Stop Virginia’s SB 374/HB 1348: Beef Checkoff Increase and Corporatization

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The Virginia General Assembly is considering legislation which would quadruple the state’s beef checkoff tax on cattle producers and turn over control of those dollars to the trade and lobbying organization, Virginia Cattlemen’s Association. The bill is SB 374 (Senator Chafin-R) and HB 1348 (Delegate Weber-R). Please contact your representatives and urge them to oppose this abusive power grab by big agribusiness interests.

Background

SB 374/HB 1348: Cattle Industry Board; Assessment from Sale of Cattle

SB 374/HB 1348 increases the state mandatory cattle producer assessment for each head of cattle sold from $0.25 to $1.00 without a requirement that Virginia cattle producers be allowed to approve the increase through a referendum. SB 374/HB 1348 is a tax increase placed on the backs of hard working family farmers in Virginia.

SB 374/HB 1348 grants to a membership-based trade and lobbying organization, Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, extreme authority over a Virginia state agency, the Virginia Beef Industry Council. The effect of the changes mandated in SB 374/HB 1348 — lowering the number of members of council, eliminating or severely limiting other organizations from serving on the council and continuing to only allow Virginia Cattlemen Association to select candidates to serve on the state agency council — places an overwhelming amount of control of Virginia tax dollars paid by Virginia cattle producers in the hands of one lobbying group, Virginia Cattlemen Association.

With this lock on who can serve on this state council, SB 374/HB 1348 grants the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association the power to appoint non-member officers, by passing both the statutory process and the Governor’s authority to appoint members to this taxing state agency.

While SB 374/HB 1348 provides that a refund may be requested by the individuals who are mandated to pay the state fee of $1.00, the window to request each refund is only 30 days.

Finally, because the Virginia Beef Industry Council is the USDA designated a “Qualified Beef Council” granted the authority to collect the federally mandated $1.00 Beef Research and Promotion federal fee, SB 374/HB 1348 undermines the controls and authority over these federal funds.

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