowa, we have a wide variety of operations in size and scope, and with that, some unique needs. The state beef checkoff could not only be used more flexibly than the federal checkoff, but it could be used to address the issues specific to Iowa cattle producers,” says Olthoff.

Whether it’s research into cattle’s role in improving water quality or research into how Iowa feeders can maintain leverage in today’s cattle market, production research needs will be one of the gaps filled by the state beef checkoff. And unlike the federal checkoff, the state checkoff funds could be used to market Iowa’s beef as different and superior to beef from other states.

Federal Beef Checkoff

Iowa State Beef Checkoff

$1/head since 1986

Proposed 50 cents/head


Beef promotion

Beef research

Foreign marketing

Industry information

Consumer information

Producer communications


Marketing & promoting Iowa’s beef and beef products

Enhancing Iowa’s beef industry image

Production research

Expanding international trade relationships

Providing producer, consumer, and youth educational opportunities

What would be the spending priorities for state beef checkoff?

The priorities for the state beef checkoff were developed by ICA producer members, through a survey in the fall of 2015. As a grassroots organization, the ICA leaders feel that input from producers is vital when making major strategic decisions. And although the state beef checkoff funds would be administered by the Iowa Beef Industry Council, the same organization that administers the federal checkoff, ICA members will continue to have a voice in how the state funds are used.

As the November 30 final date for voting referendum nears, “we encourage cattle producers to reach out to ICA with any questions or concerns they may have about the proposed state checkoff,” says Olthoff. “As is the case with all major issues, we want to hear firsthand input from our members.” Visit or call 515-296-2266 to contact us.

You have two choices on how to vote in this referendum

To vote by absentee ballot, you need to request a ballot from the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship by calling 515-281-5321, or by email at [email protected]. Absentee ballots must be requested by November 23 and postmarked by November 30.

If you would rather vote in person on November 30 that is also an option. If voting in-person is preferred, producers can vote at their local county ISU Extension office on November 30 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 pm.

About the Iowa Cattlemen's Association: Representing nearly 10,000 beef-producing families and associated companies dedicated to the future of Iowa’s beef industry, ICA mission is “Grow Iowa’s beef business through advocacy, leadership and education.”

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