Ohio cattlemen vote for checkoff

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SALEM, Ohio – Ohio beef farmers will continue to pay their $1-per-head assessment regardless what happens with the national checkoff in the Supreme Court chambers.
Seventy-six percent of participating producers voted last month to keep their contribution at $1 even if the courts declare the national checkoff unconstitutional, according to Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Executive Director Elizabeth Harsh.
Currently, producers pay 50 cents to the state checkoff and 50 cents to the national fund. If the national checkoff should end, farmers will pay the full dollar to the state.
Although final numbers haven’t been reported, Harsh said approximately 800 beef producers in Ohio voted. They represent 66,000 head of cattle, which is a significant portion of cattle marketed in the state, she said.
Disagreement. The national checkoff has been snarled in the federal courts for years over First Amendment disagreements.
Opponents argue the checkoff violates freedom of speech because producers must pay for the marketing even if they don’t agree with the message.
Although the national checkoff may not hold up to the First Amendment, the Ohio checkoff has a provision that would make it stick.
Under the state plan, farmers can ask for a refund within 30 days of sale, meaning their money would not go toward marketing.
Optimism. Harsh said the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association is optimistic that the Supreme Court will allow the national checkoff to stand, but there’s nothing wrong with protecting producers at home and that was the goal of the referendum, she said.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 23 or by e-mail at khebert@farmanddairy.com.)

Related stories previously published:

Cattlemen wait for checkoff results (1/20/2005)

U.S. Supreme Court listens to beef checkoff arguments (12/16/2004)

Beef checkoff changes: Ohio producers vote on backup plan (12/9/2004)

Cattlemen urged to sign petition for checkoff’s security (7/15/2004)

Supreme Court to decide beef checkoff 05/27/2004

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