Press Release: Texas Beef Checkoff Vote in Favor of Big Beef Industry

Judith McGeary, (512) 484-8821

Texas Beef Checkoff Referendum Results in Favor of Big Beef Industry

Less Than 3% of Texas Cattle Owners Voted For the Program

AUSTIN, Texas – July 2, 2014 – The tax that Texas cattle owners pay when they sell their animals will now be doubled, thanks to the results of the beef checkoff referendum vote, just published by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Out of 7,080 people that voted, 4,718 people voted for it.

Anyone who owned a cow between June 6, 2013, and June 6, 2014 was eligible to vote. According to the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture, there were 151,362 farms in Texas with cattle. The USDA Census excludes anyone with less than $1,000 in annual sales, so an unknown additional number of small-scale cattle owners were also eligible to vote.

“Less than 3% of the cattle owners in Texas have now imposed a tax on every cattle owner in the State, to pay for advertising programs that ultimately benefit large-scale producer, feedlots, meat packers, and grocery stores,” said Judith McGeary, cattle owner and executive director of Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.

Checkoff promotions do not distinguish between beef raised in Texas or beef raised in other parts of the U.S. and foreign imports. Much of the beef sold in grocery stores comes from other countries, such as Australia, Brazil and Mexico. Yet Texas farmers and ranchers will be forced to pay the bill.

The rules for the election were established by the Texas Beef Council, which collects the tax. The Council set a voting period of just one week, with a limited option for mail-in ballots.

“We didn’t receive any notification from the Texas Beef Council about the referendum until a couple of days before the voting period, and it was promotion to vote in favor of the checkoff,” said Laurie Hannan, owner of Twin Lakes Dairy in Van Zandt County, Texas, who opposed the checkoff.

Under the federal “checkoff” program, a farmer is already legally required to pay $1 for every head of cattle sold. This added up to over $11 million in taxes on Texas farmers and ranchers last year. The Texas checkoff program will double that tax.

“This is not ‘producer-driven’ program,” added Judith McGeary. “It’s unfortunate that enough cattle owners believed the claims that the checkoff would benefit them – contrary to the evidence from many years of the federal checkoff – to turn the election in favor of the big industry groups. Over a hundred and fifty thousand Texans will now be paying more taxes because of how a handful voted.”

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About Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) is a national organization that supports independent family farmers and protects a healthy and productive food supply for American consumers. FARFA promotes common sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems.